Tag Archives: shawl

Let the Challenges Begin

There’s something about the start of a new year that seems to promote people to take up new challenges and push themselves to see what can be accomplished over 12 months.  Here on January 2nd or 3rd next January seems like a life time away, even though we know full well that it is literally just around the corner.  Optimism is high and once the cloudy fog of the New Year’s Eve party clears, it feels like the beginning of the year is a chance for all of us to start fresh, right the wrongs from the last year, and hopefully end the year better than we started it.

Knitters are no exception to this.  In fact, us fibre folk are perfectly suited for this kind of behaviour.  Unlike other people who say things like, “I want to lose weight,” or “I want to save more money” those of us who surround ourselves with yarn have a decided advantage in this area.  Our goals are right in front of us in unknit form, taking up the entire living room closet, two baskets under the coffee table and the side table.  (Maybe in your house it’s not in exactly the same places, but you understand what I’m saying.  Let’s just run with it.)  It stares at us, mocks us, begs for our attention, and at least for me, occasionally throws itself on the floor at my feet when I go into the closet for other things.  We all have a stash.  Even if you are a very new knitter, you have a stash.  It’s not a dirty little secret.  if you knit, you stash, and the rest of the knitting community knows it.  (I understand if you don’t show your stash to non-knitters.  They just wouldn’t get it.)

In my circle of friends and knitters, many of us have come to the realization that we have too much stash.  I know that some of you will argue with me on that point and say that you can never have too much stash.  What happens if there is a major sheep shortage in the world and then the alpaca and llamas go too?  What if your furnace breaks down at three a.m. in the worst blizzard of the decade and you won’t be able to have the repair guy show up for days?  You have ready-made insulation and really what else are you going to do while trapped in you unheated house waiting for your spouse to dig you out of your front door so you can go out into the frigid winter air? (You laugh, but it happens.  I was seven, my dad had to go out my second story bedroom window, the furnace worked the whole time and the wood stove had lots of split trees.  It took my dad and my uncle 2 hours to clear a path to the door.  Then they went and dug out my aunt.  I was unfortunately not a knitter at the time.  What a waste.)  My husband has started to refer to my stash as the Other Retirement Plan.  He’s not wrong.  None of this changes the original point that many of us have decided that we have too much stash and we all want to tame it.  (We have one friend who is managing this wondrous feat.  I need to be more like her.)

So the 12 in 2012 challenges are starting.  The group of us seem to be pretty well spread out over the ranges, from completely realistic and sane to are you out of your mind?  Maybe you need to have your meds changed kind of crazy.  For once, I’m not in the crazy camp.  (I know that’s hard to believe.)  My friend Tanya over at Nonlinear Solutions  is making 12 socks.  Not 12 pairs, 12 socks, 6 pairs.  Completely reasonable given her life  and the time that she had to devote to knitting.  Another friend has decided to join in the Lettuce Knit Challenge of making 12 sweaters in a year.  That is still not insane owing to the decision to include sweaters of all sizes from infant to adult.  My friend on the  other hand is getting up there on the crazy scale as she has decided to make 12 adult sweaters since she already has all the yarn for it in her stash.   Another friend is making 12 afghans.  She will argue that some of them are already started and 1/3 finished.  I argue that 12 afghans is still 12 afghans and that is something I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around.  I’m pretty sure that she already has most of the yarn in her stash too.  (All joking aside, both of these women are wonderful knitters.  And while I could never imagine doing either of two challenges, they both may get it done.)

Me? I’m doing 12 shawls.  There is nothing crazy about this.  I knit 7 shawls last year without even thinking about it.  I knit shawls the way other people knit socks or hats.  I don’t do major lace work shawls.  It’s just not my thing.  I like some lace, but all lace makes me cry just thinking about it and I can already feel my left eye starting to twitch just at the thought of it.   BTW – If you are a lace knitter, I bow down to you.

My first shawl is ready to rock.  The yarn is wound, the pattern is picked, and I am doing the absolutely unthinkable and finishing the last few rows on my Flamboyan before casting this one.  My other 11 shawls are picked and there has already been one change as I won a copy of the Walnut Grove pattern yesterday and I want to include it.  But things are set and ready to go.  I want to use as much stash as possible for this little challenge.  I know I have the yarn for at least 6 of them in my stash already.  I’m sure there’s more but I just haven’t paired up the rest of the patterns with yarn yet.  It is part of the goal to get more balls out of the stash than in in 2012.

So here it is.  My January 2012 soon to be  shawl :

How can you not love the name!

Pattern: Sharktooth

Yarn: MCN Sock

Colour: And Then Oz Kicked Jacob in his Delicate Girly Wolf Parts.  The End.

Wish me luck.

On My Needles & Between my Pages December 28th

On My Needles

I must admit that I am feeling a fairly significant amount of guilt about the fact that I am working on something for myself when I still have a few Christmas gifts that didn’t make it to the December 25th deadline.  But since the gifts are already late, the pressure is off slightly and it is allowing me the opportunity to do some much-needed selfish knitting while still making progress on the belated gifts.  So for myself I have been working on My Giant Flamboyan.  I actually broke down and cast it on before Christmas since my in-laws had arrived a week earlier than normal and I needed to have something to knit while visiting with them.  And since 90% of the gifts I had left to knit were for my husband and his family you can see the dilemma I was facing. The yarn is IndigoDragonFly’s Merino Sport  in “When I Bit him I Tasted the Ocean.”  It was purchased and dyed with this shawl in mind (although it will be big enough that I think “small blanket that I can wear” might actually be a more apt description of what I am actually making).  It has gotten to the point where the shawl is very slow going and I have no idea how many stitches I have on the needles.  It doesn’t matter.  I’ll knit to the end of the ball and start the second one.  And when I find myself truly not willing to go on, I will knit the six row border and call it finished.  (I guarantee that my inability to continue will strike long before I get to the end of that ball.)  Then I just have to figure out how to block the beast!


I realize it looks like a giant odd coloured blob right now. It's as wide as I can stretch it on the needles.

Between My Pages        

Even with the business of the Holidays and the frantic attempt to finish as many gifts as possible. I did manage to finish the first two books on The Hunger Games series and start the third.  When you keep in mind the age group that these novels were originally intended for they are very well written.  The author finds a style that is neither too childlike or too adult while presenting a brilliant social commentary that is clearly meant to be a direct reflection of the developed nations of the world.  Political injustice, marginalizing of minorities and the lower class, the glorification of death and murder and creating celebrities of those who commit said acts, and knowledge that the upper classes have gotten to their station in life on the backs of those beneath them are all major themes explored throughout the narrative of the novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first and second books, but I must admit that I am struggling a little with the third novel.  I am a little disappointed that the lead character is making her decisions (so it seems) purely on the manipulations of other characters.  And while I understand that the whole idea is to bring up the question of free will within a free society, I wish she had a little bit more of a backbone and didn’t have to be pointed in the right direction so often.   It seems like a bit of an oxymoron that Katniss is presented both as a young woman who was smart, self-reliant, and charismatic enough to feed her starving family and survive the game while still being too feeble-minded to make a decision on her own about her political future without a bunch of the other characters patting her on the head and showing her what to do.  Most likely I’ll be finished the book by next week.  I’ll let you know if she finds her strength and convection (which is a really polite way of saying I hope she grows a pair), by the end of the series.  That will really influence wither or not I can recommend the set as a whole.

For More Wednesday stuff check out WIP Wednesday and the Yarn Along

Temptation Tuesday – Or Stick to your List Already

I’ve been knitting for about seven years and it’s taken almost that whole time to find a designer that I love.  I have other designers that I really like and that produce items that for the most part I find very pretty or interesting.  Often I like some of the things that a designer puts out without liking everything.  A specific cardi or a pair of socks might catch my attention.  I might even be able to recognize a designer’s work without really wanting to knit the item.

And then this year I started knitting Stephen West items.  First it was just ine Boneyard shawl, and then another.

The Boneyards and the start of the addiction. Mine is the purple. The green is for my Grandmother. Both yarns are from Indigodragonfly.

Then I started looking at other things he has designed and I was hooked. I would easily put almost any other knitting aside to work on something that he has designed.  I am fascinated by how he combines simplicity and intrigue to produce patterns that look beautiful and are generally very easy to knit.  So easy, in fact, that I almost always reach a point in all the projects that I start to think ‘please let this end soon’ because it just keeps going (and going and going).  But it never fails that I too just keep going and eventually I have a finished product that I love.  So far this calender year I have produced 2 Boneyard shawls (one for me and one for my Grandmother), two Urbanas (one small version for my Dad, and a super sized one for me that still needs a crocheted edge), a Clockwork scarf, an earth & sky, a pogona, and a Windcheif.  That’s eight items.  That can’t be normal.  It’s certainly not normal for me.

Add to that a Flamboyan, a Herbivore, and another Windchief all in my YOP list and Daybreak, Loxely, Spectra, the desire to make a second clockwork in more distinct colours so the final product is less blended and at least one more (but probably two) Earth & Sky shawls, one for me and one for a gift and that brings the final total to 17?!?!?!?  I’m insane.

Stephen West in clearly my knitting earworm.  He’s the designer that’s stuck in my brain and is playing on a continuous loop. It’s the all Stephen West all the time show happening in my knitting life and really I’m okay with that.  A knitter can never have too many shawls and wraps.  And if the man ever starts producing socks I’m really screwed.

(BTW – my husband has said that a knitting earworm would technically be a stitchworm.  So there you have it.  Stephen West is my stitchworm.)

Creative Friday – A Shawl in 33 days

Any of you who read my blog regularly know that knitting is a life altering little tiny bit of an addiction for me.  I have at times considered using the grocery money for yarn, (a high fibre diet is supposed to be good for you), and if I could find a way to knit in my sleep I would do that too.  I have fallen asleep with knitting in my hands, but that’s not really the same thing.  Even with all that in mind I am a little shocked to be sharing this shawl so soon after its cast on date.  A mere 33 days after I started it, I can to present to you a finished Mystery KAL Earth & Sky shawl by Stephen West.



I was unfortunately not able to extend the shawl to full length due to an arm injury. But it wraps around me nicely.

I love my shawl and skipped out on the blocking so I could wear it to work.  It’s also the first time I have attempted intarsia knitting.  Initially I was very concerned when I read that the technique was involved in the knitting process, but by that point I had paid for the pattern and bought the yarn, so I figured I was pretty committed.  I am pleased to report that intarsia did not cause my needles or yarn to burst into flames or make my brain ooze out my ears.  (I really hate it when that happens.  It makes a huge mess and is really hard to stuff back in.)  So I will consider this to be a glowing success.


So much of a success that I am really tempted to make another one in different colours.  If only the yarn store I needed was closer to my house there would be Earth & Sky Shawls for everyone.


Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool
Pattern Alteration: Increased needle size to 4mm/6 US

For more great Friday stuff check out, FO Fridays, Creative Fridays, and Fibre Arts Friday.

KAL – Really Not a Big Mystery Anymore

The final clue for the Stephen West KAL has been released and the official closing date  is drawing near.  I’m not sure that I will be finished my shawl in time to enter into the prize giveaway thread on September 1st.  But really, stranger things have happened and I’m not ruling out all hope just yet.  Currently I have 1 1/2 repeats left to complete the third clue and then a border and bind off  and it will be an FO instead of a WIP.

This was my first “Mystery KAL” and I must admit it was more of an ‘experience’ then it expected it to be .  It was fun and at times very frustrating.  But most importantly it kept me engaged.  When it comes to knitting I fully admit to having the attention span of a hummingbird.  I flutter from project to project being distracted by the new and shiny thing that comes along and this causes my self-proclaimed project polygamist status.  And I must say that I am very good at project jumping.  But this hasn’t been the case with this shawl and I am even having to resist the urge to stop typing and start knitting it right now.

My husband’s response to all this was to look at me and say “You think? I knew that only giving you a small part of something instead of all of it at once was going to work like a charm.”  (Thanks for pointing out my lack of patience there Honey.)  I can’t even be put out or disagree ’cause I know it’s the truth.  It just took me a little longer to cotton on to the concept.  But there it is, way out for everyone to see.  Restrict my knowledge and my impatience will fuel the desire to know what I’m missing.  And now what’s missing is a new, warm, Stephen West shawl to add to my collection.

Off to the Boneyard

The boneyard is finished, blocked, and ready for my Grandmother’s Christmas Gift.  Here it is.  It’s one skein of Sport Merino from IndigoDragonFly.


It’s slightly different than the Boneyard I made for myself.  In mine I did the M1 as yarnovers and in my Grandmother’s I did the M1 by picking up stitches from between two existing stitches.  The difference is subtle but noticeable.

See the difference?

My Grandmother is one of my biggest knitting fans so I am so happy to make her something she is going to love.  Even the colour is perfect.   Maybe  now she will return the Clapotis to my Aunt!

I had a lot of fun making both of them and I am very happy to have another gift crossed off the list for the Christmas season.