I didn’t know Karrie, KnitPurlGurl. But enough people that I know did, so I heard about her death just after Thanksgiving this year. I don’t know how she died or anything about it, but it seems that it was sudden, and it’s clear that she was young and vibrant and that her loss will affect many in our online community. We might interact on a virtual plane, but the effects are very real, and I know all of our Real Lives are enriched by each other.
So when her fans suggested people knit or crochet a snowflake to send to her family, to complete the handmade snowflake mission that Karrie had been on, well, I wanted to participate, too. I’m proud to be part of this online community that cares so deeply about our members. And I wish you all a healthy and happy holiday season.
This year, to increase the Christmas joy in our apartment, we got a real tree! This was a first for me in New York City and actually Jason’s first real tree ever. So I decided to make it a very special tree skirt. It’s just a large hexagon with one side unattached and the center cut out; each wedge of the hexagon is made up of equilateral triangles. I didn’t put this together as a tutorial but it’s pretty straightforward: I made each triangle 8 inches tall (I mastered using my long ruler’s angled markings!), and each wedge has 4 rows of triangles. I should have cut off more to make the hole larger, but live and learn! The end result is a large skirt, with a diameter around 5.5 feet—plenty of room for presents!
Between each wedge I did a small bit of welting in Kona Snow; I wanted some kind of border but didn’t want to fuss with piping. The backing is more Kona Snow, with the idea that its austere whiteness could go with a more demure tree in the future. I did use batting between the layers to give it a bit more substance and weight. The quilting lines radiate out from the center in alternating Christmassy green and red thread, which look fun on the white background, too.
I machine-stitched the binding entirely. The binding was cut on the bias but I mitered most of the corners and angles in the end. Still, it helped me get around the center of the skirt and was a technique I hadn’t done before. I used this tutorial‘s methods even though I was a bit suspicious of that last cut angle. I am not sure I would do it again this way—that last cut really isn’t precise enough—but wow it was simple!
I finished just in time for us to buy the tree and get it decorated! See more pics of our decorated tree plus a funny little video of our tree-trimming here!
I am woefully behind on posting FOs! Sometimes I start posts and grow unsure of just how to write them, so I end up composing multiple drafts and I’m rarely satisfied with any. So forgive any inelegant phrasing; I’m just going to barrel ahead.
This second Spoked quilt was the one I’d been intending all along when I made the first one. My friends Emily and Jim were having a baby girl, and even though Emily is not particularly girly, a deep berry color was just what I envisioned. I bought a bundle of fat quarters that would all coordinate nicely, and I just needed a fun, bold design to go with what would surely be a fun, bold little baby. The Dresden spoke idea seemed fun, and so I made that one in all aquas. I then felt comfortable enough to tackle it with the “real” fabrics.
But wow, let me tell you, the second one did not come together as easily as the first! My seams looked impeccable but there must have been something off because the dang circle wouldn’t lay flat. As a perfectionist knitter, my instinct is always to take it all out and do it again. But that was not going to happen with this all-sewn-up piece. I learned to allow myself to fudge it, and I managed to wrestle it flat by sheer force (and by sewing a little more of some spokes into the seams). And I think it looks great!
The backing fabric is from a sheet I bought at Ikea for this quilt. I made a circle label for the middle of the back with an embroidered rose; I knew Rosie was high on the baby name list so I figured this would work even if they chose a different name in the moment! The binding is pieced using a few of the fabrics used in the spokes. I quilted it using concentric circles that expand by a half inch with each round, and within the spokes I outlined every other spoke. It’s really a rather simple little quilt, all told.
I gave the quilt to Emily while visiting before the little one arrived, but I was lucky to go back and be able to meet Rosie just 9 days after she was born. I think she was impressed.
I didn’t make the journey up to New York Sheep & Wool this year, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t knit something just in the nick of time! About three weeks ago, when the temperature finally started to change, my need for a new sweater overcame me. I started researching colorwork pullovers (inspired in large part by Julia’s newly released Hiro) but somehow ended up looking at solid patterns and stumbled on Madigan, a Melissa LaBarre pattern for Quince & Co. I knew I had the perfect yarn in my stash, so off I went to wind and swatch.
Fittingly, I bought this yarn (Stonehedge Fiber Mill‘s Shepherd’s Wool) at Rhinebeck two years ago, when I was eager to amass more sweater quantities of yarn. I was looking for a nice, wearable gray. I found, however, this bright blue. I think, in the madness that is shopping at Rhinebeck, I neglected to think this through, so I bought it even though I couldn’t exactly picture it in a sweater. “Sweater quantity? Sold!” This electric blue haunted me from its place on a shelf in my craft corner. Nothing ever seemed quite right. Then I found Madigan. It couldn’t be more perfect.
The sweater is a cinch to knit, but that doesn’t mean I actually managed to follow the directions. You know how you read over a pattern, start knitting, and feel confident you know what it told you? Yeah, that led to varying stitch counts, some uncalled-for plain knitting in the middle of the waist shaping, and likely not as many stitches in total at the hips. But you know what else? It led to a perfectly fitting sweater that I finished the Friday before Rhinebeck. Either I was lucky or I actually can successfully improvise a sweater after all these years.
Speaking of improvisation, my friends and I improvised our own Rhinebecky day in New York City, instead of driving 2.5 hours up to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. We went to Knitty City, a crafts fair, and Central Park to approximate yarn booths and fall foliage. Just like at Rhinebeck, we took time for a photo shoot (this time Tania and Holly took my pictures, instead of Caro). But we also went shoe shopping, ate a calm and line-less brunch, and were home in time for dinner. So in some ways we improved on Rhinebeck! All that was missing were all the friends I didn’t get to hug. Next year, I’ll be back!
This pattern is a real blast from the past for me. I remember seeing both Rachel and Laura‘s versions six and seven years ago. I want to refer to them as if you’ve all seen them, but that’s probably not likely, is it? Just because that time of my life is vivid in my mind doesn’t make it so for everyone else. It’s not as if I can say “you know that pattern that everyone is knitting?” anymore. They did it years and years ago. Neither of them even blogs anymore! I’m the one who’s super late to the game. I even started knitting this shawl a year or more ago; in some ways I’m late even to my own game!
But let’s ignore all that because this is just a really pretty pattern, and I finished it, and I wore it, so it’s time to blog it. Lily Chin’s Reversible Cabled Rib Shawl, from Vogue Knitting’s Winter 1999–2000 issue. (I must point out that it’s my friends’ photos that are used as the project photos for that pattern on Ravelry. It’s not as if they were tiny blips in the history of this pattern.) It’s most magical when viewed through sunlight, I think.
I had the perfect yarn (Mango Moon’s Capra, in fog) and no real deadline, so I started knitting it last summer, just to have something on the needles and a potential shawl to wear to an event if one came up. It was great mindless knitting, perfect for working on at lunch at work. Other projects took priority, so it sat around, but wasn’t far from my mind. Then we got the invite to go to San Francisco for a friend’s wedding, and where else do you need a nice warm wrap, ideally in a color called “fog”?
In the week before we left I pulled it out, worked on it for a few more hours, and got it to an acceptable length so I could bind it off and bring it along (I never measured it, just wrapped it around me with the needles in). I got to block it with a real steamer while on a photo shoot, which was a nice bonus, as I’m not sure my iron could have handled it. I did modify the pattern, casting on one fewer repeat across to make it narrower because I didn’t want it to completely overwhelm me.
Jason and I headed out onto the pier behind the Embarcadero, where the reception was held, to do this quick photo shoot. It was downright COLD out there! Having the shawl was entirely necessary. The rest of the weekend I wore a jacket and even my Stripe Study, it was so chilly. Perfect weather for a really perfect weekend. It was Jason’s first visit to SF, which I’ve been to dozens of times, and it was fun to be touristy and see all the sights. We are eager to go back for more tacos and more visits with friends!