Earlier this year when my husband was traveling, he thought he would surprise me by picking out some yarn as a gift. He was with his mother and they had stopped into a yarn store.
The clerk (I blame her entirely) pointed out some lovely novelty yarns (wool-free) from Europe that she said were just flying off the shelves. She may have been telling the truth or she may have been trying to get rid of them, but either way, I got 2 skeins of novelty yarn.
My husband could tell as soon as I opened them that I was not having my usual reaction to gifts of yarn. He assured me it was very expensive and came highly recommended with free scarf patterns, were the colors a problem?
I gently explained to him that what he had given me was something called "novelty" yarn. I wasn't much into novelty yarn, but it was a lovely thought.
From time to time as I embarked on a new project he'd mention his yarn and the fact that I have yet to knit with it. I'd feel a twinge of guilt, but honestly, I had no desire to knit a novelty yarn scarf and I had no idea what I would do with it once it was knit (heaven forbid he should want me to wear it).
But last week, when I was tidying up my yarn corner (it can get terribly out of hand) I came across the ball of Estelle's Frill seeker and I decided to just give it a try and see how it knit up. As a scarf it was -- well, there are no words. But then I got a very crafty idea.
I cast on 30 stitches and knit until it measured 13" (which was right to the end of the skein) and cast off. I folded the large rectangle over an old pillow and using a matching shade of dk yarn I stitched up the three sides. Pretty simple.
I love it. My husband sort of loves it too (although foo-foo pillows are not really his thing) but what he really loves is the fact that I have used "his" yarn.
There's another ball of novelty yarn to go, but I think we'll save it for now. Can't have too much of a good thing now can we ( :
What do you think of novelty yarn? Love it or hate it?
Okay, okay, forget all the whining about how I hate knitting lace (well I sort of still do) because it turns out that there really wasn't all that much lace to knit in this shawl (she suddenly remembers why she picked it) and now that the pain is over I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome. So much so that, who knows, one day I might even knit it again!
This is Sweet Jazz and I knit it up in Wolle's Creations Color Changing Cotton (Cappuccino). Love the way the color changes work in this yarn, although this pattern was not quite long enough to showcase more than a row of the darkest shade in the skein. The yarn is not plied so you do have to really watch not to split as you knit but since I'm well acquainted with splitty yarns I found it not too bad.
A close-up so you can swoon over all that complicated lace knitting!
So, another WIP makes FO. I love that feeling, don't you?
We've had some sizzling summer temps here in Boston, so I made a quick switch on the weekend from knitting cables in Aran-weight to knitting lace in a fingering cotton.
Good switch in terms of yarn, but it has been slowly dawning on me that I enjoy knitting lace only slightly less than I enjoy knitting cables. I enjoyed it even less this time because I forgot where I was in the pattern and had to frog most of the Sweet Jazz shawl and start again.
Of course if I had to choose between cables and lace, I'd go with cables. I really dislike knitting lace that much. I find it takes too much concentration as well as being just a bear to tink or frog. Blocking is also more work for lace. I am really and truly amazed at the number of lace shawls that some knitters turn out in the course of a year. I bow to your brilliance! Feel free to send me one if you are churning out too many for your personal use (wool-free of course).
I'm still drawn to all those lovely lace shawlette patterns and I seem equally drawn to buy silky yarns of a single skein which will, inevitably, become more lacy things unless somebody can suggest an alternative.
But through all these varied projects I am slowly getting to know myself as a knitter. And yes, I'm slowly starting to realize that while I may love the look of a cabled finished project (afghan, sweater, scarf, you name it), I don't really enjoy knitting cables. I can do it, it's not torture, and once I get going I usually relax and have as much fun as I can with it, but I have to push myself to pick up a cabled WIP rather than choosing something without cables. I think that's telling.
I'm also not a big fan of charts. Oh, I don't mind having them for reference, but I like written instructions alongside. I like to keep my options open. Interestingly enough, most cable and lace patterns use charts -- how's that for an 'ah ha" moment?
If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm both impulsive and persistent when it comes to knitting so I've no doubt that there will continue to be times when I will be so drawn to a Finished Object that the desire to have knit it will outweigh the pain of actually knitting it. However, going forward I'd like to get to the place where I'm choosing patterns with which I can really enjoy the process of knitting and not spend the whole time chomping at the bit to get to the end product.
And this is where I'm a little stuck. While it's very easy to name types of knitting that are not my favorite, I'm not so clear about what style of knitting I enjoy most.
I'm going to try to really make note of patterns I've loved knitting and see if I can find some commonalities among them. Stockinette is definitely my most meditative style of knitting. It works like a very soothing tonic on my soul. But it needs to be interesting too, maybe some shaping or color changes, in order to keep me going back for more.
It's not been blocked, but I'm so thrilled to be done with the left sleeve and yoke of Silverbelle that I just had to show you the minute it came off the needles. You'll note it looks remarkably like the right sleeve/yoke but thankfully with reverse neck shaping.
I started with the top of this sweater first because I wanted to make sure I had the right size/fit before embarking on the very substantial peplum. So far, so good. I'm going to cast on for the pemplum next and hope and pray that it still fits when all the pieces are stitched together.
I've been all over the place with my knitting lately, casting on with abandon project after project and making significant progress on very few things. It's fun for awhile, but then I start to feel overwhelmed by it all. Does that ever happen to you?
So this past week I decided it was time to focus. I finished knitting the right sleeve/yoke of Silverbelle and it actually looks like it will fit. I'm up to the yoke section on the left sleeve as well.
I love what happens when I focus! Wonder how long I can keep it up?
Did you know that Egyptian Cotton Socks are among one of the oldest knitting relics to be found. Imagine that, a wool-free knit.
This photo is of a sock on display at the Textile Museum, Washington, D.C., of natural and indigo dyed cotton, made sometime between the 11th and 13th centuries C.E. It is believed to be the oldest surviving knitted sock.
That gives you a bit of an idea of how long wool-free knitting has been around.
Anahita has actually copied this sock and she's written out the pattern and charts here for anyone who wants to give it a try.
She made a few alterations in the pattern so that the socks would fit her foot, and used a cotton/wool blend but otherwise, she aimed to make as true a copy as possible.
This is a hat from the garden-themed section, "The Upside Down Daisy Hat" which I knit up using some left over Blue Sky Alpacas' worsted cotton.
This is a very easy knit as the daisy petals are each knit separately and stitched on after the body of the hat is knit. The one thing I'm learning from this book is that you can get a LOT of different looks using the same basic hat pattern if you just exercise a little creativity.
I've been working on several different projects the past few days and listening to the audio book, America Knits by Melanie Falick
Written by Melanie Falik, this book highlights fiber artists throughout the United States. Some of the knitters, designers, wool dyers and fiber artists highlighted through brief biographical sketches are Meg Swansen, Nancy Bush, Nicky Epstein and Julie Hoff .
One on the sketches that fascinated me most was that of Sally Fox, the owner of Natural Cotton Colors Inc. It was refreshing to hear, in this wool-centric collection, of a fiber artist who was working without wool and making a fresh contribution to the world of knitting.
I found it fascinating to learn little tid-bits of the lives of so many names I've seen and heard of in the world of knitting and if you've ever wondered how Norah Gaughan got her start or where Pam Allen gets all her ideas etc. then this is definitely the book for you.
On the downside, Christine Marshall is not my favorite narrator (I find her a little stilted at times) and the audio version does not include a visual copy of the designs created by these artists just for this book. Overall, however, this makes a wonderful audio companion for knitting.
I also like to listen to novels while knitting, but I do find that listening to books on knitting, while knitting, is my favorite way to combine the two.
What about you? Do you listen to audio books while you knit? What are your favorites?