Stitches and String: An FO Post

I’m cruising toward the Malabrigo March finish line this week.  And while some of my plans haven’t quite worked out—my failed attempt at Colonnade  and my failure to even look at the Echo Flower  pattern this month, let alone cast it on, come to mind—I do have a couple Malabrigo FO’s under my belt.

I’ve already shown off my Burberry-inspired Cowl. I did all the finishing work on the Frost Tapestry neckwarmer and it’s now blocking; just needs to dry and get the buttons sewn on. And I’m already through the first few rows of the chart on the second Frost Tapestry mitten.

And my Grove mittens (Rav link) are done done done!

Happy red twisted stitches!

These are wonderful mittens. They’re scary at first, though. The chart is small and more than a little daunting. There’s a lot of through-the-back-loop and stitch-marker-relocating action that took a while to get the hang of. And I didn’t even think about trying to do the twisted 2-stitch cables encircling the cuff without a cable needle. Too much craziness there for my head to keep it all straight.

:::love:::

With all that, though, these were quick. Really quick. It might have taken me longer to get some good daylight in my schedule to photograph them to my liking than it did to actually knit them.

The only problem with these overall is the length. As mentioned in a previous post, they’re a bit too short for my long-fingered hands, though they are very stretchy. I could in theory wear them, but they’re more snug than I usually like, so they’ll be a gift for some lucky soul instead. If I make these again, I’d add an extra pattern repeat before the decreases.

A simply fantastic shade of red

I could wax on about the Malabrigo Worsted I used to make these, but I think I’ve already outed myself as a Mal addict and professed my undying love for all things Malabrigo. Instead, I’ll just comment on the color. “Rojo Vivo” is hands down now a favorite solid colorway. If you’re looking for vibrant, this is it!

I did take a little break last week from Malabrigo March to do some spinning. Remember the sparkly Loop Batt that Allison got me for Xmas? It’s  now a 154-yard skein of Navajo-plied worsted-weight.

Ohhhh! Sparkly!

I spun it on my brand new, beautiful Spanish Peacock top-whorl spindle—that I haven’t taken a pic of yet. Bad blogger. It’s a bloodwood whorl with a flower cut-out on a lignum vitea shaft and it’s amazing. This was its maiden spin, and it performed more than admirably.

A very squishy skein

This batt contained every fiber known to man—alpaca, merino, corriedale, mohair, soy silk, tencel, tussah silk, bamboo, silk noil, angelina, firestar and bamboo nepps. Ok, so that’s not *every* fiber known to man, but’s it’s sure quite a few of them! The finished yarn is highly textured and variable and exactly what I was hoping it would be.

Might become a cowl…or mittens…or colorwork…we shall see…

So, the next few days will be dedicated to finishing the Frost Tapestry mittens and capping off my less-than-planned-but-still-pretty-damn-productive Malabrigo March. And I’m pretty confident I can to it…and maybe even still have my sanity intact at the end of it!

EEK! Steek!

The time had come. If I were to have any chance to finish the Frost Tapestry set by the end of Malabrigo March—which wraps up on Wednesday—I would have to commence with the steeking.

Deep breath.

Smiling to hide my nerves

I used Eunny Jang’s tutorial for a crocheted steek, which provides nice, clear, illustrated directions. Have I mentioned I don’t crochet? I mean, I did when I was, like, five years old. But now, my hands just feel clumsy with a hook. So, there was more than a little learning curve here.

I decided to attmpt the steek at my SnB for the moral support, and they were fantastic. I used a US F hook and some gray Paton’s Classic Merino from the stash for the crochet. In hindsight, I probably should have used a less-bulky yarn for the steek, but oh well. This was my first times and was a total learning experience.

Steeks in place, ready for the cut

So, my clumsy hands crocheted the steek. They’re lumpy, bumpy and uneven, but they get the job done.

Another deep breath. Time for the scissors.

It’s now or never…

I used my small set of sewing scissors, and they were a good choice: little tips on sharp blades, perfect for delicate snip, snip, snipping.

Then I went at it…

The first snip

…and proceeded to cut…

Shaky hands…very shaky hands…

…my beautiful Malabrigo fair isle knitting…

Almost done!

…right down the middle.

What a rush!

Ta-da!

And there it is! Everything held together perfectly! Steeking accomplished!

Now all that’s left is to knit on the button bands, block it and sew on the pretty silver buttons Allison found during our shenanigans at JoAnn’s yesterday.

I also finished the main knitting on the first matching mitten…

Gotta love the colorwork!

…and just have to put in the thumb.

Can I finish the whole set by Wednesday?

Yay for successful steeking!

Maybe, now that the scariest part is over!

Confession Time

It’s time to come clean. I’ve been cheating on my knitting.

With food.

It all started innocently enough. A recipe here, some crockpot experimentation there. And then I found food blogs. Food blogs are amazing.

To be honest, I was probably predisposed. I’ve been helping my Italian mother in the kitchen since I was a very small child…and that woman can cook! I’m no where near as good in the kitchen as she is, but I’ve been trying my hand here and there. Sometimes I’ve failed. Other times it’s been oh so tasty.

The *must* have bread book

Mom has, of course, been encouraging this. For Valentine’s Day, she got me a pizza peel, a pizza stone, a baguette pan and a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. And I’ve been completely sold. My first efforts went something like this:

Take all this stuff…

All the good stuff

….mix some of it up in a bowl…

No dough machine here!

…until I get this sticky dough…

Um….yum?

…let it rise a bit…

A bowl full of lovely sticky bread dough

…then free-form a ball on my peel…

Aw, how cute!

…give it a couple slashes once it’s risen and into the oven she goes!

Looking rather bread-like

Then, finally, voila!

Ummmmmmm……

Bread! Hot, crusty, toasty, delicious bread!

I’ve made a couple of these free-form loaves now, using both fresh and aged dough, experimenting with different kinds of yeast and different cooking times. Each loaf has been better than the last. Today, I decided to use some really aged dough—13 days in the fridge–to make a French couronne.

Success!

It’s without a doubt the tastiest bread I’ve made yet!

Soft and chewy on the inside, crusty on the outside. And so damn easy to make, it should really be a crime.

:::swoon:::

To go with it, I made this Market Day Potato and Leek Soup from one of my favorite food blogs, Kiss My Spatula. Her blog is beautiful and inspiring and chock full of wonderful recipes. This soup didn’t disappoint!

This didn’t last long!

I paid a visit to Urban Oaks yesterday with Mom and Dr. Al and got fresh organic russet potatoes and leeks and parsley. The fresh ingredients made all the difference. I topped it with a spoonful of organic yogurt and dunked the slices of couronne right in there. Delish!

And, I have a ton of leftovers. Bonus!

So, I might start throwing in a few more food posts around here, especially since I have these pretty, fragrant and tasty herbs on my windowsils now.

Flat-leaf parsley
Small-leaf basil

 

Thyme…already put to good use in today’s soup!

 But, rest assured, my knitting and spinning are still getting their rightful attention!

What’s wooly, sparkly and Navajo plied?

That Love/Hate Thing

Remember when I deluded myself into thinking I could finish a lace triangle in four days? Or when I made some comment about how yardage wasn’t a problem?

I know it’s up for me…

Yeah…so…as it turns out, yardage was kind of a problem. And because Delusion and I were already strolling hand-in-hand, I thought I could squeeze out that seventh repeat, then the edging.

Not so much.

Lifeline?

Ha! Delusion needs no lifeline!

So I tinked. And tinked. And tinked. And when I thought I had tinked enough, I started the edging.

Only to find I hadn’t tinked enough. So, I tinked more. Until finally…finally…I didn’t have to tink anymore. And an edging was knit. And a bind-off was executed. And a shawl was blocked.

Was it worth it?

…if you steal my sunshine…

Absolutely.

It’s beautiful.

…making sure I’m not in too deep…

I did not use the chart for my version of the “Gail (a.k.a. Nightsongs)” shawl (Rav link). It made my brain hurt a little bit. So, I used the handy PDF unchart (which you can get through this Rav link), and that worked out really really well. I also used a crap-ton of stitch markers to stay on track.

(Sidebar: I usually just use little knotted loops of scrap yarn for stitch markers, but I actually bought pretty markers just for this project…so it would be a happier knit…they only kind of helped, to be completely honest.)

…if you steal my sunshine…

My problems with this project were just that: mine. My miscalculations and my inability to read. The pattern itself demands that you pay attention. As long as you can do that, though, you end up with a gorgeous piece of lace. It’s really quite a striking pattern.

…keeping versed and on my feet…

I started out loving this, hated it for a little while, then fell back in love with it again as I slipped it on my blocking wires. It was truly that love/hate thing, and I haven’t felt that with a knitting project in a really long time.

…if you steal my sunshine…

Finally, in closing, I must say a word about this Whorled Peace superwash merino sock. At first, the yarn had a sturdier hand than I expected. But it blocked into a substantial, drapey fabric. The stitches are crisp and the definition is fantastic. And it was really wonderful to work with, and I’d totally recommend it.

It’d make a lovely pair of socks, too.

Malabrigo March: Plugging Along

Busy, busy, busy.

That’s been my life for the last two weeks. And it’s been why this blog has been silent. Between a lingering plague that laid me up for a few days and crazy-time at work and parties with friends and helping Kris paint and move into her new apartment, my life has just been crazy!

With all that, Malabrigo March has been cruising by, and I’ve just been plugging along. My first FO was my Burberry-Inspired Cowl (Rav link).

And it even matches my awesome new-ish coat!

I actually cranked this out over two days while recovering on the couch from the plague that’s been making it’s way around my office. And it’s fantastic! The pattern is beautiful and works so well with the very busy “Plena” colorway. And I love the idea of not setting cables apart by purl rows. It adds a whole new dimension to cabled fabric that is really very pretty. 

Still totally in love with this colorway

I did stripe the two balls of Twist, but I got some pooling anyways. I don’t really mind it though; I think it works with the pattern. And I have nothing but awesome things to say about Malabrigo Twist. It’s fabulous, simply fabulous, and I have dreams of a sweater made out of it sometime in the foreseeable future…maybe in time for Rhinebeck this October…we’ll see…

I also cast on for Colonnade (Rav link) as planned, and then frogged it. Really didn’t like how it was working out, and life’s too short to knit something you’re not happy with.

So, then I switched gears and started my Grove mittens (Rav link).

Snuggly, swirly stitches

The first one went surprisingly quickly, which was a little unexpected from my first glance at the chart. The cuff is made up of tiny two-stitch, knit-through-the-back-loop cables, which take a while, but the rest of the mitt is all twisted stitches, which work up pretty easily. The first one is a little short for me, so I’ll probably gift these eventually.

I also picked up two skeins of Worsted in “Natural” and another in “Forest” to make Frost Tapestry (Rav link) from the Twist Collective. So far, I’ve finished most of the neckwarmer.

Such a pretty colorwork pattern

I’m at the steek. My first ever steek. Yeah, not sure I’m ready for that yet.

Where I will eventually, at some point, cut my knitting. Yes, cut. With scissors. Yikes.

Very scary. I might start the matching mittens before I go for the steek action. And, if I have enough yarn, the matching hat as well.

And though it doesn’t count for Malabrigo March, since I cast it on in February, I did whip up a 1X1 rib scarf in my “Cookie” Twist…

Ummm….Twist…so wonderful….

…which has quickly become a wardrobe staple. It’s without a doubt the squishiest scarf in my closet.

So, that’s my Malabrigo March so far. I might whip out a couple more projects, but if things stay as busy as they’ve been recently, I probably won’t have much time.

All this Mal does reinforce, however, my undying love for this yarn. Cables, lace, colorwork, basic stitches—it can literally do everything. It may just be the *perfect yarn.