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Ms. Knits: June 2005

Monday, June 27

The end, and a beginning

Thanks to everyone for your kind words and compliments about the shawl! If I can do it, anyone can! Here's one last shawl picture, of me modeling the shawl after blocking. Blocking definitely made a difference. What looked like a pink, fuzzy blob with a bunch of twisty nubs around the edge turned into a beautiful shawl after blocking. Even the picots look nice!



So, what's next for me? Well, I could finish the seed stitch shell. Or, work on the baby blanket that I started for my friend who is due in three weeks. Or, I could start a new project. Yep, a new project! Sorry SSS. Sorry blankie. You'll have to wait.

I decided to start Tivoli for a few reasons. First, and most importantly, it is 99% stockinette stitch, with a few increases and decreases to keep me from getting completely bored. I've said before that I'm not a huge fan of miles and miles of stockinette, but working on the shawl gave me a new appreciation for the simple side of knitting. Second, Stephanie made one that looked really cute, and she made it sound like a really fun, quick project - just what I need right now. Third, I had some yarn that would work perfectly - the blue Katia Pisco that was originally destined for a 2nd SSS - no matter how well the first SSS turns out, there's no way I'm making another one... seed stitch, bleh. And finally, Kathy's patterns are fun to knit! (and I'm going to find buttons for my iPod cozy that I made from her pattern, and get it finished one of these days!)

So far, so good on Tivoli! I didn't spend a lot of time knitting this weekend, but managed to get just below the arm opening.


What's that I see? A mistake... ugh. I messed up on the cast on under the arm, and dropped a stitch. I thought I could pick it up without a problem, but I guess not. I'll have to rip out the last two rows and give the cast on another shot.


Any fellow Tivoli knitters have tips on how to keep the neckline from rolling? Will it be better after blocking?

Friday, June 24

Completed Paisley Lace Shawl

First, pictures!


Unblocked shawl, approximately 30"x30", note the freaky looking picots. It took me nearly 6 hours to knit all of those silly things!




Unblocked corner detail. Pretty messy looking. I sure hope that whole blocking thing works!















Blocking! Blocked to 42"x42", with a whole lot of T-pins - 200, to be exact! Newton likes how it turned out. :)















Blocking detail - corner and one side. I love this blocking board!






























Paisley Lace Shawl Notes ---

Pattern: Paisley Lace Shawl, by Evelyn A. Clark, Interweave Knits, Spring 2005. The pattern was very well written, very clear, and had no mistakes. I found I didn't have to use as many sets of needles as recommended by the pattern.

Needles
: Size 5, 7" Clover bamboo DPNs (first 6 or 7 rounds), size 5 Addi Turbo circular 32" (remainder of the shawl), size 7 Bryspun straight (bindoff)

Yarn
: Frog Tree 100% Alpaca Wool, fingering weight, color #95, 215 yards, 4 complete skeins used (only a few yards left over). (Substituted for 1125 yds Jaggerspun Zephyr) This 2 ply yarn is super soft, and knits up nicely. I didn't have any problems with splitting. My only complaint is that each skein had a couple of areas in the yarn where there were slubs or thick-ish areas. One skein had a ply that was broken and knotted on one place, while the other ply was continuous. These small flaws in the yarn are not noticeable in the finished shawl.

Highlights
:
- My first lace project! Lace is quite addictive, I really enjoyed knitting this shawl, and will likely do more lace knitting in the future.
- I learned Emily Ocker's Circular Beginning for the cast on - it worked well.
- I learned how to knit from a chart (a simple chart, but a chart nonetheless).
- I figured out how to fix a missed yarn-over on a subsequent row (see previous yarn-over tutorial)
- I learned how to do a picot edging (see lowlights), and think it is a nice edge for the shawl. To get the picots to look right, I purchased a pair of Bryspun needles 2 sizes larger than what I was using for the shawl, and used a Bryspun for my right needle while casting off. It allowed me to do a loose cast off while still maintaining an even stitch tension.
- There are NO mistakes in the finished shawl! (yes, I'm a knitting perfectionist)
- I got to finally use my birthday present - the blocking board - yay!
- Quality bonding time spent with Todd while blocking - he helped me pin all of the picots down... what a guy!

Lowlights
:
- The beginning of the shawl knit up deceivingly quickly. It took me longer to bind off than it took me to knit the first 8 pattern repeats! I guess that's what happens when you increase 8 stitches every other round!
- Addi turbos are NOT the best needles to use for lace. The tips are not pointy enough. The Bryspun straights, on the other hand, had wonderfully pointy tips. I think the Bryspuns (circulars) would be great for lace.
- The picot edging was tedious and looked really weird when I knit it. I think (hope!) it will look fine after blocking.

Tips/Tricks:
The placement of stitch markers as written in the pattern is awkward because you have to move the marker every time you increase. I used Clover Locking Stich Markers (orange and green, you can see them in one of the pre-blocking pictures), and locked one around the corner stitch at each corner at the beginning of each repeat. Then I could see where my increases needed to go (before and after the corner stitch), and I unclipped the markers and moved them up for each repeat. I did not use stitch markers to mark each pattern repeat, as the pattern is simple to see visually. I did, however, use a stitch marker in the middle of each side of the shawl when I got to the border chart. The stitch marker identified the middle of the pattern, and the left and right sides of the marker are mirror images of each other.

What I would do differently next time: I think this would be great as a triangular shawl. If I knit another one (quite possible, as it would be nice to have a shawl to keep in my office), I'll try to convert it to a triangle. It would use half the yarn, take half the time, and require half the picots, AND there would be no purling required!

It is late

But I am done! Done with the shawl! And tired. Very tired. Going to bed now. Pictures will have to wait until I get home tomorrow night.

(it turned out great, by the way! i love it! can't wait to block it and see what it looks like!)

Thursday, June 23

Picot boo!

Getting closer... I have just under 1/8 of the bind-off completed. The little picot trim thingys are a pain in the rear to knit consistently without getting loose, loopy stitches. I've been redoing about every other one to get them to look nice and mostly even. Hopefully they will behave a little better after blocking!



Here's a close-up...



Come back later tonight (probably much later!) for a finished shawl and complete project details.

Tuesday, June 21

On the home stretch

Almost finished the paisley lace shawl last night - if I hadn't fallen asleep at 10:00, I think I would have finished it. Only two rows to go (a purl row and a knit row), then the bind-off (the picot edge frightens me slightly). Not sure if I'll get any knitting done tonight or tomorrow night because of school, but it WILL be finished by Thursday and blocking on Friday night. More later... for now I'm off to work. Have a great week!

Thursday, June 16

The shawl that never ends...

Why do I feel like I've been working on this shawl forever? When everyone else in blogland is completing much more complicated shawls in a matter of days, I'm still plugging away at the paisley lace after what seems like months. It has gotten so bad that now whenever I pick up the shawl to start knitting, I start humming:

This is the shawl that never ends,
It just goes on and on my friends,
One day I started knitting it, not knowing what it was,
And I'll continue knitting it, forever, just because... this is the shawl that never ends!

Ack! And then I can't get that stupid stupid tune out of my head!

But I think I have figured out one problem that is slowing me down: Addi turbos are not meant for lace knitting. The tips are just not quite pointy enough for fingering weight yarn. I love how the purl rows go fairly quickly, but a single SSK takes me maybe 30 seconds to do, because I spend so much time trying to get the tip of the left needle through both loops of yarn. I'm going to have to do some research and figure out what type of needles are better for lace.

In other news, it is a rainy, crappy day today. And the bad weather is supposed to continue into the weekend. And I am THRILLED!!! Why, you ask? Because we were supposed to go on a camping trip that I was really not looking forward to... a camping trip with couple friends and their children, to a campground made especially for RVs. The horror - camping with RVs! That's just wrong. BUT, the couple who reserved the campsite have decided to cancel the trip because they don't want to be camping with their kids in the rain. Woohoo!!! My whole entire weekend is now FREE! Maybe now I can finish that dang shawl...

Tuesday, June 14

The Mystery Stitch

The mystery is solved!

I e-mailed the woman who made the yarn, who just happens to be the woman who knit the scarves (Maria, of Fiber Elements). She e-mailed me back right away with all of the information I need to make the scarf! How nice is that?!? (Thanks, Maria!) It turns out the main stitch is a simple P2tog/YO stitch (there's a little more to it than that, but I don't want to give out her pattern without permission). I would never have guessed that just from looking at the scarf.

It just so happens that Maria's studio is in Fairfield, CA (also known as the city of the perpetual traffic jam - seriously, they need to get a sign made that says "Welcome to Fairfield, Prepare to Stop"). I drive right by her studio every time I drive to/from school. She also offers knitting classes in various Bay Area cities occassionally. I'm going to have to try to make it to one sometime. And the next time I'm stuck in traffic before I get to the 680/80 ramp in Fairfield, I'm going to exit from the freeway and take a detour by her studio!

I decided to wind the recycled silk into balls last night (I couldn't resist - new yarn, must touch!). It is so pretty. I even got a pleasant surprise when I removed the paper label... on the reverse side of the label, it said that the label is free of trees, acid, and chlorine, and made from 100% Kenaf, an annual, rapidly growing plant. How cool is that? I'm not a huge environmentalist, but I think every little bit helps and prefer to be environmentally friendly if possible. I didn't even know Kenaf existed before last night!

Monday, June 13

I'm back!

Back from vacation - and with lots of pictures... [warning: long post ahead!]

First off - the knitting! As I anticipated, I got precious little knitting done on our trip. In fact, the only knitting I did was in the car on the way to Mt. Shasta and back, plus about a round and a half that I managed to sneak in between other activities. I managed about 7 rounds on the shawl. Here's where I'm at with it now. I'm less than 20 rows from finishing, but it is going slowly.

Somehow I managed to lose my crochet hook somewhere along the way, so on the trip back home I didn't work on the shawl at all. Note to lace knitters: the crochet hook is your friend! I can't count the times that I've dropped a stitch (or two!) or made a mistake that was fixable only by my trusty crochet hook. I figured I would only be tempting fate to work on the shawl without it, so I pulled some blue Katia Pisco out of my bag and swatched it to see if it would work for Grumperina's Tivoli Tee . With size 6 needles, my column gauge was right on (19 st/4 in), but the row gauge was not even close (32 rows/5 in vs. 32 rows/4 in). I don't think this will be a problem, but I may have to rework some of the increase/decrease placements. Math = fun!

While in McCloud, we stopped in the Mercantile building, where there was a nifty bookstore. And guess what I found in the bookstore? Yarn! I couldn't resist buying some beautiful recycled silk to make a scarf just like the one I saw in the store. The only problem... I have no idea what stitch pattern was used to make this scarf. The fabric looked solid (not holey) when unstretched (see left and right sides of the picture), but when stretched, it looked like sort of net-like. Does anyone know what stitch this is?


And now, the non-knitting stuff... pictures from our trip. We fit a lot of things into our short 4-day trip... we stayed at two different B&Bs, hiked to four waterfalls, explored McCloud on foot, toured the Lake Shasta Caverns, visited the Sundial Bridge in Redding, took a ton of pictures (I'm determined to learn how to take nice pictures with the D70) and ate lots and lots of yummy food.

We hiked to Lower, Middle, & Upper McCloud Falls, and to Burney Falls. Here's Middle McCloud Falls:


And Burney Falls:


On our way to Burney Falls, we came across a section of the Pacific Crest Trail. It's a long hike to Canada and Mexico from here...


The weather was beautiful during our entire trip, and we got some great views of Mt. Shasta. [We'll be saving that hike for another time! Ha!]


The Sundial Bridge in Redding is absolutely stunning. If you live in (or are visiting) northern CA, it is worth the drive to see it in person. It's definitely the most awesome pedestrian bridge I've ever seen. There's also an arboretum, a pedestrian/bike path, and an exploratorium near the bridge - lots to do.


And finally, a picture of Todd and I on our anniversary - after a long day of hiking. During dinner at the McCloud Hotel, they played the song that was our first dance song at our wedding reception five years ago. It was completely random (they just happened to be playing a lot of Sinatra), and totally made my night!


Now, off to conquer the shawl that never ends...

Have a great week!

Tuesday, June 7

No knitting news

Once again, it's a busy week, with no time for knitting... Yesterday after work, I met up with two of my best friends from school for dinner. We went to the beach in Santa Cruz, and had dinner at a neat restaurant with a great ocean view. Here's a picture of the beach taken from outside the restaurant - so pretty! I love spending time near the ocean, but don't get to the coast as often as I'd like.



Nothing much exciting to report today... work, school, and reading for class have filled every minute. [That's the downside to summer school - when there are only 8 people in the class, you pretty much have to read, because you ARE going to get called on in every class!]

I expect tomorrow to be the same - nothing exciting planned and not a stitch of knitting will get done. Thursday and Friday are vacation days - woohoo! To celebrate our 5 year anniversary (Friday), we're heading up to the Mt. Shasta/Lake Shasta area for a weekend of B&Bs, hiking, sightseeing, and relaxing, and NO computers, e-mail, or TV! Yay! As much as I love (and live) technology, I definitely crave time away from it all occasionally.

I doubt I'll get much progress made on my shawl this weekend, but I'm going to at least plan to work on it in the car. A less complex project might be better for car knitting though... perhaps I'll set aside the shawl and cast on for the front of SSS. Or my next pair of socks. Decisions, decisions!

I'll be back here on Monday with an update... until then, have a great week and a relaxing weekend.

Sunday, June 5

Wishful thinking!

Just so you know, knitting goes *really* slowly when the rounds are 500+ stitches each! On Friday, I thought "oh, there's only about 40 rows left on the shawl... it will go quickly." Well, I underestimated big time. Now that I'm on the border, which is impossible to memorize, it is going even more slowly! I'll be lucky if I finish it within the next two weeks.

I made it up to Filati yesterday after my trip to the mall. Unfortunately they were a little low on Koigu, with only a few colorways remaining. I did manage to find one that I liked a lot... this fun turquoise & lime mix.






Here's a picture of the yarn basking in the sun, along with a close-up shot that was taken indoors.

Now I just have to find the perfect sock pattern for Koigu. Any thoughts?










Friday, June 3

TGIF!

Woohoo - Friday is here! Time to get down to some serious knitting. My knitting style seems to be adjusting for my injured finger, except for the occassional needle getting stuck in my bandage. So, all is not lost for the weekend. It might be wishful thinking, but I'm hoping to finish up the shawl by Sunday night. We'll see about that!

This weekend it's just me and the boys, and I don't have many plans. I need to hit the mall for a quick shopping trip tomorrow, and will possibly pay a visit to one or more yarn stores as well. I got a call from Babetta's last week saying that she got in the Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk book that I've had my eye on, and she is holding one for me. I also want to take a quick trip up to Filati, since I'll be up near there at the mall anyway. Perhaps I'll find some pretty koigu for my next pair of socks... stay tuned!

There's also a sock workshop on Sunday that I'd like to attend, but I don't have all of the necessary supplies (a really long sock-size circular needle, two circular needles of the same size). I can't justify buying 3 new circular needles just to attend the class, not knowing whether or not I would enjoy the techniques. So, no class for me this time. Oh well, more shawl knitting time!

For those of you who knit while watching TV/movies (usually I do) and who have Comcast cable... have you checked out all the free movies and old TV shows available through the "On Demand" feature? Good stuff! I've been knitting my way through old episodes of Sex and the City and lots of cheesy movies.

Have a great weekend!

Five things...

I was tagged by Caitlyn for this...

Choose five things from the list below and complete the sentence.

If I could be a scientist
If I could be a farmer, I would have a small farm to grow organic vegetables that have not been genetically modified and would not use herbicides or pesticides. I would also have a few sheep and/or some alpacas so I could try my hand at making my own yarn, and maybe a few head of cattle, just because I like cows.
If I could be a psychologist
If I could be a librarian, I would want to work with elementary school kids to help them develop a love of reading while they are young.
If I could be an inn-keeper, I would have a charming, cozy B&B in cute little town in the countryside. Much like this one, where we are going next weekend. (yay!)
If I could be a professor
If I could be a writer
If I could be a llama-rider
If I could be a bonnie pirate, I would have a green parrot (like Basil!) to sit on my shoulder. I would swagger around my pirate ship saying pirate things like "argh!" and "shiver me timbers" and whatever else it is that pirates say.
If I could be an astronaut, I would want to be part of the first manned mission to Mars.
If I could be a world famous blogger
If I could be a justice on any one court in the world
If I could be married to any current famous political figure

I'm not going to pass this one on, because I think I've seen this on nearly everyone's blog already. If for some reason you haven't done it yet, feel free to take it and drop me a line so I can see your answers.

Thursday, June 2

Change of plans

I am so bummed! For the last two months I have been planning to attend tonight's local knitting guild meeting, had my schedule all arranged so I could go, and then ended up missing it.

It is usually hard for me to make it to the guild meetings because of my work and school schedules, but I promised several guild members who encouraged me to give the guild another try that I would be attending tonight's meeting. I also told Lynette that I would be there and was really looking forward to meeting both Lynette and Violet. (and seeing the intriguing neckband of Diane in person)

Alas, it was not meant to be. I got on a plane at 3:45 to head home in plenty of time for the meeting, and promptly after the plane was boarded, the lights dimmed and the air circulation turned off. Apparently, something had shut down and prevented the pilots from starting the engines... a "mechanical failure." I hate hearing those words when I am on a plane that is about to take off. Especially when the words "mechanical failure" and "engine" are in the same sentence!

The delay was supposed to be 5-10 minutes, but ended up being much, much longer. Thankfully I had my knitting with me, so I got nearly a whole repeat done on my lace shawl during the delay.

I got some interesting looks from other passengers on the plane as I was knitting. The man seated next to me was most interested:

"Is knitting the new thing to do now?"

"Um, well, I suppose. But it's not really a new thing. What do you mean?"

"Well, all of the women I know are knitting now or learning to knit. I thought that was something that only old ladies and grandmothers did."

"No, not really. Lots of different types of people knit. It is very relaxing actually, and a nice way to pass the time when you're, say, stuck on an airplane with a mechanical failure."

I was really at a loss for words. What do you say when people say things like that?

Anyway, huge apologies to Lynette and to those at the Guild whom I had told that I would be there. My absence was out of my control.