Archive for Yarn

Work in Progress: Upstairs Shawl
July 6th, 2010 | Link

Shawl and yarn detail

I started this project as plane knitting for my trip to Calgary in May, and now it was also plane knitting for my trip to Las Vegas. It’s the Upstairs Shawl from Ravelry (requires an account to view the pattern, but if you’re a knitter, you need a Ravelry account!), in lace. It’s a simple lace pattern repeating over 11 stitches and 32 rows (with 105 stitches per row, including a garter-stitch border) and I memorized it quickly, but with the lace-weight yarn it’s going very slowly. I’ve knit about 36″ so far, and I’d say I’m a little over half-way through the ball, and that’s probably about 44 hours of knitting time (it takes me about 4 hours for a repeat). Fortunately, not all of that was in airports or on planes. At my current rate, I figure I’ll finish it around September.

This is the same yarn I used for my sister’s Clapotis scarf and the Mockingbird handwoven scarf. Great yardage (850 yards per skein) with saturated colors and lovely subtle shifts in the deep blue. But there are many places where the yarn is so finely spun that it’s little more than a thread, so I’m always afraid that I’m going to break it. That could just be from the Mockingbird experience, when I foolishly used it as a warp thread – I’ve never actually broken it knitting.

Habu Kit 78 (Kusha Kusha Scarf)
May 2nd, 2010 | Link

Scarf pic

In the interests of (trying) not acquiring new stash until I’ve used up what I already have, and also being crazy busy and so doing the smaller, simpler projects first, let me present the Kusha Kusha scarf from Habu. I bought it as a kit from Knit Purl when I was in Portland last September. It’s a simple stockinette pattern, with a few stitch decreases at the beginning and further tapering about two-thirds of the way through that is achieved by gradually decreasing the needle size rather than the number of stitches. The main point of interest is that it’s knit with two lace-weight yarns held together throughout, one stainless steel and one merino wool, and then felted slightly to finish.

The results are (1) interesting texture and waffling along the edges, caused by the wool yarn shrinking during the felting while the stainless steel does not, and (2) if you crunch the resulting fabric into a ball with your hand, the stainless steel yarn holds some memory of the scrunch, so you can get some sculptural texture.

I didn’t fully follow the pattern: after the first transition to smaller needles the instructions say to drop the merino yarn and only continue with the stainless steel. I tried it, but I didn’t like the abrupt change in color (the merino is black, and the stainless steel is about the color you’d expect from stainless steel) and I had a lot of the merino left, so I decided to just keep using both yarns until I ran out.

Destroyed Cowl
April 7th, 2010 | Link

Knitted cowl detail

I had a full skein (plus a bit) of Cascade 220 left over from last year’s Christmas knitting, so, inspired again by Kirsten, I decided to use it on the Destroyed Cowl.

I have mixed feelings about the result. I like the pattern, but I think the yarn was wrong for it. The Cascade 220 is prone to felting, so after blocking there’s not a lot of stitch definition and it feels sort of soft and mushy. For this pattern, especially for the “destroyed” parts, I think more structure would have worked better. (It also might have worked better with a tighter gauge–I used 5mm needles.) More structure, or alternatively more drape–this middle area is just kind of bleah. The dropped stitches tend to roll under and hide, so it requires a little coaxing to show off the detail.

I still like the pattern, though, so I might try it again with a different yarn. (I also may just be being overly critical–one of my coworkers thinks it’s still very pretty.)

Lace Ribbon Scarf (Ode to Ravelry)
January 12th, 2010 | Link

Lace ribbon scarf in action

I’ve told many knitters this: if you knit, you should get on Ravelry. It’s not Facebook for knitters, it’s an invaluable resource of yarns, patterns and tips. Take, for example, the above scarf.

I purchased one skein each of Malabrigo Sock in Solis and Stonechat from Imagiknit. I knew already that I wanted to remake the Twilight Scarf I gave my sister two Christmases ago for myself from the Stonechat. And I’m sure the Solis would also be beautiful woven up, but I wanted a small knitting project. So I turned to the yarn search on Ravelry and searched for Malabrigo Sock, then searched within the results for Solis, just to see what other people had knit. There were quite a few results, but I didn’t want to knit socks and I only had one skein, so the Lace Ribbon Scarf particularly attracted me, even though the pattern hadn’t grabbed my attention when it came out on Knitty. (For those readers who already have Ravelry accounts, the pieces that caught my attention in particular were this and this. ) I love being able to see how a particular yarn will work for a project, and Ravelry is the best for that.

Lace ribbon scarf close up

And then I knitted it, and then it sat around for a month waiting for the (two) ends to be sewn in and to be blocked. Which I did on the weekend, yay! Finished project #2.

January 11th, 2010 | Link

sev(en)circle close up

In the spirit of The Year of Making it Happen, I made a concerted effort this weekend to clean up old knitting projects that have been lying around making me feel guilty for thinking about new (not necessarily knitting) projects. And I’m happy to say I finished all of my in-progress knitting, except for sewing the zipper into a cardigan I started a year ago. (Note: In-progress knitting should not be confused with projects I have not yet started but have purchased yarn for, of which there are still many remaining. But I had to start somewhere…)

Project number one was Kirsten’s lovely sev(en)circle pattern, my trip knitting for WordPress Portland last September. The yarn is Habu Textiles Silk Wool A-113 3/15, purchased at Knit Purl in Portland. It’s been in an almost-done state since October, which is in no way a reflection on Kirsten’s pattern—I only had to sew in the ends, it took 10 minutes, but I just kept putting it off. But now it’s done!

Long Time Sprouting
January 8th, 2010 | Link

Completed cardigan on a headless me

Thanks to Ravelry, I know that I started knitting this cardigan (a.k.a. Sprout) some time in 2008. Then it spent months and months in a cupboard until I finally brought it out and sewed in all the ends and attached the buttons in January, 2009. And then it sat in a pile for a bunch of months again until I finally blocked it last summer.

The yarn is Elann Pegasus, which is a handy worsted weight cotton/rayon blend that I’ve used for a few pieces. It’s a bit splitty to knit with but finishes up and washes pretty well, and the rayon adds a tiny bit of glamor. (And at $2.48/50g CDN, it’s inexpensive.)

I like the cardigan all right. From the pattern photo, I expected more of a scoop neckline, so that’s been a bit disappointing. I like the interest that the cables add to an otherwise basic raglan cardigan. If I were to do it again (probably not) I’d pick a more summery color, as the black—although my favorite—is more of a cool weather color than the short sleeves would seem to fit. I have a red and white spaghetti strap dress and I think this would be perfect in red or white and shorter sleeves for that dress. Black, not so much.

And, while I have the photographer…

Black pleated top on a headless me

I had some time off at the end of December (as you may have noticed) with which to further my adventures in Japanese sewing patterns. This is the ‘A’ top/tunic/dress in Happy Homemade 3, with the A2 neckline and pleat and the A3 sleeve. My terrible posture aside, I did have some (visible) problems with the gathering at the sleeve caps and some slippage on one side of the pleat. The fabric is a bamboo/cotton blend from that has great drape and is really soft, but I had some problems working with it. (I think the fault was mine, not the fabric.) The pattern doesn’t call for a jersey—most of the versions on the Japan Couture site are woven fabrics—but I think it works well. It’s really comfortable and a little more stylish than a basic t-shirt.

Duck, Duck, Duck
June 9th, 2009 | Link

Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks neck warmer - stitch and button detail

I realized recently that I no longer have the patience for large knitting projects. My Chicknits Ribby Cardi has been languishing unfinished for months now—it’s nearly done, I just need to pick up the neck stitches and sew in the ends and the zipper, but I haven’t been able to face it. Instead, I’ve turned to small projects with minimal finishing and quick gratification. Like neck warmers.

I’m in love with this whole concept of neck warmers. I’m always cold, and it seems like part of that is if my neck gets cold the rest of me follows. Neck warmers don’t hang in the way or get caught in the office chair like scarves can. And since they don’t usually flop around to expose the back side of the knitting, you can play with a lot of different stitches.

This piece is based on the Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks pattern from A Time to Knit blog; I found it through my network on Ravelry. Like the Herringbone Cowl I finished a couple of weeks ago, this one is Malabrigo Silky Merino yarn. The mother-of-pearl buttons came from Britex. (Kudos to the clerk who was able to decipher my vague description of the buttons I’d purchased for the Luna Capelet and pull up the same box!)

Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks neck warmer

You can see how easy it would be to pick a favorite stitch from the Barbara Walker Treasury of Knitting Patterns and throw one of these together in a day or two.

Herringbone Cowl
May 31st, 2009 | Link

Stitch detail of the herringbone cowl

I needed some airplane knitting for a trip up to Calgary last weekend, and (inspired once again by Kirsten) it turned out to be the Herringbone Cowl from a spare skein of Malabrigo Silky Merino, which has made a previous appearance on my blog as the Home Life Scarf. I love this yarn so much that I bought several more skeins (two in black and one in the same colourway, Cloudy Sky) thinking I would weave with it again. But I ended up knitting with it instead.

Close up stitch detail

I love, love, love this color.

Close up stitch detail

I did five repeats of the herringbone pattern stitch, using most of one skein. It might have made the final cowl just a bit too high—it’s so soft and drapey that it falls over itself a lot. Or maybe that’s just a cowl thing, I can never figure out how to drape them right!

I love the way the stitches turned out though. I thought after my experience with Henry that I would never knit this type of stitch again. But in DK weight yarn, with only 128 stitches per row, it was quite tolerable. I’m even modifying the pattern a bit to make a second, less cowl-like version—stay tuned.

Felted Coffee Sleeves
February 6th, 2009 | Link

Coffee sleeves

This is the last of my Christmas knitting. I had some leftover Cascade 220 wool from the Habitat hat I knit for my dad for Christmas, so I decided to experiment with felting it into a coffee sleeve.

You can work the rows in garter (alternating knit and purl rows), stockinette (knitting every row) or seed stitch—I tried all three, and you can see the slight difference in texture in the photo between the stockinette (on the cup) and the seed stitch. Most of the stitch definition is lost during the felting process, but the garter stitch version seemed to produce the thickest of the three.


You will need:

Needles: 4.5mm double-pointed needles (set of 4)

Wool yarn—Cascade 220 wool, Malabrigo, or others. Some yarn felts better than others so you might need to experiment. It doesn’t take a lot—I got three sleeves out of the remainder of the ball of Cascade 220 from the hat.

A coffee cup that you want the sleeve to fit over. Mine is a Starbuck’s tall cup. The sleeve stretches a bit, so it also fits the next size up.

Gauge: 18 stitches / 32 rows to 4″, in stockinette stitch in the round.

Knitting: Cast on 36 stitches and distribute evenly on three needles (12 stitches per needle). Join, making sure not to twist the stitches. Work 9 rows in the stitch of your choice.

Row 10: Work 12 sts, increasing one stitch in 12th stitch; repeat twice more. 39 stitches in total.

Work 9 more rows.

Row 20: Work 13 sts, increasing one stitch in 13th stitch; repeat twice more. 42 stitches in total.

Work 4 more rows. Cast off.

Felting: Fill sink with hot water (as hot as you can stand—rubber gloves help—and add enough detergent to make some suds. Wash the sleeve. Agitate it, rub it between your hands, rub it against itself, swish it around. Keep doing this until the wool begins to felt. It will shrink a bit, especially in the length, and it will thicken. You might have to drain the sink and add more hot water. Once the wool is felting, check that it fits over your coffee cup. Keep felting until it’s a firm fit. Leave the sleeve on the cup to dry.

January 17th, 2009 | Link

Fetching gloves

This is the popular Fetching glove pattern from Knitty, knit using two strands of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport, the last of the lot I purchased from eBay.

They need blocking (the top edge curls a bit too much), but I enjoy wearing them. They’ve been great for working from home when it’s been chilly, and for extra wrist coverage when my hands are in my pockets on the way to work.



My name is Shannon Hale. This blog is on indefinite hiatus, but it contains archives of the last 10 years of posts about bookbinding, knitting, sewing. and other random things in my life.


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