Spinning Rainbows

Draped over my shoulders right now is the most awesome thing that I have made yet. It is a rainbow of lace, spun, designed, and knit by me. I am so excited about this shawl!

It started out like this –

This is Renee’s 12 Color Rainbow on Mystic MCN Roving from Family Pendragon. Beautiful, yes? Yes.

And a very pleasurable spin it was! I separated out the colors and spun all of one color before moving to the next, being careful to blend the transitions evenly, for a gradient rainbow. The yarn is exquisite light fingering singles in a gorgeous riot of color. (Ravelry page here with notes on the spinning)

I agonized over what to knit with it. I really wanted a half-circle shawl that would accentuate the rainbow, but I couldn’t find just the right one. Then I remembered my handy Elizabeth Zimmerman book collection and inspiration just started coming in waves! I looked up the formula for her Pi Shawl and adjusted it to make a half-circle. It was laughably simple once I got going (seriously – so very simple!).

Once I got the shaping figured out, it was just a matter of choosing lace patterns to knit in the arches between the increase rows. Out came all of my lace stitch dictionaries (and quite a bit of Amazon dreaming, I admit! Oh, what I wouldn’t give for some Barbara Walker treasuries!) and I started knitting. The end result? Fabulous! (if I do say so myself) (Ravelry Project Page here)

I didn’t plan too much at once, just letting myself create over the course of the project. Each time I came to an increase row, I sought out the next lace insert, poring over my lace volumes anew.

The only thing that I really knew was that I wanted scalloped edges, so “Feather and Fan” was the obvious choice for the border.

The other goal was to knit a different stitch for each color. This worked out until the rows exceeded 300 stitches and the color repeats shortened to one inch, but by that time I was ready to start the scalloped edge anyway, so it worked out.

Among the many pleasing bits in this project is the lovely fact that the colors cooperated so well, leaving the dark purple for the bind off. I love the dark edge. Perfect.

Another thing that I love is the way that the various lace patterns work together in a pleasing way, even though I didn’t plan them. I was a little concerned that my haphazard method was going to produce something that looked, well, haphazard. On the contrary, I think it looks pretty good, and there are very few things that I would change (one of them being that I wish the orange section was less geometrical and looked more like leaves, as I imagined that it would). The yellow section is inspired by the Kai Mei socks, altered to make an all-over pattern, and the orange section I totally made up myself. For the other patterns I used Vogue Knitting Stitchionary vol 5 for guidance, but tweaking it to my liking along the way.

It is quite a thrill to start with a wad of wool and turn it into something so lovely, and even more thrilling to start with a plan and actually accomplish the goal almost perfectly.

And, though all the girls are vying for ownership, I think this one is for me.

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Lil’ Olive

It isn’t very often that I knit a pattern twice. I have now knit this one three times. You might remember these dolls that I made last year for The Princess and The Munchkin?

Well, I went and knit another. Meet Lil’ Olive, my gift to my niece for her first birthday.

Three things about this knit.

1. I still think that this doll looks so much cuter without a face. I also made the head larger than the pattern dictated and totally winged my own dress. I am so glad that I took good notes the last time that I knitted one of these, because I really like my modifications.

2. My niece, like her Mama and Papa, has dark hair, so I went with some black Knit Picks Palette. I should really make a tutorial on how I did the hair, because it was so easy and looks amazing (if I do say so myself).

3. I was so excited to give this to my sister in law niece. And her delight made my day.

Maeva

I had an epiphany. Are you ready? This one might blow your mind, not because it is particularly clever or new, rather because it took me so long to realize it.

Why do I knit socks with long legs when I clearly have a preference for ankle socks when I buy socks at the store?

How many times have I knit a pair of socks that take twice as much yarn and time as an ankle sock (which is what I’d really rather wear). And isn’t that the point of making socks? To make the perfect sock for me?  I mean, I don’t wear turtleneck sweaters, therefore I don’t knit turtleneck sweaters. I don’t wear long johns, therefore I don’t knit long johns. So, I made a decision mid-sock and knit a pair of socks that I would love to wear (fortunately for me, it was a toe up sock, so I could make that kind of a change).

Introducing my “Natalie Loves Me” socks (so named because this yarn was a baby shower gift from my knitting buddy who knows what makes me happy).

Maeva in Knit Picks Stroll Tonal, Foliage

Three things about this knit –

1. This yarn does what it does well. I am not saying that it is my new favorite, but for a pair of socks I think it will do just fine. I love the color and the way that I magically (and without trying at all) started each sock at exactly the same point in the colorway so that the semi-striping is perfectly matching. I love the sturdy feeling these socks have.

2. I learned many new things while knitting these socks, the least of which was the epiphany mentioned earlier in this post. I learned how to do Judy’s Magic Cast On, a truly wonderful trick. I learned that while toe up socks are fascinating, I would much rather start at the top and work down. I also learned that I actually do enjoy working socks one at a time (rather than both at once) and that knitting the second sock doesn’t have to be a painful chore (because this second sock was just as fun as the first). I guess you could say that these were educational socks.

3. I made many mistakes. Many. I mean it. A lot. I crossed cables willy-nilly with no thought to the way they were actually supposed to cross. I increased haphazardly. I decreased when I felt like it. I totally faked the heel flap without even peeking at the pattern. All of these mistakes are tiny, and really, (really) they make no difference (at all. whatsoever). I keep telling myself that I don’t care. But I do. (But not enough to frog them.)

Also, these socks are kinda baggy, which is weird because I have huge feet and every other sock I ever knit for myself has been tight. Maybe I can shrink them up a bit in the dryer. (note to self – next time do a smaller cuff)

All in all, a satisfying knit and a new pair of socks in my drawer. It’s been good week.

Olearia

The Princess finally got her sweater. It took me a very long time to get this one right – I went through different yarns and different patterns and knit and frogged and cried a little. At long last it is finished. My Rav project page here.

Olearia in Green Mountain Spinnery, Cotton Comfort, Navy

The hat is Lucy. It was made from the leftover yarn. And there is still almost an entire ball remaining. (The hat, by the way, was a great disappointment. Looking for a hat like the one that Lucy wears in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe led me to this pattern. It turned out too big (it fits me, so I had to pin it smaller), difficult to construct (the stitch pattern made my hands ache), and not as cute as I’d hoped. That is a lot of disappointment for a $5 pattern).

Three things about this knit:

1. This pattern is excellent. It is well written, simple, and easy. The results are fabulous and look pretty awesome considering how simple the pattern was. I am now a big fan of Georgie Hallum, the designer.

2. The yarn, however, I am not so fond of. While the finished product is very soft and warm and gorgeous, it was not nice to knit. It felt scratchy running through my fingers and it was stiff, not to mention the many, many (many) times that I had to stop and dig bits of hay out of it. I probably wouldn’t use it again. On the other hand, when the hat turned out too big and I tried to felt it smaller, it refused to felt, so this sweater is going to be thrown in the machine. That is a big plus.

3. Instead of buttons I used my snap press and some really pretty ribbon that I got at this Etsy store and made a snap closure. I love using this option for many reasons -it is easier than installing a zipper, you don’t have to worry about buttonholes, picking out ribbon is fun, and the kids can operate them easily. I did order some cute buttons but they haven’t come in yet and I am tired of waiting for them. When they come I will sew them on to the front and it will be complete.

So, there it is. I am really happy with it, and so is The Princess.

Next up, the sweater for The Boy.

Dream in Color Classy, Emerald Darkness