Saturday, March 30, 2013

IS #16: Others' Malabrigo March

I thought it would be nice to round up a spattering of some particularly impressive, gorgeous, and inspiring Malabrigo March projects created by other knitters on Ravelry. These are all projects that were started and finished within the month of March. If you want to check out more, there are 935 projects tagged with 'malabrigomarch2013' available for your perusal (which is impressive in its own right)! Here are just a few that caught my eye.

himawari's Trenzado:
Copyright himawari
According to the project page, this sport-weight (knit in Arroyo), 1200-yard sweater was knit in 8 days. EIGHT DAYS! The speed is impressive, the knitting looks impeccably neat, and I love the style of the sweater, which is Trenzado by Kristen Hanley Cardozo.

sarahtomic's Martinmas Vert:
Copyright sarahtomic
This shawl is just lovely. I adore the spirng-crocus-like color combination and the knitter added beads to it, as well, which you can see if you look closely. This is knit in Malabrigo Sock, which is a really great base for lace shawls (less so for socks, in my humble opinion) with lots of yardage. The (free!) pattern is Martinmas Shawl by Sarag Burghardt.

orrmk's Rondelay:
Copyright orrmk
This project is another gorgeous little Malabrigo Sock shawlette/scarf. I love the slightly muted, neutral colorway it's knit in and how the colors highlight the curves in the piece. It's also a really lovely photo of the finished piece. The pattern, Rondelay, is a really interesting one by Jennifer Dassau. It involves garter stitch, short row shaping, and cast on tricks to join three little half-circles together. The more I look at it, the more I think I'll need to knit this one just to see how it was done!

What's been inspiring you, lately? Link along below or leave a comment and share!

Friday, March 29, 2013

FO Friday #15: The Homestretch

Well folks, we're coming into the last few days of March, which means I've been knitting as much as possible on my Malabrigo March projects... which means I have two more FOs to show you! Also, a final reminder that you can still receive 20% off any of my patterns on Ravelry with coupon code "YayMal13" for 2 more days.

Baby Huacaya:
Malabrigo Rios, colorway Lettuce (most accurate in this photo)
What is this vaguely jellyfish-or-hot-air-balloon-like object, you ask? It's a teeny tiny babysized version of my slouchy hat pattern, Huacaya, blocking over a conveniently-sized spherical candleholder.

This hat is going to my friend's new baby, Lyra, whom I will finally get to meet tomorrow! It goes along with the coordinating cardi and booties I finished earlier this month. It is oddly satisfying to knit tiny baby versions of my adult hat patterns!

Aguas Shawlette:
Malabrigo Rios, colorway Aguas
I'm so glad I finally knit something out of this colorway! I've called it my favorite since I first saw it but never hadn't had the chance to knit with it until now. This design is the Impari Shawlette by Nina Machlin Dayton, a very profuse and knowledgeable designer who is a major Malabrigo Junkie. Nina is also very generous, she is a moderator in the 'Budding Designers' group on Ravelry and is always willing to answer questions and share what she's learned during her design career. I've admired many of her designs but this is the first one I've actually knit and I think it was great, especially for beginner knitters as the pattern is simple and well explained. I love the asymmetrical shape of the shawl and those tassels just slay me. Nina explains how to make the tassels very clearly but I thought it would be fun to show you some photos of the process, too:

Steps 2 & 3
I skipped pictures of step 1, which is to cut multiple lengths of yarn, fold them in half, and join them to the corner of the shawl as you would a normal shorter fringe. Then anchor the corner of the shawl with some heavy books. Step 2 is to split the yarn in two and twist each half in the direction of the twist of the yarn, so that it holds so much twist energy that it kinks up when relaxed like the strand on the right in the first photo. I recommend putting in more twist than you think you need. Step 3 is to hold both strands taut and make a big knot at the end.

Steps 4 & 5
Step 4 is to let go! The tassel will snarl and kink up on itself as the twist energy escapes and that is ok. Step 5 is to run your hand down the length of the tassel multiple times, smoothing it out and letting the twist energy settle into that lovely braided-looking shape. What's really interesting is that this process is essentially the same thing you do when you are spinning a cabled yarn. Cool, huh?

Lastly, there were some really great comments about what we all like and look for in patterns in response to my last post, I encourage you to check them out if you haven't already. And finally, don't forget to see some more FO's by clicking the photo below! Have a great Friday, everyone.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

WIPWed #21: Learning Lessons

Well folks, I've returned from my dangerous journey with no dragons slain, exactly, but instead tamed and made less fearsome overall. It was an exhausting ordeal but one worth doing that will ultimately lead to better times ahead (here's hoping). In my absence, I enjoyed reading the Inspiration Saturday posts put up by Joanna at the knitlit twit and Erin at Knitting in Beantown. Thanks, guys, for keeping the inspiration flowing!

I've sadly only gotten a tiny bit of knitting done, which is not great for my Malabrigo March goals as March is swiftly coming to a close. For some reason, instead of working on some of WIPs, my stressed out brain decided it would be a good idea to start a completely new project... a lacy scarf without a pattern, based on a stitch from one of Barbara Walker's dictionaries. I'm not far yet but the yarn is such a bright, springy green that it's making me very happy indeed:
Proof of exhaustion: I pinned and photographed the scarf backwards. This is the reverse side. Oh well.
A generous Raveler was willing to trade a skein of the much-coveted-but-hard-to-obtain Malabrigo Dos with me, and a little bit of Dos is just the thing to make everything better.

Finally, the other day the Yarn Harlot posted some very interesting thoughts about how much guidance knitters need/want within patterns. It's something I've dithered over while writing my own patterns (write something out or point to a resource, specify a technique or assume it's known already, etc.) and I tend to lean towards the 'more detail is better' camp with the caveat that the detail has to be clear and concise, it shouldn't ramble on and prevent the knitter from seeing the forest for the trees. A specific pet peeve of mine as a knitter, is that I like to know how many repeats were knit to obtain the length shown in the sample for things like hats, scarves, cowls, shawls... yes I know these are all adjustable in size but I'm better able to judge which modifications I'd like to make if I know what I'm looking at on the model. Plus, I can make up my own hat design, but if I purchase a hat pattern it's because I want to make EXACTLY THAT HAT, so I'd like to know what was done. And last but not least, I learned most of my favorite knitting techniques from patterns that either described them or pointed to a resource for learning them. I've personally learned more from knitting a whole bunch of different designers' patterns than I have from books, videos, or in-person knitters, so I like to treat parts of my patterns as 'teachable moments'-- including some of these tips and tricks and keeping beginner knitters in mind. How do you prefer your patterns: detailed and all written out or concise and more choose-your-own-method?

Click below to see more WIPs!

Friday, March 22, 2013


I'm off for the weekend, folks. Going to journey into the vast and terrible unknown to slay some metaphorical dragons. This is to inform you that I did not have time to prepare an Inspiration Saturday post beforehand, I apologize! Hopefully one or two of you will keep the ritual going, I'm sure we can all use a little extra inspiration in our weekends.

Instead, I'll leave you with a cute kitten picture (for fortitude, of course):
Cautious snuggling!
Good vibes would be appreciated as I venture off with nothing but a bit of Malabrigo to maintain my strength... See you on the other side!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Creativity Totally Rulez

Now, it's probably a given that I (as a knitter, spinner, designer, poet, musician, etc...) value creativity but I tend to take it for granted as something that is just a part of daily life. However, sometimes I come across something that's so wonderfully creative and fantastic and genius that it makes me go all cheerleader-ly on the inside ("Yaaaaaay, creativity, hooooooray!") and that time is now.  
* Cue pom-poms *

This charming fellow is Jon Cozart and he is fantastic. That video is his Disney princess parody entitled "After Ever After" and it is the cleverest thing I've seen on YouTube in quite some time. He somehow manages to combine many of my favorite things -- Disney stories, a capella singing, historical commentary, witty wordplay, artful presentation, and a healthy dash of twisted humor -- into one video and totally makes it work. I'm seriously impressed. He has an equally entertaining movie villain medley as well as a fantabulous summation of the entire Harry Potter series in 99 seconds.

Seriously, guys, this kid is great. If he's not legitimately famous one day, I'll eat my yarn. I mean, I watched him rip up paper for a minute and a half (*ahem TWICE ahem*) and enjoyed it, people. No joke.

Have you had any randomly awesome internet discoveries yourself, lately?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Phase 3: Finishing and Frogging

The third phase of Malabrigo March is when reality starts to set in a little and you take a second look at your plans. Have you finished something? Great. Are you making progress on the rest? Yes. Are there still things you need/want to cast on? Sure thing. Did you knit on this one at all? Nope-- frog.

See you later, Little Heaume hat! I still think the pattern is absolutely adorable but I was having difficulty visualizing/interpreting the next steps, which made me procrastinate working on it, and there's no time for procrastination here! So away it goes and in its stead will be a tiny, baby-sized version of my Huacaya hat pattern -- which I'm thinking will be equally adorable.

I did (mostly) finish something, though!
Malabrigo Rasta, colorway Plomo
I will do a proper FO post when the toggles I ordered arrive, but very briefly: I highly recommend this pattern (Ovate by Tori Gurbisz) -- I knit that whole thing in 2 evenings! Talk about a perfect Mal March project.

Unrelated to Malabrigo, I also finished a bit of spinning:

This is 100% Polwarth wool from Woolgatherings. It's about 4.4 oz and 214 yards of worsted-ish weight yarn spun on my Babe wheel and chain-plied to preserve color sequences. This fiber was slightly frustrating to spin, possibly a combination of short staple length and compression/stickiness from the dye job. My single kept breaking during plying, too, so the whole process felt a bit messier than usual. However, it made for a gorgeous, squishy soft finished skein that looks fairly even, so I'm happy with it, and I hope Katy is, too!

For the spinners out there: what are your thoughts on Polwarth wool?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

IS #15: New Fiber Friends

Happy Saturday! The purpose of this week's inspiration post is primarily to gush about some new spinning fiber, because I'm in love.

This is 8 oz. of Bluefaced Leicester fiber dyed in two gradient colorways to make a Noro-style scarf.

The Noro Scarf - Copyright Brooklyn Tweed
The fiber was dyed by Cheryl, a dyer/spinner I met at the RI Spinner's Guild meeting who happens to live right in my town! She is a co-owner of June Pryce Fiber Arts, and has an Etsy shop with some lovely and reasonably-priced dyed yarns, fiber, and knitting notions.

One braid of the fiber is a monochrome gradient from palest blue to a rich teal.

The other braid proceeds from purple through blue to a bright, spring green. The idea is that you spin each braid into separate chain-plied skeins (to preserve the color sequence) and then you knit the Noro-style scarf, alternating the dark and light sections of each skein for a nice contrast.

The fiber itself is lovely, fluffy, and soft -- one of the benefits to having it dyed to order and not sitting for a while all compressed in a shop. I absolutely cannot wait to start spinning this up! They're hosting a KAL this month in the June Pryce Fiber Arts group on Ravelry, if you're interested in joining along.

Plus, one of the best things about new fiber arriving is the motivation to finish current spinning projects that follows:
Yay for plying!
What's inspired you this week?


Friday, March 15, 2013

FO Friday #13: Frantic Fracas

This week has been a bit hectic so I've only gotten a small bit of knitting done, but the knitting has been anything but frantic. It's been quite perfect, actually.

Malabrigo Yarn Dos, colorway Zinc
These are my modified version of Hunter Hammersen's Fracas Cuffs and my 2nd Malabrigo March FO. The yarn was positively dreamy to knit.

That, my friends, is what 2 plies of springy, soft, sport-weight heaven looks like. Revel in its glory, please.

The only thing fracas-like about these cuffs is how badly they've got me jonesin' to knit with more Dos. See, I get like this. I love a yarn, then need to knit everything I can think of with that yarn, and I'm pretty happy that way. Then sometimes a new yarn catches my eye and I destash some (remember, $3 off if you're a blog reader!) in order to justify frantically hoarding new yarn. But in this case, I'm at a loss because Dos is not readily available, it was a test yarn that may or may not ever really be produced, and I have a third of my skein left over and I MUST KNIT WITH MORE DOS. *ahem* So I had to beg and borrow, wheel and deal but finally one lovely soul is willing to trade her skein (of a different color, unfortunately) for some other yarn I had (see, who cares anymore?) and I suppose that will have to tide me over. Any good ideas for a cute cowl or scarf that uses 2 colorways of sport-weight yarn (~200 yards total)?

Enjoy some other FOs this week by clicking below!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Phase 2: Cast On All The Things

Phase 1 of Malabrigo March was when we Junkies planned and dreamt and hoped our little hearts out. Phase 2 is when we give in to all our worst startitis impulses and simply cast on everything at once.

Malabrigo Rios, colorway Aguas

Malabrigo Dos, colorway Zinc

Malabrigo Rios, colorway Lettuce

Malabrigo Rasta, colorway Plomo
Aren't they glorious, all in a row like that? Man, I love casting on new projects. (If only I finished them as quickly!) I'll talk about them more later on, but you can find more details about the patterns here on my project pages, if you're impatient.

One thought: Malabrigo Dos is amazing. AMAZING. It is a 50 gram/150 yard 2-ply sport weight yarn of the softest Merino wool I've ever felt. It was a test yarn so I'm not sure if you can find it for sale anywhere, but the off chance of possibly winning some of it in one of the Malabrigo March contests is enough to keep me motivated to finish my KAL projects, for sure.

An unrelated thought: if you have any Dos lying around that you don't want, TELL ME I WILL TAKE IT. * ahem.*

A final thought: I did a bit of spring cleaning of the stash and have a mix of different yarns that I'm destashing on Ravelry. Please take a look and let me know if anything interests you! There's a little bit of  Blue Moon STR, Bugga, Codex, KnitPicks, Madelintosh, and Malabrigo. If you'd like something, be sure to let me know that you read my blog and I'll take $3 off the price just because you're awesome. :)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Happy, Happy Spinner

Folks, you're reading the words of an exceptionally happy spinner right now.

Tiny, twirling vehicle of happiness.
Yesterday afternoon I attended my first meeting of the Rhode Island Spinner's Guild... and it was fantastic. I always get unnecessarily nervous before these types of unfamiliar social/crafty gatherings... you'd think I would've learned from the last time I went to a meeting in Connecticut, but I didn't. The Fiasco still had to literally force me to leave the house and I'm ever so glad that he did. It turns out that Rhody spinners are a warm, welcoming, enthusiastic, and talented bunch and I absolutely cannot wait until next month's meeting, during which we will be learning how to spin art yarns! Plus, I got a whole bunch of spinning done on my little neglected spindle:

Pencil included for scale.
If you remember, I began this spinning project way back in October when I bought the spindle (a Golding purpleheart tsunami) at Rhinebeck. That nearly-full cop represents only a tiny fraction of the Merino wool/silk blend top I have stashed so I'll probably be spinning it forever, but I will get a ton of yardage and the fiber/spindle combo is so pleasant that I really don't mind.

I have a second Golding spindle and another bit of fiber that I feel like I've been spinning forever (well, since August):
Woolgatherings 100% Polwarth wool
There is only one explanation for why this yarn hasn't been finished over the past 8 months: I have not been spinning it. Over the fall I didn't spin very much and then since December I've been spinning mainly on my new wheel. I'm fine having works-in-progress, but in this case it caused a problem because the finished yarn was intended to be a birthday gift for my very good knitterly friend, Katy, whose birthday was waaaaaaay back in December. It got to the point where I would walk past my spindles and feel extreme guilt as I sat down at my wheel and spun away on other things. Then inspiration struck-- I had a second braid of the same fiber!

Rather than force myself to find spindle time, I started spinning the second braid on the wheel and am making excellent progress. Katy's favorite color is purple so this yarn is literally made for her. I'd say I have about a third of the fiber left to spin and with any luck will finish it soon.

Now, back to that spinning...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

IS #14: New Knitty

I think one of the first online pattern magazines a new knitter encounters is probably -- at least it was for me. The patterns are fun and funky, feature designs from a great mix of established designers and up-and-comers, and (probably most importantly to the newer knitter) are free. The spring and summer 2013 issue just came out so let's see what we can find for inspiration, shall we?

Now that I'm a spinner, I really enjoy the Knittyspin features. This scarf is Foliolum by Joanna Johnson and is knit from handspun yarn. She spun a 50% yak/50% Merino wool blend into a sport-weight yarn and then knit this lovely, simple scarf with a pretty crocheted edging. I tend to think that simpler patterns showcase handspun yarns the best (at least with my handspun!), so I could definitely see myself using this one in the future. I also just really love the styling of this photo: it definitely evokes bright, leafy springtime for me.

Copyright Jennifer Dassau

This little shawl, Lunatic Fringe by Jennifer Dassau, is super fun! It's knit from the bottom point up asymmetrically, with those finger-like fringes created by casting on and binding off stitches along one edge of the row. I love knits that are creative with interesting results, but that are relatively simple to knit (busy lifestyle and all) so this one definitely fits the bill. Plus, it would work well in almost any weight yarn and probably great for handspun, too. I briefly met the designer at Stitches East last October because she is one of the diehard Malabrigo Junkies and she was super nice. I recommend you check out her patterns on Ravelry because she has lots of great stuff in there!

Copyright OneHandKnits
Aaaaaaand then we have the gigantic and impressive knitted item that I will probably never make but that I enjoy admiring from afar! This is the Easy as Pie blanket by Anna Richardson. For this blanket, the designer worked out how to make circles from garter stitch short rows and then again used short rows to square off the area around the circles... and then somehow joined them together. I love the design concept and the use of colors and I am just always awed when people write patterns for ginormous knits. That's a lot of knitting to do and keep track of and translate for others!

Which pattern are you drawn to from the collection? Has something else been inspiring you lately? Please link along below and share!


Friday, March 8, 2013

FO Friday #12: Tumultuous

Happy Friday! I've finished a gift, but my feelings are mixed.

The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga, colorway Fierce Snake
This is the Tumult cowl from Hunter Hammersen's awesome little Rabble Rousers collection of accessories. The stitch pattern was pretty fun and simple to work, though I'm not sad to see the last of twisted stitches for a little while. I made it to match my mom's cuffs. I think they make a pretty little set. However, I'm not thrilled with the fit of the cowl.

Too tall... too squished... folded over sorta works?
Hunter mentioned that the stitch pattern stretched a lot after blocking... and my swatch did, but the cowl... not so much. The thing about twisted stitches is when you put a lot together like that, they really do tighten things up and the fabric does some funny things. I wanted the lovely draped styling of the cowl in the pattern photo:
Copyright Hunter Hammersen
But that didn't happen. For one, I had to go hunting to see what size the sample was... which I hate. It's one of my pattern pet peeves. I understand wanting flexibility in patterns and it's great to encourage knitters to think for themselves, but I like some baseline information. What size is pictured and also how many repeats did you knit to get that height? Yes, swatches and math will let you figure it out for yourself, but 1) swatches lie and 2) I still want to know how tall yours is. Don't get me wrong, Hunter is one of my absolute favorite designers: I love her aesthetic, her yarn choices, and her patterns are clearly written. Those little sizing things just bug me.

It's still pretty, though!

Speaking of yarn choices: going back to the pattern page just now I realized Hunter used a 65% wool/35% silk blend yarn for her cowl. That would explain the lovely drap! My yarn was 70% wool/20% cashmere/10% nylon. Bugga has a little bit of drape to it, but not usually much when knit on size 4 needles. Oh well... It's still wearable, just not what I was going for. I'll get the next one!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Phase 1: The Grand Plans

Malabrigo March goes in phases. Phase 1 involves making the Grand Plans, which might be my favorite part. There's a ton of scheming, stashing, dreaming, thinking, browsing, wishing, and hoping that goes into a month dedicated to Knitting All The Malabrigo Things.There's a bunch of finishing up involved, as well. Here's a bit of Malabrigo knitting I hurried through in order to get to... more Malabrigo knitting.

Malabrigo Rios, colorways Archangel and Lettuce
This is a slightly modified version of the *One Baby Sweater* by Erika Flory. It was a simple, no-fuss pattern to which I added a contrasting garter stitch band and changed the closure from a button at the neck to an i-cord tie at the waist. I also lengthened it a bit so the little baby who will eventually wear this can hopefully wear it for a while. Before I can give it to her, though, there are two matching accessories I have planned. In fact, here are all of Malabrigo March plans:

The links don't work here, this is just a screenshot, but feel free to go to the Ravelry forum.
See where it says "BO 3/3"? I cast on and finished my first Mal March proeject over the weekend!

Can you tell what it is? Probably not.
It was the strangest baby bootie pattern I'd ever knit but they came together in the end.

Like magic!
These are the Little chausses pattern I wrote about in my last Inspiration Saturday post. They were quick and fairly simple, requiring just a bit of trust the pattern muttering and some haphazard seaming at the end. Like I said, they worked out just fine, and I have already cast on for the coordinating hat:

Malabrigo Rios, colorway Lettuce
What are your plans this March? Are you participating in any crazy KALs?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Silly Darwin

This kitten gets me into trouble.
Who, me?
I ordered a few things from Knit Picks with a gift card I had, since I needed to replace a pair of needles that the aforementioned kitten went to town on and since I've been wanting to work up some of my designs in Knit Picks yarn to publish through their independent designer program. One of the yarns I was particularly excited about trying was their City Tweed DK.

The loot.

As evidenced in the bag of loot above, I ordered 3 balls of the tweed yarn. However, when I opened the package, I only saw 2. I searched all around the couch, under the blankets, on the floor and still could only find 2 balls. I called Knit Picks and they were ever so apologetic and agreed to send a replacement ball right away.

Then I glanced across the room to see Darwin gleefully playing with the missing ball of yarn, looking for all the world like the stereotypical kitten-with-ball-of-yarn image. I then sheepishly called Knit Picks back and explained that I had found the yarn, my kitten had stolen it before I'd even seen it while the phone operator laughed and laughed.

The false face of innocence.
It was quite embarrassing but at least we all know now that Knit Picks is very nice about this sort of thing!