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!

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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!

My Find Your Fade–Neapolitan, Anyone?

 

If you’re a knitter on Instagram then you’ve undoubtedly heard about the Find Your Fade shawl pattern that is making its rounds on a LOT of posts lately. This lacy gradient shawl was designed by Andrea Mowry (@dreareneeknits), who initiated a KAL for the project on January 1st. From then on (if not before) Find Your Fade has spread like wildfire, or like the flu, but a flu that is good for your crafty soul.

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When it came time to start my Fade I was longing to work with neutrals, and I wanted to create a subtle gradient. I had tried to find yarn in my stash to use, but that was a disaster and would have resulted in a very messy-looking shawl. Fortunately a light bulb went off in my head reminding me of Quince and Co’s delicious array of easy gradient building yarns, so I skipped over to their site and decided on these colorways, below and in order from start to finish (left to right): Shell, Dogwood, Petal, Canvas, Chanterelle, Twig and Root.

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These selections highlight an important realization for me: I love to wear neutrals, but they are not as fun to knit up as the bright and exciting speckles I have come to cherish. I’ve concluded that while I enjoy knitting with bright colors the most, the odd contradiction that I don’t necessarily like wearing the brights makes it a bit challenging sometimes when I’m choosing the colors for a project. Then there’s the project itself to consider: Which colors will best suit the design? For me the color-deciding process is nothing short of exhausting, but at least I know I am not alone. (Krissy, I am thinking of you!)

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In the end I am very happy with my dainty, “elegant” (as my friend Maiko put it) shawl, which will coordinate with almost all the outfits (as my friend Corrie observed). Thank you to these three ladies–Krissy, Maiko and Corrie–for a fun KAL!

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If you are at all interested in this project I recommend searching the FindYourFade hashtag on Instagram. There are some tremendously gorgeous Fades out there, and I have yet to see a Fade I do not like. While you’re at it, go ahead and follow Krissy @aftermidnightends, Maiko @hikozoart and Corrie @corriekingsley, whose posts never fail to inspire. And since I never drop names in this way let me go ahead and add my good friend Adriana @nanoadri, whose knitting account is equally awesome.
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The picture above shows the back side of the shawl, which is my favorite side. When working garter stitch and fading colors, the results are less stripey on the reverse side, creating a smoother gradient. Next time I make this project I may weave in my ends on the right side, although that would subtract from the beauty of the shifting double decrease spine.

To see more details about my project visit my Ravelry page here. Knit on!

Sports Shorts

When I found these Sports shorts in a search on Ravelry, I knew I absolutely had to knit myself a pair. It’s a West Knits pattern, so of course they’re stylish and flattering, and let’s face it–shorts are fast. What other wearable, non-accessory type of garment can be knit so quickly?

The pattern calls for Quince and Co yarn in their worsted wool, Lark. Quince and Co is 100% American and 100% natural. I’ve only ever knit with the Lark weight, but I find it to be of a very high quality. While not as soft as merino, it’s a sturdy yarn with a texture that feels unprocessed, yet knits up cozy.  I’m a big Quince and Co fan! For my Sports, I chose the colorways “Kumlien’s Gull” and “Poppy.”

The pattern for these Sports shorts is well-written and fuss-free. The most complicated aspects are the short row butt shaping and seaming. However, the side slits are not written to be mirrored, so it’s a little annoying that this issue was never corrected. Still, I gave the pattern 5 stars on Ravelry because the fit cannot be beat. (And because a gracious Ravelry user offered a correction for the right leg slit, which I followed. See my notes on my Ravelry Sports project page.)

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These Sports are my second pair of knit shorts, and I must say this pattern is superior to the other. In fact, I plan to knit myself another pair in a more vibrant color scheme, although those will have to wait because my plate for this year is already spilling over.