The Earth Stripe Wrap

Earth Stripe Wrap by Kaffe Fassett in Rowan 42, image Copyright Rowan Yarns The Earth Stripe Wrap is striped shawl designed by Kaffe Fassett and knit in ten shades of Rowan Kidsilk Haze. It was published in Rowan magazine #42 (Autumn/Winter 2007/2008). The image to the right is from the original magazine – I found it online but the copyright on the image belongs to Rowan.

Given my love for KSH and my admiration for Fassett’s use of colour, I’ve always wanted to knit this piece. This week, I finally cast on.

The biggest challenge with this piece is that some of the colours of KSH specified in the pattern have been discontinued and are no longer available. (Whenever a knitter is DISO (desperately in search of) KSH in Jacob, you can make a good guess that he or she plans to knit the Earth Stripe Wrap.) Rowan has published an updated version of it as a free download on their website, which substitutes new colours, but I wasn’t that crazy about all of their changes. Let’s have a closer look.

The original pattern specifies the following colours:
A – Hurricane #632 – available
B – Jacob #631 – discontinued
C – Elegance #577 – discontinued
D – Drab #588 – discontinued
E – Candygirl #606 – available
F – Meadow #581 – discontinued
G – Majestic #589 – available
H – Trance #582 – available
I – Jelly #597 – available
J – Blushes #583 – available

This wrap is knit with two colours held together in a stripe pattern that repeats over 186 rows. The way the colours are combined changes the appearance of each colour in each stripe, which is part of Kaffe’s magic.

The discontinued colours aren’t shown on the Rowan website anymore, and here’s where Ravelry completely rocks. Knitters photograph their stash yarns and post the pictures to Ravelry. Even given the inevitable differences in lighting, over 50 images of the same yarn, you can get a good idea of its colour. You’ll need to log in to Ravelry to follow these links, but it’s free to set up a Ravelry account. Here’s the Rav link for stashes of Meadow, for example, which proves to be a pale silvery green. (There are 600 pix, but you don’t need to look at them all!) Three of the discontinued colours – Jacob, Elegance and Drab – are muddy browns or greens. Elegance might be called bronze. Drab is a medium greyed brown. Jacob is a bit elusive, as it seems to be particularly changeable in various lighting. (That’s probably what KF liked about it.) It’s similar to Drab but also a greyed brown, maybe a little warmer in tone.

Updated version of the Earth Stripe Wrap by Rowan yarns, copyright Rowan Yarns 2017In the new version of the pattern, Rowan has made these substitutions:
B – Anthracite #639, which is a medium cool grey
C – Bark #674, a medium to dark brown
D – Drab #611 (apparently reintroduced with a new shade number, which suggests that the colour is slightly different. I don’t actually know.)
F – Ghost #642, which is a pale silver.

You can see the current shades of Kidsilk Haze on the Rowan site, right here.

Anthracite and Ghost are unexpected suggestions, to my thinking. To use cool greys instead of a mucky warm brown and a green is going to change the overall hue of the wrap. The newly photographed version does look more cool in colour. It’s still pretty, but it doesn’t have that “moors in the mist” look of the original to my eye.

So, I dug in the stash.

It turns out that I had some Elegance in my stash, which was a complete bonus. I didn’t have any Drab, but I had some Putty, which looks pretty similar to me. I couldn’t quite envision the green of Meadow with the other colours, so I used another company’s silk/mohair blend: Elann’s Silken Kydd in Aloe, which is a silvery green but more green than silver. I had a chat with a yarn store owner about Jacob and she remembered it well, suggesting Bark as the closest substitute.

So, my colour combination is:
A – Hurricane
B – Bark
C – Elegance
D – Putty
E – Candygirl
F – Aloe
G – Majestic
H – Trance
I – Jelly
J – Blushes

A quick peek through the projects on Ravelry also revealed that many people needed an additional ball of Majestic, using three balls instead of the specified two. Since I had to buy this colour, that was good to know in advance.

I put each colour of yarn in its own ziplock with one corner snipped off the bottom and the end of the yarn fed through that gap. Each ziplock is labelled with the letter of the colour, so I don’t have to try and figure out which mucky brown I should be using. In bright light, I can see the differences, but I often knit in the evening, so this works better. I think it’s imperative with a project like this to have a system for dealing with ends as you go. Weaving them all in at the end would be a nightmare (and for me, a job that just wouldn’t happen). I’m weaving mine in as I go, but some Ravellers used Russian Joins as they went. I find that a join makes KSH a bit stiff, so would rather weave them in as the soft fluidity of the finished piece is part of what I like so much about knitting with KSH. That’s a personal choice.

Deborah Cooke's prep for Earth Stripe Wrap

The wrap is designed to be knit entirely in stockinette stitch, then a round of double crochet is worked all around the perimeter. This is probably to keep it from curling. There’s also a lavish fringe added to each end. I’m not much for fringes and don’t want to do the crochet round. I decided instead to work the first three rows in moss stitch, as well as the first three and last three stitches on each row. And to give the shawl edges some weight, I’m adding beads. These are Rowan/Swarovski beads in the turquoise that matches Trance.

Here’s my progress so far.

Earth Stripe Wrap in progress, knitted by Deborah Cooke

What’s fun here is that you can see the blending that results from using two colours at once. The lowest pink stripe is Blushes with Majestic, a rose with the blue-grey. The next pink stripe has two combinations – there’s one row of the bright pink, Candygirl, with the dark brown, Bark, then three rows of Blushes with Bark. The two three-row bands with Blushes are different pinks, because of the second colour used with it. It’s fascinating. There are two combinations with Jelly, which is a vivid apple green – in the lowest one, it’s knit with Trance for a single row, which is a light teal (right above a single row with Trance and Hurricane, a darker blue). Right below the needles, Jelly is knit with Elegance for two rows–that’s one of those golden browns. Again, we get two very different shades of green. I’m finding this an addictive knit because it’s so fascinating to watch the colour combinations develop.

What do you think?

Wingspan Shawls

Earlier this week, I promised to show you the Wingspan shawl that Josée gave me at Romancing the Capital on the weekend. Here it is, and the pin she made for it:

Wingspan shawl crocheted by Josée Giroux 2017

Isn’t it lovely?

Here’s the Dragons panel at RTC, with all of us wearing the shawls Josée made for us. From the left, Coreene Callahan, Eve Langlais, myself and Milly Taiden.

The panel discussion on dragons at RTC2017 with Coreen Callahan, Eve Langlais, Deborah Cooke and Milly Taiden

What’s really interesting is that her shawl is Tunisian crochet. I’ve also made this pattern, but I’ve knit it. I used Noro Silk Garden Sock for mine and here it is:
Thanks again to Josée for the beautiful shawl!

A Pretty Little Shawl

I’m switching around my Thursday and Friday posts, since there’s a link for the other post that’s taking a bit to populate. Let’s have Fibre Friday on Thursday this week!

Last year, at the readers’ conference Romancing the Capital, Carol gave me some of her beautiful merino handspun. She’d dyed it, too, and I spent a lot of time looking at the (very soft!) yarn, trying to figure out how to show it off.

Handspun marl

I finally decided on a pattern called Daybreak by Stephen West. It’s written for fingering weight yarn and this was heavier, so I just winged it. I started with the purple, then striped in the turquoise. When I ran out of purple, I switched to the pink, then did the edging in pink when the turquoise was gone.  I’m very happy with how it came out:

Daybreak shawl knit by Dborah CookeIt’s just the perfect size to sit over the shoulders and falls to my elbows. I love shawls of this size as they keep my back warm but stay out the way.

The pattern was great and I’ll definitely knit another.

I’m heading to RTC again next week, and I’m going to wear the shawl. I’m hoping that Carol will be there.

What do you think?

Waiting for Rain Shawl

This week, I finished knitting a shawl. These are unusual colours for me, but I really like the result.

The pattern is called Waiting for Rain (that’s a Ravelry link) and it features lace inserts in a garter stitch crescent-shaped shawl. The construction is really interesting, plus it’s easy to play with the colours and the design.

I knit mine in Madeline Tosh Dandelion, which has 10% flax. It’s interesting because the different fibers take the color in different ways. I used two skeins of Chickory and one of Whiskey Barrel. I decided to do the lace inserts in Whiskey Barrel, as well as some extra stripes and the bind-off. This yarn is discontinued so it’s gone from the MadTosh website, but here’s a Ravelry link.

This meant that I had too much yarn – the pattern calls for 700 to 800 yds, and I had over 900 – but I wanted to use it up. The pattern has three lace inserts. Once I’d followed the directions, I continued in a similar way and added two more lace inserts, then knit in garter stitch until the Chickory was gone. I liked the yarn. It’s smooth and cool, and I like the colour gradations in each colourway. There were long fibres, presumably of flax, and it was tempting to tug them out but I knitted them in. The pattern was well-written and clear. I bought the collection and will knit another shawl from it.

Here’s a detail shot, showing off the yarn:

Waiting for Rain shawl, knit by Deborah Cooke in Madeline Tosh Dandelion

There are stripes in the Whiskey Barrel, but the Chickory has some of the same greyed brown tone in it so it’s hard to tell which yarn is where. I like that! If you’re curious though, all the garter stitch below the lowest lace insert is in Chickory, then the bind-off is in Whiskey Barrel. You can just barely see it. Also, the garter stitch is all Chicory down to the first lace insert. (The shawl is knit from the top of the picture.)

My only disappointment is that I wasn’t sure how much Whiskey Barrel to leave for the cast-off, and I left too much. 😦 That means leftovers for the stash, about 8g. It turns out that I could have knit a couple of rows of garter stitch in the contrasting colour before casting off, but that’s how it is and that’s how it will stay. There’s no need to frog back a 500 stitch cast-off!

Here’s the complete shawl:

Waiting for Rain shawl, knit by Deborah Cooke in Madeline Tosh Dandelion

I was debating whether to block this shawl. I don’t usually block garter stitch shawls because I like the squishy texture they have right off the needles. It’ll get bigger if it’s blocked, though, and I was thinking it’s just a nice size. While taking the pictures, though, I can see that the ripple on the increasing edge is too much. I’ll give it a good block it this weekend.

What do you think?

Japanese Sewing Patterns

It’s been quite a week here with a lot happening behind the scenes. Kim Killion and I have been working together to rebrand the Bride Quest series. We have six new covers completed and she’s finishing up the POD wraps. Then we’ll have the two boxed set covers to finalize — and then I have a LOT of content to proof, format, and upload. It’ll be a little bit crazy, but the covers are so beautiful that it’s all worth it. The first peek at the new covers will be in my May newsletter, going out next week, then I’ll load them here on the site May 29th.

But it’s Fiber Friday and time to talk about textiles and colour—and the wonderful stress-busters that they are. I’ve embarked on a new adventure that I wanted to share. I’d heard a fair bit about Japanese sewing patterns and earlier this month, I decided to try some. Part of the impetus was that I nearly finished a garment from a US pattern company, tried it on, and discovered that the fit was weird. The scoop neckline has ripples on the back shoulder, not because my shoulders are weird but because the curve of the pattern piece is wrong. It’s even ripply on Nelly, my dressmaker’s dummy, whose shoulders are perfect. As this dress has a ton of tiny pleats that took forever to sew, I was a bit annoyed.

Time for a change in my approach! I ordered three books from Amazon: Simple Modern Sewing, Basic Black, and Feminine Wardrobe.

These pattern books come with sheets of patterns in the back, much like Burda magazine. You have to locate the pieces for the garment you want to make and trace them out in your size, then add seam allowances. We have a tempered glass coffee table so I cleared it off and set a desk lamp underneath it to trace the patterns. The sizes tend to be smaller—the largest size in Simple Modern Sewing is L for a 37″ bust—but when you have all the sizes shown together, it’s easy to extrapolate to the next larger one. I missed that the patterns are also for shorter people—until I made my test garment. I’m 5’5″ so am usually on the short end for American commercial patterns, but the back waist length was only 15.5″ in SMS instead of 16.25″. I wouldn’t have bothered adding it to a waistless garment, but my first test was the wrap top on the cover of SMS, and it looks best with those ties on the waistline.

What I like about these patterns is that the books show lots of variations. So, that wrap tunic on the cover also has the option of 3/4 sleeves, and is shown in a dress length, too. Once you have the basic pattern fitted, you can have some fun.

I had some bright sheeting in my stash that I bought in a $1/m sale just for making muslins, and cut into it for a test garment. I had to drop the darts, but the fixes were very easy. These designs have simple lines—in fact, I probably chose one of the only ones that I’d actually need to modify. (But I like that long linen wrap dress sooooo much.) Several bodices later, I have a very ugly test garment—it’s too orange to show you!—but it fits. Ha. Now the fun begins.

I’ll do the finishing on the test garment and probably just wear it around the house—sometimes we need a garment that can risk being ruined with some job or other! Then I’m going to cut a real top out of some really interesting cotton with a border pattern. It looks like this:cotton border print

And here’s a detail shot:

I’m not sure how I’ll be able to place the border pattern on the blouse, but I know it will look great.

Next up, I’m going to try the dress option with one of the linen fabrics in my stash.

Have you embarked on any craftsy adventures lately?

Tumbling Blocks

In recent years, Rowan has been hosting regular KAL’s (Knit-A-Longs) for afghans. I participated in one of the first ones, which was an afghan designed by Martin Storey. That was a mystery KAL – we didn’t know what the whole afghan looked like until the last clue was delivered. This spring, there’s a KAL designed by Kaffe Fassett. It’s not a mystery – you can see the whole afghan on most websites that are selling the yarn as a kit. Here’s the WEBS product page.

As much as I like Kaffe Fassett projects, I find this afghan a little bit eyeball-melting. It’s too high contrast for me to live with. The dominant block, though, is a variation of one of my favorite Kaffe Fassett designs, Tumbling Blocks. Here’s the afghan block. The other thing – and this is a picky nit, I know – is that the blocks aren’t square. That bugs me.

So, inspired by the KAL, I was thinking of knitting a different afghan, Kaffe’s Upscale Tumbling Blocks Throw. Isn’t it gorgeous? I thought this would be a great stash-buster. The complication was that most of my worsted stash yarn is Patons Classic Wool. I have pretty much all the colours, but PCW isn’t superwash (like the Rowan yarn specified for the throw). It’ll shrink and felt in the wash, and it makes no sense to me to have a blanket or throw that can’t be washed. Hmm.

My knitting progress is a bit slow right now. Now that all my supplies have arrived, I’m making book charms for Romancing the Capital in August in my crafting time. I have about a third of them done and they’re really cute. The more I thought about it, the less I wanted to knit an entire afghan.

But because I couldn’t resist that first block design, I cast on a KAL block in PCW in colors more like that of the throw. I knit about half, then ripped it back to start at a different point in the repeat and make the block square. 🙂 Here’s the result:

Kaffe Fassett's Tumbling Blocks knit by Deborah Cooke

This technique is called intarsia – there are blocks of color that don’t go all the way across the row. In fair isle, another color technique, each color goes across the row, popping up at intervals. (My Bute sweater was a fair isle project.) I really like this block, but I’m not going to knit a blanket like this. Instead, I’ll make another one just like this one and – you guessed it – combine them both into another felted bag.

What do you think?

The Dragon Scarf

It’s been a while since I’ve had a Fibre Friday post, but today’s the day. I’ve been in a dragon mood lately and here’s the first project to show for it.

Dragon's Tale scarf knit by Deborah Cooke

Dragon’s Tale is a scarf designed by Nim Teasdale. (That is a Ravelry link. I think you’ll be able to see the page, even if you don’t have a free Ravelry account.) I knit mine in Noro Silk Garden, because it was in the stash and it had a good dragon-y colour to it. This is much thicker than the specified yarn, but I still used the same size needles. I wanted a dragon of substance! I used two balls of the Noro Silk Garden and am very pleased with the results.

Dragon's Tale scarf knit by Deborah Cooke

Dragon's Tale scarf knit by Deborah Cooke

I love that tail!

He’s been finished for a while, but we needed a bit of sunshine for a picture.

What do you think?

Making Book Charms

Book Charms made by Deborah CookeBook charms are adorable and readers love them. I’ve bought them in the past from Etsy vendors, but when I realized I needed at least 100 of them for Romancing the Capital in August 2017, I decided to try making my own.

A big part of this decision was that I found little blank books in the dollhouse section at the craft store. They have paper pages and little covers, which are so much more realistic than book charms made of clay. Small BooksSince these look like little hardcover books, I decided to make slipcovers for them (instead of just gluing my front cover on the book). This is, of course, the Hard Way, but I think the result is worth the trouble.

The tricky bit is getting the proportions right on the printed slip cover. I measured around the book and created a template (using the free online graphics software Canva). I started with the POD cover of one of my books since that image is a full wrap. (That means it includes the spine and back cover.) Remember that you need to have the right to work with the copyrighted cover image. If you’re indie-published and paid for the cover, you’ll likely have that right. If your book was published by another publisher, you might not. Be sure to check.

My POD covers are PDF’s, but Canva doesn’t work with uploaded PDF images. (Your application might.) So, I opened the PDF on the largest computer screen in the house and took a screen shot of it—which gave me a JPG to upload. The proportions are different between the actual book and the book charm: the spine is thicker on the mini-book. I tried a number of solutions, but the best one turned out to be this: I cropped the front cover and positioned it, then did the same for the back cover. I cropped only the title from the spine—it’s usually a third or half the height of the spine—then made it large enough to fill the height. This also made it much wider and helped with that blank space. This also made it much wider and helped with that blank space. The resolution diminished, but these will be tiny when they’re printed.

The Crusader's Bride by Claire Delacroix minibook slipcoverWith some covers, I was able to size the front and back larger than the trim size without losing any type. This made the recognizable cover image larger. When possible, I also chose a colour for the background on the template that would blend into the actual book cover image.

Also, because I made a slipcover, I had endpapers, which meant locations for more information. This was part of my diabolical plan. On book charm covers, the type is really small and often illegible. Plus I like having my website url on everything I use for promotion. I put my website url on one endpaper and the book title on the other. Above and below are screenshots of the finished slipcovers for two of my books.

Wyvern's Mate by Deborah Cooke MiniBook Slipcover

You can see that the spine for Wyvern’s Mate is much wider than that of The Crusader’s Bride. It’s actually a bit too wide and laps onto the front and back of the book charm. These print books are a different trim size with a more vertical orientation—you can also see that the front and back covers are more narrow than those of TCB—so compromises are necessary.

These images are JPGs because they’re screenshots, but you want to save or download these little covers in the format PDF for print. You can see that there’s a band of the background colour at the right and left. These images are over 700% of actual size, so a lot of that type isn’t going to be legible on the book charms.

Printed Sheet of Book Charm Covers by Deborah CookeOnce the slipcover images were downloaded, I used a Word document and Inserted Picture from File so that the covers were three across. I got eight rows on the page. If you’re like me and use cheap paper in your printer on a daily basis, you might want to invest in a smoother and whiter grade of paper stock. You will use up printer toner with this project if you’re making any quantity of charms, so get a toner refill while you’re at the office supply store.

Above is a sheet of covers. You can see that it’s two sets of twelve: I set up the top twelve, then selected all, copied and pasted to fill the page. There’s a space between each cover horizontally and a return between each row vertically.

To ensure that the image didn’t rub off or get scuffed up on the finished book charm, I wanted to seal it before attaching it to the book charm. I was looking for a full adhesive sheet to laminate one side and am glad I didn’t find it—it’s really, really difficult to put down a large sticky sheet of laminating material without getting a fold or a bubble. I used clear Avery Labels (intended to be used for shipping labels – Avery 7664) as my laminate. There are six labels on a page and a label will cover six book covers, but I found that working smaller was easier. I cut each label in half, which is enough for three book covers, touched down one edge then smoothed it across the covers. Fast. Practice makes perfect! I used a burnisher to make sure it was smoothly applied.

Book Charm covers by Deborah CookeNext, cut the book covers apart. If they’re lined up perfectly, this is pretty easy to do with a cutting mat, straight edge, and an X-acto knife. Once mine were cut, I folded down the front end paper, then wrapped one cover around one book before folding down the back end paper. (The books do vary a little bit in size, so you need to match cover to book, one at a time.) Once everything looks good, glue the endpapers to the inside book cover. They’re the same kind of paper, so it should make the best seal and I like that the slipcover lifts off the outside of the book a bit, like a real slipcover. I used a small gluestick, which minimized the chance of my getting glue in the wrong place. Put a weight on the book or clamp it until it dries.

Finished Book Charm by Deborah CookeMr. Math has a Dremel drill press, so he drilled little holes in my little books once they were dry. I put a jump ring on each one, then since these are charms for a bracelet, I added a clasp before closing the jump ring. This makes it easier for readers to add the charm to their bracelet at the event. The finished books each get their own bag. (The dollar store will be your friend with this project.)

Finished Book Charms by Deborah CookeWhen I posted on Facebook that I was making book charms, readers became quite excited. When I showed the finished charms, some people wanted to buy them—which is a mark of very good swag! I’m going to add a page for with charms to my online store. Stay tuned!

Knitting Under the Weather

Tomorrow, it will be two weeks since I started with this stupid cold. It’s the one that just won’t quit, and the last couple of days, I’ve felt as if it’s coming back for another visit. Being sick messes up a lot of things – my schedule, my writing, and yes, even my knitting. I thought we’d talk today about knitting under the weather.

When I’m sick, I don’t knit complicated things. Most of the projects I have on my needles ARE complicated, which means that I cast on new projects when I’m sick. I also lose patience with things quickly, so I cast on more projects. I also frog things back that aren’t working. Those tendences were compounded with this cold, because I also sorted stashes and cleaned. My stashes are more organized, some stash has been rehomed to places where it will be better appreciated. I also delved into some new territory because of discoveries of forgotten stash.

I have, for example, been gathering hoard of gemstone beads and charms. I like them. This past week, I sorted and organized that hoard, then finally started to create with these treasures. For example, here are some of the earrings I made:

Bead Earrings made by Deborah Cooke

The dragon ones have glass beads, while the ones with the moon have a lapis lazuli bead and a mother of pearl bead each.

I also began to experiment with using wire to make jewellery, like this necklace of amethyst beads and silver wire:

Amethyst necklace made by Deborah Cooke

Here’s one with Czech glass beads and silver wire:

Bead necklace made by Deborah Cooke

In the great stash sort, I discovered a huge bag of partial balls of sock yarn. These are leftovers from knitting socks, and most of the balls aren’t big enough to make another pair (or even one sock). They’re too good to chuck out, though. I had been working on a hexagon afghan, but the fact is that I don’t like knitting those hexagons very much. I never get around to them. So, I started another project to eliminate sock yarn stash – this will ultimately be an afghan, if I don’t lose patience with it, but is made of mitred squares knit in garter stitch.

Mitred square in sock yarn knit by Deborah Cooke

You eliminate the sewing by picking up stitches and knitting the squares together as you go. I can’t knit a whole blanket that way, so plan to knit blocks of nine squares. I’ll figure out how to join them together later. (Maybe I-cord in a contrasting colour. I like I-cord.) Here’s a block of six squares knitted together – you can see that I’ve picked up the stitches to knit the next one beside the black, blue, and green stripey square.

Mitred squares knit in sock yarn by Deborah Cooke

(Here’s something funny: when I created this post, WordPress indicated that I’d used this title before. I searched for that post called Knitting Under the Weather and read it – it was from four years ago and also about a nasty cold that wouldn’t go away. 🙂 I also talked then about the effect on my knitting, and was knitting my stripey Noro bag, which was also in garter stitch squares that are knitted together as you go. Consistency is a good thing, right?)Striped garter stich bag in Noro Kureyon Sock knit by Deborah Cooke

What do you craft when you’re sick enough to be under the weather but not sick enough to stay in bed? Or do you clean and sort instead?

Knit, Knit, Quilt

We haven’t had a Fibre Friday in a while, so let’s fix that today.

First of all, I finished that pair of socks, the ones I cast on so I could tell my niece how to knit socks in Patons Kroy Jacquard. (You might remember that blog post. I wrote out my sock pattern for her, once I figured out what I do.) Here they are:
Socks knit by Deborah Cooke in Kroy Sock Jacquard

You see that the toes don’t match exactly. I had a lot of knots in one of the balls, so did a bunch of joins. I decided just to use one of the little balls up to finish the second toe, instead of winding through what was left to find a match. That was the lower sock – it also had some sections where the yarn wasn’t dyed as much. See the white bits on that pink and purple stripe above the heel?

I have been knitting away on my Bohus-inspired pullover and am almost done the ribbing at the bottom of the body. About sixteen rows to go! The stockinette from the bottom of the yoke to the hip ribbing seemed endless but it’s done. I can’t wait to cast it off and try it on. I should be able to show you next week. The yarn is lovely. Then I’ll knit the sleeves, which have the treat of a little bit of colour detail at the cuff. I’m thinking of that as a reward for slogging through all the stockinette. 🙂

And, because I have the attention span of a flea when it comes to knitting projects, I cast on another sweater at Christmas. It’s been an addictive knit, so I’ve completed the back. This is Wilhelmina in Rowan Colourspun, a yarn I’m already missing. (It’s discontinued.) I was waiting for a brighter day to take pictures but it’s still snowing and still dingy, so the pix are a bit dull.

Wilhelmina knit by Deborah Cooke

Oh, so many modifications on this one! First, I’ve substituted colours. The pattern calls for a different red that is more rosy—Giggleswick—but I used Jervaulx, which is more blue. Because of that, I switched out the contrast colours. The pattern called for a taupey gold and a blue-green. I’ve switched those to two shades of grey, and for the fourth colour, I used Rowan Felted Tweed in Seasalter. The Bute cardigan used Felted Tweed and Colourspun together, even though Felted Tweed seems much thinner (It’s less fluffy.) Seasalter is the exact shade of the blue thread in Jervaulx, but in the knitting, it’s a bit too close to the value of the darker grey to stand out as much as would be ideal. In this pattern, it also seems thin. It’s just an accent colour, though, so I’ll carry on with it as the fourth shade.

Yarn choices for Wilhelmina knit by Deborah Cooke

I also modified the shape of the sweater. It’s hard to see in the picture on the Rowan site, but the body is very wide on this sweater and the shoulders actually slope down, almost to the elbows. (You can see it in some of the project photos on Ravelry, which are pictures from knitters who have made the sweater. I think it’s funny how many of them take the same pose as the Rowan model for at least one of their pictures.) I didn’t think this would be very flattering, given my pear shape, so I used the stitch counts from Bute, which is the knitted at the same gauge, but the fair isle pattern from Wilhelmina. It will fit like Bute but have reindeer, which sounds ideal to me. I’ll make a round neck at the front, too, instead of the v-neck on Bute.

It is interesting to see how muted and muddled the fair isle is—I would never have guessed that the grey and the red would blend as much as they did. I do like it, though, and have cast on the fronts.

A couple of weeks ago, I promised to show you some things I rediscovered in the reorganization of my fabric stash. Here are my little batik dragon blocks, which were forgotten in the stash. It looks as if I ordered them from Keepsake Quilting but it was a long time ago. I have to find a good use for them.

Batik dragon blocks

And here’s a partially pieced quilt which I totally forgot about. The turquoise border is a length of fabric from Africa, which I won in a raffle at a romance writers’ conference in British Columbia probably twenty years ago. It’s so pretty, but very stiff. I have no idea where or why I came up with this palette and this design, but I like it. I need to get this one finished.

Quilt top pieced by Deborah CookeI cut the border fabric to piece this center for the quilt and set in squares at the corners, too. There’s a wider piece of border, as well, which I’ll use for an outer border. It looks as if I intended to put more little squares in between the two borders, as I’ve made up some 9-patch blocks from the fabrics used in the center. It’s a bit of a jigsaw puzzle as the amount of border is limited. I’ll have to do something else in the corners. In the picture below, I laid the wide border against the narrow one so you can see what it looked like before I cut it.

border fabric from Africa

It is such pretty fabric. The gold is metallic, and that medallion in the black border says GCA. It seems to me (hmm) that there were two African fabrics in the raffle, that another quilter won the other one and we decided to split them both in half so we each had a piece of each print. I’m going to have to go looking for that second fabric in my stash!

What have you been crafting lately?