Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Getting There

I was so, unbelievably thrilled to realize last week that we didn't have any plans for the three-day weekend.  I think this is the first weekend since we got back from our honeymoon when we didn't have ANYTHING going on, and we took full advantage of it.  On Saturday we slept in, had lunch, and just generally goofed around the house being lazy.  On Sunday after church, we went down to Old Town Alexandria and had brunch at Bilbo Baggins.  It's one of our favorite restaurants, although we don't get out that way very often, and brunch was delicious.  We shared some beignets and then I had a monte christo sandwich and CodeNinja had their stuffed French Toast.



Delicious.  Then we found a shady spot down by the waterfront and set ourselves up some chairs.  CodeNinja read while I knitted, and we just enjoyed the day.  It was really hot overall, but there was a nice breeze blowing from the river, and since we were in the shade, it was quite tolerable.


We sat for a few hours just enjoying the day, and then popped over to Fibre Space.  I picked up this from Astral Bath Yarns, a new-to-me dyer with a really cool name.


It's kind of a misty blue or green color (depending on the lighting and the beholder) that's just lovely.  This yarn is a falkland merino/silk blend that's not one of the dyer's normal bases, and it's gorgeous and oh, so soft.



The colorway is called "The Poetics of Space."  I love an elegant name.

Then we had gelato and cupcakes.


Sadly the cupcakes were eaten before I could photograph them.

Monday we had to do all the responsible stuff like laundry and all that jazz, but I still got some knitting in.  I finished Pulelehua on Thursday last week, and immediately cast on for Calliope's Odyssey.  Then I knit like a fiend all weekend.



I've come to think of this as my "cherries and strawberries" shawl because that's what the two colors remind me of.  This is Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio Sock in Victorian Village (the light pink that looks like a strawberry milkshake) and a OOAK color that I can't remember the name of (the darker cherries garcia color).  I had been hoping (in that feverish, unrealistic way that knitters do) that I could finish this by today so that I could block it and deliver it to the recipient, but that's totally not going to happen.  I will definitely finish this weekend though.  The person I want to give this to is going to surgery on Monday and I really want to deliver it on Sunday morning at church if I can.  She is the sister of the lady to whom I plan to give Polyhymnia.

One of my goals this weekend was to finish getting all the "waiting to be blocked" shawls blocked, and I did succeed.  As you'll recall, I blocked Buttonwillow and Caliz last week, but I only showed Caliz on the pins, so here is a pic of it now that it is pin-free.



First up this weekend on the blocking -er, block, was Polyhymnia.


I put wires at the base of the MC triangle and then another set on the outer edge of the triangle just above the ruffle.  This is also Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio Sock, picked up at the same time as the other two skeins.



The ruffle on this shawl is one of Romi's super clever little touches.  Most ruffles are made simply by increasing and the fabric ruffles naturally.  On this shawl, there is increasing to create the ruffle, but Romi also made use of little purl triangles between the ruffles to make it ruffle even more nicely and consistently.  Because stockinette comes forward and purl recedes, you get neat little wedge shaped ruffles.  I tried to take a picture but it didn't work very well one-handed.


The end result came out very nicely and turned out to be a good size.  I was a little worried this one would be small, but it blocked out well.



Then the only remaining shawl to be blocked was Pulelehua.  Take a deep breath while you can as you look at the unblocked picture, because this shawl is really breathtaking.


And then...


I actually ended up blocking this one more severely than I intended.  I pinned the top edges and the center motif, and then started pinning the upper right edge.  Then  I switched over to the upper left edge - and after a while I realized that, in order to get the same appearance on the left as on the right, I was pinning that side much tighter.  I ended up repinning the right side.  Then repinning, and repinning.  There was a lot of moving of pins, is what I'm saying.  I finally had to get CodeNinja to come down and stand there with a bird's eye view telling me what I needed to move to make it look right.  By the time I was done, the poor shawl was stretched within an inch of its life.



Look at the cresting waves on the border!


The blocking shots actually don't really do justice to the shawl because between the highly aggressive blocking and the grey blocking mats, the color gets really washed out. But, once I picked it up, well.





The color is just gorgeous.  Great depth, wonderful sheen - this is Spirit Trail Decima and I will definitely be using it again some day.  Just luscious. 

I feel like I'm back in my knitting groove.  I've made good progress on Calliope even since the pictures in this post were taken.  Meadowgold is next up...and rumors and hints abound that we might be seeing some new releases in the near future!  

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I have been knitting with a vengeance this week.  I've hit that critical mass point on Pulelehua where you're so close to the end that it becomes a little bit of an obsession.  I ripped through as many rows as I could every night this week, and now I'm on the very last one - the one that increases the stitch count from 600 stitches to 1200.  Oh my.


This last row takes time because every third stitch of the previous row is a YO, and you are creating 6 stitches out of each YO on the final row.


I've seen enough FO pictures to know it will be worth it, but - it's a lot of stitches.

If I can get Pule (as all of us on Romi's group affectionately call this one) done by tomorrow evening, I'll have the whole Memorial Day weekend to work on a new project.  I had planned to cast on Calliope, which is the only published Muse I haven't completed yet, but the most recent Pins and Lace Project, Meadowgold, is calling my name a little bit.  We shall see which one wins out!  I'm trying to get through all the Romi shawls I haven't knit yet before she releases any more.  She's tough to keep up with and if I get too far behind I will never get everything knit!

It's been a bit all Romi, all the time over here since I discovered her designs.  How do I love Romi? Let me count the ways.

First and foremost, her patterns are thoughtful.  I love to knit things that are meaningful in some way or another, and Romi's designs always have an inspiration behind them that I can really get on board with.

Second, her patterns are clever.  She always has some neat little technique or different way of doing something that just makes me sit back and admire.

Third, her patterns are clear.   The charts are big enough, they're easy to understand, and I don't have to remember to do a different stitch on the wrong side of the work.  I think this may actually have frustrated some people who are accustomed to doing this, but I find it so much less headache-inducing.  I understand why other patterns work the way they do and it is much easier to see what your knitting is supposed to look like, but when it comes to the actual step by step of doing things - Romi's way is so much simpler.

The fourth reason I love Romi is that she is just a nice person, and the group of people who congregate on the forums of Romi's group is really stellar.  I just enjoy knitting with all of them so much (also, I am pretty sure they constitute the vast majority of my blog readership, which I am deeply grateful for).  We have a (completely reasonable for a designer's group) rule that we don't talk about nonRomi projects except in passing, and so when I start a nonRomi project, it feels a little bit lonely.  I've tried to get involved in other groups but I just don't really feel at home the way I do on Romi's forum. 

So, those are my reasons for my Romi obsession.  There are some designers whose designs I love but whose patterns I can't stand.  There are designers I love who just don't publish patterns often enough.  There are designs that catch my eye on Ravelry.  But 99% of the time, all the other projects take a back seat, because knitting along with my fellow Rominettes is just so much fun.

And now that I've said all that - I'm working on a nonRomi project.


It doesn't look like it now but this is a bunny.  My prayer shawl group always does a summer project that is not shawls, and this time the plan is to knit monsters to be donated to TAPS.  A bunny is not a monster but I didn't really get into any of the monster patterns.  So, I am knitting a bunny instead.  Maybe I will embroider some fangs.  The pattern is Henry's Rabbit and I'm knitting it in KnitPicks Swish Superwash in a colorway I can't remember - Doe, I think.  It's a nice computer project, where I can do a few rows while I wait for something to load or whatever. 

I'm also knitting a sock for CodeNinja that I forgot to photograph.  But mostly, it's all Pule all the time around here!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

One Row Ate Time

The delightful Caroline on the Romi forum made a little typo in one of her posts which I have snitched for a blog subject, because it seemed so appropriate!  (She meant to say one row at a time)  I am working veeeeerrrryyyy sloooooowly on my Pulelehua.  I think I'm averaging one pattern row a night.  If I'm lucky, I get in the corresponding purl rows.  But, though each row eats time, it also eats away into the number of rows that are left, and progress, though glacial, is present.  I'm almost at the tip of my butterfly's wings.  I have one pattern/purl set of rows left on my current chart and then I will have only three charts left.  (Only - sigh.)


I'm not complaining about the pattern at all, just about the lack of time I've been able to set aside for knitting lately.  I keep hoping things will calm down, and then something else just keeps cropping up.  I'm losing my Friday night & Saturday knitting time again this week for my church's women's retreat, but I think that is the last thing truly on the calendar for a while.  We still have a lot of cleaning and organizing and administrative Stuff to do, but I'm thinking about declaring Memorial Day a knitting amnesty day and spending the whole day with my yarn and needles - and possibly with my spinning wheel.

I did make use of the time I had this weekend when I had it, and I finally, finally, blocked my long neglected Buttonwillow, which, for those who have justifiably forgotten, was done in Road to China Light in Riverstone.



And my recently completed Caliz.


I was impressed with how much the Caliz grew in blocking.  I didn't expect it to come out quite that large, so that was a pleasant surprise.  This would have been a very quick and simple knit if I had stuck with it, but it became my "carry-around" project which resulted in it being left in the car or other various places, occasionally disappearing, etc. so it took me quite a bit longer than it should have.  The yarn is A Verb For Keeping Warm Metamorphosis in Transnational Fury.

I still have my Polyhymnia left to block, which should give me at least one more week of something interesting to show, and then if I manage to make some good progress on Memorial Day, I might actually get back on my once-a-week blog schedule!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In Training

These changes to the blogger interface are really cramping my blogging style, here, folks.  Sorry - please bear with me if things don't look quite right when posts first go up.  I try to fix issues within a couple hours of posting if there are any.

I've been working pretty monogamously on my Pulelehua.  This picture is about two charts old:


I have 5 charts to go.  This is another one of those really clever knits!  The rows are pretty long at this point, so it's taking me a while to chug through them, and I don't seem to have much knitting time lately.  We still have so many little things that we're dealing with, a bit at a time, that my evening time knitting has been largely reduced to two to three rows a night.  And, of course, there are things that have to get done on the weekend as well, so I'm not getting as much done then, either.

Since we got married out of town, we're having a reception for our local friends and family this weekend.  Once that happens, the next big thing will be buying the house we currently rent.  Then, hopefully, life will resume a less hurried pace - but that might be wishful thinking!  We'll still have a lot to get done, but we can accomplish it a bit more at our own pace.

Anyway!  Although I have not been knitting as much yarn as I would like, that has not stopped me from acquiring more!  This was a birthday present from my mother-in-law CodeMama, from her visit to Mountain Colors:


Winter lace in colorway Chinook, and


an undyed skein, to bend to my will.  Mwahahaha.  Some day.

I also got this:


Silver Label Silk Fingering from Tanis Fiber Arts, in Gold.  Isn't it yummy?  So smooth and shiny and very gold, as opposed to yellow.  I love it.


(omg so shiny)

I've never knit with fingering weight silk before (this is actually more like a light fingering/heavy laceweight) and we will see how I like it.  I got this to do Romi's new(ish) Pins and Lace pattern with, but I haven't started it.  I am making such slow progress as it is on my other projects, that I feel like I will never get anything done if I start up multiple projects at once.  I'll start it when I finish Pulelehua.

In other news, Team Romi will be participating in both the Ravelympics and the Tour de Fleece this year.  I got suckered into am honored to be a team captain in the Ravelympics and I'm also helping coordinate the Tour de Fleece team, so...we shall see how this goes for me!  I haven't made up my mind what my challenge will be for either, but I've still got some time.  I'm toying with the idea of doing a sweater for the Ravelympics. 

See, here's the thing.  I love the Olympics.  Can't get enough of it.  I will watch as much Olympics as I can get my hands on.  So I need for my challenge to be TV compatible, because darned if I'm missing the Olympics.  So, I'm thinking, in my infinite wisdom, that despite the fact that it will be June and it will be warm, a sweater will be just enough of a challenge without taking so much concentration I can't watch.  I'm thinking about Leyfi.  I've had the yarn for it for ages, but it's been sitting in a bin thanks to my absolutely abysmal record for finishing sweaters, which is to say, I've completed one, and it didn't fit.  Sooooo aside from the obvious issues with knitting bulky wool + brushed cashmere in June/July, this could be perfect.  That heat issue, though, that's a bit of a killer - I haven't totally made up my mind yet.

In preparation for the Tour de Fleece and in memory of my last attempt to spin after being off the wheel for a while, I ordered A Spinner's Toolbox.  Drafting has always been my weakest issue (and it's kind of important) so I'm hoping for some good tips.  I also may take a day ahead of time, or the first day of the Tour, to predraft some fiber and get it ready.  I'm horribly impatient, I rarely do a good job preparing my fiber, and I always pay for it once the wheel gets rolling!

 Anyway, so excitement coming up, and I'm looking forward to getting back into my fibery world - but in the meantime, I have some more thank you cards to make and send.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Vacation Indulgence, Part II

The part you all came to see, I'm sure!

We didn't have time to do any yarn shopping in New Orleans while we were there, but I stopped at Knits by Nana in Baton Rouge. I think I talked about that one in the last post, but here's what I got, aside from the yarn which became my honeymoon socks:

Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere in Raspberry Blaze IMG_8061


String Theory Caper Sock in Peacock – I actually got two skeins of Caper Sock, intending to make His and Hers Honeymoon Socks.  I had them wind the other skein for me so I could start knitting.  Except, I packed in such a rush and a panic, that I really didn’t come well equipped for anything.  I had no sock needles!  I browsed the needles at the shop, but I could only come up with some bamboo Hiyahiyas.  I don’t normally like wood needles but they were pointier than the Addi’s, so I took them.  I was shocked at how much I liked using them!  They were sharp enough and it was nice not to have the clink of metal all the time.  I also didn’t have the ladder stitches I’d been getting badly with my Chiaogoo sock needles.  I may be a convert.

Anyway, I was an idiot and left the bag of yarn in the rental car, so the rental company had to mail it back to the house.  So I only got my honeymoon socks knit, and not his.  Oops.



I also got a special package delivered at my wedding venue a few days before the main event, and this is what was in it:


A pin made especially for me by Romi herself! I was so touched - I wore it on my shoulder any time I had Madrona on during the reception. I appreciated so much that Romi took the time to think of me, especially when her own life was in turmoil!

Once we got to Anchorage, I wanted to go to The Quilted Raven since I missed it on our last trip, but we once again weren't there during their normal business hours. However, one of the helpful knitters in the Alaska Knitters group told me that if I went to Cabin Fever next door, they would open up the Quilted Raven just for me. I was a little hesitant but with some encouragement from my new hubby (isn't he sweet?) we went to Cabin Fever and I am SO glad we did! Even if they hadn't opened QR for us (and they did), Cabin Fever would have been worth the trip by itself. They had all sorts of stuff, almost all made in Alaska by local artists. It was all I could do not to buy out the whole shop. I would have beggared myself buying Christmas presents for everybody I know. We did get a hand-painted ornament that will be a great memento of the trip:



And I got this Sea Otter rubber stamp as well! Major score for a crafting junkie like me. IMG_8077

I got a few other things that I can’t post, even though the people I bought them for don’t, as far as I know, read the blog. I’ll play it safe anyway.  Once I was finished shopping, they opened The Quilted Raven for me. They had really, really beautiful stuff there, Alaska-unique quilting fabrics and Alaska-dyed yarn. I got one little star of fabric as a cute souvenir for a friend who quilts:


And of course I got yarn:

A Tree Hugger’s Wife Soft Sock (80 wool 10 cashmere 10 nylon, my favorite blend) in Ostrich Fern


Rabbit Ridge Designs Sock Yarn, a surprisingly soft 75 wool 25 nylon blend in Chocolat


Super Indulgent Arctic Qiviut Sock Yarn, 35 quiviut, 40 merino, 15 bamboo, 10 nylon, colorway Rosehip.


And probably my silliest purchase of the entire trip, Qiviut Earrings.


Shut up, they’re adorable and I couldn’t help myself.

Once we got to Homer, there was Community Knits.  This shop is just so funny, and even better, they had a shop dog I got to pet.


I picked up some spinning fiber there.

Northern Lights


And Rainbow Soft


We also got some art at a couple of local galleries.



I haven’t decided where to put the swan yet but the otters are destined for our guest room.

So that was all the loot – but what knitting did I get done during all that free time?

Well, I knit myself a pair of honeymoon socks.


Two new muses were released from Romi’s 7 Small Shawls: Year Two ebook that I didn’t have a chance to even start on before I left, so I started Polyhymnia’s Triangle a couple of days before we left. 

Once again, I have to marvel at Romi’s cleverness.  There are a few different ways to knit a triangle shawl.  Knitting from the center back outward, so that the edge of your knitting forms the top edge of the triangle while the two other sides of the triangle are on the needles, puts your pattern on the bias and means you are knitting some very long rows by the end.  Knitting from the top edge down and decreasing as you go gives you a vertical pattern.  When using the first method, you can incorporate an edging onto your knitting.  If you want an edging using the second method, you normally have to finish knitting, cast off, and then pick up stitches along the two triangle edges in order to do your edging.

In this shawl, Romi used short rows to get the vertical pattern you would end up with in a shawl knit down from the top edge, while eliminating the need for you to pick up stitches in order to add the edging.  Once you finish the short rows, you knit back across all of your stitches and voila – you are ready to knit the edging.

The center triangle (the light blue section in the pictures below) went very quickly.  Once I had knit across all the short rows and had all my stitches “active” again (where the two color section begins), it was a bit slower going, but by then it was time to go home, so I had pleeeenty of knitting time.  When we got in the car to drive back from Homer to Anchorage, I had done this much.


Here’s where I was when we got to Anchorage (it’s about a 4 hour drive):


Here’s where I was after the flight from Anchorage to Seattle:


At that point, I had to fortify my tensioning fingers, which were getting a bit chafed.


This is where I was after the flight from Seattle to Dallas, and I had to stop after that. My muscles were warn out and my brain was fuzz. Our flight out of Anchorage left at 5 p.m., you see, so by the time we got to Dallas, we had been flying pretty much all night! I finished a few days after we got home.

IMG_8087 IMG_8088 IMG_8089

Unblocked, but still lovely. Now that it's done, I've gone back to working on my poor neglected Pulelehua. I just didn't have enough time or energy to finish before we left, so it's my next priority. I also have a Caliz that's nearly finished. Then I have another muse, Calliope's Odyssey, and the April Pins and Lace club shawl on my to-do list.

Phew!  I have more stuff to show off, but this post is already long enough, so I’ll save some for the next one!