Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wool Therapy

It's the middle of the week and I don't know about you all, but I could really use a break, so let's look at some yarn!!

First up, yarn from The Flying Skein in Seward. Highly recommend this little shop, they had lots of cute stuff and some good yarns, including these Alaska-dyed yarns:

First up, from Raven Frog Fibers:

Elegante in Colorway Stormy Sea. This one was probably the priciest yarn I bought (except for the quiviut) but it was so pretty that I couldn't walk away from it.


It's a 50/50 wool silk blend (you know I am a sucker for silk) in a light fingering weight, about 650 yards. I'm thinking it'll make a beautiful small shawl, maybe for one of Romi's year 2 e-book shawls.

I wish I had thought to photograph the tag where I could see it and quote it here, because I LOVE hearing about the inspiration behind the colors and this dyer had very elegant explanations for her inspirations.

From the same shop, and the same dyer, Bear Feet in colorway Alaskan Husky (no one who knows me is surprised that I insisted on getting the one named after the dog):


I got another skein of Bear Feet in a colorway called...uh...Russian Gown? Something like that. I knew it until I tried to type it. This skein's not for me, so it's not even in my Rav stash for me to check.

This dyer's definitely on my 'would buy again' list and I haven't even knitted with the yarn yet. Love the colors and the stories behind them.

On the advice of some Ravelers we also went to The Tangled Skein in Eagle Pass, where I picked up a couple of skeins of sock yarn, which I believe were dyed by AlaskanNancy.

One in colorway Dog Sled Team:

And one in colorway Grizzly Bear,
which I think are destined to become socks for CodeNinja - a nice souvenir for him.

Lastly, we went to Far North Yarn in Anchorage, where I bought quiviut for what I thought was a very reasonable price, considering. Sadly...I forgot to photograph it.

So that's it for my Alaska Stash Enhancement, but since I was photographing anyway, I went through a literal pile of yarn I had sitting at the foot of the stairs and logged in some acquisitions that never made it into the stash or onto the blog. These were from the Indie Artist Celebration that Eleganza Yarns had a while back:

Shelby B's Designs Sterling Silver Merino in Minister of Magic (I'm thinking Romi shawl for this one)

Crazy4Dying Squishy Sock in Mandarin

These were birthday yarn:

Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Tart

Mountain Colors Winter Lace (50 silk/50 wool, 600 yards) in Harmony Lake

And, this is the yarn I finally chose for my much-neglected Sea Turtles shawl design, undyed Tussah Silk from Dye for Yarn (I find it supremely ironic that I have drooled over the colorways on her site for ages, and what do I finally buy? Undyed yarn.)

Well. I feel better. Back to the grind! Gotta earn some money with which to buy more yarn.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Seven - The Number of Completion

Ladies and gentlemen, I have officially knit all 7 shawls from Romi's newly-rechristened 7 Small Shawls to Knit: Year 1, the Pleiades. Let's take a little trip down memory lane.

1. Merope - Schaefer Audrey in Nellie Bly
Knitting - 002

2. Maia - Schaefer Audrey in Dian Fossey
Knitting - 002-2

3. Celaeno - Firber Optics FootNotes in Sapphire Batik
Knitting - 062
Knitting - 071

4. Elektra - Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Silk in Mochaccino
Knitting - 121

5. Taygete (twice) - Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock in Pink Hydrangea and Dark Flannel Pajamas and Mirasol Tupa in Sapphire and...something else. I can't be bothered to look it up.

6. Asterope - Lisa Souza Cashmere & Silk in Peacock

7. And, finally, Alcyone - Ellyn Cooper's Yarn Sonnets in the impossible-to-photograph Aqua Tide

I probably should have waited until she was blocked to make this triumphant post, but I just couldn't wait. This has been so much fun, knitting through all seven shawls, and more importantly, it was the eBook that brought me to Romi's Ravelry group, where I have met so many friends and received so much encouragement. Little did I know when I started this journey that I would end up where I am, so thank you, Romi, from the bottom of my heart, and I so look forward to Year 2: The Muses. Where will I be this time next year, when I look back? I don't know, but I can guarantee you one thing - there will be a damn fine pile of knitting next to me. Or not - since I kept all 7 shawls this year, I am thinking seriously about giving away all 7 next year, about selecting a woman who inspires me for each muse, and knitting that shawl for them. I'll be honest, though - I'll have a real hard time giving these away!

In the meantime, that dastardly Romi has released a new design in a yarn that I just happen to have in my stash so - I guess that will tide me over while we wait for the first muse!

Now I'm feeling a little put out because I had all this eye candy to show you from my Alaska trip, of the local yarns I bought, and yet I feel like this post should stand on it's own. If I were a little smarter, I might hold that in reserve in case I don't have anything to post next week, but I'm impatient, so stay tuned for a bonus post this week! (Besides, this weekend is a long weekend and, God and the 4th festivities willing, I will have a finished Spanish Moss to show.)

Monday, June 20, 2011


I'm afraid I don't have much to show today! Between heavy deadlines at work and personal stuff, including a visit from my BFF who was in town for the weekend, I didn't get a whole lot of knitting done, and I didn't get what knitting I DID do photographed. Nothing except a crappy iPhone shot of a sock that is serving as my current mindless knitting.

Thrilling, I know. I've just started the heel flap. I began this sock ages ago and it sort of fell by the wayside in favor of other projects (including SOMEONE'S pointlessly-six-foot scarf).

Other than that, I knit a washcloth during Green Lantern, which my dear friend wanted to see, and the fact that I went at all is a testament of my love for her. It's a simple garter stitch square, and somewhere I dropped a stitch in the middle of it and I noticed it during the movie, but there was no way to fix it in the dark and no way I was going to go without knitting during that rest of that movie (let's just say the reviewers are not lying to you in this case), so I tossed a YO in over the dropped stitch to get my count back up, and then when I got home, I dropped the stitch over the YO, and laddered back up from the original dropped stitch. Problem solved. The tension is a little wacky on the four or so rows I worked before realizing I had dropped the stitch, but the YO and the stitches above it left plenty of tension in the following rows. Very exciting stuff.

What little true knitting time I've had has been spent on Alcyone. I've finished the two repeats of Chart B and started Chart C, but of course I didn't take a picture. Hint: it looks just like the picture from last week, only bigger.

I plan to spend as much time as I can knitting Alcyone until it's finished, and then I want to finish up Spanish Moss. I have just one end remaining and then it's done.

And then - I have to decide what to do next. Here are the options as I see them:

1. Lisianthus - Romi's Pins & Lace shawl from April, which I still haven't started. I haven't been able to make up my mind on yarn for this one. I have some Shafer Andrea lace that I was thinking of using, but I just can't make up my mind if I like the color for this shawl or not. I'm thinking I might save this shawl to be my Christmas project, since I always take a big lace project with me to my parents' house over my Christmas vacation. Oooh, maybe I could knit it in red and have it be a poinsettia shawl...this idea has merit.

2. Romi's Pins and Lace shawl for July - as yet unreleased, but probably coming due right about the time I finish the ones I'm working on.

3. In Dreams - I pretty much missed the Mystery KAL in its entirety (which I guess I'm kind of okay with) but the yarn and everything is still sitting there and I still really want to make this piece. I'm not convinced as to what to do about the beads, though - the beading is very, very heavy on this shawl and I just don't know if I actually want to

4. Finish a UFO - namely, Mystery Stole 4. I knit the first half and not the second, and I'm pretty sure I could chug through this one pretty quickly if I just sat down and committed to it, and then it wouldn't be sitting there mocking me any longer. Down side - this one has to be grafted in the center. I've never grafted lace and it sounds about as much fun as (to borrow a YH comparison) licking a yak.

5. Get moving on my sea turtle shawl design!! I don't know that I will ever become a full time designer, you guys. I have too much fun knitting other stuff. However, I do really, really want to finish this project and I'm still enamored of the idea of the shawl itself. I was thinking I might sell the pattern when it was finished and donate part of the proceeds to the National Aquarium, but I may just put it up for free with a link and ask people to donate as they see fit. We'll see. That's assuming I can get the pattern written and tested and all that stuff that makes me woozy when I think about it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Moving On

Today's blog post is a perfect follow up for last week, wherein I gave you all the scoop on my recent Alaska vacation and showed you a bunch of pictures of me knitting in various picturesque places. Today, I get to show you the fruits of those labors! I dedicated this past week and weekend almost exclusively to finish my Alaska shawl. I love these vacation projects, but I don't particularly love for them to continue too far beyond when we get back. It just rubs the shiny off them somehow. So, I'm very glad to proclaim this one done, a scant two weeks after our return!

I used four skeins of fingering weight Merino from Fleece Artist in colorways Aurora, Forest, Glacier, and Ocean. The color is truest on these pre-blocking pictures, since they look much darker when the shawl is wet. I used the setup instructions from Sivia Harding's Phoenix Rising shawl to get the Faroese shape.



I think the colorways worked fairly well together. If I had it to do over again, I might rethink the Forest part - it's beautiful on its own and was even beautiful with the Aurora, but once I added the Glacier stripe, it looked a bit more yellow than it did before. Still nice, but lesson learned for next time. I have told myself that the sharp contrast of the Glacier is thematically appropriate given how a glacier carves its way through the land, inexorable and uncompromising.


I ended up using three total stitch patterns, all from "Arctic Lace." Five repeats of the North Star motif from the North Star Scarf pattern run down the spine. At the bottom edge, (after some math help from CodeNinja) I added the smaller North Star pattern from the North Star tam. When I finished those stars, I realized I would have to block a huge straight edge if I just quit where I was, so I dove back into Arctic Lace and found the Herringbone Scallop pattern. I had just enough yarn for a single repeat around the edge.


I'm thrilled with the final result.


The perfect souvenir.

Now, it's no surprise that after finishing this epic project, I needed something a little lightweight - a palet cleanser, if you will. A few days ago (yes, days - super fast shipping and arrival!) I ordered a kit for the Butin Collar from Nelkin Designs in Elizabeth Kubler Ross. I thought the necklace was cute but the colorway/bead combo really sold me - I have a pair of copper earrings that I've never been able to find a matching necklace for, and I thought this looked like it could be a winner.

So my kit shows up within days of my order.


Including a teeny tiny yarn bundle (the project only takes 20 yards)...


...and a little baggie of beads, plus a clasp.


And a little bit of dental floss threader that I forgot to look for and almost lost. The hardest part (and it wasn't really hard, just tedius) was stringing the beads. They have to be prestrung on the yarn in a certain order, and I counted feverishly to make sure I didn't accidentally string them in the wrong order, because I know me. Fortunately, I didn't.

A few hours later....voila!



Color's a little off again because it's wet (I didn't pin it, just sort of tugged and flattened it into shape) but there she is. Gorgeous and PERFECT for my earrings (which I forgot to photograph). The only thing left to do is, er - sew on the clasp. I'm a little intimidated by that part, truth be told. Sewing is just about the only craft I'm NOT into. I can cross stitch a bit but somehow I doubt it's exactly the same skill set. But, I'll give it a whirl, hopefully tonight because I really, really want to wear it.

Anyway, I was so delighted with the finished result that - well. I kind of lost my mind a little bit. Remember Merope?

Knitting - 007

Plenty of Schaefer Audrey in Nellie Bly left over from that project, so I hit up my bead stash, and...well.


(not blocked, so the color's truer but it's not as nicely shaped yet)

The beads are leftover from Elektra, plus some copper lined 'black diamond' beads I had ordered for another project and decided not to use.

It took me maybe an hour to make that second one, not counting bead stringing time. The whole necklace is a total of eight rows of knitting. Insane.

You want to know what's really scary? Remember Maia?

Maia - 012

Yeah...I have leftover yarn and beads from that project too!! And I may or may not have strung the beads last night and left it waiting for me to get home to this evening. I'm not telling.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I'm back!!

My dear, neglected blogees, I am back from vacation and newly recommitted to this whole blogging thing. We had the most wonderful time on our trip. Everything was perfect. The weather was amazing, the places we stayed were great (with one single-night exception, which I can live with), and we saw all kinds of wildlife.

To say I got home with renewed energy would not be entirely accurate (we left at 8 pm on Sunday and arrived home at 1 pm Monday), something about coming back from vacation fills me with the sense of a new start. I channelled this energy into my poor neglected Sakaki shawl. Before we left, I had knit almost the entire thing, and then I ran out of yarn just short to the end and had to rip it back. I didn't manage to pick it up again after that, but once I got home, I couldn't put it down, and I raced back through the lace portion and down to the end, and ended up with a very satisfying little leftover ball of yarn.




I also blocked my Asterope at last. I finished it ages ago, but for some reason I just couldn't get up the blocking mojo to get it done. It's no secret, I hate blocking - love the end result, understand it is a necessary step, but I absolutely loathe the process, and I guess I just couldn't face it before the trip. Now she's all done and sitting pretty.


While I was gone, the 7th sister, Alcyone was released, but I'm in the grips of some pretty strong finish-it-up-itis and there is one very important project that is still not done. And let me tell you, I knit that thing the whole time we were gone. And I have proof.
When I left, I was still on the first ball of yarn. I didn't get nearly as much work done on the shawl before we left as I had hoped. However, by the time we got to Seattle I was ready to join the second ball of yarn. I didn't get very far because my hands gave out on the flight to Anchorage and I really had to stop. I picked it up again the next morning, however, as we waited for an hour to get into the restaurant we had picked out for breakfast. I owe a huge debt to the knitters on the Alaska Knitters group on Ravelry, who were generous enough to give me a billion recommendations for yarn shops and places to eat. We sat in a little park and looked out over the Cook Inlet and I knit while we waited for breakfast. Then I knit in the car as we drove out to Potter Marsh, a protected bird habitat outside of Anchorage. We didn't see much, but I kept knitting as we went out to the Wildlife Conservation Center that's just a little beyond Potter Marsh. Sadly, it rained on us and so I mostly stayed in the car.

The next day we took the train from Anchorage to Seward, and did I knit? You bet I did.

Alaska May 2011 - 082

In between taking pictures through the windows. I have to recommend taking the train. It's slower than going by car as the train doesn't move very quickly, but it's absolutely a beautiful view and it was much better for both of us to be able to enjoy the scenery instead of one of us being stuck driving.

When we arrived in Seward, we drove around for a while getting acquainted with the place, had lunch, did a little shopping, and then we decided to 'hike' out to Exit Glacier. I put 'hike' in quotes because, well. It's more like a really long walk. Not much effort to get there at all. I took the knitting.

Alaska May 2011 - 171

I'm hiking in short sleeves here but as soon as we came over the next rise and were standing level with the glacier, the coat went on. Not surprisingly, the winds coming off that thing are FREEZING.

Alaska May 2011 - 187

We hiked to the edge of the Glacier, and then down to the toe of the Glacier. The last bit was interesting because the trail ends at the glacial moraine, and you basically have to pick your way across shifting rocks and streams of melted glacier water to get to the glacier itself. Neither of us fell in, but neither of us escaped entirely dry, either. Fortunately the water wasn't that cold and the weather wasn't cold at all.

The day after that we went on a wildlife cruise with Major Marine Tours in the Kenai Fjords, and it was absolutely amazing. I didn't take the knitting since I had visions of it tumbling overboard or something equally absurd, but I had the camera up so often I wouldn't have gotten much done anyway, because we kept seeing things like this.

Alaska May 2011 - 319

If it lives in (or visits) the fjords, it was out that day. The orca pod we saw were being studied by a science vessel, so our captain was able to tell us which orca pod it was. It's led by a matriarch named Aurora and I think I actually saw a Discovery Channel documentary about them at one time. I can't for the life of me remember the name of the science boat, though, and my searches aren't turning up anything.

Anyway, that was really the highlight of the trip. We saw otter, orca, humpback whales, sea lions, Dall sheep on the cliffs around Resurrection Bay, we saw glaciers - it was truly a wonderful experience.

The next day we drove until we found a promising trail head and hiked to Greyling Lake. There wasn't much to see in the way of wildlife but the forest itself was very pretty, everything covered in neon green moss. I found a log sticking out over the water and climbed out and sat on it to knit.

Alaska May 2011 - 403

Alaska May 2011 - 404

On our last day in Seward, we went to the Sea Life Center, and afterwards we spent some time hanging out outside the sea life center, watching a wild otter in the bay as well as a harbor seal that made an appearance or two. Of course, I watched while knitting.

Alaska May 2011 - 458-2

We went back to Anchorage and I did some yarn shopping, and then we drove to Homer, where we took a quick cruise across the bay to Seldovia. This time I did bring my knitting with me.

Alaska May 2011 - 516

Eagles and otter are what I will remember most about Homer. There were tons of both, everywhere. And the otter are so cute!!

Alaska May 2011 - 532

And as it happened we arrived to see the annual Memorial Day Chainsaw Carving Competition in progress.

Alaska May 2011 - 572

It rained on us a bit in Seldovia, but we stopped in a local shop/bookstore/thingy and sat on the deck under the trees with some hot chocolate to watch some eagles in the trees across the river.

Alaska May 2011 - 578

I was sad to come home, but alas, we had to. The flight home was brutal but I knit pretty much the whole time, and I'd almost gotten through the third skein of yarn when we got home. I still have the last skein to knit, and I'm working hard on getting the shawl done so I can show it off here and have it to remember our wonderful vacation.

Once that's done, here I come Spanish Moss and Alcyone! There's so much I want to knit, and so little time. I haven't touched the April installment of Pins and Lace and the July installment is rapidly approaching, plus all the non-Romi stuff I want to knit. I still plan to do the In Dreams shawl, even though it's definitely not a mystery at this point. Lots of stuff I'm just brimming over to do - but I really want to finish what I have first!