I Almost Gave In

Awhile back I posted about the Beekeeper Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits being the blanket everyone is making. The pattern still seems to be oddly popular. Back then, I was very dubious about the pattern. It seemed like it would take an eternity to make. The result would be very heavy. I don’t knit socks and don’t have scraps laying around. However, I saw the kit over at Knitcrate and decided to give it a try. My Koigu mini-skeins, needles, pattern, and fiberfill arrived, and I was ready to try it out. For the first two puffs, I had really decided to knit this monster. Even though I knew that it would take around 600 puffs to make a decent sized blanket. However, I sat there looking at the little pile of mini-skeins and realized that I had not overcome my desire for things to match.

Now, I am the daughter of a quilter. In fact, my mom opened her own quilt shop when I was 10. Although I do not quilt myself (I’ve dabbled once or twice with no real prolificacy), I have gathered up bits and pieces of quilting knowledge through osmosis. Mostly because I used to spend my afternoons when school let out at my mom’s store, waiting to go home at closing time. When I started considering how I could turn the Beekeeper’s Quilt into something I would actually like, I decided to look to the quilting world for inspiration.

There is a vintage quilt pattern known as Grandmother’s Flower Garden. It is small hexagons (1 or 2 inches) pieced to look like flowers with little white “paths” between them, or green “vines”. I decided this could be the perfect motif for the Beekeeper Quilt. All I would have to do is get skeins of sock yarn in colors I liked and arranged the final product like the quilt pattern.

I wanted to do the colors in something I wouldn’t normally pick. Since the quilt pattern is from the 1930’s, those colors seemed perfect. I went on Eat.Sleep.Knit and started hunting. I ended up with three skeins which, while they aren’t totally the 30’s style, will work.

From left to right I got Manos del Uruguay Fino in Crystal Goblet, Dream Smooshy in Rosalita, and Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Straw. I bought all of these based purely on color and cost so it was a gamble, but I am incredibly pleased with all of the yarns. Also, once they arrived, I realized that I hadn’t ended up with such random colors. In fact, they match the new colors in my living room. You can see the yellow throw pillow in the back there.

photo 1I started talking to my mom about my idea and it started to change. I originally called to ask if she had a pattern at her shop that would show how to lay out the flower colors. I began to describe the Beekeeper Quilt to her and she started poking holes in my plan. Firstly, why do they need to be puffs? We live in Texas where its warm so you don’t need a lined blanket. If they were just knit flat, it would use half the yarn, take half the time, and be lighter. Plus, the hexipuffs are connected by tying the corners with scrap yarn. That makes the back ugly because of all the strings hanging down. After my discussion with her, I had totally changed my idea.

Instead, I found the Six’es pattern on Ravelry. It is still hexagons, still done with sock yarn, but it is a single layer that is more neatly seamed together.

I guess I am still bucking the trend. Also, I’m excited about my quilt/knit hybrid, it brings together my mom’s world and mine.

 

Not Cheating, I Swear

Some new yarn came in from Sundara. Now, I know I said I was going on a yarn diet, but I promise I’m not cheating since I technically ordered this before the start of my diet.

This is their Sport Merino Two base in Summer Shadows, Morning Light, and End of Summer. I really liked that the inspiration for these colors was the art of Monet. Tis collection was Sundara’s August colors.

I don’t just love the three colors together like I thought I would, but I think that once I knit with them, they’ll blend a little bit better.

I am planning to make the Color Affection shawl (aka the shawl everyone and their mother on Ravelry has knit). I think the narrowness of the stripes will work well with these colors together. At least, I hope so.

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Finished Project: Bias Shawl

I finished this shawl a couple weeks ago but hadn’t gotten around to taking pictures or posting, so here it is. This is my Self Fringing Bias Shawl by Greta Dise. I used Brooks Farm Yarn’s Surrey Duet. I’m not sure what the color is called but I’ve been thinking of it as fruity mentos colored. They haven’t gotten the yarn online yet but it is really awesome. It’s a soft, squishy mix of wool and alpaca with a light halo and a little sheen. The pattern was incredibly simple and easy to follow but did include the controlled chaos of dropping 8 stitches at the end to create the fringe. I may go back and add some beads to the fringe but I’m not sure. I’m not a shawl wearer so I need to find someone to give this to.

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The Novice and the Novelty Yarn

Once upon a time, when I was a new knitter, I discovered a wacky skein of yarn at the store that fascinated me. It was Alp Premier by Feza, an interesting novelty yarn that contains numerous, very different textures and weight of yarn hand tied into one skein. The yarn shop employee knew I was a new knitter and told me that there was a pattern to go along with the yarn for a scarf that wouldn’t be too difficult for me to figure out. There was even a sample of the scarf knit up for me to see. She sent me home with the Arrowhead Scarf pattern and the yarn.

As someone who taught themselves to crochet, I should have known that novelty yarn isn’t compatible with a new knitter.  I should have told myself all those tidbits of wisdom: it’s hard to see your stitches, difficult to handle, slippery, whatever. I didn’t.

The following mess is as far as I got.

I was having the hardest time keeping the fuzzy/slippery/lumpy/skinny/textured yarn on my needles and seeing my stitches was near impossible. At the end of each row, I would find my stitch count off from the pattern, every single time. As a novice (and, in hindsight, silly) knitter, I would just add stitches at the end if I was short, or knit a couple together if I had extra. Don’t even ask me why it didn’t register in my brain that this would effect the shape of the final product. The fact that the scarf came out as arrow shaped as it did is a miracle of nature.

One big issue was dealing with the transition between yarns. Each variety has been hand tied to the next in a big loop. You can’t just knit an entire knot and loop into your scarf in such an open pattern and think it won’t show. My idea was to untie each connection and join it back in like you would a new ball of yarn. Of course, this meant joining a new yarn in every three or four rows. I thought I was a genius, I knew better than to knit a tie into my piece. Here’s what I didn’t consider, several of these yarns have an odd texture – some are ropy, some are like ribbon, and my clever little joins… fell apart. Well that, plus the fact that I had probably dropped a stitch or two (or three, or five) along the way and ignored it.

Once I made it as far as is shown in the picture, I picked the project and watched not one, but two, stitches work their way down the scarf, leaving behind a trail of destruction. If you look closely, you can see one hole just right of the center in the sage green section.

Not exactly a scarf

Not exactly a scarf

I decided I should have never taken this project on. I had no clue what I was doing. I really should’ve known better; I had been burned by novelty yarns before. I once crocheted a hideous capelet from some fire colored ribbon yarn. Oh, and gave it tan, fuzzy trim. No one will ever wear that thing… In retrospect, I have no clue what I was thinking. I had yarn for brains that day, I guess.

Now, a year later, I decided to rip this monstrosity off the needles and try again. I made it to the first yarn join and gave up again. I honestly don’t know what should do about those big, loopy knots and this yarn’s resistance to joining.

After browsing around on Ravelry, it would seem that a lot of knitters had the same issues. The project notes are rife with complaints about how terrible the yarn is to work with. ‘

I’ve decided to toss this yarn into the bottom of the scrap bag and move on like i’ve never seen it. Some yarns just weren’t to be knit by me, no matter how much experience I gain.

 

My scarf could’ve looked like this…