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So I think it’s time to admit that grad school is bad for blogging.  I always mean to find the time to put something here, but sometimes that time just doesn’t exist.  That being said, I am so not ready to give up on this yet, so I promise to try and do my best to make time when I can.  But the reality I’m facing is that posts just won’t be as frequent as they once were.  So I’m going to stop apologizing for not posting and just do my best to post when I can.  That is my oath to you from now on.

So now that that is out of the way.  Ravelympics came and went.  I finished both my projects (hurray!), but it was sort of anticlimactic because they were small since school work has been heavy the last few weeks.  March 1 came and my internal clock seemed to know it was Malabrigo March even when my conscious mind did not.  Within in the first three days of march I cast on two projects with Malabrigo yarns.

As you might guess, this was largely motivated by a need for some color in my life.  Here in Philly things are just starting to warm up.  It’s supposed to be beautiful today, but last week it was hovering around the 40s, back and forth from grey to sunny to drizzly again.  And the solution was these little guys.

The first to come was a Verdaia shawl, cast on in Malabrigo Sock in Agaus (which in truth is not quite so blue in real life, a reality my camera refused to accept).  This new shawl pattern cropped up a few weeks back and right away I liked the looks of it.  I had originally planned to make Clothilde with this yarn, but when push came to shove I had plenty of other sock yarns I would be happy to use for Clothilde and nothing else I wanted to use for this.  It’s a nice pattern, the body is relatively simple, with slightly more complexity coming up in the edging.  More details are here.

A few days later I was really feeling the need for some serious lace.  And because Verdaia is relatively simple, I needed to add in something else to fill that void.  In addition to that, I could not stop thinking about this yarn as soon as the sun peaked through the clouds.  It is Malabrigo Lace in Sauterne and it is the most perfect yellow in the world if you ask me.  So I cast on for Aeolian.  This pattern rocks.  And so does this yarn.  I had forgotten how awesome it feels all the time.  I truly love it.  More detail on this one can be found here.

Those two projects have been grabbing most of my attention in the past week.  But Spring break is coming up soon.  And once I recover from having my wisdom teeth out  my plans are minimal and will hopefully involve lots of knitting!  Fingers crossed.

This week was my one year blogiversary!  (Tuesday to be exact).  I missed posting on the day because of a massive sunburn I picked up at the beach.  But since I had a little something planned I didn’t want to let it go by unnoticed.

When I first started knitting pretty in dc, I just wanted a way to show all my non-knitting friends what I was up to.  But as I worked on it, I really began to enjoy the project and wanted to put more time into it.  The positive feedback from people I didn’t even know was a pleasant surprise and only helped boost my momentum more.  This lead to a desire to publish designs and use the blog as a creative outlet of more than one kind.  And eventually this helped launched me into some of the life changes I’ve been mentioning lately.  Who knew something that started so small, could become so major.  And so much of it is due to all of you, who check in with me here whether I’m posting every other day or every other week.  It is lovely to know you enjoy my work, and I love sharing it with you all.  So, as a way to say thank you to all of you who have checked in with my little blog in the last year I’ve got the second official knitting pretty in dc blog giveaway!

Here’s what I’ve got for you: 3 skeins of yarn, the highlight of which is a skein of one of Three Irish Girls limited edition Sock Yarnista colorways called Icing Blue on the Kinsale Merino Tencel base (stashed here).  This is a lovely bright robin’s egg blue sock yarn with a ton of shine from the tencel.  It’s only available to club members, so it’s not one you’ll find in the regular Three Irish Girls line up.

Also included in the prize pack: a skein of Koigu KPM in color 2200, a lovely bright reddish orange, and a skein of Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light in 4828, sometimes called Plum mix (stashed here & here), plus a few little surprise goodies.

So here’s how it works.  Leave me a comment about a memorable anniversary of some kind.  It can be any kind of anniversary, a great birthday (it is after all the anniversary of your birth), a anniversary with an SO, the anniversary of an important event, or of a great job.  Any memory you have of a marking of some kind of anniversary.  From the comments I will select a winner via random number generator (one comment per person please!) and I will alert you all of the winner a week from today (next Thursday).  Good luck!

Look at me!  I have an FO & pictures so I can actually show it to you!  It’s been too long since my last FO post, but since I’m devoting June to finishing (mostly) I’m hoping to have even more to show you soon.  For now I’ve got my Ulmus shawl that I made for the Fans of Through the Loops group on ravelry.

Pattern: Ulmus (ravelry)

Source: Through the Loops

Yarn: Malabrigo, Sock & Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, Fingering

Needles: US 4

Started: May 10, 2009

Finished: June 9, 2009

Find it on Ravelry here.

Kirsten has come through with another great pattern for the Ulmus.  It’s a beautiful design and wonderfully written.  The main body of the shawl becomes good mindless knitting once you get the feel for it and then the lace spices things up a bit towards the end.  And it has good stashbusting potential for those of you who are into that kind of thing (not me, I of course bought more yarn for this project).

I did actually start out with a different color combination before I went with this one.  I had initially chosen two colors of Malabrigo Sock in Lettuce and Eggplant.  In the balls the colors looked lovely together, but in the pattern it was too much contrast for my taste.  I went hunting for other options and settled on these.  I’m so glad I did.  While it’s a rather unexpected color combination for me, I think it’s really beautiful and I love that I ended with a result that is unlike anything else I own.

The shawl comes in three sizes and I chose to make the Medium.  Before starting I did swatch & check gauge, but I must have loosened up as I went because once I blocked, the shawl came out to the dimensions listed for the Large.  It’s bigger than most of my shawls, but it’s been fun to play with how to wear it.  And I managed to work it in a few days before it started to get quite hot and humid around here.  Oh, and did I mention how great it feels to be finishing things?

So I went a little crazy during the Sundara LE updates in May.  I guess I’m building up my Sundara Sock stash.  my rational was that I could use it for some gorgeous shawls or other non-sock items, since my sock yarn stash could last me years.  But I got some very pretty yarn and now I can show you.

Yarn: Sundara Yarn, Sock

Color: Garden of Delight

Dye Lot: LE Postings May ’09

Amount:1 skein at 350 yds

Purchased at: Sundara Yarn website

stashed on ravelry here

Yarn: Sundara Yarn, Sock

Color: Gone With the Wind

Dye Lot: LE Postings May ’09

Amount:1 skein at 350 yds

Purchased at: Sundara Yarn website

stashed on ravelry here

Yarn: Sundara Yarn, Sock

Color: Fancy Free

Dye Lot: LE Postings May ’09

Amount:1 skein at 350 yds

Purchased at: Sundara Yarn website

stashed on ravelry here

Not surprisingly the Garden of Delight is my favorite.  It’s such a fantastically fresh shade of green.  But I love the others too.  Sundara’s colors have so much depth to them, it’s hard not to love nearly every shade.  Which is good, it make me step outside my color comfort zone and choose things I probably wouldn’t much of the time.  Always good to widen one’s horizons.

Also you might have noticed my new banner (also featuring Sundara Sock).  I took a week long photoshop class last week and made myself a few options.  This is my favorite of  all of them.  I had a great time in the class.  It was a blast to learn some new skills and experiment with what photoshop has to offer.

Maryland Sheep & Wool was a week ago and I can now manage to think about it without shivering. My Mom and I went on Sunday & it poured basically the entire time as I’m sure many of you can attest. I was pretty chilly and my feet were soaked, but I managed to have a good time none the less. And pick up some pretty awesome loot along the way.

Because of the weather I didn’t take many pictures.  I did get a group shot of Ysoldawith some of my creepy internet friends, but it didn’t come out too well so I’m withholding it for personal use only.  By the way, she was very sweet about us swooping in for a photo and telling her about how much we liked her designs.  And she was very tickled that my friend Betsy was wearing her Coraline.  I also got to meet Lolly, a co-mod and lovely lady.  I could have gotten a picture with her since we were in the main barn, but I failed to think of it since I was mid-gyro.  But regardless it was so great to meet her in person.

Since I’m largely without photos of the day, I’ll just show you everything I brought home.

Yarn: Brooks Farm, Riata

Color: 9R

Dye Lot: M13

Amount:3 skeins at 375 yds each

Purchased at: Maryland Sheep & Wool, Brooks Farm Booth

stashed on ravelry here

This was my most awesome acquisition at Sheep & Wool.  I took home a sweaters worth of this lovely yarn in a color that is oh so me (in fact I only really bought variations on blue & green yarn that day, not that this is unusual).  I have been having so much fun entertaining ideas for what I might make with these lovelies but it will be a while before I get to it.

Yarn: Tess’ Designer Yarns, Cultivated Silk & Wool

Color:

Dye Lot:

Amount:1 skein at 200 yds

Purchased at: Maryland Sheep & Wool, Tess’ Designer Yarns Booth

stashed on ravelry here

My main goal for the festival was to stash dk and worsted weight yarn.  It’s what I never seem to have in stash when I’m looking to start a project.  I didn’t completely stick to this goal, but I did pick a few lovely things that fit that bill, like this super soft and shiny yarn.

Yarn: Tess’ Designer Yarns, Superwash Merino Lace

Color: 871713

Dye Lot:

Amount: 1 skein at 500 yds

Purchased at: Maryland Sheep & Wool, Tess’ Designer Yarns Booth

stashed on ravelry here

The Tess’ Designer Yarns booth used up the last chunk of my budget on our way out the door.  I am pleased to say I did still come out $7 under budget!  I picked up this skein with something specific in mind.  After getting home, I decided to use something else for that project and now I’m thinking about using the lovely Spring Things pattern with this little skein.  I love the super bright green!

Yarn: Tess’ Designer Yarns, Petite Silk

Color:

Dye Lot:

Amount:1 skein at 450 yds

Purchased at: Maryland Sheep & Wool, Tess’ Designer Yarns Booth

stashed on ravelry here

My last purchase from the Tess’ booth was this little guy.  I just could not say no to blueish-purple lace weight.  It’s shimmer lulled me into submission while it’s brilliant color coaxed my hand into picking it up.  I was so tempted to buy a second skein to increase my options, but it would have busted through my budget, and I’m proud of myself for sticking to my guns.  Besides there really are plenty of shawls one can make with 450 yds, and even more options if you just make shawlette versions of patterns that call for more yardage.

Yarn:Kipparoo Farms, Raggles

Color:

Dye Lot:

Amount:1 skein at 165 yds

Purchased at: Maryland Sheep & Wool, Kipparoo Farms Booth

stashed on ravelry here

My Mom has known Annie from Kipparoo Farms long enough now that I consider her a friend of the family.  She’s an awesome person and a great dyer (a great shepherd too!).  And I saw this little gem.  I loved the mix of natural and subtle colors and it fit within my stashing criteria so I let it come home with me.  I know I’ll find just the right project for it sometime soon.

Yarn: The Unique Sheep, Tinsel Toes

Color: Mirkwood Gradience Set

Dye Lot:

Amount: 4 mini skeins totaling 360 yds

Purchased at: Maryland Sheep & Wool, Cloverhill Yarn Shop Booth

stashed on ravelry here

Beyond just my goal to stash heavier yarns, I had a more specific goal not to buy sock yarn.  This was the one exception I allowed myself since it was a gradience set that would make up for our mostly unsuccessful attempt at gradient dyeing.  Besides I don’t plan on using it for socks anyway.

So those are the beauties I picked up.  Not so over the top, but not really restrained either.  I really need to try and slow down on the yarn buying for awhile, but something tells me it’s not likely to happen.  But as I like to remind myself in these moments there are far worse addictions to have than yarn.  So I might just cut myself a break.

So now that you’ve had a chance to absorb all the information about the dyeing process, and I’ve had time to take a few more photos I have some dyeing results to show you. Once again there’s loads of pictures.

Since I talked so much about those sock flats let’s see one of those first…

In my opinion this is the most successful gradient dyed sock flat. It does have one stark shift in the middle, but it also has shading and shifts gradually from dark to light except for that one distinct change. It also is made up of colors I love that are soft, but still have depth of shade.

This flat also has the least “heathering” from spots where the dye didn’t penetrate the stitches. So while the colors shift, it appears nearly solid in each section. I’m really looking forward to knitting this one up and seeing what happens.

You can get a different perspective on the transitions by seeing the yarn wound. The cake on the left transitions from light to dark moving outwards and the cake on right is the opposite, with lightest on the outside and darkest on the inside. I really like looking at these particular cakes. I’ve been doing it at least once a day since I wound them. (By the way, these cakes are courtesy of my new ball winder & swift set, which I adore).

Ok more sock flats later on to some kettle dyed skeins…

Although the gradient dyeing was time consuming and exciting because it was new, the real purpose of dying day was to dye these. Liz went to Vietnam after Christmas and brought back lace weight Vietnamese silk as gifts. My Mother and I were both lucky recipients of these amazing yarny treasures. Instead of splitting our share half & half my Mom generously let me take a bit more so I ended up with 2000 yds of the stuff. My goal was to do two differently colored batches, each of 1000 yards, but as I mentioned before they turned out the same. Above is the batch I’m leaving alone & the other batch I will overdye later (you can see it once it’s done). While it was not at all what I had in mind this yarn is really gorgeous. The color is so vibrant, and combined with the sheen of the silk I find it irresistible. I want to cast one with it right away, but I’m so bogged down in WIPs (more on some of those soon) I must wait for a bit. For reference it is not quite as pink as it looks in the photo, it is a bit closer to beet, which is why I have decided to call this color “Beet Out the Purple”.

The two skeins you see above were also dyed from gifted base yarn. My friend Maureen recently traveled to Peru (if only I got to go some of the places my friends go…) and brought back tons of alpaca. She generously shared some with me including some undyed skeins. The blue was supposed to be navy, and I had hoped for a light and dark pair for some colorwork, but I actually love this shades together and might still use them for some subtle colorwork.

Recently I came up with a new Project (with a capital P).  The difference between a Project and a project is that a project is just one thing, and a Project is a series of projects or pieces that have some kind of overarching theme and that fit together in some way.  I want to devote a post to this Project, so I’ll wait to tell you about it, but it needed some yarn & this is the yarn I dyed for one part.  This merino lace weight was the yarn that was supposed to be red and came out pink.  It’s not quite hot pink, although it looks it in the picture, but it is certainly not a red.  I have decided to call it “Better off Red”.  This is mostly for humors sake, I don’t mean to give this poor yarn a bad wrap.  It will still serve its purpose, and I have a feeling it will be appreciated just the same.

Ok back to sock flats…

This is the flat that came out a true half and half.  Not what I had in mind.  One half is quite dark, and the other is quite light & there’s not much variation in each section.  Considering the amount of time that went into trying to make it a gradient this was a bit of a bummer, but I am not the type to be disappointed by new yarn.  Ever.  It took me a little brainstorming to come up with what I might do to maximize the potential of this somewhat surprising result and I came up with this:

I’m not generally a huge fan of stockinette only socks, but I have been really wanting a pair of striped socks lately (erm, ok I have been really wanting a pair of handknit striped socks lately since I have at least 8 pairs of machine made commercial ones).  It occurred to me that if I pulled from the dark end of one ball and the light end of the other I could have a pair of adorably striped tonal socks.  I whipped up a little swatch to decide what I truly thought & I love it.  So add that to this list of things to start soon.

This flat looked very promising after drying.  It was still a bit on the dark side, but it did have a real gradient to it and the color was really lovely.  Then I wound it up and saw just how many white spots there were from those pesky stitches.  I’m learning to love it for what it is, but it doesn’t have the same depth of color that it showed when in flat form.

So all in all, some lessons learned, some experiments started (but certainly not finished) and some yarn stashed. How could one be sad about those results?

So this is it.  I have promised myself that this is the last yarn I will buy before Maryland Sheep & Wool.  So that means no yarn for a month.  Good thing it’s gorgeous.  That will help tide me over.

Yarn: Fiberphile, Alchemy Super Squish Sock

Color: Just Peachy

Dye Lot: 09-0327

Amount: 1 skein at 440 yds

Purchased at: fiberphile etsy shop

stashed on ravelry here

I recently stumbled across fiberphile yarns while  perusing ravelry.  I was a bit of an instant addict.  I only ended up ordering one skein (I don’t have the sort of yarn budget where I can go crazy ordering multiple things at a time just because there’s , an update), but I worked hard to get it.  As soon as I encounter fiberphile I added myself to the email list.  I missed  a few surprise updates and then a scheduled one because of work, but then found out about the reserve system.  I hopped onto flickr, reserved this beautiful skein, and didn’t have to worry about the fact that customers were in the store looking for help during the next update.  I got myself some beautiful yarn none the less.

Ah Sundara.  The most coveted of yarns.  Or at least close.  She certainly has the whole supply and demand thing working to her advantage.  Have gorgeous yarn at a relatively limited supply and knitters go crazy.  And I am most certainly not immune.

Yarn: Sundara Yarn, Sock Yarn

Color: Mint Julep

Dye Lot:

Amount: 1 Skein at 350 yds

Purchased at: online from Sundara Yarn

stashed on ravelry here

As part of the Crusade Against Winter Gloom, I scored this lovely little sock yarn.  And someday soon I will get to know what all the fuss is about.  It is super pretty though.  So I’m guessing that might have something to do with it.

So by now it’s no secret that I really love yarn. Of course I love knitting, but I also love yarn as an independent entity. Yarn makes me happy, and not just because it will someday be knit. Yarn looks nice, feels nice and often smells nice (oh no I’ve outed myself as a yarn sniffer). So while I’ve been participating in a many months long Stash Down competition with the Enabler’s Anonymous group on ravelry, it’s yet to really affect my yarn buying habits. Mostly it has just made me finish projects faster to offset the yarn I buy. Which is good in a different way than I had in mind when I signed up. So while I have many backed up FOs to show you, let me today, take a minute to show you some of my new pretties instead.

Yarn: Colorful Yarn, Merino Sock

Color: Ocean & Sage

Dye Lot:

Amount: 2 skeins at 410 yds each

Purchased at: online from Colorful Yarn

stashed on ravelry here & here

It took a bit to sort out some color selection via computer screen issues but Jana of Colorful Yarns was lovely and incredibly helpful while I figured out what I really wanted. In the end I’ve got two colors I really love that I think will blend together in a really interesting way for the Tapestry Cowl I have just begun. Because while there is always more yarn, there are also always more projects.

After my trip to London, I found myself unexpectedly flying to the San Francisco Bay area. Unfortunately it was not on the best of terms, but there were still some very nice moments with family and friends. One such experience was an outing to Oakland for snacks at Bakesale Betty’s and to check out Article Pract.

Article Pract has been very high on my list of knitting stores to check out for a long time now. I’ve often seen photos of the shop and been envious of those who get to frequent it. The store is deifnitely gorgeous. It is filled virtually to the ceiling with luscious yarn.

Not every knitting store has a defined and distinct aesthetic. I don’t really perceive this as a problem, plenty of my favorite LYSs don’t focus on aesthetic, but instead on having a really solid collection of yarn. That is my number one priority, but sometimes it is nice to go into a LYS that focuses on presentation as well. And in this department Article Pract is spot on. I can’t help but love the way it looks.

As for the yarn itself they definitely had some very nice choices. The slight bummer was that most of the things I really wanted were significantly out of my price range. And some of the most interesting things I could afford were a bit picked through in the color department. I overhead one of the shop girls attributing this to post Christmas rush selection, which of course is completely understandable. But I had to wander for awhile before I found some things I really could take home. Of course, in the end, I did.

Yarn: Koigu, KPPPM

Color: 429

Dye Lot: 83

Amount: 1 skein at 175 yds

Purchased at: Article Pract, Oakland, CA

stashed on ravelry here

Yarn: Pear Tree, 8 ply

Color: Moss

Dye Lot:

Amount: 2 skeins at 107 yds each

Purchased at: Article Pract, Oakland, CA

stashed on ravelry here

Since I’ve recently become obsessed with berets (mostly since I convinced myself I could pull them off) it’s distinctly possibly that’s what both these yarns will become. The Koigu was purchased to be the Purl Beret, but I’ve yet to choose what the Pear Tree will be. Stay tuned to find out.