Monday, May 22, 2017

On the Spice Market Shawl from Blazing Needles -- Done!


This is as gorgeous a piece as I’d hoped it would be.  I love the dramatic graphics and the lush, rich colors.  You know you love a shawl when you immediately start planning which tops and dresses go with it, or you get the urge to go shop for more.  As I’ve said before, people often remark that I have a shawl for every outfit, but the truth is I have an outfit for every shawl.  Quick, somebody host me for a book signing so I can wear this beauty in public!

The texture is perfect for Chicago’s finicky weather.  50’s one day, 70’s the next.  Or for those of us who bring our own “personal summers” with us wherever we go thanks to finicky hormones.  It’s got enough heft to offer warmth, but not so much that you can’t throw it over your shoulders to keep off summer air conditioning.

One bit of advice: I do wish I’d adopted the strategy I did for the Leftie shawl and wove in the gazillion ends as I went.  With all these color changes, it took me nearly two hours to weave in the ends.  It was tempting to get sloppy as I neared the end, but I dug in my heels (or, in this case, my craft needle and scissors) and kept at it.

All in all, a truly exquisite piece, and one I’ll wear as often as I can. Thanks, Blazing Needles, for one of my favorite new shawls this year! 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May Reader Who Crochets--Marie Wurtz

It's the third Wednesday of the month, so it's time to meet another Reader Who Crochets.  DestiKNITters, say hello to Marie Wurtz!

Marie, what are you working on right now?
I'm working on this handbag.

What feels like your favorite/greatest crochet accomplishment? 
These tiny pink slippers, and also this Brick Weave Scarf.

What feels like the worst crochet mistake/foible/wrong choice youve ever made?
I tried to make a square rug.  After taking it apart three times, I finished it the way it was. It did NOT turn out.

Do you have a favorite stitch? 
No, I'm still learning…

Metal or wood needles? 

White chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate? 
Dark chocolate

Coffee or tea? 

What's your favorite Allie novel?  

What are you reading now? 
Friends and Foes by Sarah M. Eden

Do you have a favorite crochet/knitting character from a book, movie, or television show? 
I only found out there are crochet/knitting authors when I came on your blog, so no, I don’t know any.

Give a shout out to your favorite local yarn store:
It’s a craft store, but it’s the nearest one that carries a variety of yarns, and I buy mine there.
Hobby Lobby
 2424 6th Ave SE 
Aberdeen, SD 57401

For being featured, Marie receives a copy of The Lawman's Oklahoma Sweetheart and a prize package of three skeins of yarn from Knitche yarn shop.  Her friend receives a copy of A Heart to Heal.  If you'd like to win free yarn and books by being featured on Readers Who Knit/Crochet, email me at for details.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

On the Spice Market Shawl from Blazing Needles - Day 5

Earning my stripes…

In the final section of this dramatic shawl, the color does all the talking.  Wide stretches of each of the contrasting colors, separated by a line of alternating main color stitches, cascade out to the edge. In essence, you end where you began—just on a larger scale.  I like the poetry of that.

It comes, however, at the cost of very long garter stitch rows. Not so bad if you’re sitting listening to a presentation, a bit more challenging if you’re trying to get two stripes done so you can put up your next blog post.  It took me longer than expected (no true surprise for a sneaky side-to-side version of a top down shawl), but I’m certainly enjoying the payoff.  One more strip of gray, and then on to the vibrant colors.

I’ve had people stop me and ask me what I’m knitting.  It’s the rich colors and the bold graphic design, I think, that catch their eye.  That makes me happy, because I know that if it’s that appealing on the needles, it will be even more so once it graces my shoulders.  I know I’ll be thrilled whenever someone asks me “Did you make that?” because I’ll get to smile and say “Yes!”

Sunday, May 7, 2017

On the Spice Market Shawl from Blazing Needles - Day 4

Half or half-not...

Sometimes, you have to back up your feelings with some hard facts.  It makes you feel validated, helps you understand exactly why it feels like this middle section is taking forever.

So, as I groaned at the prospect of devoting yet another post to the pretty-but-lengthy middle section of this shawl, I sat down with the pattern and my calculator.  I wanted to be able to convince myself that I was more than halfway done with the shawl. That would ease my anxiety about being more than halfway done with the posts.  

Yes, I know, anxiety about knitting isn’t the goal here, and I don’t fool myself that any of you are sitting around thinking “Where’s Allie with that fourth post—it should have been here by now.” I am a woman of plans and schedules, and it makes me crazy when I can’t adhere to my schedule, even for fun reasons.  

And don’t get on me about scheduled fun. This is my chosen neurosis, let me own it.

Back to facts.

I sat down and calculated how many rows were involved in this long section. There are 192 rows—and ever-elongating rows at that. This high number made me feel better about the length of time it’s taken me to accomplish this section.

Then I calculated how many rows were involved in the next final portion, an alternation between sections 4 and 5.  It’s only 94 rows.   Still a sizable number, but much less that the current portion.  Yes, math can indeed be a source of encouragement!  I do understand that the rows continue to get longer, and by the end of this section I’ll be slogging through 243-stitch rows instead of 184-stitch rows, but that feels acceptable.  

I am more than halfway through this shawl, and that makes all the difference. Yea for math, and yea for me!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

On the Spice Market Shawl from Blazing Needles - Day 3

I'll be the first to ask...

This next section is big.  It comprises the lion’s share of the piece, actually.  The spectrum of little starry-polkadots is charming, but also daunting. I’ve been at this sectin for over a week and I’m still not done.  And of course—say it with me now—the rows just get longer…

Still, it’s satisfying knitting.  Shibui makes such touch-worthy fibers in such luscious colors, it’s a pleasure to knit even rows upon rows of small stitches.

I’ve been contemplating attending a seminar later this year that is known for its long days.  It’s an intensive weekend of 11-hour sessions (with breaks granted, but that’s a lot of time for this middle-aged backside to spend in a seminar chair!).  The content sounds intriguing, but I have to admit, my knee-jerk reaction was reluctance on account of the format. I have never done well in lecture settings. I’m too fidgety. Just the thought of folding chairs makes me ache all over.

So what was my first question to the person inviting me?  It shouldn’t surprise you.  It was “Will they let me bring my knitting?”

She gave a slight laugh and said, “You know, no one’s ever asked that.”

I’m happy to be the first to ask.  I’ve been in more than one conference where someone came up to me and whispered, “I’m so glad you pulled out your knitting.  I’ve been wanting to, but wasn’t sure it was okay.”

I admit, there are places where it’s not okay.  But almost every time I have walked up to a seminar presenter and said, “Please know, I’m not knitting because you bore me or I think you’re wasting my time.  I’m knitting so I can pay my best attention to you,” the presenter has smiled and said, “By all means, knit away.”

So, DestiKNITters, by all means, knit away.

Monday, April 24, 2017

On the Spice Market Shawl from Blazing Needles - Day 2

Flying colors...

Ah, the colors!  For someone who can’t put colors together, I sure love to watch how brilliantly other people do it.  The interplay of hue and design in this piece is nothing short of stunning—even at this early stage.

The construction is no slouch, either.  German short rows are a technique I’d heard of, but never tried.  The unique treatment of the pivot stitch gets rid of that pesky space that always shows up in other short rows.  It’s nearly invisible in this shawl.  

It’s a technique worth learning, but one that is best acquired in video.  I’d read the written instructions twice, but couldn’t quite picture how the pivot stitch was “pulled up” on top of the needle…until I managed to find a video.  After that “Aha! So that’s what they mean” moment, it was smooth sailing, and I grinned with satisfaction of having added another tool to my knitter’s toolbox.

There are a lot of colors involved, but the nice thing about this project is that you’re only really working with two colors at a time, so the project—at least for now—is still nicely portable.  That’s good, because I’m traveling this week.  You don’t want to be near me if I have to travel without my knitting, but I don’t want to be lugging a big bag of yarn around, either.

Yes, the rows are getting longer, but I don’t yet mind.  The stripes and nifty little starry polkadots of this section are too delightful to let me care.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April Reader Who Crochets--Lisa Leoni

It's the third Wednesday of the month, and that means meeting a Reader Who Crochets! DestiKNITters, meet Lisa Leoni.

Lisa, what are you crocheting right now?
I’m working on a brain beanie, but keep re-starting because I’m not getting the beanie size right. It’s a fun pattern! It’s a standard beanie, then a long crocheted strand sewn to the beanie to look like a brain. I’m making the whole thing in a light pink, requested by a friend. 

What feels like your favorite/greatest crochet accomplishment?
I recently finished a simple blanket for my baby cousin and I’m pleased I completed it. One of my bad crafting habits (beyond buying so many craft supplies) is starting lots of projects, but not finishing them. The number of times I’ve had to tear out blankets because I forgot what stitch or needle size I used…*sobs* I’m thrilled I finished this one! I’m always more motivated when it’s a gift instead of just for myself. 

What feels like the worst crochet mistake/foible/wrong choice youve ever made?
Few things in crochet have hurt worse than getting inches deep in a blanket to realize it’s not wide enough. Gah! I should spend more time making gauges and calculating things out.

Do you have a favorite stitch?
My interests vary wildly. Depending on the intensity of the project and how much I want to concentrate, my favorite stitches vary. I do tend to enjoy the basics so I can watch TV or listen to an audiobook without having to carefully count.

Metal or wood needles?
I had exclusively metal needles and hooks for a while because they were handed down to me, or I bought kits from big box craft stores. A couple of years ago I took a scarf project with me on a vacation to the United Kingdom and lost my crochet hook. I went to a nearby store and found a beautiful wooden needle with a rainbow of colors. It’s now my favorite! Aside from my late grandmother’s set – those are special. I used a plastic one recently, but it has a bend to it and is hard to work with.

White chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate?
*wipes milk chocolate from mouth* Milk chocolate, all the way!

Coffee or tea?
Black coffee. I don’t want anything between me and my ambrosia. 

Whats your favorite Allie novel?
I think I’ve connected with The Perfect Blend the best. Such a fun read! I’m enjoying that whole series.
What are you reading now?
I’m between books right now, but next up in my TBR pile is “I Dare You!” by Farrah Rochon. She recently spoke at a local event and was so wonderful. I can’t wait to read one of her books!

Do you have a favorite crochet/knitting character from a book, movie, or television show? 
I enjoy the knitting element and characters in Penny Reid’s “Knitting in the City” series. 

Give a shout out to your favorite local yarn store.
When I want the good stuff for a special project, I go to:
Rosemary Ridge Farm Yarn & Fiber Arts 
226 S Main Street
Independence, OR

As a thank you for being featured, Lisa receives a three-skein collection from Knitche and a copy of A Ranger for the Holidays for herself and an ebook of My So-Called Love Life for her friend. You can, too! If you'd like more information on how to be featured on Readers Who Knit/Crochet, email me at for details.