More Is More; Less Is a Bore

For many knitters, that headline and sneak peek photo together are enough of a clue. For those still puzzling it out, never fear. Here’s the dynamic duo behind the motto.

Yep, that’s Stephen West s&sand StevenBe.

I took a much-needed vacation day and headed to the self-proclaimed “Glitter Knitter’s” Minneapolis studio a few weeks ago for the “New Perspectives on Knitting with S-Squared” class.

It was mid-February and I was in dire need of some fun and inspiration — and an explosion of color. The Steph(v)ens did not disappoint. It was a solid 3 hours of knitting tips & tricks combined with unfiltered creativity. My favorite moment? Stephen’s unforgettable take on short rows with eyelets, explained through interpretive dance.

What a kick to see so many of their great knits in person. I was particularly inspired by the color play in these shawls. Can you say, dreaming of spring?

westknit-shawlsI’ve been fascinated with the construction of the Enchanted Mesa sweater since it was published and Izzy eagerly assured me she’d like one of her own to wear — a statement sweater with an interesting mix of colors.

So I brought a hefty assortment of yarn colors and weights to the class so I could start on it. Stephen consulted on color and sizing. Then I headed home to cast on and sneak in a few hours of knitting. And play with yarn weights and colors I did — sparkle mixed with mohair, DK with lace-weight and fingering. I’d made it through the sweater’s yoke and was pretty pleased with the boldness. But then I came to halt, knowing it would never work…

mesa-cowlWhy? Well, because I’d decided to let Izzy get creative with her hair…

izzy-squareAnd I knew the choice she’d picked meant that it was time to tone down the sweater.

Don’t believe me? Take a look.

Yep, version 2 of the Enchanted Mesa is now in full swing with a mostly black, white, and gray assortment of yarn.

Who needs a statement sweater when you have statement hair?

More than a Mile of Wool

Life is full of surprises. I know this. Yet, that simple fact never ceases to surprise me.

Back in November, it looked like Minnesota was in for a winter of epic proportions. We’d already logged a record subfreezing streak and more than one heavy snowfall. It looked like we were in for the sort of winter that’s, in fact, been playing out in other parts of the U.S. (Apologies to those who are living it.)

In response, I did what any good knitter does: started a project of equally epic proportions. I gathered up a couple thousand yards of beautiful hand-dyed Aran weight wool and set about creating a blanket that would keep me warm during the knitting — and serve as a lesson in perseverance.

Enter the knitting surprise to match the unexpected mild weather. I flew through the 1.57 miles of wool  in half the time I expected. (And, yes, I did the math. I’m crazy that way.) While I’m just now getting around to blogging the blanket, it was done and blocked before the end of January.

Kex6Pattern: Kex Blanket by Stephen West
Yarn: TFA Green Label (Sand, Brick, Tartan & Robin’s Egg Grey)

Kex2Between watching the yarn color changes play out and the rhythmic-but-not-dull pattern, I loved everything about making this blanket. And I love the FO.

Sure, it’s still mid-February and I know that winter is hardly a done deal. (What would Minnesota be without a March blizzard?) But I’m not worried. I have a fantastic queen-sized blanket to pull me through it.

FO: Vertices Unite

I finished my Vertices Unite just under the wire of the #tfashawls2014 June deadline. (#tfashawls2014 runs through the summer) Special thanks to Jane for cheering me through section 3 and Patchelle for cheering me through the i-cord bindoff!

Here’s Izzy modeling the blocked shawl last Sunday on her birthday. (Aside: I now have a teen. How did that happen?)


Pattern: Vertices Unite by Stephen West
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts fingering & DK mix (canyon, iris, stone, lucky penny, ravine)

vertices-square2Along with being a fun knit, what I especially love about this shawl is how different it looks when you drape and wrap it different ways. The medium (aka DK) size I created is so squishy and cozy, it’s almost got me dreaming of fall.

Pretty sure another one of these is in my future — a small one would be a good way to use up some fingering scraps. How often do you knit the same pattern more than once?

WIP Wednesday: Vertices Unite

I’ve been monogamously knitting on my WestKnits shawl in hopes of finishing before the TFA KAL deadline (end of the month). Was really worried that I might not make it for awhile there… But I managed to power through the challenging middle sections thanks in no small part to encouragement from Jane. But now I’m on section 5 and not worried about it or section 6. (And trying not to think too hard about the i-cord finish!)



WIP Wednesday: Vertices Unite

Last week I decided I wanted to join in on some KAL fun (#westknitskal and #tfashawls2014) so I cast on a twofer, drawing from stash. Here’s my start on Vertices Unite by Stephen West, using a combination of DK and fingering weight TFA yarn.


Section A, which I’m only about 1/3 done with, combines Iris and Canyon in alternating rows. I added the next two colors that will be up, Lucky Penny and Stone, in the background to help spur me along. So far it’s an easy knit but there are some challenging — or at least new to me — sections coming up. Looking forward to seeing if I can pull them off!

FO: Beach Glass Spectra

First things first: Izzy is recovering nicely from her sprained wrist — phew! Thanks for all the well wishes. Now on to the knitting. Remember that rut I mentioned about a month ago?

Pattern: Spectra by Stephen West
Yarn: Noro Taiyo Sock (S8)
Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light (Antique Lace)

Well, I decided to embrace said rut when I couldn’t wait to cast on another shawl the minute I finished up this one. Yep, I signed up for the the 12 shawls in 2012 challenge. Crazy? Perhaps.

And for those keeping track of my  New Year’s “three new techniques” challenge, I’m counting this Spectra and its short rows as #2 down. Sure, I did a few short rows when making those holiday Malabrigo loafers. But here I worked on learning how to conceal the wraps — thinking of Cat Bordhi and her excellent tutorial each time I lifted a “yarn necklace” (all 500+ of them).

FO: Just Ducky Chadwick

First off, heartfelt thanks to everyone who weighed in here or on Facebook to my “to frog or not to frog?” question. As you can see in the above photo, I decided to keep my “design modification” and finish without shame.

Pattern: Chadwick by Stephen West
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts, Blue Label Fingering
(Mallard and Chestnut)

I’m a bit sad this project has come to an end — it was that perfect combination of interesting but not too challenging to knit. And the yarn… Gorgeous and so aptly named. I’m a MN-raised girl who’s always loved watching mallards on the lake. The interplay of blue and green is spot on — and makes me so happy.

Credit goes to Albuquerque, though, for today’s bright January sun and running water to pool my the shawl alongside.

WIP Wednesday: Just Ducky Chadwick

In a strange turn of events, I think it’s because I love this one so much that it keeps getting pushed to the side. I used the promise of it back in October to tackle a pile of finishing. Then it was set to the side for the rest of my holiday knitting, with full knowledge that it would travel to MN with me and be my reward vacation knitting.

All well and good, or at least I thought so. Then I passed the halfway mark only to discover that I had unintentionally made a “design modification.” See that band of three Chestnut stripes in the sea of Mallard? Those are supposed to be purl ridges.

I don’t know if I had the pattern wrong in my head from the start, or if the stopping and starting caused me to forget that detail. Crazy thing is I even wondered while knitting them, “Hmmm. Why did he start these rows on the opposite side?” Doh.

To frog or not to frog? It was good timing that I had a TFA Knitalong to cast on for in January and reason to set this aside for a good think. At the moment I’m leaning towards embracing my unintentional individuality and carrying on — although I do have moments of wanting to just rip back and do it “right.” But then I wonder how much that’s prompted by my desire to hang onto this WIP just a little bit longer.

So I’m throwing the question out to you. To frog or not to frog? That is today’s question.

FO: Deep Waters Clockwork

You know life is a little too bustling when the kid asks to stay home and chill on a three-day weekend.

So after our back-to-back Saturday commitments and the usual weekend chores, we spent the rest of Labor Day weekend watching movies — Rio (meh) and Rango (fun) — and hanging out at the pool.

And, no surprise, there was lots of knitting. With “Deep Waters” and “Mermaid Lagoon” as the yarn color names, this third in my West Knits collection just begged for a poolside shot. And since it was such a relaxing knit, a shot in the Zen Garden.

Pattern: Clockwork by Stephen West
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal and Imagination Hand Painted


And, as you’ve no doubt come to expect, there needed to be a few Izzy modeling shots as well.