Knitting Audrey

My big plan was to finish up the projects that are already on my needles this year, and I am making progress on that. I’m in the midst of knitting the last square for the ugliest afghan in the world, for example, which will then just need to be sewn together (ugh. The sewing is about half done) and have the border knit onto it. The border is about 1/3 done. It is, though, the ugliest afghan in the world, and not a project that fosters a lot of enthusiasm. It might be warm when it’s done. It’s destined to go in the car to keep the dog claws off the upholstery, which again, isn’t very inspiring.

So, I needed another project to keep me from losing hope completely. The winner was Audrey, a lace and cables cardigan knit in Rowan Angora Haze and included in the Rowan Angora Haze pattern book. This yarn was discontinued and replaced by Rowan Mohair Haze, so I bought two sweater lots of AH when it was discounted to clear. It was time to get one fuzzy sweater on the needles. Here, btw, is the Ravelry link for Audrey, and also the one for Angora Haze. It’s still out there in discount bins all over the world.

The yarn is really soft and fuzzy. It does shed a bit but not as much as I expected. It’ll be interesting to see whether it sheds more or less once the garment is completed. My nose does tickle a bit after I’ve been knitting on it, but again, it’s not too bad. I did try a suggestion I saw on a Ravelry forum – I put a white linen tea towel on my lap when knitting this sweater. It gives nice contrast for those dark stitches and also catches any shedding hairs. I wrap the knitting in the tea towel when I’m not working on it.

Of course, my yarn is deep purple. 🙂 Here’s the left front so far:

Audrey, knitted by Deborah Cooke in Angora Haze

This shot was taken with the flash – the colour isn’t as rich as it is in real life, but you can see the cables better. Here’s a shot without the flash – the colour is more accurate but you can’t see the cables well. 🙂

Audrey, knitted by Deborah Cooke in Angora HazeThe cable pattern is actually easy to memorize, which surprised me. It’s certainly not a television knit, but it’s not that complicated. I knit the left front first, because I’ve had sizing issues lately with Rowan patterns. A lot of them turn out big, and I didn’t want to knit these cables over and over again. I knit a size smaller than I thought I should, and it’s coming out perfectly. The fabric is a little bit stretchy, and I guess it’s acting like a rib. Although the left front laid flat is 10″ wide, as it should be, I can easily smooth it to be 12″ wide. I’m glad I didn’t knit a bigger size, as it might get sloppy in the wearing. I doubt this yarn has a lot of elasticity – it’s just too soft for that.

I’ve made the front 2″ longer because I don’t want it to be as cropped. Also, I’ve eliminated the increases between waist and bust, and just knit it straight. That means I had to modify the decreases for the armscye (since I had fewer stitches overall) but that wasn’t a big deal. I won’t make the rolled collar but just a regular one with a buttonhole, and it seems to me that the sleeves are a bit too wide. I’ll double check those counts and measurements before knitting them.

Naturally, knitting one of the fronts first has left me with a dilemma. I’m going to have to put it aside unfinished and knit the back before I can continue. Rowan patterns often have an instruction like the one in the pattern “knit the front until it is 26 rows shorter than the finished back”. Aha. (I have another sweater on the needles that’s in time-out because of this. I have knit the back on that one, but since I substituted a different yarn, my row gauge is off. I need to figure out whether the specified number of rows will make the collar too deep or not. Knitting math tends not to get done, so that sweater front has been waiting patiently in my basket since November.) This weekend, the left front of Audrey is going onto a stitch holder and I’ll cast on the back.

What do you think?

Those Wyrd Sisters

I was going to tell you about a new shawl project today, but instead, I’m going to show you another one that I finally finished. (Yay!) That post about the new project has been bumped to next Friday.

When I was writing the Dragon Diaries, I did a lot of research on the Wyrd sisters in Norse mythology, also called the Norns (or sometimes the Nairns). These three immortals decide the fate of all living beings – in the myths, they’re spinners, but in Zoë’s books, they’re knitters too. Around about the same time, I was intrigued to discover that a knitting designer had created a trio of shawls to celebrate these three sisters. I had this idea that I’d knit them all to commemorate the publication of Zoë’s story.

I finally cast on in 2013.

I did finish the first one, Verdandi, pretty quickly. Verdandi is the sister who governs the present, so I called my project “Is”. This is a triangular shawl, and I knit mine in Fleece Artist Nyoni. This mohair, wool, silk and nylon blend is discontinued (so that’s a Ravelry link), which is too bad because it’s a scrumptious yarn. I still have a bit in the stash in another green colour. 🙂

The post about my completed Verdandi is right here.

Then I cast on the second shawl, Urdr. Urdr is the sister who governs the past, so my project is called “Was”. That was in September 2013. This is a huge round shawl knit in very fine laceweight yarn. The idea behind the design is that this shawl is supposed to represent the well at the root of the world tree, Yggdrasil, which the sisters tend. I used a gradient colourway from the Unique Sheep called Brigid, which made me think of copper cauldrons and ancient goddesses. (You can see Brigid on this page of the Gradiance colourways. It’s in the middle of the fourth row. Mine didn’t look quite like this sample, but each base yarn takes colour differently. Mine was very teal at the one end and quite a warm grey gold at the other with no mauve or blue bits—actually it has colours like the two middle skeins in the sample.) The base yarn is Ling, which is a silk and merino blend.

Knitting this shawl became a bit of a slog, as the rows at the end had more than 1200 stitches, and I added rows to use more of the yarn. Also, knitted lace looks like nothing until it’s blocked. I was losing heart because I had what looked like a lump in my lap each time I picked up the needles. I told Mr. Math about two weeks ago that I had to finish it, and he said “What’s the rush? You’ll just cast on another one.” Such was my mood that I wasn’t so sure of that. Maybe this would be The Last Shawl.

I should have anticipated that blocking would change everything. it’s such a magical process. Imagine my surprise when my lump stretched out to look like this:

Urdr1

It’s at least six feet in diameter and so lovely that I can’t stop looking at it. The yarn is dyed in gradients, which means that there are six skeins in the set, and you change from one to the next as you knit.

Here’s a detail shot, after blocking, on the couch. You can see the colours better in this shot, although IRL, the gradation is more subtle and the middle is less blue than it looks here:

Urdr2It’s supposed to have nupps (which are little knitted knots) but I don’t like knitting nupps so I put beads in those places instead. Because I didn’t make nupps, I used less yarn. I wanted to have the entire gradation of colour, though, so I added repeats to the border. I also added more beads to the outside edge. Details are on my Ravelry project page.

It was totally worth it, and I’m ready to cast on another shawl, if not two! I’ll tell you next week about my nerd knit in that raw silk and merino blend (in another gradient colourway from the Unique Sheep, also with beads). There’s also the third Wyrd sister’s shawl to knit. It’s called Skuld, for the third sister who controls the future. My project will be named “Might Be” and I have some lovely Fleece Artist yarn set aside for it. I’m going to try to be good, though, and finish the lace stole that’s on my needles and only one third knitted before casting on another. (Ha.)

What do you think of my Urdr?

The Completed Irtfa’a Shawl

Here’s a shawl that was on my needles for years. I kept stalling out on it, but it’s finally done—and it’s blocked too! The challenge this week was figuring out a way to photograph it, because it’s huge.

First off, the pattern. I talked about this one already once, right here. It’s a Faroese shawl, a pattern called Irtfa’a from Anne Hanson of Knitspot. Second, the yarn. I used a handpainted 2-ply merino lace called Fly Designs Dovely—the colour is Swamp Teal. (I’ve thought all along that the colour name needed some revision.) Here’s my Ravelry project page.

And here’s the finished shawl. It’s HUGE! 36″ from the centre back neck in all directions.

Irtfa'a Shawl, designed by Anne Hanson, knit by Deborah Cooke

What do you think?

I thought I was going to cast on my Firedance shawl next, but instead, Urdr made it on to my needles. I’m about a third done, and it’s a pretty knit. It’s the second of three shawls about the three Wyrd Sisters, the Norns from Norse mythology who have cameos in Zoë’s paranormal YA trilogy The Dragon Diaries. You might remember that I finished the first shawl in the series, Verdandi, last winter. I’m saving Skuld for last, just because that’s what she likes best.

Irtfa’a Shawl

This shawl has been on my needles for what seems like half of forever. It can’t really have been that long, because I bought the yarn in 2009 at Little Knits in Seattle – I was attending the Emerald City conference and Pam and I did a yarn trawl. The pattern is Irtfa’a by Anne Hanson.

irtfaa1

This is a Faroese shawl, which means it has a distinctive shape. A Faroese shawl has a vertical band down the centre back – you can see it still scrunched on the needles here – then each side extends like a wing. The border along the hem is knitted on last, which is what I’m in the middle of doing right now. Even though the shawl isn’t blocked, you can already see the shape of it, at least on this left side. The shape is even more clear in the shot on Anne’s website, because that shawl is finished and blocked. (Here’s the link again.)

Here’s a closer look:
irtfaa2

I knit this following the pattern instructions until I got to the hem. First of all, I added some rows to the hem of the shawl to make the last set of points finish out in diamonds. That’s hard to see here, but will be more clear once it’s blocked. (I like it a lot.) I added some beads (of course!) too. I also changed out the border pattern. Of course, I ended up with a wider one so it’s taking me a while to finish, but it’s a pattern I memorized quickly. (It’s a modified version of a border included in the end matter of Victorian Lace Today.) Here’s my Ravelry project page with a more in depth description of my mods.

I’m hoping to have this one finished soon, so I can cast on my Fire Dance Circle Shawl.

Burgundy Cardigan

We haven’t talked about knitting on Fridays for a while, so it’s time to get caught up.

This is a cardigan from Rowan Magazine 45 – the pattern is called Iris.

RedIris

I wanted the kind of cotton cardigan that can be tossed over anything, plus can be jammed in a bag and come out looking good. It’s a bit bigger than I’d anticipated, so has a little more of a sloppy joe look, but I love it. I made some modifications, including more buttons on the front and rounding off the repeats of the various pieces to ensure that the lace pattern matched at the seams. I used the same hem pattern on the sleeves as on the sweater – in the pattern, the sleeves are hemmed with garter stitch, which seemed less consistent to me. The mods are described in more detail on my Ravelry project page.

The yarn is discontinued – it’s Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Cotton DK and Nashua has gone out of business. (Ironically, I was substituting for a Rowan yarn, and Rowan took on some of the Nashua Creative Focus yarns. Not this one, though.) I found it a bit splitty and can’t count how many times I worked back to snag a stray ply that wasn’t where it ought to have been. The colour is darker than it shows here – more of a burgundy. I’m not a huge fan of knitting with cotton, which is why this one took so long to finish, but I love wearing cotton sweaters.

I took this one to RWA National in Atlanta and it was perfect. What do you think?

Something Wonderful

Here’s a treat I recently ordered for myself – a kit for knitting a lace shawl, including the beads and the pattern.

The shawl is called Fire Dance, and the colourway I chose is called Dragon Fire. How could I possibly resist that? (And yes, of course, I ordered the large version!) This kit provides the Gradiance Yarn from The Unique Sheep, which is incredibly beautiful – and the colour of the yarn changes gradually over the shawl, which just thrills me to bits. Self-striping yarn is seductive enough for me – this is nearly overwhelming. I bought some yarn from The Unique Sheep for my Urd shawl and so far can only push it around and admire it.

In this case, I think I’ll start with the yellow in the middle and work through to red at the outside edges, but might change my mind when I see the yarn.

Now I’m trying to finish up some knitting projects, so I can cast on as soon as it arrives. Yay!

Have you treated yourself to a special treat lately?