Pausing to Note Progress

Too often, I focus my attention on the finished product – not on what I learned while in the process of creating something. That applies to a lot of areas of life, but in the interest of staying on topic, I’ll take a moment to pause and take note of what I’ve learned so far while working on my current project.

Shawl Progress

Using the right tool for the job.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve already seen that I’m in the process of making the Monica shawl. It’s a gorgeous (free) pattern that’s knit with lace-weight yarn. I went through three different needle sizes when I was starting out, and got way too far into the project before I finally conceded that it wasn’t working.

None of the needles I tried at first (Boye Needlemaster and Knit Picks Caspian) were bad in and of themselves – they just weren’t right for this pattern. Luckily, my new set of interchangeable Addi Click needles (LOVE!!!) arrived while I was in the midst of frogging this for the umpteenth time. I chose a larger needle size, and never looked back. Note that the needles pictured are from my first attempts and are not the ones that I ended up using.

Shawl in Progress

New knitting skills.

I also picked up a few new technical knitting skills with this pattern – a win in my book, even if it was hard-earned because of all the failed attempts.

  • Comfortably (somewhat) reading lace charts
  • Knitted-on borders
  • Estonian knitting nupps – I used the crochet hook method in the video below, and it was so much easier!

 

Victorian Romantic Pineapples Centerpiece

With Christmas far in the rearview mirror… Valentine’s Day, you’re up. :) Here’s a sweet centerpiece project that I completed last year. The Romantic Pineapples Doily is a lovely textured project by Jo Ann Maxwell. (And currently available for free!)

Victorian Romantic Pineapples

My thread of choice was Knit Picks Curio in Victorian. As with most shades of Curio, I found this thread to be darker in person than it appeared on screen. In the case of this project, that was a good thing. I will say that I’m ready for some new color options, pretty please.

Victorian Romantic Pineapples 5

The pattern includes large openings, so there’s no chance to hide uneven stitches within dense fabric.

Victorian Romantic Pineapples

Reviewing these photos now, I definitely could have spent more time on the blocking – or at least straightened it up a bit for the photo shoot!

Victorian Romantic Pineapples

Cluster stitches add texture to the piece. I especially like the ones that outline the pineapples. Just be sure to count carefully. Not that I, er, discovered that by experience. Ahem.

Victorian Romantic Pineapples 2

The stitch pattern that makes up the hearts (and adds the “Romantic” element) are simple yet clever. Again, I think a bit more blocking is needed here to smooth out the top curves of the shape.

Victorian Romantic Pineapples

It’s a lovely pattern, and one that I’ve actually made twice so far. I’ll share pics of my second one in a later post!

Hourglass Cowl

When I think about it, it’s kind of surprising how infrequently I wear things I’ve made. This project is an exception, though – I’ve put it in regular wardrobe rotation lately. I love the size, the colors, the pattern and the drape.

The Hourglass Cowl (free pattern on Ravelry) is really like two projects in one. The “front” of the piece has a curvy hourglass design…

Hourglass Cowl

…with a ribbed edging. I used Boutique Unforgettable yarn in Echo. I have to say, the chain craft store brands have really been “upping their game” in the past few years when it comes to premium acrylic options. The Unforgettable line has become one of my favorites.

Hourglass Cowl

The Hourglass pattern is definitely gorgeous enough on its own. It’s knit in the round, so there’s no need to worry about seaming. But wait, there’s more! ;)

Hourglass Cowl

The reverse side knits up as a basket weave pattern. I can’t decide which side I like better.

Hourglass Cowl

Here’s a closer look at the basket weave pattern, and the yarn. In manufacturer photos, the yarn often looks brighter than it actually is. As you can see, it’s actually a pretty muted color palette.

Hourglass Cowl

Here’s a side-by-side look at the cowl’s dual personalities to give you a sense of scale. I really think this was the best possible yarn choice for this project. It’s one of those patterns that you’ll want to make over and over!

Hourglass Cowl

Yarn & Heritage

Fiber crafts are rewarding for many reasons, but at times it’s really remarkable to consider how participating in the activities is part of our heritage. One of my other hobbies is genealogy, so I may be more invested in the concept than most. :)

I can trace quite a few branches of my family back to the 1700s (and much earlier in some cases). I’m so grateful for the work of the many generations before who painstakingly recorded the vital records of these branches (especially since other branches remain a mystery despite years of my own research). These genealogies also come with some family anecdotes, and I found a listing in one of my ancestors’ wills today that directly relates to my favorite hobbies:

[Name] spun the yarn for this coverlet in 1784 when their oldest child was an infant … This coverlet has been in use for every winter for 69 years. In 1858 I knit this fringe and sewed it on, as the old fringe was nearly gone.

Amazing. I wonder if anything I’ve made will last that long – here’s hoping! Of course, I have a more recent family connection in that I learned how to crochet from my grandma. It’s very cool to know that creating projects out of yarn goes way further back in the family.

Knitting Project

Knitting Groups: Have You Joined One?

knitxmidwest project
I’ve never belonged to a regular knitting/crocheting group. I used to get together with a group of friends to work on various types of craft projects (mostly scrapbooking), but we drifted apart when, well, life intervened. I also hang out with crafty family members, which is so much fun.

But I do feel a little disconnected from the fiber crafters in my area, and it seems like a missed opportunity. I’d love other chances to meet others in the area who love yarn as much as I do! Apart from special events (which I haven’t attended for a long time) and the instances mentioned above, most of my crafting time happens with the husband, Netflix and the cat (when she deigns to grace us with her presence) for company.

Some crafters I know have to really concentrate on their projects when they’re working on them, and it can be tough for them to carry on a conversation. I can relate to this on some projects, so I think I’d have to pick something fairly simple/repetitive for a group meet up.

This is really just a long-winded, rambling way to ask: What has your experience been like with your local knitting or crocheting group?

In My Stash: Knit Picks Curio (Tea Rose and Ice Lily)

I’m not much of a Black Friday shopper – in fact, I had most of my Christmas gift shopping done well in advance of it. I’ve been making a more concerted effort to buy gifts throughout the year while I’m shopping (“Hey, I bet _____ would like that!) instead of just making a mental note and immediately forgetting. Still need to work on that, though.

The only sale I was really excited about was this one that’s still happening at Knit Picks. It’s an awesome time to stock up on my favorites. With my preference for thread crochet, it’s a no-brainer to grab some more Curio thread. It’s hard to beat $2 per 721-yard ball!

Curio

These photos were taken a while ago (green trees, I miss you), and I’ve used up a lot of this thread already. I have a few more colors on the way and can’t wait to see them. Knit Picks hasn’t released any new colors since introducing Curio, and while I love the ones they have, I’d be happy to see more.

curiotearose1

I love the Tea Rose color way – it’s easily the prettiest shade of pink thread I’ve been able to find. It appears a lot darker in person than it does on my screen – it’s actually pretty close to the next darkest color (Victorian), which I’ve also used.

curiotearose3

The light purple shade, Ice Lily, was also a lot darker than I expected. Here’s a comparison of Ice Lily and Tea Rose.

curio3

I’ve used Comfrey (a darker purple color – not pictured), and Ice Lily is closer to the shade that I expected from Comfrey.

curioicelily1

I just finished up all of my Ice Lily…

curioicelily2

…you can see a peek at the centerpiece project I used it for here:

Mother's Day Centerpiece

I also used a bit of Tea Rose for, appropriately enough, the accent roses. The leaves are the Sagebrush color way (also shown in the first photo in this post), and the off-white sections are leftover Aunt Lydia’s in Natural.