Rabble Rousers Giveaway, Take Three

Do you guys mind if I do this giving yarn away thing again?  I’m hoping not, because I’m having fun!  I’ve got a skein of Handmaiden Silk Twist to give away.  This is the yarn I used for the Tumult cowl in Rabble Rousers.

I’ve loved Handmaiden (and their sister company, Fleece Artist) for just about as long as I’ve been knitting.  They were one of my very first ‘grown up’ yarn purchases (the stuff that comes from a yarn store instead of from a generic craft store), and theirs are still the yarns I’m most likely to bring home from a trip.

They have a huge range of bases (Silk Twist is 2 plies of wool and 1 of silk all swirled together to give a marvelous shimmery effect) and some of the most beautiful colors I’ve ever seen.  Their Casbah is one of my go-to sock yarns.  The list of projects I’ve done with their yarn is long (and the size of my Handmaiden stash impressive).

Now I made my Tumult with somewhere right around 120 yards of yarn, and Silk Twist comes in lovely big 430 yard skeins, so I’m going to share the skein between two of you (again, it’s a nice giant skein, and half of it is more than enough to make a nice big version of this cowl, never fear).

If you think you might have room for some Silk Twist in your stash, go take a look at Handmaiden’s list of bases and leave a comment saying which one looks most interesting to you.  I’m secretly hoping I can get around to working with all of them at some point!  I’ll leave comments open through Friday night and pick a winner early next week!

Success

We had the photo shoot.  I remembered to bring both the camera and all the knitting.  No one died of heat stroke.  We did not get arrested (opinions vary on whether we were, strictly speaking, allowed to be in that building at that time).  All in all, the day was a rousing success.  Oh, and we got good pictures too!  These are just a few of the favorites of the moment.  There are lots more to be seen later.

Tumult cowl:

Clamor hat:

Uproar cuff:

Stacks

I feel a tiny bit bad that it’s been so long since I’ve put out a pattern.  The last one was Chamfer in what, February?  Now to be fair, the e version of The Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet did go live in March, so it’s not like you’ve not got something to keep your needles busy.  But still, I’m used to putting out an individual pattern every month or so, and the longer time frame is making me a bit twitchy.  But never fear, it’s all in the service of a bigger project!

After seeing how much fun Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet was, I decided to experiment with taking some of the things I’d usually do as individual patterns and combining them into a mini book.  That’s what all the things you’ve seen around here since March or so will be used for.  I think it will work well, but it does mean that the once a month timeline sort of falls by the wayside.  Now I know waiting’s no fun, and I also know I find waiting easier if I know what’s going on in the background while I’m waiting.  So I thought I’d let you know where things stood.

The photo shoot is this Sunday.  As of this morning, all the projects for the mini book are done and blocked.  I’ve even got proof!  The only thing left to do is sew buttons one one piece (anyone taking bets on whether that will happen Sunday morning).

Down at the bottom there are the Ruction cowl and mitts in Malabrigo Arroyo.  They’re reversible, and I’m totally smitten with them.  Next up the stack is the Clamor hat in Briar Rose Wistful.  It’s scrunchy and slouchy and looks unreasonably adorable on everyone.  Peeking out from the middle is the Tumult cowl in Handmaiden Silk Twist.  I think it might be my secret favorite, and I want the photoshoot over with so I can wear it.  Next up are the Fracas hat and cuffs in Schaefer Yarn Company Nichole.  My secret plan is to send them home with Lauren as a thank you for her help modeling.  And on the top there are the Uproar cuffs in Plucky Knitter MCN Primo.  These are knitting crack and you should never ever start making them as you won’t want to stop.  You’ve been warned.

All the patterns are done, and testing is wrapping up.  The pattern text is over with the tech editor, and I’m finalizing the other, non-pattern, text this week.  The plan is to have the files to the printer in early June.  That means the e version will likely be available in late July, and the paper version available a week or two later.

Alright, I feel better now.  It’s still not quite as good as having a pattern ready to go for you.  But hopefully it works to show that I’m not just lazing on the patio sipping lemonade!

One Down

The Tumult cowl is off the needles and blocked.  I finished it up on the drive home from Maryland Sheep & Wool.  It’s lovely and light and lacy.  It will look splendid on an actual human.  It looks less than splendid when laying on my back porch railing.  Alas, I’m not skilled enough (or perhaps it’s brave enough) to take a picture of it on myself.  You’ll have to make do with this for now.  I promise pretty pics when I next get a willing victim to play model!

 

Today’s Lesson

You know how all the instructions in every knitting book ever strongly encourage you to block your swatches?  Yeah.  I’m here to remind you of the same thing.  This time with a demonstration.

You see, I’m working on a little cowl.  It’s a lovely fabric, open without being lacy, structured without being stiff.  I’m rather taken with it.  The yarn was new to me (Handmaiden’s Silk Twist), so of course I swatched.  And because I’m lazy and only want to knit it once, I blocked my swatch.  It’s a good thing I did, because the swatch grew by about 50% when blocked (it’s because of the stitch pattern, not the yarn).

I took my measurements from the blocked swatch, did a bit of math, and cast on.  As I worked, I got to feeling a little nervous.  My drapey, open, lovely swatch was great, I loved it.  The fabric on my needles?  Not so much.  It was bunchy and stiff and scrunched up.  I was not loving it.  See?

Not horrible, but not what I was going for.  I kept tugging on it and pulling it and thinking it was too small and fearing it was all wrong.  But I knew I’d swatched the right way, and I trusted my math.  But I also know that swatches sometimes lie.  So I decided to indulge my paranoia and double check.  I slipped the stitches onto a bit of extra yarn, tossed the cowl in the sink (securing the ball of yarn so kitten overlords didn’t dunk it in the sink too), and gave it a swish.  I took it out, blotted it dry, and laid it out.  I didn’t even pin it out under any strain.  I just sort of patted and shook it.  It relaxed more or less instantly.  The bunchy mess was soft and lovely.  See?

Much much better.  The size and the fabric are both right on track.

So, we’ll call this a reminder that you should just about always block your swatches.  I’ll grant an exception if you’re making your second pair of socks using the exact same yarn and pattern and you just know it will work, or if you’re making a market bag and don’t really care about the finished dimensions.  But if you want the finished object to be a particular size, you really need to block.  And if you’re ever doubting your work, blocking in the middle can be marvelously reassuring.