The Knitter’s Handshake

You all know what I’m talking about, right? That moment when you spot someone wearing a handknit? And maybe she sees yours? You make eye contact and smile, and invariably someone ends up whipping off a shawl to show it off, or asking to feel the yarn. You share pattern and yarn information, maybe talk about your favorite designers. When you go on your merry way, you have a new warm feeling in your soul. Well, this happened to me a couple of days ago at a Starbucks. I was wearing my Miller’s Daughter and she was wearing a lovely tonal blue asymmetrical shawl (she couldn’t remember what pattern it was). We admired each others’ work and chatted for a minute about the beauty of mixing garter stripes and lace.

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My Miller’s Daughter

I find interactions like these to be truly lovely. It helps me feel connected to the knitting world and its own special culture. I also love getting inspiration from other people’s projects. It’s one thing to see pictures of things on ravelry, but seeing real handknits in the “wild” is something else entirely. That was one of the best things I took away from Rhinebeck last month: seeing so many beautiful handknits, and so many people wearing them with pride.

So, speaking of Rhinebeck…it was amazing! The weather was beautiful, the house we rented was awesome, the leaves were perfect, and the yarn! So much yarn! I actually didn’t buy a single thing. There were too many options to choose from! I did love getting the chance to see and feel beautiful yarns that I’ve only come across online. As you might imagine, there were tons of gradients and gradient mini skein packs, as well as speckled yarns galore. There were also a number of sellers who had lovely breed-specific wools (beyond the great but ubiquitous merino). I liked seeing the different wools and looking at all the knitted samples on display. It’s all food for thought that I’ve filed away for the next time I need to buy some yarn, ha ha.


Beautiful weather at Rhinebeck!

On Saturday evening of Rhinebeck weekend, my mom and I went to an open studio event at Jill Draper Makes Stuff. It was packed! Stephen West was there doing a book signing as well as Ann and Kay of Mason Dixon Knitting. And, of course, tons of beautiful yarns in breathtaking colors. We considered not going as we were both very tired from a long day of yarn gazing and toddler wrangling, but we decided to push through. I’m so glad we did!


The kidlet taking a break after looking at lots (and lots) of yarn.

A major highlight of that weekend was meeting up in person with some wonderful friends on ravelry. I got to meet Carol (cehermanator) of knit equals joy, as well as her friends Jen (jenb69) and Meg (stamura). They were just as lovely in person as they are online. I am so glad I got to see them!

Things have been quite busy lately, but I am managing to squeeze in some knitting time. I’m working on knocking out a bunch of commissions currently and am looking forward to having time to do some of my own knitting soon. I have two of three Christmas stockings nearly done:


And I’m about to bind off a purple alpaca Easy Folded Poncho:


I recently finished sewing together two sweaters, and I have a third that I’m starting on today. All are finishing jobs I picked up at my LYS.

I have so much more I could share, but I’ll save it for another post. In the meantime, my blog was mentioned on the ravelry front page yesterday! Thanks to FogKnits for letting me know. I will leave you with some more photos from our weekend in Rhinebeck. These were all taken by the wifey and are copyright Callandra S. Cook.


Lunch on the deck!



Taking a walk with Baby Jade



FO Spotlight: Giant Blue Rectangle

I finished my poncho commission today! It’s blocked, seamed, and waiting for its owner to pick it up. I think it turned out well.

The rundown

Pattern: Easy Folded Poncho by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas.

Yarn: Just shy of a thousand yards of Berroco Ultra Alpaca in pale blue. It’s a 50% alpaca, 50% wool blend. I found it very nice to work with.

Size made: A bit larger than the pattern calls for (at the buyer’s request). I think the finished measurements before folding and sewing it were something like 28″ x 57″ instead of 20″ x 52″. I did not knit the optional cowl at the neck opening.

Needles: US8s. I used my new Addi Clicks. Of note, I found that when using the larger needles, the yarn slipped over the join much more easily.

Techniques used: Provisional cast on (I used this crochet chain cast on), spit splicing, mattress stitch, lots and lots (and lots) of stockinette.

Modifications: The size, as noted above. Also, the pattern calls for DK but the Ultra Alpaca is worsted, so I knit it at a slightly looser gauge.

Difficulty: Easy, but it’s important to keep consistent tension as any variations are easy to spot in the finished item.

Ravelled: here.

The Pretty

Unfortunately I didn’t get a true modeled pic, but I think this gives a pretty good idea of it:

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I “borrowed” a mannequin at my LYS to model it for photos. The color in the pics is actually pretty accurate.

I ended up blocking this puppy twice. The first time, I used my old method, which is to use long circular needles like blocking wires. Since they’re more flexible, I have to use a lot of pins in order to avoid rippled edges. I wasn’t completely satisfied after the first go round so when I got my new blocking wires, I did it again. I didn’t wash and soak the piece as I often do when blocking because I didn’t want the knitting to open up any more–the poncho was already big enough. Instead, I pinned it in place first and then used a spray bottle to wet down the areas I wanted to address. After the second time, I was happy with the results.


New blocking wires and mats in action in my mil’s basement!

Initially I wasn’t sure about the blue, but by the end I decided I really did like it. It’s probably not what I would choose for myself, but then again, I’m not really sure I’d wear a poncho anyway (I think they look nice on people; they’re just not my personal style*). If I made another one, I would consider doing it in color blocks or adding a stripe or two. There are some awesome examples of both in the finished projects on ravelry.

While this pattern is easy, there are a few details that I think really bring it to the next level. One is the use of the provisional cast on. This is done so that you can go back, pick up those stitches, and bind them off the same way as the bound off edge. That way the two edges match, which I think looks very nice. Another detail is in the shoulder seam. When you fold the poncho width-wise, the direction of knitting on the two ends is different. So, when you’re seaming them together, it’s important to leave a one stitch allowance on one side and a one and a half stitch allowance on the other. That makes the two edges appear to line up, and the seam is then nearly invisible. It’s also important to block it very precisely so that the size and shape will be just right.

So, I’m feeling good about getting another big project finished! Now to knit a sword…

*I use that word loosely when referring to myself!


Well, maybe a couple of things. I’m allllllmost done my big blue rectangle** and I’m 24 rows of lace away from binding off my Miller’s Daughter.

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God, I love this shawl.

I’ve decided to use this last day of May to start swatching for a toddler hat and diaper cover combo. His mom wanted a knight’s helmet hat, so I found a cute on on ravelry: Sir Knight Helmet by Martina Gardner.


Image copyright MAGKnits. Via ravelry.

I haven’t decided on a diaper cover pattern yet, but I think something basic will work.

While you’re waiting for me to block, finish and swatch and bring you more news of my knitting exploits, here are a few more patterns that have recently caught my eye. First up is Om Shawl by Andrea Mowry. It’s a super cool looking, versatile shawl and the worsted weight version of Yoga Shawl. Both are giant and can be worn as a poncho, wrap, huge scarf/cowl, or just used as a blanket. I like the way Om Shawl uses color and I like that the geometric motif is interesting but not overpowering. Both patterns are 25% off until June 5.


Image copyright Andrea Mowry. Via ravelry.

Next up is Halle by megi burci. This one’s much smaller and isn’t my usual style, but it caught my eye anyway. There’s something about the way the color pooling and the wavy lace border interact that I think is compelling.


Image copyright Vivian Aubrey. Via ravelry.

Lastly, I thought this was a cute little set: Udakua. A thing for summer by Anne B Hanssen. It’s a dress and pants set with cute stripes. I imagine the pattern would be pretty versatile, so you could make the pants into soakers, make the dress a shirt, etc. Also, it’s free until June 5!


Image copyright Anne B Hanssen Design AB. Via ravelry.


Image copyright Anne B Hanssen Design AB. Via ravelry.

That’s all the knitting news I have for today. Happy knitting!


*Nothing to see here.

**It’s official. I’m renaming my ravelry project as soon as I’m done this post.

Down the Ravelry Rabbit Hole

I’ve been getting tons done on my two main projects right now. My MO is to work on my giant blue rectangle aka Easy Folded Poncho early in the day. Then, once I’ve knocked out a significant chunk, I’ll reward myself by working on my Miller’s Daughter. That way, I make good progress on both of them and I don’t get too overwhelmingly bored.

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It’s getting giant-er!

I don’t have an updated MD pic because…well, it all kind of looks the same now. It’s bunched up on the needles in typical giant shawl fashion, so it’s tricky to see the shape or any change in size. However, as I might have mentioned before, I am madly and thoroughly in love with this thing. Unfortunately, the weather turned around today and it looks like we’re solidly in pre-summer mode here*. I just want to scrunch it up and wear it forever, but I would probably melt or catch fire or something.

On to the rabbit hole. Despite the fact that I’m “booked” several projects out, I keep getting lost in pattern searching on ravelry. There’s so much out there and I just want to knit it all! I keep adding favorites and adding things to my queue. I’m up to 16 items on my queue, which is kind of crazy for me. I don’t tend to queue things unless I’m 90% sure I’m going to make them. I use favorites to earmark things I’m interested in but might never get around to, or things I might want to look at later for inspiration. In particular, I’ve been bitten by the shawl bug pretty badly. Part of it might be the Melanie Berg KAL that I’m doing right now, but several of her shawls are really calling to me.


Photo copyright Melanie Berg. Via ravelry.

Meet Rheinlust. I didn’t realize how interesting this shawl was until I saw a bunch of close up pics on the KAL thread. The wave motif is worked horizontally and is made with twisted stitches. That gives each little wave a very crisp and three dimensional look and adds lovely definition. I think it looks best in a tonal, midnight blue shade. This one is going to have to wait until I’ve whittled down my stash quite a bit. It takes about 950 yards of fingering and I don’t have any solids with that yardage currently.


Photo copyright Melanie Berg. Via ravelry.

Another Mairlynd shawl that has tempted me is On the Spice Market. This one has a main color and six contrast colors. I’ve seen some really lovely color combinations on this one. Amazingly, I have enough stash yarn to do this one–all in Koigu KPM–so this one might find its way to my needles sometime soon! My MC would be this greyish lavender:

I have several choices on the contrast colors, so I’ll see what looks good together next time I dig them all out.


Photo copyright Melanie Berg. Via ravelry.

The last Melanie Berg shawl I’m going to talk about today is The Love of Spiders. Just look at it. Really, need I say more? It’s got gorgeous texture, shape, contrast and structure. I love it!

What are your favorite shawl patterns? Have you knit any of the ones above? What pattern bug has got to you lately? I’d love to know!

Happy knitting!

*I’d say spring, but it’s too humid for that shit, yo.

Really, Who Doesn’t Need More Yarn?

I got started on the Easy Folded Poncho today. Part of me (well, most of me) can’t believe that a pattern that tells you how to knit a giant rectangle costs $5. If you’re thinking of making one, here’s a spoiler: It’s a giant rectangle.

At least it really is easy and the yarn I’m working with is nice enough. It’s a light blue shade of Berroco Ultra Alpaca, a worsted weight yarn that’s half alpaca and half wool. It’s soft, warm, and has just enough of a halo to it. It seems to be going fairly quickly so far!

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The white yarn is a provisional cast on.

This project has got me wondering what I should do with the random greeny mustard skein of the same yarn I have floating around in my stash:

Berroco calls this color “fennel”?

Maybe it’s the color, but I’m wondering if it would do well for a Mesh Lace Slouchy Hat by Jamie Sande:


Copyright Jamie Sande. Photo via ravelry.

Coincidence??? I don’t think so! The pattern is written for a DK weight and the yarn is worsted, but the pattern gauge seems like it would work okay. The pattern is free, by the way! I think I’ll add it to my queue.

So, I’m being good and only working on commission projects and test knits. Well, mostly. I did knock out the last five rows of the next to last lace section on my Miller’s Daughter, but other than that I’ve been very focused! I do want to finish the shawl before the end of Melanie Berg’s KAL because, well, have you seen those prizes?? I made lots of progress on my Twinberry test knit. Now I’m just cruising through the stockinette part of the body, so it’s a good project to have for waiting rooms and traffic jams. I’m loving how it’s turning out so far!

So, I think we can all agree that I have enough yarn for the foreseeable future. Between my Goodwill finds, bargain hunting and freecycle hauls, I have more yarn than I can store…much less knit! However, the wifey got me a gift certificate to my LYS for Mother’s Day and I just couldn’t let it go to waste. I debated for several days over what to get and eventually settled on three skeins of lusciously soft and beautifully dyed Queen of Hearts, a new base from Frabjous Fibers a la Wonderland Yarns. Each skein is 410 squooshy yards of fingering weight 80/10/10 merino, cashmere and nylon. I selected the semisolid colors Sleeping Gryphon, Tea Tray and Off With Her Red. I guess one could use it for socks, but I’d consider that a tad sacrilegious. What it really wants to be is a shawl. For me. It was a present, after all!

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I’m not working with the best lighting right now, but the colors are actually pretty accurate.

But which shawl? In between bouts of virtuous obligation knitting, I’ve been going down the rabbit hole that is pattern searching on ravelry. Right now I’m kind of leaning toward Ashburn by Melanie Berg, but I’m not decided. Got any suggestions for a good, three color, fingering weight shawl? I’m all ears!

Happy knitting!

Honeymoon’s Over

For the past couple of days, I’ve had the luxury of lots of knitting time. As I’ve been stressed out about a variety of things (read: job), I took Paula’s sage advice and worked on things that made me happy. I made some serious progress on my Miller’s Daughter:

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I might have mentioned this before, but I am completely smitten with these colors and how they work together. I wasn’t sure initially about including the lighter blue (Cherry Tree Hill Superlace Ragg), but now? I’m completely sold. One ply of it is grey, which adds interesting texture to the mix. Occasionally, the color edges toward green, which mirrors the Edison Bulb well. As for the darker blue shade (The Fibre Company Road to China Lace), what’s not to love about an alpaca, silk, camel and cashmere blend? Well? Bueller? Yeah, that’s right–nothing. That just leaves the Edison Bulb (madelinetosh tosh lace), and for that, you either love it or you hate it. As for me, you guessed it! I love it.

I love how the texture of lace weight yarn worked on US4 needles is light and airy while still being delightfully squooshy. The shawl is just begging me to scrunch it up around my neck and wear the bejeesus out of it. I can’t wait.

If you are working a Miller’s Daughter, or any other Melanie Berg shawl, you might consider joining her 2nd Annual Any Shawl KAL. There’s still plenty of time left to finish one up by June 12, and there are several really lovely prizes to be had. Check out the thread on ravelry here.

Other projects I worked on this week include one that I will discuss tomorrow and another test knit for Taiga Hilliard. This one is called Twinberry and it’s a raglan tunic-style pullover. It can have either short or long sleeves and the length is adjustable (well, this is knitting…everything’s adjustable). There’s not a ton of it to see yet, but I’ve got a start on it:


I’m using Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece for this as I’ve found it’s a good yarn for kids clothes. It has good stitch definition, great colors, and should wear well. My only quibble with it is that it’s not machine washable or dryable, although I’ve a mind to give it a try sometime and see how it goes. It’s 80% cotton and 20% merino, so it shouldn’t felt. I suspect the worst that could happen is it might shrink some and the color might run. I’ve actually used the same yarn on three other kids test knits already! I got several more skeins of it from my giant freecycle yarn score, so I’ve got lots to work with.

I’m glad I had some time to work on these projects, as tomorrow I’m heading into crunch time. I have two commission jobs to work on, and I’m officially getting started on them tomorrow. The first is a knight’s helmet hat with matching diaper cover (and knitted sword!) for a one year old’s birthday party. I’m planning on using this Sir Knight Helmet pattern by Martina Gardner:


Photo copyright MAGKnits. Obtained from ravelry.

I will also be making this Easy Folded Poncho by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas:


Photo copyright Churchmouse Yarns & Teas. Obtained from ravelry.

I got the yarn for this, Berroco Ultra Alpaca, yesterday and I’m getting the pattern tomorrow. Both projects should be reasonably fun and go quickly, but it will be nice to get back to knitting for me and mine afterward.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a juicy post full of socks and socky plans. Until then, happy knitting!