Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rethinking the plan

After flying through the two feet of the Digitessas, I thought I was destined to make this sock in a rainbow of colors. This weekend's knitting bodes ill for such an endeavor.


By the number of mistakes I've had to fix on the legs I have to concede I may be done with this pattern. Such is a knitter's life.

Monday, April 28, 2008

In this, I can never be "most people"

Most people can handle surprises. For example, most people can wait until the gift giving occasion arrives before giving the gift. I cannot.

When I was six or seven I was charged with bringing my sister to her surprise birthday party at a family friend's home. Before we arrived, she not only knew there was a party, but my excessive exuberance led me tell her what her present was from our mom. I don't know what those adults were thinking, giving me such a heavy responsibility. I was not to be trusted with surprises, nosiree. Poor sis.

Now that I am a married woman, living in the cocoon of married life, I don't do much damage anymore. I have learned to wait to open my own gifts until Christmas day, but I have not yet learned restraint when it comes to withholding the pleasure of others.

My latest accomplishment was not getting on the cell phone to tell hubby I was surprising him with an ice cream cake, once I picked it up last December. I was able to hold off until about a half an hour after he came home from work. It was the best I could do, truly.

I write this all down as my disclaimer, because it turns out I do not have the ability to wait until a lace project is done to see what the finished product may look like. Yesterday afternoon, after working another repeat, I steam ironed my WIP.


I'm pretty in love with it. The pattern is the Sunshine and Shadows lace triangle, from Evelyn Clark's Knitting Lace Triangles. After getting through one repeat yesterday, I think I have a pretty good idea why no one can be found by googling, or on ravelry, to be knitting this particular triangle.

If there is just one shortcoming in Ms. Clark's wonderful book, it is that the book is written more like a stitch dictionary. With a pattern, you hopefully get a picture, and then you get the written directions and/or some charting. The patterns in this book consist of a verbal outline, such as "use the medallion lace beginning pattern and seven repeats of the lace leaf pattern." It is up to the reader to go looking for each of the charts in the verbal description.

I chose my triangle based on the fact it wasn't one, but three different laces. I wasn't sure the monotony of a one lace project would hold my attention. Not yet understanding the directions, and how that meant I would be toggling between seven different charts on five or six different pages, I chose what may be the most logistically challenging pattern in the book.

Jumping from one section to another, all the while keeping one's place, as well as learning the basics of lace knitting, was difficult. I finally broke down and took the author's advice and xeroxed the different sections, taping them together sequentially to form the pattern. This should make things much easier.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hubris

Before last night, this was the extent of my lace knitting:


Maybe 30 rows? Maybe? The pattern is called shadows and something or other, or something or other and shadows. For the life of me I can't seem to remember the name of it and the google is of no help. Not even ravelry has this pattern, which is from Evelyn Clark's Knitting Lace Triangles booklet. It's a beautiful pattern that she showcases knitted in garter stitch. I've chosen to go the knitted route, as I'm not so big on the garter stitch look with lace.

That little piece of knit was HOURS in the making, as the first transition from one lace to another kept tripping me up in the same spot at least five (FIVE!!!) times, maybe more. (It's been two weeks since I knit this, so my memory is notsogood.) I can say in very good faith that I am an expert in making the same error, in the same spot, each and every time. So much the expert, that I finally understood how to account for it flawlessly (not hubris). I really think there may be a problem with one chart, but I wont know until I hit that transition again.

Maybe that's why I think I am capable of designing a lace triangle myself, or maybe it's just an innate hubris. Or maybe I just love misery. Or maybe shmaybe, what does it matter? I did start work on my first prototype last night. It looks more like a cable project at the moment, as I'm just trying to work through knitting the pattern via increases. A way of lacing up the purl stitches came to me during that magical state of waking this morning.


I just love this yarn; the heathered shades are fantabulous.

Before I go I want to share something that Claudia, over at Bavgirl, posted. Interweave's Knittingdaily site is offering up The Top 5: The Best of Interweave Knits Readers' Choice Awards patterns for free on a limited basis. For me, this is pertinent because it includes Evelyn Clark's swallowtail shawl, which is a pattern I want in my stash. The download will be availabe until May 14.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday just isn't Friday, no matter how you play it pal

I didn't knit a stitch yesterday, and I failed to even blog about the loveliest lovely that came in the mail (at the speed of light!) straight outta Cal-i-for-Ni-A on Tuesday, an inchworm just in time for spring:


This is the skein I purchased from Nell's destash sale and it did not disappoint. Of course, all I see is a Digitessa in this yarn, but ya never know, I could surprise everyone, including myself, and branch out. Either way, thank you Nell!

What's really on my mind is why I am ignoring both the knitting and the blogging of my lace project. Is it the yarn texture? Is it my lack of interest in following an unfamiliar pattern? Both? But before a decision was made I had a meltdown over a work situation and it was during my pep talks in the car, occasionally catching glimpses of what a beautiful weather I was ignoring, that inspiration struck.

I should design a lace project using the twining vine leaf pattern that I love so very dearly. Yeah, and knit it in a luscious green malabrigo lace weight. Yeah. Me, design lace when I've barely begun to internalize the basic structural components of lace knitting. Sounds like a plan. Hahaha! Not?

Well, I've nixed the malabrigo, because lets face it, I'm not 100% ready to stash. More importantly I'm not ready to ruin the project by swatching in the yarn I intend to use. I'll probably lose interest and be stuck with a yarn I have learned to loath. This segue came fast and furious because the truth is, I already have a yarn, with enough yardage for a large shawl, which I am more than willing to learn to loath. It's also the perfect shade of green.


Being worsted weight might give me a leg up with the designing, too. Well, maybe, maybe not, but there's no need to fully accept this now, is there? No, there isn't, I agree.

So the consensus? I know I'm going to be miserable over this work situtation and I can do nothing about it, so I might as well transfer that nervous misery into designing. Because all things being equal the frustrations I feel in designing are the same as what I'm feeling about that situation, so why not do something constructive with my misery? If I get results even remotely similar to my stole, I will be one happy camper. So, its decided.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Extra Needle, Anyone?

A big thanks to all of you for giving me your support, and your perspectives, on my recent foolishness. It definitely helps relieve some of the weight of it, you know?

I thought I would have some lace to show this week, at least, but no. I'm still so absorbed with my Digitessa's. Do you think I have enough needles in use? Ha.


The most challenging part of the La Digitessa pattern begins right after knitting up the heel. I tried many different methods, using a variety of needles and the best tool I found, through it all, is patience.

I have been seriously contemplating knitting this pattern in all the colors of the rainbow, à la Tiennie Knits. The only thing that could veer me off this path was grooving over Shannon's Embossed Leaves Socks. I have the most perfect yarn for this pattern. If I don't get the pattern soon, it just might be another pair of Digitessas.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Grade A Asshatery

I was feeling pretty punchy last Thursday afternoon and so considered every thought that came to mind as clever and funny. We all have those kind of days, right? Ergo, the post I made that day was stream of consciousness. Within an hour or so, as I was running errands, I began fretting in a big way. Did I seriously just insult an entire city and think it was funny? I did.

I obsessed for hours over whether or not what I did was offensive and later that evening I made my husband read the post to get his perspective. Where I had begun to think I made the most egregious faux pas, he assured me could not be mistaken as anything but an attempt to be funny. It was clear I was being tongue in cheek, rather than a grade A asshat.

So, I felt better, but not necessarily relieved. The hours of worry made me reflect on how narrow minded I sometimes am, and sadder still, how narrow minded I can come across as. Self-disapprobation is par for the course with me, but the slightest notion that I could be the author of any form of unprovoked insult invokes a shame that is deeply painful to me.

I am thankful to have the ability to see myself through a different lens, and hopeful I can become a better person because of it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Technology, smechnology; is it the weekend yet?

It remains a mystery why the USB port on my camera refuses to work. It's thrown my blogging off kilter. When I finally had access to my pictures at the same time I had time to blog, I lacked inspiration because everything I had to blog about felt so yesterday's newsy.

So what have I been thinking about? I'm excited to take more time off; I'm padding an extra day and a half onto a three day holiday weekend (Monday is Patriot's Day aka Boston Marathon day in Massachusetts.) and glad to be facing some bonafide spring weather. I was surprised to see these last week:


I always associate daffodils with the beginning of May, not the beginning of April. I know I'm no expert on nature, but I swear these are early. They came just a week after the crocuses. Maybe the crocuses are late?

I'm seriously trying to get inspired to blog about my knitting here. I use my blog to keep track. I lost the start date to my Herbed Carrot socks to the mists of time. Was it the same week I started the Digitessas? Here they are as of last Thursday, I think:


One minute I LURV this colorway and want to eat it, the next, I'm aghast that the colors are far too 70's, and what the heck am I thinking? The colorway is called Denver, and seriously when was the last time Denver was in our national consciousness? Back when John Denver was crooning about Rocky Mountain High, is when. See?!? The 1970's. They are back and they are haunting not only the clothes I'm buying, but my sock knitting, too.

I will say one thing I LURV this yarn from J.Knits. At first, I just loved that the company is local (on the opposite side of Essex County as me - I'm unreasonably, and quite inexplicably, proud to live in Essex County, considering I'm have only been a resident of said county for one and a half years). Once I started knitting I fell in love with the yarn itself. It is so silky and has a wonderful sheen, and I usually don't go for sheen. I'm excited to have helped Nell unload a vibrant, lettuce colored skein of it! Yum!

Oooh, I do have some good news. I received an email this morning from Knit Picks. My return has been shipped, and since I forked over the expedited shipping costs (again!) I hope to have my new options needles AND the Zimmerman Knitting Around book !and! cd by Saturday. I'm going to need the needles for my mysterious lace project pretty soon.

I had hoped to blog about my weekend misfortunes with this project, but it seems the interest fueling the retelling has been lost to time. I will note that I'm working with a new yarn, which is not laceweight, and for which most people would probably never consider for a lace project. It's a pebbly, DK weight yarn by Reynold's, Soft Sea Wool.


I can't wait to get the hang of this lace thing because then I'll have no reason to hold off stashing Malabrigo laceweight. Soon!

Monday, April 14, 2008

My heart runneth over...

I'm venturing back to blogland and all those sweet comments have given me the tearies. Thanks for the sweet thoughts on my travails and my Digitessa.

I wish I had something to show for myself this weekend but my camera isn't cooperating. I'm not worried.

Yet.

Here's a gratuitous Wii picture:


His and hers GHIII guitars for the Wii, differentiated only by our sticker preferences. Oh, and I sewed that pillow that they are leaning against. From scratch, with no pattern. (Eat your heart out Martha!) That's the only crafty angle I have here today. Or is it?

That rocker is a recent acquisition. This winter, my Aunt Nan gave me some of my grandmother's things. The rocker was one, as was this crocheted coverlet I have draped over a bench. (The bench I received after she died in 1999).


According to my Aunt, my grandmother began this project when her youngest, my father, left for college. I can't imagine the time it took to crochet all these squares.


I'm pretty sure it's mercerized cotton. My tendinitis is twitching, just thinking about it. That is a devotion I have yet to encounter in myself. It's wonderful to be the owner something so precious in familial associations as it is in its needle art associations.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Slowing Down the Drama, Friday's Rant Edition. Yay.

This has not been my spring. I'm all discombobulated and every little snag and hiccup has the potential to bring me to tears. I think I need time off, but I'm downright miserly when it comes to taking vacation time. I squirrel it away and begrudge every hour used. So today I am using a day. I really need it to work magic.

This week's irritation began with the Knit Picks catalog coming in the mail a day or so after I made my big purchase, wherein I actually paid the hefty 2-day shipping charge. The catalog indicates they sell Zimmerman's Knitting Around (book & DVD!), but their website has no mention of it. That was one of the items I really wanted when I made this purchase.

Seeing it in the catalog immediately got me grudging. Having to order it either the free shipping way, that takes two weeks, OR by paying an additional $17, to be quickly satisfied, is about as enticing as an iced enema. Fooh!!! Then yesterday I receive my package and my heart sunk even lower. The two options set I ordered? Nickel, not wood. FUG! I just wanted to give up.

OMG is this the pettiest garbage to lose one's wit over? Could be, though I am just sharing the knitting related snafus. There are more, regular life craps to add, but I knew even as I stifled a silent sob over the needles that this is SO not important in the grand scheme of things.

I am healthy, my family is generally healthy, I am not starving, my home is not subject to foreclosure. The worst thing that's really happened is that all of our retirement account statements are coming in from the quarter showing drastic losses. I'm not foolish enough to be worried, my retirement is 25 or so years away, and I'll probably see a few more busts and booms before that date. In fact, I wish we had more liquid wealth to buy up all those tanking blue chip stocks. They wont be this cheap forever.

So what's my point? I know I shouldn't be haggled by these stupid activities of daily living, but it is easier said than done, isn't it? There is plenty in life to bring joy to one's heart, and throwing modesty out with the bad mood, rejoicing on the wonder that is my recently finished Digitessa gusset helps.


I will gladly be a broken record to reiterate that the pattern looks fabulous in this yarn. Plus, I'm much more confident knitting it and I think it shows.

Well, that's my two cents for the day. Let's carry on and keep our chins up.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Clean Slate

Sunday found me wiping my knitting plate clean, so to speak. I accepted that the log cabin afghan, which had been thrown over for a chevron afghan, was no longer a project, and that the Malabrigo lime and blue scarf/cowl/wtf should be frogged and put away, also.

I then whipped out my swift and my ball winder and lost myself in making sock yarn cakes. When the cakes were done, I frogged my jewel rib sock and recaked the yarn. My knitting heart is elsewhere and I need a fresh start to take full enjoyment of it.

So where is my mind? Two places. I hit an LYS Sunday and picked up these two beauties:


I truly don't understand this direction my interest is taking, as I don't wear lace, and am not a lacy, ethereal, delicate type of gal. But my desire goeth there, so musteth I. I think my recent blogstalking of Cookie, over at Shut Up and Knit is making me a wannabe. Dogged Knit's Ashley's recently completed Shetland Triangle probably played a part, too.

But as I contemplate my first steps in this brave new world, I began a new project. I have once again succumbed to the call of La Digitessa.


Yes, it's the Lorna Laces Shepherd sock that I purchased a week and a half ago. I'm waxing happy that I had that bit of a scuffle with the Gold Hill colorway of this yarn a few weeks back and thus knew right away which size needles to use. The US1/2.25mm needles I purchased from Knit Picks are the perfect size.

Earlier this morning I made a ginormous purchase at Knit Picks, purchasing their options kits for the 24" and larger circular needles from their harmony wood line to replace all of the clover bamboo needles I own. I also picked up a 32" 2.25mm circular needle which I hope to use when I get around to the heel and gussets of the La Digitessa. The two circ (Cat Bordhi) technique was awkard at this stage of the pattern, leaving the finished product not so polished looking. I'm hoping the magic loop technique will improve my results.

Just thinking about knitting these socks, as I blog, makes me happy. My arm, though, feels quite the opposite. An hour or so into knitting last night and the tendinitis reasserted itself. I realzied I needed to pair this project with a less intense (and mindless) one. I think I may knit a pair of stockinette socks out of the following colorway:


This yarn actually makes me salivate. My mind literally thinks its food, not metaphorically, but literally. I am an odd duck.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday Musings

The state of fashion has been on my mind with the finishing of Blueberry Moon. To be honest, I felt a little self-conscious posting that FO because I know it represents a style that is, well, a smidge past it's freshness date. And then there's all that stockinette! Lovely for it's creator to ogle over, but really? lacking in visual interest.

For this middle ager, fashion has been speeding by. Knitting Kris hit the nail on the head in the comments section. What the heck are all these people running around in baby doll sweaters and blouses and t-shirts? I always considered myself fashion forward until about five years ago. Then all heck broke loose. The clothing and shoes (especially shoes!) began to incorporate elements which were abhorred when I hit the tenderest age, the age when fashion was everything in life. It is near impossible to fight fashion aversions which have been a part of me for lo on 30 years. And like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory, I can't seem to catch up.

The baby doll style must surely be on its way out because yesterday I bought not one, but two baby doll shirts. One has the loudest print ever. OMG, will I be able to wear it? It wont be warm enough for short sleeve shirts for another month or two, so I have some time to work up to it. There's still plenty of time left for wearing woolen goods in northeastern Massachusetts.

I was smote this weekend for my folly; the weather was mostly rainy and raw. We had a couple hours of sunshine Saturday afternoon, but the mobius was soaking and drying. I was left to rely on the illumination of grey skies indoors when she was finally ready for her closeup Sunday:


The twisting came out differently than I imagined. I'm not entirely happy with the mobius shape, but it will definitely keep my neck warm.



Yarn
Artyarns Handpaint Stripes, colorway #104
A lofty, tightly plied worsted weight 100% merino wool
This yarn is fabulous to touch and great to knit. It holds stitch definition extremely well. It looks just as good on size US4s as it does on US9s.

Needles
I used 16" Knit Pick Harmony wood circulars sized US9 to cast on. After a row and a half, I switched to US8s to adjust the tension. After a few rows I transferred the work onto 24" clover bamboo US8s.

Pattern
I fiddled with yarn overs until I found the perfect sized diamond lace motif size for the yarn. My limited stitch dictionaries on hand didn't have this particular pattern, but it is pretty simple, worked over 10 stitches. I cast on 110 stitches. The biggest impediment I faced was remembering what to do when three stitches are surrounded by YOs, and that is YO, sl2, k1, p2sso, YO. Hopefully if I forget again, I'll remember I noted it here.

And before I go, true blue proof my knitting mojo has returned:

Friday, April 4, 2008

Life before Wii

We all know there was life before Wii. I have knitted proof.


I wore said proof to work on Monday with my Digitessa socks. Woot.


The kitties wanted to get in on the photo shoot yesterday, too.


Right over that bridge is a pathway into the boggy woods behind my house. I take the dogs there almost every weekday. Over the winter our most scarediest of cats, Hunter (background), started coming with me on my walks.

I was amazed, and encouraged him. Hunter was hit by something, most probably a car, when he was one. His leg was shattered in three places requiring an orthopedic surgeon to insert three sets of pins at each break. Three months later he had all but one set of pins removed, the poor guy, and he's never been the same. Who would be? Now he spends most of his time out of doors in the woods, or when he's indoors, under the kitchen sink.

For several weeks now, since the weather has been less hostile, Hunter comes with the dogs and I every single day. Grissom joined us two days this week. So in the woods you will find two dogs, two cats, and me. Isn't that bizarre?

And that isn't even the first time I had cats walk the dog with me. Even when we lived in the dense 'burbs, I had two cats, Zacker and Isabeau, who would each, individually, accompany me on occasion. My street and the ones around it constituted a pedestrian throughfare to the T, Boston's subway transist system. Some people ignored us, as city people are wont to do, but many expressed their amazement of seeing a cat and a dog walking together, waiting at lights, crossing roadways, etc. I had never seen it before, either, but I can't have had the only four cats in feline history to like going on dog walks.

It just dawned on me that youtube probably has scores of videos on the matter. But before I run off to youtube, I should give at least a brief wrap up of Blueberry Moon. I started the project around the last week of August, 2007. I finished it March 30th. Sadly, it took seven months to complete what is basically an all-stockinette, knit from the top down, raglan sweater.

I had really hoped to integrate some kind of lace-like motif into the sleeves and the edge, but I couldn't make it work. I did learn how to integrate a button band into the neckline, in a top down design.


Other new frontiers crossed were the use of a less visible increase than the M1,


and learning how to do the Russian join, which is a must-know technique for knitters. I wish I had learned how to do this earlier. I also became a great deal better at weaving up those pesky armpit holes.


The fingering weight yarn and the shallow P2K1 ribbing set the tone for the sweater, for me. There is an elegant restraint to it.



Yarn
Rowan 4 Ply Soft in Malachite
Fingering weight, 100% superwash merino wool
It is a plied yarn with a considerable twist. I used approximately 1,375 yards.

Needles
US3 and US4 bamboo circs. I intended to knit the entire sweater on US3s. However, when I was cleaning up the project bag and putting the needles away, I found the needle I used on at least the bottom third of the body was a US4. Oops! Turns out, no harm. I'm got some junk on that part of the trunk, so all's good.

Pattern
I just used a basic top down recipe and tweaked it as I went along. I find this pattern suits me best, as I am busty and I absolutely abhor the second skin sweater and shirt styles that constitute the fashion of the day. Aside from the sensory overload clingly clothes engender, I'm also a child of the 80's, where clothing with significant ease was preferred.

My pattern notes are very spotty, since they were made over the course of the 7 months. I'm trying to get better, but baby steps, baby steps, Bob. I did keep decent notes where needed, and that is for the arms. Each arm started out with 98 stitches and after 16 sets of 2 decreases every sixth row, the wrist circumference was 66 stitches. Not much, but hopefully useful sometime, someday.

Happy Friday, blogland!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Mobius will not be televised...

For several weeks now our weekends have been beautiful. Perhaps a little windy, and maybe a little chilly, but sunny and bright and absolutely fabulous. And since it was March, sun really is the most important thing. And lots of it.

Then would come Monday and the sun and it's hopefulness would decamp. Has it been two weeks or three of this? I don't know, but it's getting on my nerves, and just acknowledging this contrary attitude puts fear in my heart. I am not one to mock fate. Nosiree, not me. But yet I do. And I do all in the name of blogging because once again I finished a project on Sunday, but have been unable to photograph it due to inclement weather.

Oh yes, Blueberry Moon is done but when I'll have the photograph proof is anyone's guess. What I do have for show and tell today is an example of extreme patience and lackluster indoor lighting.


I have cast on the mobius for a fifthmillion time. Yay me. When I cast on and knit the latest version, that blob in the top left hand corner, I thought I was knitting on US8 needles. Nope, US6 (!@#$%&$#%^!). I also thought my gauge would be 4sts/inch, and produce a 25 inch diameter mobius. What I knit was more in the ballpark of 20 inches. But I knit on in blissful ignorance until a knot in the yarn woke my sorry a$$ up.

And so I have cast on again, this time 110 stitches on US9s. And yes, I should have more to show for myself, but Hubby got lucky at Walmart early Sunday morning and was #9 in line for purchasing one of the nine Wiis they just received in stock. He also picked up a copy of Guitar Hero III. So, will I ever knit again? Unclear. Will I get five stars and a perfect score playing Cream's Sunshine of Your Love? Oh yes I will, even if it takes the rest of my natural born life.

Rock on people!
 

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