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Well, midterms are over. And the BrooklynTweed tumbleweeds are blowing again. How is it November already? We gained an hour yesterday and the first early sunset really makes it feel like winter doesn’t it? My sincerest apologies for neglecting blog updates. With my current schedule I can still cobble together time to knit (it’s a must for my sanity) but time to write about knitting… that’s where I’m suffering. But I’m trying. Today I promised myself I’d give you all a status report – it may not be the most exciting thing on earth, but a report nonetheless. And I’m thoroughly enjoying myself with new projects so I guess I should share!

Sweater knitting has come to a temporary halt in favor of more appropriate projects for overworked, tired student types. Not only has sweater knitting (or any other remotely complicated knitting for that matter) stopped, I’ve temporarily removed purling from my knitting altogether. It’s just straight knitting knitting knitting on two new, big, mindless projects.

I received 6 beautiful skeins of unspun Icelandic wool from Sigga when she visited a few weeks ago. I’ve never knit with this stuff before and have always wanted to. It’s beautiful and the wooliest stuff I’ve knit with in a long time… not the type of thing you’re dying to rub passionately against your neck, but amazingly warm and even more amazingly light.

Unspun Icelandic

The new acquisition inspired me to start a project I’ve wanted to undertake for a while: EZ’s (genius) Pi Shawl. Pure mindless bliss. Stockinette in the round with very little shaping (only 6 increase rows in the whole number). I like the look of the simple Pi Shawls that utilize concentric rings of yarn overs. Liz shows some really gorgeous ones in the lace episode of Knitting Workshop, which I’ve been known to watch (obsessively) from time to time.

Pi

Never satisfied with only one EZ project, I also have something in the works to satisfy my garter needs, and to downsize my stash (although as it turns out, I’ll need to acquire more yarn to finish this project).

Beefy

I’m knitting a big, beefy winter blanket on US 13′s, following Elizabeth’s pattern in The Opinionated Knitter. Her pattern calls for Sheepsdown, knitting at 2 sts per inch, and while I have dreams of an entire blanket made out of that stuff, I’m using what I have and knitting up a bevy of Cascade EcoWool. My gauge is 3 sts per inch, so I’ve modified the pattern a bit to compensate for that. The most important information, I guess, is that I’ll never have more than 36 stitches on the needle at one time. You can’t get much more mindless than that. This thing is gonna be warm, squishy … and HUGE.

I’ve been spinning to, but I’ll save that for another post (I gotta stretch out my material!)

I hope you are all well and enjoying the chill we deserve after that long, dreadful summer. My apologies if you’ve e-mailed lately and haven’t gotten a response – I’m doing my best but don’t think I’ve ever been this behind in my inbox.

Happy knitting!

First – a huge thanks to all of you who’ve gotten your IK Holiday Gifts Issue early and e-mailed about my pattern. The hat has been worn and well-loved around Brooklyn for almost a year now, so it feels great to finally be able to share it with all of you.

Koolhaas 2
Big thanks to Bea for modeling*

According to Interweave’s website, Holiday Gifts hits the shelves today – there are a lot of great quick-to-knit patterns for all of us holiday procrastinators, so go nuts!

Koolhaas Crown [Magazine version]
I knit two versions of the hit. The prototype, in electric green, and the magazine version in cranberry red. The pattern can be knit with a worsted weight yarn and behaves best with animal fibers. The green version was knit with Sundara Yarns Merino Worsted Superwash and has held up wonderfully. With the magazine version, in true IK fashion, I was able to indulge a bit with my fiber choices and knit with 100% yak. Shambala from Shokay (check out this wonderful company’s story) is one of the most luxurious yarns to ever have graced my needles and I figured a small hat pattern was just the ticket to aid knitters in justifying such a luxurious treat without breaking the bank.

Koolhaas in action.jpg
The Story Behind the Design: The hat takes its name from Rem Koolhaas, a Dutch Architect/Urbanist whose work I admire very much. Last winter when I was home in Washington, I spent an afternoon in the Seattle Central Library, one of my favorite places in Seattle and an incredibly inspiring space. The architecture there created a design impulse and the hat was born in the following days. The design process kind of explains itself when you view the space (photo below)

Seattle Public
It’s a quick knit – sculptural and very sproingy (did knitters invent this word?). The pattern is written for both adult woman- and adult man-heads and can be easily adapted at a smaller gauge for children. Bust stash worsteds, or treat yourself to one skein of luxury yarn and enjoy every stitch.

Koolhaas [Magazine Version]
Thanks again for continued support of these designs. Happy Fall (and holiday) Knitting!

Koolhaas 1
* I’ve already received a bunch of questions regarding Bea’s ring in the photo at the top of the page. Unfortunately, I dont’ know where she got it. Sorry!

A quick little bit of handspun knitting to stave off that wonderful chill in the air.

Cap Karma 1

Pattern: Cap Karma by Smariek (Yahoo Group)
Materials: My Handspun, worsted superwash merino 2-ply
Amount: 4 ounces/100 grams
Fiber Source: Miss Babs
Needles: US8/5.0mm


Cap Karma 2

Modifications: The original pattern calls for a standard spiral-decrease crown. I really loved the allover cable pattern and didn’t like how the spiral decreasing broke that up. I wrote an alternate decreasing scheme that kept the cabling intact. If you’re interested in doing the same, I’ve listed the specifics below.

Cap Karma 3

Crown Shaping (substitute this for the crown shaping listed in the pattern)

Row 1: k all sts
Row 2: k all sts
Row 3: *ssk, k6* around
Row 4: *[sl next st to CN and hold in back, k next two sts, k st from CN], k4* around
Row 5: k all sts
Row 6: *k5, k2tog* around
Row 7: k all sts
Row 8: *k3, [sl next 2 sts to CN and hold in front, k next st, k 2 sts from CN]* around
Row 9: *k1, k2tog, k3* around
Row 10: k all sts
Row 11: k all sts
Row 12: *[sl next st to CN and hold in back, k next st, k st from CN], k3* around
Row 13: *k2, ssk, k1* around
Row 14: k all sts
Row 15: *k2tog, k2* around
Row 16: *k1, [sl next st to CN and hold in frton, k next st, k st from CN]* around
Row 17: *k1, k2tog* around
Row 18: k all sts
Row 19: *k2tog* around

Break yarn and draw through remaining sts. Weave in all ends.


Cap Karma 6

Knitting with handspun is a major treat, I’ve had such a great time doing it – I’m sure there will be a lot of handspun hats cropping up in the next few months. Next to the BSJ, they’re the perfect match for all those odd 4oz skeins that have been piling up.

Cap Karma 5

Another one for the pile – onto the next!

One of the best parts of moving (only in retrospect can I deem this as a positive) is the inevitability of taking stock of all those nasty WIP knits that we so easily find ways of ignoring (hiding from ourselves). In organizing all the stuff that needed to move from one Brooklyn walk-up to another, I tried hard not to shudder as the pile of unfinished knits continued to grow exponentially. One room gets cleaned and 3 more stow-aways rear their ugly heads. Repeat for every room of the apartment.

Sure, despair and hopelessness are the first feelings to descend, but leave it to the great momentum you achieve while moving to blow past those feelings of defeat and move right on to the moving-on.

A frog-fest ensued and I have to say I feel absolutely liberated and excited again about good yarns that had gone long forgotten. The biggest mountain to scale was my old friend Demi.

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taken july 2006. ugh.


On first consideration, it seemed like there were too many sinuous cables and twisted stitches to ever justify ripping something so beautiful, but in the spirit of being brutally honest with myself about what would and would not be worn… I knew what had to happen.

After trying on the body several times (there was only one sleeve left to complete the thing!), I knew what had to be done.

Too thick. Too warm. Too constricting. These are the things I repeated to myself as the wool carnage ensued. And, my friends, Demi is no more.

Don’t be upset – because the best part of the story is yet to come! Almost immediately after the final stitch had been dissolved, I fell in love with the yarn all over again (it wasn’t difficult). And it just so happens that I was in desperate need of a new sweater project. Do you see where this is going? Well lets just say that the Yorkshire Tweed and I are taking a second honeymoon, and I haven’t looked back since.

Body and Sleeve

Despite having the busiest schedule I can remember in years, I’m getting a surprising amount of knitting done. Evening knitting has been adopted as the most effective way of relaxing in a short period of time.

What am I trying to say today? I guess that a little frogging goes a long way – and there’s no better time of year to do it. Liberate (yourself) some of that gorgeous yarn that has been too-long imprisoned in a doomed project (we all have them) and I promise you’ll be justified. I still can’t believe I’ve been sitting on 10 balls of this discontinued wonder-tweed for almost 2 years with no finished sweater to call my own. That’s all about to change.

And as for Big Blue, we’re rounding the home stretch.

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As it turns out, sweaters are everywhere and that’s what Fall should be about. Back to my wool-crazed euphoria. Happy Knitting.

Isn’t it a bit sad how dependent we are on the internet? I never really notice it until the precious life-blood of blogging is ripped away from me. I won’t have any regular access to internet in the new BT headquarters until *next* Saturday, which I’m trying to pretend isn’t seriously effecting my daily life.

I’ve been doing my best to keep up with everything, but I’ll warn you now if you send e-mails or comments my way, there may be delays (even longer than usual!). I didn’t want to go, however, with yet another week of silence here induced by the absence of any connection to the outside world – so I’m taking another quick opportunity to update you on what’s goin‘ down.

That week-long cold snap at the end of August was such a treat. And such a tease. It was all I needed to get my Fall gears turning. Of course September so far has been relentlessly hot and humid and I’m feeling a bit of remorse for letting myself indulge in that early Autumnal preview. Either way, I started the first of hopefully several Fall Sweaters and I’m not ashamed of that.

Happy Happy WoolMachine

It’s a seamless cardigan in one of my favorite tweeds (the same I used for this – it’s definitely good enough for multiple sweater projects) that I’m designing as I go. It’s a beautiful yarn, isn’t it?

Skein #3

I’ve also been collecting sufficient stock for the spinning machine to keep a-whirrin‘ through the season. The most recent acquisition looks a bit like frosting to me, but maybe that’s the sleep deprivation talking.

Looks Like Frosting

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it earlier, but I am officially a full-time student again. I started a 2 year MFA program this past week. To say I’m overwhelmed is a bit of an understatement, but it’s all very good. And I’m keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed that I’ll be able to keep knitting as much as my sanity requires. Which is a lot.

The BSJ is done and just needs buttons. More to come on that in the near future.

Knit on!

Hey everybody! I’m just peeking my head around from a huge pile of boxes for a quick update. We’ve spent the last week moving from one Brooklyn walk-up to another, in the late August heat. Oy, what a week. I’m happy to report, though, that everything (including every last bit of wool) has made the journey safely – now there’s just the matter of unpacking, which is actually the fun part.

Knitting has been almost non-existent for obvious reasons, but I did grab a skein of my handspun to cast on for a small project to keep around for sanity’s sake.

Burning Bush Cake

This is 4 oz of pure merino from Amy over at Spunky Eclectic that I spun up to be a worsted weight 2-ply. I prepared the fibers so that it would be self-striping. I love how the colors go together.

I'm so weak

I’ve really had BSJ on the brain and when the finished yarn came off the wheel I knew these two were destined for each other. I’m hoping I can squeeze one full baby surprise out of this skein. We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’m enjoying every stitch. Limited couch space and all.

These Things Knit Themselves

In other BT-related news, a knit-a-long has been started up for the Hemlock Ring Blanket. I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed at the response to this project, I’m glad to see so many wool flowers blooming all over the world already. If you’d like to join the KAL, visit the start page here and sign up. If you’ve been thinking about starting one of your own, I’m sure this will give you just inspiration (temptation) you need.

Sorry to drop by for such a short time – I hope to be back to regularly scheduled programming very soon. Enjoy the long weekend!

I’ve had a great time getting acquainted with my wheel and have been rocking the handspun many a late-summer night. I figured this Friday Fiber Flash would focus on the handspun yarns that seem to be accruing in every vacant nook and cranny in sight. Click the images for more details.

Burning Bush

Pulse 2-Ply

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Babs <span class=

My First <span class=
Have a wonderful weekend!

Walking around Brooklyn the last few days, I’ve noticed the slightest change in the air. Autumn is beckoning and this knitter can’t think of any better reward for making it through another hot summer. My inaugural Fall project is draped over my lap as I type and I find myself ready for cooler winds, wooly knits and fresh transitions.

Hemolock Ring Blanket

Pattern: Hemlock Ring Blanket*
Source: My modification of the Hemlock Ring (link no longer works, see note below) vintage doily (1942), with added chart repeats and heavy weight yarn. [See full post below for details]
EDIT: THE ORIGINAL VINTAGE DOILY PATTERN IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE AT THE SUGGESTED LINK ABOVE. TO FIND A PDF OF BOTH THE WRITTEN PATTERN AND MY CHART, FIND ONE HERE, AT THE RAINEY SISTERS BLOG.
Materials: Cascade Ecological Wool in “Latte” (8063)
Needles: US 10/6.0mm 40″ Circulars; KnitPicks Options
Amount: Approximately 311g/11oz; About 600 yards (less than 2 skeins)
Finished Measurements: Just shy of 4 feet in diameter
*Ravelry users, queue it up here.

Start Date: 27 July 2007
Finish Date: 9 August 2007


Hemolock Ring Blanket

This project was born from my love of working heavyweight lace and my desire to spruce up my new place. And probably also from a sale on Cascade EcoWool which, in my eyes is the lord of Yardageland and the true definition of a wooly workhorse.

Hemolock Ring Blanket

I searched high and low for a lace pattern that would both size out right and have a repeatable chart that I could work ad nauseum until I felt like binding off. I love how Feather-and-Fan Stitch looks and had that in the back of my mind too while searching around. I found a lot of great circular shawl patterns but most were already huge when worked in lace. Knitting one of those in a heavy worsted yarn would result in a room-sized blanket which, as intriguing as that sounds, wasn’t what I was going for.

Hemolock Ring Blanket

I was pretty set on Meg Swansen’s “Feather and Fan Shawl” from A Gathering of Lace. This shawl, however, epitomizes the idea of giant lace, so for my own sanity I ruled out modifying it. Doilies, though, are a great place to look for hidden gems and perfect for working up a bit bulkier than directed. So when I came across this vintage doily pattern from The Canadian Spool Cotton Company (1942) I felt like I hit the jackpot: a repeatable 5-row lace chart, a whole lot of feather-and-fanning, a perfect size for tweaking and some great vintage accents to play around with (oversized wool floral motif anyone?) – perfection.

Hemolock Ring Blanket

I was shooting for a lap blanket, something not too large that I can use to warm up while knitting or watching movies (or both, they’re usually happening concurrently anyway.) A lap throw is also a great size for doubling as a table cloth, shawl, or general decorator-in-a-pinch (see photo below to dress up a bowl of yarn). When you live in a small space, multi-purpose knits are a wonderful thing. After blocking, the diameter of my blanket measured just an inch or two shy of 4 feet. The pattern as-is guides you through 87 rows of lace knitting, which I expanded in order to transform the doily into a blanket. The great thing about feather-and-fan is that you can just keep doing it in order to make a larger piece. Also, it’s purdy.

Hemlock Ring Bowl

As far as ‘expanding’ the pattern that’s given you, I’ve already done the grunt work of charting out the expandable feather-and-fan section here for your convenience (When it comes to lace, I have a serious aversion to line-by-line pattern writing). A special note about the chart: I did not chart out the entire pattern, only the feather and fan section. Row 1 of my chart corresponds directly to Row 47 of the original doily pattern. (You’ll still have to do a little line-by-line knitting). Also, the beginning of the round in the pattern starts in the CENTER of my chart. This will be more clear while knitting – just follow along with both pattern and chart until you orient yourself to the new setup.

Pattern Detail

I worked through row 55 of my chart (highlighted in Orange) before working the edging bind-off. I have included additional feather-and-fan repeats beyond where I concluded mine for those of you who would like to work a larger blanket. You can easily continue adding repeats beyond the final row of my chart – it’s all up to you. (You’ll need more yarn, though)

Lace Edging

The lace edging in the pattern is awesome. The most beautiful thing about it, though, is that you can work it whenever you want. Just finish your last pattern repeat and work the edging. It blocks beautifully.

Hemolock Ring Blanket

And warm under the newest creation here at BT headquarters, I welcome Fall with open arms. Happy knitting one and all.


Blocking

Blocking

Blocking

Don’t you just love this part?

I’m housesitting. They have central air, cable, and good beer in the fridge. What do you think I’ve been doing every night?

Ominous Doily

Circular lace is a blast – no purling! A Top Chef Marathon kept me company through the last slough of repeats, (lets just say it’s probably better that I don’t have TV at my place.) and at this rate I’ll definitely have a new blanket before the autumn chill gets here.

Everyone expressed so much interest in this project, I thought I’d give a quick update for fun. It isn’t my pattern, but I’ll be sure to post all the juicy details upon finishing so anyone can make one!

Until next time, I’ll be feather-and-fanning myself into oblivion.