July 12, 2010

Report on the Missing Mojo

My knitting mojo has been gone for awhile. It didn't leave all at once. No, it slipped away little by little. At first, I didn't notice much. Perhaps the sweater projects slowed down, but I was still knitting socks.

And then the socks slowed down too. At that point, the mojo-lack could no longer be ignored. And in this state I've been for many a month. The Fiber Room has sat neglected, dusty and dark. Half-finished projects just dropped willy-nilly.

This weekend, I walked into the Fiber Room and set about to tidy it. Granted, this has nothing to do with the return of knitting mojo -- we are shortly to host one of my oldest (in the sense of this girl knew me and liked me when I was fifteen) friends and her large family for a couple of days, and I need every square inch of space to deal with this.


I put every unfinished project together with its pattern, yarn and needles in a lululemon bag. Yup, I have a bad lululemon problem. Your point? Anyways, in the course of this I came upon a pretty Kidsilk Haze lacy beaded shawl project, seen here.

I brought it downstairs, ferreted out the pattern, figured out where I was at. And actually knitted a row or two. Apparently seeing my sister's lacy shawl inspired me onwards.

Its only a row or two. Maybe I'll drop it again. Maybe not. But since the knitting mojo didn't leave with a bang, perhaps its return will also be more incremental.

Knitting mojo, is that you?

March 16, 2009

New Arrival

So, I won Norma's blog contest, and a big-ass package landed on my doorstep recently. Containing edible goodies and this:


Hmmmm. Pretty purple lacy scarf..... Intriguing. Do I feel start-itis coming on?

Not that I don't already have lots of lace on various needles. But start-itis isn't particularly logical, now is it?

So, its a little over three months into 2009, and I've been thinking about asking how folks who made New Year's resolutions are faring. I'm formulating a diet/exercise discussion in my head and I'd be interested in hearing how people who made those sorts of resolutions on January 1st are doing now.

December 31, 2007

Meet Hanami

Last December, my sister gifted me with a big bunch of Rowan Kidsilk Haze. I'd originally planned to use it for this sweater, but after a quarter of a sleeve, I decided that I just could. not. handle knitting that much stockinette in this beautiful, but pain in the ass, yarn.

After much looking for a replacement sweater for this Kidsilk Haze, I came upon this sweater in the September 2006 Sandra that I really liked. But, when I went to cast on for it, I discovered that the gauge (16 stitches to 4 inches over stockinette) was much, much looser than I like KSH knitted. True, I could've re-written the pattern to my preferred gauge. Frankly, although I'm happy to take flyers on screwing with patterns in "regular" yarn, I am not so eager to start experimenting with this yarn. Hint: this stuff is a HUGE BITCH to rip out while at the same time its incredibly easy to make a mistake.

Focus shift: to beaded stoles. I haven't yet made a stole. All of my shawl knitting has been of the triangular persuasion. I haven't recently knitted with beads, and I've never beaded any part of a shawl. Lastly, I began to question how much use I would get out of a sweater in this yarn.

So, meet Hanami shown off by a bit of fresh snowfall.


This project is brilliant: its asymmetrical so there is no possibility of getting bored. The first pattern after the beaded cast-on is a basketweave lace, followed by increasingly frequent cherry blossom lace. The beaded cast-on called for a tiny crochet hook which I don't happen to own. Rather than (horrors!) wait to cast on, I just strung all the needed beaded onto the yarn and beaded the cast-on row that way. My cast-on method produced a dangly beaded look as opposed to the more closely beaded crochet hook alternative. I like it.

One last project note. I'm using Addi Turbo US size 5 circular needles for this project. And, due to the dullness of the points, I am really wishing for the Addi Turbo lace needles. One more item on the wish list for 2008!

February 12, 2007

Mystery Guest....Revealed!

Last week, a Mystery Guest stopped by the blog. Today, the Mystery Guest is revealed.

I think it looks great on my friend Cheryl.

Project Details:

Yarn: Classic Elite Classic Silk in "Primrose" -- 2 whole balls and little bit of a third.
Needles: Addi Turbos in US size 5.
Pattern: This is two repeats of the Tilting Ladder pattern in Barbara Walker's Second Treasury, with three stitches of ribbing at either edge (K1 P1 K1 on the right side).

I completely ripped off the idea for this project from Kerstin. Designing is simply not my strong suit, but I do know the right thing (and how to modify it) when I see it. I wanted both cables and lace, and it needed to look good in a thicker yarn. Kerstin's scarf had it all, so rip-off I did.

Its possible, of course, that I chose it because the sample scarf was the same pink color as my yarn. I'm going to pretend I'm more complex than that.

January 08, 2007

A Quickie Scarf

Mindless scarf knitting was just the ticket over the holiday.


Project Details:

Yarn: Cascade 220, about a skein and one half
Needles: Addi Turbo Circulars in US size 6
Pattern: Ruffles from the book "Scarf Style"
Mods: None

This scarf did benefit from a wash...prior to washing it really resembled fusilli pasta. After washing, its more egg noodley.

I wish you all a good Monday. Mine includes a visit to the eye doctor to confirm that I need stronger glasses. And I always thought my crappy vision could not get more crappy. The universe laughs at me!

December 01, 2006

A Birthday Icarus

To celebrate my birthday today, I gave myself a finished Icarus. A fine, fine gift.

First, the story in pictures:




Project Details:

Pattern: Icarus by Miriam Felton from Interweave Knits Summer 2006.

Yarn: Custom dyed Silk Lace from Sundara Yarn. This yarn comes in a hank of 1000 yards, and I had some yarn left over.

Needles: Addi Turbo 32" circulars in US size 1.

Mods: None, amazingly enough for me. I knit the pattern as written with the modifications that Miriam posted on her blog.

Measurements: The yarn was skinnier and the needles much smaller than specified in the pattern. My shawl measures approximately 85 inches across, but only 28 inches long, measured down the middle of the back. My row gauge is typically compressed, so this result is unsurprising.

I very pleased with this project. Its the right mix of slightly variegated yarn for interest in the plain area, plus a bit of laciness at the edging for kicks. The pattern itself was relaxing and enjoyable to knit, and I'm happy to be supporting a very fine designer. I was drawn to Icarus because, as much as I enjoy knitting an all-over lace pattern, I don't like to wear something that patterned. Too busy and "lace tablecloth in my elderly aunt's house" for my tastes. Granted, that first part of the pattern dragged a bit in the knitting. But since the words "relaxing" and "lace knitting" aren't often uttered together, that is the price one pays.

The yarn is just fabulous. Seriously. You all should get some. The lace it makes is light and drapey and shiny and altogether lovely. The yarn does not split in the knitting, and other than being typical silk -- read slippery -- its good knitting. Plus, the silk shows off Sundara's masterful dyeing job so well.

One more picture, entitled Icarus as Outdoor Art Installation:


Maybe now that I'm a year older and wiser (well, that is open to debate) inspiration will strike for my next project....

November 29, 2006

On the Blocking Towel

The Icarus, it is blocking.


For a larger view of the blocking goodness, click here.

When I block, I like to use the pins with the big "T" heads. Sadly, due to the number of points that needed to be pinned out, I ran out of these pins and resorted to using two regular ball-head pins for each little point. While trying to get the top of this shawl pinned out straight, I must admit that I wished for blocking wires. Which, by the way, might be a stellar holiday gift if you are a close family member of mine who reads this blog. Just sayin'.

It is another raw, gray day here in the Northeast U.S., but the minute there is some decent light I will endeavor to get some modelled shots.

I'm planning on spending some time over the next few days planning out my next project. A hint: I'm still casting about for an inspired idea for this yarn. Wish me luck.

November 27, 2006


The picture speaks for itself.


Icarus. Done. But Unblocked.

Tonight I hope to block it and pin it out. This definitely needs blocking to flatten out the edging and to shape it. But the preliminary try-on indicates that it IS big enough. YEAH!

Looking back on my history with this project, I started it on vacation back in August and I finished it over Thanksgiving weekend. As compared to, say, Miriam who not only designed this project, but knit one up in twelve days. Clearly I am not setting any knitting speed records here.

But, despite my belly-aching during the endgame of this shawl, I enjoyed making this project. Just don't look for my next project to use laceweight yarn and size 1 needles. Just sayin'.

November 20, 2006

Um...A Little Problem

Those of you who are squeamish, you might want to leave now.


As near as I can figure, while knitting a three-stitches-into-one decrease, one of the little bastards got loose. And slid down five or so rows before I noticed it.

"Gee, there shouldn't be a big-ass YO *there*". Right I was.

The above picture was taken during the first fix. I thought I had found all the dropped stitches at about five rows below the current one and then knit all of them up again.

Oops. One stitch short. But the the repair looked alright, if not perfect, and I proceeded onwards. But, I kept looking at the repair. Poking at it. Thinking about it.

People, when you keep going back and going back, this means that the first repair sucked. And if I let it go at that, I'd forever be picking at the repair spot when I used the shawl. My natural inclination at this point would have been to drop down all those stitches and THEN try to figure out where the lost stitch was hiding. But this time I was smarter.

I took myself over to a good strong light, and without touching the first repair, I studied it. I looked at every stitch, trying to figure out where it was coming from and where it was going. In short, I took the time to understand those stupid-ass stitches. Finally, it dawned upon me that the missing stitch had unravelled nine rows down to a yarn over and stopped there. The only tell-tale sign was a bigger YO than there ought to be for symmetry.

My plan of attack was to pick up the YO with a handy bamboo DPN and knit up the lost stitch to the row level where that stitch itself was part of a decrease. Mind you, this was before releasing the repaired five stitches from the main needle. Only when I was confident that the missing stitch looked good, did I drop down the five stitches and do the repair with all six stitches together.

Except for some tension issues, the repair now looks right and I'm glad I did it over. But, if light hadn't dawned on Marblehead and I hadn't figured out where the lost stitch was, I wouldn't have redone the repair. Lace surgery requires luck as well as skill, and it is absolutely possible to get a FUBAR* shawl if one is over-zealous in the fixin'.

Three more charted rows to go.

*For those of you who will ask, "F**ked Up Beyond All Repair".

November 08, 2006

Icarus Jeopardy

Hello everyone and welcome to ICARUS JEOPARDY! I'm Claudia, your host.

You know the rules: your answer must in the form of a question. And the first person to BZZZ in gets to answer. The category is "Icarus". All right, let's GO.

The first question is a picture:

BZZZ. "What is Icarus after two days of two-rows-a-day?"

Second question: 27

BZZZ. "What are the number of charted rows left in Icarus?"

Third Question: "When you accidentally pull the last seven stitches off of a slippery size 1 needle and they ladder down for one row."

BZZZ. "When it is time to stop knitting for the night?"

Fourth Question: "Forever."

BZZZ. "How long does one row take?"

Congratulations! With all the right answers, you win the Grand Prize: a chance to finish Claudia's Icarus!!! OK people, don't all rush the stage at once.....

November 01, 2006

Checking In on Icarus

This Icarus of mine has turned into quite a long-term project. Reminder: tiny yarn and US size 1 needles = slow going. I have, however, finally made it to the edging and the end is in sight.

For a lace project, this is a soothing and peaceful knit. The edging is a bit more involved than the straightforward body pattern, but this is still an easy-going knit. I think Icarus would be ideal for a knitter's first lace project. Think about taking the lace plunge with this pattern if you've been a bit hesitant.

So, last night we had seven bags of candy on hand for the trick-or-treaters. Seven. I thought *certainly* there might be a few Snickers or Mr. Goodbars or Reese's Cups left over for snacks.

I was sadly mistaken. One tiny fun-size Mr. Goodbar is all that's left. Click here for the view seen last night by the candy-eating hordes. Is that a guard cat?

October 04, 2006

Size Matters

Damnation. You lovely folks who comment here completely crack me up! I really love the plain-speaking way you express your many and varied opinions....thanks for the entertainment.

I took the always-fine advice of June and did a quick pin blocking of Icarus while I had it off the needles. Then I laid out Birch over the pinned Icarus to see this:


Not a heck of alot of difference here from the unpinned version of Monday's photo. I do think the edging rows will block out further because they are more open. The body of this shawl just isn't "lacey" enough to really block out the way more open-work patterns might, and, unlike wool, the silk is just not all that stretchy.

What have I decided to do? Um...I'm still punting on this one. I have 14 or so rows to knit on this middle part per the pattern instructions and I will use that time to contemplate all the pros and cons of continuing that you have so eloquently elucidated for me.

Interestingly, I don't actually mind the easy and repetitive nature of this first part of the shawl. Its just that I don't normally go for such long stretches of time with projects that don't readily lend themselves to blog-worthy pix and posts. But my blogly aspirations (important as this blog is to me) don't boss around my knitting. I might have to distract you from the lack of knitting interest in other ways.

About all the knitting progress that I've made since Monday consisted of successfully getting all eleventy-billion of these tiny little stitches back onto my circular needle. As a public service announcement I note: please think twice about stringing tiny stitches onto a mercerized cotton yarn. The words grabby and splitty come to mind, and there may also have been swearing. This experience has made me think that Try It On Tubing (link courtesy of Sara) might be a fantastic buy.

October 02, 2006

Too Small, or Not?

I'm making the Icarus shawl, and I'm almost done with the pattern repeats for the mindless-knitting middle part. But its looking small, so I took it off the needle and laid it out over the world's most perfect shawl, Birch:

I know that the Icarus isn't blocked. But I just don't think the middle part will be big enough. Birch is, objectively, a small shawl. And this would be even smaller.

The pattern designer has thoughtfully included how to up-size the shawl in her pattern. The question is, can I really take more of this size-1-needle-lace-weight-yarn knitting? Maybe small is beautiful?

September 18, 2006


Knitting returns to the blog!


I have been knitting on Icarus pretty much exclusively -- to no real avail. The straightforward eyelet pattern which takes up almost the whole shawl seems never-ending. Especially on US size 1 needles and laceweight yarn.

I think you see the issue.

But at least this picture shows the color of the Sundara yarn somewhat accurately.

In Internets news, finally a helpful Comcast tech helped me jury-rig a solution that keeps me online while they fix the defective line in the street. Click here to see where my cable modem ended up. Hint: look up.

August 28, 2006

Of Snails and Shawls

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I mean, I CHOSE to knit a project using laceweight yarn and US size 1 needles. And I don't knit particularly fast.


Progress on Icarus (despite some substantial knitting time this weekend) is snail-like. The only way this picture is even worth showing is to compare it to this one taken over two weeks ago.

Yeah. Not so speedy, aye?

I'm thinking hard about what my next sweater project should be. The yarn that I'd like to work with next is some Artfibers Kyoto that I purchased on my last trip to the Bay Area. To this end, I dyed up the skeins (I bought white so that I could make the color call myself) this weekend. Were they dry and the weather cooperative, I'd have shown them here. Until photo conditions improve, I'll let you guess what color I went with.

Usually, though, I make my project decisions based upon a design that has caught my imagination. I don't often let the yarn dictate my project -- that rarely produces a garment I'm happy with. In this case, I'm still searching for some design inspiration for a drapey, bulky-weight-but-light yarn. You are right in thinking those adjectives aren't often used together, so I want to choose a design that makes the most of this unusual yarn.

August 16, 2006

OK, There Might Be Moping

This is where I am NOT today:


Random Amsterdam canal. Sitting and knitting on that little deck garden in the foreground might be nice....

But nay.

The reality is a sniffle-sniffle courtesy of the cold I caught on the airplane (a/k/a Germ Plane) and massive jet lag. So that is one explanation for the lame-ass progress on Icarus that you are about to see -- I can't stay awake past 9 PM.

The other explanation is Bejeweled. See, we flew to and from Amsterdam on a fancy plane with individual video screens for each seat, including the opportunity to play endless video games. I thought I would knit on the flights. But I was mistaken. I played one game of Bejeweled for 2 hours 47 minutes straight. Think of how much Icarus progress I could have made with that time!

So, you are warned. Don't click on that link.


For some reason, this Sundara yarn does not photograph true to color with my camera equipment. Imagine it more coppery-brown and less reddish. Anyway, I've finished the first repeat of the first pattern. Lots and lots of knitting to go. I am using Addi Turbo needles in the US size 1 equivalent.

So far I am liking the combination of yarn and pattern, and I continue to think this pattern is a good choice for yarn with color variegation.

May 22, 2006

Wearing Hyrna

The story of my Hyrna Herborgar began with an Icelandic sheep named Luna. Luna's was a special fleece for me, as I've discussed before. I wanted a really great project for this fleece, and when I saw Mamacate's Hyrna, I knew this was it.

In January I gave Luna's fleece to Friends Folly Farm for processing, and back in February, an ENORMOUS box of perfect fluffiness returned to me. Then there was spinning, spinning, spinning, broken up with a bit of dyeing.

Finally, the knitting. And now, the Big Finish.


As I suspected, after merciless blocking this small shawl actually became the right size for me. I find the shawl pin quite useful, because I think my normal method of keeping a shawl on my person (tying a fat, clumsy knot in front) is somehow disrespectful to this EXTREMELY GIRLY shawl. Lacey, scallopy, loopy with wingy bits on the ends. Did I mention it was girly? Now, not that girly is bad or anything. It just may take a bit of getting used to, is all.

Here is the back:


And lastly, here is a shot of a Hyrna in the Wild.

Project Specs:

Pattern: Hyrna Hergorbar from the book, "Three Cornered and Long Shawls" by Sigridur Halldórsdóttir and English translation by Marilyn van Keppel available at Schoolhouse Press.

Yarn: My own handspun, hand-dyed laceweight 2-ply from an Icelandic fleece from the gone-but-not-forgotten True North Farm. Although I don't have exact yardages, the shawl weighs 3.23 oz (91.6 g.) and I have 2.88 oz (81.6 g.) of leftover yarn. Since I think I started with about 700 yards of handspun, I would estimate that this shawl took about 375 yards of laceweight to make the pattern as written.

Needles: U.S. size 4 (I used Addi Turbo circulars)

Mods: Absolutely none. I made this thing exactly as written. I thought the pattern was fabulous, and the whole bit about it being in Icelandic with a translation was totally a non-issue. In fact, part of the fun for me was following the handwritten chart and marvelling that I was able to communicate through the language of knitting with the Icelandic lady who wrote this pattern. However, if you are taller or bigger around the boobal area than me, I would recommend stalking Beadlizard Sylvia for her ingenious upsizing of this pattern.

This wasn't a particularly challenging spin, dye or knit. But regardless I am enormously satisfied with how my vision for a special, special project came completely into being.

May 19, 2006

Hyrna Blocks

In the end, the crochet hook was not my enemy. In fact, the loopy crochet cast-off is an extremely clever way to finish off this shawl.


Hyrna is blocking -- nay, RECLINING -- on the official blocking towel today. Is it just me, or is the loopy crochet edging objectively wildly entertaining to pin out? Alright, call me easily entertained -- go ahead -- but these big ole loops provided the perfect handhold to YANK this shawl into submission.

For, when she first came off the needles and I tried her on, Hyrna was indeed quite a small shawl. It was big enough to meet in front of my boobal area, but not big enough to really overlap that much. But after a short soak in warm water fortified with a bit of hair conditioner, and a series of successive re-pinnings to stretch Hyrna wider and longer, my suspicion is that this shawl will be of completely normal proportions on me after she gets up off the floor.

For an inferior picture of Hyrna, but one that shows her fully pinned out, click here.

If it ever stops raining here, expect a modelled shot on Monday. In the meantime, check out Beadlizard Sylvia wearing hers.

May 15, 2006

So Close and Yet So Far

Intellectually, I knew when starting Hyrna with three stitches that the piper would have to be paid at shawl's end.

That time is now.

For days I've been looking hopefully at the chart. "Look! Only five pattern rows left!" Then hours of knitting pass and I've done...two rows. Woo, but no Hoo.


I've just begun the second-to-last pattern row. Then one more row of purl, the last pattern row and the last purl row. The delights of the crochet bind-off then descend upon me. Despite the fact that Maryse stepped forward to finish and rescue the World's Oldest Crochet UFO, you crocheters are conspiring to get a hook into my hand. I know it.

The subject of my next project certainly generated a fair amount of opinion recently. The clear popular vote was for the Peace cardigan from Rowan 25. Yup, nice sweater. But I just can't face that much stockinette on US size 2 or 3 needles. After much reflection, I think that this here is the sort of sweater one BUYS IN THE STORE. In trying to balance Will Wear v. Fun to Knit, this lovely design doesn't make the cut.

This summer, I've decided to go heavy on the Fun to Knit side and I will be making Crinkle from Rowan 39. I'll admit, I've been egged on by Fluffa who wants to make this too. And I've been enjoying watching Alison's progress as she knits hers up.

Will I wear this sweater once finished? I hope so, but I go into this project with the understanding that it may see limited wear. Summer knitting, I guess, is more about the entertainment for me than the finished product. Whereas I truly need and love wearing my winter knits (its cold here, people and my handmade wool sweaters are much better than store-bought). Let's just say my summer sweater wardrobe this year is already all set.* The compulsion to actually make my own summer clothing

Hyrna first. Then entertainment knitting, here I come!

*This sweater cuteness found courtesy of the impeccable taste of Grumperina. In addition, there was a complete overall of my summer top situation (styling by my lovely sister who is much better at picking out my clothes than I am) at the Columbia Nordstrom's and local T.J. Maxx recently.

May 12, 2006

Fabulous Prize and a Archaeological Dig

First off, let me announce this week's new FABULOUS prize for donating to my MS Ride.

Three -- count 'em, three -- lucky winners will receive one skein each of Sundara Yarn Silk Lace yarn dyed to the color of the winner's choice. Sundara is a very talented dyer, and this same yarn was used to absolutely stunning effect by Eunny recently. I covet this prize for my very own, but no. The prizes go to the terrific folks supporting Knitters Against MS. Thanks Sundara! The new total to date is over $7,000 -- we knitters are well on our way to the $10,000 goal.

Onwards to the archaeological dig. What could she mean?

Friends, I am talking about my newly-unearthed Oldest Unfinished Project EVER. Seriously, this project is older than many of you who read here. And, I'm thinking that showing this project may result in some of youse shaking your heads at me in disbelief. Nonetheless, check this out:


My mom is visiting me for this week, and out of her luggage popped the above. Its a crochet project (!) in blue (!) unidentified yarn that I remember working on when I was in junior high school. Junior High School!

Whoa nelly.

Now, why I was making a crochet stole at the tender age of fourteen...well, that I cannot answer. Should I wish to, however, I could finish it since I thoughtfully left the crochet hook in the yarn ball. Oh wait. I'm safe. I can't remember how to do this stitch. Regardless, my secret is revealed, I can no longer give the lovely Maryse shit about her crochet habit.


P.S. If you have an interest, as I do, in helping to fight poverty and hunger in this country and around the world, check out my friend Teresa's family effort for Crop Walk. She's got some kick-ass prizes and I'd appreciate it if you'd consider supporting her.

May 01, 2006

Hyrna Tracker and More Indecision

As much as I had hoped that Hyrna would be done for Maryland (yup, time to start talking about MDS$W), knitting time has been sparse around here and that is now unlikely. For your viewing pleasure here is a Big Blob of Shawl:


and the updated Hyrna Tracker. For true Hyrna shawl goodness, I'd suggest a visit to Lotta, who can clearly kick my knitting ass.

To say that I was surprised at the number of folks speaking up for Peace (most impressively, Stitchy reminding me to "give Peace a chance") is a huge understatement. I threw that sweater into the mix at the last minute without much forethought. The shape of this is lovely, but apparently the collar area has issues. Which, upon reflection, should have been apparent to me both from the modelled picture and the design of that collar corner. If Peace is to be given a chance, its collar design will have to be tweaked because I am uninterested in knitting a sweater on US size 3 needles that needs post-knitting sewing operations to be wearable.

A lesson that (obviously) I have to relearn over and over again, is that the more mental effort (thinking, planning, scheming, tweaking) that I put into a project, the more likely it is that the finished project will be a great fit for me and my wardrobe. The dream of knitting a project exactly as written with the called-for yarn? Yup, stomped upon and cast aside. Bye, bye pipe-dream. Until next time....

I did get lots of good suggestions for other choices for the Cotton Glace, including Martha and Peaches -- both from Rowan books and mags (sorry I don't have images to link to -- lacy cardis, both). Still, I am drawn to work with the Cotton Glace and plan to ruminate over the weekend at Maryland Sheep and Wool about what to do.

Did I mention I was going to MDS$W?

April 18, 2006

Pansies & Knitting

Patriots Day means that it is pansy planting time. Believe me, friends. I am not a gardener. But I enjoy myself the pansies and (if the wild bunnies don't get them) I haven't killed any yet.

However, buying the pansies doesn't necessarily mean actually planting the pansies.


Here is the current state of the Hyrna shawl next to the unplanted pansies. I've made it to the second pattern area and the rows are starting to get a wee bit long. The shawl is now big enough that there is no way I can stretch it out on the needle to get a good picture. I need me one of Grumperina's cool schematics. Instead you get this.

All in all, I remain remarkably cheerful in the face of tax day for the self-employed, wouldn't you say?

April 12, 2006

Hyrna Begins

Projects that begin with seven stitches are so easy to start. Only seven stitches! Why, I can knock that off right now, says I.

So, I cast on using the suggested needle size (U.S. size 4) not really having high hopes that the needle size would be appropriate for the yarn and pattern. Recommended needle size never works for me. But the Knitting Goddess has smiled upon me, and the needle size is just fine. Currently, I am up to 106 stitches although I'm not reading ahead to figure out the ultimate number. The pattern is enjoyable to knit and the charts -- although unusual and handwritten -- seem clear enough.

Beadlizard Sylvia is knitting this along with me, and I couldn't imagine better or more knowledgeable company. Although time constraints don't allow me to host a formal knit-along, if you are keen to knit this, you are cordially invited along on the journey. Let me know if you are knitting this too, so that I can stalk you follow your progress.

Project Specs:

Pattern: Hyrna Hergorbar from the book, "Three Cornered and Long Shawls" by Sigridur Halldórsdóttir and English translation by Marilyn van Keppel available at Schoolhouse Press.

Yarn: 500 yards of laceweight yarn

Needles: U.S. size 4 (I'm using Addi Turbo circulars)

On another topic, here is a question for the assemblage. I was given lovely gifts of Artyarns Ultramerino4 and KnitPicks Sock Landscape. Although my first choice of project for these delightful yarns would be socks, I cannot make them unless I can machine wash them. Seriously, with forty pairs of machine washable socks there isn't any way I'll remember not to throw in the lone pair of hand-wash-onlys. Has anyone successfully machine washed socks made out of these yarns?

November 28, 2005

Son of Sharfik Lives

Without further ado, I give you Son of Sharfik:

Quite alot of fuss over a scarf but....TA DA!

I would probably actually wear this scarf tucked into the coat's neckline (its damn cold 'round these parts) but for the pictoral I let the beauty of the cabling hang out.

I have been learning many new things from my projects lately, and this scarf is no exception. First, every cable in this long-assed scarf (all ninety-six of them) was done with no cable needle. Eventually I got pretty fast at the dropping and picking up of the stitches. Grumperina's trick of pinching the to-be-dropped stitches at their bases with thumb and forefinger to control their potential wildness was really the key to this technique for me.

This scarf project also proved that there truly is very little new on the knitting planet. I call this scarf "Son of Sharfik" because my original impetus towards making it was seeing it on Grumperina's blog. But in modifying the pattern to take into account my bigger gauge, I morphed the original design into the Irish Hiking Scarf. Which I had never seen before until someone here commented that mine looked quite like that one.


Makes one see how very easily two separate designers, having no knowledge of each other's work, have a possibility of coming up with the same or very simliar designs. Elizabeth Zimmerman's "unventing" is the real truth.

My one technical contribution to the cabled scarf discussion might be the bind-off I chose. One of my pet peeves in knitted scarves is if, when both ends are worn hanging next to one another, one can easily tell which was the cast-on side and which the cast-off. Because I used a long-tail cast-on to begin this scarf, I knew that an ordinary cast-off (K2, pull the first stitch over the second and so on) would look thick and sloppy compared to the minimalist chain stitch bottom of the other side. The solution to this problem is to do the outline stitch cast off (also called "casting-on casting-off") in Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears. I think it looks pretty good. Done with a wool needle, the only painful part is if one has to rip the cast-off out, stitch by stitch. Ask me how I know this.

Project Details:

Yarn: Three skeins of Artfibers Kyoto, handpainted using Gaywool Paw Paw and Madder dyes.
Needles: Susan Bates Silverado U.S. size 10 circular needles (apparently my Addi Turbo collection isn't quite complete, although these needles were fine).
Pattern: As discussed above.

November 27, 2005

Thoughts on a Pink Scarf Blocking

Things that Claudia thinks relating to this:

The long view.

Today is sunny. But scarf not dry. Picture? Wear outside anyway! No. Too cold. Clammy neck = bad.

Why block a scarf anyway? Seriously, will blocking change the fit? I think not. But wait. The cast on edge and the cast off edge are different widths. F*ck. Alright. Let's just dip the edges in the sink. /does it/ That's mickey mouse. GEEZ. /throws the whole freakin' thing into the washer to soak/

Oops, an hour later. Oops, forgot to turn off the water. Oops, cold water spraying during spin cycle. 62% silk doesn't felt that easy. YEAH!

I wonder if its dry yet....

November 21, 2005

Scarf Style

I should be knitting up the final sleeve cap on Copper Jacke. But instead I'm getting way-laid by a certain silk and mohair scarf.

Its possible to knit and wear something at the same time.

You know, I thought that I had only two balls of Kyoto, but I must have three because the scarf is pretty long and I still have alot of yarn left over. How could Claudia be so confused?, you might ask. Well, when a pile of yarn marinates in the yarn closet for a number of years, details become fuzzy. When I unearthed this yarn, I found one already-wound ball and two bedraggled skeins. In comparison to the already-wound ball, the skeins looked tiny, like I had divided up a ball of yarn in two for purposes of dyeing them.

Not. Apparently Silvia's yarn present was more generous than I rememberd. I figured this out only after making the buttonhole. Depending on how long this scarf ends up being, this buttonhole may or may not be in a useful location. Its kind of neat, though. Stuck in the middle of a cable like that.

Yes, I am easily amused.

The colors in this scarf are a hand-painted melange of Gaywool dyes in Madder Orange and Paw Paw. These dyes might be of interest to new dyers, since instead of a dye powder the color comes in crystals with the mordant and dyebath acidifer already in it. I plan on experimenting with these dyes again, cause the colors are delightful and easy is good.

November 14, 2005

Son of Sharfik

So I was admiring the scarf known as "Sharfik" over at Grumperina's, when I had an idea.

Self, I said. Self, you have a couple of balls of Arfibers Kyoto (a delightful blend of silk, mohair and wool) that you long ago handpainted in various shades of salmony pink. With which you want to do cables. Big ass cables. So, how about:

Son of Sharfik!

Since Kathy was kind enough to post her pattern, it was easy enough to narrow up the scarf to compensate for my bulkier yarn by omitting the broken rib between the big ass cables. In addition, I doubt I have enough yarn to do a really long scarf. So I might place a buttonhole a la Bonne Marie's Buttonhole Scarf smack in the middle of the middle cable and call a short scarf good.

But the real news of the day is this. As a confirmed cable-needle-lover, I have heretofore eschewed the practice known as "cabling without a cable needle". "I *like* my lovely wooden cable needles," said I. "Why change now?" said I. "If you want fast, go buy a sweater at the TJ Maxx", said I. However, since Kathy had done me the favor of working out some nice cable repeats, I thought it was only right to take her suggestion and at least TRY this without-a-cable-needle foolishness.

And you know what? It wasn't half-bad.

I found the Grumperina approach to this technique to be very understandable. What had put me off using this technique for so long was my dislike of the free-floating stitches which are unavoidable when dissing the ole cable needle. Kathy's tip to squeeze the base of the stitches with finger and thumb at the crucial moment of letting them go really made this step feel secure, as opposed to just plain insane. I also thought the big stitches on honking US size 10 needles made this the perfect project for leaving the cable needle in its little case.

Is it faster? Well, for some cable projects -- I would absolutely think so. I am pretty fast with a cable needle due to long practice, so I'd imagine the more I used this no-cable-needle technique the faster I would get with it too. And for simple cables, no-cable-needle is a good choice and I'll probably use it again in future. For complex cables and tiny gauged stitches, though, I'd wonder whether ditching the cable needle is really a time saver. Perhaps I'll let the Grump-ster do some scientific testing on that one before I dive in.

September 19, 2005

Flower Basket Shawl Returns!

So awhile back I made a Flower Basket Shawl. It wasn't for me, and I sent it off across the Atlantic as a gift. Would you like to see where it went? I knew you would.

My Tante Anneliese looking beautiful in Flower Basket Shawl.

Everyone please note that in keeping with the family genetics, my aunt is knitting a sock on five needles (of course) and is knitting Continental, as all nice German girls do.*

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, now does it?

*Well, as far as I know anyway. I've personally never seen any of my people throw, but speak up if you have.

August 01, 2005

So Flower Basket. So Finished.

It turns out, not much diligence was required to finish the Flower Basket Shawl this weekend:

A finished shawl and lawn sheep in the sun just after a summer shower.

It needed just the border pattern worked, and that was only ten rows. A good blocking and here we are.

Pattern: Flower Basket Shawl by Evelyn Clark in the Fall 2004 Interweave Knits.

Needles: Addi Turbo circulars U.S. size 6

Yarn: Handspun 2-ply cashmere/tussah silk, the fiber dyed plum and apricot before spinning.

Mods: Other than working 14 pattern repeats, I knit this shawl as written. I'm not keen on messing around with lace directions.

OK, one more picture of the FBS with no silly poses.

This yarn spent years waiting in the Fiber Room for that one project that was right for it. I made this shawl as a gift -- something this purple really isn't my thing. Although I don't know if the recipient likes purple or even wears shawls, I know that she will be happy that I made it just for her.

July 11, 2005

Ride and Knit

The thing is, when you start out a shawl project with only a few stitches every row gets longer and longer. For awhile, this steady lengthening makes little difference. The rows and pattern repeats continue to flow by at a tolerable rate.

Then, it seems, all of a sudden you are knitting and knitting and knitting but you haven't yet even gotten to the center stitch marker. Lance can now ride half-way across France before I can finish another ten row pattern repeat.

Here we are at ten pattern repeats.

This handspun yarn is nice stuff (if I do say so myself). Here is a closer look at the colors and the plies of the yarn (one ply cashmere, one ply tussah silk) as knit up.

You probably know by now that my main summer entertainment other than the fiber arts is tandem bike riding. Please join me in welcoming the new ride. Before anyone begins the commenting on the close color match between the bicycle and the yarn, please be advised that hubby picked the color. Clearly he is perfect for me. The silver bits on the frame are where the bike comes apart for packing into regular sized suitcases. Because airplanes to Europe don't otherwise take tandems.

Just sayin'.

July 07, 2005

Lace Lemming

Like a lemming jumping off a cliff, we have Flower Basket Shawl:

The yarn is handspun, hand-dyed one ply of cashmere (apricot Cushings) and one ply of silk (plum Cushings).

Periodically, it seems, certain projects sweep through the knitting blogs. Why particular projects are elevated to blog-cult status (Clapotis comes to mind) and others are not is rather a mystery to me. I'm guessing that the FBS makes the cut because it is an easy, quick lace project that photographed well in the magazine picture.

I am making an FBS because it is a lace pattern with a big-ish repeating motif that looks well in a heavier-weight yarn. This yarn has been aging in the stash for quite awhile and I've swatched a few smaller and fussier lace patterns in it which did not appeal. Its also a perfect handspun project because the 10 row main lace repeat can just be knit over and over again until one is close to running out of yarn. Great for those of us unsure exactly how much yarn we actually have. As usual with my own handspun, the grist of this stuff varies considerably between lace-weight and sport-weight (and back again) depending on the moment. This pattern seems to hide that variability, so thus far I am pleased with it.

With some patterns, I find myself making the same mistake over and over again. With this one, I regularly leave out one yarn-over every few rows or so. Luckily, this particular screw-up is easily corrected by undoing the errant stitches and picking up a YO from the row below. But making the same mistake again and again really makes me wonder about myself.....

I've re-jiggered my sidebar a little, and included a button link to my Gallery of finished projects. My very first homemade button. It takes so little to make me happy.