My current work in progress:

1. "T-Rex," designed by Rebecca Danger, knit from Blue moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock in the "Lucky" colorway on U.S. size 3 needles.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

Power

Last June I purchased and reviewed on my blog the Nancy’s Knit Knacks Heavy Duty Ball Winder. That post is here. Since that it has wound many a ball of yarn, all without any issues whatsoever.

Last weekend I got the motorized base for the ball winder. Within half an hour of unpacking the box I had it put together and the motorized ball winder was up and running. It works beautifully. I’ve wound several good-sized skeins of yarn since getting it and each one came out looking perfect.

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I like that you can buy just the manual ball winder and then later if you like, you can easily add the motorized base.

There is, of course, an on/off switch, and there is also a control that lets you adjust the motor speed. You can save that speed setting, so if you have a number of skeins of the same yarn to wind, you can adjust the optimum winding speed on the first skein and then save it to wind each subsequent skein at the same speed.

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This is not an inexpensive upgrade, but it is one that will save me a lot of discomfort manually cranking the ball winder, and judging from the reviews I’ve seen of this product, it’ll give me years and years of great service.

I am still (and will be for some time) knitting along on my Nordic Scarf.

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And Loki is still a gentleman of leisure.

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Now Available

The pattern for the Nordic Cowl is now available for purchase online in my Ravelry store, here.

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The price for the pattern is$3.00 through March 15, 2014, after which it will go up to the regular price of $5.00.

I think everything you need to know is on the pattern page — you can make it in three different sizes, and the largest size takes just two 400-yard skeins of fingering weight yarn in contrasting colors. So if you’ve got lots and lots of sock yanr lying around you can use up some of your stash and make a lot of very nice holiday gifts. It is a fairly quick project. I knit the largest size and had it done in less than a week.

I noticed here and there there were a couple of mentions about how the Nordic Cowl could be worked in double knitting. Technically yes, it could, but I think it would have driven me crazy to keep track and ensure I was knitting the right stitch in the right color.

If you’ve never used the yarn I used to make it — Sun Valley Fibers MCS Fingering – I recommend that if you have the opportunity to acquire some, snap it up! It is lovely, lovely yarn and a dream to knit.

Now On the Needles . . .

This!

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This is a scarf being knit from Shalimar Breathless fingering, in the “Bark” and “Peachy Keen” colorways. I’m knitting in the round in the same manner as my Leftovers Cowl, but when I am done I am not going to join the ends. I’ll be doing an “end treatment” at each end.

I really like these colors together. The brown (the Bark colorway) has a sort of peachy sheen to it so it really looks nice next to Peachy Keen.

I actuallly did start this scarf as a double knit, with a different yarn, but abandoned it after about 4″ of knitting. One problem was that the colors I chose did not have enough contrast so in places I had a hard time telling which stitch was in which color. I chose two handpaints that in the skein seemed to have good contrast, but they knitted up too similar to each other.

The other issue was that I just didn’t like the way it looked doubleknit. My gauge in double knitting is looser than in single knit colorwork and I was not happy with the results.

I ripped out and started the scarf again using those same two yarns, this time knitting in the round, hoping that the tighter gauge made the contrast between the two colors more obvious. It didn’t. I ripped it out again and restarted the scarf in black and rainbow Kauni. That looked great with very nice contrast, but for a scarf that I plan to wrap around my bare neck, I want a softer yarn. So I ripped it out again.

I think this fourth time I finally have it right.

Loki Sez:

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“I love spending quality time with Momma!”

In Other News

When I came home today I was surprised to see the Batmobile parked in the space next to mine in the garage.

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Nordic Cowl Complete

We had a snowstorm on Monday, so I was able to finish my Nordic Cowl with my extra time at home.

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As I mentioned, I made it reversible and reversed the colors:

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This was knit from 2 skeins of Sun Valley Fibers 75/15/10 Merino Cashmere Silk Fingering, in the “Blueberry Crumble” and “Waterfalls” colorways. This is seriously wonderful yarn: so soft and warm and such beautiful colorways!

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I started with a provisional cast-on, knit one side, then worked a purl “turning” round, then knit the other side reversing the colors, and attached the starting stitches to the ending stitches with a three-needle bind-off.

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I am finalizing the pattern now. My long-suffering colleague consented to model this cowl for the pattern. This is his Blue Steel:

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This is Loki’s Blue Steel:

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Nordic Cowl

First things first, congratulations to Judy Exline whose comment was chosen by the Random Number Generator to win a copy of Lovely Knitted Lace: A Geometric Approach to Gorgeous Wearables by Brooke Nico. A big thank you to the publisher for supplying a free copy and to everyone who entered the giveaway.

So . . . what’s on my needles now?

I had a two-color scarf I started. I started it three times. The first time I started it as a double-knit scarf, but at about 40 rows in I decided it wasn’t working. There was not enough contrast between the two colors worked in double knitting. So I started it again, working it in the round. Well, guess what? There still was not enough contrast between the two colors. So I started it for the third time with some Kauni yarn. Lovely-looking and great color contrast, but 8″ or so into the project I decided that I wanted the scarf done in a softer yarn, so once again, abandoned the project.

I ordered yarn to try again, but in the meantime, I started this:

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This is a cowl, knit from a seriously yummy yarn, Sun Valley Fibers 75/15/10 Merino Cashmere Silk Fingering, 400 yards per skein. The two colorways I am using are “Blueberry Crumble” and “Waterfalls.” The yarn is so soft and lovely, and the two colorways look so good together, a nice subtle contrast.

Ignore the pink at the bottom of the cowl — that’s a provisional cast-on. I am knitting this with a self-facing and will finish it off with a three-needle bind-off.

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If you look closely, you will see that I’ve reversed the colors on the facing, just for fun.

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So you can change the look of the cowl by turning it inside-out.

This is my own design, and I’m working the pattern up in three sizes: 21.75 (27, 32.5)” around. I am knitting the largest one and will easily get the cowl out of one skein of each of the two colors.

I am halfway through the facing at this point so this will be completed soon. Then it will be back to the scarf . . . fourth try!

While I knit, Loki is busy striking seductive poses.

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He has a bit of a “come hither” look in his eyes, I think!

Mythic Mitts and a Book Review

The pattern for my dragon mitts is now available for sale on Ravelry, here.

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As I did for the Leftovers Cowl, I’m kicking it off with a sale: it is 40% off the regular price of $5.00, which makes it $3.00, through the end of February.

The patterns calls for fingering weight wool — approximately 125 yards each of two colors. My mitts are knit from Shibui Sock in the Abyss and Roppongi colorways on a U.S. size 3 needle. I knit the size medium, and I am betting that I could also manage to knit a pair in size small with what yarn I have left over. It would be close, but I think it is safe to say that I could definitely have gotten 2 pairs of size small out of those 2 skeins.

So I’ve rounded up a bit on the yardage requirements. I always do to account for yardage differences in skeins of yarn — sometimes I have a skein that is definitely over the yardage reported on the label. Also, everyone knits a little differently, so yarn usage will vary from person to person. Bottom line: Your mileage may vary!

Lovely Knitted Lace

I have here a review copy of a new book: Lovely Knitted Lace: A Geometric Approach to Gorgeous Wearables by Brooke Nico.

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The book contains 16 designs created from four basic shapes (triangle, circle, square, and rectangle). The book’s publication date is not until next week, but the patterns are listed on Ravelry here, complete with photos.

One of the things I like about this book is that the patterns are not just for shawls — there are some shawls, but there is also a cute beret, a couple of jackets with very clever shaping, an easy shirt made from two rectangles, a bolero and a shrug, a lovely tunic that I may have to knit, a gorgeous cape with dolman sleeves (the cover design), and a button-front cape that can also be worn as a skirt.

There is a detailed section in the front of the book with a lot of useful information about knitting lace, as well as step-by-step illustrated instructions for some techniques used.

The projects use a wide variety of yarns, from laceweight to worsted.

The Triangle Tulip Shawl is knit from worsted weight yarn, making it a great choice for new lace knitters:

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If you are new to lace, you will find it much easier to knit with heavier yarn and bigger needles.

I really love the Floral Tunic, knit from fingering weight yarn:

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The pattern calls for Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply, which is a wool/silk blend but I think it would be great for Spring/Summer in a 100% silk yarn.

For a more immediate gratification project, how about this lovely beret, knit in a heavy lacewieght 100% mink yarn?

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The publisher has generously offered to, once again, give a copy to one of my readers. Who’d like to win it?

To be entered in the drawing to win a copy of this lovely book, please leave a comment on this blog post by 11:00 am Eastern Time, Sunday, March 2, 2014. At that time a comment will be chosen at random.

Loki Sez:

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“Please close the drapes — I’m trying to sleep here!”