Let the Yarn Decide…

 

Whenever Fleece Artist adds a new yarn to their already delicious line, we find a skein of it hiding in a box along with our regular shipments.  The hand-written labels spell out the details, and we all pet and drool (we usually wear bibs) and exclaim our first impressions.  Several weeks ago, we received a skein of O’paca among the pile of BFL 2/8.  The halo is so fluffy, and the core yarn so fine, that the whole things looks like a twist of roving, not like yarn at all.

O'paca, by Fleece Artist; Nymph colorway

As we contemplated carrying the new yarn, the skein sat on the packaging table, calling out to my fingers.  It’s amazingly soft, demanding to be held against your face.  You cannot walk by it without touching it, even with your hands full of cashmere, mohair, and BFL.  It’s really just that enticing.

Opal Scarf

 

Once we settled on carrying the yarn, we started thinking about pattern support.  I had ideas from the first time I handled the skein.  I wanted a light, open lace that would show just how fine the yarn is, while giving the bloom enough room to fluff up a bit.  I also wanted to make something that would be worn against the neck or head; it feels too good!  Quick fix – the Opal Scarf!

Blocking Detail

I began with a simple ribbing, knitting long enough to create a loop.  Then I started the lace portion.  The fagoting is a simple 4-stitch, 1-row repeat.  The border is knit-on sideways, a quick garter stitch.  Pull the tail through the loop, and drape around a lucky neck.  The scarf can be made longer and wrapped around more times.  It’s light as a feather, and warmer than you might expect.  The alpaca is just so awesome.  Seriously.

Opal Scarf in the photo room

Busy Bizzy

The first installment of my Heirloom Christmas Project is a shawl for my youngest sister, Elizabeth.  Her buoyant energy throughout her life led friends and family to call her Bizzy.  I think this is incredibly appropriate, and extremely endearing.

Oldest Sister, Youngest Sister

 Bizzy chose the blue and green colorway, Caicos, in Fleece Artist’s Saldanha yarn.  This yarn is amazing for shawls – it is incredibly light-weight, not a smidgen itchy, extra strong, and comes in skeins of 1200m!  That’s enough to make just about any kind of shawl you can imagine.

Saldanha in Caicos, by Fleece Artist

Since the last shawl I made was a center-out triangle, I wanted this one to be at least a slightly different construction.  A center-out circle is different, right?  After searching Ravelry for who knows how long, I found the Revontuli-huivi (Northern Lights) pattern.  An English translation can be found here, on the designer’s blog.

All Spread Out

 I made a few modifications with the pattern, including using yarn-overs for all of the increases, rather than left- and right-leaning increases.  This gave the shawl a bit more air flow; it seems more open than the original.  I also did several more repeats of the main chart, because this yarn is significantly lighter weight than what the pattern suggests, and I wanted it to be substantial in size.  The pattern itself was fairly easy, and rather uneventful.

Blocking Order

 I intended to use up the whole skein on this shawl, but enough is enough, and I couldn’t bring myself to knit anymore stockinette.  I bound off started blocking!  This is only the second thing I’ve ever blocked, so it’s still a learning process.  After soaking for half an hour in Kookaburra Wool-Wash, I pressed out the water and started with the center spine, pinning it to 34″.  Then I alternated between the next column of stitches to the left and right of the center.  Once I got to the side edges, the whole thing came together, and looked quite stunning.

Like Having Wings

 I let the shawl dry overnight, then unpinned it, holding my breath the whole time.  For some reason, I still wasn’t convinced the blocking would work.  But it did, indeed!  Once blocked, the shawl is about 3/4 of a full circle.  This extra fullness allows the shawl to drape around the shoulders, giving the wearer a gentle hug.

Taking it for a test run

I can’t wait to give this shawl to Bizzy!  Hopefully she will have it for many years to come.

Happy Birthday To Me

I recently had a birthday (June 23).  This is my present to me.

My Birthday Shawl

It’s my first major lace project, and my first ever project with lace weight yarn.  We received the yarn, Limited Edition Saldanha (by Fleece Artist) at work and as I took each skein out of the box, I knew I had to knit with it.  I’d been flirting with the idea of knitting an ultra light, lacy shawl, and this was just the yarn.

I scoured Ravelry for the perfect pattern, since I didn’t want to risk making up my own to have it turn into a disaster.  I needed to practice with something I knew would work.  I wanted something that was moderately “holey,” and with a single motif repeated throughout, so that I wouldn’t have to memorize a lot or keep referring to the pattern (I’m a pretty lazy knitter).  I also wanted something sort of dramatic.  Lastly, I wanted it to be BIG.  I finally chose MimKnits Adamas Shawl.  Small diamonds nestle within larger diamonds, which all cascade from a center spine and end in sharp points.

It took much less time than I’d thought – from start to finish, just under a month of (very) sporadic knitting.  Before I knew it, I’d completed the 14 motif repeats.  The last chart, the points, went in a flash.  However, in my usual fashion, I did not get around to finishing the shawl for another two weeks.

Blocking the Shawl

Once I finally had both blocking wires and shawl together at work, I soaked it for about half an hour in Kookaburra wool wash then pinned it out, starting with the center spine.  The next day, I took it up.

The center spine of the shawl

AMAZING!  It turned out beautifully.  I couldn’t be more excited about it.  The points all point just the right direction, the curves between them arch evenly.  The diamonds all stretched out to reveal the little rows of eyelets between them.  I absolutely love it.

And one of the best parts – the entire shawl only used about half the skein!  I still have just over half a ball to use on another project.  Perhaps my holiday gift will come early this year!