Drachenfels

I really like a lot of Melanie Berg’s work, but her Drachenfels pattern wasn’t on my radar until my friend Abby sent me a link to the kits Craftsy was offering for this pattern. I got completely sucked in by monochromatic color scheme of the “Ice” kit and the super affordable sale price, and ended up making an impulse buy. That’s pretty unusual for me—I tend to do a lot of advanced project planning and spend a lot of time pouring over patterns and trying to figure out exactly what kind of materials I want to use. But maybe I’m developing a new weakness for kits, because Siobhan has me very close to buying this Saudade kit from Ysolda Teague. Regardless, the kit purchase was a good one. I’m so happy with this finished shawl!

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It’s a bit difficult to photograph since it’s pretty big. After blocking, the shawl is ~80” long and 24” deep. I like wearing these larger-sized shawls as scarves during the winter. My campus has some fairly significant climate control issues. They’ve actually just started a major renovation on our largest building that will take about five years to complete and involve special attention to the HVAC system because, as our Dean put it, “buildings shouldn’t have seasons.” Anyway, it’s hard to dress for work when you can be in one classroom that is easily 80 degrees all year long and then have to sit through a meeting in a 55 degree conference room. (I wish this scenario were an exaggeration. It is not.) A generously sized scarf like this lets me wear lighter layers in the rooms that are overheated while providing genuine warmth in the icier corners of the buildings.

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I cast on for this project on my birthday as a fun little treat for myself and have been picking it up over the last few months when I needed some simple garter knitting. All in all, this was a pretty straightforward pattern to knit. The most difficult part of the pattern was actually the first section, which contains the larger bits of black garter stitch with the white patterned sections. The white patterned sections were really easy to work—it was the longer plain garter sections that were a pain.

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I think the big issue was just that the increase pattern in this section didn’t feel very intuitive and the black garter stitch made it pretty difficult to keep track of the various increases and decreases I was working. I had to rip back a couple of times while working the first part of the pattern because my stitch counts were off. Thankfully, things felt much more intuitive and got a lot easier once I got into the striped section in the middle.

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This was the first time that I’ve used one of Craftsy’s exclusive yarns. This kit specifically uses Cloudborn Fibers Highland Sport, which is a basic, workhorse highland wool. It’s a nice yarn—it feels sturdy and springy while knitting and it relaxes and softens a bit during blocking. I’m glad I went with the black, white, and charcoal kit. It should be very wearable with my black- and gray-dominant wardrobe.

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Socks, Scarves, and Kitties

A busy end of the semester meant lots of stress knitting and now a backlog of yarn-related projects.

Estuary Scarf

First up is Estuary, which I knit up in Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in Blackberry. Estuary is a free lace scarf pattern from the Fall 2012 issue of Knitty. The pattern makes use of two different lace patterns that run alongside one another, which makes for interesting knitting–neither pattern is easy to memorize, especially since you are often increasing or decreasing the size of the scarf through the pattern. The pattern has something like 8 different lace charts, and I definitely had to pay close attention to the charts almost the whole time I was knitting. But I’ve been looking for more challenging patterns, so I enjoyed working on this project.

Estuary Scarf

There is some errata for this pattern. Most of the corrections have been made on the version of the pattern that appears on Knitty, but there was still a point or two where I was confused. The designer actually provides a clearer explanation of the errata in the comments on the Ravelry pattern page.

Estuary Scarf

I ended up doing an extra repeat of Chart E to make the scarf a bit longer and deeper. My finished scarf is about 82″ long and about 16.5″ wide. I didn’t block this very aggressively (primarily because I was feeling too lazy to pin out the lace). If I had pinned it out, I’m sure it would have ended up a few inches deeper. I’m really pleased with the shape and the size of the scarf, and very happy to have this in my closet.

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After I knit up Estuary, I went ahead and finished up a pair of socks that I started at the beginning of this year. This is Glenna C’s A Nice Ribbed Sock Pattern, which is another free pattern for a top-down 3×1 ribbed sock. The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Raven.

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I love these socks. Purple is clearly my color right now. Not only are these socks and my Estuary scarf purple, but my Onyx Shirt and Camas Blouse are both in a sort of reddish-purple.

Dumpling Kitty

My last project is probably one of the cutest things I’ve made. This is the Dumpling Kitty pattern, which is a free crochet pattern that was posted on Ravelry recently. It’s so cute and requires such a small amount of yarn that I had to make it when I saw the pattern. The gray yarn is leftover from my Madigan pullover and the white is leftover from the stockings I made my nephews for Christmas.

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I’ve been able to manage the basics of crochet for about the same amount of time that I’ve been knitting, but I crochet so rarely that I’m definitely still a crochet beginner. But I found this pattern very easy to follow, and I’m really happy with the finished project. I have no idea what I’m actually going to do with it–maybe use it as a pin cushion? Or maybe it will just continue to live on the bookshelf.

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I enjoyed my Dumpling Kitty crochet experience so much that I actually pulled some yarn out of the stash and started crocheting a blanket just for fun. I like the experience and process of crocheting, but I never really know what to make. So I figured I would just match some yarn to a pattern and then find someone to give it to when it’s done. This is Vickie Howell’s Chevy Baby Blanket, which is yet another free pattern. (I swear I usually pay for patterns.) The yarn is Lion Brand Heartland in Glacier Bay. This pattern is very easy for a crochet novice like me, and I feel like working on a larger project like this is really helping me work on getting a more even tension. I’ve been on the lookout for other crochet projects to take on when this is done, so who knows where this new interest in crochet might lead.

Magine

I finished this project a long time ago—sometime last summer. But I let it sit on a shelf for ten months before I finally got around to blocking the damn thing. To put that into perspective for you, between the moment I bound off the final stitches and the moment I put the scarf into a bath of warm water, I could have created an entire human being.

So what took me so long? Pins. As in, I knew I would need to stretch and pin the lace pattern during blocking and that seemed like enough of a PITA to keep me from getting around to it. So it goes.

The pattern is Magine from Ambah O’Brien, and it’s a shaped scarf  that is widest at the middle and tapers to a point at each end. The pattern has two different sizes, a “small” size that makes a more traditional scarf size and a “large” size that is wider, more along the lines of a wrap. My finished scarf (which probably stretched out a wee bit too much but I was being sort of quick/lazy about blocking) ended up being about 9″ wide at it’s deepest point and about 90″ long. This was a quick and fun pattern to knit (from what I can remember), and my only complaint about it at the time I did the actual knitting was that it wasn’t charted. I find it a lot easier to follow charted lace and cable patterns and it took me awhile to get into the groove of reading the lace pattern as it was written out, line by line. But, wouldn’t you know, in the eternity that has elapsed since I finished this, the pattern has been updated to include charts!

The yarn I used is Dream in Color Smooshy in Lost in Plum. It’s a springy yarn with good stitch definition and great color saturation. I’m always looking for yarn in this particular shade of purple, but I feel like it’s hard to find. I have another scarf made out of Smooshy and it wears really well—it’s comfortable to wear against the skin, but not so soft that it pills up immediately. Unfortunately, this yarn turned out to be really difficult to photograph. The photo below is really the most accurate indication of the color.

Now I’ve finished this scarf at the tail-end of this year’s unusually long scarf season so I probably won’t get to wear this for a few months. Knitting sometimes has it’s own timeline. I also have another scarf that I finished around the same time but haven’t blocked yet. It’s the Windward scarf from Heidi Kirrmaier knit up in a solid light gray. I like the pattern and the yarn is soft, but I’ve realized I don’t want a light gray scarf. It might be different if the yarn were more silver-ish, but it’s not—it has a bit of a warm undertone to it that just doesn’t look good wrapped around my neck. I thought about ripping it out and using the yarn for something else but I like the pattern so I’m thinking of dyeing it. Anyone have any experience over-dyeing something? The yarn is a merino/nylon superwash blend, and I was thinking I might try to dye it blue. I’ll take any tips you’ve got!

Scarf for a Rainy May

(Syracuse peeps: Note the title pun. This town is getting under my skin.)

From what I’m hearing around the internets, it seems like Syracuse is in the same boat as a lot of people. Last week it was sunny and warm. Today it is cold and rainy. Spring is fickle as hell like that. The upside is that with leaves and blooms on the trees and flowers starting to spring from the ground, the rain isn’t quite as depressing as it was, say, a month ago.

Today I’m getting a lift from this scarf that I recently finished knitting.

This is the first project I’ve made with the yarn I got for my birthday. It’s the first thing I knit after a four or five month break. Of course, when the urge to knit struck again, it was one of those sunny and impossibly warm 80 degree April days where it seems stupid to even think about wool. Luckily (for me, at least) today’s weather is letting me get some wear out of this until it gets stashed away until next fall.

The color in the first picture is more accurate, but this one shows you what it looks like un-scrunched. Additional details on Ravelry.

I would say something generic and encouraging like “Hope to see the sun again soon!” but I’m not sure that’s an accurate indication of how I feel. Because the truth is that I am extraordinarily pale and heat makes me hateful. So keep on raining. Stay cool. Especially since I’ve got another scarf in the works.