Monday, March 22, 2010

Failure to Launch

It's been like two weeks without a blog entry, all because I am a moron and can't ever remember that when posting by e-mail I am supposed to send to instead of Sigh. So I have this entry written that's all out of date now, and I'm not sure how to handle it. I guess I will just post what I had written before with minor edits to update things that are no longer accurate. So if you see something where the tense or date reference is whacky, it's probably because that text was old and I missed that it needed to be updated.
I finally did the bind-off on my Aeolian shawl last weekend a couple of weekends ago. I love the final product, it's beautiful. I'm thrilled with the color, I'm thrilled with the beads. I'm not thrilled with the bind-off. I used a larger needle, because - well, why wouldn't I? Unfortunately, I think I shouldn't have. I think the bind-off would actually look better if it was tighter, making a cleaner edge for the points. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure undoing the whole thing would put me in the looney bin so I'm going to have to live with it. I did end up just using a single strand for the bind-off. I sent the designer a message on Ravelry and she was kind enough to reply and tell me her reasoning for using the two strands, and as they weren't really structural reasons, I decided it wasn't worth the trouble to try and figure out a way to use the yarn doubled. The bind-off took me a couple of hours, it was a lot of stitches and it was very, very boring. I might have been able to get it done faster if I had just powered through it, but instead I kept getting distracted because it was SO DULL.
Then there was the blocking. I almost didn't have enough room. I block in the floor of my guest room which is probably the smallest room in the house, and I had to pin part of it out under the bed because there wasn't enough room on the open floor! I also ran out of pins towards the end of blocking, pinning out all those points on the flowers! I had to dig into my sewing box and get regular pins for a couple of points. They seemed to have worked okay. I checked this morning and saw no sign of rust, which was my main worry. I intended to unpin it that evening, but I haven't done it yet it took me a week to get around to it.

Anyway, I think the shawl is beautiful and I can't wait to wear it I wore it to church this past Sunday. I do think I'm going to have to sit with it and secure a few nupp loops that are loose (I didn't bother). This is why I haven't unpinned it yet. Once I do, I'll actually have to deal with all those little finishing aspects that are so much less fun than actual knitting (or I could just ignore it and decide to deal with it when it becomes a problem. I acknowledge that this is probably a bad plan).
I also finished the last pair of Olympic socks, which I can now reveal were Lothlorian socks from The Enchanted Sole. They really don't look very impressive when not actually on a foot, so I did some acrobatics to take pictures, but they're on the big camera so photos will have to wait. For now, I give you, crappy iphone pix. You can see the ladder stitches in between the tree trunks on the leg.

Once that was over with, I considered powering through Hanami to see if I could finish it off, but it goes so quickly that I decided to go ahead and start Evenstar instead. I think I could finish Hanami in a couple of good weekend days, maybe, and I was just too excited over the Evenstar project. Plus, Hanami is so fun and quick, I may need it as a sanity saver during the process of this mystery shawl. I'm about halfway more than halfway through Chart C.
I have actually had numerous difficulties with the Evenstar project, and I'm trying not to let it dampen my enthusiasm. First, there were my issues with color, mentioned in the previous post. Then, I started winding the yarn. I had read that winding silk lace on a ball winder is an invitation to disaster so I was like, okay, I give up, I'll wind it by hand. And I did. And it took hours. And it was a MESS. I was so depressed. I put the second skein on my swift and winder and - no problem at all. None. Worked just fine. Put an empty toilet paper roll in the center to keep it from disaster and I'm knitting from the outside in, so it was fine. I rewound the handwound skein on the ball winder and the end result was still kind of a mess, so I wound it AGAIN. I finally got a ball I could work with, but I'm a little concerned that all the rewinding (which did not go as smoothly as one would hope, due to the mess the original ball was in) had an effect on the integrity of the yarn.

Anyway, I got that problem solved, so that Sunday I cast on, and - MORE problems. The cast-on took me a couple of tries, no big deal. But knitting was a NIGHTMARE. Oh my goodness. That yarn clung to the needles for dear life and just would not slide along it. I was knitting on two circulars for the center, the same way I do socks, and I just couldn't believe the trouble I was having. I was nearly in tears at the thought that the whole project would be like that. I was using my nickle-plated KnitPicks needles, the slickest ones I owned! I really expected silk to be slippery, not sticky, but the stuff just wouldn't let go. It was killing my fingers trying to get it to move along the needle.
I finally figured out a couple of things I could do to get the stitches to slide, so by the end of the evening I was greatly relieved. I think this won't be so much of a problem once I am only working on one circular - one thing I found was that if I supported the weight of the second circular so it wasn't pulling on the stitches I was trying to slide, they moved much more easily. I was still having a little trouble getting the last couple of stitches on a given needle to go over the join, but I figured I could live with that until I could get onto a single needle.
I got home the following Monday night and got a paper cut taking some things out of my car. I didn't think anything about it until I got in the house and picked up my white silk laceweight shawl. Then I realized that the paper cut was oozing blood...which got on my shawl. I stared in horror, went and washed my hands, put pressure on the cut until it stopped bleeding, and went back to think about how to deal with the problem. It was only a couple of bright red dots on the yarn, but - I decided that it would be easiest just to start over. Fortunately, the second time around I didn't have as much trouble (due to the aforementioned lessons learned).
I'm working it on a single 16" circular now, and it is in fact making my life easier. I am a little annoyed that there are ladder stitches through my center from when I had it on the two circs, but I'm not going to worry too much about it. It won't bug anyone but me, and I'm hoping I can redistribute some of the slack with a crochet hook so that they're not so obvious. We'll see. I'm most of the way through the Clue 1 chart. Clue 3 came out this weekend. I'm hoping to put in some time this weekend so that I can try to catch up. I have 2 weeks before Clue 4 comes out, so hopefully I can get there. I finished Clue 3 last night so I am totally on schedule with everyone else now. This makes me proud. I will work on Hanami until Clue 4 is released.
I'm getting back some of my delight with the color. I'm still not sure it's going to come out as something I would wear, but the thought of giving it to my friend for her wedding is enough to keep me going anyway. The color IS there, however - it's elusive. When I flatten out the project to look at it in full light, it looks white, but while I'm working on it, so that it's hanging down and I'm looking at it obliquely and in the shadow of my hands, I can see some of the blue come into it. I think it really will be fascinating to see how it works up. It literally appears and disappears as I'm working. It's really awesome in its way. If I were intending to make something for a wedding, I would totally buy something from this collection. I guess my advice to prospective buyers is, if you wouldn't use white yarn for the project, then choose something else, but if you are okay with white yarn that has a little something extra, this is fantastic.
I also finished the pair of socks I was working on when the Olympics started.
These are made of Fly Designs/Angora Valley Fibers Blue Faced Leicester in colorway Blacklight. (I have total deja vu right now - have I posted this before? Maybe on twitter.)

And last but not least, I finally got back to spinning last week. Rather than finish half-spun merino bamboo blend that had been sitting around all this time I was on hiatus, I picked up something new and exciting from amongst the bags of Spunky Eclectic fiber that have been piling up as month after month has gone by without spinning. This was also a merino-bamboo blend dyed in a colorway called 'Beach.' I love it. I'm also having some success spinning it fairly fine. I plan to make a two-ply yarn this time rather than navajo plying, which I tend to do with my Spunky Eclectic fibers. I'm not a fan of barber pole yarn, and I'm not experienced enough yet to know how to maintain the color sequence without navajo plying. But, I love the way these colors blend together and I think I will just go with the two ply and see what I get. I've spun up about half (this photo was taken early in the process) so I'm hoping that this week I can spin the other half. I have some fears that the singles are too fine in some places and may break when I try to ply (or that some of the thicker areas don't have enough twist may break), but I'm going to just go with it and see what happens.

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