Arabella

Published on Sunday March 27th, 2011

I’ve finished and gifted a stealth knit! Ravelry is fabulous in many, many ways, but it does make it tricky to knit for other knitters, which is why this is the first anyone is seeing of my take on this pretty shawl designed by my talented friend Kristen Hanley Cardozo.

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One of the things I love about the way Kristen wrote this pattern is that you can essentially build your own version of the shawl based on how much yarn you have, how large you want it to be, and how ornate you’d like the edging. Kristen has included a pattern map that shows your best options in every scenario. I followed my own path and combined two of the edging possibilities in a way that wasn’t suggested — I liked the symbolism of teardrops becoming “heart leaves” for this particular friend in this moment of her life — and it worked out beautifully.

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The yarn is Schaefer Anne in a teal and blue colorway. Anne is a sock yarn, and a tough one — it contains both mohair and nylon — but it softened nicely after a swim, and again, resilience with a bit of a shimmering halo seemed appropriate in this gift.

Another thing I like about this pattern is that it’s named for the leading lady of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, a book I was finally able to enjoy at the end of last summer during those long and multitudinous newborn nursing sessions. I’m a sucker for knitwear inspired by literature.

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(And yes, this is my beautiful star magnolia bursting into life. Let us raise a glass to certain spring!)

Tart

Published on Friday December 3rd, 2010

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Here’s what I’m knitting right now. This year’s Sarah-Katrin Christmas exchange was dialed down to 5 — a new baby and a half-time job don’t leave me quite enough time to take on a whole sweater, as we’ve done in years past. And anyway, Katrin’s racing to finish the most enviable sample knit. So we’ve decided on a nice, easy triangular shawl pattern: Kristen Hanley Cardozo’s Clothilde, which I’ve been wanting to knit since she first published it. I had a nice slate grey cashmere blend from School Products marinating in the stash; Katrin chose this fabulous, fabulous Tosh Merino Light in “tart.” People, I could knit this yarn till the cows come home. Stinking FABULOUS, I tell you. That is all.

Wings Spread

Published on Thursday October 1st, 2009

It’s out of the chrysalis for the Cocoon-Stitch Half-Circle Shawl (a thoroughly unromantic name—make yourself free to propose something better!). Actually, I’ve been wearing it for some days, but it took some doing to achieve the necessary husband + camera + daylight confluence to document the occasion.

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It was windy and bright up on Powell Butte (why yes, I absolutely DID steal the idea to go for a little hike and shoot photos of a new shawl up there from the talented Miss Emily of the Family Trunk Project, whose trunk show I hope to attend at Twisted next Friday), which is why I’m looking so squinty and ruffled in these pictures.

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I do love this little number. Sooooo soft. Soooooo cozy. My preciousssss. I’ve been wearing it all different ways—points free, pinned in front, cattywampus and pinned at the shoulder. It’s a perfect size to warm your neck and shoulders without dragging its points in your soup or snagging on the furniture. If you can bear to knit from line-by-line directions, I absolutely recommend it.

Now, your good wishes, if I might have them. I may have torn my cornea (courtesy of grit in the eye while cycling). It doesn’t feel that bad, but it doesn’t look that good. Do please cross your fingers that the optometrist won’t insist on any treatment more drastic than a piratic eyepatch. I shall wear my most swashbuckling boots to her office in the morning in an attempt to turn her mind in that direction.

Another reason to knit local

Published on Wednesday September 9th, 2009

I haven’t written a lot about the Cocoon-Stitch Half-Circle Shawl, but I’ve been steadily working away at it this summer. The pattern is written line by line, with no chart, so it requires a good stretch of uninterrupted knitting time and a well-placed Post-It note to make progress. I took it for train knitting when we went up to Seattle in August to see a Mariners game, and then I had a nice quiet evening of knitting with my friend Leigh to bring it close to the end. I actually almost finished the pattern on the Seattle trip, but I had quite a bit of the glorious Toots Le Blanc merino/angora yarn leftover and didn’t want to waste a yard, so while Leigh was regaling me with stories of her trip to Ireland as we drank lemonade and ate Irish bourbon chocolates on a sticky summer night, I worked back through the pattern to find a point where the increases would align so I could add another couple of cocoon rows. (I had to go all the way back to Row 78, in case you decide to do the same, to match up the peculiar scheme of increases. I worked Rows 78-89 over again before I knit the edging.) Two ridges of garter edging seemed a bit skimpy, and I still had yarn left. I thought I might as well add some nupps before the cast off, since they’re so adorable, and since my Addi Lace needles make me want to show off with nonchalant p7tog maneuvers.

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And I still had some yarn left.

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I started the bind-off during our book club meeting as we discussed Reading Lolita in Tehran (which we agreed was a disappointment, but did make us want to read or re-read the classic novels Nafisi mentions). I wasn’t too far in when I realized I was in trouble. Yes, I was running out of yarn. This has become a bit of a theme for me this year… I don’t know whether I’ve gotten over-confident or what. I already knew there wasn’t a lot in the stash that might blend well enough with the Toots Le Blanc to get me through the second half of the bind-off. I looked anyway the next morning, when I had some light to really compare colors. Nope, nothing really close enough to do justice to such an elegant little piece of knitting. But Toots Le Blanc is run out of Hillsboro, OR, just over the West Hills. Maybe I could beseech them to clip me just a few yards of Fawn merino/angora? I wrote them an e-mail.

The following day I had two messages back, one from each of the owners, saying that they did often have mill ends and would check right away. In no time I had confirmation from Michele that she had a few spare yards of Fawn and could pop them in the mail to me or hand them off in person on her return from a business trip. So we arranged to meet in a Starbucks parking lot. She pulled up with her minivan stuffed to the gills with bags of beautiful piebald Jacob fleece, and we quickly skeined off enough of the merino/angora for me to finish my little shawl.

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So I was able to finish comfortably, and now I’ve popped the luscious little thing into a Eucalan bath so it can bloom to full bunnycrack goodness. (I won’t block it very aggressively, as I’m quite fond of the three-dimensional character of the cocoons.) Just one more reason to seek out a great little local company, folks! Toots Le Blanc really went the extra mile for me, and I couldn’t be more in love with their product. I’d love to have the budget for enough of the merino/angora for one of the big shawls in Nancy Bush’s Estonian lace book, but for the time being I’ll hope to try Toots’s Blue-Face Leicester/Pygora laceweight, which could yield a small shawl for $30. So go forth and knit local—you never know when it’s going to save your bacon!


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