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yesterday because I had the day off, and I figured I could make some good progress, so if I took photos it would all be out of date as soon as I showed it.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 h-word...it'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.