Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most Shawl

Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most Shawl

With leftovers from It’s My Life Shawl and being a big admirer of West’s designs, I am trying to replicate Exploration Station into a crochet pattern.

As you can see, my swirls are not as definitive as West’s, but my is reversible and I there colors are different on each side! I might try again with taller stitches to better replicate the swirl pattern, but I think math is definitely needed to figure out the formula for short-rowing, and I don’t want to become a mathematician also!

My plan today is to start the simulated brioche using back/front post double or treble crochets. After that, I may need to purchase more yarn to finish this project.

In case you were wondering about the project name – Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most by Ella Fitzgerald – I have been really going through a tough emotional state lately and I think pink and green really represent spring to me the most.

It’s My Life Shawl: Complete

It's My Life Shawl

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Cast On: October 31, 2014
Cast Off: April, 14, 2015
Pattern: Exploration Station by Stephen West
Yarn A: MadelineTosh Merino Light (Fiber Content: 100% Superwash Merino Wool, Yarn Color: Vintage Sari; Yarn Weight: 1, Fingering)
Yarn B: MadelineTosh Merino Light (Fiber Content: 100% Superwash Merino Wool, Yarn Color: Jade; Yarn Weight: 1, Fingering)
Yarn C: MadelineTosh Merino Light (Fiber Content: 100% Superwash Merino Wool, Yarn Color: Leaf; Yarn Weight: 1, Fingering)
Yarn D: MadelineTosh Merino Light (Fiber Content: 100% Superwash Merino Wool, Yarn Color: Filigree; Yarn Weight: 1, Fingering)
Needle: US 6
Dimensions: 70 W x 35 H inches (approximate, after blocking)

Five months! A friend of mine asked me to participate in Stephen West 2014 Mystery Knit-A-Long. Being a fan of some of West’s designs and having access to some yarn, I decided to participate.

I was so excited when I discovered the beginning of this shawl was similar to Merging Ripples by Kyoko Nakayoshi, which I had been planning to knit up in lime green and cobalt blue. And then it turned into brioche. I had never done brioche and it looked simple enough to learn, so I started immediately without practicing. I got about six rows in and discovered a mistake I could not fix. I frogged back to the end of section one – fortunately having the correct number of stitches – ran a life line and started My Funny Valentine Cowl to practice.

After I finished the cowl, I resumed It’s My life and felt like a professional and seasoned knitter. From that point forward, I encountered no problems and enjoyed the knitting of this shawl. Knitting of this shawl taught me new knitting stitches/techniques, and for that, I am grateful. The i-cord border is really interesting and I may use that again in the future. I also really liked the stripes before the chevrons and will definitely incorporate that into the shawl I will make with the leftovers.

This shawl derived it’s name – It’s My Life by Talk, Talk – because at the time I cast on, I had just been fired from my job at the yarn store and I was feeling defiant. There are a couple of mistakes that will stand out to a professional and smaller errors that could be considered imperceptible, but overall I am very proud of this project.

Price: USD $344.80

It’s My Life Shawl

It's My Life Shawl
It's My Life Shawl
©A Hooker’s World

Aiyaa! I finally resumed this section two (brioche) of the Stephen West Exploration Station mystery knit-a-long with confidence at my group last night, having finished My Funny Valentine Cowl. Well, wouldn’t you know that at the end of the first row my stitch arrangement was off. Feeling confident, I continued with row two and about halfway through I found my error: two knits next to each other. So now I am tinking back to the error in row one.

So frustrating!

My Funny Valentine Cowl

My Funny Valentine Cowl

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Cast On: January 2015
Cast Off: March 12, 2015
Pattern: Improvised by Hooker Leo of A Hooker’s World
Yarn A: Red Heart Super Saver (Fiber Content: 100% Acrylic; Yarn Color: 0722 Pretty ‘n Pink; Yarn Weight: 4, Worsted)
Yarn B: Red Heart Super Saver (Fiber Content: 100% Acrylic: Yarn Color: 0319 Cherry Red; Yarn Weight: 4, Worsted)
Needle Size: US 8
Finished Size: approximately 72-inch circumference x 6.5-inch width

I can’t believe I finished in time for the Basic Two-Color Brioche Workshop I am teaching this Saturday at the Sand and Sea Knitting Guild. This project started out of It’s My Life Shawl (Stephen West Mystery Knit-A-Long: Exploration Station), which called for two-color brioche knitting; a skill I had never attempted. It seemed easy enough when I began, but then I dropped a stitch and went into a complete panic, as I had not inserted a life line. Fortunately, I was able to frog it back to the previous section and maintain the correct stitch count.

After that traumatic experience, I figured I better practice two-color brioche knitting, so I grabbed some acrylic from my stash and set out to learn by repetition. I’ll admit that I had to restart this project at least five times, but one I became focused I discovered that I had about a foot. I decided to continue practicing until it was long enough (my preferred length: 6 feet) for a scarf or a cowl; obviously deciding on a cowl. It wasn’t until it came to the seaming that I decided against giving it a twist. Actually, I am quite impressed with the neatness of the seam, as I was worried about how to bind off the brioche knitting.

Red Heart can sometimes be scratchy, but as I continued to work with these two skeins the scratchiness dissipated and I began to experience more softness. When I launder this cowl, I will use extra fabric softener for increased softness. The name of this project – My Funny Valentine by Sarah Vaughan – hints to the fact that I was hoping to finish by Valentine’s Day, but after a while of knitting, I began to get bored, quickly crocheting Circle In The Sand Mobius Cowl as a diversion.

With this project I finally learned how beneficial repetition is when it comes to learning a new technique. I can put the project down, pick it up and know exactly where I am in the pattern repeat; I began to notice how little mistakes were created by knitting the wrong strands; and most importantly, I could identify and fix mistakes before I got to far along.

Price: USD $50.00

By Mojee’s, I think I have it!

Basic Two-Color Brioche Knit
Basic Two-Color Brioche Knit
©A Hooker’s World

It all started with the Stephen West Exploration Station (AHW Project Name: It’s My Life Shawl) Mystery Knit-A-Long. I am supposed to be doing this with a friend of mine from One Skein Short Group (Every Thursday Evening; 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm @ The Vineyard Christian Fellowship‘s Coffee Connection, in the Gallery Room – dim lighting, at least, to my taste. EXCEPTION: Second Thursday of every month we meet at same edifice, but different room: The Park Room). I had never done brioche, but his tutorial seemed easy enough to follow, so I proceeded with confidence. About six rows in, I had dropped a stitch and had a complete traffic jam.

Not looking to frogging, I procrastinated. I’ll admit I sighed with relief when Ania injured herself New Year 2015 and was not able to attend the group; embarrassed by my inability to catch on to the brioche so quickly. I finally frogged about a week ago and was quite relieved that I had maintained the correct amount of stitches. The first thing I did was run a life line.

The next thing I did was grab two skeins of Red Heart Super Saver (Fiber Content: 100% Acrylic; Yarn Color A: Cherry Red, Yarn Color B: Pretty ‘n’ Pink; Yarn Weight: 4, worsted) and start practicing. After about three attempts, each ending with mistakes most attributable to lack of attention, I finally diverted my attention briefly by making two extra large yarn cakes from the skeins.

My third attempt – after about three tries – has resulted in the following; the most important thing learned: Attention Required! My knitting teacher, Ana, used to say “admire your work often.” This is a good practice when learning basic two-color brioche, or any new stitching method. The final benefit of much practice: you learn to read your stitches much better and can learn to un-knit, if necessary.

The picture above represents my best attempt at learning this technique. I hope I am not jinxing myself with this post. I am going to continue practicing until the skeins run out, hoping to become qualified enough to teach this technique, as I am teaching a workshop at the Sand and Sea Knitting Guild (meets second Saturday of each month; St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church) in about two weeks time.

Even as I become more knowledgeable about this technique, my mind is running with the thought of how this cowl would look with a mobius cast on, changing bias of the brioche knit.

Brioche Knitting

Brioche Knitting

It seamed easy enough when Ania explained it to me, after completing section two of the Stephen West Exploration Station Mystery Knit Along. However, watching the video did not provide enough information for me to create a swatch. In most of the other videos, not one person indicated the correct stitch cast on number. In Stephen’s video, he says to cast on an odd number, but I think generally, you need an even number. I created my swatch with his I-cord border but kept getting stuck on row 3. Also, that yarn over/slip was tricky. West kept performing in one motion, which confused me. I started by doing each step and after I caught on, I changed to the one-motion method. Two days later, I finally figured it out. So now, it’s on to section two.

The key features of Brioche knitting are a dense, ribbed fabric, which highlights one of two colors on either side. In my swatch below, the front is red and the back is a plum.

It’s My Life Shawl: Clue 1 Complete

It's My Life Shawl
It's My Life Shawl
©A Hooker’s World

Granted, I am not the fastest knitter, but I love this so far. I was going to make the Merging Ripple Shawl by Kyoko Nakayoshi, but I am really loving this portion of Stephen West’s Exploration Station Mystery Knit Along, which emphasizes the short row turns (holes). However, as I am working this with my friend Ania and I am not pleased with what is coming up. While I am glad to be able to get some brioche experience, I love this shawl just that way it is. I may try to figure out the increase on my own and make one larger.

I am disappointed that I bought such fine yarn for this project, and find myself wishing I had made this mystery knit along with something cheaper. This is the primary reason I don’t like mystery knit alongs; you never know if you are going to like the pattern. After the brioche, which is the next section there is some kind of grid pattern that, in my opinion, is atrocious. Because I already know what the shawl will look like, there is not much of a mystery anymore.

I am glad to have finished clue one, as I told Ania I would be on brioche by the next meeting of One Skein Short, which is in tomorrow.