So Behind! And an FO Spotlight!

Oh blog, I’ve missed you! It’s been a busy couple of weeks and I’ve been stretched a little thin. I went back to work (after nearly a year on leave) and whew! It’s been challenging, and it hasn’t left me with a lot of free emotional energy for blogging. I am hoping that as I adjust to being back, things will settle and I’ll get into more of a routine, and that there will be space in that routine for regular blogging again.

As you might expect, my knitting time has been affected as well. I have been able to get some things done, though! I ended up with two projects entered into the Ravellenic Games, one WIP and one baby blanket (which I finished with mere minutes to spare). I have yet to get prettified photos of either, so I will wait to share them for a bit.

Earlier this month, Ambah O’Brien posted a testing call for a new cowl pattern.
You might remember I tested her Merinda Shawl pattern a while back:

Well, I love that shawl. It was a lovely pattern and a joy to knit, and I admire many of her other patterns (someday I’ll make a Lilli Pilli). She’s posted a number of testing calls since then, but they’ve mostly been shawls and I just haven’t had the time to squeeze any in. Since this one was a cowl, I just couldn’t resist. I ended up racing a little to get it done, but I did it! It was blocked, dried and photographed by the due date. So, I give you my Mendia Cowl!

The rundown

Pattern: Mendia Cowl by Ambah O’Brien. Not published yet.

Yarn: 308 yards of Noro Silk Garden Lite. I had this in my stash. I have no memory of where it came from!

Size made: One. Finished dimensions are about 29″ in circumference by 13″ tall.

Needles: US6s.

Techniques used: Longtail cast on and a modified stretchy cast off that Ambah developed.

Modifications: None.

Difficulty: I think this pattern is intermediate. The stitch pattern is a little complicated at first blush, but it makes sense once you get into it. The tricky part is making sure you can read your knitting very well as fixing mistakes is challenging.

Ravelled: here.

The Pretty

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I ran into a few knots in the yarn (as seems to happen a lot with Noro). I chose to just carry on with whatever color was there and not worry about keeping the color sequence uninterrupted. I like the slightly more random outcome that gave me. As I was knitting, I kept thinking the colors looked like a southwestern sunset.

Since the yarn I chose is a loosely spun single with some variability in its thickness, the stitch definition isn’t very high. So, the chevron pattern doesn’t pop as much as it could. Other than that, I really like this yarn for the pattern. I like the color gradations, the drape and the texture. Here are some closer pics:

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It ended up with an unexpected rainbow pattern! That’s fine, though–I can rock some rainbows:


Enjoy this rare sighting of me.

I couldn’t get any better pics because, even in the air conditioning, I couldn’t stand to have it on more than a few seconds! It has been very hot here this month. I am looking forward to fall, and to bringing out my wraps and shawls again!

In all, this ended up being a quick knit, even with lots of twisted stitches and a somewhat fiddly stitch pattern. I think it would look great in a variety of different yarns. In a high-twist merino semisolid, it would have great depth of color and a lot more drape. In this more rustic single, it has a lot of structure which helps it sit well. I’m very happy with it! I have almost two skeins of yarn left, so I might make a hat or mitts to match. I foresee this getting a lot of use this winter!

Happy knitting!


MDSW 2016

My plans to go to MDSW on Saturday got a smidge derailed. I overdid it a bit on Friday, had some serious pain issues, and ended up in bed all day Saturday. Thankfully, I was feeling better Sunday morning and my mom’s flight home didn’t leave until late afternoon. So, we loaded up the toddler and a bunch of snacks and headed off to the “Maryland Sheep and Wolf Vestibul”, as my daughter calls it*.

Lots of things went really, really well. We got there early. There were no lines, no crowds, no waits. I recently got a temporary disabled parking placard so we were able to park just a few feet from the gate. The crowds didn’t start to hit until 10 or 11, so there was plenty of time for the kidlet to run around and amuse herself without getting in anyone’s hair.


She got about a million compliments on her dress, and I overheard approximately 15 billion whispered comments on how cute she was. I even saw someone snapping a picture of her. She picked dandelion and grass bouquets while my mom and I looked at beautiful yarn. Couldn’t have been much better.

I got to fondle so much lovely yarn. Highlights include the Neighborhood Fiber Co booth, Verdant Gryphon, Miss Babs, and many, many more. I met some of Orange Smoothie’s shawls “in person” at the Miss Babs booth! I touched qiviut for the first time at the Bijou Basin Ranch shop. We saw sheep, rabbits, sheep, alpaca, sheep, and more sheep. One of the shopkeepers brought a one day old baby lamb that had been rejected by her mother. I could have died from the cuteness!



I got some lovely free samples of wool wash from Kookaburra that I can’t wait to try out. We saw spinners spinning, sheep being sheared, and many many knitters wearing their lovely handknits. I was hoping to finish my Miller’s Daughter shawl but I didn’t even come close. I wore my Merinda instead (and got lots of lovely comments).

It was actually a little chilly as there was a decent wind. As it happens, the only sweater I had with me for the kidlet was also a handknit. She was really representing my work, and looking super cute while doing it!


I didn’t realize until after we left that I didn’t take any pictures of the festival…just my kid! Whoops! I guess I’ll just have to go back next year!

*She was very concerned about the wolves initially. We had to have some discussion about that before she’d agree to go. Understandably, I think.

I Like Big SHAWLS and I Cannot Lie

AKA FO Spotlight: Merinda test knit

I wrapped up my Merinda shawl today. As per usual, I finished the knitting some time ago but dragged my feet on weaving in the ends and blocking it. I hunkered down yesterday and just wove ends in every spare moment I had. I blocked it overnight and voila! Done.

The rundown

Pattern: Merinda by Ambah O’Brien, not yet published.

Yarn: madelinetosh Twist Light in Big Sur (420 yds) and Fathom (355 yds). Koigu KPM in Spring Green 2334 (445 yds).

Size made: One size. Mine ended up being about 120″ long and 40″ deep.

Needles: US5s for the body and 9s for the bind off

Techniques used: Wove in ends using a knit picker a la TECHknitter.

Modifications: None for the actual knitting. I did block it a touch larger (okay, a lot larger) than the pattern called for. More on that below.

Ravelled: Here.

The pretty

It’s a little tricky to tell from the pics, but the colors work together in a very interesting way. I used the Big Sur and the KPM for the stripe sections and the Fathom for the eyelet bands. The Big Sur and the KPM interact in a subtle but very interesting way. The bold graphic effect of the Fathom against the lighter blue greens is dramatic but not garish (IMNSHO). I love how it turned out and it was a joy to knit.

The shape is unique, as far as I can tell. It blocks into a triangle but right off the needles it’s a wonky quadrangle. It ends up being quite long and just slightly asymetrical. It was a bit of a challenge to block as I really don’t have the proper equipment or space. I pinned it to foam mats and/or the mattress on our queen size guest bed. Even laying it out diagonally, I still had to pin the tips to the side of the mattress. The dimensions given in the pattern are 98″ by 29″ but mine is 120″ by 40″!


Couldn’t even get it all in the picture!

I blocked it larger for a few reasons. First, I like a big shawl. I wear them kind of like scarves so it’s nice to have some length to wrap up in. Especially when it’s mostly lovely, silky soft madelinetosh! Second, the yarn just seemed to want to be bigger. I’m glad I listened as I love the resulting drape the fabric has.

The pattern isn’t released quite yet as Ambah wanted to fine tune a few things. I would highly recommend it once it’s published. It’s not a technically challenging knit and the design elements give you a lot of bang for your buck. It is miles of garter stitch but at least it works up fairly quickly. There are so many options for color combinations. I think it would look great with a gradient thrown in there, or a long color repeat yarn like Noro. You could opt for a high contrast pair for the stripes, or use a speckled yarn paired with a solid, and get really neat results. The possibilities are, as they say, endless!

And, because everyone loves a random and gratuitous cat pic or two, here are the latest stripey antics:


Oliver, aka “Kitten Man”, fishing for kibbles under the dishwasher


Sammy trying to retrieve his “fuzzy chicken” toy from under the china cabinet

Testing All the Things

One of my recent posts included some nonsense about not doing any more test knits for a while. My intentions were good. I keep finding myself up against knitting deadlines and I wanted to be a little more relaxed about it for a while. Also, the test knitting has limited my time to work on other projects. I had this whole plan. I haven’t even been looking at the Testing Pool forum (much).

However. Two of the designers I’ve worked with several times both earburned* me with some new patterns. I held out for a couple of days on the first one, and a couple of seconds on the next batch. I don’t even want to admit how many tests I’ve signed up to do between now and May because it’s a little more than was probably all that smart. They are all really cute designs, though! At least they’re all baby or kid sized, so they should work up pretty quickly.

In the meantime, my Merinda shawl just needs the ends woven in and blocking. My Athena shawl is waiting on more yarn (I decided to buy the skein available fsot on rav, but haven’t heard back from the seller yet). I cast off on Betsey last night, so that one just needs ends woven and blocking. The only thing actually on the needles right now is the Feathery Lace Stole. I am making progress on it…two rows at a time!

I got a massive haul of yarn yesterday (more on that later) so am trying to get all that organized. Once I get things sorted and stored I’ll be able to pull out some of the yarns I need for tests. Then, I will just knit like the wind! Good thing my kid likes the stuff I make for her!


*Ravelry’s equivalent of a page. Yes, it’s a verb now. Sort of.

The Knitter’s Curse

Someday soon, when I finish the knitting for two more tests and the weaving in and blocking for two more, this blog will return to its regularly scheduled programming. In the interim, please enjoy this anecdote of an experience I recently had.

Sometime over the holidays (Christmas? Thanksgiving?) I was browsing a certain discount yarn website and saw they had a promo going. If you spent $x you could get a surprise goodie bag worth at least $20 for free. Well, their stuff is typically on the cheap side anyway and I’m a sucker for a good deal, so I decided to go for it. I placed my order and promptly forgot about it.

A couple of weeks later, my package arrived. The goodie bag contained:

-one skein of blue Zumrut Bamboo (I have a couple of skeins of this already, but they are pink. I still have to find something to do with it)
-one skein of Berroco Lacey in a cranberry red (maybe I’ll use it someday)
-one size E crochet hook, NIP (maybe I’ll use it someday)
-one Berroco pattern pamphlet (maybe I’ll…you get the point)
-one yarn requirements reference pamphlet from Interweave. This I could see being useful.

And, cue dramatic music:

-one knitter’s curse


In case you can’t tell what that is, it’s a giant WIP. It’s approximately five million mitered squares made from beautiful fingering weight yarn. Each is made by picking up stitches on the last one so, being a WIP, the shape and edges are very irregular. I’d like to state for the record that it is downright gorgeous. Someone worked a long time (and used a lot of very nice yarn) to make this. I will probably never know where it came from. This particular yarn seller liquidates estates and closed yarn stores and the like and sells the wares at a significant discount. This was probably part of someone’s personal oeuvre.

The problem, of course, with such a WIP is what on earth am I supposed to do with it? I reviewed my options.

  1. I could finish it. Except that I don’t have any chance of matching any of the colorways. Less importantly, I’ve never done mitered squares so it would have taken a bit to get the hang of it and get my gauge to match close enough.
  2. I could cut it up and use it for something else. My only idea on this front was to make pillows out of it. They would have been beautiful but I wasn’t sure exactly when I would get to making them (i.e., probably never) and it just might have killed me to cut into such beautiful knitting.
  3. I could use it as-is. Except it is a sort of weird giant V shape with irregular borders. I can’t think of any use for it.
  4. I could put it in my box of snoozing WIPs and get around to doing something with it someday (i.e., probably never).

I dismissed all these ideas. Someone worked very hard on it and it deserves better than to be stashed away and forgotten. It is about 435 gm, which means it could well be over 1700 yards’ worth of gorgeous. l didn’t want it to go to waste, but I also didn’t want the burden of someone else’s WIP hanging over my head. I’ve got enough of those of my own! So I decided to post about it on the yarn seller’s ravelry group. I asked if anyone had any ideas for what to do with it.

I got a couple of responses, but nothing particularly useful. Then, someone responded that the “curse” was right up her alley and that she would love to take it off my hands! We emailed a bit and decided to do a swap. I gave her general ideas about what kinds of yarn I like and she agreed to send me about $20 worth (the stated value of the freebie). I packed up the curse and shipped it to her. When she got it, she emailed me the link to the pattern the original knitter was probably working from: Oriental Jacket. She said it looked to her like it was about halfway done. I would highly recommending clicking through and looking at the pictures as it’s quite an impressive project. She also let me know she was adding more yarn to her swap as the curse was much bigger and nicer than she expected!

A few days later I got a package from her with a skein of Noro Kureyon Sock, two different colorways of Cascade Casablanca and a skein of handpainted Opal sock yarn in return. Sweet! The curse is removed and two knitters are happy! I am excited to see what she does with her new treasure!