Nov 25, 2014

FYI | Drumlin Reversible Afghan is Coming

To take advantage of the Twegen afghan pattern Thanksgiving sale, click here

A number of you have inquired when the pattern for Drumlin would be released, so this is a quick heads-up to let you know that it should be available within a week.

Here are a few Drumlin highlights:
  • It's fast, easy and reversible.
  • It features strip construction and is highly portable.
  • The pattern is written for worsted weight yarn.
  • It's the ideal way to turn one-skein yarns into something cozy and useful.
  • It includes directions for three sizes (SML).
  • It incorporates a handy Quick Reference chart to make modifications easy.
  • It's simple enough for most moderately experienced beginners.

To anticipate your questions:
  • Yes, I'll let you know the moment the pattern is released. 
  • Yes, there will be some special deals to add to the appeal.

The holidays are right around the corner. If I had to choose one afghan to make as a gift, it would be Drumlin. Why?

The fluted ridge stitch knits quickly, produces a completely reversible texture and is easy to memorize. These factors make Drumlin a remarkably speedy project: I can complete a compact version in about three to four weeks, which is astonishing since I'm a relatively slow knitter.

If you simply must start an afghan today, consider Twegen. The look is similar and it too is fast, easy and reversible. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, it's on sale now. (Sale price ends midnight November 30 EST.)

If you prefer to wait, you can see and read more about Drumlin herehere and here.

Happy Thanksgiving! To see lovely crafts and crafters, visit Frontier Dreams,Small Things, Natural Suburbia and Wisdom in Wonder.

Nov 17, 2014

Room to Spare

At one time, there was more Cotton Fleece in my stash than any other type of yarn.

It all started years ago with a wacky idea to make a multicolored sweater jacket featuring 24 different colors plus black. My sister and I laughingly called it the PMS sweater because the initial sketches resembled a Pantone Matching System color chart.

Once the idea took hold, I had to act. Since none of the local yarn stores stocked Cotton Fleece, it was all purchased online. Suffice it to say I ended up with lots and lots and lots of one-off skeins in my mission to acquire 24 colors that blended well in real life as opposed to onscreen.

Fast forward to late 2012. The body of the sweater was completed and sitting in the cupboard destined to be an eternal UFO, when inspiration struck. For me this project was more about “stitch and color” and less about “must make a sweater.” So ... the sweater became the Swafghan.

The remaining full and partial skeins of Cotton Fleece evolved into a different sweater and an entire series of blankets, coasters, dish-spa cloths and whimsical knits.

After two years of diligent knitting, the once delightful and daunting  array of Cotton Fleece has been reduced to this:

Yarn that once filled my largest tub to overflowing now fits neatly into a shoebox ... with a little room to spare.

To see what others are working on, visit Frontier DreamsSmall Things, Wisdom in Wonder and Natural Suburbia.

Nov 9, 2014

Little Big

Every now and then, I think it's possible I devote too much time to knitting.

There's more than enough in the pipeline: two active WIPs, several projects waiting to be cast on, a new pattern to finalize and several designs in the works.

Nonetheless, I'm also swatching and experimenting to test different stitches in various combinations. The reversible fluted ridge stitch is a good example. It's been featured in three different afghans (Almost NeutralBright and Gem tones) for one simple reason.

In solid colors, both sides look like this:

In closely related tone-on-tone colors, the stitch looks like this (front and back):

In high-contrast black and white, the stitch looks like this (front and back):

The photos leave something to be desired, but I chose them for a reason. They all feature the same stitch, same texture and same yarn, so the only variable is color.

Little changes. Big differences. Infinite possibilities.

Just a few of the many reasons why we choose to knit.

To see what others are working on, visit KCCOYarn AlongFiber Friday and Creative Friday.

Nov 2, 2014

Breaking the Spell

Most of us have a few rarefied skeins lurking in the stash, but they can be a touchy topic we'd rather duck and dodge than discuss.

I’m referring of course to yarns that are so soft and sublime, we pet them, stroke them, cuddle them and adore them. They tempt us with their beauty. They taunt us with their hefty price tags. They accept our gentle caress but refuse to be knit.

They sit happily ensconced in the stash but are not truly part of it, secure in the knowledge they're the highest fiber life form: They're "shrine of precious" yarns.

I confess to owning more than a few skeins. All were acquired with specific projects in mind, but somehow the project didn’t materialize, the concept lost its appeal or they were “too good” for their planned use.

Enough already. In a breathtaking and daring move, I’m working on not one but two shrine of precious projects.

The first is my latest shawl. It combines nice but unremarkable variegated wool-nylon sock yarn with black Tajmahal, a delicious Italian-made sport weight blend of superfine merino (70%), silk (22%) and cashmere (8%).

This is an emotionally risky venture. Part of me still believes one day I might actually make the sweater for which the Tajmahal was purchased and part is convinced pairing premium yarn with humble sock yarn is quite simply wrong. Surely such luscious fiber was destined for greater things?

After much cogitation (Do it? Don’t? Do it?), I decided the only way to know for sure was to test the combination and see what happened. The initial swatch went well and it's grown into a full-fledged project that looks like this:

So far, so good.

The second project features another precious yarn from the shawl test lineup. Called Richesse et Soie, it’s a fingering weight blend of cashmere (65%) and silk (35%). This yarn was also made in Italy and is truly sublime. I’ve swatched it several times but never quite found The Perfect Project.

Hopefully that’s changed. The last time you saw it, it looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

(Yes, that's the same purple yarn in both photos, but the color in the first is more accurate.)

The red and purple swatch helped me realize how much I wanted this super-soft yarn draped around my neck, so instead of a shawl I’m making a narrow scarf. It’s growing slowly, but if all goes well, I’ll end up with something light, lush and long enough to be worn multiple ways.

Soft yarn, hard choices. It’s time to break the spell.

To see what others are working on, visit KCCOYarn AlongFiber Friday and Creative Friday.

Oct 26, 2014

FO | Twegen Afghan (Coffee)

While we’ve been talking about other knitterly things, the coffee-colored Twegen has been steadily brewing in the background and I’m pleased to report it’s done. In fact, it’s been finished and waiting patiently in the wings for more than two weeks. 

You're familiar with the essentials: It’s fast, easy and reversible, relies on strip construction and was made entirely from stash. The photo shows it unblocked, with the ribbed side above the fold line and fluted side below it.

The Berry and Harvest versions feature nine colors each, but this one has five. Left to right, each strip incorporates two neutrals: black with gray, gray with brown, brown with taupe, and taupe with cream.

Several factors keep drawing me back to this pattern. In addition to being reversible, the stitch is attractive in one color or two. Closely related colors create an appealing tone-on-tone effect, while contrasting ones highlight the stitch pattern. These qualities make it easy to blend two colors from different dye lots, turn "uglies" into "snugglies," or transform lonely singletons into a cohesive whole to maximize yarn from stash.

The strip strategy makes it portable right up to the point of assembly, and because it's easy to adjust the width and length, it helps me make the most of yarn on hand. I used Cotton Fleece (80% cotton, 20% wool) to produce a year-round fabric, but with winter rapidly approaching superwash wool or a wool blend would be lush and cozy.

Since I'm a rather slow knitter, it takes me about five to six weeks on average to knit this particular pattern. This version took nine from start to finish, but that includes four weeks where it was set aside so I could tackle other WIPs.

Twegen Coffee
Pattern: Twegen
Yarn: Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)
Weight: Worsted
Yardage: 900 yards +/-
Needles: US 9 (5.5 mm)
Size: Small (approx. 28 x 36 ins)
Ravelry Notes:  Here 
WIP Posts: Here and here

There are other projects in the pipeline clamoring for attention, but my passion for afghans is unabated. Don't tell the others, but at the moment, this version is my new favorite.

It was pressed into service.long before the last end was woven, because our weather turned cool. Now it's becoming a ritual to greet the day with a cup of coffee in hand and this afghan warming my legs. 

On a crisp autumn morning, what could be better than that?

Joining Frontier DreamsSmall Things, Wisdom in Wonder and Natural Suburbia.

Oct 20, 2014

The Winding Road

Lately it feels as if I'm knitting a great deal but making little headway. This feeling is part reality and part perception.

The reality? Recent FOs include the Oyster Bay shawl, Wineberry shawl, Fluted Ridge cloth and Twegen Coffee afghan.

The perception? At the moment, most of my knitting time is focused on finding the right stash yarn for my newest knitting addiction, shawls.

For me "finding" means experimenting, and experimenting means swatching. This is just one of the many yarn combinations I've tested:

All this swatching has kept me busy:

The small ovals show the handful of color and yarn combinations that made it to the photo stage. The larger ovals show the two swatches promising enough to pursue: One turned into the Wineberry FO and the other is my active WIP, the Blackberry shawl.

None of the test swatches were fatally flawed, but it consistently took at least three tries to land on a color, weight and fiber combination that prompted that crucial "must knit this" reaction.

These twists and turns are a familiar part of the knitting journey, but it's a process others rarely see and may not understand. We're knit-knit-knitting but making little visible progress, because we're traveling a long and winding road.

To see what others are working on, visit KCCOYarn AlongFiber Friday and Creative Friday.

Oct 12, 2014

FO | Wineberry Wrap

The other morning, I was working at the computer when I looked down and realized two things: It was the first full week of October, and I was already swathed head to toe in knits.

On my hands were a pair of Last-Minute Mitts (pattern is here):

This version of Drumlin was draped over my legs:

And my just-finished Wineberry wrap was draped around my neck:

(Not a great photo, but it captures the general idea.)

Wineberry Wrap
Pattern: My own
Yarns: Charlemont (Valley Yarns); Happy Feet (Plymouth)
Yardage: 250 yards (+/-)
Weight: Fingering
Needle: US 8 (5 mm)

Like most of my recent projects, it was a fast and easy knit. It’s light, soft and drapey, the ideal weight for this time of year. The wings are long enough to wrap twice and it's reversible, so it can be worn many ways.

Plus, the combination of red with splashes of purple make it the perfect grab-wrap-and-go accessory for my mostly neutral wardrobe. It features the same construction as the Oyster Bay shawl, but the look couldn’t be more different.

We all know what that means, don’t we?! Yep, there’s another one already on the needles.

To see what others are doing, visit KCCO and Yarn Along.

Oct 6, 2014

WIP | Double Dose of Coffee

Few things are better on a gray and chilly morning than sipping a rich, dark cup of coffee while you sit by the kitchen window with a cozy afghan draped over your lap.
That’s exactly how my Sunday morning started.

Well, "exactly" might be an overstatement. 

There was a mug of coffee on the table and a coffee-colored afghan heaped in my lap. Overall, it was a very pleasant way to start the day.

The heap was deliberate and not the mindless result of early morning bleariness. As soon as the caffeine kicked in, I buckled down to weave ends.

Finishing isn't my strongest suit and Twegen is reversible, so I take extra care to make the work as invisible as possible on both the front and back. And yes, experience has taught me I need to be fresh, alert and fully caffeinated to come anywhere close to that goal.

A great deal is going on in non-knitting world. This means my finishing pace has been tortoise-like but progress has occurred. I'm in the home stretch and ready to tackle the last few wayward ends.

The timing couldn't be better. Nothing can compete with the crisp air and soft light of autumn mornings, but personally, I'd prefer to face them with a steaming cup of joe in hand and a toasty Twegen warming my legs.

Afghan season has officially arrived and I'm craving a double dose of coffee.

In Case You Missed It
Twegen, the pattern for this afghan, has been released.

To see what others are working on, visit Wisdom in Wonder and Natural Suburbia.

Sep 28, 2014

Pattern | Twegen Reversible Afghan

Does the prospect of cooler weather have you longing to knit something warm and cozy? If so, you've come to the right place. 

Twegen, the pattern for the fluted rib afghan, has been released.

If you’re a regular reader, you’re familiar with the basics. This afghan is fast, easy and reversible. One simple slip stitch creates gently fluted columns on the front ...

and fluted ribs on the back.

The name Twegen in fact comes from an Old English word for “two,” since each side has its own distinct appearance and appeal. 

In addition to being reversible, Twegen offers a range of features you might appreciate:
  • The stitch is easy to execute, easy to memorize and extremely versatile. In solid colors, the focus remains on the texture, and in two colors, it creates a pleasing tone-on-tone or high-contrast effect based on the colors you choose. 
  • The colorwork is simple and straightforward, because only one color is worked on a row. There’s absolutely no stranding involved and the inactive color is carried up the side. 
  • The strip strategy keeps your project compact and portable. It’s easy to work a few quick rows on the run and you can knit afghans anytime and anywhere without the weight of a full blanket in your lap. 
  • The seaming method features a modified three-needle bind off. It’s fast, easy and reliable, so assembly goes quickly and smoothly. 
  • The pattern is simple enough for any moderately experienced beginner. Concise but comprehensive, it includes a basic schematic along with directions, stitch counts, yardage and dimensions for three sizes ranging from small (baby) to medium (lapghan) and large (throw).
  • In terms of yarn, Twegen is particularly well-suited to those with a bit of memory, so worsted weight wool and wool blends are ideal.
  • The design is highly adaptable. Create a classic look with luscious yarn in a single color, knit a mix-and-match version to make the most of yarn from stash or do both.

To reward you for your patience and celebrate the arrival of afghan season (some people call it “autumn”), Twegen will be available at a reduced introductory price ($4) until midnight October 5 (Eastern DST). On October 6, it will revert to full price.

To view the Ravelry description and purchase the pattern, click here. Or take the shortcut and click the button below.

Twegen | Fast & Easy Reversible Afghan
Yarn: Worsted Weight
Examples Include: Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep) and Four Seasons (Classic Elite)
Needles: US 9 (5.5 mm) and US 10 (6.0 mm)
Sizes: S (baby)  M (lapghan)  L (throw)
Yardage: 900 to 2000 yards (approx.)

You’re talented and creative knitters, which means I truly can’t wait to see the wonderful variations you’ll produce. Once you discover how fast, easy and versatile it is, you might find yourself making Twegen over and over again, just as I have.