it’s finally spring! shawl

I finished a shawl! It’s a quick easy knit that’s great for working on in front of the TV or listening to audiobooks. Ok, it took me 10 months to finish, but I was trying an experiment to see if my projects would knit themselves to completion. Yeah… that didn’t work out.

Meet my Spring Valley Shawl by Carol Ullmann from Happy Fuzzy Yarn.

Spring Valley Shawl by Carol Ullmann in Happy Fuzzy Yarn DK Merino

This is knit in Happy Fuzzy Yarn DK Merino in the colourways Granny Smith (my favourite), Shadow (my other favourite even if it isn’t my Shadow), and Verdigris (my other other favourite). ;)

The stripes are easy and do make it a great TV viewing project. I knit loose and knit to a fabric I like, so I chose the needle appropriate to my personal tension. I also stopped increasing earlier — I’m 5’1″ and it still blocked to an incredibly generous shawl, larger than expected, of 48″ short edge x 84″ long edge! I think this is absolutely delightful and I know that even though the temperatures are in the 70°s this week, I’ll love to curl up with it when E turns on the AC!

Spring Valley Shawl by Carol Ullmann in Happy Fuzzy Yarn DK Merino

The lace is not difficult but it took me a few tries to get right. I made a few modifications to the pattern, the biggest is that I changed the double decrease to a centered double decrease. Why? I enjoy knitting that stitch more and it helped me read the lace pattern easier as I was knitting.


There are a few more details about this shawl in my Ravelry notes.

Would you like to knit one of your own? You can find a local retailer for the DK Merino and pick up a copy of the pattern at Ravelry.

a tax-time knit for comfort

Aah, tax time.

With our anniversary on April 14th, taxes are filed early. Some years we rejoice; some years we pay. This was a year we had to pay.

When I first saw the Comfort of a Friend Shawls for a doll and girl I wanted to begin knitting right away! The shawl isn’t sexy, but it’s practical and I really like practical garments that I can wear. When I learned that Laura Ricketts also designed an adult version and that, this lovely shawl* (sized xs-3x!) would be the first Knit-a-Long after the book release, I was definitely excited. Then Heather told me it was planned to start on April 16th… because we all need some comfort that day and I knew I would be knitting along. Will you join us?

comfort shawlSince the tax-man received my check, I went stash diving for a yarn I adore and I know brings me comfort, Lion Brand Wool-Ease. Why Wool-Ease? It’s a work yarn. It’s a yarn for wearing and living in. It will hold up to the abuse I give my clothing. This particular batch of Wool-ease was destined to become a blanket for the house and was purchased long before we made any interior decorating decisions. Over the winter I finally proclaimed defeat (as I snuggled into a store-bought blanket) and ripped that project. I love the colour and it will provide nice contrast to my daily uniform of black. I will be able to wear this around the house and will not stress about if the cat cuddles a little too closely and we get tangled up or if I spill coffee everywhere. Again. The yarn holds up through repeated washings and dryings that in a year or three I could even still wear it out in public without fear of it looking overly worn. Is it a sexy yarn? No, but I love it.

Since my taxes are filed and paid and I needed a traveling project, I cast-on last week. Yes, I broke the KAL “rules” but we’re a low-stress bunch.

The designer recommends beginning the ribbing with a long-tail tubular cast-on for a lovely, smooth, seamless, and elastic edge.

I enjoy working different cast-ons, but I also have a known love affair with Judy’s Magic Cast-on (aka JMCO). It’s not just for sock toes! I keep turning to it in my designs and love it for provisional cast-ons. I’ve enjoyed using it in a few projects for a tubular 1×1 rib and decided to give it a go on this for a 2×2 rib.

What?! Can you turn knitting started in-the-round into ribbing knit flat? Yes.

How? First, watch this youtube video by Lorilee Beltman. You set up this cast-on by knitting one round, then fold the work in half to create the ribbing which will be knit flat. It sounds more confusing than it is. Just trust me. Is this as stretchy? I don’t think it works as well for 2×2 rib, but I still like it. Will this pull on the bias? Yes, a little. The instructions below are modified from how I did my setup, I believe beginning with a larger needle will both increase the stretch and reduce bias pull. I’ll test it when I knit my second shawl, because yes, I will be knitting at least two!

Using JMCO cast-on the desired number of stitches onto 5 mm (US 8) needles (This is easiest with two circulars or magic loop. Remember: half of the total is on each needle.)
Round 1 – Knit around.
Row 1 – Next, as demonstrated in the video, fold the work over (as if you were to do a three needle bind-off). Change to a 4mm needle. Knit two stitches from the front needle, purl two stitches from back needle, repeating this pattern until all stitches are worked.
Row 2 – Continue in established 2×2 rib (beginning with a k2 or p2 as appropriate) as per pattern instructions.

comfort shawl ribbing unstretched

comfort shawl ribbing stretched

I promise not every post in the foreseeable future will be about the book! Assisting with some of the coordination of all the many pieces has meant this book is something I think about constantly and it has seeped into all parts of my work and life.

* note: The adult version of the shawl was offered as a special thank you pattern for those who pre-ordered. It is not available in the book and is a separate pattern available for purchase. Thank you.

mes amies

La Fontaine is a shawl designed by Sara of Rose City Knits and knitted in yarn hand-dyed by Amy of Limonene Designs.

What makes me happiest about this project is that I count both Amy and Sara among my friends.

I fell hard for the deep semi-solid dark green and have been in my green-phase for a while now. While it is a wonderful yarn for socks, I knew a simple shawl would best showcase this perfect colour. I wanted to knit La Fontaine since Sara first posted teaser photos of her design in November 2010. I knew it would be a perfect match of yarn to pattern.

Amy takes great care in dyeing her yarn and fibre and ensuring that what she sells is as colour-fast as possible and takes care that the dye is properly set and rinsed. I’ve worked with several of Amy’s hand-dyed yarns and fibre. I can say that there is no hint of smell from the setting agent, a problem that I’ve found in some popular hand-dyed yarns and why you won’t find me working with them. I have also not experienced bleeding when I rinse to block my finished knits. Amy takes great care in her work and her colours are divine.

Sara’s love of combining tradition with twist is apparent in this design. La Fontaine is fresh and timeless. The main body of the shawl is knitted in a simple repeat (perfect for commuting or car knitting) and it has two other benefits: it makes it easy to quickly count how far along you are and it is interesting enough to keep you from wanting to poke your eyes out when you are knitting over 250 stitches in each row and want to be at the interesting edging already. The edging is traditional and paired with the body it creates a throughly modern and timeless shawl. Sara’s pattern is clearly written and laid out in a thoughtful way, conserving space on the page but not overwhelming with too much information or clutter. It is the first pattern I’ve successfully knitted completely from my tablet, without resorting to printing out a portion of it at any time.

I can’t say enough wonderful things about this project except that I wish it weren’t June so I could wear it more often!

My ravelry project page for La Fontaine

Amy’s shop is Limonene Designs and she also offers a growing collection of knitting patterns on Ravlery.

Sara can be found at Rose City Knits and additional designs can also be found on Ravelry.