Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Clincher Bandana Scarf from Ewe-Nique Yarns - Day 5

Getting loopy...

I made it!  I’ve started the fascinating I-cord loop trim that makes up the distinctive end of this scarf.

I wasn’t sure I’d like the charcoal trim on this multi-colored scarf, but I do think it works.  And when you factor in the huge amount of black and grey in my wardrobe, it’s useful.  

So color?  check.  Technique?  Eh, not so much.

This is one time I wish I had the opportunity to look over someone’s shoulder.  The directions are explicit, but like entrelac or turning your first sock heel, you’re prone to read them and go “Huh?  Wait, that cant work.”

The trick for me was making sure I did the final “knit 4” after the loop section of the I-cord.  Otherwise, you are not at the right spot to pick up the wrapped stitch and bind off where you need to for the inner loop edge.  Undoing complicated stitch-work in dark wool is always traumatic, and I confess to several nasty words while doing it the second time.  By the third attempt, I nailed it, and did a little victory dance around my couch. No, there isn’t a video.  Allow me my dignity.

I made it through the first of the dozen or so loops required.

Only now I’m stressed.  I can’t imagine how the tiny ball of yarn I have (25 yards) will make it across all the loops I need.  It looks like it can’t possibly be enough, and any restocking I’ll need will have to come all the way from Peoria.  Such is the risk of out-of-town knitting.  It’s not as if this is a problem Amazon Prime can solve, you know?

Nothing like a little creative “will I make it?” tension to give a clever project a nail-biter of a finale.  Stay tuned—anything could happen.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Clincher Bandana Scarf from Ewe-Nique Yarns - Day 4

Pressing matters...

The color is pretty, but the rows are long.

The yarn has that marvelous wooly elasticity, but the rows are long.

The loopy closure looks really interesting, but I’ve got long rows to finish before I get there.

Do you sense a theme?

I think if it were all garter stitch, I wouldn’t be so grumpy.  But half the rows are purling, and purling just seems to go soooooo slow for me.  I can’t continental purl. Well, I can, but then after a few minutes my fingers cramp.  For a long row, that means I’m stuck with American style.  The fact that I can knit continental style—which is faster—just makes the purl rows feel that much more like slogging through molasses.

I’m determined to finish out the rest of my ball of Prairie Spun today so that tomorrow I can begin tackling those fascinating loopy closures.  It’s a rainy, chilly day in Chicago—the exact opposite of my last post—so it’s a good day to hunker down and knit.  

If only I didn’t have writing to do, errands to run, and this guy I married who has a right to expect some interaction (and some dinner made) from his spouse.  I’m writing the climax of my book, which is always rather exhausting (yes, writers get caught up in their work), so I want to run away and hide in my knitting.

So, today is going to be about pressing on.  In my writing.  In waiting for Spring take up permanent residence in Chicago instead of just swooping in for a day or two and then handing the keys back to Winter.  In finishing these ever-elongating rows of knit and purl.


Monday, April 25, 2016

The Clincher Bandana Scarf from Ewe-Nique Yarns - Day 3

Come alive!

The rows are getting longer.  I’m plugging along, setting little daily goals for myself—70 stitches wide by Sunday, 80 stitches wide by Monday, etc—but I can feel the tension starting to settle in.  Top down shawl stress comes in many shapes, yes?

The ease of this pattern—memorizable by the first four inches and super-easy to catch a mistake and fix it before things get epic—makes it highly portable.  Chicago’s spring is a celebratory thing, so outdoor knitting is a particular pleasure right now.  Not too hot that you don’t want to be anywhere near wool, but warm enough to make basking in the sun with your yarn and needles a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection for a book group, and she talks about the need for creativity and play.  Not the desirability of those things, but the need for them.  I need to knit.  I miss it when I don’t.  I live in fear of a hand or arm injury because then I couldn’t knit (leg or foot injuries, on the other hand, just invite lots of sitting which of course means more knitting time!).  Knitting feeds something in me that then enables me to write. 

Brown offers this powerful quote from theologian Howard Thurman:  “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Amen!  I write because I’m good at it and it’s a calling as well as a job, but knitting? Knitting makes me come alive.

Just like Spring.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April Reader Who Knits: Marci Bailey

It's time to meet another fellow knitter who knows the value of a good read! DestiKNITters, meet Marci Bailey.

Marci, are you working on right now?
I’m getting toward the end of my Hitofude sweater in Miss Babs Katahdin. It’s a great pattern – an easily memorized lace repeat with some extra skills like provisional cast on and three-needle bind off. The rows are so long now that each takes 20 minutes!

What feels like your favorite/greatest knitting accomplishment?
Definitely my recent La Scala sweater; I’m wearing it in the picture. It was 14 months on size 1 needles. Two colors, each with two strands held together and intarsia on the knit and purl sides. I don’t think I’ll embark on another sweater with intarsia on the purl side again.

What feels like the worst knitting mistake/foible/wrong choice youve ever made?
Like most knitters, convincing myself that a gauge swatch is “close enough.” Close enough is not good enough when it comes to a hand knit sweater gauge. I have a sleeveless cotton sweater in my closet that is gigantic and waiting to be unraveled and knit again.

Straight needles or circular?
Circular, no question.

Metal or wood needles?

White chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate?
I’ll take a side of dark chocolate with my metal circs!

Coffee or tea?
Coffee, always decaf, with a square of dark chocolate.

Whats your favorite Allie novel?
Family Lessons. Always love a strong female character and happy ending for children.

What are you reading now?
Dirty Love by Andre Dubus. I recently read House of Sand and Fog and saw him speak at our town library. I bought the book there, and he autographed it. His writing shows beautiful attention to detail, and he was quite an engaging speaker. I also learned he wrote a short essay about learning to knit, featured in the anthology, Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting

Do you have a favorite knitting character from a book, movie, or television show?
When Dumbledore said he loved a good knitting pattern, I loved Dumbledore even more!

Give a shout out to your favorite local yarn store: 
My favorite local yarn store, Another Yarn in Winchester, MA, is in the process of relocating, because a burst pipe ruined the store and all the beautiful yarn. 

I like the funky vibe of: 
Yarns in the Farms
641 Hale Street
Beverly Farms, MA 01915

It’s not really local, but whenever I travel through western Massachusetts, I tried to find an excuse to stop in at WEBS, because how can you drive by yarn nirvana without going in.

Marci chose a copy of The Doctor's Undoing for herself and A Heart to Heal for her friend.  Marci also gets 10 hanks of Cascade 220 in Silver Grey for being featured.  If you'd like to be in a future Readers Who Knit or Readers Who Crochet feature, email me at for details.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Clincher Bandana Scarf from Ewe-Nique Yarns - Day 2


The colors.

I can’t get over the colors.  In honesty, I wasn't too thrilled about the green at the beginning.  It felt way too close to the color of my Brassica shawl to be exciting.  Oh, but when it started to change—wow! The photo doesn't do it justice, trust me.  I kept stopping knitting just to stare at it.  If all the color changes I can see in the cake are as luscious as the ones I’ve seen so far, this is going to be one gorgeous shawl.  Between these and the clever i-cord trim, I bet this is going to be one that gets people stopping me on the street (I love that).

This week has been a travel week for me, and my knitting is always close to my heart (literally and figuratively) when I travel.  Nothing else ever softens the blows of travel—airport lines, long flights, endless waits or delays, all that standing around—like knitting.  It never fails to start up a conversation when I take out my knitting.  Either a fellow knitter wants to “talk shop,” or someone tells me a story about their grandmother or aunt or mom who knit them something.  It makes connections.  Even before I began deliberately seeking out yarn shops for DestiKNITions, I have always treasured the way knitting connects perfect strangers.  

Round two of travel starts tomorrow, so I’ll have more treasures in store—and hopefully more breathtaking color changes.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Clincher Bandana Scarf from Ewe-Nique Yarns - Day 1

The point of it all...

There’s something so artistic about a cake of hand-died yarn. I find both peace and motivation in the concentric circles of color.  I get to see what’s coming next—something that doesn’t happen often enough in my life—and that helps me to press onward.  "Just a few more rows until the purple shows up."  The dynamic simply makes me happy.

This scarf is a vertically knit triangle of ribbed rows.  And yes, we are starting at the narrow, "pointy" end.  And yes, that means the rows get longer.  I guess this challenge continues to surround me. 

Designer Ash Kearns adds a grand finale, however, in a happy loopy trim of i-cord that looks so ingenious I can’t wait to get to stitching it.

Quality wools are always a pleasure to knit; the loft, the elasticity, the way they sop up color.  This Prairie Spun Journey skein runs from green to purple to gray to blue and back again in a palette that reminds me of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It is the color way designed for the 2015 Knitting Pipeline retreat—and it’s a beauty.

The simple four-row repeat was quickly memorized, making this excellent television and conference knitting.  I’ll be heading to Las Vegas in a few days for the RT Convention, so it’s an ideal project—beautiful but not too demanding at this stage.  Ewe-Nique Yarns has made me one delighted knitter!  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Fog Shawl from The Fiber Universe--Done!

Did it double?

No, it didn't.  The side increased by 30%, the "hypotenuse" by 50%, but nothing became twice it’s size.

It’s still beautiful.  The colors are stunning, and I do love how light and open the latticework section feels.  

It’s the perfect thing to throw over my shoulders when a spring breeze or summer air conditioning gets too cool.

Thanks, The Fiber Universe, for a unique knitting adventure!

Up next, the inventive “Clincher” shawl from Ewe-Nique Yarns.