Friday, July 3, 2015

Blurred Lines Bandana Style Shawlette from Yarn & Stitches--Done!

Pink and purple perfect...

Before blocking
So, a funny thing happened on the way to the bind-off.  It’s a perfect depiction of everything I love about knitting.

I was finishing this project on the road.  I was staying with a colleague attending the conference I talked about in my last post.  It was a lovely little house, and I was sleeping in the granddaughter’s room—a delightful girl named Savannah.

Like most girls her age, Savannah is big into horses.  She even has one and rides it regularly.  Also like most girls her age, Savannah’s room is a festival of pink.  With a little purple thrown in for good measure.  You can see where this is going.  Funny that I couldn’t.

After blocking
The morning after I wrote the last post, I woke up feeling like a neon sign had fallen on my head:  I didn’t need to look or wait to see who should own the bandana, the perfect recipient was right under my nose.  Sure, Florida may not be the first place one thinks of to wear a woolen knitted bandana, but it gets chilly there too—especially when out in the pasture with your horse.  The moment the idea came to me, it was undeniable.  There was no point in even considering taking the piece home to block—it needed to stay right where I was.  No one would get more joy out of this pink and purple wonder than the little girl who had lent me her bedroom!

The happy recipient!
A quick conversation with Mom and Grandmom okay’ed the offer, produced a iron and board to steam-block the piece, and made the gifting complete.  The small size and little girl colors couldn’t have been a better fit.  I left with a huge smile on my face, and it seems like Savannah enjoyed her gift.

That’s the thing I love most about knitting—there is always, always the right person for whatever you’re making.

Thank you, Yarn & Stitches, for making this wonderful moment possible.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Blurred Lines Bandana Style Shawlette from Yarn & Stitches--Day 5

For Whom?

It’s not hard to see where this is going.  The sections are repeating themselves.  In many ways, that’s good—familiar territory makes for stress free knitting.  I’m at a conference, absorbing new material, pausing here and there to write down important notes and ideas, and I like an easy knitting task for this situation.  I like that everyone knows I’ll be knitting—nay, expects me to be knitting—in a lecture setting.  I break out my old lines: 

Knitting is socially acceptable fidgeting.”

I’m not knitting because you are boring me—I’m knitting so I can pay better attention to you.

Everyone here gets it.  Still, I am a speaker/author by profession, and I take extra care to let the person at the podium know I’m connecting with him or her.  Smiles, nods, taking notes—all these things are how a well-mannered knitter lets her teacher know attention is indeed being paid.

I like the pattern.  It’s just the right balance between intriguing new stitches and repetition—engaging, but not overwhelming; simple, but not boring.  I can see there’s a brand new stitch coming at the end, and I’m looking forward to it as a gratifying finale.  The yarn has a nice spring and a pleasant texture.

But I’ll be perfectly honest:  I can’t get past the colorway.  Not many things in life feel “too young” for me, but this project will likely find its way to a little girl in my life.  I like pink, but I definitely skew toward the lighter, more pastel pinks.  And I do like rich, vibrant purples.  I just can’t get myself to embrace the combination here.

Thats the thing about knitting, however--I don’t have to.  My knitting never has to be all about me.  I can enjoy the process even if the product doesn't turn out to be my cup of tea.  

Sure, this may never grace my neck (although, to be fair, I refuse to pass judgement until this is blocked), I have NO doubt whatsoever that life will shortly introduce me to someone for whom it is absolutely perfect.  It happened with my whimsical cow bag.  It’s happened numerous times.

So for now, I just keep stitching in happy anticipation of discovering who that someone will be.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Blurred Lines Bandana Style Shawlette from Yarn & Stitches--Day 4

Are the lines really blurred?

Ah, purple.  My eyes feel glad to have a gentler color, if darker, color to knit.  

I have to confess to a few misgivings, however, on the color change. In many of Vice’s colorways, the shift between colors is gradual and flowing.  Here, I feel like we were traveling down Pink Street and just made a hard left onto Purple Avenue.  Some of that may be due to the size of the rows—the shift between pink hues at the very top where the rows were shorter is more gradual.  Down here in section 5, it’s closer to self-striping.  And rebellious little blotches of purple show up before I want them to, as if they’re cutting in line. My, but I seem to be generous with my similes and metaphors today!

I have knitted long enough to know that what I feel now may not be what I feel later.  I have had doubts about works-in-progress before, only to be thrilled with the completed project.  It’s just the same in my writing—the middle is no place to pass judgement on an effort.

One thing I do know for sure is how VERY glad I am to have Continental Style knitting in my toolbox while I’m doing all this switching back and forth between knits and purls.  This would be tortuously tedious in American Style.  Just like in ribbing, alternating knits and purls go much faster in Continental.  Yes, it takes a bit of effort to learn.  I went to a class to force myself, even though I knew the basic concept.  Next time you do color work, ribbing, moss or seed stitch, however, you will be glad you can knit Continental Style.  Think of it like learning a new software program—hard at first, but with a gratifying payoff.  

See? There I go with the metaphors again.  You’d think I were a writer or something…

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Blurred Lines Bandana Style Shawlette from Yarn & Stitches--Day 3

Pink think...

OK, enough with the pink already.  

It’s a very enthusiastic pink.  Not that I’m against enthusiastic colors—I wear them frequently, and even have a favorite cardigan in a shade as bright as this.  

But I’ve been staring at it for days. When even the camera on my iPhone is having trouble containing the color, however, you know it’s bright.  Fuchsia, even.  Hot pink.  The color my mother used to refer to as “menopause pink” although she never really explained why.  I can only assume that it’s vibrancy made it a favorite of women of a “certain age.”  A google search turned up a lot of interesting—and several disturbing—hits, but nothing to explain this phrase.

I was ecstatic, then, to spy the purple section of the yarn coming up.

Section 4 returns us to the YO-K2TOG pattern, and I can see that alternating these two stitch patterns is what is going to make up most of this shawlette.  The extremely detailed and clear directions—along with the smaller size—make this a good project for a novice knitter.  You’ll get a nice piece, as we'll as three new stitch patterns for your toolbox, in not too long a time.  And when you get to the inevitable endless finale of top-down shawl rows, it shouldn’t be too tedious—hopefully.  If you are a novice knitter, I would definitely suggest starting with the lighter color first, so that you can see the stitches clearly.  New stitch patterns are always a bit more difficult with a darker yarn.

Next up, we’ll see how the color change goes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

June Readers Who Knit: Susan Lutz Kenyon

It’s time to meet our Readers Who Knit for June.  DestiKNITters, meet Susan Lutz Kenyon.

Susan tells me she crocheted this necklace!
Susan, whats on your needles right now?
I just finished a jacket from Sally Melvilles book, The Purl Stitch.  Using size 13 needles I knit with one boucle yarn and one chenille together.  It was finished a while ago but when I went to sew it together, I noticed a mistake with one sleeve and had to re-knit it. 

What feels like your favorite/greatest knitting accomplishment?
Learning to knit.  I taught myself to crochet in 1967 and am a charter member of Crochet Guild of America.  In 2002 I decided to learn to knit because my aunt, who had knit for me, my children, and grandchildren, was in her 90s. I wanted to show her her legacy would go forward.  Continental knitting works best for me.

What feels like the worst knitting mistake/foible/wrong choice youve ever made?
The first sweater I knit was, again, from a Sally Mellville book, The Knit Stitch.  I love the sweater but, according to the pattern, the right and left fronts are each a different length and each is different from the back length.  When I tell people this is the first sweater I knit, they usually say oooooh as that explains the uneven lengths.  I feel I should carry a picture of the pattern to show I knit it correctly but I just laugh.

Straight or circular needles?  

Metal or wood needles? 
Mostly metal but it depends on the yarn.

White chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate? 
White Chocolate

Coffee or tea? 
I drink decaf green tea every morning.  I do like decaf coffee once in a while.

Whats your favorite Allie novel? 
A Heart to Heal.  This book felt personal to me for several reasons.  I have a scar from my knee to my ankle on my left leg from a fire when I was three years old. When I was in elementary school, girls couldnt wear slacks to school so I was teased.   Currently I knit and crochet for Project Linus servicing kids in crisis. I also started a prayer shawl group at my church.

What are you reading now? 
Girl Three by Tracy March and also All by My Selves by Jeff Dunham who is a very talented ventriloquist.

Do you have a favorite knitting character from a book, movie, or television show (Allie books not included)?
Casting Off by Nicole R. Dickson is a fiction story about a woman who goes to Ireland to research a book on Irish knitting.  The back of the book says it has characters as complex and beautiful as the Irish sweaters at the heart of the story.  I absolutely agree.

Give a shout out to your favorite local yarn store:
Three Bags Full
1927 Cherry Lane
Northbrook, IL

(The store was featured in this DestiKNITions post if you’d like to know more)

Thanks to DestiKNITions and Cascade Yarns, Susan gets some nice goodies for being featured, including a copy of Saved by the Fireman, a Cascade Totebag, and ten hanks of Cascade 220 in Azalea.  Her friend gets a copy of Bluegrass Courtship, too.  

If you'd like to be featured, send an email to for application information.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Blurred Lines Bandana Style Shawlette from Yarn & Stitches--Day 2

Seed vs. Moss...

 Section three gives us a straightforward patch of K1,P1.  Essentially, you are alternating the knits and purls so that knits stack on top of purls and purls stack on top of knits.  The result is a bumpy texture that offers nice contrast to the smooth stockinette of section one and the open texture of section two—each separated by a “line” of garter stitch.  Since you’re swapping back and forth between knits and purls, this goes much faster in Continental style knitting—another benefit to being “ambikniterous.” While the designer does not name it as such, I have always thought of this stitch as the “Seed Stitch.”  

This got me thinking about seed stitch vs. moss stitch—I have always thought them interchangeable, but are they really?  High time to find out, so I did a little research.  

a black-and-white shot so you can really see texture
Seed stitch” is universally recognized as knits on top of purls and purls on top of knits, alternating every row, giving us the flexible but bumpy texture we see here.  It’s also identical on both right and wrong sides.

“Moss stitch" is close or identical—depending upon the American or British versions.  American moss stitch is different; it goes in two-row alternations. You stack knits-on-knits and purls-on-purls for two rows, then switch for the next two rows.  The effect is that your “bumps” are two rows high rather than one.  

Brits are simpler: British moss stitch is identical to seed stitch.  So, when a pattern calls for moss or seed, you ought to take a minute and consider the source material’s country of origin so you know what’s expected.   That being said, the difference is slight enough that I can’t imagine lives would be at stake should you misinterpret.

In either case, these stitches have some admirable virtues.  
  • they can add density and durability—especially useful for sock heels!  
  • they are reversible  
  • as we learned in the Celtic Princess scarf, they are very useful as a non-curling border

Here, though, they create a lovely contrast to both stockinette and more complicated stitch patterns.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Blurred Lines Bandana Style Shawlette from Yarn & Stitches--Day 1

Yeah, yeah, I know—Miley Cyrus’ twerking ruined it for all of us.  The words “blurred lines” have been forever associated with Robin Thicke’s catchy-yet-nasty tune and the phrase “what rhymes with hug me?”

Me, I’m much more fond of this cleaned-up-but-just-as-catchy version showcased on The Sing-off by University of Kentucky’s AcoUstiKats.  Just try not to smile and bob while you listen to this:

Given the nature of the fiber’s color way—long color changes slowly transforming through a series of three of four hues throughout the cake—the name makes sense.  Blurred Lines comes in a variety of weights so you can avail yourself of these lush colors for a variety of projects.  For this shawlette, I’m using a sport weight version that confines itself from pink to purple and back again.

Which posed a quandary:  Start with pink or start with purple?  Practically, it meant either pull from the center or the outside (I appreciate that they gave me that choice, by the way)?  After some thought, I decided it would be easier to match the purple with other clothing so I chose to start with pink and end with purple.  Being a “winter” in my coloring, having the bright pink next to my face didn’t pose a problem.  Give some thought to this as you choose your own cake.

This was my third time attempting the garter tab start for a top down shawl, and now that I understand the concept more clearly I met with greater success.  

Section One—the project is divided into seven sections, perfect for Chunky Method knitting—comprises a very basic stockinette to get you started.  Section Two wields yarn-overs to give you a fishnet feel but still with easy stitching.  From my cake, I didn’t see a color change until much later, so that provided a bit of anticipation to keep me going.  

Off to a bright start indeed!