Monday, January 31, 2011

My Stephanie Japel online shawl design class starts tomorrow. I am ~excited~!!

I am happy to report that my mail was finally liberated from the box.

The flat rate box is this:


Which now looks like this:


That's the first few rows of Clue 1 for the Light and Dark lace club. The cast on was over 300 stitches. It's bizarre to me to start a project with long rows instead of short ones, but I bet it will be fun when the rows start to get shorter towards the end. If they do. I'm not really sure, to be honest. It's a mystery, after all. Anyway, there's no real hard release schedule for these clues and Ruth and Roxanne have said they want it to be a nice, relaxed knitalong, so I haven't put in any real time on this one just yet. Just a taste, so I don't feel left out. I'll come back to it later.

One of the packages was from Beadwrangler containing the seed bead mix I thought I would try for In Dreams, but after looking at it I decided to stick with my original choice. The mix is gorgeous though and I'm going to save it for something in the future.

The small white package is the pin from Romi's pins and lace club, which is a really neat little design that I -- completely forgot to photograph.

The last package was from ArtBeads, and it did have some beads in it, but it also had these:


Romi recommended them and said they work on nickel as well as silver. As far as I was concerned this was excellent news, since I have been looking for a solution to this problem for some time:


Those are two of my KnitPicks Options nickel tips, and they are not exactly bright and shiny anymore. The tarnish makes my hands smell funny and the yarn doesn't slide nicely along the needles anymore, so I've been looking for cleaning methods. Googling for 'nickel polish' got me nowhere, however, and further searching got all kinds of suggestions that were variously plausible. At least one or two sites suggested oven cleaner. The polishing cloths cost only a few dollars and are neatly contained and easily cleaned up after, so I was really hoping they would work.

I used the pair of needles shown as my test pair since they were in the worst condition of all, and then I cleaned a second pair of the same size, and when it was done I had forgotten which pair I photographed so I included all four in the results photo.


Not perfect, but vastly improved. I immediately started cleaning the sizes I use more commonly (I had started with US6's because I don't use them that often, and if they melted in my hand or something I wouldn't be totally out of commission), including the pair of US4's I had in Sevillano. I am a much happier knitter. (K, I bought an extra for you but I forgot to drop it off this weekend).

Despite the little fits and starts I've made on other things, I've spent most of my time working on Sevillano.




I've completed 8 repeats (the pattern calls for 7) and I plan to do at least one more. I'm debating on whether I should do two more - that will take me just slightly past the 50% mark on my yarn consumption. I'm trying to stay as dedicated to this project as possible because I am so close to being finished. I do have rather a lot of things on the needles at the moment, and although I have enjoyed knitting Sevillano, it'll feel good to finish it. Plus, it's gorgeous and I want to wear it at the end of February when I ~meet Romi~!!

I also worked another half repeat on Fiori Friday night when I needed something a little less intensive than Sevillano. I feel like I'm suffering a terrible case of startitis right now and it's going to drive me batty if I'm not careful. I acknowledge this, and yet, I started a new project.


This is the beginning of Umaro by Jared Flood and I cannot stop giggling while I work it. I work with fine yarns, small needles. I use a 4 most often than anything else, and I rarely even get as large as an 8 or a 9. So this project, knit with Cascade Lana Grande on US15 needles, is downright comical to me. Right now this sits in a basket next to my bed and I am knitting one or two rows before bed. I'm surprised at how soft the wool is, my experience with Peruvian wool has been that it is, ahem, 'hearty,' but this is quite soft and I think the finished blanket will be wooly and cozy. It's not a project I would normally have picked for myself, but I think I'm going to get a lot of joy out of it. If I can figure out the weird cable thingy. I do wish designers would phrase their cabling instructions in such a way that those of us who prefer not to use a cable needle can figure out what we're supposed to do more easily. But, que sera. When I write patterns, I will do them my way. Mwa ha ha ha ha.

Finally, I decided to take K's advice on a scarf pattern from last week's blog comments and the scarf is working out much better now. It's about six inches long, so I have quite a ways to go. The pattern is sufficiently easy and mindless that the scarf might actually get done some time this century. It turns out that it is ridiculously easy to screw up a simple seed stitch rib, but I catch my mistakes pretty quickly.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Let Down

I'm afraid after the flood of finishes and pictures in the last couple of weeks, today's blog post is going to be a little bare. I could show you the yarn for the Light and Dark Lace Club:

What? You can't see that? How about the beads I ordered for the In Dreams Mystery shawl?

Nothing, huh? Okay, how about a spoiler pic for the first shipment of Romi's Pins and Lace club?

Zip, right? Would you like to know why this is? It's because I CAN'T GET INTO MY MAILBOX. I don't know which of these packages is in there, if any, but there is definitely SOMETHING in there because my key will not turn the lock. The locks on our mailboxes are not exactly sophisticated. On the inside of the box there is a small metal lever that prevents the box from opening when the lock is engaged. When you turn the key, that lever simply lowers out of the way and allows the door to open. Whatever is currently in my mailbox is beneath the lever, preventing it from moving. I tried shaking the box, banging on it, everything I could think of to shift the stuff inside enough to let me turn the lock. All I accomplished was bending my mail key. SIGH.

I called USPS on Friday when I noticed the problem and they said they would 'initiate documentation' with my local post office, but whatever documentation they initiated didn't make it in time for the problem to be fixed on Saturday. This is a little inconceivable to me since it seems to me like the only documentation required is an e-mail to my postman asking them to either shift the stuff in the box or drop it off at my door, but what do I know? I thought about taping a note to the mailbox but I decided to wait and see if it gets fixed today. If it was warmer out I would have camped by the mailbox on Saturday until the mail carrier came.

Fortunately, I am not totally devoid of stuff to show. I have spent most of this week working on Sevillano.


I've completed 5 repeats of chart D and I'm well into the 6th. I'm trying to decide if I want to do additional repeats, and if so, how many. The version shown in the pattern took up about 600 yards, and I have 1000, and I don't really know what I would do with 400 yards of silk. My plan is to figure out how many yards I've used when I get through 7 repeats, subtract that from the 600, and estimate how many additional repeats I can do. It's taking me roughly three hours per repeat, and I wish I didn't know that, haha. It's much more daunting to think about in terms of hours instead of number of repeats. And once I knew I probably wasn't going to finish the sixth repeat last night, I...well.


I started Galadriel's Mirror. The yarn is Handmaiden Silk Twist and you can see how the little silk plies take the light differently.


It's a subtle effect in this colorway, at least, but I hope the effect in the overall shawl will be lovely.

I also wound my yarn for the In Dreams mystery shawl.


I'm really glad I did, because my feelings have been very up and down on this colorway. I like my work to be an artistic statement as much as a wearable garment, and I struggle sometimes to maintain a balance between the two. I keep swinging from feeling like I made the right choice, to maybe I could have done better. Winding the yarn did wonders for me, though. I always find that caked yarn gives a much better idea of what the knit-up yarn will look like than skeined yarn does. And as I was winding, I could see that the light skein had notes of emerald green in it that I didn't see in the skein, and it was just lovely and enchanting and much more in line with what I like.

This weekend I went to Star's Beads and looked at a bunch of different bead options, including several that I had almost ordered online but thankfully didn't, since they didn't really work in person. I brought home three options, but I think, unless the mix that I did order from Beadwrangler changes my mind, I'm going with the ones shown, Toho gold-lustered green tea. I really had my heart set on something gold for this shawl, since the inspiration is Galadriel's crown and I very much associate Galadriel with gold rather than green, but I wasn't sure gold was going to work, especially with the dark end of the gradience, which has enough grey in it that it seems like it really ought to be matched with a silver bead. I tried several different gold-lined beads against the yarn and just really didn't like them, so the gold-lustered green tea is a compromise. These beads really are both gold and green, so they were my pick.


I'm waiting to order all 5000 until I can get into my stupid mailbox, just in case I like the bead mix I ordered from Beadwrangler more, but I'm 90% sure these will be the pick.

I do have one finished object to show today. Piece 1 of 3 of the matched set for ma honey is complete.



Ain't he handsome?


I started the scarf for him last night using Jarod Flood's Pavement pattern, but something wasn't working for me. The pattern didn't look right and the cabling was hurting my hands, so I think I need to either try it again earlier in the day and/or with different needles, or select a different scarf pattern. I cannot seem to reconcile myself with giving the man I love a garter stitch scarf. What would other knitters think?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On A Misssion

I don't know where to start today. I put off blogging yesterday because I had the day off, and I figured I could make some good progress, so if I took photos it would all be out of date as soon as I showed it. Lots of good stuff to blog today though! I have been a woman on a mission - really, on several missions.

Okay, we'll do WIP report first, new projects (mostly projects-to-be, really) second, and FO last. This week I really set about working on my two lace shawls. When last we left Fiori, she was simply a ball of beautiful silk yarn. As of yesterday I am halfway through the first repeat of chart E, which means I have finished the beautiful spreading petals/leaves motif at the top of the shawl, and am ready to get going on the main body.



The stitches are already a bit crowded on the needle so a good photo is a bit difficult. I planned to work on this shawl all day tomorrow, to get through as many of the repeats as I could. Just to get a realistic expectation for how much I could get accomplished to the day (my brain knits much faster than my hands), I timed the first couple of rows of Chart E...and determined that I could do about 1 repeat every 3 hours. This did not at all fit my vision of getting through the majority of the repeats. I kept going for a while, and about halfway through Chart E I decided that 3 hours was realistic and I...switched projects.


Because I thought I could get a lot more done on Sevillano in that time, since this is knit from the tip up, so despite the fact that I was probably farther along on this one than I was on Fiori, I had fewer stitches on the needles.


I love this design. It's so stunning, and I just think it's ingenious. It's also, and you know how much I hate the's hard. It's really intense. I work on this and I'm exhausted when I'm done. However, when I got to Chart D, I felt like it was getting quite a bit easier. Chart D repeats 7 times. I had to work Chart C first so I only got through one and a half repeats of D, but I definitely felt like I was having less of a difficult time with D than I did with the previous charts. By the time you get to D, you've worked the majority of the stitch sequences several times already, and that - is it ring lace? That yarnover section in the middle is a fairly mindless repeat (not totally, but comparatively, it's a peace of cake) so there's a bit of a breather there.

I found that, with the last tip-up triangle I did, I had the same issues - the charts that I had to get through in order to set up the point were far more difficult for me than the repeated charts containing the middle and the edging. So, if you are thinking of knitting this pattern and my use of the h-word has intimidated you, take heart. If you can get through Chart C, you're in clover.

Interestingly, I'm knitting both Fiori and Sevillano with 100% silk yarn, and it's really quite striking the difference between the yarns. The Sundara silk lace is very soft and smooth and almost kind of flat feeling. The stitch definition is more clear than it would be with say, 100% merino, but it's still fairly - I can't think of a good word. Indistinct? Perhaps it would be better to say it makes a very cohesive fabric. The Schaefer Andrea I'm using for Sevillano is much more tightly spun, much more rounded, and I can feel the texture of the plies as it moves through my hands. The stitch definition is very crisp, you can easily identify the individual stitches even in the stockinette portions. I noticed a similar difference in the silk lace I used for the Evenstar shawl versus the silk I used for the Aspen Shawl. One was very loose, soft, and drapey, and the other very crisp, rounded, and firm.

Because I am me and therefore very rough on everything around me, I kind of like the tighter spun silk better, because it's less easy to snag or stab through a ply, but in this case I certainly think both are quite suited to the project at hand. I like the softer silk for Fiori, which I envision as very light and airy, and I like the sturdier, stronger silk for Sevillano, with its beautiful patterns and textures and the olive-tree theme. Plus it's uncanny how well the colors fit the theme of each shawl. But I digress.

I've also been working on the big giant hat for my honey. I left it in the car and wasn't minded to go out in the cold last night and get it, so we'll have to make do with an iPhone pic for this one.

That's what it looks like with the brim folded up. I think I have about two and a half, maybe 3 inches to go before I start the decreases. I have to check my pattern to be sure.

The influx of yarn continued this week as the results of my mad early January ordering spree continued to trickle in.

Sanguine Gryphon Bugga in Arachne

I was planning on this for Alcyone, but I'm really having second thoughts. I have a skein of yarn with lots of blues and greens in it that would go really well with the wave motif in Alcyone. I'm just a little concerned about the difference in weight, though, Bugga is a comparatively heavy yarn, listed as a sport weight instead of a fingering. If I use a true fingering weight, will my shawl be too small? Since this is several shawl releases away, I'm not worrying about it too much for now.

Lane Borgesia Cashwool in Sand

This is my yarn for the design class I'm taking in February.

Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Silk in Black Plum

A friend gave me a Zen Yarn Garden gift certificate for Christmas and I immediately knew I wanted to get a kit to make the Astilbe Feathers Shawl. I actually ordered a different color (also purple, but lighter) and then Roxanne posted a whole bunch of new colors, and was kind enough to switch my order for me when I fell in love with the Black Plum kit. I think this kit is super cool because Roxanne actually got the beads first, and then used the bead color to inspire her yarn dying. How awesome is that? You can get your own kit here (enable, enable, enable). If you want just the yarn and beads without the pattern, and the colorway you want isn't listed on the yarn/beads only page, you can e-mail Roxanne. She is very accommodating and not at all scary. Although she is, herself, a shameless enabler. One can forgive her for being so, as a purveyor of yarn, but she is a pattern temptress as well, so beware. Just the other day she posted in her Ravelry group about Silk Road Socks, on the flimsy excuse that her yarn is used in the book. Now the only thing stopping me from ordering the book is trying to decide whether I want the digital/print bundle or whether I want to try knitting from my Kindle. I'm leaning towards the bundle - I have the older Kindle that doesn't let you switch the orientation, and I like to write on my patterns. Normally I avoid complicated socks - socks are my relaxation knitting and I get mad at socks that make me think too much - but these are just too beautiful to pass up. (I am dooming myself by posting this since as soon as a certain someone I know sees these socks she will be shamelessly campaigning for a pair.)

I will still be dancing attendance on the mailbox all week, though, because the first shipment of Romi's 2011 Pins and Lace club is shipping this week, and the yarn for Roxanne's Light and Dark lace club will also be shipping in the very near future. I also got an e-mail from the Unique Sheep saying that my gradience yarn for the In Dreams mystery KAL has shipped. A picture of it popped up on their flickr stream.


I am super excited, although I am having to occasionally fight off a case of yarn envy as everyone on the Ravelry group is sharing pictures of the gorgeous colorways they got. I have a bit of a delimma, though. The designer has published the swatch and bead count and this shawl will have 5000 beads. Some dizzyness as you read that is normal. Now, I love beads, I love bling, and I love beaded designs, BUT...I am really unsure about this. That is a lot of beads and I do believe there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. So, I am debating. To bead, or not to bead, to partially bead even though I know I won't see the whole picture until the thing is finished, so I will be flying a bit blind when deciding where to bead and where not to.

I'm also really undecided about which beads to use. This colorway is very similar to the colors I used in my Maia shawl so I had been thinking I would use the same beads. But, as I have done more thinking on the theme, I have really gotten attached to the idea of having some gold in the shawl. I love the idea of having little gold flecks here and there - but 5000 beads is not here and there. It is pretty much everywhere. I had almost totally decided not to bead it until people started posting pics of their swatches on Ravelry.

Now, the shape of this shawl is a half circle, and I used 3000 beads for Evenstar which was a full circular shawl. Those beads were only on the edging, so if you cut that in half we're talking 1500 beads for the edging - assuming the edging is beaded similarly, which is a big assumption. That leaves 3500 beads to cover a much larger area than the edging of Evenstar, right? So...maybe it won't be so bad. The swatch is heavily beaded and that's kind of scary, but she can't possibly keep up that kind of density for the whole shawl or it would use way more than 5000 beads. Right?

I have a feeling I will end up deciding to bead as written, but this still leaves me the problem of what beads to use. I've been considering using a mix, maybe Magic Forest from Beadwrangler (you can see her other mixes here. I'm also considering using the beads from Maia for the top portion of the shawl, the darker area, and then mixing in some gold beads and ending up with entirely gold on the bottom. I love this idea, but pulling it off may be a challenge. Not so much if I were to mix things up randomly, but I think I would rather make decisions about where to use which color. And, I still have to pick some gold beads. I am so clueless on this bead issue, that I have been on at least four different bead websites, loaded up my carts with all the possibilities I wanted to look at, and then ended up not ordering anything because the total cost was so rediculous by the time I was done. I have told myself repeatedly that I will wait until my yarn gets here and then I will go to my local bead store to at least try to narrow down the possibilities and categories. Although I do think I may order that magic forest mix and try out a swatch with it, see what I think.

Underlying all of this is absolute panic about how much stuff is coming down to be done in February. We're talking a year's worth of knitting all in one month. I keep ticking down the list, trying to decide what I will NOT knit, and it's not going so well. It's all I can do to keep my hands off Galadriel's Mirror even though I know the insanity that awaits me.

But! I did finish the first shawl of 2011, and it has been blocked.





Zen Yarn Garden Cashmere Sock, colorway Rouge. Limestone One Skein Triangle Shawl from FickleKnitter. I did one extra repeat of the body before doing the edging, and I ended up having to fudge the short rows around the point. If you're going to add (or subtract) repeats, do it in multiples of 3 and you should be able to work the directions as written. I should've checked before I just started whacking extra repeats on there, but I was too lazy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WIP Report

Last night, I finished my Limestone One-Skein shawl. I won't be able to block it until tomorrow at the earliest and maybe not until Saturday, but I feel good that it's done. 1 down, 10 to go! Not so bad for not even being halfway through the first month. I'm a finishing fiend! I haven't put my new blocking mats away once since I laid them out to block Evenstar, because I am just finishing projects left and right. It's a good feeling, although I also have a raging case of startitis that is keeping me from fully experiencing the triumph. I just have so many things I want to make, I'm going nuts. I have a three-day weekend coming up and I'm hoping to put the time to good use. I have some housecleaning that I really should do - in fact I'm on Amazon looking at new vacuum cleaners right now. I have been through 3 vacuum cleaners in the last 5 years, plus two handheld dirt devils. Thanks to the ridiculous number of yarn purchases I've made this month, though, I may have to wait until payday. Blech.

Part of the problem may be that it's so cold here, and now that I'm done with the limestone shawl, my two in-progress shawls, Fiori and Sevillano, are both lightweight silk. I feel the need for something more snuggly.

Well. maybe a status report on my WIPs will convince me to behave.

1. Sevilano
Knitting - 117
I love the pattern, I love the yarn. The finished project is going to be stunning. I'm not sure why I'm not quite feeling it right now. Not many people seem to be knitting it, and it is so much more fun to knit along with others. Maybe when the pattern is released to the public and more people can get their hands on it, it will get the attention it deserves. I have a feeling that it'll be just as engrossing as ever when I pick it up again - it's just a victim of the 'holy crap there are xx days till Christmas' frenzy.

2. Fiori di Sole

So beautiful, so springy. This one may just be suffering from a combination of seasonal issues and over-anticipation. I've wanted to knit Fiori for so long! I'm already impatient to check it off the list and I have barely gotten started!! I need to relax, not worry about getting it done, and just enjoy the process. The more it grows, and the more beautiful it gets, the more I will love it, and the faster it will go. It's going to be stunning, I just know it. It's a beautiful pattern and now that I've got the right yarn, it's going to be a work of art. If only it weren't so darn cold outside!

3. Simone
Knitting - 102
One day I am going to face the fact that I'm just not a sweater knitter. I see people on other blogs who crank out sweater after sweater in a matter of weeks, and you know what? I bet I could do it too. Compared to a lace shawl, sweaters are fast. But...I'm just not a sweater knitter. Still, this sweater will be lovely, soft, and warm when it's done, so I really should pick it back up again and keep moving.

4. Cotton Towel

Okay, this one is really just embarrassing. A simple little something I started just for fun, as an easy project. This picture is quite old, and the towel is much, much longer than shown. My plan was just to knit until the yarn ran out, and the reason I stopped carrying this around is that I was so close to that point that I thought I had better start the edging, and I needed my stitch dictionary to do that, so this is probably 95% finished. I vow to get it done this weekend. I don't think it'll take very long at all. I just have to, um...figure out where it is.

5. Follow the Leader Faroese
Knitting - 017
I think this one is destined for the frog pond. I just don't like it. Mostly, I don't like the yarn color. I did have some problems with the project itself, mostly due to inadequate attention. I thought this one would be an easy shawl I could just slog out and then give the resulting garment away, but I'm just not enjoying it, and now it's just sitting there making me feel guilty. I've been arguing with myself over it for ages. My options are to grit my teeth and finish it, or give up and use the yarn for something else. I don't really like either option. Maybe I can give the yarn to someone who will love it more. It's two skeins of Rio de la Plata sock yarn in Paris Rain, an exclusive colorway from Yarn Market. My hangup is, it really is an easy pattern and it would be a great charity peace - if I would just suck it up and finish. Sigh. Maybe I'll take this one with me to game night on Friday and try to get it rolling again. It's just plain garter stitch at this point except for the center panel. I'd love to go to my charity knitting group and actually have something to give them for a chance. Maybe if I really dedicate myself, I can make some progress.

6. Hat, scarf, glove set

This is not actually started yet, except for the hat, which I cast on last night so I would have some mindless knitting. This was a request from the boyfriend, who even bought me the yarn for it. I have made him a hat and scarf set, and a hat and handwarmer set, but he does not actually have a matching set that includes all 3 pieces. It seemed like a perfectly reasonable request to me (okay, let's be real - I get giddy when people ask for knitting, and buying me yarn is the surest way to guarantee I'll actually do it) so I agreed, provided he was willing to wait until after the Christmas knitting was done. Since the Christmas knitting is done, it's time to get busy on this most reasonable of requests. I had intended to start the scarf first but I couldn't find the right needles, so the hat is coming first instead. I'm using the tried and trusted Kim's Hats pattern from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, ribbed brim variation. His first hat was a rolled brim hat that was one of my first projects, knit flat and then seamed. I still consider it a wonder that the seam has not come apart after all this time, but there you go. It was knit out of Lion Brand Wool-Ease and I'm kind of embarrassed when he wears it now, since I am capable of so much better. The scarf that goes with it is a broken garter rib scarf. The reason for this is because I misunderstood the directions for the ribbed scarf I was actually trying to make. The second hat I made him was a 1x1 ribbed hat out of Noro that looks very fetching on him. It doesn't really have a brim, it just goes in 1x1 from top to bottom. It's very stretchy and fits him well, which is something of an accomplishment because his larger than average intelligence apparently requires a larger than average head - his is 26". I usually accommodate this by starting with the number of cast on stitches for the large size, and taking the difference between the medium and large sizes and adding that number of stitches to the large. This time, we're going with a ribbed brim hat that will be knit long enough that he can fold the ribbed part up to have a double layer over his ears.

The scarf will be plain garter stitch, but knit lengthwise - which is why I couldn't start it yesterday. I found my 16" 9's, but not my US9 interchangeable tips. I'm missing a bunch of cables too. I'm not a very organized or disciplined person, so they're probably scattered all over everywhere. I actually think the #9 tips are in my Simone sweater! More motivation.

For the hands, I will probably do another set of Urban Necessity gloves. Why fix it if it's not broken? I rarely knit patterns more than once, but I've made a ton of these gloves over the years. Same with the Kim's Hats, really, it's just my go-to pattern.

7. Socks

I always have a couple of socks on the go. I have two pair in progress right now, one for me and one for my big-footed honey. These don't count. Half the time I don't even put socks on my Ravelry project page. There will always be socks.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Burn, baby, burn

I blocked the Phoenix shawl this weekend and it's fabulous, possibly one of my favorite things I've ever made. I love it with (appropriately) the fire of a thousand suns. But I'm going to talk about that at the end of the post so I don't get carried away and forget all the other stuff.

Since I finished Phoenix I was really excited to cast on for Fiori. I got this far:


And decided the yarn wasn't working for me. I hated it. I hated everything about it. I was surprised because I usually like Valley Yarns, and I've knitted with the worsted weight colrain and loved it. I finally decided that it was probably a perfectly good yarn that was simply failing to live up to my vision for this particular project. This is entirely my own fault for not stopping to think about the qualities of the yarn and what I wanted out of the shawl. While colrain worsted had a very wooly feel, colrain lace feels more like a cotton blend (it's wool/tencel, and since tencel, like cotton, is a plant fiber, I don't understand why this was such a revelation to me. Failure to actually think about it, I guess. Anyway, I was very disappointed and I started looking at other yarns. I was looking at some of the wool/cashmere/alpaca blends and even some of the 100% merino yarns, which I usually shy away from just because I like some silk or plant fiber in the blend for strength. I wanted something lofty and lightweight for this shawl.

I was lamenting my troubles on the 11 in 2011 Raverly group when I remembered this:


It's Sundara yarn silk lace in Tulip, a colorway that she put out a couple of years ago as part of her Flowers From My Mother's Garden series. When I saw it, I wanted it for Hanami. David got it for me for my birthday, but because of the way Sundara was doing orders for this colorway I didn't get it until much later. What I expected was a mixture of ivory, white, and pink, and that does seem to be what most people got, based on the images in Ravelry. But, when you order art yarn from a hand dyer you have to expect a little variation, and what I got was mostly ivory and yellow, with just enough pale pink tint to give it a bit of a pink blush when viewed from an angle.

I didn't mind but I decided it wasn't right for Hanami (besides, I had been given some pink Schaefer Trenna in the meantime that I used instead) so I just sort of put it aside. I didn't forget about it, exactly, but I never quite decided what to do with it. But, I think it will be perfect for Fiori. Not quite as lofty as what I had in mind, but silk is so lightweight, and the color is so perfect, that I think it will make a beautiful spring shawl. I cast on with it and knit through chart A, and all was in harmony in my little knitting universe once again.

However, I didn't get very far on it, because I was obsessed with my cashmere Limestone One Skein shawl. The yarn is so scrumptious, and the project goes so quickly, that I just couldn't put it down. I was actually hoping to finish it by the end of the weekend, but I didn't quite make it. I'm working on the knitted-on edging, and I only made it to about the halfway point. I added another pattern repeat in to the main body, since I hadn't yet used up quite half of my yarn, but I failed to actually look at the edging first. It's not a one-to-one repeat so I'm going to have to fudge a little bit as I go around the corner. The pattern has directions for short rows to knit as you go around the point of the triangle, and I'm just going to have to start the short rows a couple rows sooner than directed to make it work out. That'll teach me to check the math next time.

I'm kind of disappointed I didn't finish. I figure I basically have to finish a shawl a month to make it to 11 in 2011, and how encouraging would it be to have the first shawl done and have the rest of the month to start on the next one? Besides, my yarn for Galadriel's Mirror came in and I can't stand it, I want to start that one so badly. Sigh. Well, it's taking me about 10 minutes per edge repeat and I think I have about 17 repeats to go do the math. I don't think I'll have time to finish it tomorrow but I'm hoping by Tuesday I will be able to finish.

Part of me is anxious and frustrated about the way I have really crammed up my knitting schedule for the next too months. I know it's only knitting, it's a hobby and it's not supposed to be frustrating, and I can really just take things at my own pace if I feel like it. I will eventually get to the point where I acknowledge this is what I'm going to have to do. But I WANT to do it all now!!!

Just to make things even more complicated, I signed up for Stephanie Japel's online shawl design class which begins on Feb. 1. I'm all kinds of wigged out about it, which is so ridiculous it's funny. If it turns out that I am utterly hopeless at shawl design, who is going to know or care?? I need to come up with a theme or concept, though, because I definitely will like the shawl better if I have an inspiration for it.

And now...if I could have a drumroll please....







Phoenix Rising in Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace in colorway Maple Grove. Knit to spec except that I didn't pay attention to the beading instructions for the center panel, so my beads all fall a row below where they are supposed to be. I don't think it really matters. Final product comes out to about 7 feet wide and three feet down the spine. This shawl pleases me to the bottom of my artistic soul. It looks more like a field of erupting volcanoes than a phoenix to me, but I love it. The yarn is perfect, the pattern is great, the beads are almost impossible to see in the pictures, but they look like tiny little embers. My only regret is that it didn't occur to me to add some into the triangles before the edging. I should have added more. This shawl looks like Pele herself would wear it and I LOVE IT WITH THE FIRE OF A THOUSAND SUNS.

Eat your heart out, Katniss Everdeen.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Because, after all, what is yarn but a beginning? (You there, in the back, fussing about raising sheep and spinning and how yarn is not actually the beginning. Shut up. You're ruining my poetic comparison. It's the beginning for me.)

I got some gorgeous Christmas loot. There was apparently some sneakiness involved during our visit to Cloverhill for the Dragonfly Fibers trunk show.

Djinni Sock in Black Pearl


Love it. That makes 5 skeins of Djinni sock total in my stash. 2 skeins are slated to become Taygete, the next shawl in the 7 small shawls series, and one is in the process of becoming a pair of socks. I feel like I'm going to save the Black Pearl and Reluctant Dragon colorways for a shawl. Ooo, maybe I will look at them together. At the trunk show there was a gorgeous Clockwork made from two skeins of Djinni.

And...even better...1200 yards of Dragonfly Fibers Gaia Lace in Black Pearl. I can't tell you how many times I went back to this at the trunk show, and it was only a very limited budget and an iron determination to be good that let me walk away from it. I was absolutely delighted to open this gift!!


It's gorgeous. Absolutely stunning, and so soft. 45% cashmere and 55% silk. Oh, let's have another shot, just for kicks.


I'm officially on the prowl for a pattern worthy of this goodness. Something night-themed would be awesome. Just the thought of being wrapped in all that soft gorgeousness....oh, sorry, where was I?

From my friend in Texas who sends me yarn every year from the Heritage festival, I received these:


Mmm, warm squishy worsted weight naturally dyed merino goodness. I'm just now noticing that the yellow in that photo is's more peachy in real life. I have no idea what I'm going to do with these as yet, I will have to wait for a project to strike me. Historically the Heritage yarn has come in very generous skeins but I don't think there was any actual yardage listed - only the 4 oz notation. But I'm sure I can get a couple of cozy hats out of these at the very least!

One of my friends went to Spain on vacation and she brought me yarn from Barcelona, and some other yarn that was also made in Spain but she wasn't sure exactly where. She also bought me an absolutely soft, beautiful woven shawl. And I, of course, forgot to photograph any of it because it was in a separate bag from the other Christmas loot.

I also bought myself some things with Christmas money from grandma - a skein of Sanguine Gryphon Bugga in Arachne for the final installment of the 7 Small Shawls ebook (planning to knit #6 from stash), 3 skeins of Handmaiden Silk Twist in Silver for Galadriel's Mirror, and Unique Sheep Ling in the Mirkwood colorway for the In Dreams mystery knitalong. Those items haven't arrived yet - but that's got to put the cap on my spending for a good long while. That was a pretty major splurge, but between that, the stash, the Christmas loot - I really ought to be set on yarn for quite a while. My project list is already bigger than I can probably manage for the year and I now have yarns for just about everything, so I'll try to be good from here on out. It does not help me, however, that one of the group members on Ravelry just posted that Signature Needle Arts will be offering size 3 and 4 circulars starting January 18. Oh well. They will have time to work any kinks out by my birthday.

Before I close, I leave you with a funny story related to yesterday's post. I got my beads back and was working on Phoenix when I realized how few beads were left in the tube. I groaned, thinking I was in for yet another delay in finishing this shawl while I ordered more beads. Fortunately, I thought, the people over at Bobby Bead are wonderful and if I ordered right away I would probably get my order before I had time to run out.

Something about this thought triggered a memory, though. I ordered a bunch of beads in different colors some time ago when Bobby Bead was having a sale, and I remember looking at one of the tubes when they arrived and thinking, oh, that was the color I used for Phoenix, and how silly of me to order something I already had.

I went upstairs and sure enough, in my bead bin was a tube of size 8 Toho silver-lined smokey topaz. This is great because it means I can keep knitting with no fear of delay - but it also made me mad because if I had just remembered on Sunday that I had that tube, I might already be finished!!! There I was thinking that I couldn't work on it because I forgot the beads, and I had a whole tube of them upstairs. Argh!

Monday, January 3, 2011


After so much time away, which I spent very productively, I have so much to say that it might be too much for one blog post. I'll give it a shot and then we'll have a bonus post this week if I have more to say.

With no further ado, let us begin. First up is one you haven't seen before.

Knitting - 042

In an attempt not to get caught at Christmas with a half-finished shawl, I started this one way early. I needn't have worried - it was a surprisingly fast knit. The end result is a little shallow, I suppose, so that might be why it went more quickly than I expected. Right about when the rows start to get really tedius, you're done. As a result this one was done in August and I am horrible at keeping gifts secret, so it was a real effort not to even hint at this one. I couldn't even talk about it on Ravelry or put up a project page, as the recipient might have stumbled upon it.

Knitting - 043

Knitting - 050

This is one of those projects where I really had a specific effect in mind. I wanted an aspen-themed shawl, I wanted it to really look like aspen, and I wanted it to be the color of aspens in the fall, and I had very specific ideas about what that meant. I chose the Aspen Grove shawl (as opposed to the many, many other lovely aspen-themed shawls out there) because to me the stitch motif actually looks like a real aspen leaf. Moreso on the model than on my version, to be honest, but I think that has to do with the yarn I used. It's a very tightly spun silk from No Two Snowflakes, in a OOAK colorway called Opportunity Knocks. It's perfect for the shawl but I think because the stitch definition is so incredibly crisp, the shape of the leaf is a little less rounded than I would have preferred (might also have to do with my guage), but it's still very close. I paid close attention when I blocked to make sure I got them as rounded as possible.

Knitting - 044

I actually spent a lot of time thinking about whether I could possibly get a gradient effect in the shawl so that the trunks would be more white. I thought about using 3 colors and holding two strands together throughout, changing from two yellow strands to one yellow and white strand and then one white strand - but in the end, I just went with this yarn, which is much more variegated than you can see in the pictures. Then I thought about beading the tree trunks with white pearl seed beads, but after examining the chart I decided this would be too difficult and end up making the shawl too heavy.

Knitting - 048
(I'm not sure but I think this photograph is actually of the wrong side. You can see the pearl bumps in the leaves. Oops.)

The next thing I have to show is this:

That was my Christmas present from the SO - enough KnitPicks blocking mats to cover a 6x6 surface. Why on earth would anyone need so many blocking mats?

So that I could finally do this:



Though as you can see, my finished project fell far short of the 6' diameter the pattern instructed. Not surprising, I used the recommended needle size, and I'm a tight knitter by nature. Photographing white on grey turned out to be a little challenging, but I did my best.




Once my Christmas knitting was done my hands were not idle. I was determined to finish some projects before I got home, projects that I knew would take forever to finish if I just had an hour or two every night to work on them. First up was Bluebird with its 70 million repeats (not really, it was only 38, but it felt like a lot). Normally I avoid patterns with repeating motifs for this reason, I get bored very quickly and the project just drags out as I slog through the middle sections. So, I put my vacation time to good use and cranked on this as hard and fast as I could to get through it. Then I relaxed a bit as I knit through the other end. I was hoping to finish this by midnight on New Years, but I didn't quite make it. I was distracted by guests and board games, which are all integral NYE traditions for us, so though I had it in my lap the whole time, I did lose a lot of knitting time. By 1 a.m., I had made it to the last row. I chose not to do the bind off just then, though, since I didn't want to screw it up due to tiredness. This turned out to be a good decision as I nearly screwed it up in the afternoon.


Yesterday I rearranged my blocking mats and pinned it out.




I should probably be ashamed of how happy it makes me that I can now block without leaving the room with the TV.


The beads were so pretty that I wished I could have used more, but I couldn't figure out a logical placement that didn't use way too many more than I wanted to deal with.

I still have one loose end that's not quite tied up yet.


Once I had the middle section of Bluebird done, this monstor became my vacation knitting. After such a long break, it didn't feel like it was going nearly as slow as it had when I stopped, so that's good - although an eye on the clock shows that it is not, in fact, going any faster. Then, at the airport while working on the last repeat of the Edge chart, I started to worry that I was going to run out of yarn. You can see that ball doesn't have much left, and if you squeeze it it becomes truly frightening how little is left. I stopped, afraid I was going to run out and end up having to frog a whole repeat of Edge. I didn't have a scale with me (I was, in fact, sitting at the airport when I reached this conclusion) so I decided it was better to wait until I could weigh it. I did have a little winding incident when I wound this yarn and I knew I had a little miniskein left over from that, but I was sure it was going to be too tiny to matter.

On New Years Day, after I finished Bluebird, I picked Phoenix back up again and got out the scale. The yarn I had left weighed about 13 grams, and I was fretting myself to pieces. I went and got the little mini skein. When I took it out of the ziplock it was in, it was surprisingly fat. I went straight back to the scale.


Yes, I thought, now we're in business. Now instead of 'definitely not gonna make it' I was back up to 'might possibly, if I'm very lucky, make it.'

As of yesterday I still hadn't totally used up the original ball, and I'm into the ending rows now. There are 10 ending rows and I'm running at roughly a gram a row, or slightly less. I don't think these last rows get any bigger, so I think, maybe, I'm gonna be okay. I'm going to get another 2 rows out of the original ball, I think, which will leave 6 rows of the ending rows for that little 9 gram miniskein. That leaves me 3 grams for the bind off, which...will be really tight, honestly. I mean, if you figure that a normal row would take 1 gram, then I would like to think the bind off will take no more than twice the normal amount of yarn. But I'm not sure. And, to be honest, I'm using more like .8 grams per row, so maybe I will have a little leeway. I could leave out two rows of the ending chart and probably be no worse for it, but...I don't know. We'll see. I normally don't mind frogging when I need to, but I'm not sure I could handle frogging that many stitches if I get to the end and don't have enough. Stay tuned, people, this one will be a nail-biter. I was honestly hoping to finish yesterday, but I left my tube of beads at the SO's place at the NYE party so I had to stop once the ones I had in the bag ran out. At 40 minutes a row this is still going to take a while to complete, but if I don't have it done by this weekend I will cry.

Since I was stuck, I did what any knitter would do - I started a new project. I was hoping to cast on Fiori di Sole, but it turns out that all my size 4 needles are in use. I'm honestly not sure how this is possible, I have 3 or 4 sets and I can only account for two. There is one set of wood tips in my needle binder, but I have such a preference for the metal ones that I thought I might as well just wait until Phoenix is done and I can reclaim those needles.

Instead I started this.


The Limestone One-Skein shawl in delicious fingering cashmere from Zen Yarn Garden, in a color that reminds me of rasberry sherbert. So light, so soft, so gorgeous. My new love. But I'm sticking to my guns on finishing Phoenix. I'm so close. That will be my first priority until it's over.

I plan to cast on for Fiori, and that will leave me with one really intensive, demanding project (Sevillano), one more relaxed lace project (Fiori) and one pretty easy fingering lace project (Limestone). I consider this an acceptable status for WIPs.

I also finished (and gifted) the Esplanade hat I was working on, so that's off the needles, leaving me with just shawls, a couple of pairs of socks, and the one sweater (Simone from French Girl Knits) as active WIPS. We do not speak of the non-active WIPS.

The rest of what I had to say involves Christmas loot and this is already a pretty picture-heavy post, so I think we'll save that for a bonus post.