Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Effect of Social Knitting on My Project List

Otherwise known as, How I Got Into This Mess. This WIP report brought to you by peer pressure. If you can call it peer pressure when really it's just that you can't stand to see other people have fun without you.

1. Taygete

I have dropped everything every time one of the 7 Small shawls series was released, and this one is no exception. I don't mind so much, as these are mostly quick knits in sock weight yarn and are a great relief from lots of big lace projects. But, let's face it, I started it because I didn't want to be left out. If you're knitting these shawls and you're not on the @Romi's Studio group on Ravelry, you're missing out. We're having so much fun.

2. Umaro blanket

I'm knitting this one because the yarn was a great deal and one of the few knitters I know IRL is knitting it too. I've been neglecting it for some of the other things, so she is now way ahead of me. Since she intends to knit two, I figure I am still ahead if you look at percentage complete. Not that anyone's counting.

3. Fiori di Sole

I've been planning to knit this one for ages, but I started it because others in the Romi group were working on it, and as they've left me far behind, it's languished in favor of projects that I could giggle over with others.

4. Galadriel's Mirror

Okay, I have no one to blame for this one but myself. I knew I was too busy to knit it but I cast on anyway. Now it's sitting there with cable caps on because I needed the needle tips for Taygete.

5. Prayers of Love Shawl

Started for charity knitting group. Had immense fun at the group. Group only meets once a month. Therefore, it languishes. Bad knitter.

6. Simone

Poor Simone. It's a lovely sweater, not hard, enjoyable to work on. And I've dropped it like a hot rock for all these lacy shawls and social projects. It's going to be totally useless within the next month, as it will be far too warm for spring wear. Hopefully I can finish it in time for next year.

7 & 8. Socks

I have two pairs of socks OTN, one for me and one for my honey. Unfortunately I hate the yarn I'm using for his and I'm not sure I will ever finish them. I may frog them and hide the yarn in the corner of my closet that I hope the moths go for first.

9. #2 of the matching set, the scarf.

Slowly but steadily making progress on this one. It's my carry-around project. It grows at an impressive speed when I work on it, but given that it's a scarf, it still takes forever.

10. Cotton Towel
I could finish this in a day if I could find it. I just knit it as a little something to try out my new stitch dictionaries, and then I got to where I needed to put the second end edging on it, and put it down, and I just haven't gotten back to it. If I can find the stupid thing I may just go ahead and cast off without edging the other side. It'll make me feel good to mark it as done.

11. Follow the Leader Shawl

Does anybody even remember this?

Tour de Fleece 2010 - 047

I marked it as frogged, though I haven't actually done it yet. I need to just face it up and admit that I hate the color of this yarn. Anybody want to take it off my hands? It's Rio de la Plata sock yarn in Paris Rain from the Yarn Market Impressionist series. I have two skeins (one obviously already wound and partially knit from, the other in the skein). I'll send it to anybody who wants it, so for the love of wool, please liberate me from it. I would much rather see it go to a good home than have it hanging around my house like the proverbial albatross. In fact, I should really cull my closet and find a way to foist all my other bad decisions on others.

12. Sea Turtle Shawl Design

My design class shawl is obviously going to be a longer-term project since I have to do more than, you know, knit it. Right now, I am having issues because I'm just not enjoying the yarn. I'm trying to decide what I should use instead, and nothing is really striking me. I like the sandy color of the yarn, rather than the more traditional green color that everyone seems to like for turtles (if you look at the pictures - they're not really all that green), but I guess I'm open to more tropical colors. I want something that's not too dark or too variegated so that the lace will show up. I don't think I want to use 100% silk. I'd love to use Handmaiden Seasilk or something similar, but I haven't really found a Handmaiden color that I like (plus, $$$) and it seems like not that many people carry seacell blends. I was thinking maybe about Schaefer Audrey, I really enjoyed knitting with that, but I'd like to have two skeins just in case I needed the second, and that makes it a little pricey, though I do like their Almond color. I'm open to suggestions if anyone has them.

That's TWELVE active projects (Well, 11, since I have decided to frog the one, but as I will be casting on Bitterroot for my CLASS WITH ROMI on Satuday, we might as well stick with twelve). And I haven't even started the In Dreams shawl. That is a huge number of WIPs for me. And I do not like it. Clearly I need to quit my job and become a knitting hermit so that I can accomplish all that is set before me. I will wall myself up in a little cell and you can pass me yarn and pizza through a tiny window.

Monday, February 21, 2011


As usual, business first, fun second. I have been working along on Taygete and let me tell you, it has become clear that she does not love me as much as I love her. If I were the Yarn Harlot I would have a bunch of pictures to go along with my tales of woe - pictures of piles of spaghetti yarn, pics that show how high I soared, and then how low I was forced to go. But I am not the YH and I do not have the self-control to stop in the middle of my agony to document it through photography, so my tale of woe is entirely text based, up until the happy - well, middle. It might be nearer the ending if there was less woe.

As you recall, I made a happy start on Taygete last Monday when it was announced, and though work and life interfered and slowed my progress to a stall. I was full of happiness and enthusiasm, for what I would do with this wonderful, wonderful shawl.

I was slightly confused, however, because the pattern uses YO increases on contrasting colors for the shaping, and Romi's instructions for what to do at the end of this triangle contain the following:
Note: loops formed along the shaped edge of the shawl will be in MC, although the YOs have been worked in CC. The loops do not fall directly below MC rows.

My loops were clearly in my contrast color, but for some reason, I paid no attention and kept on going.

Then someone made a post on the forum that stopped me in my tracks. I didn't think much about that actual post, but it led to a discussion that revealed to me that despite the fact that Romi's instructions very clearly say to knit the first CC row and then increase on the second CC row - I had been doing exactly the opposite. Therefore, my YO increases were on the wrong side of the shawl.

Now, I am sure there was a way around this. I am sure that this situation could be fudged. There is only one problem.

I do not fudge. A fudged shawl is a shawl I will not wear, or even look at. A fudged shawl fills me with the rage of a thousand suns. I do not fudge. I frog.

And frog I did. The shawl starts at only a few stitches, and I had increased up into the mid-40's, but I frogged it anyway. I was pretty good humored about it. I had no one to blame but myself. It's simple garter stitch anyway, no big deal. I discovered this on Friday, so I had all day Saturday to make up ground. I'd be past that spot in no time, right?

So I knit merrily along and I was doing really well, back up into the low 40s. I was quite satisfied with myself, it wasn't even noon yet, and I was thinking about putting Taygete down when I got back to where I had been, and spending some time on the sadly neglected Fiori, when someone else posted a question to the Rav forum about the number of stripes v. the number of stitches you should have on the needles at any given time. Seemed like an easy thing to figure out, so I did the math. Already embarrassed by my previous foible, I went back to count my stripes and make sure that the answer I was giving her was correct and there, way down at the tip of my shawl, I saw - two sets of CC ridges in a row. My CC and my MC are so similar in this shawl that I have gotten confused a couple of times, but I thought I had already caught them all. Not so. I frogged again (this time with less laughter and more grumbling). This took me back down into the low twenties.

I knit like a woman obsessed, determined that this simple little garter stitch shawl was not going to beat me, not going to be the boss of me. I knit and I knit and I knit and I finally got back up to where I had been. Then I had dinner, took a break to block Sevillano (more on that in a moment), and sat back down, thinking I might be able to make it to the center point of the shawl before bedtime.

This proved to be a slightly ambitious goal. I had just decided to give in for the night when I stopped and counted my stitches and my stripes. Then I counted again. Then I gave them to my boyfriend and made him count. There was no escaping the sad mathematical truth. I had one too many stitches on the needles.

Absolutely floored, I stopped and looked at the shawl, desperately seeking the traitorous little yarnover that must have slipped in there somewhere, wondering if it was somewhere where I could just drop it or if I was going to have to frog back again. And there was...nothing. absolutely nothing. I could see no stitch out of place. Everything looked fine. Nothing stuck out. I couldn't find anything. Finally, waaaaay down the shawl, about the length of my hand up from the tip (the entire shawl being about the length of my forearm at this point and wider than the length of my hand), I saw a little jog, just a teeny little kick out in the previously straight line that was the non-increase side of the shawl. I felt a sinking in my stomach. I was sure that was it. I inspected the stitches and the row closely and came up with nothing. I couldn't figure it out. I couldn't see the extra stitch.

I went to bed. A few hours later, I got up and I went downstairs and I picked it up and looked at it again, and there, in the dark of the night, I made a decision.

I will fudge.

This shawl's construction makes it very important that you have the right number of rows. The right number of stitches isn't that important. I decided to continue, since there was no problem with my rows, and somewhere on the other side of the shawl I will just randomly decrease an extra stitch. The little jog from the addition/subtraction of the extra stitch will not be noticeable in the finished, blocked product (and probably really isn't noticeable now, except to me and the people I keep obsessively pointing it out to, and let's face it - they don't care). I mean, really - can you see it?


It's on the right hand edge of the shawl. I'm sure you can, now that I've said something about it, but otherwise, you totally wouldn't know. (Lie to me people. I'm a woman on the edge.)

I think part of the reason I'm having issues with this shawl is that the colors I picked match a little too well. Though they are distinctly different when separate, there is pink in the purple and purple in the pink, and as you can see from the picture below, there are times when they stand out significantly, and times when they blur together. I've decided I like the effect, though, it looks kind of antiqued. Not as graphic as the people who are doing more solid, heavier contrasting colors, but I've always been a low-contrast kind of person (I present as evidence - just about every beaded item I've ever knit).


It's very humbling to get my butt kicked by this simple little garter stitch shawl that I should be able to knit in my sleep. Fortunately, I now have this to remind me that I do not actually suck at knitting.





Pattern is, of course, Sevillano from Romi's pins and lace club - now available to the public for purchase!. Yarn is Schaefer Andrea in colorway Barbara McClintock. This was a match made in heaven - couldn't have been more perfect! I did two extra repeats of Chart D and had about 26 g of the yarn left over.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oh, the Knits You Can Knit

You guys. I'm having so much fun. Romi's 5th Small Shawl, Taygete, is out and it's a blast. You remember, I got this yarn last year in anticipation of the shawl release. It took a little longer than we expected for the release because Romi wanted to make sure she got the sizing instructions right, and we finally got the pattern on Valentine's Day. Despite the fact that I already have way too much going on, I started. I can't stand to be left out.

That's a crappy iPhone pic, I know. Colors are truer in this pic:

Knitting - 122

So just kind of use your imagination to merge the two.

I love this pattern. I normally hate stripes, but that's usually because I hate weaving in ends. No ends here! This is a two row stripe pattern so you actually carry the yarn up the sides of the shawl. Romi uses yarnovers at one end of the rows to increase and make the triangle. Those yarnover loops will be picked up later to knit the lace border. I HATE picking up stitches and I love that Romi has included this detail to make the picking up part absolutely painless.

And, here's the best part, to my mind - this thing is never more than 70 or 80 stitches wide. No huge long rows (at least, not until you get to the lace part)!! I'm so excited about this I can't stand it. I hardly ever knit anything twice but unless something goes horribly, horribly wrong, I think Taygete may be my go-to pattern when I need a quick gift for somebody.

I was thinking, too, that it would be awesome to get a skein of black sock yarn and a skein of Noro sock yarn and stripe those - wouldn't that just look fab?? Oh! Oh! I think I have some mini-mochi in my stash!! Oh, the possibilities!!

I love getting jazzed about a new project - even though I have a bajillion things on the needles. In fact, I started a new shawl last night for my charity knitting group. Somewhere I have a simple shawl that's almost finished, but I couldn't find it yesterday, so I just grabbed a bag of charity yarn, printed out a free shawl pattern (rav link), and threw my needle binder in my bag. But, I have so many things on the needles that I didn't have any needle tips in the right size available! I needed 9's and all I had was 8's and 10.5's. I cringed a little but went with the 8's, figuring the 10.5's would be overkill. Anyway, it's a cute, fun knit in worsted weight and I vow I will finish it by the next meeting in March. I go, I knit, but I never actually finish anything, because I am a selfish, selfish little knitter. Maybe I can make a few dozen Taygetes to donate!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Check check

It was a good weekend for the knitting to-do list.

I finished off Sevillano.


And Avira, the shawlette from the Light and Dark club.

This is the first shawl I've knit from the bottom up, and it was awfully nice to have the rows getting shorter as you knit rather than longer!! I was thinking it was going to be awfully small, but now that it's finished I can see that it's going to be a good size when blocked. The colorway is "Pussywillow" dyed by Pennyworth Yarns. The next installment of the club should go on sale soon. It will be a dark month dyed by Zen Yarn Garden. I can't wait to see the colorway choices.

I've been working on the swatch for my design class.


I just pinned it out a bit so you could see the patterns. The top pattern is meant to evoke the pattern on the back of the mother turtle's shell, and the lower section is meant to represent the baby sea turtles headed for the water. Can you see them?


I'm wishing I had used a slightly heavier lace yarn. The cashwool is super affordable with great yardage but I had forgotten that it was so very fine. I'm thinking if I went down a needle size and tightened up the fabric more, maybe my baby sea turtles would show better. I'm not sure but I also think I may have messed up the first repeat, and there are only two here. Anyway, since it's so tough to see I made you a cheat.


See them now?

I still have a third stitch pattern to swatch, and a couple of problems to solve. But, I feel pretty good about my overbooked February so far. (Famous last words, right?)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Changing Direction

Well, my bloggy friends, I'm afraid I have lied to you once again. I didn't bind off Sevillano after all. I started on Monday, but the bind-off was coming off way too tight and I thought, I need to rethink this. So I set it aside, and I have no photos. I'm afraid I have been a little under the weather the past couple of days and the knitting has suffered a bit.

Yesterday, faced with the prospect of picking out the amount of the bind-off I had already done, I decided I had better get off my rear and get moving on my homework for my shawl design class. Some people are better at 'work at your own pace' than others, and I am definitely an other. The more structured the better, for me, when it comes to learning. But I digress. I'm going to try to describe my process without making it totally unnecessary for my readers to take Stefanie's class. Know that much more knowledge and many more tips are offered than I am presenting here.

The first step was, not terribly surprising, to conceptualize the shawl. Stefanie recommended sketching. I did it, although I felt silly, because I had already made some of the decisions she was asking us about. I knew I wanted to make a triangular (half-square) shawl and not a full square, and I knew I wanted to use laceweight yarn (completely disregarding Stefanie's advice, as it happens, but I already bought laceweight, so laceweight I shall use - besides, I much prefer the look of lace done in laceweight as a personal preference). I even had decided on a theme (which, incidentally, has since completely gone out of the window, but I'll get to that).

Anyway, I sketched. Badly. I'm not sure it got me anywhere, but I could see how it might be a useful process if you were just trying to figure out what you like. I attempted a stick figure on one of my drawings for scale - I generally prefer pretty good sized shawls that fall a little below my waist. I realize you can't tell that from my stick figure at all.

sketch 1

sketch 2

The next step was to pick out the stitch patterns that we wanted to use and start swatching. I thought this would be the fun, easy part of the whole thing, but it was actually quite frustrating. I went through making notes of stitch patterns that fit my 'theme' and found - none of them worked together. The stitch counts were wildly different, and nothing was coming together. In our class chat, one of the questions I asked was how Stefanie goes about choosing patterns. She said she usually starts with one stitch pattern that she really loved and then she looked for things that went with it. That made sense to me, although I didn't really get how anyone could design a themed shawl like all the ones I loved so much in this manner. But, I decided to toss my theme and try it that way.

So I got out my stitch dictionaries and picked one of the patterns that I had really liked when I was looking before, and I went through both books and then marked every single stitch pattern with a similar stitch count (the one I was looking at was 8+1, so I marked all the 8+1's and all the 16+1's, etc). I really didn't look at anything besides the stitch count at that point. Then, I flipped back through all the marked pages more slowly, looking at the stitch patterns themselves. And, gradually, a new theme came to me, based on the patterns that I was looking at, and I started to get really excited about the design process again.

I started a swatch but the Harmony Guide has no charts, only written directions, and they are written in what is, in my opinion, the most annoying way possible. So I wasn't even through the first row when I got impatient and went to KnitChart, where I charted out the pattern.

The other two patterns were in my Vogue Knitting stitch dictionary, which does have charts, but since I would need to chart them all out for my pattern anyway, I just went ahead and charted all of them. Besides being free, the program is very easy to use, and I just screen captured my charts and put them in a Word document, cropped, resized, and printed, and they are clear as day. I think I will have to redo the stitch legend, though, as I prefer different stitches from the default. It also lets you save the java code for a chart in a text file so when I'm ready to put my full pattern together, I can just load up my existing charts and copy and paste the symbols over.

All this took up so much time that I didn't even get through one repeat of my stitch pattern, so I didn't bother to photograph the swatch (I was sleepy), but I will leave you with a few images that are meant to be represented by the three stitches I intend to use. (Sadly none of these pictures, or the video, were taken by me, so click on the images to head over to flickr if you want to see more from the photographers themselves.)

Green Sea Turtle Shell

Baby Sea Turtle

Monday, February 7, 2011

Totally Under Control

I haven't much to show on the blog today, but come back tomorrow and I promise to have something worth seeing. I had no time at all to take pictures yesterday since I got home so late, but I'll have some tomorrow.

I have been working pretty religiously on Sevillano, determined to finish SOMETHING before the madness of February did me in. Last night I completed the last set of chart E repeats and tonight I will bind off. I probably won't have the time to block but I can at least show you the unblocked finished project. I can't wait to see it when it's not all scrunched up on the needles.

After that's done I intend to catch up on the knitting for the Dark and Light lace club. I have about a third of the first clue remaining and the second clue, and then I will be caught up. I figure that may take me the rest of the week, and if so, I'll start In Dreams this weekend. Somewhere in between there, I hope to catch up on my design class and start swatching.

In order to meet my 11 in 2011 goals I have to finish a shawl a month. Sadly, Sevillano doesn't count because it was started in 2010, so I still have to finish a shawl in February!! I'm hoping Avira (the light and dark club project, which I can't link you to because, well, it's a mystery) will be it, but if not, the new Pins and Lace pattern, Spanish Moss, is a pretty good candidate. It's a rectangular stole so it should be a nice thing to have as 'break' knitting while I work on all these giant projects.

I feel a little bad neglecting Fiori so - but I knew my February was going to be nuts so I'm okay with sort of laying it aside for the moment. It's still there, and I'll still be working on it off and on, and it's going to be a stunning finished product. If I can wear it in April or May I think that would be perfect, so that's my goal for that one.

See, I'm not going totally crazy. I can definitely handle all this. It's all totally under control. You know. For now.