Hmmm, how many ponchos does this make for me now?  The answer is many and you might think I'm done with knitted ponchos, but nope--turns out I can't get enough of wearing big blankies with head openings--love 'em.  I originally bought this yarn for an oversized boyfriend cardigan, but when Rowan Mag 60 came out and I saw this, I knew my half done cardi would have to mutate into a poncho.

What's lovely about this poncho, even though it's bulky, it's very, very lightweight.  Brushed Fleece, for all it's bulkiness, is almost weightless and so very lovely to knit.  It's perfect for larger garments such as coats, ponchos and oversized sweaters as it won't be heavy and droopy yet will still have a bulky look and be snuggle warm.  The yarn is extremely soft and very easy to knit--it's my second time using it and I'm a total fan.  My first BF project was a hooded coat knit two years ago.  I've worn my coat throughout autumn and winter for the last two years and have just recently had to de-pill it for the first time.  Great wearability!  For these reasons, I would hesitate subbing yarn for this particular pattern.  For all it's blankety goodness, my poncho is very lightweight.

The pattern is one-size-fits-all simple perfection.  I made no changes at all, except while knitting I changed the placement of the markers to make it easier knitting.  The cast-on edge is seen in the picture above.  The rib runs horizontally across the body, increasing on both sides of the larger, center rib.  Next comes separating and casting off for the head opening, casting those stitches on again rejoining the front and back, then decreasing along the center rib.  This makes a squarish poncho with two slightly convex edges.  Lovely.  I can't quite remember how the pattern has you place the markers, but placing them on either side of the large center rib was much easier for me to remember where to increase and decrease.  It's a simple thing to change, but it helped me.

One more thing: 10 inches along each side, under the armholes, I tacked the front and back together for just an inch on both sides and essentially made "arm openings".  This brought it in a bit and looked better on me.

Caliban is my poncho of the season, but with that said, I do have some lovely young women in my family, and if they love this too, they are welcome to it and I will just knit another.

Caliban, all the details on my Ravelry project page
Caliban, the pattern by Lisa Richardson
Brushed Fleece, a blend of wool and alpaca

Did you survive Halloween?  I'm writing this post while roasting a chicken, making mashed potatoes, gravy and all that goes with it, plus answering the Halloween doorbell.  I'd say, phew!, but we don't exactly get many kids here.  If the doorbell rings I make a big deal and try to guess who they are--I want to let them know I appreciate that they ventured down our dark street even though all the while they want to scamper away to get more candy.  For the most part we are pretty quiet on Halloween night and cooking a chicken dinner is easy enough.  I'll often roast a chicken on Sunday night in fall and winter, but we went out to dinner on Sunday night, so it left us with Monday for the chicken dinner.  I remember being newly married and being so completely broke and having a big, young, hungry husband to feed every night.  I was positively overwhelmed and somewhat terrified.  He would come home and look at me to feed him.  Huh?  I barely knew how to make a sandwich let alone cook a dinner.  Bravely, I would suffer through a recipe that said "serves 8", thinking I could make this meal stretch for 4 days, only to have him eat the entire meal in one night //insert big tears//.  That first year, telling my Aunt Patty of my newlywed woes, she advised me to roast a big chicken or two (or even a turkey) on a Sunday: Roast chicken and gravy on Sunday.  Monday, leftovers.  Tuesday was for a concoction I called chicken tetrazzini, then on Wednesday, boil those bones and make chicken soup.  Important: don't let that young man see the entire chicken on the first night because he'll eat the whole thing.  Serve him and immediately hide the leftovers.  This way you'll get four meals for the price of one!  She was a genius!  Oh I know it sounds old-fashioned now, but I am going back many years and that's how it was.  Now we can all buy pre-roasted chickens from Costco or from the RoliRoti truck, and I know that saves time, and I've certainly done that, but when I make the time to do it myself, the beautiful fragrance of a roasting chicken wafting throughout the house, plus making luscious gravy, not to mention the supreme value of it all is so worth it.  Even though I don't have to count pennies anymore like I did as a newlywed, I am still a frugal cook, and a roasted chicken on a random Sunday is a blissful bargain I doubt I'll ever give up.  Now I've got to head back to the kitchen to clean the mess, hoping for the distraction of a trick-or-treater or two.  Goodbye 'til next and happy knitting and happy cooking.

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Marie Wallin's blanket extraordinaire KAL


What are you doing for the next 10 months?  If you have some spare knitting time, and you love to knit fairisle, or would like a supportive forum in which to hone your fairisle skills, why not join my friends Marie Wallin (knitter and designer) and Cindi Brumpton (knitter and blogger) in this new blanket knit-along.  There can be no doubt this blanket will become a treasured heirloom--plus it looks like great fun with a dedicated Ravelry page that Cindi will moderate and in which Marie will participate.  Ravelry is the perfect forum for a KAL--it's where you'll meet like-minded people, get support, share triumphs, all the while making virtual friends from all over the world and have the joy of creating one gorgeous blanket. 

The blanket, designed by Marie Wallin, is inspired by Nordic and Scandinavian fairisle design and uses just 11 colors of the very beautiful Rowan Felted Tweed. The blanket is made up of 10 sections, each worked off the other except for sections 1 and 2. These sections are knitted separately and are sewn together, then section 3 is knitted off the joined sections. This means that the only sewing up is the seam between sections 1 and 2.

Being Nordic inspired, the fairisle patterns are more graphic.  Contrasting colors makes this blanket easier to knit than Marie's Fairisle Club 1 blanket and has easier repeats to follow.  It's quite spectacular, isn't it?

DETAILS: Booking is now live and the club will be limited to 500 members only. The knit-along will start on the 1st November and will run for 10 months.  (Please note, as of this posting, the email and printed options are now sold out. There are still places available for the DIGITAL membership only.)

Digital membership -  £87.  The Digital membership is for the 10 digital patterns and the digital version of the HOW TO booklet, including a link to the HOW TO fairisle video.

FINISHED SIZE: The blanket measures 148cm wide x 170cm long.

YARN USAGE: The blanket uses Rowan Felted Tweed. The quantities below include an extra 10%.

Carbon 159         2 x 50g balls (73g)                             
Barn Red 196      4 x 50g balls (195g)
Stone 190            6 x 50g balls (263g)                          
Celadon 184        2 x 50g balls (61g)
Ancient 172         4 x 50g balls (175g)                           
Avocado 161        1 x 50g ball (22g)
Phantom 153        5 x 50g balls (211g)                           
Ginger 154           1 x 50g ball (20g)
Camel 157           4 x 50g balls (198g)                           
Cinnamon 175     3 x 50g balls (125g)
Boulder 195         1 x 50g ball (32g)

Due to the difficulty in getting Rowan Felted Tweed in some areas, Marie recommends Jamieson's of Shetland Spindrift in the following colors as an alternative.

Slate 125                     3 x 25g balls (sub for FT Carbon 159)              
Moorland 195              8 x 25g balls (sub for FT Barn Red 196)
Lichen 1130               11 x 25g balls (sub for FT Stone 190)     
Laurel 329                    3 x 25g balls (sub for FT Celadon 184)
Woodgreen 318            8 x 25g balls (sub for FT Ancient 172)   
Granny Smith 1140      1 x 25g ball (sub for FT Avocado 161)
Birch 252                     9 x 25g balls (sub for FT Phantom 153)
Paprika 261                  1 x 25g ball (sub for FT Ginger 154)
Camel 141                    8 x 25g balls (sub for FT Camel 157)    
Burnt Umber 1190       4 x 25g balls (sub for FT Cinnamon 175)
Steel 320                      2 x 25g balls (sub for FT Boulder 195)

Now, even with the beautiful color option, I imagine more than a few knitters will go rogue and change the colors up.  I'll be looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!

I'd love to know if any of my readers have joined or are considering joining this KAL.  Please, let me know!

Helpful Links

Club info on Marie's website is here.

Purchase the digital club version here

Join the moderated Ravelry KAL forum here.

Please post your comment here.

xoxo from me, and as always, happy knitting!



Friday Anew

Here's my Friday Anew.  There are two reasons why I absolutely love love love this sweater.  First is the yarn.  Blend No. 1 (batch 1) is Ysolda Teague's first venture into yarn manufacturing.  I hopped on it right away because I know that special edition yarns like this sell out quickly, often in the first hour.  This did sell out quickly, but she has made subsequent batches of the same blend, and of this posting, it's available.  

I've met Ysolda a few times at knit conventions and she is an absolutely adorable little sprite with a contagious enthusiasm and love for knitting and all things fiber.  When I read that she had collaborated with John Arbor to come up with a yarn, I imagined it would be nothing short of fantastic.  It is.  It's an undyed blend of Merino (50%), Polwarth (40%), Zwartbles (10%).  This yarn is so soft, who needs cashmere.  The wool is grown in the UK and milled by John Arbor Textiles in Exmoor.  In the hand it feels full and round and behaves like a champ with each stitch cozying up to the next with a little hint of bloom to fill in any holes or spaces.  The fabric is dense and feels quite warm.  I already said it's soft, but I'm not particularly sensitive to wool, thank heavens, and only the most unlucky would find Ysolda's yarn uncomfortable.  I used a size 5 needle and got 22 sts. to the inch.  It's a good value too, with 344 yards in a 100 gr. skein.

The pattern is perfection. I love knitting contiguous sleeves, and although this is only my second time doing that, I'm a total convert.  Ankestrick's patterns are often, like this one, pretty simple, relying on fit and small details that let your very gorgeous yarn take center stage.   Besides the contiguous sleeve technique (and so of course being knit top-down and in-the-round) it has a faux slip-stitch seam that runs down the front, sides and arms; just a teensy bit of detail that I love.  Her patterns are all well written and easy to follow. The sweater is meant to be worn oversized with several inches of positive ease, and even though I knit the smallest size and made back darts and waist shaping, I feel that I could have adjusted the pattern to make smaller, but then again, I do like the look and feel of positive ease, so I'm quite happy.  

I'm my husband's nightmare when I ask him to photograph me in my sweaters.  I insist on dozens of photographs and I'm unhappy with every one.  He really dreads those photo sessions, and so do I.  He went off to play golf today so I thought on this very sunny but chilly day I would let my computer be my photographer.  The pictures never come out all that well, and I still do complain plenty, but at least the computer doesn't threaten to quit! 

My Ravelry project page
Friday Anew by Ankestrick
Blend No. 1 by Ysolda Teague

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free patterns for Vintage Kidsilk Haze

There's a new yarn in town, Rowan Vintage Kidsilk Haze.  Vintage is similar to KSH in almost every way: same content--70% kid mohair/30% silk, and same yardage--229 yards, however Vintage stands out with it's more prominent white silk core that when knitted, has an antique, vintagy look.  It's really quite beautiful.  KSH is one of Rowan's core yarns and is always at the tip-top of my yarn favs list so seeing this reincarnation made me very happy.  As with all Rowan Selects yarns, Vintage comes with a small bundle of free supporting patterns.  The patterns are timeless and elegant; the very best way to showcase this very special yarn. The patterns are available for instant free download on Ravelry!  YAY! Of course, all the patterns above can be knit with the original KSH, my favorite yarn to knit and wear.  Enjoy!

Instantly download the free patterns here.

 KSH Vintage is being shipped to your local store today.

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vintage octoberfest

I want to share some photos from a party we attended last Saturday--our dear friend Karen's annual Octoberfest.  This has always been an outdoor party and in the 25 years she has been hosting this much-loved party, rain has never fallen on Octoberfestday.  Until Saturday.  Rain was forecast for the entire weekend and boy, did it came down.  Not that a soul in California would ever complain about rain, mind you.  Karen's house was beautiful and inviting with fires lit in every fireplace, but in October, rain or no, we are not quite ready to give up our outdoor living.  So instead we clustered under the eaves and marveled at actual water falling from the skies. 

One thing is certain, Karen loves to have her friends over and goes out of her way to make it special.  Everything was perfect for the evening with twinkling lights and candlelight, warty pumpkins, good friends, welcome rain, and delicious homemade food.  Life is good.

Octoberfest Menu

Wine and Beer
Assorted Cheeses and Nuts

Assorted Grilled Sausages with a variety of Mustards
Green Salad
Hot German Potato Salad

Apple Strudel

At the party I was chatting with a group of girlfriends who were all wearing sweaters.  With big winks, they all made a big point of asking each other if they had knit their sweaters--but no one asked me.  Very funny, girls!

And since I'm on the subject of sweaters--I finished my sweater using Ysolda's Blend One, Batch One.  Heaven!  I hope to share it soon, plus a few more I've finished.

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