A Thousand Miles of Stockinette

I’ve been knitting on my Earth Stripe Wrap, which feels like it’s at least a thousand miles of stockinette.

In reality, it’s a lot less than that.

Let’s do some knitter geek math. According to Ravelry, the completed wrap takes about 3206 yards of Kidsilk Haze. There are 1760 yards in a mile, so that’s 1.82 miles BUT the yarn is used double. It’s not even one mile of stockinette stitch. It sounds a little better in metric—2932m is almost three kilometers. Divided in half for the doubled yarn, that’s 1.5 klicks. That seems to diminish what might be an endless project. Let’s try this: there are 115 stitches in each row and 186 rows in the stripe repeat. I’ve knit two repeats, for a grand total of 42,780 stitches. That sounds impressive!

Here’s what the wrap looks like now:

Earth Stripe Wrap knit by Deborah Cooke

It was just shy of finishing the second repeat yesterday when I took the picture. I finished that repeat last night. Right now, it’s not quite 60″ long. (148cm) I’m hoping to knit a third repeat—depending on how far my yarn goes. Ha. That’ll be another 21,390 stitches if I make it. I know I’ll run out of Majestic very close to the end of the repeat, but one of the other colours might run out sooner. We’ll see.

It’s quite a pile of fuzzy warmth to have in my lap when I knit. I stopped working on it in September when we had a warm spell, but now it’s perfectly cozy.

Whenever I knit a bit project like this, I need a little interim encouragement and usually take breaks to knit some quick projects. Quick projects are all about instant gratification. They usually take only one ball of yarn, and they knit up in an evening or two. Here are some of my recent ones:

Two Mobius cowls knit by Deborah Cooke

These two mobius cowls each used a single ball of Isaac Mizrahi Sutton. I liked the colors and the feel of it, so bought a couple of balls when they were on sale. The pattern is a free one: Bulky Mobius Cowl.  It’s easy, but I always have to watch the Cat Bordhi video to cast on a moebius. (There’s a link in the pattern.) I wanted to use a smaller needle, 8mm instead of 10, so I cast on 50 stitches. For the yellow and brown one, I followed the pattern until I ran out of yarn. For the purple one, I alternated two rows knit and two rows purl until I ran out of yarn. They fit snugly around my throat, which was exactly what I wanted.

Serpentine Hat knit by Deborah Cooke

I saw the yarn for this hat on sale and liked it. (It has alpaca fibre. How could this be bad? It’s purple. Likewise.) There was a picture of this hat with a cowl on the label, but the pattern wasn’t on the label. I had to go to their website to download it when I got home. (It’s here.) This was a little irksome because, in the store, I wasn’t sure how many balls of yarn I needed and had to guess. (No, I don’t shop with my phone in hand.) I bought three and only needed two for the hat and cowl. I could make mitts with the third, but that seems a bit matchy-matchy to me. I’ll make a second hat and give it away.

What have you been creating lately?

 

Earth Stripe Wrap Update

I’ve finishing one repeat of the 186-row stripe pattern of the Earth Stripe wrap. Since it’s Fibre Friday, this is the perfect opportunity to show you the work in progress.

Earth Stripe wrap knit by Deborah Cooke

I was a bit worried about “wasting” that handpainted green yarn, because I thought its variations would be lost when it was knit with another colour. It’s not, though. First of all, it shimmers a bit more than the other KSH, so you can pick out where that yarn has been used. And secondly, the variation is visible. Look at this detail:

Earth Stripe wrap detail, knit by Deborah Cooke

The variation is really visible in the band where the handpainted green is knit with the dark brown KSH (Bark).

I didn’t worry much gauge for this project, and it turns out that I don’t have gauge. Gauge on the pattern on 4mm needles is 24 stitches and 28 rows to four inches. My gauge on those needles is 20 sts to 4 inches and 30 rows. I’m not sure what I would have done to achieve gauge, actually—if I went down a needle size to get the stitch gauge (probably 3.5mm needles would have done it) I would have put the row gauge even further out of whack. It probably would have increased to 32 or even 34 rows in four inches. It doesn’t really matter with a garment like this—what’s important is that I like the fabric being created. I wouldn’t want it to be any more dense than it is.

Different gauge, though, does affect the finished size. My wrap is 57cm wide instead of the 49cm width expected by the pattern. This is fine by me, but also means I’m using more yarn per repeat than the test knitter did.

The first complete repeat of my wrap measures 65 cm or 25.5 inches in length. This means that to get the finished length of 149 cm or 58.5 inches specified by the pattern, I’ll need to knit one more full repeat plus a little extra. Since I’m leaving off the fringe, I think I’ll plan for three complete repeats. That will make it close to 80 inches long. I will have to buy more yarn, though, to do that. Before finishing the first repeat of the stripe pattern, I had to begin the second ball of Majestic. I have three, so to finish three repeats, I’ll need a bit of a fourth ball. I’ll wait until I finish the second repeat before I buy that ball, though, in case I need other colours, too.

I really like the beads, because they both shimmer and play a little bit of hide-and-seek.

What do you think?

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?

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?