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?

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?

Peacock Fan Shawl

I just finished this shawl, which was a bit of an impulsive buy. The kit came from Earthfaire, with beads and yarn included. I thought it was pretty and ordered it—when it arrived, the colours were so beautiful that the project jumped queue and leaped onto my needles. I’m really happy with how it came out.

Peacock Fan shawl knit by Deborah Cooke

The pattern is called Renaissance Fan by Nim Teasdale (the same designer who created the Dragon Scarf I showed you a few weeks ago.) That’s a Ravelry link, and you can buy the pattern there. I bought the kit from Earthfaire, which puts together wonderful kits often with The Unique Sheep gradient-dyed yarn and matching beads. This one isn’t on the site anymore. It came with six skeins of yarn, shading from purple to green.

Peacock Fan shawl knit by Deborah Cooke

The beads included in the kit were purple, although they’re hard to see even in this detail shot. They look great on the actual shawl. You can see that I made a slight miscalculation and ran out of the last green. Fortunately, I had a little bit of lime green left from my Bitterblue shawl (also an Earthfaire kit using TUS yarn, and dyed on the same base yarn – it was meant to be!) so I was able to cast off in lime. I like it!

Peacock Fan shawl knit by Deborah Cooke

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?

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?

Knitting and Other Tangles

I don’t have a finished project to show you this week, but there are a few things nearing completion. I’ve been a bit of a butterfly lately, flitting from one project to another, then on to the next. That’s what I usually do when things are at sixes and sevens or when I’m distracted. I can’t be the only one who was distracted by the US elections. I’m also participating in NaNoWriMo, plus alternating between two book projects. I’m participating in several promotions this month which are new to me, which mean four newsletters going out in November. Then there are plans to make for the holidays ahead. It is a busy, busy, time of year.

So, let’s review my flitting! First up, I’ve knitted the front and back of Homeland, a cabled pullover in Rowan Big Wool by Martin Storey.

Homeland back knitted by Deborah Cooke in Rowan Big WoolThis is a very textural project and I like it a lot. The colour isn’t true in these pictures—the green is more of a dull pea green and the red is closer to burgundy. I thought the green shade was a bit flat (ironically, it’s called Zing). It’s a discontinued color that I expected to be more lime, like Reseda. (In the pattern picture, Homeland is knit in Reseda. These are the perils of buying yarn online.) I’ve perked it up with some leftover red Big Wool at the cast-on edges.

Homeland front knitted by Deborah Cooke in Rowan Big WoolThe red colour is discontinued and is called Bohemian. It actually is a marl, with two shades of red twisted together. Really pretty yarn. I made a sweater-coat with it, which I’ve never worn, and I’m thinking of ripping it back to make another Barista, maybe an over-sized one. It seems more likely that I’ll wear a pullover (especially if it’s red.) Sweater-coats always sound like a good idea to me, but don’t get much use. Maybe they would if I lived somewhere else. In my corner of the world, if it’s chilly enough for a sweater-coat, chances are good that there’s either rain in the forecast or there’s a biting wind, which zips between the stitches. What’s interesting about the two shades of the same yarn is that the red is much wider than the green—it’s more fluffy, not heavier—and it’s so much softer, even though the content is the same. The red is almost silky, while the green feels like wool. It must have been spun by a different mill, or from the fleece of happier sheep.

I’m waffling a bit on the sleeves. They seem wide and I’m wondering whether they’ll be too bulky with all those cables. One clever Raveller has knit her Homeland with simpler ribbing on the sleeves, and I’m thinking about going that way. While I think, the sweater waits on my decision.

I’m also still charging along on my Bohus-Inspired pullover. This is my tv-knitting.

Bohus Inspired Pullover knitted by Deborah Cooke in Rowan ColourspunIt doesn’t want to lie flat for the picture, because of the circular needles. Look at the angle of the sun! Winter certainly is coming.

I’m knitting the stockinette-stitch body down from the underarms to the hems. The pattern calls for 13″ and I’m closing in on 10″. I actually took a break from the body and knit the cowl instead. (I picked up the stitches at the neck and knit up. The instructions said to knit the cowl separately then sew it on, but less seaming is better in my universe. It’s about 1/4″ shorter than called for because I knit to the end of the ball and cast off. I wasn’t going to add a second ball just for a little bit. That is a one-ball cowl.) I need to get a new television series to binge-watch and get this body done. The Colourspun is really pretty, with lots of little flicks of colors in the charcoal. It’s very soft, too. I’ll wear this one a lot once it’s finished.

Bohus Inspired pullover detail knit by Deborah Cooke in Rowan Colourspun

And, while I think about the Homeland sleeves, I picked up my Audrey cardigan again, in purple Angora Haze. (Angora Haze was discontinued and replaced with Mohair Haze.) This yarn sheds and I get it everywhere, even with having a tea-towel in my lap and wrapping it up when I’m not working. Mostly I find it in my mouth. 😛 I hope it sheds less once it’s knitted up. It’s very VERY soft, the yarn is a beautiful deep purple and I love the cable stitch. This one isn’t television knitting—even though I have the pattern memorized at this point, I still have to pay attention to my knits and purls on the wrong side. I’m finding the dark wool a bit challenging at night, after I’ve been on the computer all day. It’s a much darker purple than it appears to be in this picture.

Audrey knitted by Deborah Cooke in Rowan Angora Haze

I began with the left front but had to put it aside. Rowan often provides instructions that assume you knit the pieces in order, starting with the back. So, the instructions for the front at the neckline shaping say something like “knit until X rows less than the back before the shoulder decreases”, which means you have to knit the back before you can knit the front in order to count back those X rows. (Other companies and designers give measurements: “knit Y inches after underarm decreases, then shape neck as follows…”) So, the left front is on a stitch holder and I’ve been knitting the back. It looks wide, but I’m not going to frog this cable or this yarn. It will just have to be wide—which means it will be warm and pretty, but not fabulously flattering.

I also went into the attic a week ago to find a piece of fabric. I didn’t find it where I expected it to be, so had a big hunt through all my various stashes. They were due for a sort and a reorganization, and they got it. I found the fabric that launched the quest in the first plac (ha!) as well as some treasures I’d forgotten all about. I’ll share those with you next week.

The final big distraction this week was that the New Girl got up close and personal with a skunk on Wednesday night. Yuck. I’ve never had a dog do this before, but Mr. Math had. She took the spray right in the face and was frightened. She peeled back into the house to find me (apparently, I fix all woes), raced up the stairs and into my office where I was working, then tried to get into my lap from under my desk. She weighs 55 pounds, so the lap thing doesn’t happen. Mr. Math called her down to rinse out her eyes and face. There we were at 11 on Wednesday night, washing her face with tomato paste dissolved in water (I didn’t have any tomato juice), then giving her a shampoo. I dumped everything that had touched her into the washing machine with detergent and a cup of vinegar. She doesn’t smell like skunk anymore, but the house does. This old house has hot water radiators, which are wonderful, except when you get a stink into the house. It takes forever to get rid of it, even with the fans going and some windows open. There was frost on the ground this week, so we won’t get too crazy with the open windows.

I hope your week was a little less scattered than mine! Inspire me with your favorite show to binge-watch.

My New Sweater

It’s done!

I finished my purple sweater this week. What a quick knit—even though I reknit the sleeves. The pattern is Barista, by Martin Storey, which is in the current Rowan magazine, #60. It’s knit in Big Wool, which I had in my stash in this great purple colour. Here it is!

Barista knit by Deborah Cooke

Mr. Math photographed it near the end of the day, so there are some dramatic shadows. They show up the stitch pattern quite well, though.

There was a tiny mistake in the pattern, which was no big deal. There’s a chart for the stitch pattern, and the key for the chart showed two blank (identical) boxes. Obviously, the squares with nothing in them are knit on the right side and purled on the wrong side, and the squares with a dot in them should be purled on the right side and knit on the wrong side. I got a Sharpie and made a dot in the right square in the key. Fixed.

In the knitting, I made a couple of small changes. First, I kept a stitch in stockinette at each edge of each piece for easier seaming. You can see the side seams here:

Barista knit by Deborah Cooke

Second, I cast on four extra stitches for the sleeves, since I found them a bit more snug than I wanted. I followed the instructions for the increases on the sleeves, but did two fewer of them, so I’d have the right number of stitches for the raglan decreases.

And finally, I made the collar deeper. It was a really wide crew neck when I tried it on and I wanted it to be more snuggly, so I knit until I ran out of yarn. Here’s what it looks like folded down. I like having a choice!

Barista knit by Deborah Cooke

I like it so much that I’ve cast on another Martin Storey pullover in Big Wool called Homeland. Than, I think I’m going to frog a jacket in red Big Wool which I never wear, and make a second Barista that’s longer and has an even deeper collar. (The stash-bust is ON!) This isn’t the most flattering sweater I’ve ever made in my life, but it’s warm and it’s comfortable and it’s purple. I love it. What do you think?