Marginalia and Spreadsheets

A close up view of my in progress Free Your Fade shawl with grey and green stripes.  Marginalia and Spreadsheets || withwool.com

I remember taking a random knitting survey that asked if I preferred printed patterns or digital patterns. I am 100% in for printing my patterns. I’ll keep the file on my phone as a backup, but the paper version is what I’m going to work from. Why? Because it is so much easier to make notes, track repeats, and see the whole pattern at a glance. Plus, I don’t have to run the distraction laden gauntlet that is my phone every time I have a question about a stitch count.

A segment of the knitting pattern with my notes tracking row counts, yarn used, and when to switch colors.  Marginalia and Spreadsheets || withwool.com

The Free Your Fade pattern, or the Yarn Chicken shawl as I’ve come to call it, is the perfect example. The margins are jam packed with notes. You can see where I’m counting row repeats, tracking how much yarn each section is using, and telling myself where to fade in new colors. All this marginalia is also a pretty handy indicator of how much I’ve knit these past weeks - AKA a lot. This is one case where working from a screen can’t beat paper.

A small segment of my spreadsheet used for tracking rows and yarn used per repeat. #FreeYourFadeShawl  Marginalia and Spreadsheets || withwool.com

This is not to say that I’m not going to use a computer/phone when needed to enhance my knitting. My spreadsheets and knits are best friends. Take a gander at the screenshot above. Those strings of numbers are me “knitting” the shawl digitally. With enough IRL knitting and then weighing the yarn after each repeat, I was able to determine how much yarn is used per stitch. Armed with that minuscule number, I can work ahead in the spreadsheet, estimate how much yarn will be used, and figure out where to switch colors. There have been some leftovers, but I’m fairly confident I’m getting as much out of the yardage as I can.

An overall photo showing the #FreeYourFade shawl with 4 colors knit and and 2 yarn balls waiting to be knit.  Marginalia and Spreadsheets || withwool.com

Even though this shawl isn’t the low key process knit I was expecting, it’s still really fun. It’s also a great excuse to watch other people play video games I’m not going to play myself. As much as I’ve been focusing on the stitch counts and row by row of this pattern, taking these photos is the first time I laid the shawl out and got a good look at all of it. I really like my Free Your Fade which is, you know, good since I’ve put so much time and energy into it already.

Yarn Chicken Shawl

As a happy birthday gift to myself I finally wound the yarn to knit a Free Your Fade shawl by Andrea Mowry. Dyed by Sun Valley Fibers, the colors are earthy and lovely. The merino/cashmere/nylon blend has been a joy so far. I really enjoyed casting on and knitting the first few repeats during a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. However, this shawl is going to be more stressful to knit than I originally thought. Why? I have already played yarn chicken and lost on the first fade!

Ran out of yarn with just a few stitches left in the row. Sock yarn leftovers to the rescue! Yarn Chicken Shawl || withwool.com

I was tracking how much yarn I used every repeat (small digital kitchen scales (<<— affiliate link!*) are awesome for this) and estimated I’d have just enough yarn to finish Color 1. I was right except for the 26 stitches left at end of the last row. Bah. It was late so I went to bed instead of ripping back.

Ran out of yarn with just a few stitches left in the row. Sock yarn leftovers to the rescue! Yarn Chicken Shawl || withwool.com
Ran out of yarn with just a few stitches left in the row. Sock yarn leftovers to the rescue! Yarn Chicken Shawl || withwool.com

Getting some sleep turned out to be the best option because, in the morning, I remembered all the leftover sock yarn I have stashed away. Maybe I could find some that matched? Turns out that I did have something close, and can’t tell the difference between the two in the shawl. The extra ends are the only sign I had to take drastic measures. Whew!

Ran out of yarn with just a few stitches left in the row. Sock yarn leftovers to the rescue! Yarn Chicken Shawl || withwool.com

I’m going to rename the shawl Yarn Chicken because, while I have the required amount of yarn, all six colors are the same yardage. Those rows are only going to get longer and longer too. I did find a few other matching leftovers so I do have some insurance, but knitting this is going to be...interesting. The scale and a spreadsheet will be my constant companions.

*This post contains an affiliate link which means, if you decide to buy through that link, I’ll get a small commission. Thanks!

FO: The Long Awaited Mrs Watson

The Mrs Watson shawl was worth the wait, and will be great to wear this Fall. #knitting | withwool.com

Some projects just seem to take ages, and this Mrs Watson shawl was one of them. The pattern sat in my queue since it was first released 2015. It took me 3 years to get the pattern and buy the yarn to make it. At least I cast on less than a week later. The first stripes went pretty fast once I figured out what was going on. The rhythm of the short rows was soothing too. Then Mini Me joined the family, and I barely knit for months. Sure, I looked at my knitting but didn’t have the energy or brain space to actually pick it up.

Eventually the fog lifted and I did want to knit again. Plus, I could knit again. The Mrs Watson shawl was just what I needed too. There were some interesting bits, but the bulk of the shawl is garter stitch - and I could still count to 10 - so I was able to just knit and watch her play. In fact, that’s how I knit the bulk of this shawl. She crawled around and played, and I followed behind her with needles in hand and project bag hanging from my arm.

The Mrs Watson shawl was worth the wait, and will be great to wear this Fall. #knitting | withwool.com

Six months after casting on, I finally bound off. Blocking didn’t take long at all, but I did have to do some next level stacking to keep the Mini out of the wires and pins until the shawl was dry.

The real reason that it seems like this shawl took ages, was that it took me another 8 months to photograph it! What took me so long? I don’t even know anymore. It sat balled up in a box until I was photographing a hat. The light was good and the camera ready so Mrs Watson finally got her time in the spotlight.

The Mrs Watson shawl was worth the wait, and will be great to wear this Fall. #knitting | withwool.com

I used a fingering weight yarn instead of the recommended sport weight so the finished shawl is smaller than I expected. Yet it’s the right size to wrap around my neck and tuck into my coat. It’s cosy and geometric, but not bulky which I really appreciate. I’ll be wearing it a lot this Fall. Still, I’m tempted to make a second Mrs Watson in a sport or worsted weight yarn for a big, super warm shawl. Maybe that one won’t take another three years to start.

The Specs:

Pattern: Mrs Watson by Martina Behm

Yarn: MJ Yarns Tough Ram - Garnet and Pearl

Needles: US 6 (4mm)

Dates: April 20 - October 21, 2018

@Ravelry

The Mrs Watson shawl was worth the wait, and will be great to wear this Fall. #knitting | withwool.com

The Shawl That Bronchitis Gave Me

The Curve of a Boat shawl has been a great distraction from all the coughing. | withwool.com  #knitting #knitshawl #hedgehogfibers

I’ve got a piece of paper on my desk that lists most of my current knitting projects. Well, the projects with a deadline or just what I want to be done with already. Said list is about half completed - never mind that I wrote it the end of January - and it’s time to finish the last few lingering things so I can get back to a clean slate.

And yet, I’ve been feeling the urge to cast on for a new shawl. Or a blanket. Or a pair of vanilla stockinette socks. Something rhythmic to accompany the random minutes of free time that are scattered throughout the day and after dinner. I have pretty new yarn ready to be knit into a gradient shawl and plenty of sock yarn too, but no pattern called my name. So I stuck to the knit list. I’ve got a finished hat and an updated pattern to thank for it too.

The Curve of a Boat shawl has been a great distraction from all the coughing. | withwool.com  #knitting #knitshawl #hedgehogfibers

Then two things happened. I came across the Curve of a Boat by Larissa Brown, and it was just what I was looking for. Clean lines, simple lace, and interesting details. I bought the pattern the day it came out which I hardly ever do anymore. That’s how much I wanted to knit this shawl. The second thing that happened was that I got bronchitis. Coughing up my lungs and everything else for a week straight sapped my willpower. So, hello new shawl. Fingerless mitts, I will get back to you soon.

Curve of a Boat and I are still very much in the newness of our relationship. I’m enjoying the short and sweet repeats that are slowly building a lovely foundation for the lace that is to come. The rows, even though they’re short, do require my attention because of all the slipped stitches and paired increases and decreases. The knitting is challenging in the best way because I have to keep up with someone else’s instructions instead of writing my own. It’s a nice change of pace. Along side the medications, this shawl has been so helpful to my recuperation. It’s a good distraction from all the coughing.

The Curve of a Boat shawl has been a great distraction from all the coughing. | withwool.com  #knitting #knitshawl #hedgehogfibers

Plus, I get to admire this yarn. The yarn itself is loosely plied so I have to be careful not to split it during the more complicated stitches, but this subtle color is keeping me hooked. The blips of green, brown, and red hiding in the dark magenta are enchanting. It sounds so weird written out, but the combination completely works on the needles. What a sweater this would be! I’m glad to have it as a shawl though because it’s a perfect match to my favorite green jacket.

I’m really looking forward to working on this project during the drive to Estes Park Wool Market over the weekend. Here’s hoping the bronchitis won’t be coming with me.

A Handspun Boneyard

Handspun yarn + Procrastination = The Perfect Shawl #knitting | withwool.com

I’ve wanted to knit a Boneyard Shawl for years. Not with the burning desire that makes you drop everything and head to the yarn shop, but when I eventually found the right yarn. Eventually is the key word. I wanted a variegated yarn that’d be fun to knit and fun to wear. I’d know it when I found it. I didn’t find that perfect yarn because I ended up spinning it during the 2017 Tour de Fleece. It’s a thick-and-thin variegated mix of greens, blues, and browns. The skein is one of my favorite yarns that I’ve spun this year, and was thrilled that I had enough yardage to make something big out of it. Well, bigger than a hat anyway.

Handspun yarn + Procrastination = The Perfect Shawl #knitting | withwool.com

With 260 yards of aran weight to work with, I knew it was finally time to cast on for a Boneyard Shawl. So I did, and it was a fun knit. The shawl was so hard to put down because it was good auto-pilot knitting and I wanted to see what color would come next. The only change I made was to switch out the m1’s for lifted increases.

Handspun yarn + Procrastination = The Perfect Shawl #knitting | withwool.com

The only trouble came when I was trying to figure out how much shawl I could knit. There were still a few yards left and I didn’t want to waste any of them. So, the Boneyard sat on my desk for months, mocking me, while I worked on other projects. The shawl would probably still be sitting on my desk too if I hadn’t needed a break from all my holiday gift knitting. I’d knit 7 ridges already and decided to start the edge and see how far I got. A few tv shows and an inch of garter stitch later, it was time to bind off. Why did that take me so long to do? Ugh! At least I made the most of the yardage.

It may have taken years to find the right yarn and also a good bit of procrastination, but this Boneyard Shawl is just what I imagined. It's cosy, just the right size to wear under a coat, and special. Also, it feels good to knit with my own handspun in the same year that I made it. Who knew?

Handspun yarn + Procrastination = The Perfect Shawl #knitting | withwool.com

The Details
Pattern: Boneyard Shawl by Stephen West
Yarn: 253 yds 2-ply aran weight handspun
Needles: US 9 (5.5 mm)
Dates: August 20 - December 2, 2017
@Ravelry

Definitely Feeling Groovy

Looking forward to cooler temps, so I can finally wear my newly finished Feeling Groovy Shawl. | withwool.com

Are a process knitter who knits a project because it seems fun to make? Or are you a product knitter who knits because the finished object is what you want? Me, well, I’m usually a mix of the two. Most of the time, I start a project because I want the finished object or think that it’ll be a good gift. How fun a project actually is to knit - thanks to an interesting construction, the yarn, or neat details - usually gets me to actually cast on. When a project large or small starts to feel like a slog, I keep knitting because of how nice it’d be to have the finished thing. Deadlines help me get stuff done too. Most of the time. 

Looking forward to cooler temps, so I can finally wear my newly finished Feeling Groovy Shawl. | withwool.com

The Feeling Groovy shawl is the perfect example of product vs process.. I wanted to wear this shawl and to go stash diving for the perfect colors. Once I cast on and figured out how the pattern worked, I was hooked. loved casting on a tiny number of stitches and seeing them grow. I loved how the shawl increased in the chevron pattern. I loved the texture of the alternating rows of garter and stockinette. I loved learning and using a new centered double increase. 

Then it all started to feel routine and like a bit of a slog since the rows kept getting longer and longer. Plus, I had to do the math to figure out just how big I could make it. So I put it away while I worked on other things that did have deadlines. Eventually I remembered that I wanted to wear it next winter. So I did the math and got back to knitting. The vague deadline helped, but it was binding off the repeats that really got me motivated again in the middle of summer. I could compare how many repeats I’d bound off vs. how much I had left to go. 

Looking forward to cooler temps, so I can finally wear my newly finished Feeling Groovy Shawl. | withwool.com

I admit to binding off and just randomly wearing it for a few weeks before blocking. I gave it a bath and pinned out the points to keep them neat. I didn’t stretch it, because I wanted to keep the texture, but it still grew a few good inches. Feeling Groovy isn’t the largest shawl I’ve ever made, but it’s cosy and easy to wear. Even better, it’s ready for cooler temps, long walks, and a bit of snow.

Pattern: Feeling Groovy by Nim Teasdale

Yarn: 327 yards Colinette Jitterbug (Velvet Plum) and 325 yds Shibui Sock (Honey)

Needles: US 4 (3.25)

Dates: December 16, 2016 - July 5, 2017

@Ravelry

Places You Can Knit: Solar Eclipse Edition

A post shared by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

Places you can knit when on a last minute trip to see a solar eclipse:

In a car heading up the interstate in the middle of Wyoming. Bonus points, if you can watch the sunrise while you do it. 

Don’t leave your knitting at home! Take it with you for the countdown to the eclipse, and something to do during the traffic jam. | withwool.com

Waiting for a table and breakfast at a tiny greasy spoon.

Don’t leave your knitting at home! Take it with you for the countdown to the eclipse, and something to do during the traffic jam. | withwool.com

Relaxing in a field with thousands of your closest friends while you count down the minutes to the solar eclipse.

Don’t leave your knitting at home! Take it with you for the countdown to the eclipse, and something to do during the traffic jam. | withwool.com

Of course, you can take a random break to photograph the countryside too. 

Don’t leave your knitting at home! Take it with you for the countdown to the eclipse, and something to do during the traffic jam. | withwool.com

I suppose you could knit during a complete solar eclipse, but why risk missing the event you drove 4 hours to the middle of nowhere to see? And that tiny little speck to the left of the eclipse is Venus.

Totally worth it by the way, even considering the 8+ hour drive it took to get back home. 

Don’t leave your knitting at home! Take it with you for the countdown to the eclipse, and something to do during the traffic jam. | withwool.com

Stuck waiting in massive traffic jams just to get back on the interstate. 

Don’t leave your knitting at home! Take it with you for the countdown to the eclipse, and something to do during the traffic jam. | withwool.com

And, finally, at home after a good night’s sleep.  

The Bearded One and I took a last minute trip to see the solar eclipse. Seeing the complete totality and standing in the shadow of the moon was an amazing experience that I’m glad we didn’t skip. Traffic be damned. 

I was a reasonable knitter and only brought one project, a handspun shawl, (and a book, sketchbook, and games) to get me through 12+ hours of traffic. I’m using a yarn I spun this year during Tour de Fleece that cried out to be a Boneyard Shawl. So a Boneyard shawl it’ll be. I didn’t knit as much as a I expected too because I was tired lump. I did put a few more rows on it today, and it’s been fun working with this yarn. Really makes me want to knit with more of my handspun. 

Were you able to see the eclipse too? 

Ditching Silly Excuses

Don’t let silly excuses hold you back from knitting and projects you love.&nbsp; | withwool.com

Sometimes my knitting projects sit around for the silliest reasons. Like this one. It’s the Feeling Groovy shawl by Nim Teasdale. I started it last year as a bit of selfish knitting after finishing all my holiday gift knitting. I was making good progress on it too until I added another step. I wanted to know how many repeats I could work before starting the decreases.  

Step one involved measuring how much yarn I had . Step two was working up a repeat, or two, or three. Step three, measure how much yarn I used. Step four, do the math.  

Don’t let silly excuses hold you back from knitting and projects you love.&nbsp; | withwool.com

Enter the silliest reason to hold myself up. I did weighed the yarn and then got stuck on the knitting a repeat or two. I made lots of excuses why the time was never right to knit the repeats, and made the whole process much harder than it had to be. Ugh. Then a bunch of other important must-do’s came up and the shawl languished in a project bag for a few months. Eventually I needed new purse knitting and this shawl was the easiest thing to grab. The shawl was getting bigger but I still needed to know when to start the increases. 

Side note: The pattern has some helpful notes on when to start the decreases, but I’m knitting the shawl at a tighter gauge. So I have to do my own yardage calculations for this. 

I went back to step one, kept detailed notes, and got to work on the calculations. Spreadsheets make this kind of number crunching pretty easy, but it’s still time consuming. A couple of uninterrupted hours later and I knew the absolute latest point to start the decreases and use the most yarn. The good news? There was only 1.5 repeats between me and the first bind off. 

Don’t let silly excuses hold you back from knitting and projects you love.&nbsp; | withwool.com

I haven’t been able to put the shawl down since. It’s been my constant companion during long drives, low key parties, and tv time.  And I bound off the first point yesterday! There’s still a lot of stitches between now and binding off the last stitch, but it won’t take long at the rate I’m knitting. If I hadn’t let some silly excuse hold me, I’d probably be wearing this shawl right now. Well, it’s summer, so probably not right now, but maybe during that last surprise snow storm. 

FO: Shawls for Two

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

An Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl. These were the 2 big projects I made for the holiday gift knitting rush. I was definitely rushing and around to finish things at the last minute, but these two were first on the list so I wouldn’t stress over them. Staying up late, counting, beads, and an impending sense of doom are not a good mix for me. So, once I’d finalized the knitting gift list and pulled the needed yarn from stash, I started on the Elder Tree Shawl. It was the most complicated project on the list and I didn’t want to rush it. 

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

Elder Tree turned out to be a fairly easy knit once I got the pattern straight in my head. Except for this one repeat. It was almost finished and I was all too happy to mark my progress. Then I got to the far edge of the pattern and noticed my stitch count wasn’t quite right. My first inclination was to fudge it and keep going, but no such luck. The leaves were mashed together and I had no choice but to rip back. Still, I didn’t want to lose a night’s progress and tried ripping just that one portion. Probably would have worked too if there’d been enough yarn to work all the stitches. I ripped and reknit that one section 2 or 3 times and it never looked right. So, out came the needles, all of those rows turned into yarn again, and I spent the rest of the night making sure the yarn overs didn’t run away. Worth it. 

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

The yarn, Jojoland Melody Superwash, and the lace worked so well together. I happened to have purple beads from a previous project and they were the perfect added touch to the last repeat. This was the first time I’ve knit a beaded shawl and I love the look. Definitely need to add a few to the queue for myself. 

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

And now the Myndie Shawl. This pattern is also on the list of things I want to knit for myself this year. Once I figured out how to work the pattern in a heaver yarn, it was smooth sailing. I ended up using way less yardage than the pattern called for, but you wouldn’t be able to tell. Thanks to a firm blocking, this shawl grew from a sad looking lump to beautiful 80” long wrap. 

Knitting a shawl or anything else as a gift can be a stressful and time consuming endeavor, but I’m happy to do it for good friends and family. It’s not something I do lightly either, because every stitch is a declaration of how much I care for and appreciate the recipient. I’m not a human knitting machine after all. 

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com
I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

Pattern: The Elder Tree Shawl by Sylvia McFadden

Yarn: 431 yds Jojoland Melody Superwash - ms08

Needles: US 4 (3.5mm) circulars

Dates: September 21 - October 9, 2016

@Ravelry

Pattern: Myndie by Ambah O’Brien

Yarn: 358 yds Araucania Nature Wool - 07

Needles: US 8 (5 mm) circulars

Dates: October 10 - 16, 2016

@Ravelry  

New Pattern: The Odd Couple Shawl

Tame wild, variegated yarn with slip stitches and the Odd Couple Shawl. | withwool.com

Odd Couple combines simple auto-pilot knitting with slip stitches and texture to tame wild, variegated yarns.

The shawl can be worked with any weight of yarn, be it sock yarn, bulky, or anything in between. The pattern starts with a small number of stitches and keeps increasing so you can make a shawl as big or small as you please.

Tame wild, variegated yarn with slip stitches and the Odd Couple Shawl. | withwool.com

I’m absolutely thrilled to finally share the Odd Couple shawl! It’s been many months in the making, so it’s great to have it off the needles, blocked, and ready to wear. The inspiration for this shawl was a beautiful skein of hand dyed Corrie Sock by Happy Fuzzy Yarn in a few of my favorite colors. The yarn matched my favorite coat, so it was destined to be a shawl. But what kind? I had a few ideas. It had to be asymmetrical with a little texture, and nip pooling colors in the bud. Oh, and if it were auto-pilot knitting, things would be even better. 

Mixing all those things together turned out to be a tall order. Even with an idea in my head and sketches on paper, I spent way to long frogging to figure out the shape and construction. The time was well spent though, and lead to a shawl that had every thing I wanted. 

Tame wild, variegated yarn with slip stitches and the Odd Couple Shawl. | withwool.com

Odd Couple starts at the bottom with a tiny number of stitches and keeps on growing. You can make it big or small, and bind off when you’re ready. Use any yarn that you like - it doesn’t even have to be variegated. A solid color would beautifully show the texture from the slip stitches. 

To celebrate the release, Odd Couple will be on sale through Sunday, October 2. Use coupon code ODD to get $1 off. Put Odd Couple in your Ravelry cart (no account required), click add coupon, and type in the code. Happy knitting!

Tame wild, variegated yarn with slip stitches and the Odd Couple Shawl. | withwool.com

Odd Couple

Yarn: Your pick of yarn in any weight. 

  • Fingering Weight: 400 - 800 yds
  • Sport Weight: 450 - 750 yds
  • Worsted Weight: 400 - 600 yds
  • Bulky Weight: 350 - 570 yds

Needles: Circular Needle 32” or longer to match yarn

Notions: 1 stitch marker, and a tapestry needle

Odd Couple Tutorial: How to Pick Up + Knit(kfb)

Odd Couple shawl tutorial: How to "Pick Up + Knit(kfb)" | withwool.com

When I was in the early in the design process for the Odd Couple shawl - aka ripping back to nothing most of the time - I was trying to figure out how to work in increases that were invisible, but easy. Finicky and auto-pilot knitting don't really go together after all. The answer turned out to be pairing "pick up + knit" with the shawl's center spine of decreases.  The result is a lovely line with none of the aggravation that usually comes from picking up stitches. I'm no fan of picking up dozens and dozens of stitches myself, but this is different because you're only picking up one stitch at a time. Check out the video to see how it's done!

Free Pattern: Show Off Boomerang

Show Off Boomerang - A free pattern for that one special skein of yarn, handspun or hand dyed, that’s a show off all by itself. |   withwool.com

I finally finished a couple of long-term works in progress last week, and decided to reward myself by casting on for something new. The yarn I spun during this year’s Tour de Fleece has been taunting me, specifically a wild combination of dark grey merino and random mini batts. I may or may not have wound the yarn at 11 PM. Okay, I definitely wound the yarn that late. I stayed up watching movies and cast on for a beautiful shawl. Unfortunately, the yarn obscured the yarn overs, increases, and details that made the shawl what it is. Simple, reversible, garter stitch was the only option. 

Show Off Boomerang - A free pattern for that one special skein of yarn, handspun or hand dyed, that’s a show off all by itself. |   withwool.com

I love the look of asymmetrical triangle shawls. And I love the fact that I could knit every inch of that precious skein without worrying when to bind off. So, I experimented with and frogged a few different versions of bias knit boomerang shapes before I found one I liked. Then I made sure that all the action happened on one row of the pattern repeat for easy auto-pilot knitting.  

Thanks to plenty of down time, I knit the shawl in one day and blocked it the next. Blocking smoothed out the curves - the yarn had it’s thick and thin spots - and added a few more inches of depth. I’m so happy I didn’t let the yarn linger in the stash or try to force it into a complicated pattern. This shawl will be the perfect pop of color on a dreary winter day. 

Show Off Boomerang - A free pattern for that one special skein of yarn, handspun or hand dyed, that’s a show off all by itself. |   withwool.com

If you’ve got one precious skein of handspun or hand dyed indie goodness that wants to do it’s own thing, the Show Off Boomerang might be just the pattern you’re looking for. 

Size: Your Choice

Yarn & Needles: 200+ yards of any weight yarn and needles to match

Show Off Boomerang - A free pattern for that one special skein of yarn, handspun or hand dyed, that’s a show off all by itself. |   withwool.com

FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and The Dewberry Cowl

The Crescent Over Lothlorien Shawl was the first thing I knit from my 2015 holiday gift list. So pleased with how it turned out. &nbsp; FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl  - withwool.com

I decided to go all out with my gift knitting for Christmas 2015. The list started out small - less than 5 pieces - before growing and growing and growing just a little bit more. When all was said and done, I had knit a shawl, a cowl, a hat, 4 washcloths, a pair of slippers, 2 pairs of wrist cuffs, a bear & bunny duo, and one golden bear. Plus, there was that skein of handspun. This was a pretty ambitious list considering that I skipped holiday gift knitting the previous years. I’m pretty sure the only reason I was able to get everything done was because I’d committed to #yearofmaking, and had built a habit of making something every day. Even a few stitches a day can add up to something really big.

The Crescent Over Lothlorien Shawl was the first thing I knit from my 2015 holiday gift list. So pleased with how it turned out. &nbsp; FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl &nbsp;- withwool.com
The Crescent Over Lothlorien Shawl was the first thing I knit from my 2015 holiday gift list. So pleased with how it turned out. &nbsp; FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl &nbsp;- withwool.com

What do you knit for the lace knitter that loves fantasy and general geekery? Fantasy themed lace, of course! The Crescent Over Lothlorien Shawl fit the bill, and had the added bonus of a reversible stitch pattern. 

I had a few hiccups reading the pattern and had to rip out a few times - once all the way back to the beginning - but the knitting was fairly easy once I figured out the rhythm and quirks of the design. It was also my first time using Dream in Color Smooshy which was lovely. The shawl was also great tv knitting aside from that one time I really messed up the lace pattern. (Note to self: Don’t stay up to 2AM knitting lace. You’re just going to give yourself a headache and a giant time suck the next morning.)

The Crescent Over Lothlorien Shawl was the first thing I knit from my 2015 holiday gift list. So pleased with how it turned out. &nbsp; FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl &nbsp;- withwool.com

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, blocking is magic. Once the shawl was bound off with a ridiculously stretchy decrease bind off, it looked small and crumpled. Even knowing how blocking can transform a piece, I was still nervous that the finished shawl wouldn’t be a worthy gift. I needn't have worried. 

The shawl got a nice long soak before I stretched and pinned it to an inch of its life. Flexible blocking wires made shaping and pulling out the points so much simpler and quicker then working with only pins. Inserting the wires and shaping the shawl still took at least 30 minutes though. When that work was done, instead of a small and crumpled shawl, the crescent was long and delicate. The yarn overs had popped open, the columns were visible, and every leaf was distinct. Whew…

The Crescent Over Lothlorien Shawl was the first thing I knit from my 2015 holiday gift list. So pleased with how it turned out. &nbsp; FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl &nbsp;- withwool.com

Pattern: Crescent Over Lothlorien by Cordula Surmann-Schmitt 

Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy - Icy Reception

Needles: US 4 (3.5mm) circulars

Date: September 12 - October 23, 2015

@Ravelry 

I've wanted to knit the Dewberry Cowl since I first saw it, and it was a perfect pattern for gift knitting.&nbsp; FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl &nbsp;- withwool.com

The second gift knit was the Dewberry Cowl which I've wanted to make since I first saw it. I like the combination of lace and garter stitch. I like the shape and how it’s worn. I liked how it could be a showcase for lots of different yarn. Plus, I thought the recipient would like it too which is always an important thing to consider when making gifts. Can’t just make stuff you like after all.

It was a pretty quick knit even considering that I had to rip it out - totally my own fault - and make it bigger. The pattern calls for an aran weight yarn, but I mistakenly picked out a DK weight instead. Mrs Crosby Carpet Bag is a beautiful silk wool single and I don’t regret picking it at all. 

I've wanted to knit the Dewberry Cowl since I first saw it, and it was a perfect pattern for gift knitting.&nbsp; FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl &nbsp;- withwool.com
I've wanted to knit the Dewberry Cowl since I first saw it, and it was a perfect pattern for gift knitting.&nbsp; FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl &nbsp;- withwool.com

Mailing these goodies off was hard but, I’ve got the patterns and plenty of worthy yarn. I already have the perfect skein picked out for my Dewberry.

Pattern: Dewberry by Hillary Smith Callis 

Yarn: 1 skein Mrs Crosby Carpet Bag - Hollywood Cerise

Needles: US 6 (4mm) circulars

Date: October 26 - November 4, 2015

@Ravelry

The Second Frisson Shawl

I don’t often knit patterns more than once, but Frisson has made it on to that short list. The first one I knit was a gift, but the second was all for me. I would even have used the exact same yarn if I could have gotten my hands on a skein. Instead, I lucked across a skein of Cephalopod Yarn’s Traveler during my first and only visit to the now closed yarn shop. 

The months I’d waited to cast on for the second shawl made sure that pattern was familiar but not boring. No second sock shawl syndrome here. Starting out at the tiniest point and seeing it grow all over again was still really fun. My only annoyance was that I didn’t buy 2 skeins. I was only able to get 10 points so the shawl is more of a shawlette. That said, I can still wrap myself up in it just fine, but I’ll pick something bigger for the windy days.  

As small of this shawl is, it’s been with me for a lot of big, awesome things. I started knitting it on a trip visiting family across the country. Blocking and pinning it out was the first thing I did for #yearofmaking. I wore it to Stitches West this year when I met Stephen West. In the future, my Frisson is small enough to fit into my bag and bring along on adventures. Can’t wait. 

The Pattern: Frisson by Brittany Wilson

Yarn: Cephalopod Yarns Traveler - Red Palace

Needles: US 6 (4 mm) circulars

Dates: December 13 - 26, 2014

@Ravelry

Handspun Dotted Rays

I started the #handspunchallenge because I’ve spun lots of yarn and only knit a few skeins of it. Grab your handspun and knit, crochet, or weave it up! Handspun is too precious not to use. Read about how #handspunchallenge got started here

Dotted Rays wasn’t the first shawl I knit out of this handspun skein. The first was a pattern of my own design that I’d sketched and knit a mini sample of. I happily cast on, knit several inches of it’s crescent shaped body before deciding the edge increases just weren’t quite right. Rip it. Rip it. On my second attempt, I got a little farther before I needed the needles for another project. When I came back to the shawl again, the love was gone. If I wasn’t enjoying my own design, I couldn’t expect anyone else to either. The to be frogged shawl went into a bag that went under the bed to await it’s fate. 

Scrolling through new patterns on Ravelry, like one does, I found Stephen West’s Dotted Rays. The more I looked at the combination of the crescent shape, short rows, and eyelets I knew that it was the perfect pattern for the fractal handspun hiding under the bed. Because I wanted Dotted Rays to be a treat, I didn’t actually frog the ill-fated shawl and cast on until months later when I needed knitting for the train ride down to Stitches West. 

By the time I got to Stitches, I’d worked enough the pattern to rock my knitting world. The short row treatment was ingenious and completely different from what I expected. Just that one instruction was worth the cost of the pattern. And when I saw Stephen West at Stitches West, I made sure to tell him exactly that.

I could not put this shawl down. Turns out that you can finish something rather quickly when you work on it everyday (Thanks #yearofmaking!). The fact that I only had ~500 yards instead of the recommended 720 for the small size might also have had something to do with it. After my last full wedge, I worked as many rows I could get way with before started the i-cord bind off. Even after blocking, the shawl is on the small side but still big enough to be cozy. I’m glad it matches my favorite jacket because I’m going wear it all the time. 

Pattern: Dotted Rays by Stephen West

Yarn: 2-ply fingering weight fractal handspun; fiber dyed by Yarn Geek Fibers 

Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) circulars

Dates: February 19 - March 15, 2015

@Ravelry

Frisson Shawl

When I first saw the Frisson pattern, I was instantly smitten. I liked the shape and the size and the points. I liked the combination of garter stitch and eyelet wedges. It looked like an easy knit that wouldn’t be too boring, what the Knitmore Girls would call ‘autopilot knitting’. To the top of the queue it went and, when I decided to knit a shawl for a friend’s birthday gift, Frisson beat out all the other options.

The knitting was definitely easy since the pattern was well written and easy to follow. Addicting too because the points just seemed to show up on my needles when I wasn’t looking. I’d knit one point and just have to knit another. Eventually, the rows got long enough that I couldn’t knit a whole point in one sitting but it was still really fun. If I hadn’t dropped a knee on my circular needle and snapped it at the join, I would have finished the shawl a lot sooner. Lesson learned though. Don’t leave knitting needles on the bed. 

Even after knitting one as a gift, I still want to make a second one for myself which is the sign of a great pattern. Have the yarn picked out and everything.

Another reason this shawl was such a great yarn to knit was the yarn. Twist Heavenly, a blend of superwash merino, cashmere, and nylon, is a local yarn hand dyed in Manhattan Beach at The Twist Yarn Shop. The yarn is wonderfully soft and has great drape. The colors are beautiful and knit up well too. Even with the long rows of garter stitch, there was no flashing and the colors barely pooled. One skein of Heavenly wasn’t enough to knit the full shawl but, with 12 points, this Frisson is still a perfect size to wear as a scarf.

The Specs: 

Pattern: Frisson Shawl by Brittany Wilson

Yarn: Twist Yarns Heavenly - Geode 

Needle: US 5 (3.75 mm) Circular

Date: February 23 - March 31, 2014

@Ravelry

Spinning Winter Pinoak

Winter Pinoak on BFL by Yarn Geek Fibers

Winter Pinoak on BFL by Yarn Geek Fibers

I am a sucker for the color green. The socks I’m knitting on and off are green. My last batch of handspun was green. Last week, I bought green yarn. I have overloaded on green and need something to cleanse my palette. The only new project I’ve started - well, the only I can write about at the moment - is definitely not green. 

After finishing the last handspun, I was ready to start spinning again and picked something from the not green segment of the fiber stash. Didn’t take long to go through that scant selection and I should probably change that at some point. Careful deliberation led me to a lovely bump of fluff called Winter Pinoak from Yarn Geek Fibers. Winter Pinoak looks exactly like it sounds. There are blues, dark greys, brown, cream, and a wonderful bit of orange at the end. I can’t help but think of the orange as that one stubborn leaf that won’t fall off a tree even in the dead of winter. The orange is what first grabbed my attention in the Etsy photos and pulls all those cooler colors together. Plus, I was reminded of my alma mater's colors which didn’t hurt.

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Unchaining the roving didn’t make the fiber figuratively jump up and tell me what it wanted to be. That’s what usually happens so the fiber and I had to get to know each other a little better first. After looking at the colors and gauging the softness, I, or rather the fiber, decided it wanted to be a shawl. Quite possibly the Trillian Shawl too. Being the good fiber mama that I am, it was time to fulfill that wish.

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The fiber was split lengthwise down the middle so I could spin 2 singles to ply for a 2-ply yarn. There was a problem. The orange. It was all the way at the end and that just wouldn’t do. It could end up on a cast-on row. It could end up on the bind off row. It might not make the finished project at all. The orange is what I love about this bump and it deserved to be celebrated. So, I split the fiber at the midpoint and ended up with 4 happy coils.

YarnGeek_WinterPinoakSingle1.jpg

Finished spinning the first single on Wednesday. It started off blue and grey and ended with blue and cream. In the middle is this amazing section of red orange that I cannot wait to uncover in the plying. Instead of following the color progression as dyed, tearing the fiber in half let me put the orange right in the middle. It will be boltstered and framed by the cooler colors around it. At least, that’s what I hope happens. I also hope I’m up to the task of spinning 400 yards of fingering weight yarn. That may not happen but 300+ yards of sport weight is also a pretty great thing to get off the spindle too.

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Surprise Shawl

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Nothing says “Why don’t you wind some yarn and cast on for that shawl you’ve been dreaming about for months,” like hearing about a surprise road trip first thing in the morning. So, I wound 2 skeins of yarns, printed the pattern, got presentable, and hit the road. 

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The shawl in question is the Stripe Study Shawl which Ravelry tells me has been in my queue since February 19, 2011. It took me ages to finish other shawls I had on the needles and then pick the yarn. The blue is Plucky Knitter Primo Fingering (Tavern on the Blue) which waited patiently for me to decide on Madelinetosh Merino Light (Antler) as it’s partner. I love how the two look together and how much the cream is starting to pop against the ever widening blue stripes. 

For the next few months, this shawl is going to be selfish knitting, pure and simple, since the birthdays and holidays coming in full force. A few short rows here and some stripes there should take the edge off.   

Hitchhiker

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How can I resist a pattern that’s a giant, geeky sci-fi reference? Long story short, I can’t. Hitchhiker had been in my queue for the longest time but, once I decided to cast on, there was no stopping me. I grabbed my needles, wound 2 skeins of Malabrigo Sock, and got started. Once the setup rows clicked in my head, the knitting was smooth sailing. I stuck the shawl in my purse and brought it along on car trips, running errands, and out to lunch. Hitchhiking indeed. Unfortunately, those days came to end when I had to wrap the shawl twice around my arm so I could walk around the mall and knit it at the same time. 

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Once freed my purse, Hitchhiker was relegated to movie knitting, hanging out at parties, and occasional trips to knit night. I put it down for a month or two because the row after row after row of garter stitch and the occasional bind off just wasn’t holding my interest. Our intrepid wooly hero was saved when I was overcome by the urge to empty out my WIP bin. After too many movies and tv shows to count, Hitchhiker was finished and ready to answer the question about the universe and everything else. 

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Sci-fi reference aside, another reason I cast on for Hitchhiker was because I wanted a pattern that would use up 2 skeins of Malabrigo sock and that could easily be made larger. Check and double check. Since I wanted to get the most out of the yarn and spare myself from ripping out, I started measuring how many grams of yarn were used per tooth. From the 48th to the 54th tooth, the teeth used 6g each with the 55th, 56th, and 57th teeth using 7g each. There were 2g left after binding off the last tooth. The kitchen scale has turned out to be one the best knitting tools I’ve ever bought. Full technical details on Ravelry.

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All finished, the Hitchhiker has turned out to be exactly what I wanted. It’s cushy, warm, and big enough to wrap around my shoulders several times. Draped over my shoulders, the tails hang down past my knees. Can’t wait to bring this out during the Fall and Winter. Oh, and its 57 teeth aside, Hitchhiker knows that the answer to the universe and everything else is definitely 42.

Hitchhiking

I seem to be in the middle of a mad love affair with garter stitch lately. Garter is just so easy to love. It looks great without any of that playboy rolling stockinette is prone to. It’s easy to find a rhythm and put your mind somewhere else. Though what I’m loving most right now about garter is that I can knit it very easily on a dark summer night. I discovered this Saturday night when I brought my Hitchhiker Shawl with me to a party to keep my hands busy. Still, I had to keep reminding myself that I didn't have to look down at my knitting since I couldn't see it anyway.

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Hitchhiker also served double duty keeping me warm since summer nights do get cold on occasion. Who knew? When I originally picked this pattern, I wanted something that would use 2 variegated skeins of Malabrigo Sock. That second skein has made Hitchhiker so large that I’m knitting on the 52th tooth when the pattern only calls for 42. I’ve got 39g left which my chart tells me is enough for 6 more repeats. 

Every time I finish another tooth, I weigh the yarn cake to see how much is left. Then the data goes into a handy dandy spreadsheet. I can track my progress and make an educated guess about when I’ll run out of yarn. I’m not the only one that does this, right?