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.

Deadlines are very helpful

So. Strangely enough, writing down that I was going to write up that pattern and post an update by this morning meant that yesterday I actually sat down and wrote up the pattern. It's in a rough form, and I need to add the charts, but it is written. A few photos, a bit more formatting, and I can send it off to the tech editor. Accountability works: who knew? 

I'm finding impending deadlines to be really useful in other parts of my crafting life too. In just under three weeks, Porpoise Fur is going to be exhibiting at its first show, the I Knit Fandango. So I've been dyeing like a mad woman (it's amazing how much I can dye when I have a schedule, a plan and - oh yeah! - a deadline), and also trying to knit up some samples for the booth to show off the spun up fiber. On Saturday morning, I cast off and promptly blocked what might be the world's biggest Nymphalidea.

This is knit out of handspun Shetland in "Clotted Cream" and "Yellow Fluorescent Protein". I spun this yarn last year, as part of the Porpoise Fur Two-Color Shawl SAL/KAL (which has sadly gone very quiet over on Ravelry, but I'm going to be resurrecting it ASAP), and finally cast on about a week and a half ago. It flew off the needles, once I decided which color combo to do (yellow welts with white lace, or white welts with yellow lace). 

Yesterday, I started up my second handspun Porpoise Fur Shawl - Penrose Tile, in The Far Pavillions and London Fog, also on Shetland. Bliss...

FO (finally): Windmill Bay Stole

Some projects seem to knit themselves. The rows slip by effortlessly, and before you know it, you blink and there's a finished object lying in your lap. This project? This project was not that kind of project. Nothing dramatic happened - there were no huge instances of user error, no problems with the pattern, no big crises - but it just took forever. That might be because I chose to knit a 6+ foot long scarf out of heavy fingering weight alpaca (ha!), but aside from that unfortunate decision, everything else went smoothly. It also went really, really slowly.

Project: Windmill Bay Stole by Sashka Macievich

Yarn: Garnstudio Drops Alpaca in Olive (which is really more of a chartreuse...), 182 yds/50 gr, 7 skeins

Needles: US 5/3.75 mm

Start/finish: 1 February - 14 April 2015 for the knitting, a couple more days for blocking

Comments/mods: This is one of those rare instances in which I actually knit the pattern in the yarn called for, and I'm glad I did. I saw this particular color of Drops Alpaca at the Knitting & Stitching show in Olympia in 2013, and fell in love. When I found this pattern that called for that exact yarn, there was no question as to which color I was going to get, despite my insistence that I don't really "do" green.

I love love love love the finished stole. I also hated hated hated knitting it. This is not the fault of the designer (it's a well written, clear pattern) or the yarn (which is super soft, a fabulous color and very affordable), but an issue that I think is inherent in knitting long rectangular things that go on forever and don't get any longer no matter how many rows you manage in a three hour session one evening in front of the TV.

The pattern has three sections, each of which is worked for about 24 inches, so that's an awful lot of ribbing/lace/cabled ribbing to slog through. It is perfect for evening TV knitting thought (particularly the ribbed sections), and the results are totally worth it! 

This project was also a really good one for demonstrating the importance of blocking. To whit: before blocking, I had a large, scarf-shaped blob,

Blob o' green alpaca

Blob o' green alpaca

with wonky stitches, and a very uneven, reverse-hourglass shape (the lace middle section was a lot wider then the ribbing on either end).

Oh ugh. What kind of even tension is that I ask you?

Oh ugh. What kind of even tension is that I ask you?

But after a Soak soak, and a couple of hours (well it felt like hours) with my butt in the air and my nose on the carpet, this sucker was blocked and drying.

Even when still wet, just pinning it out did wonders for all those wonky stitches! I blocked the middle section first - not super aggressively, but enough to open the lace stitches out nicely - and then stretched the ribbing to match in width. I didn't worry too much about the length because, as already mentioned, this baby was six feet long before blocking. A day later, I unpinned it and had a wonderful time taking lots of macro beauty shots. Sadly, none of them are modelled yet, as I was flying solo on the photography front, but hopefully I'll get some shots of it in action this week.

Ribbing to lace,

Ribbing to lace,

Lace to cabled ribbing...

Lace to cabled ribbing...

I think that this might be my last ever foray into long stoles - this was supposed to be my February project for the LSG Cold Sheep thread, and it took me almost two and a half months! The next major project I take on is going to need a bit more challenge to keep me motivated. But I can't wait for the next chance to wear this super warm and scrummy scarf!

What's in a name?

I've got a yummy new design that's almost ready to be released into the wild, and I'm running up against my old enemy: Naming the Thing.

Sometimes the name for a design is obvious: the Shard Hat is named for The Shard, surprisingly enough. The Ja'ali Stole name came from the ja'ali screens I saw in Moghul palaces on a trip to India. The Harpswell Pullover is named for the seaside township in Maine where I spent summer holidays as a child, and where my parents now live.

But sometimes picking a name for a design is like pulling teeth. Bonfire Night was called "The October Cowl" in all correspondence and files until I realised that it was going to be published on Guy Fawkes Day, and the name came to me out of the blue.

Handspun Shetland

Handspun Shetland

Luscious, luxury sock yarn

Luscious, luxury sock yarn

I'm really, really hoping something similar will happen for this piece. It's a garter stitch crescent shaped shawl with a lace edging. The first prototype was done with the leftover handspun Shetland from the Fjord Mitts (also quite easily/obviously named), and is easily big enough to wrap around me twice (note to self: must get final measurements soonest). The second, smaller version was worked out of approximately 350 yds of fingering weight merino/silk/cashmere blend from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. It's a really nice shawlette size - it sits on the shoulders without sliding off, but won't stay closed at the front unless pinned shut.

Sooooo....anyone have any good name ideas they want to share?

Poor, nameless shawl babies

Poor, nameless shawl babies


FO: Sitka Spruce Hat, in handspun

I've finally given in to the urge to start knitting with all the handspun that I now have on display in my studio. This current frenzy of handspun knitting was triggered by my mother, who was visiting over half term, and demanded that I put her to work knitting up samples for me. Who am I to say no to the offer of free labor? She knit up a Penobscot Bay Shawl in some soft, squooshy Porpoise Fur Targhee in Golgi (with a bit of YFP for an edging when she ran out of yarn for the bind off). So I decided I needed to be knitting up some samples. Plus, it's gotten cold in my house and I needed a new hat. So...

Pattern: Sitka Spruce from Tin Can Knits

Yarn: 2-ply handspun Corriedale from Porpoise Fur, in the colorway "Haematoma", spun up from the ends left over after dyeing. I had approximately 160 yds of more-or-less worsted weight yarn.

Needles: US 7/3.5 mm circulars/dpns

Start/finish: 3 November - 7 November 2014

Comments/modifications: such a lovely pattern! The hat comes in two different styles - beanie and beret - and while I wanted a slouchier hat, I didn't think I had enough yarn to make the beret. So I knit the beanie as written, but added in an extra half repeat of the stitch pattern to make it a little longer.

This meant that I then had to shift the chart for the crown decreases, but once I wrapped my head around how that had to work, it was smooth sailing.

I love the subtle striping from the handspun. This ended up coming out a lot redder then I would have predicted from the dyed fiber OR the yarn in the skein. Just another example of how much the look of handspun can change from fiber to yarn to FO.

Handspun hat, and the  next handspun hat (in progress)

Handspun hat, and the  next handspun hat (in progress)

I'm thrilled with this lovely little hat, and am now wishing I had some more yarn to knit the matching mittens. However, I'm forging ahead to cast on one of my two Shawl Lots for the Porpoise Fur Two Color Shawl SAL/KAL, which I've been sitting on for ages. More handspun FOs ahead!