Botanica Medallion Vest Travels (Straight into the frog pond)

Botanica Medallion Vest on the beach in Malibu CA

Botanica Medallion Vest on the beach in Malibu CA

Every season, I find that there’s one project that I feel is a must have item. This summer it was the Botanica Medallion Vest. It was the Vogue Summer Knitting cover piece. I liked the idea of using the doily-like center to make the back of the nest and to add a wonderful shawl collar that made the front of the vest.

Based on the pattern, I decided to use a range of colors in Tahki cotton. I bought some aqua and forest green to coordinate with some white that I already had. I swatched and knitted the center a couple of times. The border with its combination of stitches was an unusual way to create a circle which gets larger on the edge.

I brought this project to Los Angeles with me and I even got some knitting done on the beach. But as I knit, I realized that I didn’t enjoy making it. The work with the triple wrapped edge stitches was driving me crazy so after lots of thinking and knitting time invested in this project, I am letting it go.

I have learned that sometimes you just have to take a deep breath with a project and send it to the frog pond. Knitting is a part of my life that should bring joy and relaxation. It’s an area to be creative and sometimes the bravest step is to admit that a project is just not happening for you.

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

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Yarn Shopping in the Valley – LA Bound with Yarn

These days, I try not to travel without making at least one stop for yarn. It allows me to expand my stash and gives me a great souvenir from the place. Since I  was headed to Los Angeles for  a long weekend with my sister and her family, I checked on the status of some of my favorite Los Angeles based yarn emporiums and was disappointed, although not surprised to discover that they had closed. Fortunately, one of the members of my Upper Westside Knitters group had relocated to the Los Angeles area and visited our group earlier in the summer. She recommended a store in Burbank which is part of “The Valley” called Unwind. Also, Megan who had worked at The Point had recommended another store in Studio City called the Stitch Cafe .

These two stores made a great afternoon knitting expedition which was relatively easy to accomplish since the stores are close by Los Angeles standards (i.e. less than a half hour away.) The fact that my sister lives in one of the neighboring suburbs was an added bonus (translation: limited driving to get there.) Please note that if you’re in Los Angeles and decide to visit these shops which I strongly recommend that you do, make sure to check the addresses. The stores blend with the other retailers in the neighborhood so that they can be difficult to spot if you’re driving and looking at the same time.

Unwind-Burbank, CA Yarn Haven

Unwind-Burbank, CA Yarn Haven

Unwind Yarn Store WIndow All Dressed Up

Unwind Yarn Store WIndow All Dressed Up

Heartland Shawl Inspiration at Unwind

Heartland Shawl Inspiration at Unwind

Yarn greets shoppers at Unwind in Burbank, CA

Yarn greets shoppers at Unwind in Burbank, CA

Comfortable seating at Unwind, Burbank, CA

Comfortable seating at Unwind, Burbank, CA

Unwind is a relatively large store from my New York City perspective. It has a specious feel to it and there’s a big table in the back that was filled with women working on various projects including Stephanie the owner. The store was friendly which I can’t say about all of the shops that I’ve visited in Los Angeles. It had a great selection of yarns and there was a variety of projects that were knitted to entice all levels of knitters. I was inspired to make the Heartland Shawl based on the sample in the window.

I bought a skien of a locally dyed sock yarn by Pagewood Farm called Chugiak with the intention of making a small shawl. The color had the wonderful name: Mardi Gras. It was a pinkish yarn with bursts of green and dark blue.  I must admit that sock yarn makes a wonderful souvenir purchase since it’s large enough to create something without making a dent in either your budget or your stash. (Note to self consider becoming proficient at socks.) I would have loved to stay and knit but I wanted to make another stop before returning home.

Stitch Cafe in Studio City, CA-See the knitting needles?

Stitch Cafe in Studio City, CA-See the knitting needles?

Yarn colorfully arranged at Stitch Cafe in Studio City, CA

Yarn colorfully arranged at Stitch Cafe in Studio City, CA

I also stopped at Stitch Cafe in Studio City which is a cozy little yarn shop where the yarn is tucked into overflowing containers. It has a big table in the center of the store where a knitter was getting help with her work. There were some yarn brands that were new to me and some wonderful Malabrigo sock yarn. I loved the feel of the store and believe that if I lived in the vicinity that I would become a regular here as well. Unfortunately, my sister called to let me know that she was on her way home so I cut my visit short.

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

4 Factors to Consider When Making Nightsong Shawl-Another Finished Object

Nightsong Shawl in Cashmere lace weight from Silk CIty Fibers

Nightsong Shawl in Cashmere lace weight from Silk CIty Fibers

I finally finished the Carnation Pink Nightsong Shawl. I felt particularly inspired after seeing the cashmere lace shawl at Mountain Fibers which had a 3 figure price tag. My husband insists that I undervalue my knitted work. It’s not a matter of how it looks but rather the fact that I often knit while I do something else whether it’s visiting with friends in my knitting circles or watching television with my husband or commuting.

For those of you considering making the Nightsong shawl, I strongly recommend it. Here’s my list of its strengths and weaknesses. Of course, how you view them depends on the level of your lace work and goals.

  • Nightsong is a triangular shawl which is relatively shallow. As a result, it gets long enough to wrap around one’s neck quickly. It can be used for a skien of sock yarn with 450 yards. (Please note that this is an estimate! Your results may vary.)
  • Nightsong is a free pattern available online. The pattern is the same on both the left and right sides. There are several ways to follow the repeats. If you read through the entries on Ravelry, you can make an educated guess as to what will work for your project based on the size  shawl you want and how much yarn you have.
  • Nightsong shawl, unlike many triangular shawls doesn’t have a center stitch or spine. At the center is a double yarnover where you need to knit and purl. If you’re not careful, the holes can be large.
  • Nightsong shawl repeats grow organically getting bigger and smaller which helps make it interesting for the knitter and if you’re like me and use stitch markers to denote the pattern repeats, there’s no need to move them!

On the whole, I enjoyed the Nightsong Shawl pattern and would make it again. I am not alone as you’ll see if you check it on Ravelry. I found the very fine cashmere lace weight a challenge. It required good light and I found that I needed to rest my eyes periodically.

Once I soaked the shawl (it’s a good idea to sock lace shawls for at least a half hour. I use hair conditioner which relaxes the yarn.) and pinned it out, the cashmere really softened and the lace blossomed. Since I bought this yarn as a mill end at Silk City Fibers, I have no idea as to how much I used or the true price.

Have you tried the Nightsong Shawl? If so, what did you think?

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

Catskill Adventure – Mountain Yarns

Peaceful knitting on the deck in Margaretville,NY

Peaceful knitting on the deck in Margaretville,NY

Friends of ours have a cabin in the woods in upstate New York near the town of Margaretville. Surrounded by trees, it’s a wonderful respite from the statuesque buildings of Manhattan.

The wrap around porch has inviting chairs that allow visitors to take in the natural beauty while reading, surfing or knitting. It could star in one of those Verizon Wireless ads since it’s in the center of a mobile dead zone.Don’t worry –our friends have gotten a landline for communications and internet access to stay connected.

My girl friend was excited that we were visiting since she wanted to show me “Mountain Yarns” which is a great yarn, knitting and weaving store nestled inside of a larger building of boutiques.

The owner, Tina Harp, is a multi-talented fiber artist who spins, weaves and knits. The store spills out into a cafe area where visitors can purchase homemade baked goods and coffee.

Welcome to Mountain Yarns

Welcome to Mountain Yarns

For Sale - hand woven goods

For Sale - hand woven goods

Cashmere Lace Shawl - Hand Made with Love

Cashmere Lace Shawl - Hand Made with Love

Old fashioned knitting needles and accessories

Old fashioned knitting needles and accessories

Hand weaving in progress at Mountain Yarns

Hand weaving in progress at Mountain Yarns

Tina Harp of Mountain Yarns and Store Mascot

Tina Harp of Mountain Yarns and Store Mascot

The shop isn’t for crafters only. Tina has filled it with hand made items for purchase as well as yarns and other materials. In particular, there was a collection of hand woven guest towels and scarves. The centerpiece was a circular lace shawl in cashmere lace weight. 

I was enticed by the collection of knitting tools from yesteryear at yesterday’s prices. I love the older plastic circular needles which are difficult to find, even on eBay. So I stocked up on one of every size as well as some tiny crochet hooks and other accessories.

My girlfriend  spent her time weaving since she’s taking lessons and needed more time to finish a piece that she was working on. 

If you’re in the neighborhood, Mountain Yarns is a treat and well worth the visit.   

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

5 Suggestions for the Hemlock Ring Blanket-Finished Object!

My Hemlock Ring Blankie is finished. What a sense of accomplishment I feel. My husband is amazed that I’m willing to give it to our friends as a house gift for their relatively new cabin in the woods.

Unlike other lace pieces, I am not blocking this one using wires and pins. Instead, I am using an iron and wet cloths to steam it. I am concerned about the space and time required to allow the blanket to dry fully. 

My suggestions for others setting out to make a Hemlock Ring Blankie are:

  1. Think about how big the piece will get. For most knitters, this means that it will not be a project that you carry around with you.
  2. Consider whether you want it to be one color or not. My color palette was determined for me. I had gotten 5 skeins of the handspun wool at a yarn swap. As a result, I needed a way to make the colors go together. The pattern lends itself to changing colors with each ring of the feather and fan repeats. You can use a larger variety of colors. My constraint was that the lavender colored yarn didn’t go with the red colored yarn if they were placed next to each other.
  3. Make sure that you have needles, either using multiple sets or a set of interchangeable ones to be big enough to hold the stitches. Otherwise, you wind up spending time moving the stitches.
  4. Test or swatch before starting to ensure that the center of your ring will lay flat when you’re finished with the piece.
  5. Have fun with it.

Here are some photos so that you can see how it turned out.

 

Hemlock Ring Blanket Finished-It's more even than it appears

Hemlock Ring Blanket Finished-It's more even than it appears

Hemlock Ring Blanket- One petal of detail

Hemlock Ring Blanket- One petal of detail

Submitted by Knitted-Yarns Editor-in-Chief

Purl By the Sea Knitted Celebrations & Knitting Needle Challenges

 

Montauk beach greetings my knitting

Montauk beach greetings my knitting

My husband and I trekked out to Montauk to take advantage of the glorious mid-summer weather and to visit Purl By the Sea. 

I am working hard on my Hemlock Ring Blankie since it’s a gift for friends and I need to be finished before next weekend. One of my problems is that it’s gotten so big that I had to switch to my Denise knitting needles and they have a propensity for coming undone. This isn’t a problem when you’re knitting a smaller scale project and you only use one cord. BUT when you start adding cord to cord to cord, the chances of one of the links coming apart in the middle of your knitting increases.

Unfortunately, given the thickness of the yarn, my Hemlock Ring Blankie no longer fits on 36 inch circular needles. Thankfully, Nora at Purl By the Sea stocks longer sizes of Addi Turbos so that I could switch to 60 inch size 11 needles to speed through the last repeats of my Blankie. (Despite her urging me not to, I also bought the 48 inch size as well! They will be tough to find when she closes the store.)

Since my husband has been bugging me for a pair of socks ever since I made him the first set a couple of years ago, I decided to take advantage of Purl By the Sea’s Going Out of Business Sale. I bought some wonderful blues, greens and purple merino from ArtYarns. It’s a manly green and blue mix which I find appealing so that there’s hope that I’ll be able to knit with it.

As friends of the store, we were invited to a special treat. The knitting circle had made a birthday party for one of the women and everyone brought wonderful dishes to share. My husband, who is also considered a friend of the store, and I partook of the great food. 

 

Homemade Chicken Wings

Homemade Chicken Wings

Homemade Tortellini Salad

Homemade Tortellini Salad

Homemade Goat Cheese Pizza

Homemade Goat Cheese Pizza

Since I don’t have any shots of my knitting, here’s one of my Purl By the Sea friends who is knitting the most wonderful baby blanket. It’s a solid piece with designs knitted into different boxes. What a great way not to get bored!

 

Friend's Baby Blanket with Design Knitted Into It

 

Friend’s Baby Blanket with Design Knitted Into It

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

Mom’s Improvised Sweater – Knitting Instructions Included

 

Mom's Improvised Drop Shoulder Ribbed Sweater

Mom's Improvised Drop Shoulder Ribbed Sweater

To show that I come by my ability to visualize and adapt knitting patterns naturally, I am showing off my mother’s grey improvised sweater. 

I gave my mom this wonderful grey linen blend which contains flecks of white since my mother always has room for one more grey item in her wardrobe. One of my uptown knitting buddies had given it to me when she was destashing. It seems that my knitting friends all know that I can envision how to turn some longer cherished stash into something wonderful. 

Since there was sufficient yarn for a sweater, my mother decided to adapt a simplified pattern that she had used before. At its core, the pattern consists of two rectangles which are sewn together at the shoulders forming a boat neck. Then stitches are picked up for sleeves which are knit down. This has the great advantage of allowing the knitter to measure the length as she goes which is good because the sweater has a dropped shoulder.

Before she started, my mom knit a swatch and we measured it. The swatch allowed my mom to try out a couple of variations of stitches. Then I took her measurements and applied some easy math to get the basic cast on. And she was off and knitting. 

You’ll note that my mom used a variety of ribbed stitches to make the sweater more fitted. 

If you’re interested in trying it, follow these easy steps:

1] Knit a swatch of at least 20 stitches using the appropriate needle for the yarn and your gauge.

2] Take your measurements. Add 2 inches to your widest measurement and divide that number by 2.

3] Multiply the number of stitches per inch by half of your measurement to get your cast on number of stitches.

4] Knit 2 rectangles to the length that you want your sweater to be. My mom knit about 24 inches.

5] Sew the shoulders together (Take the measurement from step 2 and subtract 8 inches. Then divide by 2 this is the number of inches that you need to sew on each shoulder.)

6] Pick up stitches at the armhole. My mother used 8 inches * her stitch gauge (with half of the stitches picked up on either side.) She then slowly decreased to her wrist. I usually decrease every 10 rows a couple of times, then 8 rows a couple of times, etc. until I have the appropriate amount for my wrist.

Happy knitting!