Two Beginnings, Three Finishes, Two WIPs (featuring my entries for the May 2014 Smalls SAL)

I’ve had a productive week or two here at Casa “The Lyf So Short” with projects finished and projects started. As the song says, “Every new beginning is some other beginning’s end.” Or, if you want to be slightly more literary, my former undergraduate mentor used to quote this line from Great Expectations all the time: “Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together…” Perhaps the equivalent for a knitting blog would be something like: “life is made of so many bind-offs knitted together….” So, in the spirit of beginnings and endings and middles…

Beginnings: I’ve cast on for the Sherlock-themed challenge sponsored by my local Stitch n Bitch group, the West Hollywood chapter. I’m making a pair of “The Wallpaper Had it Coming (Again)” mittens by ampersand designs, a pattern based on the wallpaper in the living room of 221B Baker Street in the BBC Sherlock series (I first mentioned these mittens here). I’ve also cast on for Spring Kerchief by Sachiko Uemura in a beautiful silvery gray Colinton Lace yarn from my LYS, Unwind, courtesy of a gift certificate from my generous godfather. Do I “need” either of these projects? No. Will they help me reach my knitting goals for 2014? No. What was my point again?

Endings: I’ve finally cast off on the Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts that I started in January, and now I have a photo to share, at last:

Suzie Rogers' Reading Mitts, Relaxing in a Bowl

Suzie Rogers’ Reading Mitts, Relaxing in a Bowl (love that picot edging!)

Don’t let the length of time between casting on and casting off fool you, this is actually quite a quick project, especially considering that it’s knitted in a relatively small gauge. I used Blue Sky Alpacas’ Sport Weight in a lovely periwinkle blue, and it knit up like a dream. I wish I had taken “before and after” photos of the blocking process, though, since it made a huge difference in how evenly and consistently the stitches lie. I tend to be a fairly consistent knitter with not a lot of variety in my stitch sizes as I knit, but even my knitting looked a little “lumpy” in places before blocking. I think this had to do with the nature of the yarn itself which has a bit of twist to it.

So I’m doubly pleased with the result, and I highly recommend this pattern to anyone, especially if it’s your first time working a simple thumbhole. The sizing runs the gamut from willowy maiden to beefy-armed serving wench (my size). These mitts are my favorite kind of knitting — a simple but elegant design that packs a lot of punch. Go ahead and check out the pattern’s Ravelry page and all the beautiful photos of the completed projects. You won’t be disappointed.

2014 Smalls Stitchalong Logo

2014 Smalls Stitchalong (SAL) Logo

And continuing with the finishes… I’ve finally finished my Smalls SAL entries for May. I’ve stitched two “free-bees” (their spelling, not mine) from La-D-Da, one called “A Rose is a Rose” and one called “Fallen Leaf” (both designs are available for download here, along with some other lovelies. I’m currently drooling over their new “Spring Hare” design). I’ve had my eye on the “A Rose is a Rose” design for quite a while now, ever since I decided I wanted to design my own “A Rose is a Rose is a Rose” design and went searching the Interwebs (which John Oliver has hilariously taken to calling “the Electronic Cat Database”) for other cross stitch designs featuring that famous saying.

 

"A Rose is a Rose" Freebee by La-D-Da

“A Rose is a Rose” Freebee by La-D-Da

I changed the floss colors; the most obvious effects were to make the rose more purple than the red/mauve that was called for and to make the stem darker. Here are the substitutions I made:

  • For Gentle Arts Sampler Threads “Chamomile” (the center of the rose), I substituted  GAST “Woodrose”
  • For GAST “Old Red Paint” (the main color for the rose itself), I substituted GAST “Briar Rose” (for some reason, I really liked how the two colors for the rose had the word “rose” in their names — it’s like Shakespearean word-play for the cross stitch set!)
  • For GAST “Dried Thyme” (the leaves), I substituted GAST “Evergreen”
  • For GAST “Old Hickory” (the stem and thorns), I substituted Weeks Dye Works “Bark”
  • For GAST “Dark Chocolate” (the lettering and border, I substituted WDW “Chestnut (honestly, I can’t imagine this last change made much of a difference)

And here’s the second La-D-Da free-bee I completed, “Fallen Leaf”:

"Fallen Leaf Free-bee" by La-D-Da

“Fallen Leaf Free-bee” by La-D-Da

For this design, I substituted Weeks Dye Works “Bark” (lettering) and Gentle Arts Sampler Threads “Autumn Leaves” (leaves and border) for GAST “Pine Woods” and “Cinnamon” respectively. I also added another little design element in the middle of the “W” in the word “wave,” fleshed out the leaves a little bit, and changed the “a’s” to a font I liked better. To each her own…

Middles: I’m also continuing to chug away at the presents for my nieces. For Ella, I am working on Annie Modesitt’s Fiesta Tea Set. For Lauren (as I’ve mentioned before), I’ve completed the Baby Bobbi Bear by Blue Sky Alpacas, and this week I’m going to finish some sweaters for him to wear about town. ‘Cause he’s fancy… Photos to follow soon. Fingers crossed!

 

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