Cast-On Monday: Wicked Abstract, Deep Water Echo, Mystery Archangel

Because sometimes I simply cannot help myself, this week I cast on for some shawls.  Not one, not two, but THREE new projects.  Ack.

First up: CEY’s popular Abstract with some gorgeous cashmere yarn I picked up at such a discount that I am ashamed to admit it in public.  I have 136 grams of Wicked, and I am making the softest most beautiful-est shawl/scarf ever. It is completely spoiling me for all other yarns forever, because knitting with cashmere is like … well, like nothing else I’ve ever knit with. Yum.  The work is humming right along — should be a quick project to finish.

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Later in the week, I got really impatient waiting for the next clue on a mystery lace KAL to come out, so (logically) I cast on for a Echo Flower shawl using some Shadow Tonal in Deep Waters.  I’d originally meant the yarn to be something else, but then changed my mind.  So this doesn’t really count as a new project, right?

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This did not cure my KAL waiting blues however, and after seeing so many gorgeous lace-weight projects go up on the KAL thread, I caved in and bought some Malabrigo Lace at the shop, and cast on last night, and finished the first clue.  You can see where this is headed … I finished Clue 3 on the original mystery today, and I’m halfway through clue 2 on the lace-weight one.  Help?  Also: we will not discuss the four skeins of Tosh Light that are already destined for three different lace projects.  Will not!

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New Pattern Release: Babylon Shawlette

Introducing my latest pattern: the Babylon Shawlette!

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Knit from a single skein of sock yarn, this shawlette started out life destined to be a pair of socks … but the yarn wanted more. In sock form, the colors pooled and flashed in an unacceptably foul manner. No matter what I did, the yarn would not cooperate.

 

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PatternBabylon Shawlette

DesignerRachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: $6 on Ravelry

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight (biggie skein)

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Design/Skills Needed: This sinuous shawlette is designed to show off unusual colorways while fighting pooling and flashing with a varying-width edging and tapered ends.  Short rows at the center back curve the shawlette into a shoulder-hugging crescent and add interest to the pattern.  Babylon is worked from tip to tip in one piece — no finishing or picking up stitches! The neck edge has a worked-as-you-go i-cord border for comfort at prevent too much curling.

The trickiest bit of the edging is the yarn-over at the beginning of each wrong-side row.  It’s important to wrap the yarn the same way you would to do a normal stitch–that way, it stays open and creates a pretty loopy edge. The extra effort is worth it: a pretty edge that doesn’t roll and isn’t garter stitch, yay!

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FO Friday: Castlevania

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I finished my Wilhemina Shawlette! Have you noticed that I am completely addicted to one-skein, fingering-weight shawlettes?  Talk about instant gratification!

Clewe, my 10-month-old Border Collie, “volunteered” to show off his most excellent STAY and pose with the FO:

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Project: Castlevania

Pattern: Wilhelmina Shawlette

Designer: Chrissy Gardiner

Available: as a single pattern for $6, as part of the most excellent What Would Madame DeFarge Knit? for $16.95.

Yarn: Knit Picks Imagination in Castle Walls

Thoroughly addictive and beautiful lace pattern — a truly enjoyable knit. I ended up adding several extra repeats of the edging, in order to use up as much of my skein as possible. I really like the visual effect of these extra repeats.  Imagination worked beautifully for this pattern — it’s so soft and pretty, I’m almost done being mad at it for felting when made into socks ;).

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Cast On Monday: the all-BMFA edition

Last week, I sat down and took a good hard look at my Transition Point socks (from the May 2011 BMFA Sock Club shipment). I’d finished the leg on the first sock, and had started the heel turn.  I had been trying on the leg obsessively as I worked, because I’d already frogged and restarted twice due to fit issues. So, the leg fit … but it didn’t feel very good the diagonal slipped-stitch lines pulled and tugged, and although I’m not crazy-sensitive, I am bothered by binding clothing. Then there the odd zig-zag pooling, which was disruptive to the pattern … which, if I am honest, I found a bit over-worked.  Too much going on, without enough coherence. Seed stitch on a sock is another question mark — it just isn’t as stretchy and it’s bumpy next to the skin.  I knew every time I wore these socks (which wouldn’t be that often, because of the binding problem), I would have the seed stitch impressed into my feet after I took them off. So, I took a deep breath, pulled out the needles, and sent this project to the Frog Pond for permanent retirement — consider this an un-cast-on annoucement :).

One thing I do love about knitting is that a project may be over and done, but the yarn is still salvageable. I wound the kinky frogged yarn gently around the cake, and set it aside.  Then, yesterday, I realized that I do still love the colors in the skein, especially when they are mixed up together. Then I thought about how much I like all the one-skein sock yarn shawls out there, and then I thought about this great lace edging I’ve been meaning to use for something … so last night I cast on for a new Remily Knits design: a sideways-knit one-skein shawlette for variegated yarn.

In the midst of all this, the July 2011 BMFA Sock Club shipment arrived! I can’t share photos yet (there are no-spoiler rules to preserve the surprise for all club members), but I can say that I love the yarn, and that one of the two patterns REALLY appealing to me.  I cast on some new socks Saturday.

Kudzu Knit-a-long

I’m absolutely delighted to report that my Kudzu Shawlette pattern made it up to #16 on on Ravelry’s “New and Popular” top 20 list on the Patterns page. (The list refreshes often, so Kudzu may not be there now.) I am quite certain this is due in no small part to the Beginner Lace Knitters group on Ravelry, which chose Kudzu for their June 2011 KAL. Before that KAL was finalized, I also started a KAL on my brand-spanking-new Remily Knits group on Ravelry.  Of course I’m running the KAL on my group, but I’m also lurking in the other group to answer any pattern-specific questions.  Join both, for the best of both worlds!

Mostly, I’m just plain SUPER EXCITED that people like my pattern. It is a huge thrill to see other knitters make something I designed.  Here are a few of the wonderful WIP Kudzu Shawlettes:

New Pattern Release: Kudzu Shawlette

Introducing my latest pattern: the Kudzu Shawlette! This dramatic lacy shawlette, worked in soft, luminescent Cotton Bam Boo, is a versatile accessory for all seasons.  This pattern was designed especially for Classic Elite Yarn‘s free weekly web-letter.

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Pattern: Cotton Bam Boo Kudzu Shawlette

Designer: Rachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: free at Classic Elite!

Yarn: Classic Elite Cotton Bam Boo

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Inspiration: In the southern United States, Kudzu flows over the land like waves caught in time. When I lived in Virginia, I loved to watch the daily progress this “weed” made, overtaking trees and buildings alike. I tried to capture the impression of motion in this shawlette, using lace patterns that transition organically from one to the next.

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The top edge begins with a twisted rib that expands into the first round of leaves.  The second round of leaves, slightly larger, develops from a column of twisted knit stitches left-over from the rib. The third and final round of leaves, larger still, expands to take over the lattice at the bottom edge.

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This lacy shawlette can be worn over the shoulders with a fancy accent button or shawl pin to hold it in place. The full length version can also be wrapped twice around the neck for a more casual look. The midi length is just long enough to go once around the shoulders. 

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Design/Skills Needed: Kudzu is worked flat from the top down.  Because there are so many stitches (especially in the full-length version), I highly recommend using circular needles. In addition to the slightly unusual wrapped stitch in the twisted rib pattern, the pattern also includes more common lace stitches (yarnovers, decreases, double decreases), and knitting and purling through the back loop. The pattern is fully charted, but also has complete written directions. Ambitious beginning knitters will find this a challenging but achievable introduction to lace knitting; intermediate and experienced lace knitters should enjoy the ever-changing pattern.

I would be delighted to answer any questions or help any knitters working on this project.

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I thought it might be interesting for knitters to see a little bit of the design process for this pattern. This is my final sketch for Kudzu, made after swatching, but before the sample was knit. Close observers will notice how much longer the finished sample is, compared to the sketch. In fact, the Cotton Bam Boo stretched much more than I anticipated, even after careful swatching.  The resulting sample was significantly longer than I had anticipated, but I found myself really liking the length.  I showed it to a fashionable younger friend of mine, as well as several different knitting friends, and they all gave it a bit thumbs-up.  I included the “midi” length in the pattern, which is closer to my sketched version.

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I’m also sharing scans of some of my notes and charts from false starts and final versions. I don’t have much commentary on these — just sharing!

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Ravelry Monday: Eomer Shield Tam, Pineapple Delight, Starboard Cape

First Pick: Eomer Shield Tam, by KYMaggie ($3.50)

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!  This pattern uses stranded colorwork and cables to re-create in yarn a beautiful design from the Lord of the Rings.  I think I might depart from the official Rohan colorway — the design uses 7 colors, maybe deep purple, bright sky blue, and silvery gray?

Second Pick: Pineapple Delight, by Larissa Valeeva (FREE!)

What a stunning (and FREE!) pattern! I am thinking of using this with my new Zauberball skein, but I would have to do a shorter version as I don’t have quite enough yardage.  This is worked provisionally downwards for the main lace color, then upwards with short rows to make the top.  The second PDF (with “en” at the end) is in English, even though the title is in Russian.

Third Pick: Starboard Cape, by Courtney Kelley (available in Knitscene, Summer 2011)

This little sleeved capelet is so darn CUTE.  It makes me think of Mad Men for some reason — just the thing for an office girl to wear?