Monday, May 26, 2008

Just Call Me Crazy

With two shawls just recently off the needles, I had to get something started. Right? It's not like I have nothing else to work on, but, for some reason I just have to have some lace going. I did say that I'd be starting Icarus again... and I did.

Even though I woke up with a blinding headache on Saturday, I cast on and got Icarus off to a great start. For those of you who may not remember, I knitted Icarus once before, about two years ago now, I think. Once it was off the needles, I discovered two small holes in the center of the shawl. I was able to repair one of the holes, but the second one was beyond me, so I frogged the entire shawl. Fortunately, when I had purchased the yarn (Jaggerspun Zephyr wool/silk blend), I'd bought two balls. That means I have more than enough to remake the shawl.

As of last night, here's how it's looking...


This part of the shawl is pretty close to being mindless, which makes it perfect for Stanley Cup playoff watching (great first game, wasn't it??). I'm loving the rhythm of this shawl, at this point. I know once I get to the edging, it will demand more concentration, but by that time the playoffs will be over and I'll be able to give it the time it needs. And, having knitted this shawl before, I know what to expect. Piece of cake.

Then, again, because I finished TWO shawls in the last two weeks, I cast on for another one. See? Crazy!

I read about this one in Ravelry and found a knitalong for it as well, so I decided it would be the perfect shawl for my mom (if any of my sisters, or family, are reading this DON'T TELL MOM!!). She knows I was planning on knitting a shawl for her; she promised she'd wear it while watching tv in the evenings, when she gets chilly. That's good enough for me. (I'm actually knitting two shawls for her... this one and a very plain, cushy one out of a boucle yarn from Michael's... no, I won't post pictures of that one.. it's very plain, trust me.)

Anyway, it's Evelyn A. Clark's Heartland Lace Shawl, a free download on Evelyn's website. I'm using the leftover Jarbogarn Gastrike 1 ply lace weight yarn, leftover from the Evolution Pi Shawl. So far, I've completed one repeat and I really like it (it will be difficult to part with it, I'm thinking). This one does demand concentration, but it will be worth it; it certainly isn't a difficult pattern to follow and Evelyn writes her patterns well. It has both charts and written instructions, including directions for making the shawl larger.

Here's the Heartland Lace shawl after one completed repeat...


Told you I'm crazy, but I do love laceknitting. It gives so much satisfaction.... and there's no sewing anything together!

Back to my knitting. I was going to go to work today, but, while waiting for the bus, my neck went ping and gave me an instant migraine. I'm on muscle relaxants right now (so, if there are typos, blame them on the meds) so, hopefully, I'll be okay to work tomorrow. For today, I'm just taking it very easy... knitting.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

One More FO

Finally, the Pi Are Squared shawl is off the needles! It's been a long go of it, especially the border. Here it is, on a queen sized bed, with my glasses on it for the sake of comparison. It's not a small shawl!


Interestingly, when I had it off the needles, John said he might just claim this one as his own. He loves the colours, loves the texture, loves the drape... just plain old loves it! I must say that the garter stitch does give this shawl a nice cushy feel. It's very cozy. It sits well on the shoulders and comes down far enough on the back to feel very comfy and warm.

The yarn is Sirdar's Country Style DK (75% acrylic, 25% wool), worked on a 4.5 mm needle (US 7?). I started it in February and finished it this week. I haven't blocked it since it is mostly acrylic (talk about stash busting!), but I may need to block it slightly as I don't like the ruffled effect of the last increase section. That's easily done with a damp towel and some steam.

Now, I'm off to knit some more. I've just re-started Icarus (the first one was frogged after I discovered small holes that I couldn't repair... remember?) in the same yarn, a copper coloured Jaggerspun Zephyr. It's moving along quite nicely already. And, I'm going to watch the hockey game, the first in the final series of the run for the Stanley Cup, between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Should be a good series!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

An FO, finally!

It feels like a long time since I've finished anything. Well, today I have a finished object to share with you. Evelyn A. Clark's Swallowtail Shawl is off the needles.



And for the sake of comparison, here is the shawl before blocking...



I tried, intentionally, to take these sets of pictures in the same position and the same detail just to show what a difference blocking makes. I know that those of you who knit lace know that blocking is what brings your lace to life; it's just such a dramatic difference!

The project details: I started this shawl on May 4 (thanks to notes on Ravelry!) and finished it on May 17... that's just shy of two weeks from start to finish. In other words, it wasn't a difficult pattern. I used Fleece Artist Merino, 100% wool, 26 st/4" on 4.0 mm (US 6) Knitpicks Options circular needle. The shawl blocked out to 49" x 25", not a large shawl, but the perfect size for a shoulder shawl/scarf.

The one thing I can't tell you about this yarn is the colourway number. It didn't have one. It is hand-dyed, that's all I know.

I will definitely knit this pattern again, with a few changes. First, I won't be doing the nupps on the next one. I'd like to knit it in a lily of the valley green (already ordered), using pearly beads in the lily of the valley border, mimicking the look of the actual flower. I think that would look really pretty. I would also make it bigger, working more repeats of the main "bud" section. As long as you begin the border section with a multiple of 10 in the actual shawl section (excluding the first and last 2 edge stitches), the pattern will work. Speaking of the first and last edge stitches, I started the shawl with 3 edge stitches rather than 2, the only change I made to this shawl.

Now, it's time to enjoy the remainder of this long weekend... a much needed and appreciated break!

P.S. I almost forgot! For the time being, my free patterns are unavailable. MediaMax has decided to do a name change and a move and, because I have the free membership, deleted all my files. I do have them all here, on a disk, but I will need some time to upload them all and get the posts back up again. I think I'll use the webspace provided by my cable company to set up a web page of my own rather than using Blogger for the free patterns, once I have time to get it all up and running. I will happen, but not today. In the meantime, if there are any patterns you'd like, please feel free to email me and ask.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Spring Rains and Swallowtails

Last week, we had gorgeous weather. Today, it's gray and yucky. A perfect knitting day, for sure!

I've been doing a few rows here and there on the Swallowtail shawl; I've now completed the main body of the shawl and have also gotten through the first Lily of the Valley chart. That leaves one repeat of the second Lily of the Valley chart (12 rows) and the edging chart.


I was surprised to find out that I really hadn't read the pattern very carefully before starting; it contains nupps. I don't like nupps. At least, I didn't like nupps in laceweight yarn.


The arrows are pointing at some of the nupps. In this yarn, I don't mind them at all. As long as I make the increased stitches rather loosely, I don't have too much difficulty in purling the 5 stitches together on the wrong side. Using Knitpicks Options needles helps, too. Have I mentioned how much I love my Options needles? So far, they are THE best for lace knitting, even better than the Addi Lace needles, which make my fingers smell like copper, not to mention the price. I really, really want to get more of the KP needles!

While grazing through some Ravelry discussions this morning, I came across one that was discussing preferred colours for lace knitting. If you had asked me that question two weeks ago, I would have said that I preferred lighter colours for lace, colours that reflect nature. One of my favourite shawls is in autumn shades, copper, green, gold; another fave is a natural white. The Swallowtail shawl, in it's gorgeous jewel tones, is really wowing me. The colours are vibrant, strong. And I love how it's working up into this shawl.

The pattern... it isn't a difficult pattern. The nupps are the most difficult part of the entire pattern (so far, and I don't anticipate anything more daunting than the nupps), so I would heartily recommend the pattern for anyone wanting a fun, not too challenging shawl pattern.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

May, and Finally Spring

Yup, spring has finally arrived in the Okanagan. The weather's gorgeous again today, sunny, with a promise of warm. It's the perfect day to start a lace-knitting class. And, that is exactly what I'm doing today. No, I'm not taking the class, I'll be teaching it. As always, when I start a class, I'm terrified. I know it will be fine once I get there, but I'm always nervous and anxious before the class starts. I just keep telling myself that, really, all I'm doing is sharing something I love, and that is never a difficult thing to do.

Because I'll be leading this class, I've been doing some casting on.


This little bit of knitting will eventually be the "Fundamentals of Lace Scarf", graciously shared with me by Colette Simon. Colette designed this scarf to introduce knitters to some of the fundamentals of lace knitting, such as provisional cast-on, directional decreases, yarn overs before and after purl stitches and knitted on edgings. All in all, a good intro to lace. To be honest, I'm not sure I'll be using the pattern in the class; it will depend on the skill levels of the students, 5 of them, if I'm not mistaken.

I did, however, decide to take this bit of knitting with me in order to show them the method of provisional cast-on that I prefer... the crochet cast-on. If they decide they'd like to try this scarf, great; if not, we'll find another project.

The past couple of weeks, and this week in particular, have found me a little restless in my knitting. I've been doing a lot of casting on and frogging. Remember the Ene Scarf? Frogged. Another lace project was started and frogged. Yesterday, though, I cast on for a project that I don't think will end up in the frog pond.


Any of you who are signed up with IK's Knitting Daily will recognize the ubiquitous Swallowtail Shawl, by Evelyn A. Clark. I tend to resist patterns that everyone else is knitting, but for some reason the pattern and the yarn just seemed to be attracted to each other. I had started the shawl in a different yarn, but it just wasn't working. So far, this is a perfect match. The knitting is flowing well, the pattern is easy to remember and I'm loving it.

I made one small change to the pattern as written: the pattern begins with two stitches that are cast on to a crochet chain, then, when 6 rows have been knit, 3 stitches and the provisional stitches are picked up. I had a bear of a time trying to pick up from 2 stitches, so I cast on 3. Once I get to the edging, I'll have to knit 2 together at each edge in order to have the correct number of stitches, but I don't think that will be a big deal. It just made the beginning a little easier for me.

This piece of knitting will also come with me to the class today, to demonstrate how the shawl begins, at the neck edge. I'll also be taking my Evolution Shawl (Emily Ocker's circular cast-on) and the Pi Are Square shawl, to demonstrate the knitted on edging.

It's a lovely day here and it's time for me to enjoy it, now that I seem to be over the worst of this head cold.

Friday, May 02, 2008

With My Apologies

I generally try to post at least once per week. Last week, I didn't. I made the decision to head to Abbotsford for my ex mother-in-law's funeral. On Saturday morning, I boarded the bus and returned on Tuesday evening. By Wednesday morning, I realized I'd caught a cold (thanks to one of the girls at work, I think) and today, I'm home with a sinus headache. That's it for the whining!

I'm glad I chose to attend the funeral. It was an opportunity to say my own goodbyes and to see a lot of family (on the in-law side) that I hadn't seen in ten years (it will be ten years ago this August that I left my husband). I also got a chance to get together with children and grandchildren, as well as a great visit with my Dad. The day Mom took me there, he was very lucid, recognized me and, once his hearing aids had fresh batteries, we even had a conversation. (He liked my alpaca shawl.)

I thought I would share one picture with you; my daughter and I were going through some pictures and we came across one that I really liked, so I took a picture of it.


This was Oma. She loved to have the kids over and babysat them every Friday for a lot of years while my husband and I were janitors of our church. Even after we left that position, she loved having them over at least once a week; she felt that if she did that, they would remember her after she was gone. They'll never forget her.

That picture was taken over 20 years ago; my son will be turning 32 on May 6. She would have been in her mid to late 70's at the time.

Because I was taking the bus, I needed something to do. The projects I've got on the go right now are either too big or needing too much concentration (read that as lace) to take on a bus trip; I needed something relatively mindless. To that end, I took along a ball of sock yarn and a set of 2.25 mm (US 1) dpns and cast on for a pair of socks shortly after leaving Kelowna. By the time I got to Abbotsford, I had about 4" of cuff on my needles (incidentally, the bus was an hour late getting in to Abbotsford).


That's what it looked like. That, however, is not the sock I was working on. I started the above sock on the return trip because this is what the sock looked like by the time I got on the bus for the return trip...


So, now I just have to finish the second sock, and because it's already this far I don't think second sock syndrome will become a factor. It feels good to have another pair of socks almost off the needles. I have one pair that's becoming a little thin at the toes, so I figured I needed another pair. Besides, even though the weather's warming up, I still like to wear my wool socks with my Birkenstocks... at least, until the weather's warm enough for bare toes.

Now, I'm off to pamper myself.