Printemps Shawl Progress

Back in May, I mentioned I was starting a new shawl project. I’m steadily working toward completion and excited to say that it’s almost done! 😀

Here is a quick snapshot of the work-in-progress:

Printtemps Shawl in progress on needles

The pattern is very easy to follow and memorize. Once I got through a couple pattern repeats, I didn’t need to look at the directions again.

I’ve spent many a beautiful morning out on the porch, just me, my needles and the ball of yarn. No paperwork, no notebooks.

I did bring a row counter, to keep track of my place in case I was interrupted or distracted by a bird, a cat, a bee–you never know who might visit when you’re outside, but otherwise, I traveled light and I loved it! 😀

The hardest part (if there is a hard part–it’s a pretty easy pattern to follow, as I said), was remembering to do the yarn overs, specially at the end of row 1 of the pattern repeat because the yarn over falls at the very end of the row repeat and it’s easy to overlook.

And yes, I did miss a few from time to time, but fortunately, you can easily remedy a missing yarn over on the return row. This video from Berroco Yarn shows you how:

A couple other tips I have for doing this pattern:

 – Use stitch markers for the row repeats. The pattern consistently works with repeats of 10 stitches across each row, so with the markers you can quickly see if you’re missing one of those yarn overs or forgot to do the k2tog or whatever.

– Use stitch markers to mark off the edges. I did this so I would remember to do the edge stitches and not accidentally jump into the row repeat.

Here is another picture of the shawl in progress where you can see the texture of the pattern a little more closely. It’s so pretty.

Printtemps Shawl texture close up

Since May I’ve been trying to do a least one repeat of the pattern (which is 10 rows) every day. The pattern calls for 35 repeats, so I will complete it in a month. I only have a couple more repeats to go, then it’s on to the trim.

Thanks for reading. I’ll keep you posted. 😀

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Learning New Techniques — Provisional Cast On

Provisional Cast On With a Crochet Hook

My crocheted provisional cast on

Up until this point in my knitting experience, I have never had to use a provisional cast on. I know what they are, but never had to do one. Until today.

I found a beautiful shawl pattern I want to make to go with a sleeveless dress I bought for an upcoming cruise. Although our destination will be warm, sea breezes can be a little chilly, so a shawl seemed like the perfect accessory.

I found a beautiful shawl pattern at Craftsy.com: the Printemps Shawl(Pssst… as of this writing it’s FREE!)

The yarn arrived yesterday (Cascade Sunseeker–so pretty!) from Jimmy Beans Wool, and I  can’t wait to get started.

So today, I’m learning something new! The pattern asks that you start off with a provisional cast on made with a crochet hook. I love crochet, so I was looking forward to learning how to do this.

And turns out, it’s pretty simple once you watch someone demonstrate it, like you have here in this video from KNITFreedom on YouTube. It’s just like crocheting around a chenille stem if you’ve ever done that.

You can also do a provisional cast on with just a knitting needle as shown in this video by kaleidoscope yarns on YouTube:

So, now I’m off to continue working on the rest of my shawl. Wish me luck! 😀 I’ll post pictures when it’s done. 🐑

Book Review: Knitting Block by Block by Nicky Epstein

Knitting Block by  Block by Nicky Epstein Book Cover

Available at Amazon.com

Knitting Block by Block by Nicky Epstein offers 150 different styles of blocks, divided into six categories: Basic, Applique, Colorwork, Special Techniques and Cables/Counterpanes. That’s a lot of blocks!

As soon as I saw this beautiful hardcover book, I couldn’t wait to read it and start on some projects. Each section shows a full or half-page color photo of the block, and indicates the page number for the instructions.

The first block I tried was from the Special Techniques chapter. I chose the Angel Blossom design because it looked so pretty and I’d never done bobbles before, so I wanted to learn something new.

Angel Blossom knitted block in progress on needle

Angel Blossom Block In Progress

The crystal clear instructions made it very easy to successfully knit my first bobbles perfectly!

Next I tested out a couple of the basic blocks from the first chapter, the Classic Diamond and the Classic Decrease, and then jumped ahead to the cables chapter for the Rolling Cables pattern.

All instructions are clear and easy to understand. Abbreviations are listed at the back of the book if you need a refresher on what a SK2P is, for example.

But the book is much more than just instructions for different blocks. The opening sections include a discussion on gauge and how to keep your block size consistent (the affects of needle and yarn weight, etc.), information on using blocks to construct different types of garments and accessories, and gorgeous full-page color photographs of 13 items you can fashion from the blocks right now!

The back section of the book includes those 13 project patterns, plus a thumbnail gallery of all the blocks to help you mix and match them for your own designs.

This I is a great book for inspiration, not only with block construction, but also for items you can make with a single block with just a little alteration.

For example, I noticed as I was knitting the Angel Blossom block that it was just as pretty when held sideways, so I didn’t stop at the block end. I kept going, created a rectangle, and when I joined the starting row to the last row, it became a lovely cowl.

I took the Rolling Cable block pattern, kept it to one repeat across the row instead of two and created a scarf from it.

Rolling Cable knitted block in progress on needle

Start of a Scarf Inspired by Rolling Cables Block

There are so many possibilities with the blocks and also beyond the blocks that you will get a lot of use out of this book.

My only complaint (and it’s a minor one, really), is that I would have liked to have seen more special technique type blocks and less applique. The applique blocks generally consist of a basic stockinette stitch block as the base with I-cord, flowers or other embellishments sewn on top.

For me personally, knitting stockinette stitch blocks are a little boring, but on the flip side, I can see that they are also very easy to finish. and the applique patterns here do give you some great ideas on how to jazz up a boring stockinette stitch block. I just wanted more Angel Blossom type blocks because I like to try new stitches but would rather avoid sewing. 😀

Overall, I think this is a great book for knitters of all skill levels. I’d give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Nice variety of patterns, nice variety of skill techniques addressed, clear instructions and gorgeous color photographs. I can’t express enough now beautiful this book is to hold and look at.

It’s also a book I feel I will get good use out of, since I’ve only completed a fraction of the blocks included and there are many more that caught my eye.

❤ Knitting fans, you will not be disappointed! ❤

(FTC Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Knitting Reimagined by Nicky Epstein

Book Cover: Knitting Reimagined by Nicky Epstein

Available at Amazon.com

In my quest to learn new “crafty” things, I’m always intrigued when a I see a book promising new techniques. In this case, the craft is knitting and the book is Knitting Reimagined (An Innovative Approach to Structure and Shape with 25 Breathtaking Projects) by Nicky Epstein.

As the subtitle states, this book contains 25 projects. They’re grouped by construction techniques such as “Directionals” (garments made from rectangles), “Woven Weaves” (garments made using weaving and braiding techniques), “Cool Construction” (creative construction with cool detailing), and “Stitch Impact” (interesting color work and edging). And there’s a pretty even number of patterns in each group (7, 5, 6, and 7 respectively), so all-in-all a nice solid, balanced collection of new patterns for you to try.

The unique thing about this book is that the projects are created from simple shape pieces, then put together in unusual ways. So if you can knit a rectangle, you can make many of the items in here. As the author says in the introduction, “The stitches are easy, as are the techniques to make the designs, but the resulting structures and shapes are unconventional, unexpected…” and I think that’s what gives this collection its edge.

The photos in the book are stunning. I’m not a fan of every fashion look, but I immediately saw at least five I wanted to make right away.

There’s a little something here for all skill levels, too! 3 beginner friendly projects, 17 intermediate projects, and 5 advanced projects, all clearly labeled as such with special icons explained in the “How to Use This Book” section.

Projects are also labeled with “clock” icons, indicating the estimated time required for completion. The book includes: 2 quick projects (a weekend to a few days), 11 medium time projects (at least a week), and 12 longer projects (a month or longer). And these longer projects definitely look worth the effort. The “Chaos Couture” pullover in wool/cashmere with faux fur details is adorable, and the deep red “Royal Lace” coat with hood will leave Red Riding Hood wishing she had balls of yarn in that basket instead of goodies for Grandma!

As an intermediate knitter, I was immediately drawn to one of the quick projects in the book, the “Reckoning Rectangles” shawl pattern, and one of the medium time projects, “On the Block” topper pattern. Given the clear pattern instructions and visual the construction schematics included in the book, I’m also eager to try several of the larger projects.

In addition to the pattern instructions, the author includes suggestions on how to “reimagine” each garment with either a slightly different yarn or a slightly different construction, meant to inspire knitters to express their own creativity with the patterns.

Unlike some pattern books where the advanced patterns can seem intimidating to a beginner/intermediate knitter like myself, the way the author has presented them, stressing the simplicity of the pieces and encouraging you to experiment with construction, even the advanced/multi-month patterns feel doable to me. I can’t wait to get started!

So, if you’re game to try some unique construction and imaginative knits that look fabulous, give this book a try. Hands down 5 out of 5 balls of yarn for this one! 😀

(FTC Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)