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"Knitting is very conducive to thought. It is nice to knit a while, put down the needles, write a while,
then take up the sock again." - Dorothy Day

And We're Off

Yep, I started Irtfa'a. In fact, I think I started within five minutes of my last post. Of course, it's nothing but a blob, and will remain so for a very, very long time. I think by next week I'll at least have enough on the needles to be able to pin out a section. In the meantime, I'm just pausing now and then to bunch it up and gaze at the colors.

It's going well; the yarn is amazingly easy to work with, considering it's lace weight. It's not prone to splitting or snagging at all. The pattern looks hard, but is actually really intuitive, so I'm not as glued to the charts as I thought I'd be. I've only felt the need for one lifeline. Markers though? Those I'm using plenty of.


Laser Focus

This year, Rhinebeck was not about cute sheep and alpacas. It wasn't about chicken pies or caramel apples (although it might have been about cheese for just a minute). No learning about fleece for me. This year, Rhinebeck was about the yarn, the whole yarn, and nothing but the yarn.

I went in with a plan, but immediately fell down and bought something I had no reason to buy.

Spirit Trail Fiberworks. They get me every time. Last year, I bought the yarn for the Pumpkin Socks there; I got there late in the day, and there wasn't much left, but I managed to find something I loved. This year, I went early. I'm still amazed I managed to walk away with only one skein.

This yarn (Alexandra) is a different base than what I bought last year; it's 100% Superwash Merino, with no nylon. The twist is a lot tighter and more defined as well. Of course, none of that matters, because it is all about the color. Just look at that:

Denim blues and olive greens, with transitions so smooth I can't tell where the blues end and the greens begin. No matter how many pictures I took I couldn't capture both the warmth in the greens and the cool of the blues.

My next purchase stayed firmly against my cheek for a solid fifteen minutes.

It was a utilitarian purchase; BBMM wants a gray scarf. He has no special requirements, but I came across what might be the softest alpaca ever at Times Remembered.

Charcoal grey, with one thin ply of a lighter grey. Eight ounces (about 600 yards) of sport weight, for a ridiculously low price. I hate knitting scarves for the miles of repetition, but this stuff will be so nice to work with I'm almost looking forward to it.

The next purchase was bought for a specific project; Jeanie, from last winter's edition of Knitty. I've always been intrigues by this pattern, but had never found yarn that seemed right for it. Now I have.

Fingering weight Merino/Tencel, from Maple Creek Farm. The drape on this stuff is incredible; it's going to be a perfect match for the pattern.

Browns and greys and cream, all with a really nice sheen; the darker colors almost shimmer.

Finally, the Holy Grail of yarn. I have wanted to make Anne Hanson's Irtfa'a Shawl since the first time I saw it. I've been looking for the perfect yarn ever since. I didn't want a truly black-based color, like the original. I wanted something more like smoke; subtle, natural greys and blues, not too much contrast. I searched all day. It was the one thing I was determined to find, but by late afternoon I thought I might be defeated. I had found a lot of maybes, but nothing that was perfect. Then I found the Briar Rose Fibers booth.

When I first glanced in the booth, I saw a lot of earth tones, a lot of deep saturation, a lot of subtle color changes, and my first thought was ohmygodwhereisthelaceweight. It was late in the day, and there were only about eight skeins left, but I found exactly what I had been looking for.

Extremely fine, light as air laceweight. 100% alpaca. 2500 yards in the skein, so I can make an entire shawl with no joins. Deep and smokey and subtle.

The picture looks really blue, but there is a lot of lavender and silver in there, and a little bit of black. This was not a difficult decision. About two minutes after I bought it, I saw Anne Hanson in the next booth. I took that as I sign. (No, I didn't say anything. Walking up and saying "I just bought yarn for your shawl" just seemed a little too stalker-y to me, and I was worried the gleam of fresh purchases in my eye might be misread as a different gleam altogether.)

You might notice that it's already wound. What you can't see is that it's already swatched, and washed and dried. Cast-on begins in approximately five minutes.

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Mosaic Yoke Jacket

Another FO, and this one is almost the love of my life.

You may be wondering why "almost". Well, notice it is being modeled by the floor, not me.

Yep, another sweater knit, finished, and washed, only to not fit. This one is at least a size too small, maybe a size & a half. I haven't even bothered to figure out why. Probably a gauge problem.

I can't take it out on the sweater though. Just look at it. There's the main stitch pattern, which is both interesting to look at and to knit.

There's the mosaic yoke. This was my first experience with mosaic knitting, and I have to say, I'm a big fan. It's really fun, and knits really fast. This one was done in garter stitch, and the effect is just beautiful.

Then there are all the little details, which are always my favorite part of a good pattern. First , the shaping on the upper part of the yoke.

Isn't that nice? There's something similar going on at the side "seams":

I had so much fun knitting this. It might fit my mother-in-law, and if it does she gets it. If not, I actually may re-knit the whole thing. I would even mind. It was that good.

Pattern: Mosaic Yoke Jacket (Ravelry link), by Veronik Avery. It's published in Color Style, but was excerpted in the most recent issue of Interweave Knits. Again, a brilliant pattern with lovely details.

Yarn & Needles: All stash yarn for this, perhaps another reason I'm not super upset about the failure of it all. A few skeins of black Bernat Lana, two different shades of grey Paton's Classic Merino, and several leftover bits of Cascade 220.

Most of this was knit on a size 4 aluminum circular, with the yoke in size 6 aluminum circular. The sleeves were knit on size 6 bamboo DPN's.

Mods: Yes, but none that I'd recommend. The hems on this are doubled; the pattern tells you to bind off and then seam them on the inside. In my infinite stupidity, I thought it would be cleaner to do a grafted seam instead. Can you say tedious? Also, the inside didn't lay as flat as I would have liked, since I misjudged the amount of room the grafted seam would take. Bad idea.

If I Could Do It Over: Oh, you know.