Last week saw me finally complete 100 blocks of my Hue Shift afghan. Woohoo!

My greens and creams Hue Shift blanket in a pile on my coffee table.Love the color, love the pattern, love, Love, LOVE it.

Let me just say that last column was a study in tension and nerves of steel. I knew going into this project that yardage would be a bit of a mystery because I was using worsted and the pattern was written for sport or DK. All Ravelry research told me that no matter what you use, odds are that you’ll be waaay too close to the end of your skeins, which is why I went with Dream In Color for most of the colors — at 250 yds a skein, it was the best buy. Because I was trying to get a specific range between light and dark, I also used Madelinetosh Vintage (200 yds), Malabrigo Rios (210 yds) and Mrs. Crosby Steamer Trunk (165 yds HOLY CRAP ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!?) all of which I had to buy two skeins right at the start. I didn’t start weighing my skeins until after the 6th or 7th column but, as predicted, it was close.


Before the last row.


After the last row.


Despite my learning curve and the occasional effed up stitch, I’m a very happy camper with it. I debated quite a bit on whether or not to put a border on it but, in the end, adding a border won out for the very practical reason that I wish the afghan was just a bit bigger. I figured a two inch border should do the trick.

Unfortunately, there’s always a hiccup in the plan, and this hiccup was that I don’t like the look of the border the pattern tells you to use. I wanted a simple mitred corner garter stitch border. How hard was that really?

Yeeeeaaaah. Turns out, it’s harder than you’d think when you start trying to figure out the mechanics of it. Remember, garter stitch requires you to turn your project over and go the other way. Try as I might, I couldn’t suss out how to make this work the way I wanted it to. But folks, Google and TECHknitter — bless her awesome heart! — is your friend. She knew there’d knitters like me searching for how to knit garter stitch in the round and she points us to this post by Fleegle wherein I could find the easy answer to the very problem that stymied me:

Use two skeins.

IMG_9192I am gobsmacked by it’s simplicity and, ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you it works like a charm. Absolutely BRILLIANT. Which is good that it’s easy, because after picking up 1,000 stitches for the border, it currently takes me a bit over an hour and a half to get around this afghan ONCE. Which means 3.5 hours for a single garter ridge. Which, given that my gauge here is 1″ = 6 ridges, translates to 39 straight hours of fun and frolic.

I think I’ll be at this for a very long time.



Edited to add: I’ve culled some interesting resource bits and pieces on garter stitch edges, and thought it might be useful to list them here — at least until the links break.

Tidy Garter Stitch Edges

Knitting a [blanket] border I’m in love with the Rachael Rabbit’s Continuous Cable Border Pattern, listed here.

My Blankets & Borders & Colors Pinterest board is great place to find ideas and inspiration for both borders and blankets.



Well, it’s finally done. I’ve put the needles down, blocked it with a frenzy, and at last, the Clapotis is off the wires.

And I’m really not impressed.

I feel like that’s some sort of sacrilege to say out loud. Apparently everyone loves this pattern. But I just don’t see it. Maybe I knit it too loosely. Perhaps I’ve always subconsciously had something against this yarn. It could be that the pattern should be made with a heavier yarn. Most likely it’s a combination of all three. But whatever it is, I’ve never felt the love for this piece. And you know what? I think that’s okay (even though I’m nervously looking up for the lightning strike).

What I’ve learned here is this: I don’t care for the dropped stitch pattern on this weight of yarn with such big needles. I want a firmer binding on a finished piece, and this is not that. Now that I’m done, I see lots of places where it could be better, where the stitches could be tighter, or gaps where I don’t think there should be gaps. I’m even wondering if I might have gotten the stitches wrong on the edges, or messed it up when I had to go down and fix a missed yarnover. Hmmm. Also, I just dread the first time something snags a loose thread, because you know it’s gonna happen. Suffice it to say, this particular Clapotis is not one of my favorite pieces.

So I’m glad I did this, because I think it’s important to discover the things you don’t like as well as the things you love. And even better if I can put words to it, so that next time, I can avoid what I don’t like. But now I can check this off the list, and move on to something I’m gonna love a lot more. Besides — TheCoed has been nosing around as I blocked this piece, so I think it’s going to become hers, just because I know she’ll wear it with joy. And that’s really the point of it all, isn’t it?

So there’s my report, and my teachable moments. Everyone sing along with me: “Clap on! Clap off! Clap on, clap off, Clapotis!”

Why, oh why, does LoveJunkie always lay down on my knitting? This weekend she’s been recovering from a procedure at the vet and she just looks so pathetic, I don’t have the heart to move her. Oh sure, play the sympathy card this time, why doncha.


Since I was whining about variegated yarns a couple weeks ago, I thought I should probably show some progress with what I’ve been making. I’d decided to do Clapotis with the Miss Babs’ Rhinebeck 2011 colorway, and I really like how the colors are playing off the stockinette/dropped stitch combo. it had been an easy pattern to travel with (although I really need to stop talking so much when I knit this, because I totally lose track of the YO after the k2tog. I’ve had to go back and fix that at least a handful of times (although that means I’m getting really good at tinking) and it will off the count by one if I don’t catch it. So, I’m still moving forward, but I should really pay a bit more attention when I’m cruising along in this one.

But at the moment, I’ve put Clapotis on hiatus so that I can make more progress on Trillian. TheProgrammer decided she really liked it and beat me to the punch by asking for it. *eyeroll* So I’m trying to get moving on it on the off chance I might actually get it done for her birthday which is… oh, Tuesday. I’m gonna get back to that and hopefully make tracks stat. It’s about a yard long on the curved side, so I’m starting to get a good feel for what this will look like as a finished object. I will tell you that Indigodragonfly’s Merino/Silk 4-ply sock yarn is, quite simply, delish.

I like the fact I’m making progress in gradually getting through both stash and projects. I’m happy with both of these pieces (although I’m pretty sure they’ll both be gifts) but I’m also looking forward to getting them done and moving on to the next things in line. I seem to have a queue that gets longer and longer and longer, but I guess it’s progress that I’ve got actual yarn matched up with actual projects. Now if I could only get outgoing projects done faster than the incoming stash, I’d call that making real progress.

Carry on, McDuff!

Apparently I am on the fence about variegated yarn. I see the skeins and love the play of colors together and can’t help but reach for it. But it seems that once I start to knit it, I become far more persnickety about the same play of colors. I’d never really noticed how strongly I felt until this latest episode of stashbusting — and now it seems like a bitchslap to the head.

At Rhinebeck last year, I discovered Miss Babs yarn. This was probably a mistake, because now I know to make a beeline to her stall from now on. 2011 seemed to be the Year of the Warm Colors, which was also unusual; I came home with an inordinate amount of yellow and orange mixed in with some other gorgeous tonal blends. But after I’d made my (rather large) Miss Babs purchase, I noticed a skein that seemed to contain it all — reds, oranges, yellows, and even a touch of green. It was speaking my color language. It also didn’t help that it was the Rhinebeck 2011 limited edition colorway; I cannot seem to resist the words LIMITED EDITION. *eyeroll* So I decided to buy it and make a scarf out of it so that I could, in fact, wear it on my next festival trip. And over the months, I’ve been looking for something that would allow the color play to shine, without taking away from it with an intricate lace pattern. Enter Trillian — a simple triangular scarf that is mostly garter stitch with a decorative geometric edging across two edges. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right? So I queued it up, and when I was ready for a new travel project, I wound the skein and cast on.

It didn’t take me very long before I realized that I really didn’t like this. I mean, I really didn’t like it. That doesn’t usually happen in a project, but this time it stood out like a sore thumb. Four inches in and I was itching to frog the piece and give the yarn to the next person I passed on a street corner. I probably should have guessed something was wrong when I looked at the cake of wound yarn and noticed how different the color play looked from the skein — the skein has large patches of color while the cake is quite streaky. “It’ll be fine once I start knitting it,” I nervously muttered to myself, but alas, it never got to ‘fine.’ It actually got to “Oh my god, this looks like a freaking washcloth,” which was pretty much the kiss of death because, in my mind, people knit washcloths out of yarn they don’t want and can’t think of anything better to do with it. That’s a pretty sad state of affairs, if you ask me — especially if we are talking festival yarn. So I stopped knitting but kept the pathetic triangle around to contemplate it. Perhaps I was being too harsh. Maybe it’s just me. So when a friend stopped by for a cup of coffee, I decided to ask her what she thought about it. Her first reaction? “It looks like a washcloth.”

Okay then. Not just me.

I continued to ponder the situation, and sifted through Ravelry stashes and project pages to see what others did with their variegated yarn. Eventually — because, really, it’s like six degrees of Kevin Bacon — you see that everyone has knit a Clapotis. While that pattern has never really beckoned to me, I did notice the stripes of dropped stitches seems to lend itself to continuing the line of color across the piece. Since I didn’t have any other alternative, I decided to see how the yarn played out in this pattern. I frogged the triangular washcloth and cast on for Clapotis. And am I glad I did. Almost immediately, I saw a difference in how the variegation played across stockinette rather than being confined by the garter stitch. The stockinette allows the color play to take front seat to the stitch, and I can see much more of a flow to the color, rather than the choppiness of the garter stitch. It makes sense, really, when you think about it, but until I saw it in action, I really had no idea that it would ever make a difference. It’s also interesting to note how much more I knit up with the same amount of yarn frogged from the garter stitch — again, it makes sense when you think about the construction, but it’s not something I’ve actually considered. Now I know that the stitch is just as much a factor in the look of a finished object as is the drape of a yarn and the color play. Thank goodness for teachable moments.

After I had this epiphany, I went back through my stash just to see how much variegated yarn I had. Ironically, I have 29 different variegated yarns (not including the Noro, which is another beast entirely) and I’ve got several cakes where I started a project and then quickly abandoned it because I found myself yet again not really liking what I’d started. I suspect how the yarn was dyed also has a distinct effect on the outcome, although I haven’t done my due diligence in figuring this out. Which also begs the question, can I predict the type of pattern that will knit out by the way it looks on the skein? I’m thinking I will need to look into this further. Watch for the inevitable follow up post, because now I’m actually gonna research this because it will bug the shit out of me.

But as for now, I’m just relieved this is working out and that I’m actually enjoying this project. The pattern is super easy (although, God help me if I eff this up, as I won’t really know until I try to drop the stitches at the end to see if I did it right. And what happens if I actually DO make an error in the stitches? I’m trying not to let myself think about this because, really and truly, it is what it is. If I have to frog back, so be it. After back-to-back-to-back projects on size 4 needles or less, size 8 needles are a FREAKING BREEZE. So what do I care? Since I have approximately half of what the pattern calls for for a shawl, I think this will be a perfect scarf size. And it’s something new, and it’s different, and I think it actually salvages what could have been a very ugly situation. Not to mention a fugly washcloth.

Besides. Everybody knits a Clapotis, right?


Dear Mother-of-God. I. Am. Done.

It took a dogged persistence and a weekend of focus, but I managed to get fracture complete before my friend arrived for the conference.

I’m not sure why this was such torture for me. The pattern is easy to follow; the size isn’t so overwhelming that I was afraid the end would never come; the yarn is luscious to the touch. And yet… I was glad to weave in the ends of this one.

It’s interesting; it has some components of Westknit’s Clockwork, but more broken up and really, more delicate. If you’ll recall, this is the shawl for my friend, Goodwitch. She fell in love with the yarn and the colors when we were yarnhopping in Austin (actually, only about 15 minutes from her home. Who knew?) and just thought the piece was light and lovely. She loved the colors because they reminded her of the beach. I loved the color names for what they said about the piece: “Cedar — I am grateful for the wisdom of my ancestors” and “Peace Within — I remind myself that peace is found within.” I thought they were so very calming, and the silk/wool blend was just perfect to give a friend who lives in the middle of Texas. I started knitting this as a thank you for her wonderful hospitality time and time again but, in an odd turn of fate, Glenda’s father passed shortly thereafter, and I was struck about the added significance of the Cedar color in providing some comfort for her dad’s passing.

Memorial Day weekend, I realized I needed to make some serious progress on this project if it was going to be done in time for Goodwitch’s arrival, so I put in a lot of time over the holiday weekend. Finished the first set of stripes, the second full block of blue, and the first full pattern block. For some reason, I had an extraordinarily hard time switching to the pattern; somewhere I’d lost 2 stitches, so I had to incorporate them somewhere inconspicuous, which meant frogging several rows, tinking down, and reknitting. Finally I made it back on track, and finally made it to the point where I’m noticing that the rows are considerably shorter than they were, and that makes me happy as well. As I continued up the shawl, I I substituted shorter cords on my circulars.

A note about myself: not really sure I love the bottom up idea. Not in shawls, not in sweaters, not really in anything having to do with knitting. I think it’s because if something goes wrong and the unthinkable happens and you run out of yarn, you are suddenly up shit creak without a paddle or a skein to save your life. I would much rather do top down knowing that my rows were getting longer at the end, but that if I had to, I could end early, or camouflage my error as a decorative border.

I was a tad concerned that this was not gonna be big enough. Until I blocked it (last minute, of course–in fact, about 10 hours before I was going to see her). ZOMGBBQWTF. Thank god I only made a small!

As you can see from the picture, it blocked out bigger than my dining room table. Seriously. And that magical question, as always, is “How does soaking fibers and then stretching them out to dry end up making a deliciously soft finished object?” The world may never know. But what I do know is that the tumultuousness of the emotions that ran across her face when I presented her with this scarf, and explained it’s significance, was beautiful and overwhelming and raw and real. And to know that something I’ve made can cause such an effect on the recipient is an amazing experience, and it is well worth the love, time, and effort put into it. If I only see that effect once in my life, it is enough.

Love to you, Glenda. May you wear it and remember your father with love.

Clearly my mind doesn’t care to work in a linear fashion. I have been working on Hitchhiker as my brainless travel piece, while leaving Fracture home as it is a two yarn work and it’s just easier not to umm, knot up. Of course, the downside to working with incredibly amazing yarnporn is that the feeling is so nice, you get in a groove and tend to continue with it wherever you are. Such is the case with Hitchhiker and, as a result, last Friday I finished that puppy over strawberry-mango margaritas (but while I was out at a bar drinking. THAT TOTALLY COUNTS). An EXCELLENT way to finish a project, by the way. It’s soft, it’s delish, and I’m sorely tempted not to block. That being said, it probably would be a good idea to do a gentle block just to get a little bit more length on it.

Which brings me back to Fracture. You know, the piece that has to be done in less than two weeks. I don’t know what my major malfunction here is; this is not a difficult pattern to follow. For some reason, I simply had mind freeze every time I tried to pick up the project and move forward. So instead, I’d fallback to my normal procrastination position of strength and reach for the orange fuzzy yarnporn. Gah. So Friday evening, with a three day holiday in front of me, I picked up Fracture and dug in. Half a row in and I couldn’t understand why I’d had such problems picking it back up, but I guess that’s my own brand of crazy. So while I’m actually about halfway through the row count, I’m really farther than that, as this is a bottom up pattern and my rows continue to decrease in length. Woohoo! (Of course, we’ve heard this before…)

So I’ll get some pictures of Hitchhiker and post. And perhaps I’ll see how portable Fracture is, now that I’ve used up a good amount of the blue cake. That would help me move it along, and if I want to do ANYTHING other than knitting this weekend, it’s getting rather necessary at this point.

At least we’re not at the panicking part yet. YET.

I still haven’t solved my problem of the unfinished scarf, but I have been working on other things to keep me busy—and away from the UFO (UNfinished Object). I’ve started the small shawl I’m making as a thank you for my friend Glenda, and so far it’s coming along nicely. Fracture is such a simple pattern and this lovely Southern Silk Sock merino and silk mix from White Bear Fibers makes this a nice knit. Of course, 300 and some odd stitches don’t make for a super quick knit, but close enough for me. I’m definitely making progress; ready to start on the second blue band before moving into the main body pattern with the slipped stitches. I hope she falls in love with it; I imagine blocking this will make it even more lovely and slinky. Such a beautiful hand.

The second piece that is coming along is my Firefly Hitchhiker. I’ve been taking it wherever I go so that I have a WIP to work on while I wait, and it’s so easy that I hardly have to look anything up. This weekend alone it was worked on at church, at Kohls while waiting for TheCop to try on jeans, and en route to Harrisburg airport. This yarn is ridiculously nommy, and the loft is magnificent. I’m never going to want to wear anything else.

Hopefully, by the time Glenda’s piece is done, my subconscience will have come up with a solution to the UFO–because if not, I’ll be frogging that back too. Oy.

We’ll just leave it at that for now.

So there you have it. Ideas? Suggestions? Alcohol?


This weekend I was actually quite responsible and productive: I took pictures of all the outstanding yarnporn I had scattered around the house (using DAYLIGHT, no less!) and updated the stash. Personally, I’m incredibly impressed that my pictures turned out so well, and there were two reasons for that: 1) I discovered the HDR setting on my iPhone 4 (yeah, imagine that; high definition helps big time), and 2) did I mention I used natural light? Because I did, dammit. (Unraveling would be so proud.) The fact that I went beyond the 200 mark did not escape me, and all I can say is, oh well. That would explain why my stash dresser drawers are stuffed to the gills. Guess that means I should start casting on more projects.

So cast on I did. I wound a second skein of Socks That Rock because I was SO happy with the way the Gingko scarf turned out. I also spent far too much time looking for scarves to use especially given that, in the end, I think I’m just going to finally break down and do Ishbel. (Also of note: 2 new designers and 4 new patterns that I now officially own, and am subconsciously matching up with various possibilities in my stash.) But man, the color in that yarn is really delicious, if you know what I mean. I also finally committed the Firefly alpaca/silk/cashmere blend that I purchased at the Pittsburgh festival, and it is FREAKING. AMAZING. ZOMG. That is going into the very simple Hitchhiker scarf, and I am going to wear this ALL THE TIME. (I also acknowledge that I am doing the very thing I used to mock back before I was a real knitter—having multiple projects on sticks so that I can have a choice of what to work on, depending on the situation and level of concentration necessary to work it. I think you can just stuff it and mind your own 37 projects scattered around your own house, thank you.)

And, lest you didn’t believe me, I did indeed go back and block my second 198 yds of Byzantine. Man, these blocking boards are da bomb. I really need to go buy another set of them just so I have enough for bigger projects (I used every single one of them to block this project, and might I remind you it’s only 198 yards. Which isn’t super big, all things considered. I mean, remember the damn stash!). This really shows the edges well where I changed the finish on the original 198 yards pattern. I should actually go back and do a comparison article on the two of them, since I did promise I’d do so in my Ravelry post.

Stoopid me.

And because I was on a roll with sunshine, natural light and updating something finite within my control, I managed to actually get a rare decent self portrait for  a finished object. Apparently it can be done–and having FaceTime on my iPhone is a MAJOR improvement, let me just tell you!

With all the scarves that I’m clearly gearing up for, I also added myself to a lace group, with the intention to be better at posting my finished projects to groups that actually care. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

So that’s what happened this weekend. What did you do?