Kumi-what-oh?

I somehow managed not to tell you about my exploration into Kumihimo braiding! In February I decided to try something new, and that something was Kumihimo. I looked it up and watched some videos and then I bought some beads and a Kumihimo disc and tried it out.

I wanted to start with black beads, fade into peach, and then fade back into black, so I did some math and wrote down the order I needed to string my beads on. The round Kumihimo I was making had 8 strands, so lines 5-8 were a copy of lines 1-4. In order to keep the very long strings under control you wind each strand around a bobbin. I didn’t want to make a huge investment in this craft since I didn’t even know if I would like it, so I cut out a few pieces of cardboard and used them as bobbins. They tangled a little, but worked very well for the most part.

In the end I had a very lovely necklace. I had bought some clasps, but didn’t want to bother gluing them on, so I tied the ends into a square knot and wrapped the knot with wire. Easy and effective.

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I would definitely recommend trying Kumihimo braiding. It takes a good bit of time to make something like this necklace, but it’s easy to learn, the materials can be as costly as you want them to be, and the finished products are striking!

Well That Took Long Enough: Finished Project

Early this year I made a goal to finish my small mountain of WIPs. I then promptly cast on a new project because Ooh Shiny! I’ve thought about this subject a lot over the last few months: my desire for a new exciting project every so often contrasted by my desire for finished things and the resulting space in my stash. I haven’t come to a conclusion or made any world-changing discoveries, but in between all the castings-on I have finished a few things.

I must have started my black wool vest in November. I originally bought a few yards of black wool crepe to a make a Henrietta Maria top, but when I got this vest pattern (Very Easy Vogue, V8926) it seemed like a better option for the thicker fabric.

v8926

I wanted a hybrid of options A and C – sleeveless, but tunic length and with bias-bound edges instead of a collar facing. I cut out my fabric and pretty quickly finished the basic construction. Progress ground to a halt when I realized I needed to finish all my edges. I started whip-stitching, and quickly felt like the vest was sucking the life force out of me, so I put it in a shoe box, put the box into a cupboard, and started something new.

A few weeks ago I traveled to Arizona to see my family and be in my best friend’s wedding. My mom has a sewing machine and a serger, so I packed the never-ending vest in hopes of finishing it before it finished me. I am happy to report that I emerged the victor (this time). I serged the remaining unfinished edges and used the sewing machine to stitch on the binding and do some other finishing work. I do wish I had been more careful top-stitching the bias binding down, but at that point I was so ready to be done with the project that I didn’t care much. I just keep reminding myself that sometimes done is better than perfect (and I can always go back and do it again if it bothers me that much). At some point I may add a pocket since I have some extra fabric left over.

The vest is an odd mixture of hand- and machine-stitching, but it’s done and it fits and I love it. And can we just take a moment to admire the new yellow pants I’m rocking in this picture?

Easy as Pi

I don’t know about you, but this has been the hardest April I can remember. In fact, I dont think I’ve ever experienced such a difficult start to the year. In December I got a promotion at work. I was in a job I didn’t like, and now I have a job that I enjoy a lot. But the job comes with more responsibility, and with responsibility comes stress. Cue knitting to save my sanity.

A few months ago I finally bought the Knitter’s Almanac. I walked through Elizabeth Zimmermann’s fabulous “unventions” and sage advice, and decided that now was the time to cast on a Pi Shawl. Sometimes you start something and you’re not sure why, but it just seems like the right thing for the time. This shawl is what my brain and my heart have needed over the last few months. I sit down to work on it and it helps me to slow down and stop worrying. The yarns are beautiful and make this knitting a very tactile experience.

Earlier this month I got a call that my grandma was very ill and might not make it for much longer. I bought a plane ticket, packed a bag, and went to be with her. This shawl was such a comfort as I travelled and sat in waiting rooms. I showed it to her and she thought it was so beautiful. And then as she started to recover I knit on it in joy, so pleased that I was not knitting in mourning.

So often in my knitting I try to be smart. The easy solution or the obvious solution are not good enough, I have to do it the hard way. But sometimes I need something easy so that my brain can stop working on overdrive. That is what this shawl is for me.

Spinning Innocence

Earlier this year I made a goal to finish my WIPs, which I then proceeded to ignore. New projects are just so much more beguiling! I did manage to finish one thing though.

While digging through my spinning stash, I found a partially filled bobbin and a few ounces of superwash BFL. The bobbin went back on the wheel and I busied myself with spinning the singles. When it cane time to ply I wanted to do something a little different, so I pulled out my bead stash and decided to add peach glass seed beads and a few rose beads from my wedding.

Do you see the problem in the picture? I strung about 8 ounces of beads on a single. It was bound to be unmanageable and eventually break. Once it did break I changed my tactic: I only strung an ounce (ish) of beads at a time, breaking the single every time I needed to add beads, and rejoining as I plied. It wasn’t the most enjoyable of plying adventures, but look at the resulting yarn!

So lovely! I ended up with 280 yards of DK weight yarn, and it is oh so soft. I would definitely recommend spinning with superwash BFL. It is a dream to work with, although you do end up with quite a lot of fiber stuck to your clothes. I don’t have a plan for this yarn yet, but for now I am content to leave it as a skein of innocence.

New Free Pattern: The Balai Shawl

I am excited to tell you that I’ve just published a new pattern! And this time, just to change it up a little, it’s a crochet pattern!

broomstick lace shawl

Meet the Balai shawl, published in Knotions Magazine. This shawl is worked in Broomstick lace, which I learned from my husband’s grandmother. Now I am not a super-experienced crocheter, but that just means that the pattern is simple enough that anyone can do it. All it takes is a little practice. The shawl is worked by increasing every other row, so you can make it as big as you like. And, the pattern is written to work with virtually any yarn and hook (bulky, super bulky, and jumbo weight yarns are not suggested as they may not drape well). So what are you waiting for? Grab a hook, some yarn, and a dowel (Broomstick Lace requires a dowel or stick to hold your stitches open across the row…kind of like a giant knitting needle), and get started!

broomstick lace

For more information on Broomstick Lace and a free bracelet pattern, read this post.

Slowly

Do you remember when you were a kid and life seemed to go by so slowly? A single day lasted forever, let alone the length of time until it was until Christmas or your birthday. Lately life seems to be going so, so fast and just speeding up every minute. I’ve been in desperate need of something to slow me down. Crafting does just that.

I started spinning some superwash BFL quite a while ago – long enough that I forgot about it. I never thought I would be the kind of person who would forget about a project. I finished spinning the singles, and decided this yarn needed some beads.

It turns out that if you add scads of beads to a yarn, it takes a lot of effort to slide them all down the yarn as you ply. The tension and abrasion from this broke my single, so I took most of the beads off, and I’m periodically adding more to the yarn in more manageable amounts. Won’t the finished yarn be gorgeous, though? I’m thinking of using it for a shawl.

I have shawls on the brain right now, and beads, it would seem. I’m reading through the Knitter’s Almanac again, and have come to the conclusion that I desperately need a Pi Shawl. A little search through the stash, and I came up with my Rumpelstiltskin yarn that I finished last year. I love this yarn so much. It’s recycled sari silk with beads every few inches. The drape of this yarn is incredible! Every time I see it I can’t help but think of a pile of treasure!

So that’s me, slowing down. I have a kitchen to clean and laundry to do, but yarn is just so much more interesting!

Washpocalypse

My husband commented the other day that we had run out of washcloths. *Gasp* how could this be? I immediately cast on for a washcloth with the half-ball of Peaches and Creme that I had in my stash and ran to the store for more.

cotton yarn

Then I commenced washcloth knitting hard-core. Ok, hardcore may be a bit of a stretch, but I had a goal to prevent the Washpocalypse!

The first washcloth was the simplest garter stitch square. Cast on 50 stitches, knit 50 garter ridges (100 rows) bind off. Pure zen.

I like a generous washcloth, but this one was a little too big. The next one was log cabin, and I aimed for a 40 stitch/row square.

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This was oh so satisfying! I really wasn’t sure about the log cabin pattern until I picked up the 4th log, and then I truly began to love it. I see more of these in my future.

The 3rd washcloth is the Ballband Dishcloth from the first Mason Dixon Knitting book. I’ve been meaning to knit this for quite a long time. It was such a fun knit! I can’t believe what I’ve been missing out on! Stripes, with slipped stitches. Instant colourwork!

I think I’ve begun to amend the problem (it turns out doing the laundry also helps with the washcloth situation), so I think I’ll take washcloths off the “must make now” list for the time being. But I still have a few balls of dishcloth cotton in my stash. You know, just in case.

What is your favourite washcloth pattern/recipe?