Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Here I Go Again - But With a New Tool This Time

By now you are all tired of hearing me whine about the lace shawl that I don't like working on, but I'm going to blather on about it some more, because I've just cast on another project very similar to it! Clearly I need therapy.

So let's break this down. The things I don't like about the big lace shawl are...
1. The rows are really long
2. The yarn is very thin
3. The right side rows are beaded, which makes them take even longer.
4. It's taking forever to finish because I've lost interest in it. I have to make myself work on it.

On the plus side - it's beautiful! I'll love it for the rest of my life when it is finally done.

So while I was travelling to my class reunion and back (it was way fun, by the way!), I cast on and started Christmas gift #2. This is the
Sabine sweater by Julie Weisenberger, which I'm making for my mother. It's got that great top-down raglan construction that eliminates all seams - love that! But as I was working away on it on the plane, I noticed the following:
1. The rows are getting really long
2. The Kid Silk Haze that I'm making it from is even thinner than the silk I'm making the shawl from. Plus, it has no mass whatsoever, so...
3. I'm going to have to do some beading around the bottom of the bodice and sleeves so the thing doesn't just float off my mother as she is wearing it.
4. I'm really glad to have a Christmas deadline for this project, otherwise it would probably become really good friends with my shawl in Wipville: Population 2.

The good news is that the wrong side rows are all purl, and I'm determined to learn to knit backwards in an attempt to make them go more quickly (or at least more ergonomically). I've tried once before, and just couldn't wrap my head around it that day, so I forgot about the technique completely. One of the Knitlisters posted this brief video recently, though, and it makes it look so simple that I'm pretty sure I can tackle it this time. Another new technique for the ol' toolbox.

Before I try this, however, I'm going to finish my Catalina Sweater. I have just a few more rows to do on the front band, but decided it was too bulky to carry on vacation, so I had to abandon it in a state of near-completion! That was a test of my resolve, for sure. In my next post, I should have a finished sweater to report - yay!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Shawls, Balls, and Hey Y'Alls!

How cool that my topics for this post all rhyme!

My longest standing WIP is a laceweight shawl. It's really beautiful, but I don't enjoy working on it because the rows are really long now. Plus, all the right side rows are beaded, so each RS row is taking me somewhere around 35 minutes to complete. Fortunately, the WS rows are just purled with no beads, so those aren't quite as painful! The yarn for this shawl is a 100% silk which was naturally dyed by A Verb for Keeping Warm. I found it at Stitches West in 2009, and cast on shortly after that, and it's still on the needles. The good news is that my online knitting buddy knitrsue decided to make a shawl, so I'm having a knit-along with her to keep me motivated to finish this shawl. I have 24 more body rows to go, and then the beaded border. I'm trying to do 1 row a day, and so far that's working pretty good most days! The photo isn't very good - I have it on the longest cable I've got, but it's not nearly long enough for me to spread the whole shawl out.

On the opposite end of the shawl spectrum is this newly finished object - yay!!! This was a second test knit of the After Hours shawl I designed, and I made it with our new Sockaholic Sweet yarn that we'll be introducing very soon. This little beauty is a one-skein wonder, made from fingering weight yarn on size 11 needles, with optional beads on the border. I cast this on July 7th, and finished knitting it on the 18th. Now that's my kind of shawl! This shawl pattern will be our next Knitters Brewing knit-along. Watch for the announcement at the beginning of August. Another bonus... this is going to be a Christmas gift, so I have one done already! :-)

Now for the Balls... Sunday was Stitch n' Pitch with the Padres, and our usual cadre of party knitters was there to cheer on the home team to victory! A few of us took the commuter train to the ballpark, so I had lots of uninterrupted knitting time, and finished those darned sweater sleeves! I am so happy about that :-) Now I just need to do the front band, and this sweater will be done and ready to wear when Fall hits. I think this is going to be one of those sweaters that I'll get a lot of use out of. I really like the DK weight - not heavy or bulky, but still warm due to the alpaca/silk content.

This weekend is my 30th class reunion - doesn't even seem possible! I've been working on nametags for the event, and it's been such a hoot to go through the old photos and yearbook. Due to my ageing memory, I regretfully can not remember everyone in the class, but I'm sure the memories will come flooding back once the plane lands in Nebraska. My mother tells me to expect 90+ degree weather, so I plan to spend a lot of time on a floatie in the lake they live on when I'm not socializing with my old pals. There's a new LYS in my hometown I get to check out, too!

Cheers -

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fun with Plaid!

I was recently quite honored to be asked to design a project for another Ravelry group's Fall knit-along, which just sounded like such a fun opportunity, I had to say "Yes!" The group is the Outlander Fans, which is comprised of yarny types who also enjoy Diana Gabaldon's series of books, the first of which was Outlander. This series is unique in that it crosses a number of genres - it's a romance, set in an historic Scottish time, thanks to a mystical bit of time travel. The historical information is quite detailed, painting an adventure about feuding Scottish clans and a modern "lass" who gets caught up in all the action. And yes, we find out what's underneath at least one of the brave warrior's kilt!

After being asked to do this project, I had the opportunity to attend a class taught by Laura Bryant of Prizm Yarns. She and her associates have been true pioneers in the field of intentional pooling, and the techniques that she shared allowed me to create the self-plaiding (well... we say self-striping...) scarf design shown above. The Outlander Fans have identified four tartans for their group members - one for each of the three clans, and one for the heroine. Consequently, I came up with the four colorways shown here, so that each knitter could have a special project to represent his or her favored clan.

And because I always include theme-oriented stitch markers in our kits, the Scottish warrior knitters will be adorning their needles with this weapon-laden hardware. The sword, a popular emblem used on kilt pin designs, represents all the Outlander clan warriors, and the blue beads represent the Scottish flag, known as the Saltire. (I'll admit I did try to find Loch Ness Monster charms first, but it was a no go on those - ha!)

I'm looking forward to seeing all the plaid fun this Fall!