Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Striped Esjan Shawl and Early Fall Baking

With all the looming holidays from Jewish, Christian, Pagan, and Secular you are definitely going to need a great party shawl.  And it doesn't matter what age you are it is always fun to get dressed up and wear something flirty with a bit flounce to a party.   The Striped Esjan shawl delivers just that with a sophisticated vibe to boot.  Roll on with the holidays!

I fell in love with this design a long time ago and made several attempts to knit it using contrasting stripes (as the design called for) but that just didn't work for me. I think the stripes made it too busy or something.  In any event I forgot about this pattern until I was trying to decide what to make with this gorgeous variegated yarn.  When walla I serendipitous remembered that I had some smoky grey mohair yarn for contrast and after that it was an easy decision to turn it into a Striped Esjan sans stripes, if that's possible.

Knitting with this yarn reminded me how much I love a variegated colorway.  For one thing I love how a highly variegated yarn becomes your own unique colorway based on how you use it.  For example if I had used this yarn to knit a pair of socks the yarn would have looked very different because the short rows would have pooled the colors very differently.  Or if I had used a different needle size, shawl design, or contrasting color it would have look different as well. With all the recent hype over speckled and brightly colored yarns I'd forgotten the unique beauty of variegated yarns. Where as a speckled yarn pretty much creates an identifiable homogeneous design.

It's thanks to Andi who writes the popular blog MySistersknitter that I found this yarn.  She often features lesser known Indie yarn dyers. When this dyer was on Andi's blog she called her shop Mountain Girl Yarns but subsequently she closed that shop and has since reemerged as Woolou Yarns. So many LYS and Esty sellers have closed over the last few years.  I don't know if that is due to fewer people knitting or the state of the economy in general.  I do know that there are some very popular dyers who can't dye yarn fast enough for demand but there are many more independent yarn sellers who struggle to make a living.  I try and be adventuresome and support the lesser known dyers.  After all you never know when you'll find a gem like this yarn! And diversity of choice is good for everyone.  We don't all want to be walking around wearing the same popular colorways, do we?  As awesome as some of them are! Note to self: snag a skein of speckled birthday cake ASAP. Incidentally I checked on Ravelry and there are only 7 projects made using Woolou Yarns.  Andi's beautiful Linus is one of them.  My yarn has been discontinued.

Particularls:  Striped Esjan; US 4 and 6 needles; 1 skein SW BFL/Nylon (464 yrd) dyed by Mountain Girl Yarns (colorway Big Creek) now known as Woolou Yarn; 1 skein kidsilk haze dyed by Hedgehog Fibers (colorway Crystal - left over from my Northern Skies Shawl).  I knit the body of the shawl (and all parts using Mountain Girl Yarns) using US 4 needles and I knit the kidsilk haze section using US 6 needles.  Because I had less of the Mountain Girl Yarn than the pattern required I knit the body until I had used 60% of my skein (leaving 40% for the edging).  That was a pretty good guesstimate and I almost made it... I ran out of yarn halfway through the BO and switched to a complimentary green color to finish.

Previous designs by Stephen West that I've knit include Pogona; The Doodler; and Marled Magic (pictured below).  I don't see myself doing a full post on Marled Magic but I am very happy with how it came out.  I knit the large (shanklet) size and I know that Steve is looking forward to using it this winter as a throw.

Early Fall Baking ~

It's not technically Fall yet.  I know that.  But September 1st saw me begin my day happily munching on a fragrant slice of pumpkin spice bread.  Already I feel the mornings are cooler and the evenings are getting dark earlier and small signs of fall are appearing about the house.  Soon colorful gourds will be predominately displayed and apple butter will be bubbling away on my stove top.  It's a very happy time for me as it celebrates many of the things that make life special including a welcoming home with a loving family, wonderful food, and an appreciation for the harvest.  And of course I get to wear the sweaters and socks that I spend so much time knitting!

If you are interesting in trying this Sourdough Pumpkin Spice Bread it's a free recipe from King Arthur Flour.  As it's made with a sour dough starter it's not your typical sweet bread.  It's more a breakfast bread that is nice toasted with your morning coffee, and I really enjoy it.  But if you prefer a sweet pumpkin bread you might try my Pumpkin Bread with Walnut Topping.

Until next time be well, love well and slow down and notice the early signs of Fall.  They can be subtle here in Southern California but they can be seen in the surrounding foliage, shifting daylight, and falling temperatures.  May you also have fun on your search for the perfect gourds and pumpkins to decorate your home!