Sunday, February 4, 2018

My first free-range projects!

Home on the Free Range...

I’ve only been a “free range knitter” since December, and it’s been an interesting process. 

Because of the way DestiKNITions worked, I spent 90% of my time knitting projects given to me by yarn stores. I enjoyed the adventure—I tried things I might not have dared otherwise, and learned loads of new skills. But it also meant that in the past eight years I have very rarely knit something just because I wanted to.

Now I can, and well, the freedom is rather daunting.

Step one was easy. I had a rainbow Pfeilraupe shawl I hadn’t yet finished that only needed about two hours of stitching to complete. Nothing gives that jolt of momentum like binding off a beauty of a project.

But next? 

The nice people at Love Knitting had gifted me with three scrumptious balls of MillaMia Naturally Soft Aran, hoping I’d write about my experience with the yarn. So I knew what fiber I’d use, but to make “what?” was a wide open landscape. Let’s face it, I haven’t had to answer the question “what shall I knit?” in a long time.

Ravelry to the rescue! It’s handy search functions let you browse from projects made with a particular yarn and from patterns using the amount of yardage you have on hand. With these two searches, I was able to select Angelique den Brok's Far Isle Fun cowl (provided I didn’t do all the sections). Pretty, colorful, and representing a challenge to my long-ignored colorwork skills. 

I happily cast on, basking in the notion that I could get this finished whenever I got it finished—no deadline! Honestly, it made me nearly giddy to think of it.

I had to make a few minor alterations to the design to accommodate the fact that I wasn’t knitting all the sections, but that was easy enough. I’m delighted with the result, and couldn’t resist sharing it with you.

Who knows what I'll tackle for my next project? Actually, I do. But you'll just have to wait until it's ready for sharing. After all, I'm a "free range knitter" now...

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The End of Year Click-Thru Tour...and a farewell of sorts

Each year I take stock of my past adventures and round up my favorite posts from the previous months.  This year is no exception--except that it is.

After eight years of yarny adventures, it’s time for a change. I’ll be taking my writing and speaking careers in new directions in 2018, so today's collection represents a “goodbye” of sorts to the blog you’ve known and loved (and followed). I need to focus my creative energy in places other than knitting on a deadline.  

It’s not that I’m stopping knitting—heaven knows I could never do that! I’ll just stop posting on a regular schedule to this blog.

I won't take the blog down, and I doubt I'll disappear completely. I’ll simply fill you in when projects (of my own choosing for the first time since 2009!) get completed, when travel takes me to unique places (and yarn shops!), or when I feel I have something interesting to say (which, knowing me, may be often!). I expect I'll be more active on Ravelry--where you can find and friend me as Alliewriter--so come on over and suggest projects to me there now that I'm free to knit whatever, whenever, and wherever I like.

So, as my 7th annual "bind off" to the year, here are my favorite posts from 2017:

Thanks, DestiKNITters, for your support, comments, and delightful company on my adventures these past years. I’ve had loads of fun. That won’t stop, it will just be a bit more serendipitous now.

Blessings to all of you, and happiest of yarn adventures in the coming year! 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Silk Moon Crescent shawl from KnitCircus - Done!

Silk Moon Success!

This one was a challenge to block. Without blocking wires, it would have been hard to achieve the tension needed to really stretch this fiber out while keeping the arc of the crescent smooth.

But oh, look at it. The colors, the lovely light weight that blocking brought out of the yarn, the perfect accent of the eyelets. 

It’s a beautiful piece just as at home gracing a winter turtleneck as it will be draping over my shoulders in a future summer breeze. When I wear it out tonight, I’m sure to get plenty of compliments. I’m delighted!

Thanks, KnitCircus, for a splendid knitting experience!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Silk Moon Crescent shawl from KnitCircus - Day 5

Bound(off) to please...

I know I keep repeating myself, but oh, the color. 

And not just the color, but the color progression. KnitCircus does color gradients like no one else—gorgeous! 

It makes me wish that I had a huge, generous shawl of this to wrap around myself instead of a shawlette.  But then, of course, who knows how long those final rows would be? As it was, that bind off took me the entire 2-hour premiere of this season’s Agents of Shield to complete. Granted, it was Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, which is always extra work but always 100% worth it. Jenny’s is my bind off of choice these days, no matter what the project.

I’m curious to see how much this increases with blocking. Sometimes these things stretch out quite a bit, other times not so much.  I’d like it if it spread out and became a bit lighter in weight, but considering how lovely it is at the moment, I expect I’ll be pleased with any result.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Silk Moon Crescent shawl from KnitCircus - Day 4


You knew it would happen, didn’t you?

Before I could decide on a tactic, my cake burped up its insides all over my lap like a child who ate too much at the circus. Without warning, the issue of the collapsing cake forced itself upon me. Literally.

My most immediate option to solve this tangle of yarn was also the simplest: find the outside end and start winding. Not even with my fancy ball winder, but the good old-fashioned-by-hand way. That worked for a while as I wound down the outside of the cake, but when I approached the “burped” insides, things got tricky.  With both ends fixed—one on the needles and the other in the cake—it was slow and tedious going. 

It took me an exasperating hour of passing the ball through loops and twists before I could resume knitting.

So now I’m back on track, happily stitching my ever-increasing rows toward the completion of my project.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Silk Moon Crescent shawl from KnitCircus - Day 3

A new problem...

I’ll admit, the rows are getting longer. I know this is heading toward row=effort instead of row=progress, but I can’t say that I mind…yet.

The second color change—while subtler— was as delightful as the first. Some of joy comes from the fact that it didn’t take quite so long to get there, but most of the pleasure comes from the pure satisfaction of meeting a sub-goal. I love the ability to wave to a milestone as you pass it by, rather like when you enter a new state on a road trip.  Nothing substantial changes—you are still driving (or, in this case, knitting), but it feels different. If you’re the sort of person who loves the gratification of crossing items off your to do list (and I sure am), color changes give the same rush in a long stretch of garter stitch knitting. 

The eyelet rows do the same thing. I’d have been bored stiff through the long blue portion of this project without those eyelet stitches. Had the first pattern directions read “garter stitch for 100 rows” or such, I might have passed this beautiful piece up. That would have been a shame.

Ah, but here’s a new problem: the collapsing center pull cake. Because the color went from dark to light, I wanted to start with the blue in the center.  I know lots of knitters who prefer the stability of center pull, so you’re not continually watching the cake roll and tilt as you unwind. Only now I’ve gotten to the point where the cake doesn’t have enough center to hold the edges up.  It’s going to fall in on itself any minute, and I’m on the hunt for coping mechanisms.  If you’ve got any, please share?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Silk Moon Crescent shawl from KnitCircus - Day 2


Cue the David Bowie.

The color change I've been waiting for has arrived!

The steady increase of rows is fine, the regular appearance of eyelet increase rows helps break things up into manageable subgoals, but let’s face it: we were all waiting for the color change.  I thought it would appear around row 57—the 5th eyelet increase row—but it took all the way until the 80th row for that hue to shift.

The color change isn’t particularly sudden—you do see hints of it showing up for a few rows and I found I couldn’t exactly pinpoint when blue became purple. It’s not a slow gradient, either—the shift completes in one or two rows.  In a smaller piece, the change might be more subtle, but in these long rows it happens in a perfect rhythm. I get the marvelous sensation that this fiber and pattern were made for each other. Because they were.

It’s a lovely piece, and I’m enjoying myself immensely. I’ve got a holiday party December 8, and I’ve already decided this will be my accessory of choice.  Will I get it done in time? You’ll just have to wait and see.