Wednesday, June 29, 2011

May Adventures in Knitting

My adventures in knitting in May were all shawls. All but one was a test knit. (The non-test knit was a shawl of my own design.) Interestingly, all of the shawls were worsted weight.

The first shawl I knit in May was one I call "An Uncertain Shade of Red." The shawl's designer, Fiddle Knits, called the shawl "A Certain Shade of Green," but since mine is neither green nor a solid color, I think my name fits my shawl. (As always, click on any photo to enlarge.)

Continuing a trend started with the last shawl knit in April, this shawl was constructed from the bottom up. The yarn is Dream in Color Classy in the Ruby River colorway, and I used 2.4 skeins (about 600 yards). The lower section of the shawl was knit with a US7 needle, but the center section (what I call the basketweave section) was knit with a US8.

I started this shawl on 06 May and finished it on 17 May. The shawl is lovely, and it's great for cold nights. I'll probably keep this one.

My next shawl was knit for my local yarn store, to display a new yarn the store is carrying. This shawl is my own design, and I call it "Aye, Aye, Eyelet!" My goal was to design a shawl that could be knit by someone who has never knit a shawl before.

The shawl was knit with Plymouth Kudo yarn, which is an Aran-weight cotton blend (55% cotton, 40% rayon, and 5% silk), in colorway 42, using a US9 needle. Pattern instructions can be found on my Ravelry project page (log-in required).

I started the shawl on 11 May and finished on 24 May. This shawl used two skeins of Plymouth Kudo (about 390 yards).

My final May shawl was designed to duplicate the shawl worn by H.R.H. Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, while on a run to the grocery store during her honeymoon. The fact that Kate was wearing a knitted garment delighted knitters around the world, despite the fact that Kate's shawl was almost certainly machine knit. A number of people have designed patterns they believe are identical to Kate's shawl, but no two patterns are alike.

I had the pleasure of testing the design by Esther Budd in a worsted weight yarn. Esther's pattern has three different versions of the shawl body. I tested the second version (see the close-up photo below), which, in my opinion, best matches Kate's shawl.

My shawl was knit with Dream in Color Classy in the Ruby River colorway. My shawl required four skeins (1000 yards) and was knit with US8 needles. Knitting the shawl went fairly quickly. The ruffle, which Esther nicknamed the "suicide ruffle," seemed to take much longer----and undoubtedly did.  There are more than 1300 stitches per round in that ruffle. (The ruffle was knit circularly.)

I started knitting H.R.H. Kate's Shawl on 25 May and finished on 03 June. This shawl, like its color-twin, was knit from the bottom up.

Two thousand yards of yarn knit in less than 27 days. That won't set any records, but it's nothing to sneeze at, either. What have you been knitting this summer?


Thursday, June 9, 2011

April Adventures in Knitting: Nupps and the Twisted German Cast-on

I've been too busy knitting to blog. Truthfully, at the end of April, I was too busy winding down the academic year and test knitting patterns to blog. And all through May, I test knit more patterns. Here, finally, is a report on my April knitting.

The first part of April was spent finishing a test knit for the Fickle Knitter. My Two Rivers Shawl, shown at right, was knit with one skein of Dream in Color Smooshy in the Into the Mystic colorway. The body of the shawl was knit first, then the edging was knit onto the shawl, with two rows of edging knit for every stitch along the bottom edge. It took longer to knit the edging than to knit the body of the shawl. (As always, click on any photograph to enlarge.)

The pattern was interesting, but easy enough for an advanced beginner. Knit two together, slip-slip-knit, and yarnovers were the most difficult stitches, and there were a few no-wrap short rows in the edging near the center point to give the shawl added depth.

The lower photo shows a close-up of the pattern on the shawl body and of the knitted-on edging.

I started knitting this shawl on 19 March and finished it on 08 April 2011. It was the fourth shawl I've knit this year. (Photos and information about the first three shawls have not yet appeared in this blog because I was unable to block them as I knit them, due to foot surgery I had right before Christmas.)

My April adventures in knitting began in earnest with the next shawl, the Liblikakiri Shawl (shown above). (According to the pattern designer, liblikakiri means butterfly in Estonian.)  This was another test knit. The Liblikakiri Shawl was my first experience with nupps. Nupps, if you've never encountered them before, require alternating knitting and yarnovers in the same stitch. In this pattern, the nupps were created by alternating five knits and four yarnovers in one stitch. In the next row, all nine of those loops were knit into one stitch. The result was a solid "blob," as shown in the close-up photo below.

This shawl, which also had cables, was knit in laceweight yarn. I used most of a skein of Knit Picks Shadow Tonal in the Deep Waters Tonal colorway. I started this shawl on 07 April and finished on 21 April.

My final April knitting adventure involved another test knit, the Anna Perenna Shawl, and the twisted German cast-on. The Twisted German cast-on is similar to the long-tail cast-on, but with an extra loop that adds a lot of stretchability to the cast-on. It is my new favorite cast-on.

My Anna Perenna Shawl, shown at right, was knit from the bottom-up, and the twisted German cast-on made the bottom nice and stretchy, so it blocked beautifully. Once the edging was knit, there were a lot of short rows of increasing length (to about 350 stitches) to add depth, then eight rows of garter stitch. I ran out of yarn, so my shawl is six rows shorter than the pattern. The shawl was supposed to have I-cord edging at the top, but I had to use a sewn bind-off.

My Anna Perenna was knit with two skeins of Madelinetosh Tosh DK yarn in the Cobalt colorway. I started the shawl on 23 April and finished on 05 May.

What have you been knitting this spring?


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