The shortest day of the year

It's a dreary grey day in London today, and there isn't going to be much of it. For today is the Winter Solstice, when the Northern Hemisphere experiences the shortest amount of daylight all year (a mere 7 hours and 49 minutes).

To celebrate the depths of winter, and the gradual return of the sun, today is the kick off of a fantastic KAL hosted by The Fibre Company, featuring their glorious Tundra yarn and the patterns from the Nordlándda collection!

All images copyright 2016 Kate O'Sullivan for The Fibre Co.

The KAL is being hosted in the I Heart The Fibre Co. Ravelry group, and will run through the last day of winter, on March 20th. 

As a special deal, you can get three of the Nordlándda collection patterns for the price of two - just use the coupon code Northland17 when you check out to receive your discount. I'll be hanging around the KAL thread on Ravelry to answer any questions and cheer people on, and I'm excited to be joining in!

Copyright 2016 Kate O'Sullivan for The Fibre Co.

Copyright 2016 Kate O'Sullivan for The Fibre Co.

I'm going to knit Fauske in some handspun Bluefaced Leicester - the singles are done, but now I've got to ply and finish the yarn before I can cast on. Looking forward to having you all join in! 

The Nordlándda Collection: Moen Cowl

It is super cold in my kitchen today here in London, even though the sun is shining. And I'm wishing I had my Moen Cowl samples to keep me warm! Sadly, they are all enjoying themselves at A Yarn Story in Bath for the #AYSWinterCablesKAL, so I'm just going to have to find something else to wrap up in (sobs quietly).

Moen is a super snuggly cowl that uses some of my favourite things all in one project: tubular cast on and bind off for perfectly matching edges, loads of cables that add interest but aren't too difficult to work without a cable needle, and chunky yarn that means the project zips right along! The pattern includes two sizes: a cozy, close fitting version that is perfect for wearing with your winter coat, and a longer, infinity cowl size that can be doubled up for extra warmth, or worn across your shoulders like a shawl.

Moen as hood...

Moen as hood...

The cable pattern used in this cowl is a bit different: in addition to cable crosses, it also uses some wrapped stitches at the top and bottom of the main cable for extra interest.

IMG_9043.jpg

In fact, I enjoy this cowl so much that I'm using if for a project class at A Yarn Story on Sunday, 29th November, from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm. In the class, we'll cover the tubular cast on and bind off (if you are as OCD as I am about your edges matching), working cables from charts and cabling without a cable needle. If you'd like to join us, you can sign up here. The cost of the class includes materials for the small version of the cowl, and I'll have plenty of yarn for swatching and practicing the techniques. I hope to see you then, but I've got to dig out a sweater and make some tea!

Note: If you are in Europe and would like to purchase one of the patterns from the collection without paying VAT, please go to the Nordlándda page and be sure to include your Ravelry ID (if you have one) when you check out. The pattern will be emailed to you and put into your Ravelry library. Thank you!

The Boardwalk Collection Blog Tour - Bagatelle Cowl

Welcome to Stop 8 on The Boardwalk Collection blog tour! When Kettle Yarn Co. first contacted me about being a part of this endeavour to highlight the new DK version of her extremely popular Islington fingering weight yarn, I was thrilled with the inspiration and design spec - Linda asked for pieces with lots of negative space, highlighted with geometric lace designs. I was hooked!

Bagatelle Cowl in Islington DK in "Peony", image copyright 2015 Juju Vail for Kettle Yarn Co.

Bagatelle Cowl in Islington DK in "Peony", image copyright 2015 Juju Vail for Kettle Yarn Co.

I've always loved the seaside, and spent vast amounts of time growing up on the beaches of New England, particularly Maine. Those rocky, somewhat barren shores have very little resemblance to the more cosmopolitan beaches of places like Brighton and Lyme Regis, but the salty breeze and calls of the seagulls are constant. With the Bagatelle Cowl, I wanted to capture the lines of piers emerging from the water's surface, ebbing and flowing as the tides go in and out.

Bagatelle Cowl in Islington DK in "Peony", image copyright 2015 Juju Vail for Kettle Yarn Co.

Bagatelle Cowl in Islington DK in "Peony", image copyright 2015 Juju Vail for Kettle Yarn Co.

Bagatelle is knit in the round, and the focal point is a strongly vertical lace pattern that biases across the face of the cowl. The edges are finished in simple seed stitch, evoking pebbly beaches. The pattern includes both written and charted instructions, but if you're new to knitting from charts, this pattern would be a good starting point, as the lace stitch itself is very simple. The pattern uses 2 skeins of Islington DK, and is plenty long enough to double up around the neck.

Bagatelle Cowl in Islington DK in "Peony", image copyright 2015 Juju Vail for Kettle Yarn Co.

Bagatelle Cowl in Islington DK in "Peony", image copyright 2015 Juju Vail for Kettle Yarn Co.

The Islington DK base is perfect for this type of accessory - hefty enough to give real warmth to the finished item (perfect for our somewhat inconsistent British summer weather or for the transition into autumn), but with beautiful drape and swing. The combination of 55% Bluefaced Leicester and 45% silk results in a yarn with plenty of elasticity and luxurious shiny softness. And the colours are perfection...

The Boardwalk Collection includes patterns from a phenomenal group of designers: Arcade by Isabell Kraemer, Pavilion by Renée Callahan, Promenade by Maria Magnusson, Seaward by Rachel Coopey and Jetty by Linda Lencovic. You can see all the designs on Issuu or (hopefully) in the preview below.

Woecakes

Teachers the world over bemoan the seeming inability of some of their students to fail to follow or, in some cases, even read the directions. Heh. Read on for a prime knitting example of why directions are important.

Way back in June, I started working on a sweater that I am DYING to be done with - I can't begin to explain how much I want to have this one off the needles and on my back, particularly when the mornings have a bit of a bite, and I need something to throw on for the school run. 

Well, things were going pretty well for a while (after the first ripping festival when I decided to change needles and knit it inside out, because (shudders) reverse stockinette dontcha know). But then the move happened, and I put it down and it was forgotten for quite a while.

About a week and a half ago I picked it up again - I had managed to get through the short rows for one sleeve, and once I figured out where the heck I was in the pattern, the second sleeve cruised along and I managed to seam them up and finally, FINALLY start on the body.

Now, a sweater in fingering weight yarn is, as I'm sure we'll all agree, a commitment. It's a labor of love, because it certainly isn't any kind of instant gratification project. So I was working away on the body, a few rows here, a few rows there. Last weekend we went to take the dog for a walk in Richmond Park, and I attempted to mortify my children by knitting and walking at the same time. With other people around! Imagine their horror*.

Yesterday Allison and I had a meet up at a coffee shop, and while I was waiting for her, I pulled out my Juniper and started working, hoping to get a few more rows done before she arrived and we had to talk shop.

After a while, I thought "Self, you've got your Kindle here**, and it might be a good idea to see how long the body needs to be." Which was thoroughly unnecessary, as the body certainly needs to be longer then the approximately 3 inches I had done, but anyway: I pulled out the Kindle and opened up the pattern.

I looked at the pattern. I looked at my knitting. I looked at the pattern again. I looked at my knitting again. And do you know what I saw?

Pretty red...

Pretty red...

Actually, more important is what I didn't see.

Wait a minute...

Wait a minute...

What I didn't see were any decreases. Because in the pattern, you're supposed to work a set of decreases every few rows for waist shaping. And I, in my complete and utter daze of enthusiasm to get this thing done, had read through the sleeve directions and joining to work in the round for the body and NEGLECTED TO READ ANY FURTHER. 

Because I am an idiot. Knitters, don't be me. Learn from my bad example. Because otherwise,

You too may end up with a pile of red, fingering weight spaghetti, for the SECOND TIME*** in one project. Woe. Woe is me.

 

* Disappointingly, when I said to Devil "Is this weird that I'm walking and knitting?", she replied "Nope." Darn it!

** I am trying to both a) save paper and b) combat my tendency to print out a pattern, make lots of notes on it, and then promptly lose it by using electronic copies.

*** At least one time too many, if not two times. Bah!

Reboot

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of various life transitions. We've been in the UK as expats for the last five years, but at the beginning of May, Himself's company said "You're going back to Houston at the end of July." To which we replied with a resounding "Hell no!" (OK, maybe that was mostly me). In any event, the decision to stay in the UK was followed by deciding whether Himself was going to change jobs (he's not), and has now been followed by the necessity of finding a new place to live (which had the buy vs rent dilemma, followed by the Hoo boy, we will have to sell a kidney and/or a child to get a down payment right now realisation).

With all this madness going on, I have been seeking refuge in Other People's Designs, and enjoying it tremendously. A couple weeks ago I cast on for Veera Valimakki's Juniper on a long plane ride, in some lovely dark red merino I picked up in Florence with my sister-in-law.

All was going swimmingly, if quite slowly. The sweater is in reverse stockinette, and even though there were directions FROM THE DESIGNER HERSELF in the Unwind Brighton KAL Ravelry thread about how to do it inside out (so mostly knitting instead of mostly purling), I decided to be a freaking purist and do it as written. Purling. Lots and lots of purling. Add to that the fact that I had chosen a pair of blunt and unpleasant hard plastic circulars (the better to deal with airport security) and the result was an unhappy project.

I sat on my couch on Friday night, looking at this sweater yoke. And thinking to myself "Self, you could switch to those lovely zippy metal Addi Turbos you've got upstairs. And while you're at it, we could start over again and do this thing in stockinette."

Juniper is cruising along now.

Juniper is cruising along now.

The next thing I knew I was sitting in the midst of a pile of bumpy red spaghetti, casting on for the neckline again. However, two days later, I'm past where I was when I ripped it out, and am zooming ahead. It's not going to be done by the end of the KAL (that would be tomorrow...), but it should be done well ahead of the worst of the British "summer".

It's good that I've resigned myself to not finishing this for the KAL, because yesterday morning, my lovely friend Allison completely and totally blindsided me with another fabulous Veera pattern that made me drop everything, buy the pattern, print it out, wind up the yarn and start swatching, all before 10:00 am on a Sunday morning (there may have been vast quantities of coffee involved. Don't tell anyone...)

The pattern I'm so excited about is Whispers, a gorgeous ethereal little summer top, knit in fingering weight on large needles, with a loose drapey fit through the body, fantastic fluttery sleeves, and pleats above the bustline. Allison had called me with a sizing question, and when I pulled up the pattern on Raverly, I gasped out loud. Must Have It Now. So we're having an impromtu KAL of our very own. She's using sweetgeorgia Tough Love sock, and I'm going with my second yarn idea: Scrumptious Lace in Cherry, double stranded.

Is that not the most gorgeous red you've ever seen?

Is that not the most gorgeous red you've ever seen?

My swatch is dry, and the gauge is right on. I can't wait to get started. 

I guess we can call this my Red Period. Either that, or my Homage to Veera Period. Maybe both...

I guess we can call this my Red Period. Either that, or my Homage to Veera Period. Maybe both...