Sunday, April 29, 2018

New Wardrobe Item - the Skowl (You Heard it Here First)

I recently finished a cowl from the Vogue Knitting Winter 2017/18 issue. The pattern is actually identical to a cowl I knit a few years ago, designed straight out of my head, but it's nice to be able to link it to a pattern in Ravelry. Plus, saying I knit it from the pattern (which I did) makes it eligible for the current knit-along in the Vogue Knitting Ravelry group.

Just like the first cowl, I loved knitting this from start to end. Unlike the first cowl, I invented two-handed brioche--a way to knit a row of each colour at the same time. I searched online because I thought surely someone else has thought of this but I couldn't find anything. I had never heard of it anywhere else and I couldn't imagine it wouldn't be common if it was known because I felt like it was such a revelation. (Angels singing and the whole bit.) So I actually started to wonder if I really did invent it.

The problem with traditional brioche is that you really knit only half the stitches with one colour and then the other stitches with the other. If you work with only one colour at a time, you essentially have to work twice as many rows. It's slow.

I had planned to do a video of the technique I apparently just invented, but just recently heard someone refer to "one-pass" brioche and I had an inkling that might be the same thing. A quick search confirmed that it is the same thing and there are enough good videos that I don't have to do one. I refer you to this tutorial by Sockmatician. I did it with one yarn in each hand (similar to how some people do two-colour stranded colourwork) but he also demonstrates how it can be done with both yarns in the left or right hand depending on whether you prefer continental or English style.

Checking out my cast off edge.
This cowl was an excellent opportunity for me to practice the new (to me) technique and work out the kinks (since I didn't know there were tutorials until after I worked it out on my own). It was very exciting to me because it allows you to knit much more efficiently.

Again, I really don't understand why this isn't the primary method of brioche for everyone, but my real question is why did it take so long for me to hear about it??

Back to the topic at hand, this was one of those projects where I was glad to finish it because it is a delight to wear, but I was sad because it was a delight to knit as well.

Looks alright to me! :)
In case you're unfamiliar with it, brioche results in a two sided fabric. Here the black columns are standing out:
and on the other side, the pink columns stand out:
Brioche makes a thick fabric that's squishy instead of dense. It's also usually quite stretchy. It can be worked in one colour, in which case the fabric would have all the same qualities, but both sides would look identical. Because of the fun colour effects, brioche is usually worked in two colours, although often they are similar colours for a more subtle effect.

The stretch of the stitch allows the cowl to be worn in many ways. Let me count them.

1. Over the arms and loose on top (pink side out):
2. Over the arms with the top folded over (black side out):
3. On top of the shoulders, all scrunched up (black side out):
4. On top of the shoulders and folded over:
5. As a snood:
(Ok, it doesn't really stay up on my head, but it was worth trying and adding it to the list.)

Don't wear it like this:
Wear it long over the arms:
Or wear it higher:
6. And then I realized it would fit as a skirt!
I threaded a cord through the ribbing on one end and tied it to fit.
So I can wear it at the waist or low on the hip, depending on what top I'm wearing and what length I would like.
The loose stretch of the brioche stitch is perfect to allow for movement without losing its shape.

And then look what I found the following week at Goodwill:
Beautiful heels in the perfect shade of pink.
Forgive me a few glamour shots, but I was really excited to find them and can't wait to wear them with the skirt for the first time.
Back to the cowl, now that it had a tie, I could decide whether to tighten it or not.

7. Over the shoulders, with the ties hanging loose:
8. Over the shoulders, with the cord pulled in:
9. Cord pulled in and top folded over:
10. Cord pulled in as much as I could (comfortably) and top folded over:
Word of the day: apricity - the warmth of the sun
on a winter day.
11. Cord pull snug:
Fantastic project all the way though. I love it.

Project Stats
: 6 Jan '18 / Finished: 6 Apr '18
Pattern: #14 Brioche Rib Cowl by Jacqueline van Dillen from Vogue Knitting Winter 2017/18
Materials: The black was lambswool from a Polo by Ralph Lauren sweater (161 g). The pink was from two sweaters. Bright pink: A blend from an Express Design Studio sweater, 40% merino/30% viscose/10% cashmere/20% angora (66 g). Pale pink: Cashmere from a J Crew sweater (36 g). I held two strands of the black together, and two strands of each of the pinks together to make matching weights suitable for the gauge.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Pink Roses

I tried something new and it worked out. You could say everything came up roses....

You see, I had this "quilt" from the long arm class I took last year. They load up some white fabric for the front so you can really see what you're doing and use whatever they have lying around for the back.

Although we tried out a lot of different things and most of the resulting "quilt" looked like messy doodling, the part where I tried a pantograph was fine. It was a relatively wide spot that had roses stitched on it. Except it was all white and pretty uninspiring.
So I thought, Wouldn't it be nice if I could paint the roses and make them pretty? But I'm not confident with actual paint, so I researched fabric markers. Some of them can be made to look a lot like paint. (Watercolours, in any case.)

I purchased some Fabrico markers so I would have them when I was ready to tackle this new thing. I'm not sure if I was ready, but at the end of March, someone in the UFO club on Ravelry more or less dared me to finish an additional project. (She was promising elephant fabric. She knows my weakness!)

Since this project was the closest of my UFOs to being finished, I gave it a go.

First some practice on the unusable part of the quilt:
Don't pre-spray the fabric with water - that is too wet.
I had the best result when I pre-wet the fabric with a small paintbrush,
and then added a little more water with the paintbrush after I had applied the marker. The colour seemed to run toward the stitches so it was hard to get it to flow toward the middle of the petal or leaf.

I then took the additional step of washing the quilt after I was done practising. This would both test the colourfastness of the markers (passed with flying colours) and remove any fabric treatments or residues that would prevent the ink from bonding properly.

And then I spent an hour or two "painting" roses and leaves. All in all, I was happy with the end result:
I had the perfect pink and white fabric for the binding. I remember buying it because I loved the tone of the pink so much. I have used bits of it for other projects, and I had almost enough left to do this binding.
For the last couple inches, I put in a piece of pink butterfly fabric. It was too dark to use around the whole quilt, but it works just fine for a couple inches.

The backing was a small print of blue flowers. I think it works just fine with the pink roses.
I used three different shades each of pink and green. The leaves were mostly the same, but I made sure to vary the roses. I could not only use different markers, I could also add more or less ink to change the intensity.
At 21"x30", the quilted ended up a little smaller than I would like for a baby quilt. I finished it right around Easter and decided it worked just fine as a table topper! :)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

What to Bring? (Or, A Status Update of All My Projects)

I'm headed on a short trip and it is time to face the question of what project(s) to pack. Let's keep it easy and make it multiple choice:

A) Brioche Cowl
I only have a few rows left and could be wearing this before I even get home!

B) Wool-Aid Vest
This is pretty mindless knitting, although I'm past the arm split so there is more shaping and such going on now. It's also pretty big and bringing more wool would be pretty bulky. Also, the thick yarn and tighter gauge tires my hands so I can't do it for too long at a time.

C) Wool-Aid Socks
These have the same issue of tiring and hurting my hands. Also, I didn't wind the balls on the ball winder and since I'm working with two strands, I have two huge balls trying to roll around all the time.

D) Insulate Gloves
The first one is done and fits. I just have to try and duplicate it. This would be a lot of thinking and interpreting notes. Also, maybe I should block this one to make sure the fit will still be ok. Maybe I could do that before I leave yet.

E) Celestarium Shawl
Last week I blocked the edging that I had knit so far and it came out great.
The eyelets on the outside edge really opened up, you can see the mock cable, and it lies flat. (I also found a mistake two or three repeats back so I had to rip them out. I'm back on track now though.) I don't nearly have this chart memorized (yet) so this will involve referencing the pattern continuously.

F) Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses Quilt
Look at that! I finally got it all organized in a binder. I was wondering how long it would take me to give into the urge.

I have a section for the finished (sewn) blocks (right up front of course):
 and a section for the ready-to-sew blocks:
and a section for block ideas or partial blocks:
Anyway, back to the decision at hand. I could pack my binder, bag of thread, scissors and needle pack and be all set to travel.
This is certainly not social sewing I could do during a visit however. My eyes have to be on what I'm doing all the time.

G) Something completely new, like the True Hope cowl kit I picked up at Vogue Knitting Live Chicago:

H) All of the above

I) None of the above - just hit a quilt or knit store on the way and buy something new.

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...