It’s a sweet little octopus to help people learn how to Cast On and Bind Off fearlessly. Knitters are always worried that they are working their stitches too tightly or loosely, and this project lets you do either and the results are that the tentacles simply curve and sway making your octopus look unique.
The idea came from knitting the “Nuvem” shawl by Martina Behm. I wrote a blog post about it. I had two lovely skeins of yarn, one with twice as much yardage as the other. I racked my brain for a way to distribute the colors evenly without doing regularly spaced boring stripes, but I also didn’t want to run out of the pretty multi-colored yarn before I got to the ruffle edge. Pacing around my home (yes, I truly paced while thinking about this), I spotted two decks of cards on my shelves and, voila, perfect: an easy to carry, easy to randomize, easy to count way of controlling which colorway to knit the next row with.
I have a list of design ideas I am getting out into the world. My first labor of love was the police box shawl, but Hoo*bert is NOT necessarily an easy knit. So I really wanted to get a fun accessible pattern out there next. I used the two to one idea that I knit my Nuvem with, but I wanted to add different stitch patterns depending on the face value of the card. The test knitters all said they had fun knitting it wondering which card would come up next and how it would look next to the previous row. Shuffle can be done with solid colors, or you could knit it with a solid and variagated, similar shades or bright contrasts, it all works. My first shuffle was done with solid worsted weight from Harrisville Designs (they liked it). My second Shuffle was knit from the two ends of my slowly changing color Loop handspun, and I kinda love it.
What will your Shuffle look like? 😊
Keeping knitting fun,
P.S. Join my email list to get a $2 discount code. Link is above.
I never wrote a blog post about the Squam Art Workshops before, though I’ve been attending since 2011. I suppose I never knew how to put it all into words: meeting great people, taking intriguing classes, dodging “woo”, and, well, the food.
I also took Gudrun Johnston‘s Short Row class, which was really helpful – I really had no idea there were 4 different ways to do short-rows, and that the one way I knew – turns out I was doing it wrong. I took no photos in this class, as it was a knitting circle, basically. Her designs are beautiful, she had a container full of them where she showed us where she used short rows. Such an inspiration.
But, then, it ends. We say goodbye to everyone at breakfast and we go.
So to console myself on the way home there was a stop at Mr Mac‘s, which really needs to be a national chain.
My mother told me that when I was a little kid, like 3 or 4 years old, my grandmother crocheted a hat for me.
This is a photo of my grandmother and me, maybe a bit before the incident, I don’t have a photo with the hat.
While looking through a magazine she saw a little kid wearing a granny square hat, so she made me one. She knit three granny squares, connected them in a row, added ties, and gave me the hat. The thing is, my mother says I wouldn’t wear the hat because my grandmother wasn’t finished with it yet. Evidently I recognized that there needed to be a forth square in the back, stitched to the first three to make a hat shape. My grandmother didn’t realize this, she just knew she had to crochet the ones she saw, she wasn’t thinking about the structure in the back. So, the poor woman went off and made the forth granny square, added it to the back of the hat, and then I wore it. I remember the hat, I remember I liked wearing it. I do not remember sending my granmother back to finish it.
Little kids are cute as a life saving device, I suspect.
This is the grandmother who taught me how to knit, btw. She taught me when I was about 5, having me knit a purple headband (it was the 70s) – 7 stitches across. It bored the bejeezus out of me, so much so that I never finished it. I’d pick it up every few years, having to add a few more rows since my head was bigger (figuratively and physically) every time.
It took until a Boston Ski and Sports Club trip to Italy in 2004 to get me into knitting. I understood it differently at that point. Instead of a headband shaped hole in space, it was the process of knitting that made the hobby interesting. Maybe by then I had lived a life of deadlines at my day job, and sitting down to quiet time to work with beautiful yarn was a reward in itself. (Italy had some gorgeous yarn.)
Since 2004 I have been knitting. And while spending my days working on a team designing computer chips, I would doodle knitwear designs and patterns in my notebook.
About three years ago I had an idea for a shawl design that I couldn’t believe no one had come up with before. The universe needed this, so I have been trying to make it happen ever since.
The idea? Police boxes in a tiled rhombus pattern (I, also, had to look up the name even though I’ve seen a tiled rhombus pattern a thousand times.)
I tried and tried to make this concept a reality when I was working, I just couldn’t get it done.
Fortunately, I lost my job last September.
Seriously, I had been planning, nesting, saving, and preparing for a lay off in my office since we were bought by the last company. So when the day came, I was the happiest person in the room. As I walked out I realized other people weren’t happy – at all, so I told them “Don’t worry, I’ll be sad later.” They laughed. They were happy for a minute, anyways; laughing at or with me? I wasn’t sure.
Turns out I lied. It didn’t happen, I wasn’t sad.
I was thrilled. I could finally get this idea on a .pdf and up on Ravelry.
I thrashed around a little bit. I was always driven by adrenalin at the day job, and now I was living with no time restrictions, no place restrictions. Possibility was my restriction. The hardest thing, I found, about leaving corporate America was time management and direction.
That’s Miss Babs in the front, and Tosh lace color “calligraphy” in the back.
“Gorgeous, so what do I knit with it?” I thought. Never did much with laceweight before. Did the old Ravelry search and came up with Martina Behm’s Nuvem. It’s pretty, no lacework that I’d have to pay attention to ‘cuz if I’m knitting 2000 yards of something I don’t want to have to pay attention to it, count, or anything requiring intelligence – this is what my day job is for. (“OCD for Dollars” is how I refer to it, and I sure don’t need the extra brain hurt for my hobby.)
The idea behind the Nuvem is you knit ’til there’s 20% of your yarn left and then do the ruffle. This kind of blew my mind… that 20% of the yarn is in the ruffle. That’s like a country mile around the perimeter when you think you’re almost done.
Though I had the same weight each of Babs and Tosh it turns out the Tosh is thicker with less yardage. I did some rough math and figured I have about TWICE as much yardage of Babs as I do Tosh. I needed to go around twice on the Babs for each time I went around once on the Tosh to make it work.
Pattern purchased, off I went… one round Tosh, two rounds Babs, one Tosh, two Babs.
I liked it, but it was too uniform for my taste to do the entire shawl this way. About 5 inches of knitting from the center out I decided to change it up, but I needed a way to maintain the one-Tosh::two-Babs ratio so I didn’t run out of one or the other color before I got to the ruffle. I wanted the same ratio with a different more organic distribution.
Walked around my place, stood for a moment staring at my humble board game collection. And there they were… a deck of red cards and a deck of blue cards.
52 red cards mixed with 26 blue cards, shuffled roughly together, would give me an approximate model of my yarn amounts,
with a more organic looking distribution than how I started out in the center.
2::1, right? yep.
I commited to this progression. I wrapped an elastic band around the cards to secure them, and threw the deck into my project bag. When a red card came to the top of the deck I would knit a round with Babs. When a blue card came to the top I would knit a round with Tosh.
I made it through the 78 (52 + 26) rounds and still hadn’t gotten to my 20% left. Figuring I wanted the colorful Babs for the ruffle I did a simple large swath of the Tosh “calligraphy” color to set off the ruffle.
I kind of love how it came out.
And about that 20%. I used a $3 postal scale that I bought off ebay on a recommendation that I got from a knitter friend who also quite enjoys smoking pot, and, I learned, she can evidently use the postal scale for either hobby as both often need accurate measurements of quantities less than 4 ounces.
I had previously only understood that this scale was good for measuring envelopes and yarn, it took another savvy knitter to explain to me what most people use this little gadget for and why they are so readily available on the internet.
P.S. So get this, still living the knitter’s dream I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few Squam Art Workshops, including this last one in Spring 2014. Turns out I finished this Nuvem in the nick of time to give the designer of this lovely pattern a lift up to New Hampshire from the airport. Turns out she’s lovely too.
Here’s me and my Hitchhiker, Martina Behm, returning from N.H.
March 2016: Free cowl pattern updated to include both worsted weight and bulky yarn!
My first design from 2010 made it to my new website at last. I created this pattern to wear while dog sledding on a winter trip to Quebec. My experience with winter sports has taught me not to wear scarves skiing or sledding, cuz you never know what might grab an end and a) make you lose your scarf or b) strangle you.
The ladies at the Squam Art Workshops are keeping us in creativity by putting up the challenge to accomplish something on our lists by the end of March.
My double dog dare, I suppose, will be to get this blog current by moving the content from my old site over… and post the dang knitting patterns over here. And… maybe do some sewing, which involves setting up my sewing area which I haven’t done since I moved. Sewing projects? a dress? I’ve always wanted to try jeans? or maybe upholster my reading chair?
Thanks to the Squam people for keeping us with our eye on our work.