Noordzee and a special Wonderwool Wales offer

I think most designers would agree that sometimes the hardest part of the process is finding the perfect name for our latest creative endeavor. That was certainly true of this month's pattern, until serendipity stepped in with the perfect solution.

I've been working on this lovely little shawlette for the past few weeks, using some absolutely divine yarn from Linda at Kettle Yarn Co (more on that later). It's just the perfect little tidbit to whet your knitting appetite: beads along the border, a bit of lace, some mindless stockinette with short rows to shape the body, and ta da! In very little time you've got a lovely scarf to throw over your shoulders on those slightly chilly spring and summer evenings (aka all of them in the UK). But as of Easter weekend I still didn't have a name. I was well and truly stuck.

On Easter Sunday, I took myself, my new shawl and my husband to the beach to get some photos.  But not just any beach - this was a beach in Holland, where we were visiting for the long weekend. While the girls built sandcastles and entertained thoughts of wading in the water, Himself snapped a bunch of pictures, and commented that the colors of the shawl and the colors on the beach were the perfect match. When I looked at the photos later, I knew I'd found the perfect name: Noordzee (otherwise known as the North Sea).

Noordzee is a fairly simple knit, but the beaded edging and changing short row intervals give it a bit of interest along the border and a somewhat unexpected shape. The short rows first draw the border up in a curve towards the shoulders, but then swing outwards and down, flaring into a shape that looks almost like wings. The piece can be worn as a shawlette (particularly if you block it somewhat aggressively to get the most coverage) or as a scarf for a bit of warmth around the throat.

The yarn for this piece is Kettle Yarn Co's glorious Westminster, a 50/50 blend of camel and silk. It is soft and beautiful to work with - I didn't find it at all splitty - and the silk gives Linda's incredible dyeing skills a lovely shine and luminosity. And here's where the special offer comes in...

If you are at Wonderwool Wales this weekend, I would encourage you to go visit Linda's booth and cuddle her yarns for yourself. If you are inclined to purchase any Westminster while you're there, she will give you a coupon good for 15% off the purchase price of Noordzee. I'd bet you could even find the perfect beads while you're there...

You can find the pattern page for Noordzee here, or click below to purchase it from Ravelry via Paypal. Happy knitting!

FO: Shattered Sun Shawl

On Thursday, on a trip to Catherine's house to pick up my wheel, I managed to get some good pictures of my latest sample knit for Allison before I handed it over (sob!).
Shattered Sun Shawl
Shattered Sun Shawl
Pattern: Shattered Sun Shawl by Felicia Lo, of Sweet Georgia
Yarn: Sweet Georgia CashSilk Lace, 45% cashmere/55% silk, 400 yds/50 g, in (I think) "Summer Skin"
Needles: US 4/3.5 mm
Start/finish: 17 Oct - 21 Oct 2013
Comments/mods: no modifications. Love the yarn (!!!), gorgeous, fun, fast pattern to knit. Um...that's it. Have some more pictures.
Shattered Sun Shawl
Shattered Sun Shawl
Shattered Sun Shawl
Obligatory blocking shot:
Shattered Sun Shawl

I enjoyed every minute of knitting this, because the yarn is glorious, the pattern was complicated enough to be interesting, and intuitive enough not to need vast reserves of concentration - just the thing I was looking for last week. It was very, very difficult to hand over the finished shawl, but I feel confident that Alli will come back with something equally luscious for me to knit up for the next sample.

Instead of what I'm supposed to be doing

I've got a couple of samples for pattern releases that desperately need to be knit. However, somehow all my yarn and needles and whatnot ended up in the bag with my spinning wheel after the Small Wool Gathering, which got transported to Basingstoke so that we could fit a fourth person plus luggage in the car on the way back to London. So...instead of working on knitting that needs to be done ASAP, I've been enjoying doing other thing.

Things like a little shawl sample for Allison out of Sweet Georgia CashSilk Lace (quite possibly the most gorgeous yarn in the world, just FYI).
Shattered Sun Shawl
I was also very eager to jump into a new sweater project for me - a few weeks back, Knit Edge 4 came out, with the fabulous Ruth Garcia-Alcantud on the cover in her newest gorgeous sweater design, Automne. I'm usually pretty good about not buying yarn on a whim, but I have to knit this sweater. Immediately. My mother had given me some money for my birthday, which I promptly dropped on a sweater's worth of Berroco Ultra Alpaca in a dark green. It arrived with my parents the week before SWG, and when I got back I started to swatch.

Here's where things went wrong: the yarn that Ruth used is very weird in terms of grist (i.e. how many yards there are in a pound). She used Cephalopod Yarns Beastie, which is listed as aran weight, but comes in at a chunky 140 yds/100 g. And the pattern calls for 3.25 sts per inch on US 10.5/6.5 mm needles. Ultra Alpaca is 215 yds/100 g. Somehow I didn't notice the vast discrepancy in grist when I was in the throes of my MUSTBUYYARNNOW!!! fit (bad spinner! No new sweater!). In any case, there was nothing else to do but swatch. So I did.
Swatches October 2013
I was hoping that blocking would cause the alpaca to bloom, but sadly it didn't work out that way. My stitch gauge is spot on but the fabric is really thin and flimsy - not what I want for a sweater-coaty type thing. Bah!

The following days saw much searching of yarn databases and looking for more appropriate substitutes. Sunday saw a trip to John Lewis for my mother to get some yarn for a new sweater for her, and I grabbed a ball of Debbie Bliss Rialto Chunky to swatch with - at 66 yds/50 gr it is much closer to the yarn used in the original.
Swatches October 2013
Much, much, much, much better. Still drapey, but much more substantial. But I'm not buying 24 balls of DB yarn at £6 a pop because, you know, my husband would divorce me. After several more days of searching and banging my head against the computer screen I finally pulled the trigger on a sweater lot of Elann Highland Chunky (76 yds/50 g) in Spiced Wine. Sadly, shipping to the UK was almost as much as the price of the yarn, so it's going to Maine and I will have to wait (sob!) to knit my gorgeous new sweater until after I go back to my parents' house. Which is likely to be next August (woe!).

So. Now I have a sweaters worth of dark green yarn to figure out what to do with . Therefore, I have been swatching...
Swatches October 2013
This is only the first swatch. I've got about 7 more stitch patterns to go. I do not think this is going to be done by November. And I get all my deadline knitting back tomorrow. Guess I'd better keep swatching!

The Ubiquity of Jane (i.e. Selfish Knitting, Part 3)

Jane's Ubiquitous Shawl (3)
I think I may have talked once or twice before about my enduring love of Heather Ordover's Craftlit podcast  - it's like going back to school with the coolest English teacher ever, and getting all sorts of cool background and context and detail that is so important to really understanding and appreciating some of the greatest works of literature ever. Over the past three years or so that I've been listening, I've "read" a bunch of books I managed to avoid (or never got exposed to) in school. Books like The Scarlet Letter, Gulliver's Travels, Wuthering Heights, Flatland, Woman in White, A Tale of Two Cities, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Turn of the Screw, Little Women...the list goes on and on. And then there are the books that she's covered that I have read: Pride and Prejudice, Tristan and Isolde, A Christmas Carol and the current book-in-progress: Jane Eyre.
Jane's Ubiquitous Shawl
Heather is also the creative power behind a series of books with patterns inspired by characters inspired by classic literature, What Would Madame Defarge Knit? And when she started Jane Eyre on the podcast in November, she also started a KAL for Jane's Ubiquitous Shawl by Erica Hernandez. This shawl is amazing, with a specific reference from the book for each of the four sections.
Jane's Ubiquitous Shawl (1)
You may have noticed, if you've been reading here for a while, that I tend to make things more complicated then necessary when it comes to these knitting projects. Not content to search through my stash for approximately 1300 yds of DK yarn, I decided to spin my own.
Minerals Shetland
I choose to spin up some Hello Yarn Fiber Club fiber*, Shetland in the "Minerals" colorway. I only had 8 oz, so I traded for three more bags. I ended up with just over 1300 yds for the 20 oz I spun up. I did a 2-ply, and it ended up being somewhere between DK and worsted weight.
JUS in progress
The shawl starts from the center out, and I used a little i-cord trick to do the starting cast on. If you're interested in the details, I talked about it in the KAL thread on Ravelry. I made it through the first 2 sections with my first skein of yarn (~560 yds), then through the trinity stitch section and part of the border with the second skein (488 yds), and I've probably got 50-70 yds left from the last skein.
Jane's Ubiquitous Shawl (7)
Details ad nauseum:
Pattern: Jane's Ubiquitous Shawl by Erica Hernandez (Ravelry links)
Yarn: ~1300 yds of handspun Shetland, Hello Yarn Fiber Club, colorway "Minerals", DK- to worsted weight. Final "shawl"** was 54 inches square.
Needles: US 7/4.5 mm needles
Start/finish: 8 Nov 2012 - 19 Jan 2013 (actual blocking day)
Comments/mods: only modification was using handspun rather then commercial yarn. The pattern has a couple of errata that have been posted on the KAL thread, but other then those, it was well written and easy to follow. I loved Erica's exploration of the role that shawls play throughout the book, and how she used inspiration from the different stages of Jane's story for the different sections of the shawl. It doesn't hurt that the finished project is gorgeous...***
Jane's Ubiquitous Shawl (9)
So, from here on I have some deadline projects: one secret from everyone, one semi-secret wee person present, and one handspun sweater for barter for a sooper seekrit exciting project that Alli and I are working on. So from here on out, things may be a bit sparse on shareable knitting content. But I do have some more handspun yarn coming up, fresh off the miniSpinner!
Jane's Ubiquitous Shawl (2)

* You're shocked, I know...
** It's a shawl, but really it's going to be used as a blanket. So. Big.
*** And many thanks to the weather gods on Friday for providing an appropriately seasonal backdrop for the photo shoot!

Fiber Friday: Wool, meet Literature. Literature, meet Wool.

Because I don't have enough to do already, and because I love Craftlit and pretty much everything Heather Ordover does, a few weeks ago I succumbed to the inevitable and joined the knitalong for Jane's Ubiquitous Shawl, being run concurrently with Heather's presentation on Craftlit of "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte.

Determined not to make this easy on myself, I posted the following in the knitalong thread:
posted 17 days ago (Tuesday, October 30)

Ok, I’m in. But, since I can’t do things the easy way, I started spinning for my shawl last night. 2 of 8 oz done, for a two ply. Don’t know how many yards that will be, so there may be further panicked spinning when I run out of yarn!
So. I had pawed through the HYFC stash, pulled out some gorgeous Shetland, and started spinning it up for a DK-weight 2-ply because....well...I think I just got carried away by the idea of it? Maybe it was wool fumes - I don't know.

8 oz of this gorgeous fiber,
Minerals Shetland
became 560 yds of this yarn.
Minerals Shetland
A lovely, squooshy, DK-to-worsted weight yarn that is very rapidly becoming Jane's Ubiquitous Shawl.
JUS in progress (1)
Sadly, 560 yds is less then half the yardage I need, and I don't have any more fiber in this colorway! I thought about dyeing something else for the border and edging, but then tossed that idea out in favor of trading with my fellow Hello Yarn Fiber Club groupies on Rav. Thanks to their generosity, there are 3 more bags of fiber headed my way, so I should have plenty to finish this off.

I'm thinking if I have leftovers, I might make myself a matchy-matchy hat using the first lace chart. Doesn't this look like it could be a hat? Hmmmm...
JUS in progress
Apparently the KAL bug is still ruling my every waking moment because I also seem to have signed up for a glove knitalong. W. T. F?