Skylark Stole

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Introducing my latest finished project: Skylark Stole from the book, Custom Knits Accessaries, by Wendy Bernard. It was knit with four skeins of Frog Tree Meriboo MW yarn in purple (7511).

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My friend T visited me from Portland a few months ago, and brought with her four skeins of lovely, 70% merino wool / 30% bamboo blend from her neighborhood yarn shop called Dublin Bay Knitting Shop for my birthday. The awesomeness was two-fold: I’ve never worked with these soft blends before and I was dying to try; and this wonderful gift came from a non-knitter! How cool is this? Someone who’s never knit got me one of the softest and lovelies yarns I’ve ever owned!

She told me that staff at the shop who recommended this yarn was confident that I would love it. They were absolutely correct about that!

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Blocking an intricate lace is such a treat. I love watching the design come to life simply with a pull of the blocking wires. This is when you realize your time and energy spent knitting this garment was totally worth it. (It can also be a major heartbreak, however, when you discover a mistake or two you didn’t notice until now … eek!)  By the way, I folded the stole in half to block because I didn’t have enough room to stretch out the entire thing flat.

As for the knitting, I have to confess that I got confused by the pattern at first. Looking back, I’m a bit embarrassed to even admit this since Wendy’s patterns are always, always impeccable, and this one was no exception. I just didn’t read the direction carefully enough. Mea culpa.

My confusion was from the eyelet pattern repeats. I needed to add this 4-sitch eyelet repeat before each, 21-stitch chevron pattern plus one at the end  (for a total of four times) and not just at the beginning and the end of each RS row I incorrectly interpreted. Because of this, I had eight wandering stitches that I just could not find a home for!  Once I figured it out, knitting this stole was a breeeeeeeze.

The pattern is simple but interesting enough that kept me engaged throughout the entire project. I think placing markers after each pattern is key. I recommend that you utilize those little rings as much as possible. I even put one after two garter stitches at the beginning and end of rows for good measure!

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I had to think of an interesting way to photograph the finished stole. I thought about just laying it flat on the floor to showcase the design but I was afraid that my two year old will get to it and rip it out before my eyes (and she will)! So I decided to just hold it against the white wall.  I hope you can see the lovely lace pattern from these photos.

Here are other ways that I’ll be enjoying this stole.  It’s so versatile, I can wear it as a stole or a scarf.  I have a feeling that I’ll get a good use out of this garment all year long!

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A Love Affair with Scarves

I’ve been having a love affair with scarves lately.  I spend hours gazing through the Hermes website, drooling over its legendary collection of stunning (and expensive!) silk scarves, in hopes of one day be able to 1. afford them, and 2. become someone who can actually sport them without looking unmatched by their presence.  I was so close to purchasing one the other day but stopped, and decided to give myself time to grow into an Hermes-worthy person.

To me, a woman who is deserving of wrapping these silky luxury around her neck is someone who is poise, sophisticated, confident, and stylish, like many French women.  I’m not there yet – but hopeful that I’ll get there someday!

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the hand-knit wool kind like this lacy scarf  (this is a same one that I made for Maya last year but in a deep red color called Ginger) and learn all the creative ways to tie them around my neck.  And the best part?  Because these Cascade 200 Superwash Sport yarns were on sale for $4.69 / skein at WEBS, I whipped this up for less than $20 — compared to Hermes’ $410 (for 36″ x 36″)!  lol

Simple Slip Knot:  Double up your scarf and wrap it around the back of your neck. Then, slip both ends of the scarf into the loop.

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Double Loop Wrap:  Start with the middle of your scarf on the back of yourneck. Loop the ends of the scarf around and back to the front. Tie the two ends together with a simple tie to make the second layer. 

(From The Fashion Spot, 15 Chic and Creative Ways to Tie a Scarf). 

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I absolutely love that this scarf doubles as a shawl!

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pink lineGreen Smoothie Updatepink line

Day 2 — success!

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Peach Green Smoothie
(2 servings)

2 cups fresh spinach
1 large fresh kale leaf
1 cup coconut water
2 cups frozen peach

This one tasted a tad more “leafy” than the pineapple version from yesterday but the subtle sweetness from frozen peaches made the drink very easy to drink.

My Knitting Journey: Cables in Chamonix

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I often go through an emotional roller coaster when I’m on a knitting journey. There’s a certain aspect of the process that I absolutely love and there are others that I just utterly dread. Here’s the journey from my latest Cables in Chamonix from The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Beyond the Basics — my first finished project of 2013!

Pattern Selection:

Selecting what to knit is a really fun part of the knitting process for me. I can get quite indecisive and it could be days or weeks until I finally decide on the pattern, but I enjoy flipping through books and browsing the Internet for inspiration. My three rules when selecting a pattern are:  it’s simple; it’s wearable; and it’s not too time-consuming. I will probably venture out to something more adventurous and challenging, but for now, a simple, relaxing pattern would do.

Yarn Selection:

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Shopping for yarns is okay but definitely not my favorite part. I’m not a shopper by nature, really, with exception of an occasional “I must buy everything immediately” attack that arises typically during my menstrual cycle (sorry, TMI there). When I’m shopping brick and mortar, I like to get in and get out. I rarely browse (that’s probably why online shopping suites me so well), which is probably difficult to believe, having been raised in the Valley where the favorite pastime is hanging out at malls.

For this sweater, I used Cascade 200 Superwash Sport in white.

Knitting:

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The actual knitting is my favorite part.biggrinSince I usually select simple patterns, I seldom stress and have to pull my hair out. I really enjoy knitting on a couch, with my husband sitting next to me (who needs a cat when you have a hubby to roll and untangle the yarn as you knit), while listening to lovely music or watching cheesy Japanese dramas.

Blocking:

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Then comes the nightmare — blocking!confusedI don’t know why I dread this step but I do. I don’t enjoy pinning each knitted piece onto a board and letting it sit for several days until it takes a proper shape. It takes up all the room on our dining table and it smells like a herd of wet sheep stampeded across the apartment!

Seaming and Weaving In Ends:

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Seaming is the least favorite part of the entire process.madI. just. don’t. like. it.  This is usually where the process stalls for days – and some even years! I have to really be in the mood to tackle this part, but once I do, I’m going full throttle. I take this process very seriously and rip out and redo the seams more often than I’d like to admit, but I know that this is what makes or breaks the end result of the garment. Maybe I don’t like the pressure of it all.

The Finish!

Then, I forget about all the bad times when I finish the project and get to photograph it … and I do it all over again!

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Note about the project:

This was a really fun sweater to knit! I really like the patterns from this book. The finished projects look complicated, but you don’t have to pull your hair out! It’s great for beginner / intermediate knitters like me. I even recommend it for a first-time cable knitter!

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I made slight modifications. First, I added about 10 rows of ribbing at the bottom of the bodies, as well as sleeves. I’m really glad I did that because the ribbing make the sweater look a little more balanced. Second, I used the stockinette stitch for the turtleneck, instead of the K2 P2 ribbing, as instructed in the book, so that the neck will feel light (I don’t really like things around my neck).

I think I’ll knit this again with different yarn. I loved knitting with Cascade 220 Superwash Sport but it was a little too thin for a sweater (you can totally see everything underneath, unless you’re wearing a white tank top).  My belly is a bit too large fit into this sweater at the moment lol but I am looking forward to sporting it in the spring with Pon Pon in my arms.  Maybe a matching mom-and-daughter cable sweater may be in order!