What’s On My Needles

The Winter Olympic Games are fast approaching, which means the Ravellenic Games will soon begin, which means that I need to finish up all the projects I currently have on my needles, excluding those projects that are in long-term hibernation. Sorry, Stonington Shawl and St. Moritz sweater. You must remain in deep sleep for a while longer because I fell out of love with you. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings, but we knitters can be a fickle lot.

Anyway, once the Ravellenic Games begin, I need to be able to concentrate on my Ravellenic project. I mean, there may be prizes involved. PRIZES!!

So, just what IS on my needles? Well, I’ve been working on a Downtown Cowl (free Ravelry download) using my very own handspun yarn

Vintage Roses Downtown Cowl in the midst of casting off

The knitting is done, but the casting off is still in progress. I’m using EZ’s sewn cast off, which is super easy to do, but because there are about a million stitches to cast off, it is taking forever. I cannot stand to cast off more than a couple dozen stitches at a time, then I have to set the cowl aside for a while. It’s like eating an elephant–you do it one bite at a time. 🙂

This pattern is very easy and makes great hockey knitting. I enjoyed every part of knitting it except casting off. If I had it to do over again, I would use the traditional cast off where you knit a stitch and pass the previous stitch over it, but I thought the stretchier edge of the sewn cast off would be better. Well, it’s only better if it actually gets done, and even then, it’s only marginally better. Live and learn. I’m so used to using the sewn cast off on socks where there are only 72 stitches to cast off that I just didn’t think about how tedious it would be to cast off 350 stitches that way. One. Bite. At. A. Time.

Speaking of cowls and handspun, I cast on another infinity scarf using the Graham-finity pattern by Carol Quilici, another free Ravelry download.

My Fancy Pants Infinity scarf is under way.

The yarn is spun from fiber I “won” during the Tour de Fleece last July. It’s a 50/50 Merino/Silk from Woolgatherings’ Fancy Pants fiber club, and I had a blast spinning it. I think this pattern is perfect for the color changes, texture, and barber-poling of this handspun. The yarn is so soft and silky, it will feel heavenly around the wearer’s neck.

I started Fancy Pants on my Denise Interchangeable needles, and after knitting six or seven rounds, I managed to break the cable by snapping the plastic part that locks into the needle off the part that is inside the cable. I am hard on interchangeable needles, I guess. Anyway, I don’t have any fixed circulars in the size I need (5 mm), so I got out the Boye interchangeables. They are working quite nicely. The yarn moves over the join smoothly and easily, but I really don’t enjoy the stiff cable. I guess it’s time to buy some more circular needles in some larger sizes. I’ve given up on interchangeables. They just don’t like me. 😦

But as much as interchangeable needles and I don’t get along, DPNs are my bestest friends. I have started a lovely pair of fingerless mitts, yet another free Ravelry download, using stash yarn that is left over from a sweater I knitted many years ago.

My Lush Fingerless Mitts are not very far along.

I don’t think this yarn is even available any more. It’s Emerald Aran wool from the Blarney Woollen Mills in Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland. I bought it on-line as a kit that contained the wool, a pattern for 3 different Aran sweaters, and knitting needles. I knitted one of the sweaters, this beautiful Aran lumber (which folks in the US would call a cardigan) with raglan sleeves,

I knitted the lovely Aran sweater on the right years ago.

I knitted the lovely Aran sweater on the right years ago.

for my older sister in the smallest size, so I had quite a bit of the wool left, 5 or 6 50g-balls at least. I can knit lots of fingerless mitts with the yarn left over from this sweater. 🙂

The cable and lace pattern used for the Lush mitts is very simple and easy to memorize. It took me about three seconds to know the pattern by heart. I haven’t assigned these mitts a recipient yet. They might be keepers. They will tell me where they belong when they are finished. Yes, my knitting speaks to me. 🙂

Yarn Cakes

Lately I’ve been knitting nothing but fingerless mitts. I love knitting fingerless mitts and plan to continue knitting them for the foreseeable future. But my handspun is calling to me. So I got my wooden swift out of the closet,

Wooden swift, ready for action!

Wooden swift, ready for action!

 

and pulled the “mashed potato” stool into place.

My ball winder is at home atop the "mashed potato" stool.

My ball winder is at home atop the “mashed potato” stool.

This wooden step stool belonged to my MIL. She kept it in the kitchen behind the door that led to a small hallway to the back door. Her house was old and so was her kitchen. There wasn’t a lot of counter space, so when she made mashed potatoes, she pulled this stool out and sat the hot pan of potatoes on the top of the stool while she mashed them. I never saw her use the stool for anything except mashing potatoes, so I have always called it the mashed potato stool. The stool now sits in my dining room/office next to my computer desk and is the permanent home of my ball winder. My MIL would be pleased to know her mashed potato stool is now an integral part of my yarn-winding “station.” 🙂

After getting the swift set up and the ball winder in place, I wound some of my handspun yarn into yarn cakes.

A basket of yarn cakes. Yum!

A basket of yarn cakes. Yum!

Each yarn now has a designated knitting project assigned to it.

Roses in Her Eyes, a 2-ply spun from a batt from Bohoknitterchic,

Yarn cake on a plate

is designated to become a pair of fingerless mitts. I haven’t decided for certain, but I’ll probably use a simple 2 x 1 or 3 x 1 ribbing and keep it very plain so that the beauty of the yarn will shine through.  The yarn has a lot of shine, sparkle, color, and texture. It’s a bit thick and thin, and a little slubby, so I plan to keep it simple. I hope it’s as much fun to knit as it was to spin.

Vintage Roses from Corgi Hill Farm will become a Downtown Cowl.

A Polwarth and silk blend

And finally, the pièce de résistance is this beautiful monochrome gradient from Spinneretta’s Studio

A lovely monochrome gradient of Polwarth top

that I spun and chain-plied to get a beautiful skein

Just look at the beautiful color transitions

that is now this beautiful yarn cake.

So lovely all wound up

This yarn needs a pattern that is suitable for a gradient yarn, and I think The Age of Steam and Brass is perfect.

I haven’t decided which handspun project to cast on first, but in the meanwhile, I will finish Anne’s Little Twist Mitts

Mitt #2 is well underway.

and probably cast on yet another pair of fingerless mitts. They are so quick and easy, and very satisfying to knit. And even better, they are wonderful to wear. If you’ve never worn a pair, give them a try. I think you will love them as much as I do. And if you have never knitted a pair… Do. It. NOW.

And be sure to visit Tami’s WIP Wednesday to see lots of other hand-crafted goodies.