Tuesday, February 23, 2010


It seems I goofed last week and the blog post I wrote never actually got published, and I didn't notice it until this weekend. So, um, here's an update on all the things you never actually saw before.

1. Olympic Knitting

I'm desperately behind for my goal. Naturally, last week instead of having most of my evenings at home, I ended up having plans for most of the week, which significantly cut into my knitting time. I also got kind of a slow start, I think - the sense of urgency I needed wasn't quite there the first weekend and I kept putting the sock down to rest my hands or concentrate on something else for a moment. Basically, it took me a week to complete the first pair of socks. This past Saturday I wasn't feeling well, I had a headache and just generally felt icky and I ended up sleeping for most of the day, which of course meant lots of lost knitting time. I tried to make up for it on Sunday and completed the first sock of the second pair. I've got the cuff done and I'm working on the leg for the second pair of socks, but honestly, I'm feeling like if I make 3 pairs at this point I will think I did well. Of course, now in addition to all the time issues I have, I'm being slowed by physical concerns. I have a permanent red stripe on the finger I tension the yarn around, so I've taken to wearing a band aid over that finger when I am going to be knitting for a long stretch just to avoid getting sore. But, my right hand and my left pinky are really starting to complain. My left pinky does nothing except curl around the base of my left needle to hold it steady, but apparently keeping it in that position for extended time periods is causing it to cramp up a little. I have had problems with tendonitis in my right hand and wrist before, so I don't want to get into a position where I've really aggravated it. So we'll just kind of play it by ear, I guess. I'd like to run the race through to the end, but I'd also like to be able to knit afterwards!

2. Evenstar Knitalong

I was shopping Haiti charity patterns on Ravelry and came up with the Evenstar mystery shawl. I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan so I was kind of hooked. There are tons of LotR patterns out there but it's rare to find one that (I think) really pays homage to the books, so I was excited for this one (even though it's going off the pendant from the movie. I was not a fan of the movies - in fact after the first one I refused to watch the rest - but I am willing to go along with their interpretations of the jewelry/swords/items from the books). Of course, I can't start it until the Olympics are over, and in fact I would like to finish Hanami before I go racing off to this one, but I am signed up and receiving the clues. I've also already benefited from some of the discussions on the Ravelry group already, so I don't mind being behind.

Recommended yarn is Blue Moon Silk Thread 2, which is kind of expensive, but in browsing around I became enamored of their Spirits Collection. In the Post That Wasn't I talked about several options I was considering. Then I started to doubt whether the Spirit collection was really what I should do, and I spent a long time debating Cloudy With a Chance from their watercolor line. I was going back and forth in my head - I liked the ethereal quality of the Spirits but I felt the lightness would be more suited to a Galadriel theme than an Arwen thing, the morning vs. the evening (as Gimli put it). However, in the end, I went with Jengu from the Spirits Collection. Lace has more impact in lighter colors, and I just really loved the concept behind the collection. My artistic justification is that I'm focusing more on the 'starlight' concept than the 'night' concept. (Why yes, I do think about this too much, why do you ask?)

Then I got to shop for beads, which I both love and hate, because a) I have not the yarn in hand and am going off an internet picture - and internet picture of it in wool, also, which is probably going to be very different from the way it will look in silk b) I have not the beads in hand, and can only look at pictures. I ended up ordering a small amount of four or five colors that I think will work, and when I have the yarn and the beads both in hand I can make a decision and order the full 3000 required for the pattern. (eek!)

Best of all, this is part of a whole series and there will be at least two more mystery shawls eventually. I'm excited! The swatch chart looks a little challenging but there was an excellent discussion thread on it that simplified things greatly, so I'm really looking forward to this piece.

One issue I do have, though, is needles. The project is a circular shawl and calls for size 3's; I usually use 4's for lace and I'm hoping that swatching will reveal that 4's are fine for this too. I'm still a pretty tight knitter, though not as supertight (I don't think) as I used to be. The reason I care is because KnitPicks interchangeables only go down to size 4 - if I need 3's I will have to buy some different length needles. I think I have two 24" size 3's and one 16" and that's it. I will need a couple more lengths to do this shawl. I really would rather just use 4's so I can just change to a different cable whenever it feels necessary. We'll see - swatching shall tell. The other thing I'm a little concerned about is winding the yarn. There were links on the Ravelry group to several different suggestions regarding winding silk lace, which I'm glad I read, because I would have just tossed it on my ball winder without a second thought. Apparently, this is not a good idea. Fortunately, Techmuse gave me a dohicky she found somewhere that I really love - it is a basically a spike with a flat bottom so that you can put (for example) a cone of yarn over the spike and the whole contraption swivels on the base, so even if you are knitting from the outside of the yarn cake (or if you are knitting from a cone) it's not hard at all to get the yarn off.

The other thing I thought about was maybe winding it (by hand, sigh) onto a spare bobbin from my spinning wheel and then sticking the bobbin on my lazy kate and knitting from there.

3. Aeolian Shawl

In the Post That Wasn't, I said that I finished the Aeolian Shawl except for the bind-off. I had an issue with the bind-off because the instructions say to use a double strand of yarn for the bind off. I'm knitting from a cone and I can't get to the other end of the yarn, so I wasn't sure how I was going to deal with this. I didn't want to just disregard the instructions without finding out why the instructions directed it that way. I sent the designer a message on Ravelry and she very kindly sent me an answer back. The double-stranded bind-off is traditional for Estonian lace and she said it's also supposed to help with rolling, and to give the edging flowers a bit more weight and pop. So, I think I could bind-off with a single strand and be fine. It bugs me to do it, though, the point about emphasizing the edge is well taken and I'd rather do it that way. However, I have no good way of doing this. I could estimate what I need for the bind-off, pull it off the cone, cut the yarn and do it with a double strand, but I have nooooooo idea how much yarn the bind-off will take. I could cut the yarn now, go to my ball winder and wind off half of what's left on the cone, but I hate to have that cut edge right at the bind-off. So, I still have some decisions to make, but it can wait until after the closing ceremonies.

4. Post Olympic Plans

I really want to get back to my long-neglected spinning wheel once the Olympics are over. I abandoned it last fall for deadline knitting and only after the Olympics are over will I finally be able to give up knitting time to spin. I have a ton of fiber in my craft room waiting for me, thanks to my purchases at MD Sheep and Wool and my Spunky Eclectic subscription. I really need to start making some progress or I am going to run out of room to put it all!! Though, I may have to give myself some time after the Olympics to let my twist hand recover.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I have two rows left to go on the Aeolian shawl, and I have run out of beads. I am so disappointed! I crawled the floor and dug under the couch cushion (there were a lot under there as it turned out) but I couldn't scrap up enough to finish. I ordered more beads (the local shops may have restocked by now, but thanks to the snow that has been dumped on us, I figure the internet is still my best bet for getting it before June), but obviously, I had to find something else to work on in the meantime.

Enter Hanami - the least thematically appropriate thing to be knitting in the middle of a snowstorm. I've been wanting to knit this for ages and I got the yarn and pattern for my birthday last year. I was working on other things at the time and set it aside until the time was right.

In a fit of startitis a few months ago, I gave in and cast on for it, but it really just wasn't the right time for the project so it didn't go anywhere. The paltry few rows I had knit sat forlornly on the needle, waiting for me to get back to it.

Well, I picked it up again and it turned out to be the perfect post-aeolian knitting. It's rectangular so it has a set stitch count and let me tell you, when you have been doing rows of 600 stitches or more, rows of 100 go like lightening. I'm powering through as much of the basket weave section as I can while this feeling lasts, since I am not good with repeating the same pattern many times over. The following two pictures should give you an idea of how far I have managed to get over the last couple of days. The first one I took after my first evening of knitting, and the second one I took last night. I've done another full repeat since then (well, almost).

I'm still working during the day even though I'm snowed in at home, so I feel pretty good about this progress. I'm thrilled.

The Knitting Olympics commence on Friday and I really had not prepared to participate. I'm of two minds with these kinds of things - I think they sound like a blast, but I am so hard on myself I find it difficult to participate. Also, life doesn't stop while the Olympics are going on so I still have to plan around my normal life.

To that end, I have settled on a semi-flexible goal for the knitting Olympics, and one that requires a minimum amount of planning.

My Olympic goal is to knit 4 pairs of socks. Further, I want them to be socks for someone else, since I don't really have Olympic size feet (I wear a 6). I plan to start out with plain stockinette socks, and if I discover by some miracle that 4 pairs is not that much of a challenge after all, the last pair or two will be patterned socks of some kind, or maybe toe up - some kind of hurdle. I wondered if this was cheating, but decided it was akin to pacing myself in a race. I'll speed out of the gate and adjust my pace to keep up with the pack. (I know that's a summer Olympic metaphor, but I couldn't think of a proper winter one). I can take socks with me and knit them anywhere, so it seems like the perfect goal for my busy life.

I don't actually know if I have enough sock yarn to pull this off, but I think I should. I haven't checked the stash in a while. Anyway, my first pair will be for a coworker who asked for a heavily striped pair of socks. I am foiling his attempt to make life difficult for me by using self-patterning sock yarn. HAH. I have chosen Berroco Sox colorway 1420.

As I think about it, I have some Panda sock yarn that I got for my birthday or Christmas or something, plus two more skeins of Happy Feet sock yarn that I think also came from the same gift-giving occasion, plus one skein of Casbah left over from the Yellowstone Shawl, and I think I have another skein of Cherry Tree Hill somewhere.

Unfortunately, one of my sock needles broke the other day so that's a bit of a problem. I do have another set, but that set is in use. I may just have to put those socks on a lifeline (they are for me so it's no big deal) and rob the needles from them. I could try to finish the sock before Friday - you know, as a training exercise - but that would mean less time to knit on Hanami and I'm having too much fun to stop for anything less important than the Olympics.

My alpaca leaf lace shawl from Woodstock Knits has been keeping me warm throughout this cold and snowy weather.

I am really annoyed that I never finished those french press slippers - my feet could really use them right now!! I could finish them, but - I'd have to put down Hanami. Not happening, thank you very much!

ETA: My Jordana Paige Rio bag came from the Handbags for Haiti sale! It looks a little pitiful all empty but I'll soon have it filled up!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Famous Last Words

"Sure, I can knit that!"

Well, Grumpasaurus no. 1 was completed on Friday night, but some issues had arisen as to who would retain ownership of Grumpasaurus. Therefore, faced with a snow day on Saturday and the fear of bloodshed on Monday, I decided to settle the issue by creating a second Grumpasaurus.

Therefore I present Grumpasaurus:

And Grumpasaurette:

And now there shall be peace. I hope.

I've finished the final agave chart on the Aeolian shawl and I'm working on the edging set up. I was a bit confused at first, but as with most knitting directions, if you quit trying to understand and just do what it says, it starts to make sense. I have visions of finishing by next week, but I am trying to talk myself back into reality. That is to say, I am trying to remind myself of the reality of how even when you only have fifty rows to go, those rows get longer and longer and take longer and longer, and if you only have fifty rows to go but it takes you forty minutes to do a row...well. It seems unlikely that finishing will happen this week. I hope I don't run out of beads. I have already gone through the entire first tube of my order. These tubes are smaller than the Bead Obession tube and the beads themselves are less uniform - I keep having to pick out ones that are malformed or wierdly shaped. I'm close to the end but there are areas that are very heavily beaded, so--I have apprehensions. I am not at all worried about running out of yarn, on the other hand. I seem to have plenty left on the cone. I am so unworried that I am not deleting that last sentence. See. It's just sitting there. I'm not deleting it at all.

I have been knitting the shawl fairly faithfully. I just love the project so much that I don't even really want to work on anything else, so I haven't got much else to show. I have completed one plain stockinette sock in the Blacklight BFL from Fly Designs, and I cast on for the second one last night, but that's it. Hopefully, I will soon have the finished shawl to show and then I can be more interesting.