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Jul 20, 2014

FO | Fluted Ridge Afghan Bright

Of the three Fluted Ridge afghans I've completed so far, this one is my favorite.

Why? It's bright, fresh and new, so it’s nearest and dearest to my heart. This week, that is. We all know how fickle I can be.


Like all my recent afghans, this was fast, easy and featured the essentials: Strip construction. Solely from stash. Reversible.

The fluted ridge stitch is the same on both sides, although in person there are subtle differences created by the alternating bands of light and dark yarns. In the photo above, the top portion of the afghan is folded over so you can see the reverse side of the stitch. (If you're in the mood for comparisons, take a look at the solid colored stitch in the almost neutral and gemtone afghans.)

The bright version is composed of four strips and each strip consists of two shades from the same color family. This strategy allowed me to use eight partial skeins and the contrasting trim brought the partial-skein total to nine. 



I had planned to spare you the obligatory shots of the strips during the assembly phase, but the photos above and below help show how vibrant the colors are. (Yep, there's a reason it's called Fluted Ridge Brights.)



Highlights
Project: Fluted Ridge Afghan Brights
Pattern: My own
Yarn: Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)
Weight: Worsted
Yardage: 900 yards +/-
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)
Dimensions: 28 x 40 ins +/-
Ravelry Notes: Here
Related Posts: Herehere and here

Meanwhile, my afghan addiction continues unabated. 


I’ve begun swatching for another, and knowing me, I’m sure I’ll be unable to resist telling you all about it soon. I think it will feature another slip stitch, one that's fascinated me for years. It creates two very distinctive looks and since I find both sides attractive, it meets my criteria for reversibility.

If all goes as planned, the new afghan will feature a mix of warm, earthy neutrals. It will use up another 900 to 1000 yards of stash. It will also reduce the supply of Cotton Fleece (my go-to yarn) to scraps and remainders, a prospect I still find a bit unsettling.


For more fiber talk, visit Wisdom in Wonder, Natural SuburbiaFrontier Dreams and Small Things.

Jul 13, 2014

The Frog Princess

If your world is at all like mine, not every knit project turns out precisely the way you envisioned it.

Sometimes the result is far better than expected. Sometimes the outcome is just as you imagined. And sometimes a project falls far, far short of the goal.

When the latter occurs, I'm learning to be more ruthless. Last fall, for example, I frogged this wonderfully soft Half-Braidy which I rarely wore ...



and repurposed the yarn into a snuggly, closer-fitting neckwarmer that saw near-daily use during the cold and endless winter.


For good measure, I frogged these mitts and reknit them as well.


In the hapless example below, the afghan strips were completed and ready for seaming before I finally accepted the fact blocking wasn't going to solve the fatal flaws.


The strips were frogged and the reclaimed yarn became this ...


In other instances, projects have been frogged but the yarn has yet to find its cosmic purpose.

Nimbus sweater? Frogged ...



Flair sweater? Frogged ...


but the yarn is already being swatched again.


The swatches tell the real story. 

Knitting offers many challenges and rewards. We strive to create what we've envisioned, perfect our skills and put great yarn to good use. The advantage with knitting unlike so many other facets of life is that when a project fails to meet our expectations, we have the opportunity to try, try again. 

It's impossible to point to a particular date or specific project, but one thing is crystal clear: Somewhere in my knitting journey, I crossed an invisible line and moved from the "frog-free" zone to the "frog freely" zone.

I have become the Frog Princess and for now that's fine with me.


Don't forget to visit Wisdom in Wonder, Natural SuburbiaFrontier Dreams and Small Things.

Jul 6, 2014

Spotlight | Cotton Fleece

It’s no secret.

I’m a big fan of Cotton Fleece. The blend of cotton (80%) and wool (20%) in worsted weight is well suited to a variety of projects because it produces an adaptable, mid-weight fabric that's comfortable to knit, wear or use year round.

This yarn offers a wonderful assortment of colors and combines the best qualities of cotton with just enough wool to add the springiness and memory I want and definitely need, which is why it appears in so many projects.

Let’s do a whirlwind tour.

Afghans

The Swafghan (2013)







Dishcloths & Coasters


Owl Family (2013)

Sweet Hearts (2014)

Sweaters

Moore Colors (2012)
At one time, I had more Cotton Fleece in my stash than any other single type of yarn.

Those days are long past, and in fact, the supply has dwindled to the point where there’s just enough to make one more lap-sized afghan. After that, the odds and ends will undoubtedly find their way into more coasters, dish cloths and small whimsical knits.

Then the Cotton Fleece will be gone.

On one hand, I'm pleased as punch at the prospect. After all, the goal of knitting from stash is to actually deplete the stash, right?

On the other hand, the thought of a stash without this versatile yarn is rather unsettling. That may explain why I have such an overwhelming urge to order a skein in every color and start the whole cycle all over again.


PS: For those who are wondering: I have no affiliation with Brown Sheep, the company that makes Cotton Fleece. I just happen to love this yarn.

PPS: For more fiber fun, visit Wisdom in Wonder, Natural SuburbiaKCCO and Yarn Along.

Jul 4, 2014

Independence Day

It's a week for celebrations in North America: Independence Day (July 4) in America and Canada Day (July 1) for our neighbors to the north.

Hopefully, wherever you are, you too have something to celebrate.


(Not naming names, but someone we know needs to block these cloths. Clearly that's a task for another day!)


Jun 29, 2014

Frog It with Flair

The times change and we change with them.
Latin proverb, sometimes attributed to Ovid

We all know I'm deep in the throes of an afghan addiction, the proof of which can be found all over this blog and on Ravelry.

My afghan obsession represents a change from the past because for a very long time, I thought of myself as a sweater knitter. It was a reasonable outlook, since for many years that was where I focused the majority of my knitting time, efforts and yarn dollars.

A few years ago, back when I was primarily a sweater knitter, I spent a healthy chunk of an extremely hot, sticky summer knitting a modified version of Flair by Wendy Bernard. It's a nice, versatile pattern.


Working on this cardigan, however, taught me many things:
  • Top-down construction is clever and convenient.
  • Top-down, one-piece sweaters are basically blankets with sleeves.
  • Top-down, one-piece wool sweaters can be cozy to work on in January but sweltering in June.
If you recall this project at all, it's most likely for one reason: My talented friend Robin took some lovely photos of the FO. The sweater is nice, but as you can see by the examples below, her pictures are dynamite. (To see more of her professional work, go to Robin Feld Photography.)


Recently, I took a careful look at the cold, hard facts, an exercise that was quite revealing. This is essentially a three-season cardigan, but over the course of a couple of years, I’ve worn it exactly zero times.

Nada. Never.


Why?

It turns out one-piece raglan sweaters are extraordinarily unbecoming on me. This fact has led me to a difficult but logical determination: It’s time to frog the frickin’ thing.


I've only just begun the rip, rip, ripping of all that knit, knit, knitting, but now that the initial shock has passed, it promises to be a remarkably soothing and contemplative task.


What will the yarn become in its next manifestation? I have no clue. It's possible it will find its way into another sweater. It's equally likely to end up in an afghan, but that decision can wait.

For now, I'm going to take my time and frog it with flair.


For more fiber conversation, visit  Wisdom in WonderFrontier Dreams, Small Things and Tami's Amis.

Jun 22, 2014

Unexpected Effects

It’s a puzzlement.

Yarn that is perfectly lovely in the skein can become underwhelming or downright unattractive when it’s transformed into fabric. Conversely wallflower yarn sometimes becomes lush and delightful once it’s knitted, crocheted or woven.

Remember The Good, the Bad, the Uglies? The mottled yarns looked fine in the skein, but they looked awful no matter what stitch I tried. Resigned to using the yarn for dishcloths, I envisioned scrubbing something super grimy then tossing the cloths away rather than wasting time and water to wash them. (Yes, I really, really disliked that yarn.)

Then a weird thing happened. 


The uglies morphed into something completely different when they were paired with a closely aligned solid color and knit in the fluted rib stitch.


 This discovery quickly moved several ugly skeins out of the stash and into afghans.


Fast forward to my current WIP, the two-toned version of the Fluted Ridge afghan in brighter shades.


With the green strip finished, it was time to cast on the blue one. Color selections were obvious since only two stash skeins had sufficient yardage: One was a predictable powder blue, the other was a muted indigo. Strictly speaking they weren’t ugly, just uninspiring enough to make knitting them feel like a chore not a choice.
         
Once again a strange thing happened:

In combination, these pedestrian shades became fresh and interesting. The indigo gained stature and the lighter blue took on a nearly luminous quality. (The photo captures a little of this.)


This surprising synergy turned a dreaded portion of the project into pure pleasure.

That's the mystery and marvel of working with fiber. It's always fascinating, sometimes frustrating and occasionally fabulous. All because of these unexpected effects.


For more fiber chat, stop by Wisdom in Wonder.

Jun 16, 2014

Resistance is Futile

If you visit regularly, you know I’ve been on a bit of a protracted afghan streak.

It started innocently enough and at the time seemed nothing more than a practical decision to turn a long-term WIP into a functional FO. With knitting needles in hand, I set about transforming a multi-colored sweater jacket into an afghan, which is now affectionately called the Swafghan.


Little did I know that particular WIP was destined to become far more than an FO. The Swafghan was reversible, cozy, soft and attractive, and from the moment it was completed, it saw daily use. These giddy sensations were the first glimmers of a strange new obsession.



Fast forward to today. I’ve knit eight afghans in the past 18 months. That’s not even close to impressive for many of you, but for me it represents a noteworthy number of finished knits and a steady stream of yarn moving out of the stash and into productive use.


In my world, it takes awhile to move a project from start to finish. I truly am a slow knitter, and this slowness is exacerbated by my swatching tendencies. I like to experiment, so it’s typical for me to have one or two active projects on the needles and many more SIPs (swatches in progress) lurking in the background. Only then, once I find a stitch and yarn combination I like, can I begin to start writing a working pattern. 



So while I was diligently knitting the gemtone and almost neutral Fluted Ridge afghans, I was also swatching to test new stitches and different yarn and color combinations in an effort to maximize what’s in the stash. That behind-the-scenes buzz of activity planted the seeds for a new concept using a fresh reversible stitch.

Then it hit me. The targeted stash skeins were also ideally suited to the fluted ridge stitch executed in two colors instead of just one. (Below: test swatch.)


Uh-oh. 

I’ve never been a particularly patient re-knitter, but this afghan fixation has revealed an unexpected quirk: Apparently my brain makes a subtle but important distinction between reknitting and testing different approaches to the same concept to see how comparatively minor changes alter the look or feel. (Below: front of strip 1.)


The new concept will have to wait just a little bit longer, while I work on a two-tone version of the now-familiar Fluted Ridge afghan knit in brighter shades. (Below: back of strip 1.)


The evidence seems clear: These actions have all the earmarks of a full-blown afghan addiction.

Resistance is futile.



To see FOs and fabulous fiber projects, stop by Wisdom in Wonder.

Jun 13, 2014

Fiber Fun on Flag Day

Everyone has their fiber “thing.” 

Some folks only knit lace. Others only spin. Still others only knit lace using yarn they’ve spun themselves, preferably using wool sheared from sheep they've raised from lambhood.

That’s not me, but if that’s you, I can certainly relate. I have my own fiber fetishes, one of which is knitting small things in red, white and blue combinations. 


The motivation for this is partly practical since my stash happens to contain a great deal of red, white and blue yarn (Four Seasons, Classic Elite; 70% wool, 30% cotton; discontinued). As a result, I’ve steadily produced a number of coasters and cloths, and am building a small but growing collection. It's a harmless and completely understandable little obsession, right?


Which brings me to the point: Saturday, June 14, is Flag Day in the US.

Flag Day was established to commemorate this event: On June 14, 1777, John Adams proposed and the Second Continental Congress adopted the first Flag Resolution. It said: ““Resolved: that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

Flag Day is a national holiday and many Americans will mark the occasion by displaying the flag at their homes and businesses. In Pennsylvania and New York, it’s also an official state holiday. Naturally the dates are different: Pennsylvania acknowledges June 14, New York celebrates on the second Saturday in June, but through a happy accident, this year the two coincide.
From the beginning, our flag has symbolized many things, such as our strong ties to Britain and our struggle for independence. George Washington once observed, “We take the star from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing liberty.”

I’m a bit biased, of course, but if you live in the US, I think the best way to celebrate Flag Day is to have fun with fiber.


That’s what I plan to do. What’s on your weekend agenda?


Speaking of fiber fun, check out Fiber Friday at Wisdom in Wonder

Jun 6, 2014

FO | Fluted Ridge Afghan Almost Neutral

The almost neutral version of the reversible Fluted Ridge Afghan is finished. Like the gemtone version, this was a fast and easy knit with my favorite features: a reversible stitch, strip construction and 100% from stash.

The knitting and assembly stages took five weeks start to finish, but because of all the preliminary test knitting and experimentation, my perception of time is a bit out of whack. As a result, I have to keep resisting the urge to add "finally" to the lead sentence.



The fluted ridge stitch is the same on both sides, which helps keep the focus on color and texture. (In the photo, you can see the reverse side of the stitch in the portion above the fold.)

In terms of color, it's difficult to overstate what a lovely shade of slate gray this is, although onscreen it tends to look more blue than it is in real life. Perversely the camera simply won't pick up the blue undertones in the red, so you'll have to trust me when I say it's a rich, saturated shade without a hint of orange.

You'll notice the red and cream strips are slimmer than the gray ones. This design decision was driven by one factor: It was the only way to get full-length strips out of the lone skein of mystery red and the partial skein of cream. 

The original plan featured a balanced approach (slate, cream, slate, red, slate), but during assembly I found placing the red and cream side by side helped both colors pop. It has an added amusement factor because this placement appears to drive the camera bonkers.

For those who are interested, here are the details:

Highlights
Project: Reversible Fluted Ridge Afghan Neutral
Pattern: My own
Yarn: Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep); 
Mystery Red (unknown)
Weight: Worsted
Yardage: 900 yards +/- 
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)
Dimensions: 28 x 40 ins +/-
Ravelry Notes: Here
Related Posts: Herehere and here



For more fiber chat, visit the folks at Frontier Dreams and Small Things.