As the dark days of December begin, my exclusive knitting project is my Mingling Daisies shawl.
I know many people think of December as a month of light, and it is in many ways. There are all the lights of the decorations and candles. These are used for many to signify the light that came into the world by the incarnation of Christ as a baby. I believe that, but still to me it is also a month of darkness. As the days grow ever shorter the light gets less and less until that day when we reach the shortest day of the calendar, The Winter Solstice. I do look forward to that day, because it is at that point that it only gets better, right? The days begin the shift to lengthening and it feels so much less oppressive to me that there will be a reversal of the darkness. I no longer put up a Christmas tree, since all the children but one are grown, but we do string up lights. I like the lights as a reminder that the darkness won’t overcome in the end.
But, I digress. The knitting update on my current work in progress is the focus of my post, so let’s get on to that, shall we?
It has been awhile since I have shared anything about this shawl. So, to recap, it is a Stephen West design and I am knitting it with my Classic Merino Bamboo in the Sea Coral color. I hope that two skeins will be enough to complete it. I haven’t weighed the one I am working from, but it looks like more than half of it remains. I currently have about 270 or so stitches on the needles. The final stitch count is 601 and 2 stitches are added on every row. That means that I am close to the halfway point. So, we will see.
It is a relaxing but not boring project. I would recommend it to advanced beginning knitters and experienced knitters alike. There’s something for everyone here. Actually, I think I will close this post for now, brew a cup of tea and get a bit of knitting done on this gray, dreary December day. Happy knitting!
I finished the knitting on Saturday. I weighed my remnant balls of yarn so that I could better plan the way to use it for the fringe. I had 13g of the Honeydew and Fern (the lightest and medium colors) and 30g of the Emerald and Cypress.
I weighed out 13 g of each color to make the fringe from. Then I cut them into 6″ pieces. The next thing to decide was how I wanted to use the colors. Should I use all four colors for each tassel? That was my initial idea. After trying that idea and then an alternate plan of continuing the striping sequence I used throughout the shawl. I decided I liked the alternating colors better. I spent Saturday evening applying the tassels. It was a bit fiddly but I think the alternating colors idea was less so then the mixed color idea would have been.
I washed it Sunday morning and left it on the blocking board until this morning. I used 360 g of yarn for the shawl so it took a bit longer than a lace shawl to be fully dry. I also trimmed the tassels while it was pinned out. I did that by using a piece of plexiglass and a rotary cutter. I did small segments at a time. I cut them all to about 2″.
This project was fun and interesting to make most of the time. I got somewhat frustrated at times because the techniques for the slipped stitches and elongated stitches required using a loose hand. I knew that was necessary to get the fabric to not pucker but it felt wrong to this consistent lace knitter. I worked through it until it started to feel more comfortable, trusting that it would look great when finished and properly blocked. And it does. I am very happy with it. I’m glad I decided to try something new because it’s good to get out of our comfort zone sometimes.
I am back to work on Mingling Daisies. I haven’t taken a recent picture so I will save that for my next post.
What do you think about the MKAL trend? I have never been a joiner and thus far have not paid much attention to the MKAL thing. I did join one or two about ten or fifteen years ago, before they were as popular. I had mixed experiences and figured they aren’t for me.
This is the first time since then that I have felt drawn to participate in an MKAL. It has been a fun change of pace. I am not a big fan of the constant changing of colors and weaving in the ends. It is otherwise entertaining and I love how it looks. I have been working on my Geogradients shawl exclusively when time permits. I am halfway through with Clue 3 at this point.
I do love how the colors look together. This is going to be a spectacular shawl! I saw a knitter wearing one this past weekend at the East Texas Fiber Festival. I wish I had thought to ask for a picture of hers because it was beautiful!
Travel and Knitting
I should have a lot of knitting time for the next couple of days. I am camped out in a hotel this week in between festivals. As I mentioned above, I was at the ETFF last week and I will be vending at the NWA Fiber Fest this coming weekend.
I drove straight to Fayetteville, AR from Texas yesterday. I am comfortably settled in at a hotel with a full kitchen so I did some grocery shopping when I arrived. I will definitely not starve, LOL! I think I may have over bought. It’s still hard for me to shop and cook for one after all my years of cooking for a crew. No worries though, I can take anything I don’t use home. I am glad I don’t have to venture out each day to get restaurant food. It’s okay to do that occasionally, but it gets to be a chore when it’s a daily necessity. I doubt I will even leave my room until Thursday when it’s time to set up the booth.
So, getting back to the MKAL topic, I have another one that I am sort of involved with. I may not join in on the knitting this time but I have been invited to provide Yarn Sets for the NYE MKAL. Hilary Latimer of Criminal Knits is putting on her annual NYE (New Years Eve) MKAL with the theme of Postcards from Abroad. The idea is to imagine your dream vacation destination if money and time were no object. She is launching the pattern clues on NYE, but signups are open now. She hosts her signups and discussions from her group on Ravelry. If you are tempted by the prospect of knitting a big, colorful shawl this winter, go check it out!
Here’s a sampling of a few of the Yarn Sets that I put together. Click the link to all view twenty-one sets. :-)
My quick update today is mainly about my knitting progress on my Geogradients MKAL shawl.
Knitting Geogradients MKAL
I have been focusing all my knitting time to this project since my last post. My poor Mingling Daisies shawl (Ravelry) has had no progress this week. I am enjoying the pattern for it’s variety of stitch patterns and I will get back to it soon. I am a bit obsessed at the moment, with getting caught up with the clue releases on my Geogradients shawl. (Ravelry)
It also is perfect for booth knitting. I took this picture in my booth at SAFF this past weekend. The colors are more true here than in the next one below. At this point I was almost finished with clue 1. I am using the “updated” clue 1 because I joined late and missed the chance to use the original clue 1. I saw a couple of versions over the weekend that were knit with the original clue 1. I liked how they looked and saw nothing offensive about them, but this is what I have and I’m not starting over. It’s fine this way too, I think.
This is where I am now, at the beginning of clue 2. I apologize for the slightly washed out colors here. I’ll try for better lighting when I post the next update. I think clue 2 will be a quick knit. I saw some of what clue 3 looks like and it gets really interesting. That is a great motivator to make quick progress so that I can see it in my colors. If only I could knit all day! Sigh.
As I said above, Geogradients is great for booth knitting. I was in Asheville, NC for the Southeast Animal Fiber Fair aka SAFF, this past weekend. We had good weather and a nice turnout. There are usually lulls between talking to customers, and having an easy project to work on at that time is perfect. I was able to show it off to lots of knitters, and many shared their project progress with me too. I love that!
You may notice that my Flames and Lace Shawl enjoyed a prominent place in the booth. It got a lot of attention and I sold a good amount of the Classic Merino Bamboo in the Ironstone color, for sure. So, it is earning its keep already. I wore my Saltarello (Ravelry) all weekend and it received many compliments as well.
Home Time and Knitting
I have only two more festivals this year, in November, but I have the next two weekends at home. I plan to help in the shop when I can as well as some home making tasks. Knitting on my Geogradients and Mingling Daisies shawls is my end of the work day relaxation and recharge time. I hope to make it all the way through at least clue 2 and start clue 3 by the time clue 4 comes out. I’ll let you know how that goes next time.
It’s not often that I get weekends off but sometimes weekends are for knitting. I was home and my work was caught up so I took the weekend off and did lots of knitting. It was wonderful!
I will get to my current knitting projects that I began this weekend in a moment, but first let me share my finished Saltarello (Ravelry project page) with you. I cast off on Friday morning and took some before and after blocking pictures. The transformation is always so amazing!
I am thrilled with how it came out! I used 160g of Classic Merino Superwash Sock yarn in color Obsidian. That calculates to about 690 yards. I used size 5 US needles. I measured it the day after I took it off the blocking pins, and the relaxed size is 72″ x 31″. So, mine is a bit smaller than Dee’s sample. She notes in the pattern that hers is 75″ x 35″.
I think I want to wear this in my booth this coming weekend at SAFF. It is a good size for me and I am excited to show it off. I hope it will be an inspiration for knitters to want to make it. I just love lace knitting. It is fun and interesting to make and looks so elegant.
New Knitting Projects
Speaking of interesting knitting, I decided to go with the Sea Coral for my Mingling Daisies shawl (Ravelry project page). It is definitely interesting to knit. I had a rough start, which is mainly due to the inflexibility of the I-Cord edging I think. I started 3 times before I got everything going right.
Once I got past the setup and worked it bit of length it started to get easier. The daisy stitch is fun now but I hated it in the first rows. I am also used to working pattern stitches and lace from charts. This is not charted, but it’s pretty easy to memorize so it’s not too big a deal. I am adjusting and using my progress keeping app (Row Counter) to chart my place in the pattern. I really like how it is looking so far and it is fun to work on now.
Knitting the Geogradient MKAL 2023
This is an impulse project that I cast on this weekend along with the above. I can’t explain why I felt compelled to knit this shawl (Ravelry project page). I have never done a Westknits MKAL for several reasons.
I don’t generally like surprises in my knitting.
Despite his obvious gift for designing, I am rarely tempted to knit them. They are not typically to my taste.
I don’t care for garter shawls in lots of colors, but here I am making one. Who knows why?
I think what intrigued me was the colors. I have been watching and even helping some of my customers pick out the colors for theirs and it just seemed like such a fun knit. I dragged out almost every color I have in my Classic Merino Superwash sock yarn and started playing with sets.
I took dozens of pictures and looked at them in gray scale. I narrowed the sets down to three. The greens and the blues/teals fit the gradient criteria the best. It should come as no surprise that I settled on the greens. I love green.
I have completed a bit less than half of Clue 1. I am not going to stress about the time table. I am not concerned much if I fall behind or see clues before I get there. I got started a bit late anyway. I just hope I like where it goes and plan to have fun with it.
Today’s post is focused on my present and future knitting plans.
I have progressed, in my current knitting project, to the last chart, with fifteen rows and the bind off to go. I am excited to soon be adding Saltarello to my booth samples. I think it will be a popular one. I am confident that the color I chose in my Classic Merino Superwash Sock yarn is going to look great after it is blocked. I was thrilled to see Dee’s Saltarello on Saturday. It’s the one in the link above. She came to the Fall Fiber Festival and we had a lovely chat. I am kicking myself that I forgot to get a picture. I can share a few booth pictures though.
Fall Fiber Festival
The festival was great as always. It rained a bit Friday night and Saturday morning, but it wasn’t really much of a hindrance. The rain stopped and the sun came out by 11:00 am. It was lovely cool fall temperatures after that.
Tent shows can be wonderful when the weather cooperates. The natural light makes the yarn look great!
There are some challenges, like condensation in the tents overnight, but that is easily compensated for by covering everything up at night. There is also no electricity at this one, so no lighting in the booth, but that also saves time on setting up and tearing down. Fortunately, like I said, the sun was out so it really wasn’t a problem to leave off the lights. I have battery packs for keeping my devices charged.
While I had all the yarn out on display, I took the opportunity to pick out some potential candidates for my next knitting project. I am planning to use my Classic Merino Bamboo to make a new design that Stephen West released last month.
I have only made one of his designs before, his work is unique and interesting but not usually styles I care for. A customer last month at Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival was buying some of my yarn for the Mingling Daisies Shawl. I immediately knew I wanted to make it.
I purchased the pattern and decided that my Merino Bamboo base was a very close match to the original yarn. That was the easy part. Now, I have to choose a color.
So far I have narrowed it down to these five colors. From left to right they are: Tea Rose, Sea Coral, Fern, Lichen, and Winter Sky. I believe all will show off the stitch patterns well. That was my main criteria.
Next important is colors that are not already in a current booth sample. Technically, only the Tea Rose and Sea Coral qualify here, and the other three are only shown in other bases, so they are still a consideration.
The third criteria is which one will look amazing and be fun to knit? That is, of course, a very subjective question. Dee thought the Sea Coral to be a good choice. What do you think?
It’s time to do some catching up on the last two weeks. I am going to start with knitting stuff this time.
I have made good progress on Saltarello since my last post. I am pleasantly surprised that the color isn’t difficult to read as I am working. Good lighting is a must but it’s going pretty well.
I also got the second sock finished that I began ages ago. This is what I took along with me for booth knitting at Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. I have been wearing these a lot since I got home. They are just the right thing for this time of year. I made this pair from a basic sock pattern in remnants of discontinued colors of my Classic Merino Superwash Sock yarn. I use 68 stitches and US 1 (2.25mm) needles.
Travels and Festivals
In my last post I was in Ohio for the Wool Gathering festival. I am happy to report that fun was had by all and the weather was fabulous. I came home for a couple days and then left for Virginia. The drive up and the booth set up at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival was great. No problems and weather was nice. However, that was about to change for the worse.
Friday night Ophelia arrived in Northwest Virginia and it was not pretty, LOL. When you are in the midst of weather with a name it is never good, am I right? It was chilly, windy and soggy all day Saturday. Sunday was a bit improved, it warmed up some and rain was lighter. It mostly stopped raining by mid afternoon. God bless every one of the festival goers who braved the weather to shop. I also want to extend a special thank you to my customers who couldn’t make it to the festival who placed orders on my website. (((Thank you!)))
I am home at the moment and will be until Thursday. I am heading back up to Virginia for the Fall Fiber Festival in Orange, VA on the grounds of James Madison’s Montpelier. This show is all in tents so we are really hoping for good weather this year. It had to be cancelled last year due to more named weather. I forget which one it was but it was also a hurricane.
I have published my pattern for the shawl. I named it Flames and Lace because there were a lot of other designs already that were using my initial idea, Candle Flames. I have it on the website and on Ravelry for $6.
I did get it written in time for the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival last weekend. I even wore it in the booth and got many compliments on it. We also have a new batch of Yarn Boxes in some woods we have been out of for a time. We have Mahogany, Oak, and Cherry for $60 and Walnut for $65. They were very popular in the booth!
I am currently in Ohio for the Wool Gathering festival at Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs. I will be getting the booth ready tomorrow. This festival is all outdoors in big tents. We usually have pretty nice weather so I hope that holds true this year too. The market opens on Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 10-4.
I have a few hours of downtime this afternoon and hope to get a bit of knitting done on Saltarello. Here’s how it is looking at this point.
I am home for this weekend and have some knitting to show you. I also have a few new things in my home office.
I drove home from Pittsburgh on Sunday . The trip was long but uneventful. The one bonus of a long drive is more audio book time. During my trips from Nashville to Kalamazoo to Pittsburgh and back to Nashville, I had many hours of listening time. I listened to Later by Stephen King,Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner, and began The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadesh.
This was my second time reading Later. I had forgotten how good it is. If you like the movie The Sixth Sense, you might like this book. Secrets of a Charmed Life is very good for fans of historical fiction set in two time periods. The main characters are two sisters separated by World War II and how that affected their lives. I am not even halfway through The Weight of Ink yet. It’s a bit historical too, but in a different way from the other one I read. It doesn’t feel as personal but it is very interesting. The main plot revolves around some manuscripts from the mid 17th century and the people that wrote them in the past versus the ones discovering them in the present. Technically it is the year 2000, so the past to us, but in modern times.
While we are on the topic of home, I want to show you that I added a few things to my home office recently. I added a few desk lamps, a filing cabinet and best of all, a comfortable desk chair. I am writing this post from here and it’s awesome! I really do feel more productive. Now, I just need to use that productive feeling to get my new knitting pattern written for that shawl I finished.
Speaking of that shawl, let’s take a look at the blocking shots and a few after blocking pictures.
I love how the pattern opens with the blocking. This stitch pattern is not hard to work because as you can see it’s pretty solid for a lace pattern. That is the reason I chose to use US 3 needles for the fingering weight Classic Merino Bamboo yarn that I used. Normally I used US 5 needles to knit lace with either of my fingering weight bases. I am happy with the body in this shawl that the tighter gauge creates.
I ended up using almost all of the 3 skeins. The shawl weighs 295g. I measured it after removing the pins. The length is about 84″ and the width about 23.5-24″. The width was more than I had planned but it’s actually a nice size for wrapping up in. I think the width is a result of how I blocked it. The edging wanted to be stretched more and therefore, I went with it rather than making the fabric stretch more lengthwise. You may also notice that I chose to accentuate the shaping of the selvedge that occurs due to the lace. Now, I just need to get the pattern written and published. I would like that to be done in time for my next show in Wisconsin next weekend.
I am finding the stitch pattern easy to follow, even in the dark yarn. I do need good light to work on it but that can be true no matter the color when working lace patterns. I have gotten through the first two charts at this point. I hope it will show the design well in the booth in the dark color. Blocking will help I think. I am using US 5 needles on this shawl to help the stitch pattern open up more. See you next time.
So it has been super busy in my world. I am on the the road traveling between Michigan and Pittsburgh for two fiber festivals. I will get into that first and then on to what am I knitting lately.
Michigan Fiber Festival
Michigan Fiber Festival was awesome as always this year. The weather was lovely for most of the weekend. It did rain some on Thursday morning, which was booth set up day, but after that it was sunny and pleasant. Sunday got a bit hot but it wasn’t too bad. The attendance was good and sales were fantastic. It is so satisfying to meet and chat with other knitters and to help them pick out tools and/or yarn that they will enjoy using. It’s the best!
Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival
On Monday morning I drove from Kalamazoo to Pittsburgh. The drive was fine. I took the Ohio Turnpike since it was the most direct and the fastest route, but oh boy! The tolls are nuts! I paid $48 so far and I think I will be getting another bill from Pennsylvania for the 376.
I arrived at the hotel and got settled in for the week. I had one full day off, which I haven’t had for weeks, and I spent that day just hanging out. I did make a short run to a grocery store up the road and got a few supplies but other than that I spent the day reading and knitting. More on the knitting in a moment.
I got the booth set up on Tuesday and Wednesday was when I had a day of rest. Today, Thursday, is opening day at the Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival. The market is open on Thursday from 12-7, Friday from 10-5, and Saturday from 9-5. I am glad to be here this year. I have been a vendor in this festival since 2008 and only had to miss one year. That was 2021 because of the date change and a prior commitment. I have met many knitters over the years in this area and I look forward to seeing them each year. It’s especially nice when customers show me what they are doing with their yarn from previous years.
What Am I Knitting?
Which brings me to my own knitting. While I was in Michigan, I finished my shawl! Of course I have had no way to block it yet, but I took a picture in the hotel for you.
I haven’t named it yet or written up the pattern, but you will be the first to know when I have that part done. I will be blocking this lovely thing as soon as I return to Nashville. I think that seeing it after it’s blocked will help in picking out a name, but if you have any suggestions I would be happy to hear them.
For the remainder of my down time in Michigan, which was very little mind you, I worked on my second sock in progress.
New Knitting Project
I also picked out a yarn and color to begin a new project. This one is one of Dee O’Keefe’s designs called Saltarello. I decided to use my Classic Merino Superwash Sock yarn this time in Obsidian. Dee used an 80/20 Merino/Silk blend which almost made me choose the Classic Merino Bamboo, which I used for my shawl I just finished above. I has a nice drape which is similar to a wool and silk blend. However, in looking at the stitch pattern, I felt like the crisper hand and better stitch definition of the 100% wool 2 ply spun with a tight twist, would be a nice substitute. I may be crazy for picking the Obsidian, but I think it will be very dramatic if it doesn’t kill me. I am not gonna lie, the garter tab in black was tedious. Once I was past that part it got easier but I definitely need good light to work on it.
I brought my yarn swift and ball winder along because I knew I would be starting this project before I got home. I hadn’t decided on which yarn I was going to use before I left. It is much easier to consider them when I can see them all hanging in the booth. Here I am winding the yarn for Saltarello and the spare skein I need to complete the sock.
This is my progress on the new shawl at the end of the first chart. I think that when it is blocked it will open up and show the stitch pattern well enough. I will reassess after completing a bit more.
It is getting close to the time I need to head over to the Double Tree for the market opening today. If you are in the area this weekend, come on by and stop in to say hello. I am in the Green Tree Ballroom in booths 25-26.