Sunday, November 23, 2014

Stitches of Anticipation and Love

I am going to be a Grandma.  My Son is going to be a Dad.  My little Joey, who now honors his lovely wife by being at her side every step of this sometimes difficult journey.  I can hardly wait to see them as parents.

There is great joy in sharing something created by our own hands - whether it is food on the table, flowers from the garden or hand knits.

This baby must have a  handmade blanket.  My mind went to crochet immediately.  My Grandmother taught me to crochet.  I remember working a crochet blanket under her guiding hands for my first born.  My dear daughter-in-law has a great sense of style.  I admire it so.  We talked Missoni zig zags for inspiration.  We all have a color style.  Joe is my green guy.  Lyssa can make neutrals with a bit of metallic really sing.

I wanted the blanket to be open in some rows and solid in others.  I wanted to be able to change the shading of the design as I worked across the piece.  It is truly personal that way and more interesting for me to create.  I enjoy creating the color combinations so much.  Off to the stitch dictionary shelf for a starting point.  The palette of shades was chosen and the swatch was made.  Breathless DK was my yarn choice.  This couple will appreciate the true luxury of the blend of merino, cashmere and silk.

The whole time I worked this I daydreamed about this little one joining our family.  Is it too much to create something so luxurious for a baby?  I think not.  There would be no greater way to honor it than to have it used so much that it is eventually worn out.  Our hand knits are not made for the shelf but to keep us warm with softness and style. Maybe it will bring a smile as the little fingers find the open lace and peak through.

There is such great joy inside from the giving.  Do it. Join in.  Find that project that will be just right for someone you love and create it.

This baby blanket is Meandering Trails Blanket.

Join the creation chatter of all things Shalimar on our Ravelry forum.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

One little extra

Sometimes we knit a sweater and it needs just a bit of a tweak after all the instructions have been followed.  We wear it the first time and realize that an improvement can be made.  This was the case with my Morrocann Nights.  This is a lovely design by La Maison Rililie.  I was particularly intrigued by the texture across the body of the sweater and the transitions to the waistline.  The shoulder are graced with a cable.  I worked it in Paulie in the color way Byzantium.  The sweater is a top-down seamless knit.  The fit was easy to adjust as I knit.   Paulie is to lightweight, but warm.  The blend of merino, camel, silk and cashmere is the definition of luxury in my book.  There is a soft halo, yet there is good stitch definition in the textured sections of the knit.  

I wore it on Saturday for the first time. I tried on a half dozen layers underneath it.  The neckline was wider than I wanted for an afternoon baby shower.  Maybe a bit of shoulder would work for a date night look, but not today.  It also kept rolling. You can see the rolling tendency here in this WIP photo.  
I think the fix is a bit of crochet.  A round of single crochet will stabilize the cast-on edge.  I also did a few decreases as I worked the single crochet.  5 sc, sc2tog was the formula.  Don't giggle too much as you gaze at the working yarn.  See all those kinks.  I had used every inch of yarn to get the sleeves as long as possible.  I am unraveling my gauge swatch for this bit of work.  
The neckline seems to need just a bit more so I added an embellishment that will stabilize the neckline even more.  It is a row of slip stitch that is worked through the knit sts rather than over the edge.  It looks like a little braid laying on top of the fabric.  

After these two rounds, I took it to the steamer once more.  I worked perfectly.  The neckline doesn't roll and it won't stretch out over the shoulders.  

Join the Shalimar discussion in the Ravelry forum

Monday, November 3, 2014

Falling Sleeve KAL - The wonders we share

There will be photos of the wonderful finished sweater soon, but I thought you might like to know some of the other delights of the Falling (S)leeves Sweater KAL.

Shaligals are:

  • Suportive of the Swatch.  We cheered each other on with advice about sizing, needles, blocking, and appropriateness for the pattern chosen.
  • Admire the search for the right pattern.  We enjoy the dialog of finding just the right match for yarn and  pattern.
  • Sports fans - We love knitting in football season.
  • Interested in how we keep track of increases/decreases in our patterns.   We do this in so many different ways.

  • Generous.  Many projects are being knit for others.  Not just baby sweaters, but full adult sweaters.  Big hearts work through our hands.
  • Part of a team.   Knitters working on the same projects cheered each other on.  There were many Bailey's Irish Cream, Amaro, Pier 60 and Adiri Knitters. 

  • Collectors of many types of knitting needles.  We all have favorites that seem to partner with our personal knitting style.
  • Compassionate when another Shaligal shares a loss.

  • Empathetic when a section of a sweater has to be raveled to make it just right.
  • Appreciative of a well defined cable pattern

  • Work with patterns on traditional paper or with technology on an tablet.

  • Wise enough to know (or learning to be) to alternate skiens when knitting with hand dyed yarn.

  • Willing to adapt a pattern for personal style - necklines, waist shaping...

  • Chatty about Sleeves!  What is it about sleeves that can be so enticing?
  • In awe of sweaters others knit.  Our personal queue grows and grows.
  • Giggly when we say the word Naked
  • Want modeled sweaters with the smiles showing
  • A resource when you have a question about any knitting technique
So if you ever wonder whether you should join a KAL, remember there are extra benefits well beyond the completed project.

Join the conversation in the  Shalimar Yarns Forum on Ravelry.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Breathless Lace

Let's look at Orza, a new sweater design by La Maison Rililie  .  The shades of color and variations on the striping really intrigue me.  

I'll be testing Breathless Lace.  I had just one skien of Buttermilk in the stash.  I chose a ChiaoGoo Knit Red Lace needle in 3.5mm/US 4.  Let's see how it works up before the RSS Etsy update today where I can get the rest of the shades I want.  

The first thoughts as I cast on were a bit intimidating.  This is lace yarn.  I just finished a sweater in at the beefy wooly yarn Equus.  I had to get my lace mindset put back together.  It didn't take long.  The first few rows on any project are a bit fiddly.  We need a bit of fabric on the needles.  I felt like I was knitting in slow motion until about the 5th row.  By this time the gentle halo was starting to show it's beauty.  First a bit of garter stitch, then on to stockinette stitch.  

This swatch has been gently steam blocked.  It improved so much with the steam that I think a good soak will improve my stitch evenness even more.  
Gauge on the stst section works at 14 sts for 2".  This is spot on gauge for the textured stitch she calls Beaufort .  You can see it shown right above the stst section.  This is a great start.  The gleam of the silk in the yarn is really speaking now.  The halo is filling in the spaces.  My hands are really starting to get into the lace groove.
Now onto the the stitch patterns specified in the design.  I split my swatch into halves, knitting one on each side.  In hindsight, that was not a great plan.  The row gauge is so different on them it distorts the pattern some.  I still think we can learn something.  
The lace pattern is used for the sleeves.  The openness is really delicate and interesting.  The double decrease was easy to work with these needles.  The glow of the yarn showed off even more. I hope you can see the halo of the cashmere filling in the lacy gaps.  I was a bit skeptical as I started.  Would this yarn would work up to gauge?  Once again it came out spot on.  The resulting fabric is very soft, delicate and lustrous.  

I need to work on my color combinations now.  The undyed shade is beautiful.  Think how I'll feel about this when I start working with the hand dyed shading.  This will be a really special sweater.

Join us for a discussion about color choices on the Shalimar Yarns Ravelry forum RSS update thread.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Where to find color inspiration?

Traveling is a nudge to look around for me.  I try to absorb how this place is different than what I know so I pay attention a bit more.  There is an appreciation for home that is renewed, yet an admiration for another place is kindled.

Portland has an amazing rose garden.  Look at these!  The subtlety of shades and combinations.  The vibrancy of color.

The Japanese Garden is serene and full of textures of green, brown, gold and grays.

  The walk along the Oregon coast beach is blustery, sandy and wide open skies.

Then there was the early morning run in Volunteer Park in the Capital Hill section of Seattle.  

There is color inspiration everywhere.  I'm happy I noticed.  Now I have to figure out how to integrate this inspiration into my knitting.  It's almost time for mittens, hats and cowls.  Maybe a slip stitch pattern.  I can use multiple shades. The layers will make the accessories warm.  Mittens inspired by a walk on the beach.  What shall I call them?  Off to the stitch dictionaries.  

For other Shalimar inspirations join our Ravelry forum.

Friday, September 19, 2014

They love Shalimar on Bainbridge Island

A tag-a-long with my hubby trip on a business trip to Seattle has been a lovely experience so far.  We are trying to experience all the aspects of Seattle that Midwesterners think it is. 

First up is coffee. We have enjoyed excellent espresso and coffee.  Rich and full. Unique beans roasted just right and prepared with finesse. This place can satisfy all my coffee snob tendencies.  Ones that seems truly normal here. Decadent. 

Seattle is surrounded by water.  We took the ferry to Bainbridge Island.  Smooth ride without much of a crowd. The cloud cover kept the view of the mountains hidden.  
I'm wearing my Hazeline shawl knit from Breathless.  My very first Shalimar knit ever.  Thank you Anne Hanson for introducing us.  I don't think I have ever had a day where so many people have commented on my knitting.  First to comment was the chef's wife that sat us at the lunch table where I had a roasted veggie plate.  Who knew eggplant could taste so good?  Then the Canadian woman at the next table had to comment. She has a whole tub of yarn, but doesn't know how to knit yet.   

Bainbridge Island is the home of Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. I think 3 knitters in that shop commented in the shawl. Knitters know enough to reach out and touch.  This is a kind and welcoming shop that does a great job of partnering yarns and patterns. So friendly.

Then off to the bike shop.  Hubby loves a good bike nerd discussion.  Even the bike tech guy commented on the shawl.   I love Bainbridge.  Small town by the big city. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Signs of Fall

My peak knitting season is football season.

There are hours in the car riding to games like this Hawkeye game at Kinnick last weekend.  A perfect day for football.  No wind and sun to warm us.

Saturdays and Sundays, usually include time for a game, or even two at home in the knitting chair.  Football and the plethora of commercials and replays allows a lot of knitting to be done.  When the air starts to turn cooler, the wool feels good in our hands and on our laps again.  I am ready to start or complete a bigger project.  I have two sweaters taking turns for my knitting attention.  Does your color palette change in the fall as well?

 I love cycling.  In the fall I move to the three wheeler sometimes.  It is a recumbent bike and I sit up more and can see the world around me.  It is not nearly as easy to pedal, so I have to scale back my speed and miles expectations.

It is the right bike to catch a vista like this along our bike trail.  The vine using the tree as a trellis has turned a brilliant orange red.  It feels like I should be knitting with Cayenne in September.

I hope you find yarn in your hands more often as it cools at night - Shades rich and warm and comforting.

If you have a sweater on the needles, come join our Falling (S)leeves sweater KAL in our Ravelry forum.  You will love the joy the knitters share as their projects are being created.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Colors of August

The palette of colors Kristi's dye pots produce are akin to the shades we see around us.  
The plants of the fields and gardens have subtle nuances and tones, just like you will find in all Shalimar Hand Dyed yarns.  

Come join our newest KAL Falling (S)leeves - A Shalimar Sweater Adventure

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Iolanthe Shawl, A Breathless Design

I knitted and crocheted all the time as a teenager, but took a 35-year hiatus from crafts--other than my one-per-decade crocheted afghans. Then one fateful evening a few years ago, I saw a sample fun fur scarf hanging in Michaels. It appealed to me at the time for reasons I cannot fathom now (although I’m sure glad it did) and I decided to start knitting again. After knitting about 25 garter stitch scarves, I finally got up the nerve to try something more challenging and eventually attempted my first lace shawl. It was love at first knit! Little did I know at the time that a lace obsession would begin that would eventually take over my life and become my full time job as both a shawl designer and teacher.  

When I first learned about traditional Estonian lace shawls, I was fascinated by the unique stitch patterns used in the designs—in particular, the leaf and flower motif I incorporated into Iolanthe’s border. Although it’s called “water lilies” in the Estonian tradition, it appeared to me to more closely resemble African violets with their big, fuzzy green leaves. I just think it's one of the prettiest lace stitch patterns I've ever seen. I knew right away that motif was going to be featured in a future design and had an idea of how it would be laid out—with little violet flowers and leaves flowing into increasingly larger ones, showing the life cycle of the plant.

I finalized the design this July and decided to call it Iolanthe, which means violet flower in Greek. I chose to knit the sample shawl in fingering weight rather than the lace weight traditionally used in most Estonian shawls to modernize the design. I just happened to have 2 skeins of the fabulous Breathless yarn in that perfect hot-for-summer Cayenne colorway. The lush softness of the yarn reminded me of those fuzzy violet leaves. I knew it was the perfect choice for Iolanthe, particularly since I like to use non-traditional colors for my sample shawls. I couldn't be more pleased with the way the yarn worked up for the design. 

Join us on the Shalimar Ravelry Forum

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Willowherb Pullover

By Marine MacLean
I designed the Willowherb Hat and Mittens set early this year after falling in love quatrefoil cable pattern I found in one of my stitch dictionaries.
Willowherb Hat and Mitts

Since I loved knitting the accessories so much, I floated the idea of doing a sweater, to Kristi, and she suggested using some Paulie Worsted. I did a fair number of sketches, trying to decide what I wanted to do with the motifs. I knew I didn't want an all-over pattern. I think the motif is most interesting when it's used sparsely. I also liked the idea of an asymmetrical design, and that's when the idea of grouping 4 of the motifs came together. 
The pattern is designed so that the widest part of the motif cluster, hits at your natural waist. Combined with waist shaping darts, the piece really helps to create an hourglass appearance. 

The next big challenge was making sure the motifs were to scale, even in the larger sizes. The pattern is offered from a 32" bust to a 60" bust, and I didn't want the motifs that looked great in the 30-40" range to get lost in the 50-60" range. I scaled up the motifs for the larger sizes to give a more uniform appearance across the full range of sizes.  Since the larger motifs also add length to the garment, petite-plus women can always use the smaller motifs along the body, to shorten the torso, and use the larger motifs around the yoke, to fit their bust.
I include plenty of fitting tips and suggestions like this throughout the pattern, and hope knitters will really adapt this pattern to make it their own.

It was a real pleasure designing this piece and, of course, I love working with Kristi and her yarns. I hope knitters enjoy this piece as much as I enjoyed designing it. 

Look for a Shalimar Etsy update soon to order your yarn for this sweater. 

Join Falling (S)leeves - a Shalimar Sweater Adventure KAL on our Ravelry forum. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Falling (S)leeves - A Shalimar Sweater Adventure

The Mystery of Fall is approaching. Let’s discover together the magic of sweater knitting. The shaping of waists, the curves of shoulders, the length of sleeves and the wonder of Shalimar yarns and colors.  I know you have that sweater quantity of Breathless or Breathless DK in your stash.  Maybe you have the newest yarn Equus.  Or the hot favorite Paulie with the blend of merino, cashmere, camel and silk.  
The Sweater KAL welcomes any sweater knit in any of Shalimar’s yarn bases. Cardigans or pullovers are welcome.
The design should be available on the Ravelry pattern database.
The Falling (S)leeves KAL welcomes new Shalimar sweaters and those lovelies you have already started and need to complete in time for Fall’s cool and crisp days.  There will be a category for WIP and for Newly Cast on Sweater
The Official Start Date is Sunday, August 24. We will continue to work together on our sweaters through October 31.
Tag your projects with ShalimarFallingSleeves2014
To qualify for prizes, post a photo in this thread.

Please join us to see how the (S)leeves fall.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Tale of Two Sisters: Etheria and Sibelle

 by Julia Trice  aka mindofwinter

I am a knitter with a capital K, but every once in a while I spend just a little too much time designing knitting patterns and burn myself out.  In those times, I fill my hands with other crafty endeavors.  I've been known to quilt, cross stitch, do origami, and go crazy with the Christmas bug making paper garlands and spray-painting pine cones in metallic colors.  My most frequent escapes by far are quilting and crochet, so it is no great surprise that after marathon knitting the Yukiya Pullover this spring, I turned to crochet.  What is surprising is that it stuck.

My first foray into crochet was Etheria, which is essentially a stitch sampler worked in rounds. I had become a little obsessed with Shalimar Paulie in Toast Points, which I also used in the Yukiya slouchy and pullover, and I wanted to see how the yarn looked in crochet. I was playing with different stitch patterns that appealed to me to see if I could get a nice progression.  When mixing stitches in knitting patterns this often involves a bit of trial and error, but with Etheria it just happened.  I cast on 270 sts - the number I would need to get the circumference I wanted in the first stitch pattern I tried - and just went.  As luck would have it, all three of the stitch patterns I used - each with a different number of stitches in the repeat - fit evenly into 270.  If that isn't kismet, I don't know what is.  I just crocheted until I wanted something new, and then picked another stitch pattern.  The only planning I did was choosing the percentage of the design that I wanted each stitch pattern to take up.  Even division into thirds is less interesting than strips with varying widths, so I did pay attention to that detail, but in all other respects it was just a matter of doing what I liked and thought might look nice together.  In case you are wondering - that never, ever happens.  It was magical.  Hence Etheria - a name that brings to mind light, air, and fantasy.  It gave me all three.

Sibelle was inspired by a lovely skein of Paulie in Adobe 
- a gorgeous, subtly variegated colorway that really defies description. The closest I can come to describing it is to say that it reminds me of a soft sunset. Sibelle is a play on sibling, because I think of Sibelle as Etheria's sister design - equally light and airy and clearly related, but also different - bolder in color and completely different in construction.  While Etheria is worked in long rounds, Sibelle is a series of motifs strung together and then bordered on both sides by picots - which, by the way - are the exact opposite of Etheria's picots.  Etheria's picots are internal to the chains.  Sibelle's dance out along the edges.  
That really describes how I think of Sibelle - dancing in the air.  Etheria is beautiful and subdued, Sibelle is joyful.  I did not plan on designing Sibelle any more than I did Etheria, but once I 
worked a single motif the others followed effortlessly, and I liked the idea of doing a similar piece in a different way. The way each little color appeared in the yarn kept me moving forward - pink, yellow, gold, brown, peach, almost-orange, and back again. A dance of color to match the dance of the clusters that criss-cross across the cowl.

No doubt as I work more in crochet I will become more structured, but for now the carefree nature of just going where the hook leads has been great fun.  So fun, in fact, that I am planning to be back with more next spring, if not sooner.

Join us on the the Shalimar Ravelry Forum see other Light and Lacy cowl projects.  


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