Shawl Study: A Trio of Fades

 

What can I say? A few months ago I was sucked into the “Find Your Fade”  (by Andrea Mowrey) vortex and spent days and days dreaming of color combinations for shawls. I shopped the stash over and over putting different color combinations together. I agonized over strategies to make the colors work in the shawl; should the colors be connected across the shawl (like a quilt) or just cleanly feed into the next color in the sequence. What would happen if I used monochromatic colors? Would it work to use colors more than once to continue to anchor the shawl? Why did I not have more speckled yarn in my stash?

This got to be really bad. I would get out of bed in the night to hunt for a skein that I suddenly thought about. I settled on color sequences again and again only to abandon some of the yarns that I loved the most. I took yarns to the LYS to get help from my friends. More skeins were bought and I finally settled down with three sets of yarn hopping up and down demanding to be made into one of these shawls.

I took pictures of the yarn sequences and wrote the knitting order onto the labels of the yarn. I started the Ravelry project pages and committed to the Fade study project. Early in February I cast on the first one, and late last week I finished the three shawl project.

Shawls
Here they are!

So what did I do different with these three shawl? Check out each shawl’s story below.

Shawl Collage
The first Fade out of the gate…

This shawl really put me through the wringer. I had some great fall-colored yarn from Dream in Color, so I decided to use it to center the shawl. Every yarn that I used matched to the Dream yarn (the middle yarn between the red and purple in the close-up shots above), and to make it all work I used two skeins of that yarn to make two sequences. I started knitting with a lovely brown, and then ripped it all out, bought a dark red Tosh merino light called Heartheat, and used that instead. Later on I tossed out another yarn that I just loved and used the Heartbeat again in the middle of the shawl to keep the continuity with the Dream yarn. At the end of the shawl I had used only 5 colors of yarn and tossed out even more contenders. I think I needed to stop thinking about the concept of a “Fade” and did better concentrating on what would make a truly lovely and useful shawl for me. My Ravelry notes and yarn sequence is here.

Shawl Collage
March knitting found me hard at work on the second Fade.

The second shawl was so easy to put together. I had three amazing silk/alpaca yarns in  shades of gold, brown and deep red that I bought at the Interweave Yarn Fest last year. They went nicely together, but they were really monochromatic. Digging in the stash I quickly found a blue that wanted to play with the golden-brown yarn, and the dark gray yarn linked cleanly to the blue. Great. I had 5 yarns, and wasn’t quite sure how to link them. Oh, wait. Speckled yarns!! I looked at Tosh Merino Light online and realized that skeins of Yoko and Marfa would make the transitions work cleanly. Ta-daa. Not a gradient, but every yarn gets along with the ones next to it. This shawl is great with almost everything that I wear, and even better I never questioned my color choices while knitting it; no struggles or dashes back to the LYS. My Ravelry notes and the yarn order are here.

Shawl Collage
April knitting was the fun spring/summer shawl. 

My last shawl is the one that is most like a “Fade” in that the colors cleanly connect from each skein to the next, but there is a lot of continuity between the colors across the shawl.  The difference in the textures of the shawl yarns became another type of study as I knitted. The Alegria was wonderfully squishy and bouncy. I loved the way the Dream in Color Jilly showed off the lace (the detail in the picture above with MacKenzie’s paw on it) and while the color of the Hedgehog Fibers yarn was beautifully rich, it was a nightmare to knit as it had the life of string and was splitty to boot. The Ravelry notes and yarn order is here.

So, there they are.

Shawls
Now that you’ve “met”each shawl, here they are again without those flowers in the way. Each is unique and I’m so happy that I made all three of them. I am, however, done with shawls for awhile.

Yep. Time to get to work on finishing up all my little (emphasis on little) abandoned projects that have been lurking in a basket waiting for me to get back to them. No more shopping the stash for awhile. No decisions. All I have to do is pull out a bag with the yarn, pattern and half finished item and get to work. Even better, these are quick to finish projects like socks, mitts and scarfs. Woohoo! Compared to knitting these shawls it is almost like instant gratification.

MacKenzie is looking forward to having my lap all to himself again, too.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Rocked by the Week

Wow, the week just sort of rushed by without me getting much of anything done. Mostly I have been going to doctor’s appointments and getting tests done; lots of energy being drained away without a single knitted object to show for it. What is up with that?!! This week I didn’t do any rocking; it was more like getting rocked by the week this time.

Still, there have been accomplishments. Check out the finally finished slippers that I made from the Dream in Color kit I bought a few weeks ago:

Slippers
The color is a little dark as it was really cloudy when I took the shot. These are the Pleasant Pheasant Slippers (by Laura Neel) made with Classy with Cashmere in the February 2016 colorway. So nice and comfy!!
Slippers
Here a shot I took of the slippers the sunny day I started them. Aren’t the colors fabulous? They are very warm and cushy, and did I mention the cashmere?
Shawl
I am still working (and working and working) on my Waiting for Rain shawl. It is getting there. Really, it is…

But mostly I spent the week in doctors offices or in bed reading my latest series of compulsive reads: the Cat in the Stacks series by Miranda James. They are fast cozy mystery reads that feature a murder-mystery solving librarian with a giant Maine Coon cat sidekick. I enjoy the books, but it kind of bothers me that the cat on the front cover, who is excessively handsome, is not really looking all that much like a Maine Coon to me. I kind of know about this because Yellow Boy is a Maine Coon mix.

Cat
He has a huge ruff, lots of hair in his ears, and those paws! They are giant, furry Ugg-boot paws with fur between all of his toe pads. Yellow Boy isn’t a giant cat, but if he was he would look like this guy who has been traveling the internet…
Diesel, the cat in the book is 35 pounds. Kind of like this guy I think. Maine Coons have lots of fur, and then there is the tail!
book cover
Here’s a cover from one of the books. Handsome cat, but where is the ruff and huge fluffy tail? 

Still, a small detail. Perhaps the artist had a particularly well groomed cat for the model. The mysteries are fun and I am chomping right through them. There is a housekeeper named Azalea in the books who takes care of the house cleaning, shopping and leaves yummy food in the fridge for people to eat when she isn’t cooking up killer breakfasts for them. She even does the laundry. I need Azalea. Seriously, maybe one of the doctors can write a prescription for Azalea for me. 🙂

I hoarded up energy so I could go to the Interweave Yarn Fest on Friday. What a trip! What a great day! But that, my friends, is another blog post.

 

 

When the going gets tough, the tough get… knitting!

This is it. I’m pretty sure that I am back. Right after Christmas I got sick with the flu, one thing led to another, and I was taken off the drugs that I take to treat my systemic sclerosis (scleroderma). Yep. My autoimmune condition flared of course. Two weeks ago I was finally cleared to start my immunosuppressant drugs again.

Hello energy! Wow. This week a surge of creativity arrived. I was up and pulling together projects right and left while cleaning house (and putting away the Christmas decorations). About freaking time, huh. My poor yarn stash had started to despair. The loom was considering contacting an adoption agency (that darn spinning wheel put it up to it. He has always been a trouble maker…). Even the car was becoming depressed.

My energy level has come up just in time. Three weeks ago my internist sat down with me and gave me some bad news: I have developed symptoms that suggest that my lungs are now under attack and becoming scarred. I kind of expected it as I have been having shortness of breath episodes, but still it isn’t a good development. I made an appointment with the rheumatologist. Yesterday I saw him, he decided to increase my drug dosage, and he also ordered lung testing for next week. When I came out the door from the clinic the wind was blowing, the sun was shining, and I was happy to be alive. No matter what happens next week, this week I am full of energy and feeling pretty good. Got to love these drugs!!

So I decided to not go right home. I went shopping!! Hello! The rheumatologist is located in a city north of Denver near a major yarn store, Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins in Boulder, Colorado. I have needs. The loom is making threats…

Home woven dishtowels
At Christmas my cousin admired my dishtowels. I want a couple more of the white/color checked towels, and she wants the towels with no white. Time to warp the loom, but I am out of the white and light blue cotton. There. That is a good enough reason to go to the yarn (and weaving) store. 🙂

I found the cotton that I needed pretty quickly. As I tried to walk to the checkout counter I happened to see the Dream Club kits…

January Dream Club
The January Dream Club kit had this dreamy cashmere blend fingering yarn and a pattern to make cute mitts and a head scarf. The pattern is called Blue Jean Boheme (by Kalurah Hudson) and while I’m not wild about the scarf, I really like the mitts. I bet I can get two pairs of mitts out of this yarn. Maybe a pair of mitts and a pair of bed socks…

While I was thinking about the bed socks the happy colors of the February Dream Club kit jumped out at me.

February Dream Club
Cashmere blend slippers in the happiest colors ever! This is the February Dream Club kit and the pattern that comes with it is called Pleasant Pheasant Slippers by Lara Neel. Say that fast three times! The yarn is worsted weight and called Classy with Cashmere.

I don’t know how those kits jumped into my arms. It just happened. Clutching the cones of cotton for the dishtowels and the bagged kits I managed to get up to the check out counter and found…

Isn't that the truth!
Isn’t that the truth!

Okay, I did find some more yarn to add to the pile, but I’m going to save it for a future post. I piled back into the car with all of my happy finds and headed south back towards home through some of the strongest wind in recent memory. Seriously, I was dodging tumbleweeds (while on an elevated overpass!) and playing chicken with wobbly tractor trailer trucks as I raced along through clouds of dust and howling 60 mph wind. It perfectly matched my mood of recklessly joyous living.

My last stop on the way home was at a jewelry store where I bought a new teal colored bead for my Pandora bracelet.

Bracelet
Teal is the color for scleroderma awareness ribbons. This is my own personal “Be Brave” bracelet.

I am rocking the knitting tonight wearing my bracelet. This weekend I will get the warp wound for the dishtowels and the loom will get warped up early next week. You know I’ll be wearing the bracelet when I go for the pulmonary function testing next week.

I am tough. I knit!!

Weekend in October Cowl

It is Indian Summer right now in Colorado; the days are warm and balmy and the trees are getting ready to drop their leaves.  I just love the colors this time of year! Within a couple of days last week the leaves on my trees changed to amazing shades of gold, orange and flaming red.  Wow! Fall arrived almost overnight.

For the rest of the week I drove around town and through the countryside admiring the colors and smiling with happiness. Friday afternoon I took out some yarn that looked like fall and cast on a the Cruzado Cowl designed by Laura Nelkin for Dream in Color. I had bought it a couple of weeks ago at my favorite local yarn store, and its colors were now calling to me.

Skein of yarn.
Isn’t this the perfect fall yarn? This is Dream in Color Classy in the October 2014 colorway.

I cast on the cowl using a Moebius cast-on with help from a video online. Yikes! Even following the extremely clear directions by Cat Bordhi in the video I gave it a 50/50 chance that I had done it correctly.  After a couple of rows, however, it became clear that I was OK. Yeah for our team!

Moebius Cowl
Here’s the cowl at its beginning. The cool thing about a Moebius is that you start in the middle and then knit out on both edges at the same time. See the half twist at the bottom? That’s what makes the Moebius.

All weekend I worked on the cowl off and on between trips out running errands amid fall colors. The cowl was fun as it had wrapped and crossed stitches that made it have a lot of interest. It was a fast knit too because the yarn was worsted weight on size 8 needles.

Look at all the fun stitches!
Look at all the fun stitches!

Today I finished the cowl and took it out to the maple tree in my back yard for its final picture. Indian Summer at its finest!

Cowl in tree
Here’s the finished cowl handing in the tree that inspired me to start knitting it.

I originally bought this yarn as I thought my sister in San Diego would like the colors. Sorry Sis! This cowl is staying in Colorado. 🙂