Lalita

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Don’t everybody keel over from all the excitement, but it’s another WGK blog post and another new design in the same week! Let me tell you how Lalita, aka The Rainbow Sweatshirt, was born. Back in early March I started to get a design itch. My Instagram feed was overflowing with handknits in black and white marled wool, and I wanted a piece of that action. I knew exactly the shape of pullover I wanted to make and just what its features and proportions would be, and I wanted to make something that could work for a little girl or a grown woman. I figured I’d begin with the little girl version, since the sample would practically knit itself and since I’m possessed of a little girl to try it on. Happy Knits had just enough black-and-white Cascade Duo on sale. I was all set to pull the trigger when I realized what I was doing.

My kid is four and a half. She doesn’t want a black-and-white pullover. That’s what I want. What Ada wants is the loudest yarn in the store. The yarn that’s as bright and madcap as her personality.

Lalita

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So there you have it. Instead of the Duo, I brought home this Madeline Tosh Vintage in the Holi Festival colorway. If you’ve never lived on the Subcontinent or somewhere with a big Hindu population, Holi is a spring festival, the festival of colors. It’s a day of joy and fun that you can’t possibly miss because of rang khelne (that’s Nepali, I’m not sure about the Hindi), color play. Everyone has packets of brightly colored powders, water balloons, squirt guns, etc., and the ambushing and merriment proceeds from there. (The water makes the powder stick better, you see.) Everybody is fair game—old people, little kids, total strangers, tall white exchange students.

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I was right on the mark. My daughter fell on that bag of yarn like a pirate on booty, complete with lustful chortling. When she saw the sweater taking shape on the needles, she exclaimed, “Rainbow sweatshirt!!! Just looking at it makes me want to wear it right now!” You can’t ask for better enthusiasm about Mama’s handknits than that, so I knew I’d done right.

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Lalita is a Sanskrit girls’ name meaning “playful,” because this is a pullover built for play. It’s got lots of positive ease, a swingy high-low hem (shaped with short rows but also by the garter-stitch panel at the center front), and pockets for treasures. It’s got modified drop shoulders that don’t add bulk at the underarm and comfortable sleeves, neither too slim nor too baggy. Slipped stitches at the sides produce a faux seam for visual interest and to add a fold in the fabric. The worsted-weight yarn is worked a little over gauge for plenty of stretchy drape. In short, I love everything about it.

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And about this terrific growing girl, who offered up all these (and many more) silly poses without any coaching. Glad you like your sweater, kiddo.

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The pattern is in the grading stage, where I work out the numbers for larger and smaller sizes. I’m thinking 2-12, but chime in if you have other ideas! A women’s version will be on the way, too.

Sin nomine

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Meet this nameless black shawl. It is very warm. It is very soft. It is rather more fun to knit than you might expect for this yardage of stockinet.

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It is worked from end to end, beginning with a strip of cable and a pick-up along the edge of said strip, with short rows to curve the cable up around both long sides so that the edging can continue right along with the knitting. The piece widens gradually as you proceed toward the center.

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From the back, it looks like a triangle. This bit is accomplished with short rows. I promise they are not as difficult as you might fear. You might even enjoy them.

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(Please pardon the glowing weirdness of my forehead. No amount of post-production can eliminate it. I am a beacon. The British are coming by land.)

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The fronts are generous in length. There’s plenty of fabric to wrap over one or both shoulders (your favorite shawl pin would look just right here), or you can leave them to dangle. I don’t know if securing them with a belt is currently an approved fashion, but why not? It’s comfortable and convenient and I think it looks rather smart, really.

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This shawl used exactly 3.5 skeins of Cascade EcoCloud wool, or approximately 575 yards. I knit it on a US #10.5 (6.5mm) needle, which really makes the project fly. If you’d like to test it, let me know here or on Ravelry. I am working up numbers for a lighter gauge (same dimensions) and should have a draft pattern ready by the end of the week! Maybe I’ll have thought of a name by then…

In development

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I’ve been silent here, but not for lack of material! My camera is finally back in action with new batteries and a cord to connect directly to the computer. The Yosemite system update caused me no end of compatibility headaches, one of which was that my card reader no longer functions. Grrrr. Anyway, my first attempt at a photo session was a pretty poor showing (not the fault of my father, who was clicking away for me; I set the depth of field too shallow and then moved too much, which means we have lots of fuzzy pictures and only a few clear ones), but here’s a slightly blurry teaser to hint at one of several new patterns I’ve been working on. This black shawl was a commission from a parishioner at the cathedral to replace an old one she’d worn out. I inwardly groaned at the thought of all that black knitting, but as I began to play with construction ideas I got more excited about it. Annette of Happy Knits looked at the original shawl with me and puzzled through the options; together we hatched a plan that resulted in a simple and elegant piece that knits up quickly. It’s mostly motoring along in stockinet, but there’s some unusual shaping and a cabled edge to keep your mind engaged.

This first version was in Cascade Eco Cloud, a lovely soft wool with a chained construction that lends a pleasing texture to the stockinet surface. I’m happily anticipating working up a second sample to keep in Woolfolk FAR merino, which is also a chainette yarn.

Tomorrow I’ll post some more photos and see if anyone’s interested in a test knit. For now, I’ve got to attend to the children. We’re off to the grocery store to buy eggs for dyeing, and they’re just a little bit excited. I was saving onion skins, but didn’t begin in time (or make enough soup) and don’t think it’s worth trying to dye with the little I’ve got. Sigh. Next year…

(And that’s our neighbors’ beautiful flower garden in the background, not ours, alas. But we have big plans to spiff up our outdoor space now that the addition is finished. There will be columnar apple trees and green kiwis! And more blueberries!)