Pattern: Snowmelt, by Curious Handmade
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light
Needles: size 8
Back in the winter, a big event was happening in the knitting world. Helen Stewart, of Curious Handmade, held a mystery knit-along (MKAL). People from across the globe joined in and knitted this pattern at the same time. They were told in advance that they needed three colors of fingering weight yarn and what size needle to use. That's it. With total trust in the designer (who is one of the best,) folks cast on and knitted diligently as the clues arrived weekly. Soon after the start date, there were nearly a thousand knitters sharing photos of their progress and cheering each other on. (All of this happens on Ravelry.)
Now, I had qualms about spending that much time knitting over 1,200 yards of yarn in hopes that I would like the end result. What if I didn't? I know, I know. I missed the online camaraderie that was happening and that is fun thing to take part in. I have participated in an MKAL before and it is fun.
But I wanted to wait and see what the pattern actually was. After the mystery was over, I looked at pictures of hundreds of finished shawls. I could see if I liked the shape. I could see how the colors worked together. I looked at shawls in bright colors and subdued colors. I saw high contrast combinations and others that were more like color shifts than stripes.
Then after careful consideration of colors choices, and in a solitary fashion, I made mine. And I am so pleased with it. It's the first shawl I've knitted that is big enough to wrap up in. This was my first half pi shawl. (That means it's a half circle.) What I like about this shape is that it hangs nicely over my shoulders.
Pattern: Alexandra's Airplane Scarf, from Purl SoHo
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Lace
Needles: size 8
And although this scarf was started months before I began Snowmelt, I finished it a week after I completed the shawl. This scarf was knitted in the round with lace weight yarn (that is a very fine yarn.) "In the round" just means that it's a knitted tube. I just knitted and knitted—no other stitches to think about—forever. Endless round and round and round. Until it was about six feet long.
There are knitting projects, and there are knitting projects. They have different purposes beyond how you wear them The Snowmelt shawl wasn't hard, but it wasn't meant to be a take-along project. With three colors of yarn and charts to follow, it needed to stay home where I could work in peace. It was so much fun to work on the lace pattern, keep up with the charts and enjoy the color play. I loved knitting it.
The Alexandra's Airplane Scarf, on the other hand, was the PERFECT project for traveling. Once I got it started, there was nothing to keep up with or measure. I worked on it while waiting for Little Sister at dance lessons. I knitted while Baby Girl napped. I knitted at the lake. I knitted on the porch. I knitted in the car. The challenge here was working with the lace weight yarn. But after knitting six feet of scarf, that tiny yarn and I are friends.
I splurged on some new blocking tools just in time to make this a little easier to pin out. The grids on the mats let me keep the edges straight without measuring every couple of inches. And I bought a couple of sets of Knit Blockers from Knit Picks. Each one is like putting in 8 pins with one stab.
For the non-knitters, blocking means soaking the knitted item, then pinning it into shape and letting it dry. (Remember the "reshape and lay flat to dry" tag on some of your laundry?) Google "blocking your knits" if you want to know more.
This scarf is wide enough to worn as a wrap on a cool day. And the day I finished it, we had an unseasonably cool day. One chance to wear it outdoors before next fall. It's always cold indoors when the air conditioning is going full blast.
And at six feet long, and because it's extremely light, it can be worn as a scarf. Here, I have the ends pulled through the folded scarf.
I will say that the most intimidating part of knitting this scarf is getting started. When I was about an inch into it, I was thinking it would take forever. It seemed like I knitted and knitted and it didn't grow a bit. But I would work on it. Put it down. Work on it again later. Stuff it back in the bag. And on and on, until I realized I had about two feet of scarf. Then two feet became four feet. And then suddenly (actually, it was six months beginning to end) it was done!
It's a great project if you don't have a deadline. I have a idea I'll start another one of these one day. And maybe in another year or so—no pressure there—I'll have another one!