This week, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Joan from Wool Free and Lovin’ Knit, someone I’ve “known” for many years through the knitting blog world but finally got to meet in real life.  We met at Imagiknit, our local yarn store.  I say “our” because Joan moved to San Francisco from the East Coast awhile back.  Here we are in Imagiknit’s enormous room devoted entirely to non-wool yarns.  It’s tailor made for Joan because, as you might guess from her blog name, she’s got a big-time wool allergy:

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Joan is wearing her gorgeous Sothia shawl, one of the many beautiful wool-free knits she’s made.  I especially love her impeccably made toys and I copied these booties after seeing her version.  When we met, Joan (a budding designer like me) told me that Craftsy has a great program for selling patterns so I went right home and uploaded a few of mine. I also did a little shopping while we were together — I bought some Cascade 220 for the design project I’ve been noodling about for months and months.  It’s a collection (!) of hats.  I’ll be making them for the next couple of weeks until my friend Sarah is ready to start our personal KAL of the Grown-Up Hoodie, a pattern we both bought at Stitches this year.  She’s waiting for her yarn to arrive.  The design collection has a fall theme so my goal is to have it finished by mid-August.

 

I finished the Daybreak shawl.  I used Knit Picks Chroma Fingering in off white and the orchard colorway.

It’s a brilliant yet simple pattern with a lovely result.  Overall, I’m happy with it, but I wish the purple was less bright in the orchard colorway.  (I was going for a more muted, rusty maroon look.)  For this project, I treated myself to a pair of Hiya Hiya needles in size 3.  I made the medium size.

Although I put a bunch of shawls in my queue after Stitches, this project was a good reminder of why I don’t knit a lot of shawls — they take forever and, honestly, I’m not sure I’m actually going to wear it.  (Can someone — Aim?  Sarah? — point me to some instructions for how to wear a shawl more like a scarf?)  At least I can say I’ve finally knit a Stephen West pattern.  One of these days, I’m going to knit Diana’s amazing Kaleidoscope shawl.

In other news, the second shipment from the Cookie A sock club arrived!  I love the yarn and I love the patterns and recipes.  I’ll be attempting the Nanaimo socks and the cookies/bars by the same name.

That’s Socktopus, a yarn that I hadn’t heard of before but, as I’ve since learned, gets great reviews by Ravelers.  The colorway is a gorgeous blue-ish grey, a nice neutral change from the first shipment, which was bright red.  I plan to start those socks as soon as I finish my Honey Cowl, which should be in the next couple of days.  Finally, I never got an FO shot of the granny square baby blanket I made for my friend’s third child.  However, the other day she texted me this image of her newborn:

I definitely see more of these little blankets in the future.  It was a fantastic use of scraps and a great take-along project for those times I get a hankering to do a little crochet.

I have twenty more rows to go on my Daybreak, which means I should be done in about, oh, say, twenty more years.  (Translation — it may take a couple of weeks for an FO post.)  When I hit a natural stopping point (the border), I decided to take a brief break to make these:

A guy I know just had twins — a boy and a girl — about three months ago and, sadly, the boy is already battling leukemia.  I’m hoping these hats cheer up the parents.

The Daybreak shawl is slow going.  I’m about 3 stripes away from starting the edging, but because this is a shawl that grows triangularly, each row takes longer and longer.  That said, I’m  liking how it’s looking.

Meanwhile, I’m also slowly making my way through a new book.

I’m really terrible at seaming so I’m hoping that this book will give me some tips the next time I’m facing a set-in sleeve!

I made a couple of hats — one for an infant, one for an American Girl doll — with some luxurious DK leftovers.

I’m also working on the Daybreak shawl by Stephen West, something I never would have looked twice at if I hadn’t seen a beautiful version at Stitches.

I’m using Knit Picks Chroma Fingering in undyed and the new orchard colorway. I like the project even though it’s a little slow-going.

I went to Stitches yesterday and it was awesome.  Usually I go on Friday but we were driving back from Tahoe that day so I went Saturday for the first time.  I was so worried about the crowds that I arrived nearly an hour before it opened.  It wasn’t too crowded  at first, though it was getting more packed as I was leaving.  I am usually good for 2, maybe 2.5 hours.  After that, I start to go bug-eyed.  I spent the morning with my friend Sarah (my best ever knitting student) and we had a great time.  First, the celebrities (forgive the phone camera photo quality):

Ysolda (when Sarah spotted her, she whispered excitedly, “Leslie! Ysolda!” akin to the way one might say, “Leslie! Brad Pitt!); she was gorgeous and friendly:

Alana, of Never Not Knitting, who was super self-conscious about a photo because she just had a baby but I think she looks as beautiful as always:

Miss Babs herself, who modeled for me how to wear a shawl and not look like an old lady:

Marly of the Yarn Thing podcast and Kristin Omdahl of the Knitting Daily TV show:

Steve (busy at work) of the Ready, Set, Knit podcast:

Designer Kirsten Hipsky, also of Ready, Set, Knit:

I looked for Jasmine and Gigi (The Knitmore Girls) and for Barb and Tracie (the 2 Knit Lit Chicks) but no such luck.

And now the purchases — just two.  This cool pattern wallet, which I think will come in very handy — you write on the plastic with a dry erase marker and use magnets to mark your place:

And I wanted to try the Knitters Dreamz needles:

Although I didn’t buy much, I was struck by many patterns after seeing the samples in real life and I spent nearly the entire afternoon on Ravelry!  Most notably, I now have a huge list of shawls I want to knit.  Weird, right?  Check out my Ravelry favorites because you’ll see them all there.  The tops are the Daybreak shawl, the Sand and Sea Shawlette and Damson (which Miss Babs is modeling above).  I actually already have the books containing those last two patterns.  It’s really amazing to me how you can know about a pattern for a long time but not be inspired to knit it until you see a sample in real life! 

Oh, a note about the Purl Ridge Scarf in my favorites: That’s actually not a pattern I want to knit but it’s serving as a marker for me — I got a “Purl Ridge” scarf pattern at Stitches that is really cool in bold colors (as seen in the not-great photo below) and the pattern is not on Ravelry so the one I favorited is simply a reminder to me.

Another great year – I can’t wait ’til next year!

I finished a scarf and a book!

The book, while inventive and uniquely written, did not quite live up to the hype I’d heard about it.***  The scarf, meanwhile, was a surprising pleasure to knit.  I can’t believe that a 1×1 scarf went so quickly and painlessly.  I used size 6 needles and Knit Picks Chroma in Midwinter and Fossil (a great color combo I lifted from another Raveler).  The Chroma is a super soft yarn but it’s a single ply and I fear it’s going to pill.  I had planned to use  it again one day to knit Diana’s amazing Kaleidescope shawl but that pattern is just too special to knit in a pill-y yarn.  This scarf will be the test of its durability.  Also, I had meticulously scanned the Ravelry projects with helpful notes but by the time I got to the end of this project, I had completely forgotten that people recommended a tubular bind off to prevent flaring.  Rats.  Since we know my unraveling skills leave a lot to be desired, I’m just going to leave the bind off as is.  It flares slightly but not too bad.  I would definitely make another one of these scarves.

Last week I also knit another custom knit hat, this one was from a random person on Etsy, which was really exciting.  (Funnily enough, the person requested the exact same hat I’d just made – a green hat with LIAM in white…)  Speaking of hats, I’ve had a lot of ideas bubbling up so I’m going to make a bunch and see if any are worthy of a new pattern release.

***On the topic of books, I have become slightly obsessed with reading/re-reading some classics.  First up, To Kill a Mockingbird.  I’ve also checked out several audio books (Rebecca, The Grapes of Wrath, Brideshead Revisted, among others) from the library.  If you have any suggestions of classics (in book or audio format) to add to my list, please let me know.

I’ve been working on the Milk Run Shawl.  It’s been relatively mindless and fun, which is just what I needed after the rotten Campbell experience (still trying to decide whether to frog or donate) and losing my cat.  Here’s a shot but, like many pre-blocked shawls, it doesn’t look like much now…

I’m using Berroco Vintage, which is a lovely yarn despite some acrylic content.  I’m on the ruffle, which is time-consuming but it’s definitely the home stretch.

I finally finished my Campbell and — lo and behold — it’s too big.  This seems to be a trend for me.  (Remember my Copycat Cardigan?).  I don’t know if I have a distorted opinion of my own body or what but I just keep doing this!  It doesn’t help that this Campbell was knit in a bulky weight yarn AND the front is double-layered on account of the wrapping.  Like the Copycat Cardigan, it’s not terrible, but it’s just not a great fit.  Here are some photos:

The sleeves are especially huge.

It’s fine from the back, though.

Anyway, this is quite a bummer.  I suppose I’ll still wear it but it’s not going to be the go-to sweater I’d hoped it would be.  A couple of other notes:

– Knit with Peruvia Quick on sizes 10.5 and 11 (one of the exceptionally rare times I got gauge with the needles called for — normally I have to drop down at least two needle sizes)

– Contrary to my instinct, I have it wrapped and tied off to the right rather than the left because I needed to cover up (by wrapping the sweater over it) the only mistake in the whole sweater — a small uncrossed cable.

– The cabled band took a long time — it is as long as a cabled scarf, a big project in its own right.

What I’m working on now: my Milk Run Shawl.

As I mentioned, I am obsessed with the so-called Princess Kate shopping shawl.  (I realize she’s a Duchess, not a princess, but whatever…)  As a reminder, here it is:

There are a gazillion versions on Ravelry (best summarized here).  Most are done with fingering weight and many designers took great pains to try to match the precise stitch pattern in the shawl body.  I, however, have been looking for something more in the spirit of the shawl — it’s generous dimensions and the way it drapes.  I do not want to be fussing with a shawl — I want to throw it on and have it stay pretty much where I place it.  So I’ve decided to knit the 3-ruffle version of the Milk Run Shawl.

Not only does it have my favorite name of all these shawls but it’s knit in worsted weight yarn (I honestly have no idea if I’ll actually wear it so I don’t want to knit thousands of yards of fingering weight yarn) and the pattern just happens to be free.  It’s a garter stitch pattern, which is definitely not what Kate’s shawl is, but I like the way it drapes similar to hers, as seen in Ravelry versions.  So here’s the question — what yarn should I use?  I want to knit it in a neutral so it’s versatile.  I think a not-too-dark grey would be perfect.  I’m considering Valley Yarns Amherst in Charcoal (the depth of that grey is exactly what I’m going for but I’ve knit with Amherst before and I’m concerned it wouldn’t be the softest shawl) and Valley Yarns Colrain in Steel (I have loved using this yarn before but I’m concerned the steel color is too flat and I wonder too if the Tencel will negatively affect the drape).  I briefly considered Knit Picks Chroma in Fossil but I’m going to save that for the lovely Kaleidescope shawl by Otterwise.  I could also completely splurge and use something like Madeline Tosh Vintage.  But, again, I’m not sure how much I’ll actually wear this so a splurge is probably not a great idea.  The bottom line – I’m soliciting yarn and color advice.  Your opinion is most welcome!!!  (If you’ve been reading my blog but haven’t commented yet, now would be a great time to pipe up!)  THANKS!  (And thanks to the designer for letting me use her photos!)

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