Friday, August 26, 2011

Gorgeous Malabrigo Rastita and fun new socks!

As many knitters know, Malabrigo yarn is the one of the most beautiful and soft yarns made and I absolutely love to knit with it. The colors are so rich and luscious, which is a feast for your eyes while working with it, yet I think the warm, softness of the yarn is what I love the most about Malabrigo. I recently was sent some lovely samples from Uruguay of a new line of yarns in production by Malabrigo. The new yarn will be named Rastita, and is a sport-weight version of their Rasta yarn (bulky-weight), which came out sometime in the last year. The samples I received were variegated with short bursts of deep jewel tones. The yarn seems to be a single ply, yet it holds together well and was, as usual, a dream to knit with. Since I've been a lace shawl knitting binge,  I researched my shawl patterns and found what I thought was the perfect shawl pattern to showcase Rastita. May I present "Kudzu Shawlette" by Rachel Henry:

This shawl is a wonderful shape and it drapes really nicely around one's shoulders. I love the design and light lace and texture of this shawl and found that it worked very well with the variegated Rastita.

 I've got 2 more skeins, one in green tones and another in golds and browns. They will be knit up soon so keep an eye out here for some more Malabrigo Rastita eye candy.

Also, off the needles recently were a pair of really cool socks! I am an avid sock knitter (and teacher), but I put down my sock knitting for a while to knit shawls. When I saw the pattern Double Heelix on, I knew I had to have these socks. They are knit from the heel towards the toe and then stitches are picked up to knit the leg. The heel is knit with 2 colors chasing each other in a "double heelix" and it is such an interesting technique. It is not difficult, as the designer made a great video to get you started, but it is a bit tedious and I found myself spending lots of time untangling yarn as you have 4 different strand of yarn to work with! All in all, the finished socks were definitely worth the effort. I love them and they fit me great! I used some leftover yarn from my aforementioned shawl knitting: Malabrigo Sock in Ravelry Red and some Cascade Heritage yarn in grey. How do you like them? I dare you to make a pair...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Off the Needles

As many of you know I've been struck by the unemployment plague that has been affecting our country, but I, being an obsessed knitter, am making very good use of my time, while not searching the internets for my future career, of course. If only a career in knitting could provide me with health insurance benefits. Oh, wouldn't that be nice? 

My lace shawl knitting group class is this Saturday and we will be knitting the lovely Ishbel shawl designed by Ysolda Teague. I knit mine up in Noro Silk Garden Sock and am so pleased with the way the colors emerged in this pattern. I usually knit lace with a solid or semi-solid colored yarn so the lace pattern doesn't have to complete with the yarn, but in this case I think the yarn and lace pattern work really well together.

Last February at Stitches West, the generous folks at Malabrigo (thank you Antonio) gave me a lovely sample of Dos yarn. It is a beautiful shade of teal in a sock weight merino. I decided to knit a cozy for my new Kindle with it. The yarn is so soft and has a wonderful twist that makes for great stitch definition. My Kindle is very pleased, indeed!

Not long ago, a new yarn store opened in Sebastopol called Yarnitudes. I was most excited about it because the store was going to not only cater to knitters, but to spinners as well. They sell all kinds of fiber and spinning supplies which is something Sonoma County has had a need for. On a recent trip to the store on a mission to find some new colors of Malabrigo Sock yarn, I found only one skein that had to come home with me. Lately, I've been using this yarn to knit up lace shawls, but this bright pink skein screamed "socks" much more that "shawl" to me. I hadn't knit a pair of socks in quite some time and was dieing to try one of Cookie A's intricate patterns. 

Here is my pair of hot pink (Light of Love colorway) Kai Mei socks:

Now, back to my lace shawl knitting, I have been working my way through Romi Hill's "7 Small Shawls" ebook of patterns. I've recently finished two very lovely pieces. Rosemary writes a heck of a pattern, I must say. I have really enjoyed knitting these shawls, and look forward to knitting many more.

Here is Merope, knit up in a new Valley Yarn called Charlemont:

And last, but certainly not least, is my favorite of all, is my Jack White Taygete, knit up in Ravelry Red Malabrigo Sock and Cascade Heritage in Black. I cannot wait until the weather allows me to wear these new shawls.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lace, lace, and more lace...

A few summers ago, I was fortunate enough to travel to Portland, Oregon, to attend Sock Summit with my friend, Christine. This was my first traveling knit adventure and we had a grand time. At the time, sock knitting was my knitting of choice. I still love sock knitting, but after overfilling 2 drawers with socks, I thought it was time to face another challenge. While in Portland, we only had time to visit one yarn store, Knit Purl, which is downtown, not far from one of the famous Powell's Books. It is a great shop, full of gorgeous yarns, very friendly help, and lots of beautiful sample pieces. I found and fell in love with a lovely green lacy scarf in the back of the store hanging by the Malabrigo Lace. The pattern is from "Victorian Lace Today", which was on my bookshelf, yet I hadn't knit anything in it yet.

After 2 years of coveting the scarf, I have finally cast on and knit my own "Scarf with French Trellis Border from Weldon's 1890 and Bramble Leaf Center" by Jane Sowerby. It was such a satisfying knit, full of techniques and lace patterns all new to me. Here she is in Malabrigo Lace:

 Thus began my lace knitting obsession. I was hooked. Sock knitting was put on hold for many months. Next, I knit the Swallowtail shawl, also in Malabrigo, sock weight this time. Malabrigo Sock is definitely my go-to yarn for shawl knitting. It is so nice to knit with and makes a gorgeous finished shawl.
 I had purchased Romi Hill's "7 Small Shawls" ebook and really wanted to get started knitting all the shawls within. I decided to start with "Maia" in Malabrigo Sock in the familiar Lettuce colorway.

 How about a cowl in Malabrigo lace? This one is Vent d'est vent d'ouest by Marie Adeline Boyer. This pattern is so much easier than it appears. It is so buttery soft and warm.
I was having so much fun with my lace knitting that I decided to ask some friends to come over and knit some shawls with me. There are 11 of us in the group; some new lace knitters and some life long knitters. It really is a nice mix and we have a fabulous time. Here a few of the ladies modeling our first knit a long shawl, the Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn Clark.

We started a Maia knit-a-long last month. I knit mine with bare yarn which I then later dyed with Kool Aid Tropical Punch. Isn't the color so vivid and bright?

I, also, knit a few Stephen West shawls. I had been hearing so much about them and how addicting they are to knit that I figured it was time I tried a few. I knit the Boneyard Shawl (above) first with some Araucania Ranco. I put a few beads in the garter border to add some interest.

Next was the ever-so-popular Daybreak Shawl in Cascade Heritage and Lang Yarns Jawoll Magic. Doesn't it look like a Manta Ray?

I also did a little Mystery Shawl knitting. Wendy knits Summer Mystery Shawlette pattern was released little by little, every few days until the pattern was complete. It was fun blindly following the pattern, not knowing what your finished shawl was going to look like, yet watching the design progress. I used Cascade Heritage for this.
So in a year of uncertainty and major life changes, I have once again found comfort and peace in my knitting and my knitting circle. Thank God for knitting. And now if you'll excuse me I've got some lace knitting to do....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Great American Afghan

In January of 2010, my local yarn store, Cast Away, had a sample of Knitter's Magazine's Great American Afghan and after seeing the beautiful squares, I decided that I would like to make one for my home. I usually always put a lot of thought into my knitting projects and like to do my research before casting on. My go-to place for any knitting project or pattern info is Ravelry. Upon going there, I found many photos of other finished Great American Afghans, as well as yarn suggestions and notes. I wanted to make the best looking afghan with as few colors as possible. This afghan has a lot going on with 25 different textured squares designed by 25 different designers and I thought that too many colors would make the afghan look too busy.

I went to Cast Away and looked over the big wall of Cascade 220 wool. I knew I wanted teal to be one of my colors. I found the perfect shade of teal, called Como Blue. The Duck's Egg Blue seemed like a nice complementary color. I rounded it out with Alki Beach and Natural. Then I chose which squares would be made with which colors based upon the texture and theme of the square.  I soon cast on my first square, the SOCKS square, which as it turned out was the most labor intensive. I am a sock knitting teacher so I thought it only right it would start here:

Yes, that is a mini-pair of fair-isle socks.

I found that I really loved the process of knitting so many different, interesting squares. Each employed unique stitch patterns that I found both challenging and rewarding to knit. Several of them used entrelac techniques and were so lovely:

Some of the squares were inspired by nature like these:

 (the color is not very true here)

 No afghan would be complete with out some cables:

 This one was a sampler of sorts.

These squares explored some really interesting techniques:

 This one uses intarsia knitting for the tan knotted bits.
I love the crazy geometrics here:
 Here's a long icord made into chains on the top and bottom.

And this was my final square. It was worked from the outside edge into the center. I think it is perhaps the most lovely.

I absolutely loved knitting this project. It was a wonderful year of knitting and I am so pleased with the results. If you'd like to see the rest of the squares that make up my GAA, you can see them over on my Ravelry projects page. You do have to be a Ravelry member to see my page.