Happy July 4th!

  1. Pendant Stole
  2. Garden Shawl
  3. Fountain Pen Shawl

 

I don’t have anything special planned for today, and it has been a particularly wet weekend here, so I haven’t joined any of the community outdoor activities either.

But I began watching the “John Adams” miniseries, and while I don’t often feel particularly patriotic, the luxury of living in a free nation I suppose, it makes a big difference to watch a version of history that makes it real.  I feel more connected when I can connect to historical figures through their characters as they are represented on the screen, and to understand the reality of their daily circumstances in the months and years leading up to independence from Britain.

Of course, every account, especially one presented on the screen, is biased and fictionalized to some extent, but I believe that we can learn a lot from fiction, too, and many fiction writers write to teach and to convey a message.  In this case, it is to understand in a way that allows me to put myself in the shoes of some of these historical figures the reasons that they needed to express in a document the truths they held to be self-evident.

Having lived in countries in which people are less free, I know the struggle is important.  In this day and age, we as Americans are still struggling to ensure that these truths, about the rights of humans, that our forefathers held to be self-evident, are manifested in each citizen’s reality, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

So it seems a little disingenuous to me to say “Happy” July 4th, but perhaps “July 4th observed and the struggle continued” is more appropriate to echo my sentiments.  Not as catchy, I realize…

Are you celebrating the 4th?  How are you connecting with the historical significance of the day?

 

Dew Drops Shawl in Freia Handpaints Ombre Lace

Process knitter is the term people use for someone like me, I guess: I love to knit, but sometimes the finished product is not the motivation.  So, at any given time, I have 5, 10, or 20 projects on the needles, all in different stages of completion.  Over the past few months I have not been very disciplined in completing projects that were not intended for special events or holidays, but I’ve been on a tear recently to make some projects that had reached the bind-off stage actually wearable.  This past week has resulted in the blocking of four projects already, and there is a fifth underway.

Today I want to show you the project that made me fall in love with Freia Handpaints laceweight.  Originally I saw the Dew Drops Shawl worked up in the lichen colorway at Looped DC.  Sadly for me, Lichen was not available, so I chose South Beach instead.

 

Ravelry project link

I really love how this turned out.  The yarn feels magnificent, stretchy and cozy all at once, but also substantial: I’m not worried about wearing this shawl out and about because I know it can stand up to the wear.  It won’t have to be a special occasion item.  There was so much stretch that I could have taken the top border beyond the edges of my blocking board if I’d had the space.  As it is, the top edge is about 68″ across, and the point of the triangle is deep enough to cover my back, which will be fantastic for any trips to drafty or high-AC restaurants.

As I was knitting, my cat spent a lot of time with me.  I would gaze into his eyes to reassure him of my love – because after 11 years, he’s still a little insecure at times – and I realized that this colorway mirrors his face.  He has an orange-pink nose, blue-green eyes, and light- to medium-grey stripes.  People often comment on his beautiful markings, but he hasn’t let it go to his head because he’s the sweetest cat ever.

IMG_0645

Lunar Eclipse – free pattern download!

Over the past few months, I’ve been working off and on on this pattern, Lunar Eclipse, which has been a really fun exercise in what to do with one skein of luxurious yarn.

From the Mountain asked me to design something with a skein of their worsted weight cashmere, which is hand-spun in a fair-trade agreement with Afghan women.  The stuff is beautiful.  It is a soft, two-ply fiber in a variety of natural colors, including ecru, grey, and several shades of brown.

The final result was this initial offering:


 

And then Abby asked me to add two additional edgings:

You could add your own edgings to this template – we’ve offered it in three charted patterns, two originally from Barbara Walker and one from Book 4 of The Stitch Collection by Lark Books.

This is a free Ravelry download, so feel free to share, and please post your final project photos!

Garden Shawl FTW! and, a question on yarn substitution

I just found out that my Garden Shawl won a second prize in the Skein and Garment Competition at SAFF. I’m not sure which category? (Design: Evelyn Clark. Yarn: Avillion Farm.)

And what better prize for knitters than skeins of yarn! I can’t wait to find out what it looks like. [Thanks Elaina!]

Here’s my yarn substitution question, which is kind of specific – if you are familiar with Ella Rae Silkience, can you think of a yarn that would do nicely instead? Unfortunately Silkience has been discontinued…

Oh socks, how do I love thee, let me count the ways.

All I ever finish these days is socks. They are easy, portable, variable or not, and you can’t have too many; or, you can give them away.

I finished one pair that I’m not going to show you just yet. I’m wondering if I should maybe submit it somewhere, or just write it up and offer the .pdf for sale? Of course, it takes me ages these days to finish anything, so maybe next year I’ll have a follow-up post about that.

In the mean time, here are two ways in which I love socks.

1. Ribbed, yellow, fake fair-isle, cotton blend socks with Plymouth Sockotta. Only one shown here, but second one about 75% done.

[click photo to embiggen…]

2. Again, only one sock, but second one about 50% done, this with fatter yarn on fatter needles (#4) but the same concept. Made with Art Yarns merino sport weight, but only ~104 yds/skein, so guess what, I ran out! And now have a blue-green toe, and soon will have two.

[no embiggen option offered because it looks blurry!]

However, I will say that there has been progress on these two projects, a cable vest that still needs back shoulders and edging, and my Kimono Shawl, which has around 15 of 25 repeats knitted.

But… I’m heading off to Kinshasa again, so I may finish a sock or two (three more skeins of Sockotta await) but I don’t have big ambitions at the moment.

Mystery Stole

Jane‘s doing it.

Sarah‘s doing it.

Bonne Marie
‘s doing it.

I didn’t mean to wait till the last minute to post about this, but I was stalled by the lack of photo. And I still don’t have a photo so click on the links above to get a taste.

But I’ve been enchanted by the idea of mystery, by trusting someone and her design abilities to the extent that I don’t mind receiving only a bit piece each week. I have decided that if I ever have a child, I don’t want to know the gender till the last minute – and I will knit baby things in ALL colors, preferably not pastels – so not knowing the outcome of the stole till the last clue doesn’t bother me in the least, and gestation is much shorter.

I didn’t know about Mystery Stole 1 & 2, for which there were something like 700 and 2000 participants respectively. When I joined Mystery Stole 3, there were around 2000 members, and now it’s up to WHAT????? I JUST CHECKED IT AND THERE ARE 1400 MORE MEMBERS SINCE YESTERDAY! THERE ARE NOW 6249 PEOPLE! Yesterday there were 4600. I suspect this jump has to do with Stephanie McPhee’s post? Thankfully she’s told you all about this KAL already so I don’t feel as though I have been keeping something from you. [The reason I say this is that signups end at midnight tonight so go join!]

This stole is optionally beaded, and since I don’t have beads, I am skipping that part. I’ve chosen Schaefer Yarns’ Anne in a slate blue and grey colorway.

So, I’ve finished the first 100 rows, and lest you think I’ve been slacking, I also knit three socks for SOS2007 (see sidebar) but I’ll leave you with photos to illustrate my nonknitting activities as outlined in the previous entry.

Kiri, and Summer of Socks, and postage from Germany

KIRI
Thanks to Blogless Kathryn, who took charge when I was getting ready to flee the country, I have photos of the Kiri shawl that I knit back in March. And thanks to my complicated yet uncoordinated system of an ancient personal laptop from 2000 and a work laptop that has no CD-ROM drive, it’s taken me a while to upload the photos. But, enfin, here it is.

I really enjoyed knitting this shawl, and even though I would have liked to keep it, it went instead to a raffle. The report from Carolyn from spinning guild is that the winner is enjoying it, so my mission is fulfilled! The yarn was a donation from Avillion Farm, and I just loved working with it.

SUMMER OF SOCKS
Next up – gearing up for Summer of Socks 2007, which begins on the first day of summer, of course – 5am tomorrow, for those of you wanting to start right away on heading toward that “Most Socks” goal. I think I could easily drive myself crazy, so I am not planning to compete in the Most Socks category, which is probably a good thing, since I started a pair a week early, and they wouldn’t count toward the tally.

These are Child’s First Socks, Shell Pattern from Nancy Bush’s Knitting Vintage Socks.

I am using Mountain Colors Bearfoot (wool, mohair, nylon) in the Yellowstone colorway, which I LOVE. It’s got bits of caramel, chestnut, and chocolate in it, lazily winding around the sock in thick stripes. And the pattern is delightful – I got the hang of it after two repeats, and the socks have been a breeze.

But I took stock of the sock yarn stash, and I just frogged this one – for the second time! I love the colorway, Lilac, from Three Waters Farm, but I can’t settle on a pattern that suits the fine gauge and the dark tones.

Betcha can’t even tell that there was a pattern in there. Yeah, me neither, so this yarn will likely turn into a simple ribbed pattern.

But there are also these lovely treats awaiting me – you can see how eager I was at one point, since they are already wound into balls or cakes.

There is some Trekking, some yarn I got in Switzerland, whose name I can’t remember since I’ve never heard of it before, some Fleece Artist sock yarn in the Jester colorway, some Sunshine hand-dyed in Neopolitan, and some Hello Yarn Tough Sock in Glowing.

The mysterious Swiss stuff comes with reinforcement thread and has some subtle striping going on.

And more sock yarn is on the way. I might have had to add some to my order when I snatched up some Kauni rainbow yarn for this cardigan after seeing Yarn Harlot’s progress. (Purlwise also has a very nice finished product here.)

[Note: Yarn Harlot was not kidding about postage. Even though I am a bit ashamed to admit it, I will tell the rest of you what the real cost was, since she was vague and you might want to be forewarned. The rate does not come up in your shopping cart but the shop owner will contact you after you order. Apparently the secure packaging in which they ship from Germany is a flat rate of THIRTY SEVEN EUROS. That is why I stocked up on some Opal that was on sale even though the focus lately has been stash busting………..]

Next post, it will be blocked

I finished the Kiri shawl this week, but it’s still a crumpled heap. A nice soft, warm one, but a heap nonetheless! At this stage, it was on the needles after one bind-off attempt in which I ran out of yarn. I knew I was running out before that and didn’t finish all of the edging rows, but I didn’t want to rip out or make the shawl smaller. There are currently 14 repeats of the design, and on principle, I would have to skip over 13 – hey some people are superstitious, and the shawl isn’t for me! – and reduce to 12… so instead, it’s missing two rows of edging. Don’t tell anyone! Of course, this view is upside down…

I’ve also been working on a small project – here is a taste.

And, some of you may know that since its inception I have been categorically against self-striping sock yarn. I am not sure why – maybe simply because the yarn companies don’t know what combinations I like, and because the stripes tend to obscure the designs I like to knit. Knitting this sock was the first time I really embraced the self-striping, with OnLine yarn, and once again, I have fallen in love with this lighter version and colorway:

I think it’s the spring green in there that draws me in – vibrant and vital, and offsets the other colors that I normally might not like.

On another note, the other day my neighbor asked where I was coming home from, and I said, Spinning Guild! Maybe a bit too enthusiastically for people who don’t get it. She said, Aren’t you a bit young for that? I think she meant inexperienced, since I just started spinning, and I’m also not the youngest person there (we have a high school student who is pretty expert) but isn’t a group that gathers all the local experts a good place to be? It merely requires showing up with my wheel, and now that I’ve paid dues, I can benefit from the traveling library.

Another bonus is meeting a lot of people who work with animals. For example, Elaina at Avillion Farm, who donated the yarn for the Kiri shawl. And Laurie who grows silk worms and also raises colorsplash rare poultry. Not only are the hens different colors, but so are the eggs! Laurie had so many eggs that she was giving them away.

Last meeting of the Spinning Guild brought us an excellent presentation on estimating yarn requirements by Nancy Shroyer, and generally we also have local goat cheese to snack on or purchase.

I don’t care if I’m too young or inexperienced to be in a spinning guild. I’m not going to stop going.

Swatching in Lanas Puras and not finishing anything

Dear everyone,

So sorry to leave you without any new photos recently! There is something funky with my blog – the Dashboard isn’t working properly, and the Gallery doesn’t seem to work. Are any of you having trouble? My other excuses for not blogging include work and my class and for some reason being sleepy ALL THE TIME. Spring may be in the air down here, but it’s all pollen in my head.

I am having the finishing blues again – or, more accurately, the finishing procrastinations. I left off after the cuff of Sock No. 2 on the lace argyle jobbies. Haven’t progressed beyond heels of the toe-up cable numbers. I have made tracks on the Manly Sweater because the knitting is so easy, which I love, but there’s still a long way to go and it’s not a priority.

These past few weeks, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of some yarn for some samples that I am supposed to knit up, and I’m getting worried because I’m also making plans to leave the country for work again. I finally got the yarn, and it is luscious – feels like Malabrigo for those of you who are familiar. The yarn is Lanas Puras from One Planet Yarn and Fiber in Orchid and Cornflower. Here are the swatches – in different needle sizes, not just because I have two colors!

I also received yarn for a shawl that I plan to knit for the Averasboro Fiber Festival (sorry, no link – neither of the two links has any info), but again – worried about finishing before leaving the country.

This photo was taken on Saturday and it’s already Thursday. The shawl now has about twelve leaf repeats rather than three, and I’m well into the second ball of yarn. I don’t leave till March 19th, so I think I might make it!

The shawl pattern is free online – Kiri from All Tangled Up, and is a nice diamond-leaf repeat that is easy to memorize, so I’ve been flying along. At least, that is, till the rows got so long that now purling back seems to take a week.

Blocking and needle sizing redux.

Blocking.

Here is Mary’s wedding shawl, blocked basically following the same method as in Eunny Jang‘s tutorial, only I used the measurements on my contact-paper-covered cardboard quilting folded thingy. Pattern – Flower Basket Shawl by Evelyn Clark from the Fall 04 Interweave Knits.

And the bad over-the-shoulder shot.

The blocking stretched it out to what seems like twice its unblocked size. But when I pulled the pins out, there was still some shrinkage. The consistency of the shawl has completely changed, though – there is drape where before there was snuggly elastic pull. The latter is nice but you can’t see the lace design… (Can you see that there is nearly 1 1/2 inches between the unpinned point and the hole where the pin was? I pinned the shawl to 25 in. in length and it is now 23 1/2 in.)

OK, on to needle sizes.

So, Andrea posted this for me, which is a comparison of her needle sizers. And I took this photo, which says that my #3 needles ought to be 3.25mm, but had different mm measurements for #4:

And Ann commiserated but confused me more by telling me that she has two different mm gauges for size #2…

It seems that some real answers were beginning to be revealed with Kanuck‘s link to a table of “observed diameters” for various US sizes, which was very enlightening.

The Craft Yarn Council of America has designated industry standard mm measurements for knitting needles, but this doesn’t solve the problem of European sizing (Addi Turbo, anyone?) or European designations in patterns (*cough*DaleofNorway*cough*).

ps. The shawl is the second FO of 2007. This pair of socks is the first. I promise that they are for someone with two feet that are the same size, even though they look a bit wonky in this photo.