Cloisters Wrap in the Wild

I just love how this shawl turned out! 
Cloisters Wrap designed by Mariam Felton
Yarn – Lost City Knits Oak Barn Merino
Colorway – Salsa Dancing

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Monogamy? Now?

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Generally speaking, I’m not monogamous in my knitting. When it comes to patterns and yarn I just haven’t been able to commit to one project until completion in a long time.

If we’re making a quick run into Tulsa – usually one project is in my knitting bag. But the instant it becomes an overnight trip the bag is loaded up with two, three, or maybe even four projects. Most of these are likely to be already on the needles and in various stages.

One project is the mindless type — for which I’ve already memorized the lace pattern or maybe a simple sock that needs no thought. These are great for times when I’m expected to carry on a conversation or there’s a lot of environmental distraction and I may need to put the project down from time to time. This project is great for a knitting night with friends or when wine or beer is consumed.

Also in the bag is a slightly more challenging project — or two — that requires the pattern to be handy. With these projects I can still listen or manage to answer questions. Usually the stitches are readable and I can keep track of where I am even if I have to stop in the middle of a row. Sure I prefer to finish a row before I have to put a project down but that’s not always an option. This type of project is the bulk of my knitting life.

There is often an extra already wound ball of yarn, with a pattern, and the appropriate sized needle in the bag. This I consider Emergency Knitting. You just never know when you’ll be stuck somewhere and finish what is already on the needles. Or maybe you’ll get bored – or drop fifteen stitches and need concentration to surgically repair the project before continuing.

At home there may be a project that doesn’t travel. It’s either a new design or seriously intense lace knitting. 

I wonder sometimes when I heft my knitting bag onto my shoulder and walk out the door if I’m more than a little obsessed with having enough projects with me. When I’m carrying around three or four projects in-progress, what is the likelihood that I’ll finish anything anytime soon?

This past weekend I finally finished my Cloisters Wrap. This lovely shawl was the first new project I cast on in January of 2011. Last month when I thought (laughing is allowed) that I’d join my friend Kat’s challenge of Frog or Finish or as she called it S*%$ or Get Off the Pot I pulled out this half complete shawl and was determined to finish it. There were some slight distractions along the way but here I am six weeks later with a finished project.

As  you know I’ve been dithering for weeks over which yarn to use for my Magpie Shawl. It’s a gorgeous pattern and I want the yarn to be just right. I’ve actually cast on twice and decided the yarn wasn’t the right thing. So Magpie is on the back burner for now until the perfect yarn calls to me.

Currently in my knitting bag are two projects and one book. One project on the needles and one not yet cast on (Emergency Knitting). In progress is Bridgewater by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed fame. The first time I saw this project on Ravelry I queued it and bought the pattern. I was that smitten.

The body is a HUGE garter stitch square knit from corner to corner – beginning and ending with one stitch. Garter stitch for days. Weeks likely. Mindless and hypnotic garter stitch.

Then stitches are picked up along the four sides to create the knitted on lace. This is the part that blew my mind. I’ve done minor amounts of picking up stitches, but not a full-on-hard-core-pick-up-and-knit project like Bridgewater. The sweet thing that I keep telling myself is that when you pick up along four sides – you’re knitting in the round – and not the purl-across-the-wrong-side-game. Surely that means it’ll go faster right? Purling stitches require more time than knitting stitches. Now, to be honest, most of my lace projects are in the 400-800 yard range. Bridgewater calls for 1500-1800 yards. That’s a lot of yarn!

Initially I planned to knit Bridgewater using the light silver/gray of the Hearth colorway in Oak Barn Merino. It’s the perfect weight for the pattern and there were so many lovely gray finished Bridgewaters in Ravelry. But – my skein was a little shy of my comfort zone at 1440 yards. After querying several people who’d finished the shawl I decided to dye two skeins of new yarn. I looked at all of the finished shawls on hand and gave some heavy thought to what color I didn’t have but would likely wear. This thought resulted in a new colorway for Oak Barn – Red Earth. A rich deep burgundy with red and brown undertones.

I’m very happy with how Bridgewater is coming along. There are over a hundred stitches on the needle (this after starting with just one). Sure it’s all garter stitch but I feel no pressing urge to cast on another pattern. This is a pretty weird mindset for me. I’ve had a few strange flashbacks in the past two days. I remember the days when I first began lace knitting and was completely monogamous. Admittedly this was before Ravelry, and before the barrage of stunning shawls that I see whenever I check the 11shawls2011 forum.

So I’m asking myself – will I be monogamous with this project? If so, why this project? 

Part of the answer to the second question may be timing. In just over a week we’ll be taking off for a few days on a road trip to New Orleans. One big project for car knitting sounds pretty serene to me right now. I have no expectations that I’ll finish the project on the trip. I want to enjoy The Crescent City, the sights, the smells, the music, the food – my friend Jessica and her husband Chaz, and Chris’s friend Elliott with whom we’ll be staying. Jessica has shared all sorts of fabulous suggestions for restaurants, museums, music venues, and even yarn shops. We’ll be in NOLA for Voodoo Fest and Halloween. It’s going to be fun…

While downloading a few quick snapshots of Cloisters blocking I discovered an additional photo taken at a recent show that I think you’ll enjoy. This lovely dragonfly landed on a finished shawl.
I was quite charmed by its presence.

Lace OTN and a Quandry

I’ve spent the past few days knitting on an old WIP, the Cloisters Wrap. It’s coming along very quickly and I’m feeling a little guilt over the fact that it was the first lace project I cast on in 2011 and it’s now October and still unfinished. Only four repeats of the next to the last chart, the final chart and a bind off remain. I’m determined to finish it quickly – and before casting on another project.var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx-x”);pageTracker._trackPageview();

The colorway is Salsa Dancing in Oak Barn Merino. It’ll be perfect to chase away the dreariness of any winter weather we may, don’t you think? 
My next lace shawl has already been decided. I’m very excited about casting on Magpie by my friend Veronica over at Wandering Cat Studio. Isn’t it lovely!!
My initial plan was to use Oak Barn Merino in colorway 1970’s (a warm harvest gold) and some copper beads that I bought at The Bead Merchant in Tulsa. But when I was at the shop I also bought bought two bags of Silver-lined Alexandrite (They have the barest hint of lavender in them!). They’ve been on my desk calling a sirens song and I may have to switch yarns just so I can use them. Fortunately I have a skein from the line of sock yarn that I sold last year set aside and it’d be quite pretty with the Alexandrite beads. 
Decisions. Decisions. 
So – do I use half of a skein of Oak Barn and the beads that match, or use the full skein of Lost City Sock and the beads that match, therefore saving the 1000 yards of Oak Barn for another project? Note that the Magpie calls for a light sock weight yarn – not that that’s ever stopped me from using lace weight before. 

The Frog or Finish Challenge

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My friend Kat (one of the moderators of the Tulsa Ravelry forum) has challenged the Tulsa knitters to a “Sh%# or Get Off The Pot” September. The gist is that the people who accept the challenge go through their WIPs (works in progress) and either frog or finish.

That’s a mighty big challenge! I don’t know very many knitters who are completely monogamous, working on one project – start to finish – before casting on another. I’m sure they’re out there – I just think they’re a minority in the knitting world. Could be I’m just being defensive though.

Usually I have one to three active knitting projects in rotation. And… maybe five or six in various stages. Okay, maybe seven or eight. I deny any rumors of ten or more WIPs.

I have accepted Kat’s challenge. She’s a big enabler who likes to encourage her friends to cast on new projects. I think this is her balancing that “You can do it!” cheerleading. Of course it’s likely she may just have a need to clear out her own WIPs and wants some company.

First off – it’s wise to be honest about what is “active”.

1) The Burlesque Knee Socks are rocking along. I’ve almost finished the first one. They’re in the regular knitting bag. They get a lot of action, in fact, they’re further along than this photo.

2) There’s also the Bryn Mawr Skirt, which I haven’t even had a chance to blog about because it’s so new. I bought the yarn on Monday. It’s been a hectic week so I’ve only had a little time to knit on it, but on the drive to/from Tulsa for the market I managed to get almost all of the first ball of yarn (and it requires five) finished. That’s 20% complete!

3) Then there are the Lingerie Socks. They’re still “active” – sort of. I’m on the foot of the first sock and it requires quite a bit of attention. I’m still in love with them, but they’re too intense for me to work on right now.

I still haven’t cast on the Vest #20 but the yarn is in a baggie with the pattern. It’s safe from “frog or finish”.

4) In the back up knitting bag is my Cloisters Shawl. It’s gorgeous and I intend to finish it this fall or winter. It’s fairly mindless so it’ll be a good project to work on during down times and travel to/from festivals. I can stop in the middle of a row and still not lose my place.

5) There is also the sweater from hell, the Nonpariel. It’s really down to the sleeves and button band but call me bored to tears. After this much work I can’t frog it. It must be finished this fall/winter.

6) I have the big llama stole with horn beads on gigantic needles, it’s in rotation still and sees some love at least once a week. On the seat of the rocker is a good place to keep it visible. It probably just needs ten hours to finish.

Uh oh… that is six WIPs. I haven’t even delved into what exists in the bins or the cubbies. Oh and there’s that wicker basket beside the rocker….

This could get ugly.

More to come…

Wearing Crazy Pants

When I finished the Maaema Scarf I made this deal with myself to finish one other WIP before casting on a new project. Usually I’m pretty good at this little game. Not this time though, before long I found myself pulling on a pair of crazy pants.

First I worked diligently on my Nonpariel Sweater. The goal was to finish it up before the one year mark, which is in May. But when I finished the second front and pinned it to the back section I knew I was in trouble. The armholes were too short to reach my shoulders so I created a little saddle shoulder section and seamed the body together. It looks decent. But I lost steam and haven’t started the sleeves yet.

Nonpariel Sweater
Nonpariel Sweater

To divert myself from the notion that the sleeves on Nonpariel would probably need tinkering to make them fit I cast on the Moonlight Sonata by Kay Meadors using a new black dyed llama yarn in lace.

Midnight Sonata

(I know I know – it’ll be up in the online shop this week) I’m cheekily calling the colorway Amy Winehouse because it reminds me of her lines of mascara. (It’s available in Oak Barn too – well when I get it up on the website anyway.) This is a sweet little crescent shaped shawl, mostly stocking stitch with beads until you get to the border. It’s going nice but beads aren’t always good in the car. I felt a little guilt and the crazy pants were snug when I tried fastening them after starting the new shawl.

Overdyed cashmere & a treat!

Then because I was a few days in deciding whether to use size 6 or  8 beads I cast on a second Maaema. The new one is done in a dark red cashmere cobweb, which I bought and overdyed because I wasn’t happy with the original terra cotta colorway. I love how the cashmere looks in the red and the pattern. The only hitch is I’m getting just a bit of catch on the joins of my interchangeable KP needles. Considering how smooth these joins are and that I’ve never had that happen before I think it owes to the lightness of the cobweb cashmere.

Maaema #2

The crazy pants were starting to get a little looser with two new lace projects on the needles. I was dyeing last week and came up with a new colorway, Extra Virgin, that has me over the moon. I’m particularly taken with the Extra Virgin in sport weight llama. In fact, I decided it needed a new pattern. Monday night I finished the hen scratches on graph paper and am ready to cast on. I’ll have something to show soon.

Extra Virgin in Llama Sport

 I’ve managed to reach the halfway point in my Cloisters Stole and the bright orangey/red of the Salsa Dancing colorway in Oak Barn never fails to cheer me. Maybe this colorway should be encouraged for people suffering from chronic sadness, bouts of miasma or saved for dreary day knitting when its positive effect is most needed.

Cloisters

Saturday at the Herbal Affair in Sand Springs was wonderful. It was a bit nippy in the morning but we wore layers and began peeling them off shortly after setting up. The whole day was sunny and a steady stream of business. I never had a chance to leave the booth other than to grab a quick sandwich. There were old friends, family, and new friends to talk to, and customers to enjoy. One customer spotted the Maaema and said – “That’s Estonian! My husband is Estonian. His mother grew up there and he speaks it fluently.” I was jazzed to chat with them. He roughly translated the word nupps (the nupps that I love) as buttons. I like the way that sounds, buttons, way better than telling people they are like bobbles which have the negative connotations of bulky 1980’s sweaters.

As I was helping another customer who was looking at the Maaema and buying yarn, and a second customer who was asking about the merino/angora for another project I got to wondering about how the Maaema would look knit in the merino/angora in Autumnal – the soft yellow. It’s been on my mind for two days now. If the original knit in 400 yards of lace was 60 inches long, how long would a scarf knit in 220 yards of light fingering be?  I may have to wind a skein and find out. Ahhh the crazy pants are getting soft and easy to button now.

Merino-angora autumnal
Merino Angora in Autumnal – will it become a Maaema? Only the Crazy Pants know…

Tuesday morning I woke up from a dream about knitting a large shawl from Haapsalu Sall by Siiri Reimann and Aime Edasi using the white Estonian yarn I bought last year. The fact that I’m writing this all down at 4:00am is another testament to the crazy. But really – I think I can wear the crazy pants comfortably now. They’re like favorite old Levis. Soft and warm and a little bit holey – kind of lacy in fact. Can’t you see a beautiful white lace shawl that takes forever to knit worn with a pair of faded Levis and maybe a leather cowboy hat?

Haapsalu Sall – inspiration
What do you knit when wearing Crazy Pants?
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Wearing Crazy Pants

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Monday Progress Report!

Last night I took a few minutes to knit a couple rows on my Very Girly Pretty Rose Thing. It’s coming along wonderful! I really like the pattern – yarn combination on this project. The softness of the merino/lambswool/angora is perfect for a cowl that will cozy up to your neck with incredible softness. There’s a KAL starting on the LCK Ravelry Forum – come join us!

I’ve also been working away on my Cloisters (MimKnits) in the Oak Barn Merino colorway of Salsa Dancing. It’s hard to catch the color on this because it’s so warm and bright! This is my “take along” project. The rows are simple enough that it makes for good car knitting and even public knitting.

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Just to give you a hint of what’s to come….

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What’s on the needles…

When you happen to have the world’s scrawniest wrists you get creative with mittens to keep the cold out. My Buffalo Gal mitts are wonderful and I love ’em dearly but they are a little loose around the wrist. If it’s cold outside and the snow is blowing (like it is now in Oklahoma) you don’t want cold wrists.

So here you see my Lotus Mittens with a little something extra started. What’s that you ask? Extra needles? Why yes – there are a few extra needles. When I finished the cuff I decided to knit into one of the last rows on the non-public side to begin a facing for the cuff. Hopefully this will keep cold air from whipping up inside my mitts and chilling my hands. I don’t think I need to line the entire mitts – they’ll fit fine because although my hands are small they aren’t quite so skinny as the wrists (I have skinny ankles and ears too truth be told. The rest of me is normal – I swear).

Lotus Mittens

I’ll knit back down to the ribbing and attach the lining at that point. Then pick up where I left off at the top of the cuff and knit up the hand per the pattern. I know – it sounds a little crazy but having cold wrists just isn’t fun.

I also made a little progress recently on the Cloisters Shawl. The first chart is finished and I’ve begun the second.  I love how it’s looking so far. Incredible pattern – very fluid. Another hit from Mimknits.

Cloisters Wrap

And my Sangiovese Stole is rocking along wonderfully! I’m extraordinarily pleased with this one. Check out that grape leaf in the first chart! Just a couple more repeats of the second chart and I can begin the border on this end. Then I’ll start the second half and join the two at the middle. The sample is knit in Llama Bamboo lace weight, the colorway is a dark purple called Claudia (which will be available in the online shop soon. )

Sangiovese

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