Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I have Returned.

My darling blog, I hope I'm back.  I've had blog posting issues that led me to change my posting times, but this didn't really work out for me.  It turns out I don't blog very well in the evenings.  I think I've found a way to get back to blogging in the morning, though.  This will be my first post by e-mail, so - here's hoping it works! If it comes out as a bunch of code and gobbledy gook I will fix it when I get home tonight.

Some long awaited Old Business:

This is the BFL from the Spunky Eclectic fiber club in 'Myrtle.' I'm really proud of this, and since I was able to photograph it in natural light the colors are even pretty good in this photo.
And the money shot.

The finished Spiraluscious Mitts of Doom, which have long since gone to warm the hands of my mother.

Yarn for those was Fly Designs merino/tencel blend.
And, here is the progress so far on the Three-Scarf Ruana:

Oooo. Aaaaaah. Exciting.

But what IS really exciting is that I finished Swan Lake. I took pictures of it blocking, but it honestly looks kind of dorky on the ground, blocking pictures don't do it justice. I looked at the stole on a dozen different websites and never really took to it until I saw it on an actual person. Pinned out, the wing half of it really just looks odd. The beads in the wing just didn't show up at all before blocking, because the decreases that they were placed around kind of bunched the fabric up. So, I blocked the straight side of the stole normally but the wing I had to block pretty severely in order to get everything to straighten out and lay nicely. When I was done my legs felt like jelly for the rest of the day from kneeling and leaning out over the thing. I really hate blocking stuff - I enjoy sitting back and admiring the blocked product once it's totally pinned out, but even with the blocking wires, which make my life much easier, blocking is a literal pain in the butt. It doesn't help that I am both very anal and not very patient, so the fiddlyness of doing it right coupled with the way it doesn't look right if you half-ass it, really doesn't work for me.

You know what I wish I had photographed? I wish I had photographed the absolute DISASTER that was the skein of Casbah I tried to wind last week. I got the three skeins I ordered for my Yellowstone project in the mail on last Saturday, which SHOULD HAVE vastly improved a day that really started out pretty lame (it involved furniture and the dog and things that dogs should not do on furniture but that are really the owner's fault for going upstairs and leaving the dog on the couch that the dog is too small to get off of without help). However, the skeins I got did not want to wind nicely. I wound the Earth skein first and it was tempermental but still windable with the swift and the ball winder. Then I got out the skein of Woodland and the whole mess went downhill from there. I put it on the swift but it was immediately clear even from just looking at the skein that I was going to have problems, and it became abundantly clear after that that it would be absolutely impossible to wind the thing with the ball winder. I don't know who did what to that skein but it was AWFUL. The SO made the mistake of suggesting that maybe it would be easier if we took it off the swift, so he held and I untangled. 3 hours later, he was really regretting offering, and we were both in a bad mood, and it really just didn't get any better. After a while we traded and things just got worse from there. Finally I put the skein on a pillow to hold and decided to deal with it later. Sunday afternoon, in a much calmer and more resigned state of mind, I spent a few more hours on it and finally got the whole thing untangled and wound into a ball, which I then put in a plastic grocery bag, hung the bag on the edge of my swift so that it would be elevated enough to run into the ball winder smoothly, and wound it from there into a nice center-pull ball.

I had this problem with the last skein of casbah I ordered, the topaz skein, and it really aggravated me both times. I was sitting there winding and composing nasty letters in my mind. Since the two bad skeins came from two different stores, though, I don't know - maybe the problem was at the HandMaiden distributor or something. Or, it's possible somebody was looking at one of those skeins in the actual store and unfolded it to look at, and messed it up when they folded it up again. I don't know. I decided there were too many things that could possibly have happened, so I just let it go. It was much easier to be reasonable when the yarn was sitting there in a nice well-behaved cake. I remember thinking at the time, that I should stop and take pictures for the blog, but I was too mad to stop.

The yarn is beautiful, though, all three colorways are just stunning. I really, really love the Earth colorway. I remember being struck by the beauty of it the last time I used it, and I was again. This skein is more than half black, though, while the previous skein I had was mostly brown. with just some black. I'm okay with it this way, though. It looks very rich and fertile, and is all quite in keeping with the theme of the project.
I have had some setbacks on the project itself, mainly because the increases just aren't where I expect them to be. Normally, increases all happen on the right side and then the wrong side is knit plain. But in this pattern, on the right side, you increase into the second stitch, and then you increase on each side of center, and then you knit plain to the end of the row. On the wrong side, you increase into the second stitch and then knit the rest of the row plain. I kept forgetting to increase on the wrong side (since this is a garter stitch shawl, there is technically no right or wrong side, but it's hard to discuss it without talking about it in terms of right and wrong, so I am arbitrarily defining the side with the center increases to be the right side). It's really difficult to catch this mistake except by counting the number of stitches on each side of center, which was workable at first but became progressively less workable as the number of stitches in each row increased. Fortunately, once Swan Lake was done I was able to reclaim some of my stitch markers and since then, I haven't had as much of a problem. I have a marker right before the stitches in which I am supposed to increase, and then I put another marker a couple of stitches down from each, so I can just count between markers to make sure I have the same number of decreases on both ends. I've knit the entire first skein at this point and I'm feeling pretty good that the end result will be a good size.

I've been giving some thought to the stripe pattern. I am stripe challenged, so it is kind of worrying me a little. The way I see it, I have a few options:

1. Knit both skeins of mineral, and then knit the entirety of the remaining skeins in order.
2. Knit one skein of mineral, knit the entire skein of Earth, add a stripe of mineral, knit the entire skein of Woodland, add a stripe of mineral, knit the entire skein of Stardust, and let the width of the stripes be determined by the amount of yarn and distance from the edge. Each stripe would necessarily be thinner than the previous stripe since the shawl will be larger.
3. Knit one skein of mineral, and plan a stripe pattern that will include stripe each subsequent color with the mineral in a planned way that results in multiple stripes of each color (for example, knit two rows of Earth, and then two rows of mineral, and then four rows of earth and then four rows of mineral etc etc and then switch to doing the same with woodland when I run out of Earth or decide that I have enough Earth stripes and am ready to move on).

Because I am stripe challenged, number 3 scares me. That is way more thinking and worrying than I really want to have to do. I thought about option 1, but I think from the size I've gotten with just the one skein, that starting the stripes now will give me more control over how big it eventually ends up, where the striping falls, etc. So, I've taken the plunge and I'm working the 'Earth' skein second. I'm thinking I will get the scale out and wind off the second skein of mineral into two equal balls, one to knit after the Earth skein and one to knit after the Woodland skein. I guess what I'm saying is, that right now Option 2 is the game plan.

To complicate things more, I have plans for another project related to Yellowstone; specifically, related to keeping myself warm in Yellowstone. I have ten balls of Valley Yarns Stockbridge in dark grey to make the Pfeiffer Falls hooded scarf. A comment was made the other night that at least we had plenty of scarves to keep us warm, and I thought, I don't have plenty of scarves. I have two scarves and at least one of them is not really suited to the great outdoors. Also, I don't have a hat. So, I thought, I'll just find a pattern for a super bulky scarf & hat and I'll make myself a set.

Except, I couldn't find anything I liked. and then I saw something with a hood on it and thought, I look really cute in hoods. I should do a hooded scarf! And then I got to looking at patterns for those and I kept thinking, "Elf. Elf. Elf. Extra pointy elf. Moderately pointy elf. Elf elf elf!" Pfeiffer Falls, while not knit in a bulky yarn, doesn't look like the latest fashion to make the rounds at Santa's workshop, so even though it's a worsted weight, that's what I decided on. So as soon as that yarn arrives, I will be knitting madly on it so that I will have it for the trip. I'm not sure I'm sold on the pockets on the end for the hands, though. I may skip those and use the yarn I would have used to make myself a pair of handwarmers from the Last Minute Knitted Gifts book. Even if I don't have time to get those done before we leave, I could knit a pair on the plane. They're fast and will leave my fingers free for photography and knitting uses. If I have enough yarn leftover I might make a pair of legwarmers, too. Most of my jeans are boot cut and the wind gets up under them. But one thing at a time. My eyes are bigger than my needles. (but I do have two skeins of Lamb's Pride at home leftover from another project, so it could be done)

I bound off the body of the Featherweight Cardigan this past weekend as well, and after some deliberation, decided to do the collar before I do the sleeves. This is partly because I haven't decided how long I want the sleeves to be and this way, if I'm going to run out of yarn, I can just shorten the sleeves. I think I actually have plenty of yarn, but you know if I wasn't paranoid I would run out. So, collar it was. This was a little challenging, because I've never done it before. It felt really awkward, I had trouble seeing what I was doing. With the help of YouTube and some personal ingenuity, though, I got it done. I ended up using an embroidery needle to actually pick up the stitches and put them on the needle. This allowed me to hold the needle in my right hand. My stitches may all be seated backwards on the needle because of this, but if so - I'll just turn them, not a big deal. I examined it after I was finished and I think there is one spot where I got a little bit off, like I moved the row I was picking up by half a stitch for maybe ten stitches or so, but otherwise it looks okay. I didn't actually start the collar, though, since I had other things to knit, but now it will be ready when I'm ready. I'm thinking I'm going to knit it in 1x1 rib since I really don't like rolling on edges. I was worried this would pull the collar in and make it look kind of puckered, but after knitting the rib at the bottom of the sweater, I don't think it will be too much of a problem. At this guage, the ribbing is pretty loose and it doesn't look like it had a very significant pull-in at the sweater bottom.

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