Archive for July, 2012

Eala Bhan

Would the light be better outside? Or course. But it’s too @##$%! hot outside to model Shetland wool.

I spent 18 months working on this sweater, and you would know, I finished it right as we hit our usual +100 summer weather. Oh well. December will get here eventually. In the meantime, enjoy some indoor photographs.


This pattern is called “Eala Bhan” and was published in the reprint of Alice Starmore’s Aran Knitting. I used the suggested yarn, Hebridean 2 Ply, which is sold by Ms. Starmore’s yarn company, Virtual Yarns.

  Check it out! The sleeves are long enough!

One criticism I’ve heard from other knitters about this pattern is that the sleeves are very long. Now, I have long arms; I am 5’7″ tall, but my “wingspan” is 6’1″ so I tend to have trouble finding clothing with sleeves that are long enough. I was very happy to not have to adjust the pattern and have the sleeves come out right at my wrists.

In other news, we have a new addition to our household! Earlier this month, I took our two backyard cats in to the Austin Humane Society be spayed. Now, AHS does a trap-neuter-release program for outdoor/feral/stray cats, and afterwards the cat needs to stay inside for 24 hours while the anesthesia wears off. Everybody who knows me well knows that I am horribly allergic to cats.

When we took in our first cat, Sweetie, I doped up on allergy meds prior to trapping her. From inside the covered trap the night before her spay, she set off my allergies within an hour. The day after her spay was a long one for both of us. She was wild to get back outside and I was sick and miserable, so we were both glad to see her return to the great outdoors.

I took the second cat, Matilda, in for her spay a week later. Matilda has always been very social and tame, so instead of trapping her the night before, I picked her up and carried her into the house. (Watching Sweetie scratch her face up trying to escape her trap was traumatic for everyone.) Surprisingly, my allergies didn’t bother me at all. I had the same non-reaction when we brought her back from AHS the next day. Matilda seemed happy to be inside. She curled up on the couch next to me and purred all day while I knit. So it was decided that we would see how my allergies did if she stayed inside over the weekend. That turned into a week. Now it’s been 3 weeks and we’re both doing fine.

Pretty Matilda.



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Every so often, I wander into a year store and pick up a skein of cashmere thinking, “This will make a nice gift for someone.” There are so many lovely little things you can make with a skein of cashmere. However, I usually end up feeling guilty about it because of the problems associated with unsustainable cashmere production. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, run a search on cashmere and sustainability and get ready to feel really bad about that discount sweater you picked up last Christmas.) So last fall I ran across a skein of Plymouth Ecco Cashmere and bought it, hoping that I would at least go home and find that it was a tad bit more Earth-friendly than average.

Well, I never got around to looking up whether Plymouth was actually putting out a sustainable cashmere, and now the yarn is discontinued anyway. I did however make up a very nice little shawl out of the yarn.

This is the Ginkgo Shoulderette Shawl (Ravelry link) made with Plymouth Ecco Cashmere on US size 4 needles. For me, this was a simple and relaxing knit, something to work on when I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to tackle the more complex stuff that I love. It turned out rather nicely in the end. I had originally started knitting this pattern in a laceweight yarn, but I didn’t care for the pattern definition. This yarn was more of a light fingering weight and worked extremely well with the pattern. I knit a few extra rows in the stockinette section for a slightly larger shawl.

As usual, the camera won’t quite capture the color accurately. It’s an oatmeal color, the natural color of the undyed fiber.

I myself don’t really care for cashmere because I find it to be extremely itchy. Other people don’t seem to feel the same way about it, so it makes a great gift that I don’t have any trouble giving away! This shawl blocked up light as a cloud, with a soft halo and a beautiful drape. I should note that this yarn was a little more sticky to work with than other cashmeres… not that anyone’s going to need to know that, since it’s not being sold anymore. Sad.

Had a bit of an adventure blocking this shawl. I washed and blocked it in the evening and went to bed. The next morning, I didn’t quite have the time to take up the dry shawl, so I left it blocked out on the floor. When I came home that day, I was horrified to find empty blocking mats, along with an empty Roomba docking station. I had forgotten that our Roomba robotic vacuum was programmed to run that day! I found Rooma entangled with the shawl in the bedroom. Blocking wires and pins were randomly strewn all over the house. I rescued the shawl from Roomba’s loving embrace and spread it out immediately. Fortunately I found only 4 small damaged places. Of the 4, three were broken strands right on the edge, and the fourth was just a pulled strand from the lace portion that did not break. Easy enough to fix; you can’t even see the repaired spots in the photos even though they are all visible. After the repair I washed and re-blocked the shawl. It looks great.

I’m quite sure that I will never forget to disable Roomba before blocking a shawl again.

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After finishing the Rhodion, I wanted to knit something little and cute. I also wanted to use up some leftover yarn from another projects. So I re-skeined about 500 yards of oyster-colored Baruffa Cashwool and broke out my blue dye.

This is Good Day Sunshine, from the Spring+Summer 2012 issue of Knitty. This issue is heavy on small shawls. I like it. I might knit a few of the others!

This shawl took a whopping 322 yards of yarn. What a nice way to use a partial skein. It might be neat to knit it using one color for the dense middle and another for the lacy border.

When I blocked this shawl, I realized that it looked like the symbol for the Romulan Star Empire. (At first I thought it looked like the Klingon symbol, but a friend corrected me. Thanks!) I have to think that Romulans would only knit very complex lace.

  Do the Romulans need a new flag?

Anyway, this was a fun little project. I highly recommend it. I knit most of it on US size 4 needles but went up to size 6 and then size 8 for the two rows preceding the row with all of the 8-into-7 and 7-into-7 as suggested in the pattern. This was a good idea and made those decreases much easier.

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