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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The Eyeball Shawl

Is there anything better than a gigantic knit eyeball? I say no!

With one quick glance we all know it’s a West Knits pattern. Like most all of Stephen’s patterns the Eyeball Shawl is bold, eccentric and brilliant–did I say eccentric? In fact many of his patterns are a bit too eccentric for me, simply because I don’t like to dress in a way that calls attention to myself. Slap a neutral-colored knit over my body, and I will gladly fade into the background. That being said, I thoroughly enjoy working with bright colors and striking patterns, and perhaps one day I will burst from my shell in a massive display of color. Baby steps.

 

Yarn selection for this shawl was tricky. The pupil and iris are the focal point (pun intended) of the shawl, and I wanted them to contrast with each other but also coordinate with the white of the eye in a pleasing way. I did a great deal of color research and ultimately decided on the following yarns for what I consider to be the perfect eyeball trinity (from left to right): Old Rusted Chair Sock in “Blue-Eyed Floozy”; Woolen Boon Boon Classic in “I Heart Lisa Frank”; and LITLG (Life in the Long Grass) Fine Sock in “Stone Collector.”

Aside from the entirely (and delightfully) in-the-round construction and beauty of this pattern, the Eyeball Shawl called to me as more than a mere shawl knitting project. I have always been fascinated by the eye as a symbol, and knitting a colorful, jumbo eyeball was an opportunity on which I could not pass.

Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.

–Helen Keller

I find these words astonishing. How did Keller’s blindness increase her vision, rather than abate it? Doubtless her disability taught her that the eye is much more than an organ for absorbing the images around us. The eye conveys how we feel. It cries. It laughs. It can even glower. The eye is the window to the soul, the lens to the mind; it is a powerful transmitter of who we are. As has probably been said before, almost as much can be seen from the outside of the eye looking in as from the inside looking out.

Keller’s words resonate strongly with my teachings to my children: Be confident. Face reality. Communicate how you feel. Be true. All of these things are important because they define our relationships with the people in our lives. Nothing could be more meaningful.

Now–while I think this shawl looks amazing draped and blinking over the shoulders–do I wear it, or hang it in my living room to watch over my family? Decisions…The all-seeing knit shawl–that’s a first!

Sizzle Pop Shawl

I wanted to knit this two-color brioche stunner the second it was released (earlier this year), but contrary to my normal behavior I ruminated on it awhile rather than jumping right in. The pattern is called Sizzle Pop and is authored by Lesley Robinson (Knit Graffiti). Seeing as this is my third completed Lesley Robinson pattern I am becoming quite the fan–as should you all.

At some point it struck me that with the right colors this shawl would make a lovely Christmas gift for my mom. I set to work searching for the perfect yarn and came up with “Dirty Denim” Superwash Sock 80/20 by Spun Right Round, which I found in my stash. For the deeper, contrasting color I chose the colorway “Eclipse” in Black Trillium Fibres Pebble Sock.

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I went with the smaller, triangle version and used size 5 needles rather than size 4. I followed the pattern precisely until I reached the final two rows when I realized I would not have enough Dirty Denim to finish, so I bound off at that point, two rows shy. It did not affect the overall look of the shawl, and I am thrilled with the outcome. I cannot wait for my mom to open her fabulous, blue brioche shawl!

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Westknits 2016 MKAL: Building Blocks Shawl

For the second year in a row, I found myself leaping into the wildly popular Westknits MKAL (Mystery Knit Along). If you are as yet unfamiliar with Westknits, where have you been–locked up in a basement? The host of the MKAL and face behind Westknits is the sensational Stephen West, whose patterns are almost always cutting edge and at the top of the knit fashion industry. You often see shots of him sporting mascara and modeling his flashy knits, or on Instagram alongside excited knitters in various yarn shops he visits as he goes about his travels. Stephen is adored by the global knitting community, and wherever he goes he makes a splash.

Like many knitters, I am drawn to sensational knits, and I cannot always resist the urge to participate in a MKAL–certainly not a Westknits MKAL. Accordingly, with about a week to spare, I scrambled onto Jimmy Beans Wool and picked my colors for the 2016 Westknits MKAL. (I went with Madelinetosh Tosh Sport yarn.) I am not a big fan of red, but this year I decided to work outside of my comfort zone and selected four colors that coordinated nicely, though I was not crazy about all of them. Below are my colors, in order from left to right: Optic, Heartbeat, Havana and Leopard.

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At first I was unsure how this MKAL would go–but that’s the essence of a MKAL, right? The MKAL consisted of four clues with one clue released each week, and while I tried to work each clue in its entirety before the release of the next clue I got a little behind. Here are a few Instagram pics highlighting my progress:

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Each clue instructed to increase stitches and add strips (or blocks) of yarn knit up in different ways, including striping, garter, stockinette, reverse stockinette and brioche. Eventually I finished working all the clues for the Medium size, although I did run out of yarn for the final strip of Optic. (Imagine a sad, devastated-looking emoji here.)

dsc04082In the end I fell in love with this project, especially after seeing so many fabulous results on Instagram. However, I knew the red was not me and that I would be reluctant to wear my shawl, so I decided to gift my Building Blocks to my good friend Adriana (@nanoadri on Instagram) because she loves red and loves the shawl, and most importantly, I think the world of her!