Rebel Two Shawl

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At the beginning of the year Lesley Anne Robinson released her Rebel shawl pattern in honor of Princess Leia, a beloved Star Wars character played by actress Carrie Fisher, whose death late last year shook the world. It was not until I was exiting the theater with my family after viewing Rogue One for the first time that I learned of her death. Having just watched her on the big screen–a dear and familiar character playing in a fresh story line–I was quite impacted by the news. I was devastated. Needless to say, I added Lesley’s Rebel shawl to my queue immediately following its release.

The original Rebel shawl is a one-color brioche project (which I would have added to my queue regardless of its association with Carrie Fisher), but soon after Lesley started posting teasers of a gorgeous two-color version (Rebel Two) to be released in May. I was more than a little anxious to knit this version and started it promptly after it became available. Both versions can be purchased here.

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I selected yarns from my stash for this project: Hedgehog Fibres Sock in colorway “Bramble” for the main color and Old Rusted Chair 2 Ply Sock in colorway “Strange Magic” for the contrast color.  I had been saving my skein of Bramble for something special–something not socks because I find that the Hedgehog Sock yarn has too little twist for my liking in socks. The Old Rusted Chair yarn is more versatile and would have been suited just fine for socks, but it paired and contrasted so nicely with the Bramble that I declared these two a combo and set to work.

Below is a video I originally posted on Instagram demonstrating the Twisted German Cast-On, which is the method called for in the Rebel shawl pattern.

Progress…

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One of the best things, if not the best thing, about two-color brioche is the automatic reversibility you get with such a project (see above). With reversibility comes flexibility. Do I want to wear a mostly pale-toned shawl today, or do I want a nice dark one to stand out against an already pale ensemble? Choices are good!

Lesley Anne Robinson (aka Knit Graffiti Designs) never ceases to amaze me with her creativity and excellent pattern writing. Of all brioche projects I have knit, hers are the most clearly written, so if you are new to brioche and want to give it a go I highly recommend choosing one of Lesley’s patterns. To view all of her designs visit her Ravelry page here.

Many thanks to my patient daughter for modeling my completed Rebel Two shawl!

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Rad Batad

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When my dear friend Corrie @corriekingsley asked if I’d like to join her in knitting a Batad, I was all in. I had seen many posts of flashy and spectacular Batads on Instagram, so I needed little convincing.

The Batad is a unique, welt-filled cowl pattern by West Knits. Welts are tubal sections of stockinette that are created by folding the knitting over itself and knitting a row of stitches together with the corresponding stitches at the base of the stockinette on the purl/reverse side. Think of them as sections of I-cord worked parallel to the fabric at regular intervals, which is contrary to the perpendicular orientation of the I-cord bind-off. The video below demonstrates how to work a welt:

My Batad is knit with Woolen Boon Boon Classic in the colorways Commando and Dirty Chai. My feelings for stripes are bearable, at best, and since the welts give off a stripey appearance I decided on a fairly neutral color route to play down the stripes a degree or two.

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The Batad is composed of nine welts and nine short row sections and ends with an I-cord bind-off. For my Rad Batad I knit only eight welts and short row sections before calling it a day. Not only do I prefer the eight sections to nine for a cowl, but by Welt No. 8 I was simply gassed on welts. I have friends who have suffered nightmares from those welts. It’s no joke.

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The camel tone of the Dirty Chai colorway matches my Fringe field bag perfectly and has got to be one of the richest browns in the universe. It’s like a golden chocolate. It doesn’t get any better than that!

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This small project results in a light piece for combating the frigid indoor conditions set by my husband and other merciless beings who collaborate with the AC every summer. I think it will also be quite ideal for fall. To view my Rad Batad project page on Ravelry click here. Go ahead and knit yourself one!

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Ugh, my hair is such a humidity wimp…

Slushies Top

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The Slushies Top is an elegant, airy tank from the Spring/Summer 2017 collection of We Are Knitters, an international brand that offers everything-you-need knitting kits featuring chic patterns and high quality yarns. This pattern uses diagonal eyelets to form large diamond shapes throughout the fabric and includes We Are Knitters Peruvian Pima cotton yarn, which is available in an assortment of enticing colors. I chose Light Salmon, a pinkish nude color (rose gold?) that is strangely lacking in my wardrobe–until now! The kit for the Slushies Top can be purchased here. Below is a video showing all that is included in the kit:

Folks, this yarn is soft! So so so so soft. Luxuriously soft. Ideal for summer soft. In fact, knitting with this velvety goodness was so pleasurable that I was a little sad to reach the end of the project.

When I first started my Slushies Top I got in a rush and misread the chart included in the pattern instructions. Oops! The result was a stockinette fabric rather than garter (see below), so I frogged it and started anew–this time with acute concentration. I did quite like the stockinette version, however, so it would be nice to try again. For those of you interested, simply purl all of the wrong side rows.

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The top is knit in two pieces–a front and back–which are worked identically other than the neckline shaping. Since the cotton yarn is a worsted weight it knits up quickly, and the instructions are clear and easy to follow. Once the pieces are finished the sides and shoulders are seamed together.

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Upon completion I realized the Slushies Top is actually more of a tunic, which is perfect for tights. It also looks great partially tucked in with jeans or shorts. I like to keep it slouchy, and an off-the-shoulder look would be easy to pull off. However it’s worn, it feels super comfy!

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From the yarn to the pattern, the Slushies Top gets an A+ from me! I look forward to making another We Are Knitters project sometime down the road.

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The tag below was included in the kit. It’s such a nice touch!

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A Jump on Summer: My Self-Striping Smooth Operator Socks

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These cheerful, self-striping socks were such fun to knit that it felt like summer, hence my naming the project Jump on Summer. The juicy yarn is from Nomadic Yarns and is called “Wanderlust.” This shop, whose talented owner/dyer is Ashley Aguilar, offers a vast selection of self-striping sock yarn, as well as other yarns and accessories. In fact, I have been holding a ball of “Harry”–a self-striping, Harry Potter-themed creation–from Nomadic Yarns for some time now, and I’m growing quite anxious to knit up a fabulous pair of socks with it.

 

*The slice of carrot cake above right uses my all-time favorite recipe. It’s from Epicurious and can be viewed here.

For some reason I can no longer recall, I started knitting these socks one-at-a-time, which I soon found agonizing, so I combined them for two-at-a-time after working the cuffs. The pattern is called Smooth Operator Socks and is authored by Susan B. Anderson. I’ve knit many, many of her patterns, and let’s just say she knows her stuff! I had knit with self-striping sock yarn before, and the appearance of the heel (unless worked in a contrast color) can be unsightly, so I was eager to try a pattern that produces a more attractive heel. The Smooth Operator Sock pattern clearly fit the bill, and my socks fit perfectly.

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I plan to use this pattern for my Harry socks, and it goes almost without saying that I highly recommend it!

Hollows Shawl for Mother’s Day

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When I decided to knit my mom a shawl for Mother’s Day I had no specific pattern in mind–which conveniently allowed me to relish making good use of the pattern search tool on Ravelry. After a little exploring I narrowed it down to a few shawls and ultimately decided on the Hollows Shawl by mandarine’s. While I had not previously knit a pattern by this author I was drawn to the simple ebb and flow design and felt strongly that my mom would enjoy this tranquil shawl.

I believed a soft color would be best for Hollows, and it occurred to me that I had not yet knit my mom anything in baby blue–though it is one of her favorite colors. I quickly headed straight over to the Quince and Co website, feeling confident they would carry the shade I had in mind in their Finch fingering weight yarn. I was right!

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The colorway is called “Stream,” but to me it’s appearance is more reminiscent of a cloud-and-sky soup on a less than vibrant day. It’s a lovely subdued shade that complements the calmness of the design, and vice versa.

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The simplicity of the pattern combined with its graceful eyelets and wavy lines (created by knitting short rows) seemed somewhat in contrast with the jagged picot edging called for in the instructions. I’m not a fan of picot, not to mention the work it requires as a bind off, and I also suspected my mom would not care for it either. Therefore I left it out and worked a simple bind off instead at the last eyelet-completing row (see below).

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I’m very happy with the results, and now that my mom has seen it I can proudly report that she is delighted with her Hollows shawl. Happy (early) Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

Magnetic North Mash Potato Socks

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A lot of yarns do not photograph well or consistently due to their color and/or texture. This yarn from the fantastic Indie dyer Lauren of Old Rusted Chair is one of them, despite being among the most beautiful colorways I have ever seen. This magical, speckled, blue/purple tonal colorway is called “Magnetic North,” and I have found the camera is not fond of it or of most any bright cool-toned yarns, especially periwinkle shades like the above. Yet, after a little elbow grease I managed to get a couple of decent shots. Just trust me that in real life this yarn is to die for!

The pattern is called Mash Potato Socks and is authored by Verena Cohrs of The Wool Club. The stitch pattern creates a lovely texture, but yes, it does get a little tedious and mind numbing after a while. I knit mine two-at-a-time and worked a Fish Lips Kiss Heel in lieu of the heel flap.

My Mash potato socks turned out a little big around the circumference of my foot, which is strange because I went with the second smallest size, and with a foot circumference of 9″ I have never knit a pattern in the smallest size, so perhaps I knit the pattern stitches too loosely. All in all it was a lovely pattern that I will likely knit again, only in the smallest size.

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Below you can see delicious detail of the Magnetic North yarn. Ugh, I just sighed. Again. It always has that affect on me!

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Aila Tank

I found the pattern for the Aila Tank on Ravelry late last spring, and while I started knitting it in early summer it took me nearly a year to complete it. Why, you ask? See below…

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The pattern, written by Isabell Kraemer, calls for the Quince and Co yarn Sparrow, which is 100% organic linen in a fingering weight. If you’ve visited Quince and Co’s website then you know that picking a color is no small task. (There are literally dozens of colors from which to choose for nearly all of their yarns.) However, for the Aila tank I was drawn to this scrumptious 24-karat gold, called Maize, like a moth to a flame. And that was that.

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I can’t recall having knit with linen before, and I learned a few things. Linen yarn is stiff and ropy, much like bamboo, and was not easy for me to knit with. It felt like it retained some memory, and the wiriness kept curling away from me and slowing down my knitting. Furthermore it was nowhere near as comfortable on the fingers as wool, which is my favorite fiber and pretty much everyone else’s. Nevertheless this rigidity makes for exceptional stitch definition (hence, Kraemer’s wise inclusion of lace for the bottom of the tank). The downside is that great stitch definition renders the knitting less forgiving, so mistakes stick out like a sore thumb (I was fortunate to catch and correct mine early), and it became clear that I needed to keep my joins at the seams like my life depended on it and weave in the ends very neatly on the inside to avoid unwanted bumpy regions.

Not only was I a bit surprised by the linen’s stiffness but I was actually a little shocked at its weight. For a fingering yarn it felt quite heavy. One 4-ply 50-gram skein of Sparrow measures 168 yards; by comparison, one 4-ply 50-gram skein of Finch (a 100% wool Quince and Co fingering weight yarn) measures 221 yards. Wearing the tank leaves no doubt as to its heaviness. It almost tugs on rather than hangs from the shoulders, like there’s a kid down there pulling on the hem. This sensation is not something I am accustomed to in a summer tank.

All this is not to say I don’t adore my Aila tank, because I do! After washing and blocking the tank is comfortably airy and drapes quite nicely. They say you can even throw handknit linen garments into the dryer, but I wanted to spread out the lace and air dry my Aila for best effect. I knit mine a little big for that flowy, oversized look that I’m in love with right now. It might not be cozy, but sometimes cozy is overrated–especially in summer, right? The simple lace design is quite stunning upon completion, but without the linen it would have been far less visible. The linen is what makes this pattern top-notch.

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I find that the yarn and pattern are a perfect match, and I plan to wear this tank all summer long!