A Talisman


Waaaaaay back in 2016 I cast on Helen Stewart’s Talisman Shawl in some lovely Jaeggarspun Zephyr Wool-Silk lace weight in a gorgeous periwinkle color. And, as happens so often, life interfered and the project sat neglected in a corner of my studio for quite a long time.

Until last summer that is, when I was packing up projects to take with me on our gap year - I found my Talisman in a project bag and, realizing that I was more than halfway done, I took it back to Maine with me. It was the perfect project for recovering from jet lag, and I finished the knitting in October.

Talisman Shawl.JPG

And then it languished for a few more months while Alex and the girls and I went off on our big travel adventure. Yesterday I soaked it in some warm water, rolled it in a towel and pinned it out on the bed to dry. Today it went back to DC with my brother as a very belated Christmas gift for his girlfriend. I hope she loves it!

Pattern: Talisman Shawl by Helen Stewart (part of The Shawl Society)

Yarn: Jaeggarspun Zephyr Wool Silk, in color #47

Needles: US 4/3.5 mm and US 5/3.75 mm

Start/finish: sometime in Summer 2016/23 February 2019 (!)

Gauge: forgot to measure, but I suspect its not the gauge given in the pattern (see below)

Comments: the pattern is originally written for fingering weight yarn, but I’d been dying to use this lace weight that had been in my stash for years. I knit the medium size and didn’t use up all of the yarn (630 yd on a cone). It ended up a good shawlette size, and the larger needles relative to the yarn weight mean it’s a lovely open airy fabric.

Talisman blocking.JPG

I also blocked the shawl I knit in Australia - stay tuned for more details on that project shortly.

Bagatelle Cowl

I'm super excited to show off my latest pattern release, the Bagatelle Cowl, part of the Boardwalk Collection from Kettle Yarn Co., which is launching tomorrow, 13 July.

Photo copyright 2015 Juju Vail for Kettle Yarn Co.

Photo copyright 2015 Juju Vail for Kettle Yarn Co.

I'll have a lot more to say about this pattern on (revised date) 4 August, when I'll talk about the design in detail for the blog tour for the collection, but suffice to say that Linda's new yarn base, Islington DK, was a dream to work with, and I loved every second of working with it. Don't miss the launch of the collection and the blog tour on Linda's blog tomorrow. And you can see all of the patterns in the collection on Ravelry.


If nothing else, this blog has been good at motivating me to finish things. I guess the looming deadline coming up in a few weeks also has something to do with that, but I'll give the blog credit. I've actually been doing some finishing in the last week or so, my absolute least favorite thing about knitting. Oh, I like having things done and getting to wear them, but seaming and blocking and weaving in ends is pretty mind-numbing as far as I'm concerned. So I tend to procrastinate until I have an entire cupboard full of things that are "finished", i.e. I've finished knitting them, but not "finished", as in I could give them away to their intended recipiants because they are, in fact, really done. So without further ado, I give you the trifecta:

1) Devil's Christmas sweater, since she's going to be up in the great white north for the holidays

Devil's pinwheel
Devil's pinwheel

Pattern: Child's Pinwheel Sweater by Shelly Mackie at Elann

Yarn: Nature Spun Worsted from stash, less then one ball each of Brick Road, Blueberry and Touche Teal (who comes up with these names?)

Needles: US 8/5 mm

Start/finish: 9/19-11/11/07, but the majority of the sweater was done in about a week and a half

Comments/mods: knit pretty much as written, except that I used a size 8 for the body instead of a size 9 in order to get gauge. The loopy edgy was interminable, but looks really cute, so I'm glad I did it. I made the sleeves a bit shorter then called for, because I was afraid I would run out of yarn. Instead of ribbing at the cuffs, I used garter stitch to mimic the edge of the jacket. A fun pattern - I'm tempted to make one for myself, but I suspect it would look really silly on me...

2) Hemlock Ring (not shown in its entirety since it is going to be a C%$^&$**^& present for someone)

Devil's pinwheel
Devil's pinwheel
Devil's pinwheel
Devil's pinwheel

Pattern: Hemlock Ring from brooklyntweed

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, 5 skeins plus about 15 yards

Needles: US 10 (I think)

Start/finish: 9/12-11/11/07 (finished knitting 9/19)

Comments: Very fast to knit, I love knitting lace in worsted weight yarn. It ended up a bit smaller then I expected, about 44 inches in diameter, so if I make it again, I'll probably keep feather and fanning for quite a bit longer to get a bigger blanket. And maybe block it out a bit more severely. As it is, it will be a good lap blanket for someone for C#$#&^*. (Note: friends and family can place bids in the comments as to who gets this one).

3) Mini-bandwagon

Thistle mini-Clapotis
Thistle mini-Clapotis

Pattern: Clapotis. If you don't know where to find this, I'm sorry, you'll just have to be out of luck because I am not linking to it. And really, it's time to crawl out from under that nice rock you've got there.

Yarn: my own handspun, from the Hello Yarn Fiber Club June offering, colorway Thistle

Needles: US 8/5 mm

Start/finish: Started as a reward for finishing the Halloween costumes 11/1. Finished the knitting on 11/3 - completely addictive! Blocked and dried, 11/11/07.

Comments/mods: Since I only had just over 200 yds of yarn, of course I couldn't do a full sized Clapotis. And I don't really need a full sized one - it just doesn't get that cold in Houston. So with the help of numerous other folks who have already done mini versions, I decided to do one set of increase rows and then weigh the start of the scarf (17 g). I then knit straight sections until I had 20 g of yarn remaining and did the decrease rows. I probably could have knit one more straight section, but the scarf starts and ends on the same part of the color repeat, which I like for symmetry's sake.

Thistle mini-Clapotis

I read the very informative post here and decided to twist my stitches on both the knit and purl sides, and to twist them so that the front leg pointed into the stockinette sections. I really like how it looks once the stitches are dropped - there's no wonkiness along the edges of the stockinette sections at all. This yarn is my first chain plied yarn, and as I've already said, I'm a big fan of the three ply. It's wonderfully soft, and I'm anxiously waiting for it to be cold enough to need this beauty in the mornings. I can't wait to show it off!

Granny's party

I'm mostly recovered from my expedition over the weekend with the girls to North Carolina*, but it's amazing how exhausting vacation can be! We left on Thursday, sneaking out of IAH between feeder bands from Tropical Storm Erin, and made it safely to Richmond, VA without an further mishap. Despite having to sit on the plane for an hour at the gate and then for almost three hours in the air, the kids were fabulous. Having a bulkhead seat helped tremendously, but it was still a long time to be stuck in one place, particularly for Devil.

We met Nana in Richmond, threw the kids (neither of whom slept on the plane) into the car, and headed south. They were both asleep inside of ten minutes, and we had a very peaceful trip down to the lake. Things were very calm until Friday morning, when my cousin arrived with her two kids (7 and 3) and then later in the day, my two aunts arrived with another cousin and 2 more kids in tow (4 and 10 months). Devil was so enthralled by all the excitement that she basically forgot to eat. The rest of the weekend was a blur of playing in the lake, going for rides in the big motorboat (which Devil very proudly got to drive), and the ingestion of copious amounts of junk food.

On Saturday night we had Granny's birthday party, and I gave her the Branching Out scarf I've been working on. I'm not much in to making scarves, they get real boring real fast, but something about this one was different. Maybe it was the lace pattern, or the excitement of working with yarn I spun myself, but I really enjoyed making this scarf. I was originally planning on keeping it for myself, but decided that Granny would love it. And she did. Although she made sure to tell me to take it back when she goes.


She loved the colors (which are perfect for her), and was very impressed by the fact that I'd not only knit it, but also spun the yarn. That's the kind of appreciation for handknitted gifts you like to see!

Branching out

Here's a close up. More details about the yarn and it's origins are


, but it was approximately worsted weight (varied between 11-13 wpi in three different skeins). I started off with two skeins, one thinner then the other. I weighed both skeins and the thinner one was also half the weight of the other. I wanted to avoided pooling and abrupt changes in the color sequences as well as minimizing any variability in the gauge due to thicker versus thinner spinning, so I used both balls at the same time, working 4 rows from the heavy/thicker ball and 2 rows from the lighter/thinner ball. I carried the non-working yarn up along the side, catching it up in the middle of the 4 row stretches so it didn't dangle off the edge. This worked out pretty well, but when I ran out of the thicker ball of yarn, the scarf wasn't quite long enough, so I had to spin up some more. Thankfully I had some fiber left!

Some pattern details:


Branching Out

from Knitty.com

Needles: US size 8

Yarn: BFL top handdyed from the

Hello Yarn

Fiber Club, spun on a Golding spindle

Started: er...sometime in mid-July

Finished: ~August 10th or so

Gauge: Hunh? Who cares, it's lace...about 7 inches wide and on the short side for a scarf.

Trip back on Sunday was uneventful except for Boo showing disturbing signs of wanting to be _that_ baby. You know the one, who screams non-stop for the entire flight and will not be mollified. Thankfully we were right next to the engines at the very back of the plane, and she eventually conked out.

Note: I'll be on a brief hiatus for the next couple of weeks - we're heading off to the UK tomorrow for a wedding and some time out looking at fossils on the Jurassic Coast. But back after Labor Day, and I've got a review of a bunch of different types of spinning fibers in the works for you.

* except for the lovely case of pinkeye I've picked up from my oldest child, for which I spent two hours at the doctor's office this morning trying to get some antibiotics. Thanks Dev!


I've got several finished items to show you today. First up is the final Lantern Moon skein.

Lantern Moon

It took me what felt like forever to ply this stuff up. At least four evenings of solid 2 hr plying sessions. But I'm pretty happy with the finished product - I like the colors alot more then I thought I would when I started off.

Lantern Moon

I ended up with 467 yds of fingering weight yarn (18 wpi)! That is such a change from the weight I was spinning before - I'm not sure how I managed to go from heavy worsted to fingering while skipping over the intervening weights, but I now understand why folks say it's harder to spin thick then thin. The biggest difference in what I did with this yarn (versus


) was to prep all the top at once, predrafting each section and then winding up two big balls of fiber to spin. That meant that once I started spinning, I could just keep going without needed to stop and prep more fiber. The best part of the spinning was watching how the colors changed. This was also the worst part of the plying - I seperated the top by color repeats and was hoping to get them to line up in the finished yarn. Mmmm...not so much. But this stuff is still very pretty, and will make good Silly Socks* for Devil.

And here is another FO,

Cricket Branching Out

blocked and awaiting delivery to my grandmother for her birthday. I'll try and get a good shot of her modeling it this weekend. The blocking process was greatly assisted by a freshly washed Boo:


(It looks like she's smiling in this photo, but really she's starting to wail)

This is my first fiber-to-FO project, and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. And the process of knitting with yarn I had made myself was really a special one. I also found the variability of the yarn worked well with the lace pattern and kept things interesting. I'm not going to put a moratorium on all mill-spun yarn for future projects, especially for something with a lot of stockinette, but I'm liking the handspun stuff alot.

Here's a final, unfortunately framed shot of the Lantern Moon for you. Probably no Fiber Friday this week since the girls and I will be in NC for Granny's birthday (cross your fingers for me for the plane ride tomorrow afternoon!), but I'll be back next week, hopefully with more stuff cleared off the needles. I'm getting some fall sweater startitis around here!

Lantern Moon

* Every Friday Devil's classroom does something different, for example wearing pajamas to school. Last week Friday was Silly Sock day. I found out about this on Wednesday at 5:15 pm, and spent more time then I care to admit trying to calculate how much sleep I would have to give up in order to knit her some Silly Socks by 7:00 am Friday morning. Needless to say, I came to my senses and ended up putting embroidery floss bows all over a pair of socks she already had. She was quite taken with the idea of silly socks, however, so there's another project to add to the list.