Off the needles: Vernal Equinox

Thanks to a week-long staycation (so many extra knitting hours!), my Vernal Equinox is finally off the needles. I um-ed and aah-ed about the cast off as I find crochet ones hard to block and didn’t think the garter edging fitted with the overall floatiness of the design. In the end I went with a trusty picot (cast on 2, cast off 4, repeat ad nauseum…), and I think I like the effect.

So to the blocking board, and from crumpled jellyfish:

Vernal Equinox 6

To finished shawl:

Vernal Equinox 3

Vernal Equinox 5

When am I going to wear a 1.5m-long baby pink lace shawl? I have no idea. But I’m looking forward to finding out.

A Little Lace

My favourite thing about knitting lace is seeing the pattern finally reveal itself when the finished article is blocked into shape. So it probably follows that my least favourite thing is the hours of staring at a crumpled mass of string that comes before.

Ravelry_vernal equinox 1

There’s some pretty lace in here, I promise.

Ravelry_vernal equinox 2

I may not be enjoying the full effect of Vernal Equinox’s glorious design, but I’m definitely enjoying the yarn. Malabrigo Silkpaca is, as the name suggests, a blend of silk and alpaca – super soft and lovely to work with.

I can’t wait to get this shawl off the needles and onto the blocking board.

 

Starting over

Not long ago I unravelled the first garment I ever knitted. And, much to my surprise, I wasn’t at all sad about it.

The poor ill-fitting cardigan had hung in my wardrobe, unworn and unloved, for the best part of three years. Every now and then I’d feel guilty for not wearing it and try it on again, in the hope that it would have magically changed shape and I’d be thrilled at how great it looked. It never had, and I never was.

So I came to the conclusion that the best thing I could do was give the yarn a second chance. I unpicked a loose end and started pulling, and a few hours later I had a large pile of yarn and a strange sense of relief.

Goodbye Peggy Sue… hello Lime Soda. Still a summer cardi with short sleeves and simple patterning, but this time I’ll get it right. And if not? Well, third time’s the charm.

Sarah Lou Knits Lime Soda cardigan

Pretty in pink

It’s so easy, when choosing yarn, to go for the qualities you want in the finished item, and not the ones you want in a knitting project. This might explain why I have countless abandoned skeins of Kidsilk Haze in my stash, and also how I came to acquire this ball of Andes by Debbie Bliss.

It’s beautiful yarn, it really is – luscious baby alpaca with the gorgeous sheen of silk. But to work with? Oh boy. It’s splitty, slippery and feels ready to felt with the slightest agitation. I’m struggling through a pair of Paula McKeever’s Cafe au Lait Mitts (lace was the wrong choice for this yarn) and counting down the rows until I can knit with something else.

Try on the gorgeously, ridiculously soft half-finished mitts, though, and all is forgiven.

SarahLouKnits Cafe Au Lait

Bind-off blues

Ravelry_hemlockring3

So near, and yet so far! Casting off a large project can be a uniquely frustrating process. There’s only one more row to go, but there’s a good chance that row will take forever. In this case I’m three hours in and barely halfway through, but the finished effect is definitely worth the effort.

My Hemlock Ring Blanket has ended up with a contrasting colour for the cast-off-that-never-ends, partly as a design feature, but mostly out of necessity. Despite doing a bunch of maths before I started – with a calculator and everything! – I ran out of yarn.

Still, I like the way the blue brings out the best in the green, raising it from a sludgy moss colour to something a bit more summery. Three more hours and this little blanket will finally be off the needles…

A little bit of history

One of my favourite things about knitting is its links to the past. The women in previous generations of my family were keen knitters, and many of the patterns they used are not only still available, but also still usable.

Given the number of technologies and systems that have fallen in and out of favour even during my lifetime – MiniDiscs, anyone? – that feels like quite a feat.

So today I’ve cast on a pattern originally published by The Canadian Spool Cotton Company in 1942. It’s the Hemlock Ring Doily Throw, turned from a vintage doily into a modern throw by designer Jared Flood. 40 rounds in and it’s knitting up nicely.

SarahLouKnits Hemlock Ring

Hats off

At this time of year I always have an irresistible urge to knit accessories: hats, scarves, arm warmers, leg warmers… you name it. But this winter I think I need to take a break. Why? I just reorganised my wardrobe, and seeing all of them in one place came as a bit of a shock.

In my defence, my hat collection spans at least a decade and a half – and I do still wear them all. Most of them… Sometimes.

There’s the beanie bought for my first Reading festival; a stripy hat taken on a climbing trip with school; the oversized one I wore to play football at uni; a bargain baker boy from Accessorize; my favourite Fair Isle, a Christmas gift from my parents; a slouchy one bought to replace another, moth-eaten slouchy one; a stashbuster knitted on the Eurostar; a quick knit taken on holiday with friends; and the souvenir alpaca from Germany, made into a lacy Lucy in the Sky.

SarahLouKnits Lucy in the Sky

Sorry, Caput Helianthus and all the others in my Ravelry queue, you’re just going to have to wait.