Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Frankie's Mom gets lucky

Last Friday, my friend Frank asked me to make a shawl for his Mom. Evidently, she has been a fan of my knitted lace pieces for a long time, and had planned on bidding on my shawl entry in the silent auction for the theatre. I guess she was disappointed that I didn't have a shawl in the auction this year, and Frankie decided to commission a piece for her for her birthday. Such a good son! This is the progress so far!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's "what's on my lap" tuesday!

the dahlia sweater is back! I might have solved the issue that lead to it's hiatus. We shall see...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Maia - a cautionary tale

Last week I completed my 6th shawl for 2010, Maia.

Name: Maia
Pattern: Maia by Rosemary Hill
Yarn: Schaefer Anne in an unknown colorway
Needles: Knitpicks Options, sz 4
Notes: This shawlette is named after Maia, the eldest of the Pleiades, and mother of Hermes. She lived on a mountain top, surrounded by trees and nature - which is why I chose the colorway that I did. The combination of greens, blues, and browns remind me of a sitting at Mycenae, looking out at the surrounding countryside. In Ancient Rome, the month of May was named after Maia, and she was known as the goddess of spring and beauty. I think this design is a great homage to Maia, and will be a great gift this holiday!
The most complicated part of this shawl is the cast on. It starts with a provisional cast on, and has beads, lace and edging all in one fell swoop! then you do it again the other direction, and start in right away on the body of the shawl with tons of lace and beads! All the beads and lace aside, the start is actually very similar to the start of a top down triangle shawl. You knit a rectangle, then pick up along the long edge and short edge and start the body. Honestly, once you get past this little fiddly bit, it is all very straight forward.

It was fun to get back to knitting with beads. Even though it can break my stride a bit, the end result is always so pretty. I makes me want to bead everything. Socks for Evad? Beaded! Blanket? beaded! Washcloth? Beaded!
Ok. Maybe not a blanket....
With all this glowing happy knittyness, why do I say this is a cautionary tale? Companion project stupidity. In the picture above, you will notice the 1x2 garter rib, knit flat. while this requires you pay some attention, it is not difficult to do, assuming you can read your knitting. Well, what happens when your companion project is also in garter rib?
I heard you say it. Nothing. It makes it easier!
My companion project was this hat:

Cute right? True, but also a pita. It is in 2x2 garter rib, in the round. Good lord. My brain had some major issues switching back and forth. I shouldn't have to think so hard to make a little baby hat!! Take it from me, heed my warning, think before you leap.... pick your companion project wisely!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

companion projects keep me sane(ish)

Those that know me in real life know that I definitely skirt the line of sanity most times. Granted, I'm not a pyromaniac, or anything, but I have a habit of doing things that make others question my sanity in a big way. For instance, designing 4 shows at the same time. Sane people just don't do that.
When knitting, I often find myself working on ill-advised projects (cough. mohair in July cough.) or way too many complicated projects at once. For my own sanity, I really should try to keep it to one or two WIPs at any one time, but it never happens that way. never.
What I found does work is knitting a simple project along side a complicated one. Some days, following a chart takes too much brain power, or a project is too cumbersome for the situation, or I can't do it in the dark. Those instances call for a "companion project". A project that allows for "brain rest" and ease of knitting.
I am currently floating two:

Red Raspberry Swirl Sweater. I just need to put in ends and do a little crocheting around the neckline. I started this companion project along with my Lava Shawl. Up until the bust section started, it was really mindless, and totally easy to do just about anywhere. It was taken off "easy" status with the bust shaping. Paying attention negates the purpose. But, it is almost finished!
This is my current one:

I call it "Little Blue". It is not only exceedingly portable, but also totally awesome because it will knock another book off of my "to knit from" list. Unfortunately, it might take me twelve weeks to knit this little thing, since it is only worked on at the movies, or in line, and late at night when I'm too tired to do anything complicated. Most of the time, I end up not entering these types of projects into Ravelry because they are so small, and I finish them before I feel like I have enough "project" to take a picture of. Silly,I know.
What, you might ask, is the little hat a companion to? Currently, it is Maia, the next shawl in the Seven Sisters Series. I am almost finished already! Evidently, I am no better at posting about big projects than I am at small ones!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I found out about a seven shawl series by Rosemary Hill from Jennsquared. Each shawl is inspired by one of the Seven Pleiades - the seven sisters from Greek Mythology that were relentlessly pursued by Orion. Zeus turned the sisters into doves, then later constellations, along with Orion, so he could ever pursue them. They, along with the Hyades make up the constellation Taurus. Since I am a Taurus, how could I refuse to knit these shawls?
The first one, Merope in inspired by the Mythological wife of Sisyphus - the mortal that had to keep pushing the boulder up the hill. Merope's star is very dim, since she married a mortal, and is often called the is the "lost Pleiades" since she astronomers originally couldn't see her. People are going to be able to see this Merope. Being acid green, and all...
Name: Merope in Green
Pattern: Merope
Yarn: Rowan Kid Silk Haze, 2 balls in color 597
Needles: Knit Picks Harmony, size 5
Notes: This was my first time using Kid Silk Haze, and I love the end result. The yarn has a beautiful halo, and even though it is half mohair, it isn't itchy. (at least to me, ymmv.) But, it is a pain in the ass to knit with. Not a huge pain, just enough to make it frustrating. It is simultaneously sticky and slippery. When you want it to slide, it won't, and when you want it to stay it slides. I didn't have to frog at all during this shawl, thank George, but I can only imagine the streak of unsavory language that would have come out. I have heard that throwing the project in the freezer for 15 minutes helps in the frogging process. I assume it helps lay the barbs on the mohair fibers down, not that the freezer suffocates the thing.
Morope is knit from the tip to the top edge, starting with "all pattern" and getting increasingly more stockinette filled in the center. It is a nice way to knit a shawl. It gets proportionally less "charty" as you go.

What looks like an applied edging on the sides of the shawl is actually a border that is knit simultaneously with the body. Some designers would make the three components of the edging, border, and center all separate charts, that you, the knitter, have to keep track of separately, Romi made hers one chart. Ahh.... one chart. I love simplicity in chart following.
The top edge has my favorite style of finishing! Knit on border! Only 7 stitches to bind off! woo! That was a lot of excitement over an edging...
All in all, I'm very pleased with this shawl, and super excited to cast on for the second shawl in the series. I think these will be great gifts!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

knitting lately? Not so much.

I had a crisis in crafting three days ago. It was over a hundred degrees, I was knitting mohair, and it kept touching me.

Fuck that right in the head.
I switched to my sweater. It's cotton, it'll be fine!

So wrong. It was just as bad.
I decided to work up some squares for the Schuyler Blanket project. I looked through the “ends” bin and found two partials of Cotton ease, and had two more I just got from a yarn swap at SnB. woo!
I thought about knitting them, but had recently been thinking that I hadn’t crocheted anything in, like, 6 years. I didn’t want to totally lose the skill, ya’ know? I looked up an easy granny square pattern and went all Chuck Norris on 'em. 6 granny squares later… I decided I needed a change.

As luck would have it, my crochet stitch pattern book was at work. So I bought the pattern book for the "non granny squares" at AC Moore, along with another skein of yarn. I might have calmed the crochet bug for a while. 14 squares is pretty respectable!

The yarn is all cotton-ease except the orange yarn. The orange is Red Heart eco-ways. I hadn't used the eco-ways yarn before, and I can't say i cared for it. It was irritatingly splitty. It was kind of a let down after the cotton-ease, which i love.
I'm glad the tempurature has finally gone down. I want to knit my shawl again!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Why I long for Knit- A -Longs

When the Thursday Night new Haven Stitch n Bitch decided to have a shawl Knit-a-long, the first question from almost everyone was "which pattern?" We have quite a diverse group of people, with a wide range of tastes, skill levels, and lace experience. Choosing one pattern would be hard. How do we keep experienced fearless knitters, people with a mess of lace shawls under their belts, and new lace-kateers all going on one pattern?
We decided not to decide. :) Instead, we are having a "knit at your own pace, everyone knit the shawl you like, and we'll cheer each other on A-Long" Since that is a smidge too long of a name, we'll stick with "Shawl KAL".
I decided to knit this one:

Name: Lava is Hot, Hot, Hot!
Pattern:Faroese-Style Lace from Shawls and Scarves: Best of Knitter's Magazine
Yarn: Touch Yarn Merino 2 ply
Needles: Knit Picks classic circs, size 3
Notes: I choose this shawl for the KAL because it was on my "books yet to knit from" list, but also because it was a construction style I hadn't knit yet. It is cast on at the CB neck, but grows straight down the center, with two "triangle" side growing out of each side. You can see the straight center panel below, and the sides.

It also has a slight curve to the sides, making the whole business stay on your shoulders with absolutely no problem. Good knitting engineering! The yarn was a good all purpose base yarn - like Merino Ono, but being variegated, it was hard for me to imagine the final outcome. I loved the colors in the hank, but knit up - there is always potential for it to look like utter HORK. I officially think it does not look like hork. I think the combination of a very liner/ geometric pattern and big swaths of Stockinette makes the color shine and not distract from the final piece.

The edging was a wonderful change of pace when I finally got to it. It is knit on side ways, using up the live stitches as you go. This means, to those of you paying attention, that you only have 5 stitches to cast off at the end. 5!! The worst part of lace knitting is casting off. Trying to get a stretchy edge, that looks neat, and is consistent over 500 stitches sucks. This was way better. I've done edging cast offs before, and I can safely report that I still love it.

Overall, I had a great time knitting this shawl, and I loved doing a free form Knit A long. While most of the group is still plugging away, it is so fun to have a cheering section -and that is the final step of my KAL. Cheer till the last one's done!