Traveling Wonderberry

My Wonderberry Shawl is making the rounds of fall fiber festivals. Last weekend, it was on display in the Periwinkle Sheep booth at the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival. This coming weekend, it’s traveling to the Adirondack Wool and Arts Festival in Greenwich, New York. To celebrate, the pattern is 15% off on Ravelry with the coupon code WONDER15.

  Wonderberry Shawl  by Bonnie Sennott

Wonderberry Shawl by Bonnie Sennott

The shawl will be on display all weekend in the Periwinkle Sheep booth. She’ll have lots of colors of her fingering weight Watercolors II yarn (the shawl is in Rose Quartz) plus all her other gorgeous yarns.

Are you excited that the fall fiber festival season is here? Which are you going to? I’ll be at Rhinebeck — can’t wait!

The Wonderberry Shawl sale ends Monday, September 24. Find the pattern here.

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Avoiding Second Sock Syndrome

Whenever you need to knit two of something — a sock, a mitten — there's a risk that the project will stall. It can be boring to do all the same stuff over again, which leads to procrastination. Isn't it curious how all kinds of temptations suddenly appear? You notice a whole bunch of new patterns on Ravelry you really must cast on. Or some gorgeous yarn you've always wanted to try goes on sale, so of course you have to get it on your needles ASAP.

Or maybe the second item isn't boring to knit, in fact you know you'll enjoy it, but because the first one took so long (life gets in the way!), you're now in the wrong season. It's hard to feel motivated in June to finish a pair of mittens you began back when it was actually mitten weather.

And how about sweater sleeves? Raise your hand if you've got a sweater three-quarters finished, but you're not sure when you'll ever actually wear it because you just can't bring yourself to slog through the second sleeve.

 Sock knitting at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts

Sock knitting at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts

My solution is to work these kinds of projects in stages, rather than finish one completely and then start the second one. For socks, I work the leg on the first one, then set it aside and cast on for the leg of the second sock. When both socks are done to the heel, I work the heel and gusset on each, then the foot on each, and last of all the toes.

An advantage to this method is that since the heels and gussets are done close to each other in time, I'm more likely to remember any special adjustments or modifications I made and do the same on both socks. Ditto for the toe shaping.

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Here's my current sock project, a "plain vanilla" sock knit over 64-stitches, with 2x2 ribbing followed by stockinette stitch. The first sock is finished as far as the heel, so I've transferred the stitches to dpns and set it aside for now (this frees up my 9-inch ChiaoGoo circular for the second sock).

 Sock knitting on the Norwottuck Rail Trail in Amherst, Massachusetts

Sock knitting on the Norwottuck Rail Trail in Amherst, Massachusetts

For these socks, I'm using Platinum Sock from End of the Row Yarns in the Peacock colorway. I'm really smitten with these saturated colors — they're so evocative of spring and summer and all the color that's bursting into view this time of year. I'm mostly working on this pair while walking — I keep them in my shoulder bag, so whenever the urge or opportunity to walk arises, I can pull out the sock and get in a few rounds while also getting some exercise.

 Sock knitting at the Quabbin Reservoir in Ware, Massachusetts

Sock knitting at the Quabbin Reservoir in Ware, Massachusetts

Have you tried knitting two-at-a-time socks on circulars? That also seems like a really great way to avoid Second Sock Syndrome. I haven't gone there, because I'd need to purchase even more needles, and I feel like I already have enough. I'm also not sure how well the long circulars would work for walking and knitting. 

Do you suffer from Second Sock Syndrome? What are your favorite tricks for finishing projects that require knitting two of anything?

Update: Next in Line Afghan

While I'm not at the finish line yet on my Next in Line afghan, I'm inching closer and closer. Quite a few knitters have let me know they are eager for the release of this pattern, and I'm doing my best to keep knitting away on it (while also juggling other projects and work). I'm not a sadist and don't want to make anyone wait forever — really, truly I don't! So while you're waiting, how about a quick progress report?

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The temperatures climbed into the upper 80s yesterday, so I combined my desire to get outdoors and walk with the need for some new photos. When I began this blanket a few months ago for the Fringe and Friends Logalong, it was really pleasant to have it on my lap as I knit on chilly winter evenings. Now, now so much!

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The blanket is going to consist of 19 "logs" in all. I'm currently knitting Log. No. 15 and expect to finish it in the next day or two. That leaves just four more!  When I finished Log No. 14, the piece measured 39 x 45 inches. The projected measurements of the full afghan are 52 x 60 inches.

I'm using worsted weight yarns — three colors of Cascade 220 (Silver Grey, Straw, and Doeskin Heather) and one color of Valley Yarns Northampton (Lake Heather). It's called Next in Line because each log contains a few rows or "lines" of the main color of the next log. There are five different color/line combinations that appear throughout. For some, the contrast rows are in the center of the log, and for others they come at the end. The depth of each log varies as well, leading (I hope) to an overall design that's both lively and a little unpredictable.

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It's too soon to give final yardage — the last four logs will eat up more and more yarn, as they get longer and longer. But at this point I can share that I've used all or part of ten skeins (or 2,200 yards, more or less). I've used more of the silver grey than any other color, because it's the main color in two of the five color sequences.

If you want to keep abreast of this project, the best place to see frequent updates is my Instagram account — follow the hashtag #nextinlineblanket. (I've posted a few technique videos there, along with lots of still photos.) I also add photos or notes now and then to my Ravelry project page. Or, follow the project from its beginnings by reading all of my blog posts about it.

I guess I should log off now and get back to knitting. Garter stitch, here I come!

Marigold Dyeing

Happy Labor Day! I hope you're having a beautiful holiday (or a beautiful regular day, if you're not in the U.S.). I've just come back from a ride on our local bike trail. So glad I went! It's sunny, a little breezy, and an all-around gorgeous day. After yesterday's rain, there was no doubt in my mind that today had to include getting out in the sun.

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Sunshine has been the theme of this long weekend (even during the rainy parts), thanks to my latest natural dyeing experiment. I decided to try dyeing with marigolds, using some Cormo yarn that I bought from Foxhill Farm's booth at the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair in May.

It was a great success! The flowers produced a beautiful sunshine-y yellow:

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After consulting my favorite natural dyeing reference — Jenny Dean's Wild Color — I gathered both fresh and spent blooms from the pots of marigolds on my balcony and let them soak in water for about an hour. I strained the water into my dye pot — an old enamel pot I picked up for a few cents at a yard sale — and heated it to a very gentle simmer. While the dye pot was heating, I prepared the yarn by immersing it in a mordant bath, using a tablespoon of alum for the mordant. 

After letting the dye pot cool down a bit, I added the yarn, which immediately took on a yellow hue. So pretty! I then put the pot back on low heat and let it stay there for about 45 minutes, gently stirring the yarn every so often to promote even dyeing (but not agitating it, to avoid felting).

I'm not usually drawn to yellows for knitting but this one is just so cheerful. I couldn't wait to get it on my needles. While the yarn was drying, I got busy plotting and charting. I've already cast on a new design — a dragonfly-inspired cowl, using a modified version of the lace stitch from my Enallagma Shawl. It's coming along nicely:

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Every time I wear this cowl, it will remind me of summer sun lighting up the marigolds. I'm definitely going to save more of the spent blooms for dyeing again later this fall, after Rhinebeck (I'm hoping to pick up more yarn for dyeing there).

Have you ever dyed with marigolds? Or other flowers? Please leave a comment — I'd love to hear how it worked out for you. 

P.S. We're starting to plan the next KAL in the Ravelry Blue Peninsula group. I've set up a poll to find out what everybody would like to do. Hope you'll come and vote, and join us for fall knitting fun!