Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Pretty Teal Shawl

I started knitting this shawlravelry-round in February, using yarn I bought during San Diego Comic Con last year. The pattern is Dianna, and the yarn is a discontinued colorway of Zitron Filigran– long color repeats that were exactly what I wanted for this entrelac lace shawl.

For the record, I have had this shawl in my queue for about 5 years. I have also tried to start it several times before giving up.

I finished it yesterday!

2015-07-23 16.43.53

I added a modified feather-and-fan border to “pull it together” and finished with about 5 yards of yarn to spare.

It’s a lovely blue-teal, which will go very nicely with the blue infinity dress I made last month:

2015-06-23 17.11.46

More details about the pattern, needles, progress photos, etc. are in the Ravelry link above.

Next up: the Kim Harrison dragon knit-along and a traveling project for Indiana.

3 Easy Patterns if You Don’t Want to Knit a Dragon

So, I’m going to jump on the Dragon Knit-Along over on Kim Harrison’s blog, and a few friends have commented that their skills aren’t up to the task.

First, let me say: nonsense. The point of a KAL is to be able to get help and ask questions as you go. Kim Harrison is obviously planning to go nice and slow with this project, so you can learn as you go along.

Second: Stuffed animals are a great beginner knit, because the gauge doesn’t matter, and you’re usually knitting tons of stockinette, only focusing on the shaping of the piece. But even if you are way off and everything is lopsided and weird… it will still be awesome. I have knitted and sewn some truly deranged-looking stuffed animals in my time. The main trick is to get the eyes "right." Everything else pretty much falls into place. If the eyes are a little derpy, that’s fine, too.

Third: OK, say you really really just can’t do it. Shaping is beyond you. You have too much going on right now to learn something. You are daunted. That’s fine. Here are three  free, adorable stuffed animal patterns you can knit this month to be part of the KAL and still have fun:

Bunny: A great project for felting, this project is done by knitting a big rectangle and then folding it. It’s ori-yarni, really. Super easy, super cute. You can knit it in garter or stockinette, as you prefer.

Knitten: This was the first thing I ever knitted– a knitted kitten I then gave to Alladin. He still plays with it sometimes. Knitted flat in 3 pieces, all garter stitch (that means all knit stitches, no purls), and very little increase/decreases (just the tail, actually).

Grumpasaurus: This is knit in the round (stockinette) with some shaping. The ridge teaches you a picot stitch. The tail carries most of the weight of the project. It’s basically an egg with a tail and a couple of stubby legs.

For any of these projects, you will need:

  • Yarn, about 1 ball, maybe 2 if you are using bulky yarn.
  • Needles to get a night tight gauge for the yarn. You don’t want it to be super stretchy or holey when you stretch it.
  • A bag of polyfill stuffing
  • A yarn needle to stitch things up
  • Either craft eyes, a pair of buttons, or contrasting yarn you can use to embroider eyes onto your creature. The Grumpasaurus is the only one that really needs a face in order to be recognizable– the kitty and bunny are fairly identifiable even without eyes.

Wee tiny octopus!

In the past week or so, I made a couple of little amigurumi octopus because I had thread, a small crochet hook, and some stuffing lying around.

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Over the weekend, I went to Strategicon, where there was a vendor selling octopus similar to these, but larger, and attached to barrettes as hair adornments.

2015-05-26 09.42.44 2015-05-26 09.42.32

Thinking about it, I have thread and some barrettes. I might need to do this and see if they work, or if they’re too top-heavy to really "sit" nicely on my head.

Oh. Dear.

Well, I got to casting-off the cuff last night. I had to stop and spin more yarn twice in the process, because picot edges take a lot of yarn.

I was down to the last 5 picots when I ran out of yarn. Not just out of yarn. Out of yarn and fiber, altogether.

I threw a little pity-party and put the cuff in timeout.

This morning, I remembered that I have some leftover camel yarn from making a vest for my sister! I snagged the leftovers and spliced it in. It doesn’t match the color perfectly, but it’s "close enough for government work."

Can’t even tell:

2015-02-10 11.48.22

Notice the little bit of darker yarn on the top edge there (it almost looks like a shadow, but it’s not):2015-02-10 11.53.21

And it’s all done, though I only had enough yarn for one cuff. Given the shape and size, though, I think it might fit my Barbie doll pretty well.

Spinning a Yarn

For #nerdy9th. Rules of #nerdy9th are to gush about something you are nerdily passionate about, and no criticizing or denigrating that thing (even in comments)

I learned to crochet when I was about 5 or 6 years old, taught by my godmother. But I didn’t learn to spin yarn until I was 30, and I didn’t learn to knit until six months or so after that.

Today, I am a spinning and knitting machine, I tell ya! And here’s a little project I want to share, because it completely resonates with the fiber nerd in me. It’s a condensed version of a sheep-to-shawl challenge. In essence, I have a few ounces of fiber, a drop spindle, knitting needles, and a nice little pattern I think will look good in handspun laceweight yarn. And time. I have some time. Not much, mind you. But I have enough that working in chunks of 5-10 minutes here and there is sufficient, and this project is perfect for "I only have 5 minutes" moments.

2015-02-04 07.55.01

In essence, the process has been:

  1. Spin a spindle-full of yarn.
  2. Pull it off the spindle.
  3. Ply (on the same spindle).
  4. Pull the yarn off the spindle.
  5. Splice the yarn in using a Russian join.
  6. Knit until the yarn is nearly gone.
  7. Repeat from step 1 until the pattern is complete.

The Fiber

The fiber is a camel/merino blend. I bought it 5 years ago at the Madrona Fiber Arts retreat, which is an excellent fiber retreat over Presidents Day weekend in Seattle, Washington. I highly recommend it to any fiber fan, whether you spin, knit, crochet, weave, or just want to learn.

It’s soft, lightweight, and spins easily. According the The Knitter’s Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes (a highly recommended book for every fiber nerd), camel fiber does not felt easily– one of its properties that makes you realize that, indeed, it is a different species of animal from wool. Camel also doesn’t take bleach easily, so it’s usually either a natural tan shade, or it’s been dyed. Natural-toned yarn that’s been dyed is usually a richer color than pure white or bleached yarn. I don’t intend to dye this project, but I won’t completely discount the possibility.

One of the few frustrations I’ve had with this particular fiber is that it’s challengingly short-stapled. That means each fiber is fairly short, so they don’t keep the twist particularly well, and more importantly– I have a very hard time spinning a long piece of yarn before I either wind it up onto the spindle, or it breaks and I spend a few seconds muttering obscenities while I pick up my drop spindle (aptly named) and carry on.

The Spindle

The spindle is a Turkish drop spindle by Ed Jenkins. It weighs .9 ounces and is made of rosewood. It’s small– probably about 5" long. I also bought it at Madrona, and it is my second-favorite spindle, after my Golding spindle.

2015-02-05 20.21.15

Turkish spindles are interesting. A standard circular whorl spindle looks like a child’s toy top. On a standard spindle, when you are done spinning, you unwind the yarn, sometimes by spinning it onto another spindle or spool. In general it’s a longer process that is hard to put down in the middle.

Turkish spindles have an odd cross-piece shape, but what they do is downright magical. To remove the yarn from the spindle, you pull the center shaft out (through the base– the shaft is tapered), then slide one of the cross-beams out from the other.

2015-02-09 08.00.53

2015-02-09 08.01.08

The resulting ball of yarn is ready to be knitted from directly, if you so wish, because it’s already in the form of a center-pull ball!

2015-02-09 08.14.55

You can also do as I have and take both ends of the center-pull ball and ply them together to make a 2-ply yarn. Since the plying takes place on the same spindle, once again, you end with a center-pull ball.

The Knitting

The pattern I chose for this little project is a French lace cuff. It’s a small project, and I was hopeful of getting a pair of cuffs out of it. I knew I didn’t’ have a lot of fiber, though, since I had already made a scarf out of the same fiber, using the same spindle and technique (spin, knit, spin more, knit more).

The cuff is easy and easy to memorize. I did have to pause when I found myself out and about, finishing the last row one can do on size 1 needles, and not having a set of size 8s on me. Ah, well– out came the spindle, to catch up on the spinning!

The effect of knitting straight off the spindle is that the yarn has a lot of energy when it goes into the piece. It’s lively and moves around a lot while you’re knitting and afterwards. The stitches do not idly lie down in an orderly fashion, but instead have a kind of dynamic quality that I rather like. Slanted stitches slant even more than usual, and in general, I like the lively way the knitting comes out.

2015-02-09 08.16.17

This project will likely be done and off the needles by the end of #nerdy9th. I’ll update the post tonight once it’s done.

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