Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Thrill of the Cast On

I think the joy of casting on for a new project is second only to the joy of completing a project. Right now, I'm basking in the happy glow of both of those wonderful moments in the knitting process.

I've officially finished the Ostrich Plumes Stole in my Sunny Peach Laceweight Merino that I've posted about several times here previously. I showed you blocking photos a few posts ago, but I don't yet have finished photos to share. The weather is uncooperative and my husband is not home to assist in a photo shoot, so you'll have to wait to see the end product on that one.

Although I should use the extra knitting moments that the completion of the Ostrich Plumes Stole provides to work on my zipper-front sweater or ripple stitch afghan that have both been making very slow progress, but instead I cast on for not one but two new projects. Ahhh, the irresistible allure of the cast on!

The first new project I started is another stole, but this one is a cold weather stole made with my Worsted Weight Mohair/Wool. I don't know who will be the recipient of this piece, but I'm sure I'll find a home for it. I'd love to keep it for myself, but I'm allergic to mohair. I can dye it and I can knit with it, but if I get it too close to my face I wheeze and sneeze endlessly.

For this stole, I wanted something of a generous size and scale. You know the type. Something that one can wrap up in on a brisk day or just use to envelop oneself while snuggled up on the sofa for a Law & Order marathon on a cold night. I also wanted a stitch pattern with a bit of a multi-directional look, since I planned to use a handpainted colorway and wanted to be sure that the colors mixed and mingled nicely. I played around a bit and came up with a pattern that satisfied me. Here's a closeup of the stitch pattern:

You can't see the detail terribly well in the photo, but there are yarn overs there that will show up a bit more with blocking. I won't block it aggressively though. I want to leave a bit of texture to it. The blocking will be more to flatten out the curling at the edges and to open the fabric just a touch.

After knitting quite a bit of lace lately, this project with worsted weight seems to be flying off the needles at a rapid pace. I'm using US #9 needles. For most projects, I recommend a #7 or 8 for this yarn, but for a stole I prefer the way it knits up on the larger 9s. It gives the fabric more drape and movement, and since a little stretching over time won't hurt a stole, I decided on the #9s.

The colorway I'm using is called Morocco. (I think the photos - particularly the close up - show a bit more of a blue tinge than the yarn really has. It's predominantly green, with just a touch of bluish/teal tinges.)

The other project I started is yet another iteration of the fabulous KnitSpot Delicato Mitts. I've made a couple of pairs of these already. This pair is - unfortunately - a "replacement" pair for one of those.

I made a pair of these Delicato Mitts for a friend a few months ago. She seemed to genuinely like them very much. She called them her "Mouse Mitts" because she immediately began wearing them in the evenings when she was surfing the internet. They were perfect to keep her hands warm in the cool of the evening, while leaving her fingers free for mousing.

But then ... horror of horrors ... a few weeks after giving them to her she told me in a rather casual, offhand way that she had lost them! After searching everywhere, she came to the conclusion that she had left them on an airplane during a trip to visit her daughter.

I have to admit that this bothered me a bit. It wasn't the fact that she lost them. I knew she liked them very much and I totally understand that these things happen. What bothered me was the offhand way in which she mentioned it, followed by her statement that she wanted another pair. I am embarassed to admit that I rather sarcastically (although with a smile and a laugh!) responded, "Well, you know where WalMart is!"

Thinking of it again a week or so later, I felt very small and petty. I chided myself for being so self-centered. I tut-tutted over my own lack of generosity. The fact is, I made the mitts for her because I thought she would like them and enjoy them. She did. I made the mitts to make her happy and show her that I care about her. They did that. I did *not* make the mitts so that she would appreciate the time and effort that went into them. That's always a nice side benefit, but I really was being quite petty and ungenerous to allow it to bother me that she was not chagrined at the loss.

And so I cast on a new pair for her, this time using my Sportweight Cashmere.

The colorway used for these mitts is not one available in my shop. It's something from my personal stash that I think was likely one of the "development" skeins when I was first creating either the Mountain or Sedona colorways. This one is similar to both of those, but not quite like either. It doesn't have the mustard shades of brown that are part of Mountain and it has more tan and less brick than Sedona.

It's not the best colorway for the pattern, but it's working out reasonably well so far. The yarn, on the otherhand, is absolutely perfect for the pattern! I'm using the #2 needles recommended in the pattern. I would normally use a #3 or #4 for this yarn, but the #2s work really well for the mitts which should have a fairly firm knit to ensure they retain their shape. Using cashmere for mitts is just soooo perfect! It's a small project, so one skein is all it will take. It's a nice way to make a really special, luxurious gift without breaking the bank. The cashmere is also, of course, fabulously soft against the skin which also makes it perfect for mitts.

For this particular pattern, I think a less varied colorway would be absolutely stunning. The beautiful detail of the pattern would show up much better. Perhaps Verdure, a relatively new one that I just recently added on my sportweight cashmere:

In addition to starting these two new projects, I have made a little progress on Sleeve One for the zipper-front sweater. I won't show another photo now, as there's not much to see, but I am closing in on the end of the first sleeve (at last!).

I am also happy to say that I finally found a little time to spend on Ravelry. You can find me there under my user name ... you guessed it: FearlessFibers. If you're on Ravelry and have a moment, please do add me to your "friends" if you'd like. I love to pop over and see what folks are working on.

I haven't had much time to add many things to Ravelry yet and probably won't ever go overboard with it, but that's just because my time is limited. So far, I really like the site and particularly love being able to search by patterns and see what folks have done with them. Photos in patterns always show the finished item to its best advantage, but seeing different versions from individual knitters using various yarns really helps to give me a clearer picture of how a certain pattern may look in reality. I'm sure I'll use that in the future to help make Go/No Go decisions on patterns I'm interested in.

The only drawback to Ravelry is that no wonderful Raveler has yet taken it upon themself to create a Fans of Fearless Fibers "Group" (hint, hint!). There's a special section in Ravelry for Groups, which is just a way to organize folks interested a particular topic or with something in common. It's a handy way to organize "forum" activity so that it's not all over the place. I think it would be great fun to have a little group section where folks could share pattern recommendations and other FF chit chat. I thought about creating one myself, but that just seems way too pushy (and, of course, it would be too sad if I created it and nobody joined the group!).

Yep. That's my not-so-subtle hint to you Ravelers out there ;)

(UPDATE: Huge THANK YOU to Cindy for starting up a Fearless Fibers Fan Group on Ravelry!! If you're on Ravelry and want to join the fun, just pop over to "Groups" and search for Fearless Fibers and you'll find it.)

Time for me to stop rambling and go get some lunch before heading back to my dye work for the day. Great day to all!


Sue J. said...

Oh, I hope you'll sell the pattern for the worsted weight stole in Morocco. It's gorgeous.

Cindy said...

Hey, Deb, your wish is my command! There is now a Fearless Fibers Fans group on Ravelry. I made you a moderator. :)

Suzann said...

Beautiful stitch pattern and it compliments the yarn perfectly

Ah ha I found the Ravelry Fearless Fibers Fan group!

~Tonia~ said...

Love the new stole. So pretty. Your friend better staple the new mitts to her side this time. ;)

Karin said...

I'm a little late, but had to tell you I LOVE the stole in "Morocco". I've had my eye on it for quite a while (was thinking of Chick Knits Ribby Pulli) but I would vote for the pattern to go up on Etsy :)!