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Posts tagged ‘inspirationMonday’

Inspiration Monday: new classic cowls

Happy Monday again! Hope you’re safe and dry, or cool and enjoying some fresh air wherever you are. Mother Nature’s been reminding us that she’s boss the last few weeks, hasn’t she? When she settles down a bit, we’ll be able to relax into Fall (or Spring, Down Under).

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, the light is coming in at an angle, lighting up the tomato bushes and their bounty; you might notice that you need a little something around your neck for your morning walk. Good thing there is a fresh crop of patterns for us to choose from with the change of seasons! My pals at Churchmouse have just released a new set of Classics patterns, and I could hardly wait to share a few them with you.

Tapered CowlThe Tapered Cowl solves the problem of how to drape a tube around your neck artfully – here, there’s a larger number of stitches at the cast-on edge, which gradually decrease away as you head toward the neck. What you end up with is a graceful pool of soothing stockinette, framing your lovely face just so.

(Bonus: if the A/C kicks in right over your desk in the office, you can pull the larger portion down over your shoulders, eliminating the need for a cardigan slung over the back of your office chair!)

The pattern calls for sport-weight yarn knitted at 6 stitches to the inch, making for a solid-yet-drapey fabric. What a perfect opportunity to take advantage of Silky Victoria’s body and luster.

One skein is all you need for this beauty – that, and a few stitch markers to remind you to do the decreases every umpty-ump rounds. (Does anyone else find this kind of project ideal for visually-rich binge-worthy shows like Outlander and Wolf Hall? Knit knit knit for most of an episode, then pause – do the decrease round, pour another beverage, get a snack and – hit play again!)

I’m thinking a skein of “Say Nevermore” on Silky Victoria might be sneaking their way into my Blue Moon shopping cart this afternoon.

But here’s a heads-up: this pattern also works beautifully with finer yarns! The 6 stitch-to-the-inch gauge on US3 needles means you can ‘open up’ lace- or fingering-weight yarns … which was exactly what I had to do with those two skeins of Yaksi Fingering. Mmm! And just as soon as I bind that one off, I’m casting on again with two skeins of La Luna Lace in “Winter Solstice” for my mom’s Christmas present (yup, it’s that time, people!).

half & half worstedIf you’re looking for neckwear with some architectural interest, how about the Half & Half Cowl? Half of the knitting is done flat, before joining in the round to knit the second half circularly. This allows the flat half to splay open over your shoulders (great to tuck under your coat when it gets really cold later in the season!), while the circular portion cozies up around your neck and ears. It’s a lavish depth at 20″/51cm, so it’s a great way to feature a colorway you just adore. It makes the most of a full skein of Targhee Worsted, which is what I cast on in “Spruced” last weekend – what a bouncy, fun knit!

The pattern includes two cool geeky techniques: tubular cast-on and bind-off methods that have been worked over and streamlined so they’re less intimidating and more approachable (always a wonderful feature of Churchmouse patterns).

What I love about these two pieces is that they take prime knitting real estate – the area that frames your face – and give you tons of room to feature glorious yarns in beautiful colorways. I can’t think of a better way to feature some of the loveliness that rolls out of the barn at Blue Moon.

Happy casting on, everyone!

 

Inspiration Monday: Round and Round in Circles

As I sit and write this in my little corner of the Pacific Northwest, the moon is finishing its valiant trip across the sun, and things are slowly getting brighter and brighter. That’s a nice image to start the week with, eh?

Sketchbook ShawlAmidst all the hullaballo about the eclipse, I haven’t stopped thinking about the quiet brightness of Suvi Simola’s Sketchbook Shawl. This beautiful, quiet design had been on the docket for last week’s Inspiration Monday until Eclipse Madness took over.

I can’t decide if it’s the sweet regularity of the yarnover lace pattern, or the simple geometry of the thing, but I’ve been a bit obsessed to cast one of these on…

I know a lot of us are fans of Blue Moon because of Tina’s masterful use of color – and the Multicolor Wave colorways are eye candy for any day of the week – but let me make an argument for the quieter side of the palette: the Spirits. “Wraithlike tints,” the Spirits are colors taken all the way to their essence; Tina says they are like homeopathy for color.

Seen side by side on their web page, you can tell the different tints apart – but get them alone and they register as a quiet version of white or off-white. I have some Jengu in La Luna Lace that’s quietly calling me to cast it on for one of these Sketchbook Shawls.unnamed

Jengu is ‘spirited from the color blue,’ and named after a mermaid-type spirit who inhabits the waterways in Cameroon and is the bearer of good fortune and healing powers to all they encounter. Sounds like an ideal Spirit to call forth in a pretty, lightweight wrap!

Two skeins and several weeks of calm-yet-entertaining knitting later, you’ll have your own Spirit to wrap yourself up in. And no matter where you live, there’s some weather coming up that would be ideal for a lightweight shawl like this over your shoulders.

In the meantime, in honor of the light returning from behind the moon, we’ll leave you with an inspiring quote from Paulo Coelho:

“You are the light of the world. Shine, and the darkness will disappear.”

Inspiration Monday: Moth-rah!*

MothCozyIt’s hot out, isn’t it? And here we are, on the last Inspiration Monday in July … is it cruel to post pictures of cozy, cocoony sweaters?

No, it’s not – it’s a knitter’s optimistic gesture, a reminder to all of us sweltering and melting in the summer sun that the time will come to wrap ourselves in woolens again, and drink our tea hot instead of iced. Winter is coming, my friends. Hang tight.

And when that time comes, you’ll want a new sweater to wrap yourself up in, right? You’ll want to be packing up your brand-new, fresh-off-the-needles Moth Cardigan into your suitcase to take to Rhinebeck. You’ll want to be wearing it as you queue up for your cider doughnuts and choose your favorite knit-themed mug from one of the stalls. And you’ll really want to be wearing it when – oh look! Is that Amy Christoffers walking toward you?

(These are my fantasies. You’re very welcome to share them.)

So it’s time to get one of these on the needles, STAT – if only as a way to take back some control over summer (which is bringing 110-plus-degree weather to the gals at Blue Moon. Send them strength as they stand over steaming dye pots this week!). Cast on a Moth Cardigan now, because that much Fisherman’s Rib is a deliberate business, and you won’t want to rush through the pleasure of knitting it by October.

Time to choose the perfect yarn, then – look no further than Silky Victoria. Long-and-fine-wool Polwarth is blended with a hint of silk for sheen and luster to show off the rich texture of the Fisherman’s Rib. And each generous skein comes with 695 yards of knitting potential, so the first two sizes can be worked from just two skeins ($72!). That’s a lot of knitting pleasure for way under a hundred bucks. For the largest size, you’ll want a third skein, but you’ll have a bunch left over for a few great accessories (holiday gifts or donations, anyone?).

The color of Amy’s sample piece left me inspired to choose a colorway that’s got all my favorite Fall colors all wrapped into one: dusty plums, faded greens, some woody tan and quiet greys … which of course means none other than Heckley Speckley:

heckley_speckley_sk

When dyed onto a silk blend, the fabulous scummy-plummy colors on Heckley Speckley come out a bit muted (remember my SilkMo Alexandra’s Airplane Scarf?), a nice choice for this oversized, cozy cardigan.

So by all means, brew your iced tea to get through this sweltering week … but keep an eye on the prize: a new fall (Rhinebeck?) sweater!

* Moth-rah? Mothra!

Inspiration Monday: Cozy Up!

Some patterns take the Knitting Internet by storm… A good design can capture our hearts and jump on our needles faster than we can say “indie designer.”

Image © K Good Photography

Image © K Good Photography

One such pattern was released this week – Veronika by the ebullient VeryShannon. In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock (otherwise known as ‘camping’ this time of year) and haven’t clapped eyes on it, it’s a cocoon-like shrug for you to knit up now and nestle into as the weather pulls in. (“Winter is Coming!”, right Game of Thrones fans?)

And in a burst of universal synchronicity, Tina’s launched a yarn that should be just the thing you want to snuggle up in… Plushy! This 3-ply, 20.5 micron merino provides plump stitch definition and some extra durability for years of wear (good to have in a garment that’s got a few miles in it when it’s this cozy).

Plushy

Best of all, Tina’s offering Plushy at an introductory price for the next few weeks of $5 off per skein – generous, 330-yard skeins, to boot! So if you pick a color now and git ’em ordered, they’ll be at your doorstep and on your needles before the Equinox.

Shannon’s worked three sizes into the design, so even though fit isn’t super-critical, you can choose a size that will give you generous room without swamping your figure.

Size 1 gives enough ease for bust sizes 30-38″, and takes 1323 yards = 4 skeins of Plushy;
Size 2  gives enough ease for bust sizes 40-46″, and takes 1562 yards = 5 skeins of Plushy;
Size 3 gives enough ease for bust sizes 48-54″, and takes 1691 yards = 5 skeins of Plushy.

Now for the hard part – choosing a color! I’m thinking mine will have to be in one of the Raven Clan colorways, for a deep moodiness that will serve me well through our wet, dark Pacific NW winters. (Maybe I’ll step out of my usual blues-and-greens safe place and try Tlingit to spice things up…)

See you on the needles!

Inspiration Monday: Cloudy, with a chance of cowls

Happy Monday, everyone!

It’s the first official Monday in summer, and yet in the perverse schedule proscribed to us makers, what’s on our needles now is what we’ll need to wear come Fall. Smart Gal Amy Singer of knitty.com is all too aware of this, so she gives us the gift of a “First Fall” issue in June.

So many good pieces in this ish! But the one that jumped out at me first and inspired me to reach into my Blue Moon bin was Wolkig, by the endlessly-talented (and fellow German, again!) Martina Behm.

WolkigbyMartinaBehm2_2_medium

It’s a little fluffkin of a cowl, perfect for knitting at this easily-distractable time of year, when your eye might be on the kids playing in the surf or on the waiter bringing you your drink with the umbrella in it, rather than on your pattern.

WolkigbyMartinaBehm2_1_small2

Dudes – it’s a ONE-LINE PATTERN. ONE set of instructions, round and round, ’til you bind off. A genius AFP (Afternoon-Friendly or Alcohol-Friendly Project, depending on how you roll) that will roll off the needles just in time to deter the first windy days of Fall.

A piece like this needs a fluffy dream of a yarn, and good thing Tina has just the ticket: Featherlight. As Tina says in the description, it’s “a perfect balance between softness and twist, like a feather dancing on a breeze.” 100% merino, with just enough twist to hold its shape, but an airy single that will let the texture of the decreases and increases in your ONE PATTERN ROW (did I mention it was easy?) shine.

And with 430 yards per skein, you can just knit knit knit til you have just enough to bind off – or splurge and make it bigger with two skeins and extra stitches (Martina tells you what multiples to add right there in the pattern).

May your summer be filled with blue skies, with the only cloud on the horizon the Wolkig on your needles!

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inspiration Monday: Sandbank

I’ve long wanted to start a series that captures the possibilities of an inspiring design in a Blue Moon yarn. After all, a truly successful project is the marriage of a great design with the proper yarn; and helping customers choose yarns for projects was one of my favorite parts of working in a yarn store. I picked up a lot over the years from customers’ experiences and around the teaching table; seeing customers come in a few weeks or months later wearing their gorgeous FO’s was one of the best perks of the job.

So let’s grab some inspiration from patterns that are out there on Ravelry and in the knitiverse and help each other make beautiful things!

Following the advice of “start where you are,” I’ll dive in with a piece that grabbed me just this morning (I’m particularly vulnerable during my first cup of coffee): “Sandbank,” by my fellow German Lea-Viktoria. Here’s a wide, deep, mildly-crescent-shaped swath of stockinette that’s just crying out for a great colorway. It’s an ingenious center-out construction which lets you knit it entirely in the round and make the most of the yardage you have in a laceweight to light-fingering weight yarn.

image @ Lea-Viktoria

image @ Lea-Viktoria

This piece has a supple rhythm to it which is so beguiling; at first glance, it could be a big rectangle, but it’s curved at the ends. It could be a Faroese-shawl shape, because it has shaping that helps it stay on the shoulders, but it’s not overly huge. Lea-Viktoria says you can wear it like a cardigan or like a big scarf, which would make it super-versatile for wear over a sleeveless summer dress. Or bundle it up around your neck under your winter coat and then let it cover you at your desk in the office before the heating kicks in.

image @ Lea-Viktoria

image @ Lea-Viktoria

 

 

 

 

So let’s talk yarn … what should we knit our Sandbanks out of?

The yarn she used for her sample is a laceweight, with 1722 yards in a 300g skein, and the project is knitted at a gauge of 26 sts = 4″/10cm in stockinette, after blocking. These two bits of information will be vital for us looking to substitute a different yarn.

One of the first impulses customers would have in the shop was to look at the knitted gauge (26=4″) and try to find a yarn with that gauge listed on the ball band. In this instance, that would send you off in search of heavy-fingering to light-sport-weight yarns – the problem being that the resulting piece wouldn’t have any of the lightweight airiness you can see in Lea-Viktoria’s sample photos. See how sheer and flowy it is? If you chose a yarn that was thicker, you’d get heavier, denser fabric – even if you got gauge, your fabric would be different, and the piece perhaps not as wearable.

So the trick is to look at the original yarn used and find a yarn that has similar vital statistics: in this case, laceweight is a good clue… but even among the laceweights, there’s so much variety. You’ve got cobweb-weight, which has a bazillion yards per gram, all the way up to heavier laceweights that could almost be substantial enough for socks. How do you choose?

I like to key in to the number of yards per gram when substituting yarns. Here, her original yarn was 1722 yards per 300g; divide 1722 by 300 and you get a yard/gram ratio of 5.74. Let’s keep that in mind as we prowl the Blue Moon site to consider which batch of yumminess to order for our Sandbank.

The two yarns I’m considering for mine are Silky Laci and La Luna Lace, both scrumptious silk-and-wool blends in the right gauge range (laceweight). How do they stack up?

silky_laci_sk

Silky Laci is 80% extra fine merino and 20% silk, with a slightly wooly surface texture that’s great at allowing the stitches to grab each other a bit and hold gauge very well when knitted a bit open. Fans of Shetland lace shawls would adore this stuff – it has a very regular spin, and the addition of silk makes it just that little bit special for your heirloom lace pieces. Here, we’re not focused on lace, but even in stockinette the fabric would have a hand that would make it both special but sturdy enough to wear every day. Silky Laci sports a hefty 900 yards per 90g skein, so its yard/g ratio is a whopping 10. Very different from the pattern gauge – if you knitted up a Sandbank in Silky Laci, it would weigh only half as much as the original (around 150g). For those of us knitting in warmer climes, this could make it a wearable piece for at least 2 seasons a year; but you’d want to swatch to make sure you liked the fabric knitted at that gauge. (I’m about to do just that.)

la_luna_lace

La Luna Lace is 85% 19.5 micron Merino (in other words, oooooooh) and 15% mulberry silk. Super-soft and silky, with little bitty pearls of twist, this is a dreamboat of a yarn. It has 480 yards per 99g skein, so its yard/g ratio is 4.84 – fewer yards per gram than the pattern’s sample, but still within range for a laceweight, and much closer to the pattern sample’s thickness. La Luna Lace will probably be my first choice for my own Sandbank, if only to showcase the gloriousness of this yarn in a piece so strikingly simple.

Which brings us to the question of color – once you’ve chosen a yarn, how do you choose a color(way), especially from the hundreds of eye-catching candidates at Blue Moon? I’m going to put my designer’s hat on let you in on a little lesson from design school: the relationship of complex to simple. In other words, if you’ve got a design where there are lots of things going on in terms of pattern or texture, you’re best served to keep the colorway(s) simple. Or vice-versa: in a relatively uncomplicated piece like Sandbank, you have more leeway to play with complexities of color. (Swaths of stockinette, especially where the stitch counts change as things increase, are a great platform for multicolors, and won’t muddy the design the way texture + tons of color can.)

That being said, this is a BIG piece, so bear in mind the visual impact it can make walking down the street! While you can play with some of the more active multicolor wave colorways (the ones that bring in four or five hues, or incorporate most of the color wheel), you might get more wear out of the more tonal or two- to three-color multis.

Me, I’m toying with either ‘Hush’:hush_sk

 or ‘Murky Chi’: 
murky_chi_sk

Both would play beautifully in my mostly-grey wardrobe, and the wash of grey-to-color around the stockinette body of the piece would be enchanting, dont’cha think?

What colors would you choose? I’m off to ponder over my next cup of coffee.

Feeling inspired by a design, but don’t know what yarn to use? Pop your ideas in the comments and hopefully I can chat about them in upcoming Inspiration Mondays!