Sunlight Shawlette Done!

I had no idea how much I would love this piece! But I do. It’s soft and drapey and light but I think it will still be warm. I love how the color block/stripe worked out. I even love the picot bind off, which is not usually my thing. I am so excited to give this to T on Thursday. I hope she loves it too!

The rundown

Pattern: Sunlight Shawl for Sad People (free)

Yarn: GGH Tajmahal that my former SIL gave me a loooong time ago. It’s 70% wool, 22% silk and 8% cashmere. I tried to use up as much as I had on this project. It took 572 yards all told.

Size made: One–knitted until I ran out of yarn. The finished measurements are something like 29″ deep by 72″ long.

Needles: US5

Techniques used: Russian join, picot bind off.

Modifications: None

Ravelled: Here

The pretty

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IMG_4254And here are a few modeled shots:

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She insisted on bringing her cell phone outside so she could take some pictures too!

Shawl Magic!

Today is a lovely, lovely day on many levels. In particular, it’s sunny and warm out, but not too warm. I’m sitting at home after the morning rush watching my daughter play, and I can hear birds singing and scolding the squirrels. I’m dealing with some pain but not as much as I have been lately, so that’s a plus. I feel rested and peaceful and content. I have some new yummy yarn to work with and a new WIP that’s making me happy.

And, I’m experiencing shawl magic first hand for the first time! I think it’s cool that there’s so much knitting out there that’s new to me. Looking over my projects page on ravelry, I see that out of my 20 most recent WIPs and FOs, all but two are projects that pushed me a little bit or have elements or techniques that were new to me. I learned how to knit socks, do a test knit, graft in pattern (like the badass I am), do helical knitting, knit a giant shawl, do dropped stitches, do all sorts of new joining and finishing techniques, and how to block a heck of a lot better. And more! As I’ve mentioned before, other aspects of my life lately have been pretty shitty so it’s super affirming to look over what I’ve accomplished in knitting. Because a lot of the rest of it sucks!

So yeah, shawl magic and my new WIP. A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a friend (who is also my daughter’s nanny) who has helped me so much in countless ways over the past few months. I told her I would like to knit her something and asked if she had any preferences as to item/color/fiber, etc. She said that she’s really open to most things but would prefer no bobbles (no offense to anyone, but I can’t stand bobbles and would never make them unless someone specifically requested them. And I liked that person a LOT). She told me a story about how someone once gave her a cashmere sweater and, tragically, it got felted. I of course instantly delved into my virtual stash to find anything with cashmere in it, and selected the same GGH Tajmahal that I made my mom’s Not a Buff from (turns out I don’t have much cashmere! I might need to fix that). I have a couple balls of the navy left and four balls of ice blue. I stumbled across this pattern* that I thought might work well, and a WIP was born!

gghnavy gghice

Don’t mind the obligatory kitty photo bomb.

The pattern is a basic triangular shawl knit top down. It’s mostly stockinette with a garter stitch border and optional picot bind off. There are optional random garter stripes throughout. Initially I thought I’d do the majority of the shawl in the ice blue and the garter stripes in the navy, but that didn’t turn out to be practical. I did figure out how to do it–knit a RS row in the navy then a WS garter row (k instead of p)–but there was no good way to weave in the ends without everything looking sloppy. In the end, I didn’t really like it anyway, so I pulled the stripe out and changed plans. I’ll knit with the ice blue until I run out of yarn and then switch to the navy, making it a color block type of thing.

IMG_4052It kind of reminds me of a jellyfish in this picture.

So, I’m knitting along and, even though I’ve read many other people’s accounts of how knitting a right side up triangle turns into an inverted triangle, it was still pretty cool to see it in action! For a more skilled explanation and diagram than I can put together, download the pattern (it’s free) and look at the notes there.

IMG_4051This pic reminds me of a Luna moth. Basically, the little divot at the bottom of the center spine is where I cast on ten stitches to start. You’d think that would form the point of a triangle, but it pulls into the edges on either side and forms a straight-ish line. The edge with the live stitches ends up forming the other two sides of the triangle. Pretty cool, right?

*I would like to clarify that, although the pattern is named “The Sunlight Shawl for Sad People”, I don’t think my friend is a sad person!

The Bitter End

Knitters, how do you find motivation to complete WIPs that have gotten…monotonous? Do you complete them? Or do you have a stash of hibernating, nearly complete projects? I don’t usually have an issue knitting through to the end, but I definitely lag behind when it comes to weaving in ends and doing seaming and finishing bits (case in point: my Capucine, languishing without its tassels). Like many “efficient” knitters, I tend to gravitate toward projects that have minimal finishing needs, and prefer using grafting/Kitchener stitch and the like when possible.

I just measured my Not a Buff and it is, conservatively, 15.5″. That means I have only 3.5″ to go before switching to rib, and only another inch or so after that to be done. But man, does it feel like pulling teeth. I keep browsing patterns and projects on ravelry, pondering what’s going on the needles next, dreaming of the gems in my stash and how they will morph into projects. I just want it to be done already! Any tips for gritting through? Or recommendations for my Netflix queue?

A few days ago, I was looking through boxes of knitting and craft supplies that have remained packed since our move three years ago. One was marked WIPs, and I sort of dreaded opening it. I’m glad I did, as I found the ggh tajmahal I’m using now (in a previously unfinished and abandoned sweet pea), as well as an in-need-of-frogging monica in Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece. However, there were a few other things in there that brought a little sadness and anxiety and I’m trying to determine how to handle them.

First, an unfinished unbiased that I made out of wool that my mother brought back for me from Scotland. The wool is a beautiful heathery charcoal color but it is very very coarse. I have a high wool tolerance, but this is out of my league. So, I thought that making a bag out of it would be a good idea. I modified the pattern as I didn’t have quite enough yardage to finish. As a result, the V in the middle makes the bag too shallow to really function. I had this thought that I would line it with rectangular patterns that would cover the open V shape, but never got around to it (see above re: finishing; I’m even worse with doing linings/backings). In the meantime, my style has really changed and I can’t see myself ever carrying a handbag anymore, and so it sits. I suppose I should frog it, but it’s hard to sacrifice the work that went into it.

Second, I found my zigzag blanket that was intended for one of my twin nephlets as a baby (they are seven now, I think). I worked so. hard. on that blanket. I got through so much of the finishing: I seamed a million or so squares together, worked in a lot of the ends, picked up and knitted a border…but never put the backing on. And so it sits. I will try to finish it sometime as I really love it and want it to be put to use somehow.

Last, a scarf/stole that I knitted while a close friend’s mother was critically ill. It’s in Araucania Nature Cotton. I think I used a BW pattern called Rosebud? Something to do with roses. In any case, I had intended to give it to her when she recovered, but she passed away. I planned to give it to my friend instead and all this time (it’s been six or seven years) I thought that’s what I had done. So, when I found it in that box, a wave of sadness hit me. I had finished knitting it but never weaved in the ends or blocked it. I think I will finish it and give it to her, but I’m sad that I never did before.

The positive side of all this is that there is so much potential here, in all these nearly-done WIPs. There’s something extremely gratifying about completely finishing a project and then sending it out into the world to begin its new role. Handmade things go from projects that bring me joy to FOs that can potentially bring others joy (or me, when I make something for myself…it does happen sometimes). I love that I can make things that are both beautiful and useful, and also special because they were made for a purpose for someone.

On Finding Yarn and Finishing Techniques

The universe is not helping me on my stashbusting mission. First, the Goodwill windfall. Next, a fellow raveler decided to give away some of her own stash, and I was the lucky recipient of another windfall. Then, I discovered DBNY. Lastly, I was poking through a closet yesterday, opened a project bag I haven’t seen in a while, and found several skeins of different yarns (as well as four out of five of my US 3 dpns). Guys, this was pretty cool. Not only could I really use those dpns, but some of the yarn? Awesome! An untouched skein of Noro Silver Thaw! There was some other stuff in there, too–some kitchen cotton, some higher quality DK cotton, some sock yarn, a couple of other random things. But brand new Noro? Beautiful. I love Noro yarns, both for the long long long color repeats and for the interesting and often luxurious fiber blends. So now I just have to figure out what to do with it…

noro silver thaw

What I actually thought I might find in that project bag was my copy of The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancie M. Wiseman. I bought it many years ago and have used almost every page. I can’t find it currently and it’s driving me nuts. I’ve had to resort to the internet for questions about technique selection, finishing tips and the like, and it can be really hard to track down a good source. I like the book a lot because for each topic, several different options are discussed and the pros and cons are listed for each. The silver lining in this is that a week or two ago while looking for a decent comparison of cast ons for ribbing, i stumbled across this little gem: Tillybuddy’s very stretchy cast on for single or double rib. I used it for the project I was working on (Capucine), then for the next project (Bel et Bon mitts), then for the next and…you get the picture. If you haven’t used it before, I would highly recommend trying it. It’s good for anything with 1×1 or 2×2 rib, is very stretchy and is very fast and easy. And, it doesn’t require doing a long tail anything! I always misjudge the amount of yarn needed for those and end up either short or wasting some. So yeah, check it out.

I still hope I find my book soon. Maybe if I keep looking for it, I’ll find more stashes of Noro or other fiber bonanzas I’ve stored and forgotten about!

Not a Buff update: about half done, give or take. I may make it a little less than the prescribed 20″. But then again, I may not. I’m concocting a ggh tajmahal review post in my head for once it’s done.

The Strangest Thing…

So, in my first post, I mentioned that I struggle with depression, right? I promise this won’t be a post (or a blog) just about mental health–there will be knitting too. But, depression is something that I always tend to hide, and I want to start to speak out about it some. At least, I’d like to think and talk about how it affects my life.

So yes, the strangest thing happened to me today. This morning, when my wife’s alarm went off and my toddler started stirring (anyone with a toddler knows that “stirring” is a very loud process), my first several waking thoughts surprised me. They were not what they usually are. That is, they were not anything along the lines of “Dear God, why me?” or “It’s got to be several hours before I have to get up” or “Ten more minutes, for the love of Bob!” They weren’t even close to “blah blah blurrrrrrghhh”. Nope. Know what they were?

“Man, I can’t wait to get up and go work on my knitting project!”

I can’t remember being excited to get out of bed, pretty much ever. The only exception would be Christmas morning as a very young child. Other than that, I’ve always been a night owl, an insomniac, the veritable opposite of a morning person. This is significant for a lot of reasons–it means things are going very well, treatment is helping, and that there is hope for things to change. Very recently, it was a feat of strength and motivation to get out of bed at all. This is very different. I would like to bottle up this feeling and save it so that next time things are really bad, I can open it up and just take a whiff. Not as a cure, though. Just a reminder that things are not hopeless, that they can get better.

Okay, on to the knitting! The project that inspired these thoughts is my Not a Buff that I’m making for my mom. I’ve gotten just shy of 6″ done, which is about 30% complete. The yarn (ggh tajmahal) is so pretty and soft, the design simple but still interesting, the fabric stretchy and supple. The yarn is, I think, a 3 ply, but it knits up a little like a single the way the stitches slant on one side. It’s got a soft shine to it that is pretty but perfectly understated. In short, I really like it.
not a buff

There are a couple of things that I might change if I knit this pattern again. It calls for a slipped stitch on every repeat, but doesn’t specify to slip as to knit or as to purl. I’ve been slipping as if to purl the whole time and am wondering if it was a mistake. I’m thinking that might be why the first stitch of each traveling band is sort of twisted outward. I’m not going to rip it back and start over, but I would try it the other way next time. I don’t think it looks bad the way it is–it’s actually kind of pretty. The other thing I might do differently is experiment a little with the different ways to do M1. There’s one of those on every repeat, as well. I’m doing it front to back, but forgot to knit it through the back loops. Again, not something I’m going to rip it back for, but something I would try different ways next time before committing to one. Pretty minor stuff, in all. The color in the closeup photo is really washed out, but you can see the stitch detail pretty clearly.
buff closeup

My other WIPs are in the same state as before. I’ve got good momentum going on the buff, so I want to see that through for now. Once I get to a clearing between projects, I’m contemplating switching my knitting style to continental. I’ve almost always been a thrower since learning around age 7. A friend in college was a continental knitter, and I had the chance to see how much faster it was. I successfully transitioned over, but then had a long spell when I wasn’t knitting. When I picked the needles back up a few months later, my muscles just remembered throwing. But, I was reading about it on the forums on Ravelry yesterday, and found that a lot of people have successfully transitioned. So I think there might be hope for me yet! I want to wait until I’m between projects, though, because I don’t want my gauge to get screwed up.

Enough musings for one morning…on to the knitting I woke up wanting to do!