On the Needles and Moon-y Ramblings

Right now, it’s

• Saroyan (in some Outback Wool I picked up on sale I know not where). This is a fast, satisfying knit, particularly good for heavier-weight yarns.

• Miralda’s Shawl (in remaindered Cherry Tree Hill Alpaca that I bought a few years ago). I have heard many a horror story about knitting this up, but I am past the giant nupp section and—so far, so good.

• one Twilight-inspired top-secret gift

• a two-tone linen stitch scarf in the yummy new camel yarn from my LYS

I did go see New Moon yesterday, as Miss Sparkles is a devotee and I like being able to converse with her about those things she holds dear. After a great deal of consideration, I have decided that I am Team Edward (assuming I have to pick a team). I think Edward and Jacob are both hugely overprotective (and by “overprotective” I mean “controlling”), but since Edward’s been around for over a century now, I figure he’s more apt to have the flexibility to deal with the changes that will come when Bella Finally. Grows. Up. And. Gets. A. Life. I mean, if she’s immortal she’s going to have to get a hobby or something eventually.

Tues, No Mews

It’s that cruel season just before winter break when I’m in charge of the big writing placement test on campus. We’ve had 847 students write essay exams over the past few days. 22 of us do all the scoring. Each exam has to be read and scored twice. About 30-40% wind up needing a third read. And the minute that’s over, we’ll get 300 or so portfolios from students who don’t pass based on the exam. I have to do the math, since I’m in charge of doling everything out, but I’m doing my best to forget exactly how much we’re all having to plow though and am just trying to keep plunging on ahead until it’s all done.

Twist Collective

The new Twist Collective is up, and once again I’m impressed, both by the quality of the designs and the quality of the production.

My faves:

Tanit’s Jacket (Gudrun Johnston) is a marvel of simplicity and beauty. No fol-de-rol, no frippery, just a great stitch and plain, engaging lines.

Manderley (Rosemary Hill) shows what a good designer can do with variations on a single stitch. Take a look at how the pattern evolves from one long end of that shawl to the other.

And if I were to pick one piece from this issue that I would love to have for my own, it would be Kelmscott (Carol Sunday). I’m imagining mine in a sage-y green alpaca with just a hint of yellow undertone—something to remind me of spring in the middle of winter.

Also worth checking out:

The cool shaping on Dryad. The Breakfast-at-Tiffany’s elegance of Farinelli. Don’t miss the articles while you’re at it!

Tuesday Mewsday: Miss Timmy Pays a Visit

Miss Timmy has definitely decided that she’s Chris’s cat. And to seal the deal she paid a visit one recent rainy evening.

There’s nothing like a soft bed to inspire a bit of grooming.
Timmy inside

Be careful Miss Timmy—don’t fall off!
Timmy inside

Then she had to have a look through the window that she meows outside of when she wants attention.
Timmy inside
“Oh, so this is where the nice lady comes from!”

She’s stayed outside since then, but we’re glad to know that she knows she’s welcome.

Another Knit—and Bonus Mews Even Though It’s Not Tues

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, here’s what I want to come back as—
A well-fed kitten in a large litter with plenty of sibs to cuddle up with when nap-time hits.

Meanwhile, having realized that I only have 8 projects on the needles (or maybe 9, there’s also that sock for my sister), I cast on something new last night: Cinnamon Grace using a skein of Noro Silk Garden Sock that the owner of my LYS gave me for my birthday. (She actually went to another yarn store and bought it, so it would be something I hadn’t seen already in her shop—how sweet is that?!) It knits up quickly and provides a great lesson in placement of increases for shaping. I suspect I’ll be needing to pick up a second skein of this yarn to finish up, but since it’s Noro, I’m not worried about dye lots.

On the Needles Now

On my trip to the midwest, I went through a little burst of finishing up old projects, some of which carbon-dated back to the Oligocene. As a result, I’ve got just 2 3 4 5 6 7 projects on the needles just now: 3 second socks from this summer’s spurt of designing, one first sock from an autumn design, a fingering-weight scarf, a February Lady in malabrigo, and an Aestlight Shawl—the only really new project.

I’m doing the Aestlight in crazy zauberball, in a colorway that ranges between peacock blues and rich browns, and I’m working the lace edging in some Knit Picks lace-weight alpaca in a heathered peacock blue color. This shawl is worked entirely in garter stitch (the lace sections included), which makes it insanely cozy-bouncy-yum. I’m definitely keeping this one for myself!

The fingering-weight scarf is a piece I started about a year and a half (maybe two and a half years) ago. I remembered the pattern as being fiddley and impossible to keep track of, but now I’m just breezing along on it. Amazing how quickly knitting skills develop over time.

I forgot to mention that yesterday’s Halloween portrait of the cats comes courtesy of my beloved wife, Melissa. If you’d like to see more of her work, you can visit her blog, Etsy shop, and/or her Cafe Press shop.

P.S. 8. I forgot about the baby sweater that’s been in the trunk of my car for about two years now.

The Sandia Pattern

Here at last is the Sandia Hat pattern that disappeared with the demise of MagKnits. Enjoy!

Boaz is too cute
(Being “modeled” here by my little friend Boaz who was not in a hat-wearing mood.)

This child’s summer hat is knit in a cool cotton-modal blend with a brim to keep little noses from burning.

Size: Infant (Toddler, Child)
Crown circumference: 14.5 (19, 19)”/37 (47, 47) cm
Brim circumference: 21 (29, 29)”/53.5 (73.5, 73.5) cm
Crown height before decreases: 3 (3, 4)”/6.5 (6.5, 10) cm
Pattern is the same for all sizes. Different circumferences are achieved by using different weights of yarn and sizes of needles.


Infant size:
Knit Picks Shine Sport (60% cotton, 40% modal; 110 yds/101 m per 50 g), 1 ball each Grass (A), Green Apple (B), and Watermelon (C).

Size US 4/3.5 mm circular needle, 16”/40 cm long
US 4/3.5 mm double-pointed needles

Toddler and Child sizes:
Knit Picks Shine Worsted (60% cotton, 40% modal; 75 yds/69 m per 50 g), 1 ball each Grass (A), Green Apple (B), and Watermelon (C).

Size US 7/4.5 mm circular needle, 16”/40 cm long
US 7/4.5 mm double-pointed needles
All sizes:

Yarn needle
Stitch marker
1 skein black six-strand embroidery floss

Infant size: 24 sts = 4”/10 cm in stockinette with size 4/3.5 mm needles

Toddler and Child sizes: 18 sts = 4”/10 cm in stockinette with size 7/4.5 mm needles


With one strand each of A and B held together and circular needle, cast on 128 sts. Place marker and join for working in the rnd.
Rnd 1: K.
Rnd 2: P.
Rnd 3: K.
Rnd 4: P6, p2tog; rep to end—112 sts.
Rnd 5: K.
Rnd 6: P.
Rnd 7: K.
Rnd 8: P5, p2tog; rep to end—96 sts.
Rnds 9-11: K.
Rnd 12: P4, p2tog around; rep to end—80 sts.

Change to a single strand of C and work in stockinette for 3 (3, 4)”/7.5 (7.5, 10) cm.
Crown decreases:
Rnd 1: K8, k2tog; rep to end—72 sts.
Rnds 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14: K.
Rnd 3: K7, k2tog; rep to end—64 sts.
Rnd 5: K6, k2tog; rep to end—56 sts.
Rnd 7: K5, k2tog; rep to end—48 sts.
Rnd 9: K4, k2tog; rep to end—40 sts.
Rnd 11: K3, k2tog; rep to end—32 sts.
Rnd 13: K2, k2tog; rep to end—24 sts.
Rnd 15: K1, k2tog; rep to end—16 sts.
Rnd 16: K2tog; rep to end—8 sts.

Trim working yarn to 6”/15 cm and thread through yarn needle. Run working yarn counter-clockwise through remaining sts, pull tight, bring yarn to inside of hat and weave in end.
Weave in remaining ends.
Embroider scattered seeds as shown in photo using lazy daisy stitch. Click here for About.com’s instructions for this simple stitch.

Thinking, Thinking, Thinking…

… about designing a square shawl. I am not sure how this obsession got activated, but that is neither here nor there now that I am obsessed. I don’t have many square shawls in my Ravelry queue, but the ones I do have are lovely. There’s Spanish Armada from MMario; Oregon by Joan Schrouder, which is actually an octagon due to the corner shaping; Snowflakes in Cedarwoods by Anne Hanson (look at the stitch detail); and Medallion Square from Gossamer Webs, which I own.

Maybe it’s the spaciousness of these shawls that appeals to me. They’re sort of anti-socks. Like socks, they offer potential for all kinds on interesting stitch combinations, but where socks leave one asking “how many design elements can I cram in before the whole thing implodes/makes me want to poke my eyes out with my own knitting needles?,” the square shawl stretches out luxuriantly, odalesque-like, even. It offers plenty of room for the possibilities one can dream up, with long stretches of each and every chosen stitch.

The unfortunate corollary to this wealth of space is that a square shawl can eat one up time-wise. I can play with sock designs and try all sorts of things out because even if I decide the piece is a complete flop, I haven’t lost more than a night or three of knitting. However, if a square shawl design turns out to be less than satisfactory—how much of my life will I have wasted away before this becomes apparent to me?

I have some ideas. I’d like a textured, rather than a lacy center, so that the shawl can really help keep one warm. I want to use yarn overs at the starts of rows and perhaps an initial provisional cast-on to prepare for the picking up of stitches as I move to the borders. The lace stitches in the borders should be strongly differentiated, rather than variations on a single theme.

Part of the solution may be more time on Ravelry (we all need excuses for that, don’t we?). If I look at enough square shawls by others, I’ll probably have an easier time separating the truly good ideas from the errors in judgment.

Certainly it wouldn’t hurt to knit up one or two of the square shawls in my queue. This means the design will be a while in coming, but I’ll have a better sense of not just what designs I like, but of what kinds of written directions are/aren’t helpful. And doing this would give me a chance to go stash-diving in the lace bin.

What words of wisdom do you have? How would you define the square shawl aesthetic? What works? What doesn’t? Can you point to designs that you find particularly successful?