I find this strangely satisfying, even though the basic idea had me stuck for a while—I wanted to use shapes that don’t tesselate as well (and I still might for a future design! Stay tuned!) and I wanted to avoid finishing seams, but ultimately my (attempted and discarded) solutions for that felt a lot more fiddly and potentially frustrating than the technique I ended up with. The handspun yarn really lends itself well to this. I’d like to be able to use superwash commercial yarn here, but I think it might not hold up as well; it’s best to use soft wool with a little bit of natural texture.
(Nothing came up when I searched for a knit design called Blocky. So I published Blocky. When I went to add my own projects to Blocky, there was another Blocky, but it was very different to mine.)
Here is mine:
You can knit this project at least two ways: as a shawl, or as a cowl. Finishing for either one is pretty easy, and although I went with the cowl option, I felt that wet blocking took away a lot of the bouncy wool-yarn vitality of the thing, if that’s not too strange a thing to say. Garter stitch grows, but it also felt like it went kind of flat on me and I preferred the unblocked version pretty strongly.
For my second project, I’m doing the shawl (or trying to get close; I am having to kind of play fast and loose with yarn requirements and will probably end up with something a little different to what I had in mind color-wise) in a two-ply non-superwash wool, in hopes it kind of keeps more of the loft and bounce. The yarn I used in the cowl sample is one of my all-time favorites (Malabrigo Sock), but it’s just not quite as satisfying here as it is usually.
The photo above doesn’t show much—just yarn—but it’s probably the best yarn photo I’ve taken all year. There’s about five minutes of really nice light in this little alcove in the afternoon in January, apparently.
Anyway, there’s also Revenge of Pup Patch Hat and Cowl in this series. Please check them out if you’re interested or like mitered squares (these aren’t mitered squares, but they’re kind of mitered-square adjacent in some ways).
Mina Shawl! Obvious reference, slightly questionable taste (I only knew Dracula from pop culture and memes before this year; I did not expect Mina to be so affecting as a character)!
The colors on this one were inspired directly from some speckled and solid Malabrigo Arroyo I was working with for a sweater pattern. There wasn’t really enough left from the skeins I had to get the effect I wanted, but I really liked how the speckled combined with the more traditional hand-dyed yarn. Lazy gradient, kind of.
Anyway this is the best shawl I’ve come up with in a long time. It might be the full-on best, but I’ve also been looking back through my photos, and now I think some of my other ideas were stronger than they felt at the time. (I took a screenshot for a joke about a video game—it’s very important that I find this and actually post the joke somewhere—but this was around the time of Conduit Cowl and Iteration, and those are a lot nicer than I remember.)
I have a lot to do this month: either I update the Sample Shop page here for the upcoming winter holidays, or I don’t; I have a lot of upcoming design projects I’m excited about; I want to knit little animals for the kids. (It’s a whole weird thing. I’m still excited when I can afford to buy a cool present; I want to buy Lego; and yet kids have started to specifically request knitted things. It’s perplexing but not all bad, and also not all good, since it is very hard to knit a 4-foot-long caterpillar and have it turn out well. I should’ve just learned to crochet and done a space millipede from Projectarian. Mine’s okay, but it’s not a space millipede, so it feels like a missed opportunity.)
The new yarn is already here! It is splendid. The reds are earthier than I expected, which makes them much more up my alley. (Relatedly, I’m now a couple of days behind in Dracula—I’d been a few ahead of the serialized version, and kept wanting to write about these little moments, so I stopped to keep myself from spoiling it, and now have the opposite issue—but this section is just intense for its turns of phrase. Got a bit heartbroken over Mina’s last few lines in the 2 October journal entry:
I hope I have not done wrong, for as sleep begins to flirt with me, a new fear comes: that I may have been foolish in thus depriving myself of the power of waking. I might want it.
I also like it a lot when Van Helsing says something on the lines of Quincy’s head being on a plane with the horizon. Yes, that is how you describe it in Texas. What a good, sensible guy. I wish my head seemed reliably on a plane with the horizon.
This seems like quite the departure, but it’s relevant! I needed the red colors to be spooky/deep/earthy for upcoming shawl purposes. It is very important for this yarn to tie in, at least obliquely. I am trying pretty hard to do a spooky season theme this year, and I had enough done and set up in advance of, well, now that there’s no excuse to just fail completely, per tradition.)
Anyhow, this yarn is directly the result of the late September sale. It’s going to immediately result in a more coherent shawl sample for a pattern that’ll be up this month. So: pretty exciting, immediate, tangible results! Goal achieved! Yarn purchased and acquired! Thanks very much to anyone and all who contributed, on purpose or coincidentally!
I usually get a little self-defeating regarding goals or advancement, and I really didn’t expect much from a last-minute sales pitch, so I’m genuinely pretty stoked about this. I’m hoping to be able to wind this and cast on this evening.
(Just between you and me, on this very private forum, I spent a small part of the morning putting together a yarn order wishlist, and this is directly related to that. My social media presence is pretty small, so I strongly doubt that this little weekend sale will fund the whole planned yarn purchase, but it’d be nice to offset it a little.
This is actually going to be the first yarn purchase I’ve made this year—right now, I’m still working through yarns from 2021—so the ideal Wishlist Palette feels and looks overwhelming. It’s hard to keep in mind that it’s almost a year’s worth of yarn purchasing (and would technically be less than the cumulative 2021, even if I were to make the whole purchase at once), and that it covers at least 6 formal project samples, plus whatever the scraps compel me to do.
Anyway! The concise version is that right now, most of your pattern purchase from now through this weekend goes straight into supporting the next ~6 patterns (or technically, the next ~6 patterns after the next ~3-4, since I try to work a little ahead), and you get a free pattern when you purchase 3. So if you’ve been thinking about putting together a mini-collection of mouse army patterns, this is a pretty good time to do it.)
Until next time, in about 8 weeks probably. Here’s the official “look, it’s reversible!” photo for the Auks Cowl.
Agate Cowl! I love this thing; it’s probably my favorite hex cowl so far. The idea and its execution are both fairly simple: agate in cross-section, paired with a just-slightly-more angular knit shape. The angles show off the multicolor handspun yarn, which is just a basic plied (2 ply) dyed wool.
(It’s very like the fractal ply idea, but I am pretty sure I didn’t do that; I am pretty sure I just tried—in a very casual way—to match two evenly-divided vertically-split portions of the wool top. I may have done a fractal ply, though. You can really try either, or just spin singles—anything that results in yarn with long color transitions will work.)
Handspinning is good for this project, but not essential; you can re-create the same striping effect with some commercial yarns like Noro, or use scraps to exercise more control over the color flow.
For me, though, working on this and other handspun projects has meant I’ve been feeling interested in spinning my own yarn again for the first time in a long time. It’s early to be sure where that’s going—embrace it as a full-on hobby that supports my work? Spin the fleeces I have so that I can have yarn or sweaters instead of fleeces and guilt, then bail and sell on my spinning-related gear? I seriously cannot even predict at this point—but for now, it’s not a bad way to feel productive without the same pressures to actually produce.
MEANWHILE, I’m also trying to reclaim & recycle yarn from older projects, which is vaguely fulfilling (I often make multiple samples for even a small design, and I do not need to keep every sample I make. But I always need yarn) but also weirdly opposite: I think most yarn is meant to hold up to reuse, because if it’s not, it won’t hold up to wear, and I also believe that being able to change up the things you make into something that suits you better is one of the most appealing aspects to the skill of being able to knit a garment—but I’m worried about future samples or projects looking shopworn for photos.
All right! That’s it for now. Take care til next time! (There may actually be a next post; I am working on it.)
So! I’ve only been on social media hiatus for about three days, but it seems, for now, to have been Enough.
(I’m not sure if you could tell there was a hiaturs; I’m not sure I’d expect you to be able to tell, even if you were following any of my media closely. My posting schedule overall is not the most consistent.)
Anyway, today we have Weird Fitted Cowl Thing, officially called Hex Key Cowl. It’s oddly shaped and, unusually for me, involves your choice of mattress seaming or a three-needle bindoff. (I went with the latter. I don’t love sewing knits, although I’m getting better at it, and it’s started to feel satisfying and pro; it doesn’t look like I couldn’t seam a potholder to save a life anymore. So that’s nice.)
I’m actually pretty well pleased with how it turned out! I’m working on a second sample, with hopes to explore some tentative ideas; I had a third finishing option that might be a nice potential addition to the pattern, and some things that are less directly related. (It’s anyone’s guess which are goin
Anyway, meanwhile, it’s spring! Holy crap! I’ve been dealing with subzero cold fronts for the past six weeks, up til recently. I am not used to this. These concepts. Sunlight. Plants growing. It’s weird.
This is Caddis Cardigan. It’s knit in sportweight yarn—most of the samples are Malabrigo Arroyo, which is kind of a favorite of mine. (It’s soft, with a nice tonal quality to the dyeways. I think they’ve moved from having dyelots to not, which is probably fair and for the best since there’s a limit to how consistent skeins dyed this way will be even if they’re all from the same batch, but I still want to make a basic pullover for myself from it someday.)
This is a very versatile sweater/vest sort of thing. If you close the front using a shawl pin or similar (it has no attached buttons), it looks very tailored and smart. If you leave it free, it’s very flowing. The shapes are geometric and the cardigan vest overall is slightly asymmetrical, but the eyelets line up.
The shaping is unique! Knitting is easy for the first part, and then requires a little more focus at the end. But once it’s done—and it’s mostly done when you finish knitting; there are no true seams— there are so many options for wearing the finished piece: thick collar, slim collar, no collar, long, or (flipped) cropped with a broad square collar.
Oh, and there’s also a new hat design .PDF up! It’s an okay hat-hat, but a pretty cute baby hat.
I feel like I’ve been getting nothing done lately, but wait! Behold!
The thing on the left is done. It’s off the needles. It’s even been finished, completely—in this case, felted/fulled.* I’m pretty excited about the result. As I come back to this post in drafts, not only is the first sample finished—but there’s also a second sample done, and the pattern is available.
There’s also a new shawl pattern out! It’s a circle, and it ended up being pretty interesting. The stitches are simple, and showcase yarns with long color transitions. Good as a fairly big shawl; I think it would also work as a baby blanket. (I may end up sending off my latest shawl and blanket samples to babies in the extended family; I am not sure.)