Universal Yarn just came out with this lovely collection of idiosyncratic wraps, Contrarian Shawls.
Amy Gunderson's cover shawl, Southwest Suns, is crocheted in a yarn I have yet to sample: Good Earth. Besides sharing a name with the Minnesota restaurant where I first had dinner with my now-husband, this yarn attracts me for another reason. I have liked everything else in the Fibra Natura line, and I admire their tendency toward natural, organic fibers (although I notice the organic yarns have been discontinued).
This shawl is contrarian because of its construction: the motifs are worked first, then the border around them, then the shawl body upward, decreasing to form a semicircle. Also the pale stripes are not equally spaced throughout the semicircle, but perfectly balance the motifs at the lower edge.
Holly Priestly's contribution to the booklet is the rollicking Sailor Stripe, with which she claims to have engaged in a few arm-wrestling matches (as if the skipper was proving its contrarianism).
The red triangle is worked first, with a rippling lace detail. Stitches are then picked up along one side of it and worked on the bias with red stripes for flair.
I love this piece. It has an interesting construction and a fun, effortless look.
The last shawl I'd like to showcase is the Forest Floor Stole. I don't normally feature my own designs in my reviews, but this one is special. It works up quickly in dreamy Llamalini and it's extremely enjoyable to watch the leaves pile up. The swinging shape of the heap of leaves is the perfect foil to the plain stockinette end, which you can make as short or as long as you like. I love the way it knits, the way it looks, and the way it wears.
There are eight other designs in this collection, each with its own little quirks. Much as I would like to spotlight them, I need the space to talk about the patterns themselves. Lovingly tech edited by Amy Gunderson, they are in an easily readable three-column format with both charts and written instructions provided for lace patterns.
Shane Baskin of Blackbox Studios contributes her usual proficient photography, with both wrapped and extended images of each shawl modeled by Emma Claris in attractive, natural poses.
This is a unique collection and I'm pleased to be a part of it. Buy the individual patterns or the entire eBook from the Universal Yarn website, Craftsy, or Ravelry.
This is my Forest Floor Stole, part of the Contrarion Shawls collection from Universal Yarns. Knit in luscious Fibranatura Llamalini, it begins with a length of stockinette fabric, then adds leaves one by one until there is a pile of leaves at the end of the scarf.
The cast-on end can roll as much or as little as you like. I personally like a lot of roll, but I blocked it with very little to show it can be done. Unwrapped short rows complete each leaf on the bind-off row.
This straightforward pattern has a great rhythm to it and works up so quickly you'll want to make another right away!
When I opened this box, I yelped with delight and trepidation. So much beautiful yarn . . .
. . . but it's white!
Those of you who know I drag my knitting everywhere with me will easily surmise from whence my trepidation sprang.
This project stayed at home in a valiant attempt to preserve its whiteness. I had planned to steam block the sweater (instead of my usual wash-blocking) because cotton takes so long to dry in our humid climate.
I ended up washing the finished garment after all, but that's a story for another day. . . .
I love what Hepworth's spikes do for my shoulders in this photo. They are adapted from Lynne Barr's "Fins" stitch pattern in Reversible Knitting.
Hepworth is knit from the top down with raglan sleeves. The sturdy yarn and texture seemed to call for a metal zipper, so that's what I used. The evolution of this sweater from yarn to finished project was quite interesting and will be the subject of future posts.
I'm very much looking forward to receiving the sample back because I really want to wear it! The cotton-wool blend will be just right for those in-between days we have so many of here.
In anticipation of the next issue of Clotheshorse magazine, I thought I'd post a tutorial from one of my designs that appeared in last winter's Clotheshorse.
This is Baroque, a double-breasted capelet with contrast color facings, done in stranded colorwork using steeks.
One way to prepare steeks involves a sewing machine. You can also sew them by hand or crochet them---or simply leave them to felt. For this design, I chose a knotted steek. The knots fill in the space between the facing and the colorwork, adding insulation.
Below is a photo of the back panel before cutting. The stripe running up the center is the steek itself---a bridge of stitches which will not appear in the garment itself. The narrow black line marks the center, and it is where I will cut.
Whew! Now for the knots. I gently unravel the stitches all the way to the solid white line. Then I choose one black strand and one white strand and knot them together. I pair a black strand with a white in hopes that I will get two strands from the same row. Perplexingly, it doesn't always work out this way and I end up with an extra white strand and have to knot three strands together, then root around for the black strand that escaped earlier.
I used an overhand knot---maybe a half-hitch?---for most of the knots. But in spite of my clever color-coding of the steek itself, some strands were too short and had to be tied in square knots. Below are action shots of the half-hitches in process . . .
. . . and the final fringe, which is to be tucked in neatly under orchid-colored facing.
I'm pleased to be able to present my Ingång Pullover design from Willow yarns. "Ingång" is the Swedish word for entryway, and since the yoke of this sweater features Bohus-inspired arches I thought the name fit.
Bohus knitting is stranded colorwork with fistfuls of color on one row, slipped stitches, and purl stitches. This design only calls for two colors per row, but the slipped stitches and purls give it the impression of having more.
My husband doesn't like a lot of flashy colorwork, and I assume many people share that feeling. These colors look subtle, but it took quite a bit of swatching to come up with a pattern that looked subdued and still read as a pattern. At first I was surprised by that, then became frustrated (and whiney) as nothing seemed to be working. The whining (specifically, the complaint "I need a color between these two colors") inspired a technique that led to the final design. You can see it working between the upper two sets of arches where two background colors are blended with purl stitches.
The sample size of Ingång (Medium) is too small for my husband, but my son and Willow's professional model are pictured below wearing it. I think it fits my son better, and there are weird shipping wrinkles on the model, but both men look great!
Usually when my blog goes quiet I've been working steadily.
I can't show you the actual project yet, but I can tell you this yarn is wonderful. It's softer and less splitty than some cotton yarns, and comes in an array of lovely vivid colors. I wish it were organic! It's rather linty, and it doesn't hold up after multiple reknits, but that's because it's so deliciously soft.
The rights to sell my first Clotheshorse patterns, Hestia and San Graal, returned to me a while ago. I finally got around to proofreading the tech edited version (yes, I'm one of those) and posting it on Ravelry. So if you've been putting off buying this pattern, now would be an excellent time to take the plunge.
As I wrote before, San Graal looks amazing but is really a perfect first stranded colorwork project. Trust me. Just remember to admire your work frequently so you can catch any obvious mistakes.
Plus, the pattern includes instructions for lengthening the garment if you're a little shy. But look at the pictures below before you decide. The fuzzy-faced chick is me before I learned how to focus the camera when using the timer.
I'm well known for my generous hips and thighs, but this skirt makes me look downright slim. Maybe it's all the alligators. . . .
photo by the wonderful Jeff Roland
This week's Malabrigo Quickie is one of my designs!
Ochos Locos can be worn as either a scarf or belt, and the super-bulky Aquarella works up super-fast.
I loved working with this yarn. It's so many of my favorite things: hand-dyed wool, thick-and-thin, fair trade . . . and gorgeous! The colors are amazing and I had a hard time choosing between them.
I settled on Indy which is described as "Brownish Golden Yellow, Greens, Wet Blues and Violets." Sounds like a walk through the forest after a good rain. The mix of colors looks like watercolors, blending beautifully and flowing into one another. Garter stitch enhances the blending.
Ochos Locos is written to use two balls of yarn at the same time, so you could easily use two different colors. The pattern includes special two-color instructions, as well as variations for rounder holes and longer holes. I had so much fun with this pattern, I couldn't resist cooking up alternate versions.
Thanks to Alex at Malabrigo for yarn support, and Jeff for photography.
Finally! Photos of Taurus being worn.
Over a wrinkled shirt which I tried to iron with the retouch function. . . .
This is the prototype. The back "zodiac circle" is smaller in the actual pattern, so it lies flat. But I'm definitely going to use the larger circle as a design element in a future shawl. I love the way it hangs. I don't think I'm wearing the right shirt to show it off, but it really accentuates my waist when it hangs like this. I also love the way the Green Sheep Fingering feels against my skin, and the way it keeps the chill of the air conditioning off. This is my new go-to shawl. Just in time, too, since my daughter stole my old one!
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