I’m calling this pattern “The Speed of Sound” in honor of the handsome llama who donated the fleece, Mach One of Llama Dreams Argentines.
The fiber is wonderful to work with, not at all like llama I’ve spun before, but it does have the camelid characteristics of being heavier than wool with a magnificent drape but little “memory.”
This shawl is not large, but it is very warm! It hangs to mid-back on me and that’s plenty.
The semi-crescent shape makes it naturally want to wrap around the neck in soft folds. Held in place with a pin or shawl stick, it’s perfect over or under a jacket during this season of layers.
I separated the colors before spinning and created a graduated pattern – my favorite!
It was very interesting to see how different the fibers of each color were, even though this was all one fleece. The white wanted to spin the finest, while the grays got progressively more coarse (it’s all relative – none of the fibers are really “coarse” except in relation to each other) as they got darker. The very darkest gray would have been happier spun up as a worsted weight two-ply, which is what I’ll do for the next project.
Have you tried Argentine Llama yet?
Way back in September Awana, Jean and I went to an annual Dye Day event and turned this –
Shades of Autumn orangey goodness. Three skeins were an odd tangerine color as a result of being first into the dye pot (more on that project another day.) A bit of brown and a bit more red were added until the perfect color began to emerge.
It was a group effort as everyone was lifting off lids and exclaiming over the colors as they simmered. Should have gotten a total Pounds of Yarn & Fiber Dyed that day, but sadly we were all so busy talking it was impossible.
Anyway. The yarn is nice and bouncy, light worsted weight and I knew I wanted to design and knit a simple shawl, putting the yarn on display to its best advantage.
I have always been enamored of the Hap* Shawl – that most practical of shawls, able to stand up to daily use over or under a coat or just tossed about the shoulders on a chilly morning, comforting and finally worn out with love and decided this would be my goal.
I prefer to knit a shawl from the top down, starting with 13 or so stitches and keeping a few edge stitches in garter to avoid that annoying tendency to curl. Having sold all of the Stash Shawls I had on hand during the blitz of craft faires the Sweatshop Girls attended before the Holidays, I knew it needed to work up fast because we’ve applied to a couple more coming up very soon, so a US #10.5 needle was chosen and off I went.
This is the end result blocking on the floor of the Studio –
The center is plain garter stitch with two Ostrich Plumes repeats giving that wonderful wavy edge. The final two rows and bind off were worked plain with a yarn from the same dye pot that started out a natural gray.
A closer look at the wavy edge before blocking –
You might have noticed the blotches of white here and there, a consequence of having the ties a bit too tight in places – the dye couldn’t penetrate to the center of the skeins in those places. While some see this as a flaw, I see it as an Artful Variation, something you just don’t get with factory yarn 🙂
I’ve had it in mind to publish a group of patterns detailing the construction and use of the Hap shawl for some time now. What say you?
* Hap is a general term for a cover-up to keep warm. Traditional Shetland Hap shawls are square in shape, with the “half-hap” being half a square, making this shawl technically a half-hap.
After taking a much-needed week off from the world, we’re back in the saddle and moving forward with 2015 goals, one of which is to get all of my knitting patterns revised, updated and back online for sale. To that end, two free patterns magically (re) appeared on the Starting Over Designs website on a brand new Free Patterns page with links to download them from Ravelry (no, you don’t have to be a member of Ravelry to get the downloads, but, really, if you’re a knitter you should belong to Ravelry. Srsly.)
The first is a simple neckwarmer pattern –
Any yarn, any gauge, make it loose like the model above…er…the neckwarmer is loose, not the model…uh…or make it fit snugly. Either version (and there’s also instructions for a ribbed version – pics if you knit it up and I’ll post with full credit here, please?) has a flared lower end that fits over the shoulders and stays in place under your coat.
Also up is a cuff-down short-row heel sock pattern –
Knit in worsted weight yarn, these socks are a great introduction to the short-row heel and won’t take forever to finish. I always shudder when a prospective sock knitting student expresses their desire to knit socks with “sock yarn,” especially if they’ve never knit with DPNs because it takes freakin’ forever to knit a pair of socks on US#0 needles and if you’re learning the techniques for the first time as well, you’re setting yourself up for an exercise in frustration.
While I’m expounding on socks, let me just say that I knit my socks very tightly and I do it for a reason: back in the early days of my sock knitting career I was learning what gauge was all about (self-taught, not a knitting teacher as far as the eye could see) and what worked for my particular feet and like most newbies I used the gauge and needle size printed on the yarn ball band as a guide.
My socks were successful for three wearings and then the bottom of the heel just gave out. Just. Gave. Out. Gone. All that knitting wasted.
A bit of time under my Thinking Cap and I came to the conclusion that, for me, socks need to be knit quite firmly or they will wear out on the bottom of the heel and at the point of my big toe. The simplest way to get the gauge that works for me is to knit worsted weight yarn on a US#3 needle. The resulting fabric is firm and wears very well. My skin can’t be seen through the fabric when the socks are on my feet and I think this is the most important requirement when knitting socks you want to last awhile.
Now, I’ve been told that my sock knitting gauge is “constipated,” and it’s fine for you to believe that and to scoff, but in the end, I’ve had some of my wool socks for the better part of ten years now and they’re still going strong. Can you say the same?
Where was I? Oh, yes! When I teach a sock knitting class I encourage my students to knit the first pair for themselves using worsted weight yarn and a US#3 needle. The “course” is three classes spaced a week apart and the final class is spent with finishing and discussing changes to be made to future socks to make them even more custom fitted. I have been known to write up a personalized pattern for those who have hard-to-fit feet because I believe the whole point of knitting socks is to have warm feet, but more importantly, the socks should fit their intended feet perfectly.
There are few things in life more enjoyable than custom wool socks on a cold Winter day.
The Opal X-Large socks are finished!
Actually they’ve been done for almost a week, but I wasn’t able to get a picture of them to post.
Opal yarns were all the rage ten or so years ago, and I even knit a few pairs, but the only option was sock-weight and 72 stitches per round on US #1 needles is not something I can knit quickly – I never fell in love with it. I much prefer thicker socks that can be knit in a few days. Or less. I’m an Instant Gratification sort of gal when it comes to my socks 🙂
Lemme just say that Opal X-Large is a delight to work with. The colorways are lovely and who can resist a yarn that makes its own patterns while the knitter cruises along, knitting on auto-pilot? It’s a little splitty, but nice and soft to knit. If it wears as well as the original Opal it will have been a great investment. I’ve already bought yarn for the next pair and am contemplating some sort of simple allover texture pattern to add a little variety.
I’ve always loved a plain stockinette sock for my own use and because of that generally save sock knitting for those times I want a “mindless” project, but lately everyone around me is knitting something a bit more…fancy isn’t quite the word I’m looking for, but you know what I mean – something more than Plain Vanilla socks, and I can feel the tide of peer pressure lapping at my toes…
I’ve left the socks at Knitty Gritty on display for the moment along with some hats until more of the Regulars get swatches and items knit up. I imagine it will be a rotating group of items for a long time to come.
In other sock-related news, the first of my “old” sock patterns has been updated and is now for sale on the website and on Ravelry – I’m SODesigns over there if you want to add me to your friend list 🙂
Looking over the “old” designs it’s clear that some of them will need to be knit again so I can take better photographs – what seemed Just Fine then is Outdated and Boring today. A few of the ladies at Knit Night have volunteered to knit samples for me and I guess that means I can procrastinate no longer – gotta get moving on that project.
Keep an eye on the Knitty Gritty Class Schedule if you’re in the area and looking for classes – I’ll be teaching sock knitting, chart reading, knitting lace and maybe a hat class or two.
What class would you take if you could take anything your heart desires?
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve jumped on Knittingsarah’s KAL for 2014 – to knit on a sock every day all year long, starting January 15. For those of you who have forgotten:
The goal of this KAL is to condition ourselves to incorporate sock knitting into our every day lives.
I was working on a sock when I joined and had a sock class scheduled, which went very well – both students knit a pair of socks with worsted weight yarn and were happy with their new skills. Last Friday the next class started (delayed a week because of snow) and Kristin is motoring along on her DK weight socks. Both classes elected to knit both socks at the same time rather than complete one and have to worry they would forget the techniques for the second sock and forever suffer from Second Sock Syndrome – that dreaded condition whereby a knitter only ever completes the first sock of the pair. I don’t understand, myself – the whole point is to knit a pair and wear them – anything else is just an educational exercise and wastes good yarn 🙂
There have been a few days that I did not knit on a sock, but I have knit most days of 2014, completing five hats (one of which disappeared completely* two of which were ripped out and re-knit because of design flaws that could not be overcome) and three socks so far.
Last week after class I was wandering around the shop, Knitty Gritty, looking longingly at the new Opal yarns Maurine had ordered, when I spied a single ball of something unique: Opal X-Large (the link leads to the exact colorway right at the top of the page – LOVE!!!) Hmmm…I love the colors and patterns of Opal yarn, but it’s fine and requires 72 stitches per round on US 0 or 1 needles and they simply take foooor-eeeveeeer to knit so I tend not to make fine socks. I buy my shoes a half size larger to make up for my sock knitting laziness, in case you need to know.
But this X-Large stuff is DK weight – only 56 stitches – totally do-able! I snatched up the ball and headed home to do some chores.
Over the weekend, I knit both Opal socks to the heel flap (can’t go farther until class, where I’ll use them to demonstrate the flap and heel turn for Kristin) and then picked up another bit of Stash** yarn and started a third sock. Last night I knit the forth sock of what is starting to look like a series in DK weight yarn to the heel flap and picked up the second sock of the most recent worsted weight pair, which is almost ready for the heel turn.
Whew! That’s five socks on the go – a new personal record, I think. I’m usually monogamous with my sock knitting but the Opal has inspired me to get my sock drawer filled up before nicer weather drives me outside for the season.
So far the socks I’ve knit have been plain stockinette, samples for an upcoming pattern, but I’m feeling the draw towards a new cabled design, or maybe something with a simple all-over pattern suitable for beginners. It looks like my Knitting Mojo may have found its way home 🙂
* I suspect the cat has hidden it somewhere, along with a couple of single socks. I haven’t yet found his hiding place, which boggles the mind as we live in a 30-foot travel trailer and I’ve been re-arranging furniture for well over a week now. It couldn’t have just vanished into the ether, could it?
** There is quite a bit of nice wool yarn in The Stash and a rather embarrassing amount of handspun suitable for socks that should be used before buying any more yarn. Space is at a premium and I am determined! The Plan was going so well, four pairs of socks with the boring cream Phildar, the DK socks in dirt-brown that was originally marked for a sweater but refuses to even swatch properly, even the Opal bought I don’t even know how many years ago – yarn into socks, no money spent. This new Opal X-Large has totally de-railed my stash-busting plans. And last night Maurine told me that she’s ordered more…
The knitting blogs are all atwitter about the hottest trend for 2014 – Sock Knitting. I’ve been knitting socks for years, and at last I’ll be on the cutting edge of a trend!
Knittingsarah has proposed a KAL for 2014 – to knit on a sock every day all year long, starting January 15.
The goal of this KAL is to condition ourselves to incorporate sock knitting into our every day lives.
Now that sounds like a resolution I can keep! There was a time when I had a sock project with me at all times and I knit at least a pair of socks a month. When did that change? My sock drawer looks nothing like Susan B. Anderson’s and I hope to remedy that this year with pairs and pairs of wonderful new socks.
I’m sure there will be many popular sock patterns and separate KALs for them, but I will be strong and design my own patterns. There are three or four in the queue at the moment, so inspiration is near at hand, as is a pretty good supply of yarn.
Coincidentally, I will be teaching my first sock class at Knitty Gritty this afternoon. It’s been some years since I last taught. It’s like riding a bike, right? The patterns are printed and all I have left to do is put yarn and needles into a bag of some sort and get cracking!
Despite the lateness of this post, Katniss was finished on time and mailed Express* to Wisconsin in the hope that it would arrive in time for Kristen to enjoy it with her family on her Holiday vacation.
Because of one snafu or another, pictures were delayed, so today I treat you to a couple of phone pics of Kristen modeling Katniss:
The fit is good. The yarn is nice and cushy and I hope it keeps her warm. Next up is a hat to match because there’s more than one skein left over from the cowl. Stay tuned!
* The package did not arrive as promised, so I took advantage of the money back guarantee, much to the irritation of the lady at my local Post Office whose computer had a very hard time coughing up permission to refund my cash.
Recent weather related issues have kept me from finishing Katniss, but it is moving in the right direction.
The three giant I-cords are complete and sewn together, but the pic is on my phone – I’ll update when I find the data cord…
Note to self: having a cute little bag to store the cords is a great idea, but it only works if you actually put the cords back in the bag after each use. Sigh.
The “yoke” for lack of a better word is complete –
And the drape is 8 rows (or about 6″) complete. Fabric is quickly made, but the large size 35 needles are hard on the hands, arms and shoulders. They’re the hollow plastic kind, but it’s still a bit of a work out just manipulating yarn and needles.
The herringbone fabric is lovely, though, and the yarn is very soft and lofty. I think Kristin will be very happy when it’s all done.
Weather here has been freaking C-O-L-D and the roads are covered with snow and ice. Kristin and I had sorta planned to do a late night parking lot exchange so she could have Katniss before she left on vacation, but I can’t ask her to drive over the Coast Range just to pick up a piece of knitting. I’m hoping she will be happy if I put it in the mail to Wisconsin. That way she’ll be able to enjoy it on her Holiday Vacation without trying to travel in this nasty weather.
While at the craft fair last weekend, I was talking with Kristen of Black Kat Beading (sadly she has no blog or online shop, but look for some of her work on my website when I get things up and running) and she showed me a picture of what has come to be called the Katniss Cowl:
There are many versions online, including this free pattern on Ravelry, but the one Kristen chose is the best so far, IMHO, for being close to the movie original but not a slave to design. The original was woven, after all.
Kristen asked if I would be willing to knit her up one, as she doesn’t knit and doesn’t have time right now to learn. I said sure – it was a great excuse to purchase the pattern and make one for myself some time soon 🙂
The Anaid Designs pattern calls for Lion Brand Thick and Quick yarn and once I had agreed to knit it up Kristen ran over to Jo-Ann’s Fabrics to pick up the yarn.
When she got back to the LCCC she mentioned that she’d talked to her Mom on the phone while strolling through Jo-Ann’s and told her about the project. She will be flying back to Wisconsin on the 12th to be home for the Holidays and Mom asked if she would be bringing it back with her. Huh. It is only half a sweater knit with bulky yarn and I’ve been known to knit up a whole sweater in four days with similar yarn…Maybe it was fatigue after a long drive and days of being on my best Public Behavior. I agreed to give it a try. If I manage to pull off this little Holiday Miracle Kristen will be happy indeed!
The pattern starts with three giant i-cords worked with the yarn doubled. The cords are then sewn together and the drape knit in two pieces – this allows for a nice structured look in the end:
The drape is knit in herringbone stitch on US 35 needles (not a size anyone in this little town stocks) so it will be a learning adventure – using such big needles (or something McGyvered together that Will Do) and learning the herringbone stitch. Whee!
So far I’ve finished the two largest i-cords and am working on the third:
Hopefully the final i-cord will be done tonight and I can get started on the first drape section and sew those pieces together at Knit Night tomorrow.
Seems I should get myself down to the local theater to watch The Hunger Games – Catching Fire just for the knitwear alone! Take a look at this scarf:
Although nothing much is happening here on the blog (what second OFFF post?!?) preparations are moving forward for a Craft Event next month. Details later.
At the request of the Knotty Knitters, I have finally re-knit and worked up the pattern for my very favorite cabled neck warmer. The pattern is available for free download on Ravelry. It’s still in rough, abbreviated form, but will soon be updated with charts and more comprehensive instructions. It was screaming to be released into the wild and I could do nothing but comply. There will be a matching hat and gauntlets in the near future, so stay tuned.
Tonight after the weekly get together at Knitty Gritty, Mr. Nosey, Crazy Helper Dog and I will be getting ready for the Great Soap Making Marathon of 2013. This entails fishing all of the equipment and ingredients out from under the kitchen sink, finding a place to stash them out of the way for a day or two while some sort of kitten-proof set-up is devised to house the curing bars.
The soap will then be made (after some recipe research – we never make the same batches from year to year) and set aside to cure for 4-6 weeks until it’s ready for use. The whole place will smell like a French bordello, but there’s nothing to be done about that. No pain, no gain.
It’s slightly more complicated than staging a war on three continents because Revy is Very Determined to have his way and his way is Into Everything. No matter what. Nothing will stop him. Laundry day is a nightmare and he has taken to hiding my (dirty) wool socks.
My new studio space is rumored to be available on November 1, so expect a Moving Day post and some pictures of the space once it’s all set up. Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll post pics as soon as I can get in there to see the space in person. I am over the moon about finally having a place to let my creativity run rampant with no one to put a damper on it. Who knows what might happen?
All this as the leaves turn and fall and the weather gets cooler. The last week has been chilly but sunny every day after morning fog and I am loving it! The soft light is perfect for photos, but I have been inside the office during the short daylight hours, so you will have to wait for another day.
And with that, I must be off. Happy Knitting!