What to make with Pigeonroof Studios Mountains & Valleys

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I always find it a fun challenge to find the perfect projects for variegated yarns like the Pigeonroof Studios Mountains and Valleys colorway for Knitting Our National Parks. I didn’t have to look too far to find some great options, particularly from designer and frequent IU poster Casapinka.

Here are several options, whether you want to use a single skein or pair it with a semisolid. You can also check out the ever-growing bundle I’ve created on Ravelry.

One color

One and Done by Casapinka

Hitchhiker Beyond by Martina Behm

Bingham Hill Cowl by Daniela Nii

Wave by Kristen Finlay

Strathcona by Jane Richmond

What to make with handspun yarn

I’ve been contemplating a What to make with handspun blog post for a while now, but since I haven’t quite fallen down the spinning rabbit hole yet, I decided to ask Anne of Middle Brook Fiberworks, my fiber and spinning guru, for some suggestions. She ended up sending me a terrific write-up to share with you. Please include your additional suggestions in the comments!

“What can I make with this handspun yarn?” is a question I answer at every show. I can see why: skeins are usually one-of-a-kind, with not a lot of yardage and the texture is often irregular. It’s certainly possible to find sweater quantities of beautifully consistent handspun yarn, but it would be a significant investment. Shawls and other accessories that require less than 400 yards are great for handspun because any irregularities won’t matter — unlike in a sweater or socks, where you don’t really want unfortunately placed lumps of thick slubs. Plus, woolen-spun handspun yarn (spun with a low twist from loose clouds of hand-prepped fiber, rather than a compacted commercial combed top), knits up into a thick fabric that is not only exceptionally warm, but is remarkably lightweight and lofty. My handspun hat knit from woolen-spun CVM under my rain jacket hoodie is integral for my winter farm chores!

Another option is to combine millspun yarn with smaller amounts of handspun yarn as a highlight–for a pop of texture. The Dragonwell Cowl, pictured above, which I designed with Jolene Mosely, has a section of consistent 2-ply yarn, and a small section of highly textured art yarn in a coordinating color. I’ve used handspun yarn for both sections, but millspun yarn would work just as well.

One of my favorite handspun projects is my Handspun Hansel, a handspun version of Gudrun Johnston’s Hansel. The pattern calls for 550 yards of a main color, and less than 100 yards each of four contrasting colors. I made mine with all handspun, but I think it would be terrific with a millspun main color, with handspun contrasting colors.

My next project is going to be Laura Aylor’s Between Oceans. I’ve spun four skeins of aran-weight organic Polwarth in Cirrus for the body, but because I won’t be spinning a fifth skein only to be cut into fringe, I’ll be dyeing a skein of millspun Targhee wool to match.

What to make with Backyard Fiberworks North Cascades Night

Since getting a glimpse of Alice of Backyard Fiberworks’ North Cascades Night colorway for Knitting Our National Parks, I’ve been obsessively combing Ravelry for the perfect projects. The fact that it’s a sportweight yarn means it works for a variety of patterns, from one-skein hats and mitts to pullovers and cardigans that don’t feel too endless.

I’ve found some ideas from a variety of designers, including those who post to Indie Untangled. Below is just a small list of possibilities. You can also check out the ever-growing bundle I’ve created on Ravelry.

Shawls

Hint of Autumn by Laura Aylor: 2 skeins

Tidepools by Simone Kereit: 3 skeins

Enamored by Laura Aylor: 3 skeins

Pleasant Trip by Laura Aylor: 3 skeins

Little Black Shawl by Laura Aylor: 2 skeins

Marshwood by Lara Smoot: 3 skeins

French Cancan by Mademoiselle C: 2 skeins

Vinegar Hill by Kirsten Kapur: 2-3 skeins

Sweaters

Orne Cardigan by Meiju K-P © Knitscene/Harper Point: 5-9 skeins

Pauroxo by Jennifer Dassau: 4-6 skeins

Silver Girl by Laura Aylor: 4-7 skeins

Sport Aureed by Meiju K-P: 4-8 skeins

Warszawa Soft by Meiju K-P: 5-7 skeins

Grisalia by Meiju K-P: 3-6 skeins

Celia by Mary Annarella: 3-6 skeins

Shifting by Justyna Lorkowska: 4-6 skeins

One-skein projects

Coast Oak Hat by Stephannie Tallent © Yarnbox

More Cowl Bell Please by Mary Annarella

Moutons’ Boutons by LeMou Designs

Rieth by MK Nance

Backflip Mitts by Melanie Berg

Fathom by Veera Välimäki

Portlander Mitts by Shellie Anderson

Have you found some other great ideas? Please share in the comments!

What to knit with a single skein of fingering — other than socks

When the weather (actually) starts getting warmer, you don’t really want to be knitting out of the A/C with a big pile of fabric in your lap. While I’ve certainly worked on a sweater at the beach, it’s not ideal. Neither is traveling and worrying about losing one of those six mini skeins.

I see summer as the perfect time to pick out that single skein of fingering in your stash that you really love and knit up a little something to drape over your shoulders or around your neck when you start wanting to put wool on your skin again.

I’ve long said that shawls, and infinity scarves, are potato chip knitting, because they are easily addictive and tend to cause less consternation than socks — there’s no such thing as Second Shawl Syndrome.

Here are some new designs and a few old favorites for that prized skein.

Shawls

Old Favorites

Janina Kallio has a whole bunch of single-skein shawls, but my favorite has to be Drops of Honey, above, which she designed especially for the 2016 Indie Untangled Where We Knit yarn club. It’s simple enough to be mindless, with just enough interest with the eyelets.

Zilver by Lisa Mutch

Pebble Beach Shawlette by Helen Stewart

Country Song Shawl by Gabrielle Vézina

What’s new

Little Black Shawl by Laura Aylor

Cubetcha by Casapinka

Abeja Shawl by Kristen Jancuk

Aperture Shawl by Ambah O’Brien

Cowls/Infinity scarves

Shared Rib by Anne Hanson

Another Where We Knit pattern that’s now available to the general public, this is also fairly easy knitting, with a twist (pun intended) from the cables.

Brighton by Veronica Parsons

Spice of Life Cowl by Louise Zass-Bangham

Starshower by Hilary Smith Callis

What’s new

Daylight Savings Cowl by Mary Annarella

Mora Dune by Virginia Sattler-Reimer

Dodging Rain Drops Cowl by Vanessa Ewing

Chehalem Cowl by Kelli Slack

See more of my favorite single-skein shawls and cowls on Ravelry!

What to make with speckled yarn

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Speckled yarns have been around for quite a while, but it seems as if they’re having a bit of a moment — I’ve certainly noticed an uptick in Funfetti-esque skeins around the internets. Like variegated colorways, it can be a little tricky to find just the perfect pattern to show it off. A simple canvas is generally best (I’m likely going to knit a Hitchhiker with the skein of Duck Duck Wool 80/20 Merino Silk Fingering, because it’s one of those patterns I think every knitter needs to have) but I’ve also spotted some beautiful patterns that incorporate it along with lace and stripes.

Here’s a selection from among my favorite speckled projects:

JaninaKallio's speckled Crescendo in Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles, colorway Monet and Handu Ilun Sinkku, colorway Turkoosi

JaninaKallio’s speckled Crescendo in Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles, colorway Monet and Handu Ilun Sinkku, colorway Turkoosi

Susanne/sosu's Chevron Fringe Shawl in La Bien Aimée Merino Singles, colorways The Hotness and Direwolf Graffiti

Susanne/sosu’s Chevron Fringe Shawl in La Bien Aimée Merino Singles, colorways The Hotness and Direwolf Graffiti

Kristen/k10's Dotted Rays in Skein Merino Cashmere Fingering, colorway Neon and Grey

Kristen/k10’s Dotted Rays in Skein Merino Cashmere Fingering, colorway Neon and Grey

Vanina/horsebike29's Pebble Beach Shawl in Skein BFL Sock, colorway Teen Angst

Vanina/horsebike29’s Pebble Beach Shawl in Skein BFL Sock, colorway Teen Angst

Claudia/himawari's Match & Move in REPUBLIC of WOOL Twist Fingering, colorway Tiny Dancer Speckled and Rohrspatz & Wollmeise “Pure,” colorway Feldmäuschen

Claudia/himawari’s Match & Move in REPUBLIC of WOOL Twist Fingering, colorway Tiny Dancer Speckled and Rohrspatz & Wollmeise “Pure,” colorway Feldmäuschen

Ryan/ryanpagehaas's Japan Sleeves in The Lemonade Shop Simple Sock, colorway Grey Speckled and The Plucky Knitter Plucky Feet, colorway Silver Queen

Ryan/ryanpagehaas’s Japan Sleeves in The Lemonade Shop Simple Sock, colorway Grey Speckled and The Plucky Knitter Plucky Feet, colorway Silver Queen

Kelly/kelbelmakes' Curtain Call Cowl in Lynai Superwash Sock Yarn, colorway Manic Speckled

Kelly/kelbelmakes’ Curtain Call Cowl in Lynai Superwash Sock Yarn, colorway Manic Speckled

Catrina/CatReading's Fluid Slouchy Beanie in Spun Right Round Squish DK Shock Star

Catrina/CatReading’s Fluid Slouchy Beanie in Spun Right Round Squish DK Shock Star

Sabrina/dasmondschaf's Doodler in Das Mondschaf Merino Singles, colorways Firefly, Bananaphone and Leela

Sabrina/dasmondschaf’s Doodler in Das Mondschaf Merino Singles, colorways Firefly, Bananaphone and Leela

knitsublime's French Can Can in Duck Duck Wool DK Limited, colorway Speckled Stone

knitsublime’s French Can Can in Duck Duck Wool DK Limited, colorway Speckled Stone

What to stash this week: Get taken away by patterns and yarn

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Wanderlust Knits, a new pattern club from designer Janina Kallio, is a responsible yarny indulgence. Members receive four accessory patterns released in April, June, September and November, well before they’re available for sale individually. The first pattern, which you receive when you sign up, is Daydreamer, a two-color crescent shaped shawl with stripes, eyelets and a knitted-on edging, exactly the simple, striking, pattern that Janina is known for.

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Take a bike trip through France, courtesy of Invictus Yarns. Sue is sponsoring Tour de Sock, a sock-knitting event and fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders that is based on the famous bike race. Registration begins on May 1 and there are prizes! Sue is also headed to Pasadena May 13 to 15 for her first year at Vogue Knitting Live. There will be some sock yarns in the shop during VKL to support the Tour de Sock, with more added on May 17.

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Barbara of Spencer Hill Naturally Dyed Yarn teamed up with an IU newcomer, project bag-maker and knitwear designer Rock Solid Designs, on the Turtle Cove Cowl. The cowl uses two mini skeins of Spencer Hill’s Nell MCN to create a beautiful two-color design. You can purchase a kit through the Spencer Hill website.

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Another Barbara, Barbara Benson, also worked with a new-to-IU dyer — Gale of Gale’s Art, who creates sock blanks stenciled with fun patterns — to design a wavy lace pattern for a shawl that perfectly shows off the sea-themed yarn. The shawl pattern uses beads, which Barbara says evokes “a fishermen’s net fresh from the water with sparkling droplets caught in the mesh.”

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The folks at Bijou Basin Ranch just got a whole bunch of qiviut, the champagne of fiber! There is lace and fingering weight in both 100% qiviut or a qiviut blend in bright hues or natural-colored skeins. The fiber is warm, but light, perfect for all seasons.

Bellbrook3IU

Bellbrook, Mindy Wilkes’s newest shawl design, is completely reversible, which means you can choose to show off the bell-like leaves on the “right” side or the borders of ribbing on the “wrong” side. And it takes just 400 yards of fingering-weight yarn.

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Stephannie Tallent’s new design, the Sand Ripples Shawl, features a lace edging, worked first with a combo of stranding and intarsia, a two-color cable pattern and a short-rowed garter stitch body.

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In the Game of Shawls, you knit or you freeze. Lara Smoot’s The Great Game, the latest in her Game of Thrones-inspired series, was designed with a seven-color gradient set from Miss Babs.

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Rock Solid Designs sells cute box project bags with unique snap closures that act as yarn guides, allowing you to work on your project with the bag closed, without the risk of fraying or snagging your yarn.

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Here’s a closer look at the fun stenciled sock blanks from Gale’s Art.

What to stash this week: Simple pleasures

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The Simple Treasures shawl pattern from Christine, the dyer behind TreasureGoddess Yarn, allows her luxurious and fun MCN yarn to shine while you indulge in one of life’s simple pleasures. The triangular shawl, with panels of stockinette and simple lace, takes a skein of her Cashmere Super Toes MCN yarn, which comes in super-sized skeins of 600 yards and colorways, with such fantastic names as Song of the Sirens (pictured above in the shawl), Mermaid’s Curse and Lusty Wench.

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Laura of Fiber Dreams, a fellow tea drinker, has named her new leafy, lacy pullover after our favorite morning beverage. This tea– I mean tee — can be knit boxy or more fitted, depending on the size you select. The bottom-up sweater has minimal seaming, for joining the top edges of the shoulders and sleeves. There’s also a Ravelry KAL for this and Laura’s other designs, with prizes!

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Mindy Wilkes has given us a beautiful design for those irresistible gradient, mini-skein set, or variegated sock yarn. Pomeroy Shawl is a simple, asymmetrical garter stitch shawl with a crochet chain bind off, inspired by one of those sets. It takes 500 to 550 yards of fingering weight yarn.

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Add a little fiber to your mail with the Swoonish fiber club. Club members get roughly 4 ounces of high-quality fiber dyed to wow. Packages are always a surprise, but you can see previous shipments on the Swoonish blog. Sign-ups end May 1, with packages sent out mid to late May.

Spencer Hill Pink

After two shows, Barb of Spencer Hill is back in action, with plenty of Pippi BFL sock, Nell MCN, and Lily Merino/silk in the shop and more updates, and new bases, on the way.

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The latest Wool and Two Sticks colorways were inspired by the Mad Hatter’s eyes on the poster for Disney’s Alice Through The Looking Glass. They’re available on Wonderful 100’s, a Merino/silk fingering.

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Wild Hair Studio is a small family farm raising Purebred Romeldale/CVM sheep, Registered Gotland sheep and crossbred sheep. They offer batts, smidgens, art batts, and other goodies from the farm.

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If you’re headed to first annual Steel City Fiber Festival in Allentown, Pennsylvania this weekend, stop by booth B2 to say Hi to Suzanne of Groovy Hues Fibers and her yarn, as well as fiber arts gear from a guest artisan.

Back to knitting basics with garter

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Viola Henslowe

Two weeks ago, I had eye muscle surgery to correct the crossing that had become progressively worse since my late 20s, the reason why I donned sunglasses for my sweater FO shots in recent years. While my surgeon did an amazing job, my brain has been working overtime processing the images from both of my eyes instead of only one. Since knitting takes a bit more focus, I decided that the best way to get back into it was a comfy garter-stitch shawl. So, last week I cast on my third Henslowe, a combination of garter and a relatively easy lace edging that I’ve worked on a little at a time while listening to audiobooks (and feeling old now that Bridget Jones is now in her 50s).

So, I thought I’d pull together a list of some of my favorite mostly-garter shawls, comforting knits that are perfect for when you need some mindless knitting.

Pendulum by Amy Miller

Pendulum by Amy Miller

Color Affection by Veera Valimaki

Welcome Back Garter by Casapinka (I started this before surgery and am at the point where I need to pick up stitches)

Welcome Back Garter by Casapinka (I started this before surgery and am at the point where I need to pick up stitches)

French Can Can by Mademoiselle C

French Can Can by Mademoiselle C

Marrakesh by Janina Kallio

Marrakesh by Janina Kallio

Duane Park Triangle by Kirsten Kapur

Duane Park Triangle by Kirsten Kapur

Nangou by Melanie Berg -- with a post-surgery selfie

Nangou by Melanie Berg — with a post-surgery selfie

What to make this week: A new look for a gradient

Peephole-6_BBenson

The Peephole Stole from Barbara Benson Designs is a cool take on the multi-skein gradient sets that are all the rage among indie dyers. Barbara divided a six-skein gradient set in half and created a striping pattern that gradually shifts from high contrast to low contrast, creating what Barbara calls a secondary gradient of diminishing contrast. Worked on the bias, the rectangular stole includes a combination of slip stitch color-work and lace. There’s currently a KAL going on in Barbara’s Ravelry group, so if you have a gradient or color set without a project in mind, here’s a great pattern for it!

The knits of Downton Abbey

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Downton Style

I know I’m a little late with this post, but I can justify it by saying that I still have the last 40 minutes of the Downton Abbey series finale (sniff!) to watch, so the series is not over for me yet! And, it will certainly live on in this era of binge watching.

Last year, I favorited a few patterns for a Downton Abbey swap I was participating in via the Subway Knits Ravelry group and decided it would be a good idea to curate a definitive list of sorts.

Here are some pattern suggestions culled from my favorites that I feel would be stylishly worn by some of my favorite Downton Abbey characters:

Lady Mary

Chrysler Crown Shawl by Natalie Servant: Stylish and trendy, and would go perfectly with Mary’s sharp bob.

Lady Edith

Lucy Hat by Carina Spencer: Simple and chic, for a lady ready to take on the publishing world.

Cora Crawley

Lady Grantham Hat by Brenda Castiel: Obvious, I know, but this soft and elegant design is a good fit for nurturing Cora.

The Dowager Countess

Eleanor Cowl by Audrey Knight: Staid and traditional, but a bright color can give this a bit of sass.

Daisy

Sprig Cloche by Alana Dakos: Soft and girlish, a design that I can see Daisy wearing on her way into town.

Anna

Fellowes Cloche by Amy Herzog: Classic, but strong.

Mrs. Patmore

Biscuit by Bonnie Sennott: Because what else but food would make you think of Mrs. Patmore?

Mrs. Hughes

Drifted Pearls by Jennifer Lang: Soft and comforting, with plenty of elegance.