One-Skein Wonders Strikes Again!

Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders

And this time I’ve got three patterns included!

There’s Hera, which I actually designed years ago, fairly early in my knitting career. I saw this stitch in one of Barbara Walker’s collections and realized that I could trim and repeat it to create the lozenge shape of this headband .
The yarn is Curious Creek’s Wasonga; the sample was knit by my friend Chris. (Errata alert: If you decide to knit this one, compare Chart E to Chart A. E is missing a few purl dots. The needed stitches are easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for.)

The second design, Moss Landing, also goes back a bit—to my hat-designing phase. At that point, I’d been knitting nothing but scarves, working my way through various stitch dictionaries. When I finally wearied of scarves, I moved on to hats.
Moss Landing hat
I particularly enjoyed trying to fit stitches to the shape of the hat—which worked out nicely on this design.

The third design, Gambit, actually is something new. As with the other pieces I was playing with the idea of matching stitch pattern to garment shape.
Like Hera, this beauty was knit up by my friend Chris.

Coming up with designs to submit for this book was a real pleasure. I started by brainstorming a list of potential projects, then had a lovely dig through my stash looking for yarn to use. I also placed a call to Kristine of Curious Creek, who generously donated several skeins for me to play with. I am constantly worried about the aluminium guttering on the back side of our house whenever we’ve a big thunderstorm. Some thunderstorms are strong enough to tear it right out of the side of the house, and it would not be cheap to repair it. I came up with nine designs, knit seven of them myself, while Cris volunteered to knit the other two, then decided that six of the final pieces were worth submitting (two came out too small, a third just didn’t work well, so I left those out). Since three were used in the book, I’ve got another three up my sleeve—I’ll be looking for homes for them as well.

This is my favorite of the one-skein books. Because sock yarn has great yardage, the designs have some complexity—which translates to interesting knitting. I cast on for a Wisteria Arbor Shawl last night. I’m delighted with the mix of cleverness and simplicity this piece offers. It’s knit point up, which means it can be adapted to use every single yard, and it gets its interesting shape from casting on twenty-six stitches at the start of each pattern repeat. One could use this technique with other stitches and vary the shape of the finished shawl depending on the stitches-to-rows ration of the stitch used.

If you knit up any of these patterns, I’d love to hear what you think—and to see pictures of the finished pieces.

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The Other Shawl Series I’ve Been Subscribing to…

… besides those by Anna Dalvi is Rosemary (Romi) Hill’s 7 Small Shawls. She’s publishing these as an e-book that gets updated on a regular basis to include additional patterns. I have not, I confess, knit any of these shawls yet, but I have a fantasy of working my way through all seven of them come summer.

When e-books first started coming out, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic. I’m an old school bibliophile—I love the feel of a book in my hands, the weight of it on my lap (though I don’t go so far as breathing in the fresh ink smell like the bouquet of a fine wine the way Melissa does). E-books take away most of that. Even when the book is printed out it’s not really a book: it’s a bunch of laser printed pages stacked on top of one another.

But I’ve become a convert in the past year, thanks to 7 Small Shawls and to Ysolda Teague’s Whimsical Little Knits, volumes one and two. At a time when individual pattern downloads can cost seven or eight dollars, paying two or three times more than that but getting six to eight times more patterns seems like a real deal. They’re also easy to print out, so I can get a clean copy of any pattern whenever I need one—and it is nice not to have the weight of a full book dragging about in my knitting bag.

So I’ve surprised my curmudgeonly self by embracing this technological advance in the knitting world. In fact, I fantasize about writing my own—themes, variety of patterns, ranges of yarn weights, so much to think about.

Catching Up

I have survived fall quarter, which ended with the ugly, ugly death of my work computer. I have a new computer now (along with 50,000+ files that are in varying states of chaos and none of which have titles).

Looking back over this year of knitting, I’ve done more working from other people’s patterns than I sometimes do, and I’ve really learned a lot as a result: new ways of shaping shawls, interesting decreases and increases, beading, and more.

I’d hope to make it to 10 shawls in 2010—and actually wound up doubling that. 20 shawls total so far (with three more on the needles, though I only expect to finish one of them by year’s end). I do not, unfortunately, have photos of all 20, but I’ll post pictures as they get taken.

My favorite discovery of the year has been shawl pattern clubs. With good designs and a new pattern every month, the knitting just flies along.

My complete, absolute favorite shawl pattern clubs have been offered by Anna Dalvi of Knit and Knag. She runs these quarterly and gives each a theme. The first I joined was inspired by the Norns: the three fates of Norse mythology. When I saw the first pattern in this series, Skuld, on Ravelry, I was hooked. It was a deceptively straightforward knit given the complicated look of the final product—and something I would never have come up with on my own, which is an excellent reason for purchasing a pattern.

After the Norns came World Heritage Sites. I made L’Anse Aux Meadows (with beads instead of nupps) for the young knitter next door, and I’m finishing up Tanumshede for Melissa. L’Anse Aux Meadows was designed to be knit in Nightfall, a gorgeous yarn that’s custom dyed to move gradually from a rich, solid color at one end of the skein to black at the other. One of these days I am going to have to write a shawl pattern of my own featuring that yarn. Because Melissa’s ancestors are Scandinavian and because we both share a love of petroglyphs, Tanumshede seemed like something she must have. I’m fascinated by the way Dalvi has worked a complex image into the regular background patterning of the shawl—again, something I would never, ever have come up with on my own.

Dalvi’s winter pattern series just started and is inspired by fairy tales. It’s going to be followed by a spring folk song series. The first fairy tale shawl, Marushka, is a beauty, with shaping similar to Skuld, but much less stark, and I am being very well-disciplined and not starting it until I have finished my gift knitting—though I confess to more than one evening sifting through the stash, petting yarn as I contemplate what I’ll make it in once my knitting time opens up again.