finished

Finished: Penelope Shawls

My family and me wearing our Penelope Shawls on Christmas night!

My family and me wearing our Penelope Shawls on Christmas night!

I suppose it's time I rose from the dead and revisited my poor little blog that's been languishing since when - August?

Yeesh.

Those of you who know me well also know that 2016 was a rough year for a variety of reasons I won't get into here. It wasn't easy on me and I even let go of the one thing in this world I love the most: knitting! Yup, that's how bad my 2016 was. It's not like I didn't knit (or crochet) anything at all; I just wasn't passionate about it anymore, which is really out of character for me.

But that's done with now and the black cloud of negativity has been removed from my life for good. I'm back in my groove and am knitting like a fiend. Mostly socks because that's what I want to do, and I figure if I want to do it, I just will. It's been a year since I truly loved something I was working on and threw myself into, so guess what? I'm going to enjoy my selfish projects for awhile.

One of my most recent projects was crocheting five Penelope Shawls as Christmas gifts for my family. This idea spurred from a) becoming obsessed with Caron Cakes and b) knitting in a local whiskey bar with one of my friends who was crocheting a shawl with said cakes (yes, that did happen). I got the sudden urge to crochet something, but I wasn't sure what - other than I wanted it to be a shawl.

After searching Ravelry for Caron Cakes projects, I came across a user who'd made a shawlette version of the Penelope Shawl. I was done. This is what I need to do. I started crocheting one at 11:30PM on a Sunday evening (as you do) and didn't look back. I think I finished it by the next evening and decided I'd be able to whip out at least five before Christmas: one for my family members and one for myself.

The pattern is super simple, though I had to fudge the edging a bit due to the fact I was making a smaller version; it was fine. It made for great Christmas movie-watching as the holiday approached and worked up really fast. Plus, by using the cakes, I barely had to weave in ends. Best of all, each shawl looked great in their already-designed-for-me colors.

I know you've all got massive Caron Cake stashes, so make sure to check out the Penelope Shawl as a possible project. I just crocheted until I had three colors left in my cake, then completed the final few rounds for the edging. There was usually a small amount left, but nothing I ever felt bad about throwing away

PS: There are 8 new Caron Cake colors!!!

In the meantime, I'm:

Knitting: Just Another Vanilla Sock - Christmas Edition
Reading: Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard
Watching: Westworld

Finished: Galactic Hat

Apparently in my world, February is for knitalongs, a social experience where a bunch of knitters cast on the same project and enter to win prizes when said item is complete.

The first KAL I completed was the Galactic Hat KAL for Julianna's Fibre. The concept was simple: knit the Galactic Hat pattern as many times as you'd like throughout the month of February, then post your photos in the Ravelry group or on Instagram using pre-defined hashtags. They're pretty low-maintenance instructions, which I love in a KAL because they're supposed to be fun and a distraction from the barrel of monkeys that is everyday life.

And I should say this hat was definitely a nice distraction. I started it during the Super Bowl on Sunday evening (not that I actually watched the Super Bowl - more like listened to podcasts and ate junk food) and had finished up by Monday evening. With 28g of yarn to spare!

Oh, and do you like my new MIRA scale? My other digital scale only measures in ounces, and not only are ounces not as accurate as I need them to be, they made my baking life pretty terrible if the recipe was written in UK terms.

The yarn is Malabrigo Rios in the Lotus colorway, which I purchased this past weekend at Conversational Threads in Emmaus during an outdoor winter festival. Of course, the aforementioned yarn shop was close to Funk Brewing, so you know I stopped there for an additional liquid treat, as well. All in all, a productive weekend, if I need to say so.

I did block the hat, which I'm kind of regretting because the garter reallllllly stretched when wet (I should've known better). I'm sure it will be fine; I just hadn't intended it to be slouchy. I don't mind slouch hats, though, so I'll survive. It's worth mentioning that the Malabrigo was divine to soak. It was so soft and squishy and wonderful that I didn't want to leave it alone. If I could fill a bath with hot water and Malabrigo, I'd be a happy camper. Also a psychopath.

In the meantime, I'm:

Knitting: Constantinople Shawl + Filemot
Reading: Lolita
Watching: Gossip Girl (you don't have to judge me; I've already judged myself)

Finished: Duchess of Devonshire Shawl

For Christmas, I'd received a couple gift cards to the LYS near my parents' house: Gosh Yarn It! in Kingston, PA. I'd been fairly good with my latest yarn acquisitions by having a project in mind when buying new yarn, and I partially succeeded in sticking to that when I visited the shop in December.

The only project on my mind at that point was Kay F. Jones' Duchess of Devonshire shawl, a paid-for pattern that can be downloaded on Ravelry, so I immediately began looking for yarns that would lend itself well to the gorgeous lace.

Despite the almost endless options available to be, I couldn't resist buying more Cheshire Cat from Frabjous Fibers, part of their Wonderland Yarns collection, this time in the Little Busy Bee colorway. It's a different color than I'd typically choose, and I was mindful of that, as I gravitate toward jewel tones: pinks, purples, teals, you name it. I wanted something different while also knowing I'd love knitting up the yarn. Hence the final result you see above.

Plus, the shop was having a store-wide sale. #winning

The pattern itself is 90% easy potato-chip knitting, and 10% "pay attention to the applied border or you'll be sorry" knitting. In other words, if you're like me and can't work on a project that makes you fall asleep, then this shawl is perfect for you. There's enough to keep your interest while ensuring it's easy enough to complete quickly without lulling you into a coma.

If you haven't checked out Kay's knitting patterns yet (or if you haven't heard of The Bakery Bears Podcast, which she co-hosts with her husband, Dan), then I suggest you crawl out from under your obscure rock and get to watching!

In the meantime, I'm:

Knitting: Constantinople Shawl (are you noticing a project theme, here?)
Reading: Lolita
Watching: Orange is the New Black

Finished: Pop Fizzle

And it's done! I finished up my Pop Fizzle hat by Lesley Anne Robinson of Knit Graffiti Designs fame the other night and I'm more than thrilled with the final object.

It's not without imperfections, that's for sure. At one point, I managed to miss an increase or something and wound up with only half a "leaf". I also dropped a yarn-over on one of the increases and had to sew up a rather big hole in a black brioche stem. But in the end, I didn't mind either mistake, and I'm probably the only one who will notice them. I'd overall say this project was a success.

The yarn I used was Knit Picks Chroma Worsted in Black and Lollipop. Because the pattern called for DK weight, I went down two needle sizes (to a US4), which worked well for a perfectly-fitting, warm beanie. If this winter is anything like the last, I have a feeling it'll be worn a lot when talking Fritzy on long walks or chiseling my car out.

As mentioned in a previous post, I wouldn't make this your first brioche project, but you don't have to be a brioche knitting expert to make it work. This was only my second, with my Exploration Station being my introduction. Otherwise, you just need to know basic increases and decreases - no cabling required!

If you're interested, make sure to buy the pattern over on Ravelry for $6 USD.

Think this project is right for you, but don't know where to start with the stitch? Learn brioche knitting in Craftsy's on-demand online class: Brioche Knitting Made Easy, where you'll learn the basics of this gorgeous-but-intimidating technique while making three practical projects: a hat, fingerless mitts, and a cowl.

Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, added because I love the product and think you - my valued reader and knitting friend - might benefit!

Finished: Vanilla Latte Socks the Second

Here's the finished version of my second pair of Vanilla Latte Socks, completed for Detention in the Harry Potter KAL.

This time around, I used Knit Picks Felici in the Countess colorway, a 1x1 twisted rib (which pleasantly made the cuff tighter to prevent unwanted slouch), a standard slip-stitch heel (as opposed to the Eye of Partridge heel in my last pair), and a round toe. Overall, I'm pretty happy with them and have added them to my burgeoning hand-knit sock drawer.

10 points for Gryffindor : )

In the meantime, I'm:

Knitting: Anne's Sweater, Pop Fizzle, Just Another Vanilla Sock
Reading: A Clockwork Orange (yup, still reading this and not getting any deeper)
Listening: My Morning Jacket - Big Decisions