Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Week in Review

I know that I've been MIA for the last week, but that doesn't mean no knitting. In fact:


A finished, albeit sideways, blocking large rectangle. It's been out in public, although the day (Saturday, for my nephew's birthday party) turned out too hot to really wear it.

I went down to visit some family last week; on Monday, I took the Limoliner down to NYC, where I met w/my best friend. The Limoliner was fun; for $79 one way you get wireless internet, decent cell phone coverage, comfy leather seats, CNN followed by a movie, and a turkey sandwich. On my way down, I emailed L and told her I was on my way; she replied to say she had forgotten about her book club, which met that night. Fortunately, they were reading Hedda Gabler, which was short enough to download (yeah internet!) and read on the way down. Last month they read Moby Dick, which I never would have finished. The Limoliner leaves from Back Bay and goes to midtown Manhattan (from the Hilton on both ends), which put me only a few blocks from where L lives. So we met up and I gave her her birthday lace, which she liked.

On my way to Penn Station, we hit School Products (what? it's not that far!--only a few blocks, and the nice man at the store let us put the luggage in a corner) and I bought some more lace-weight yarn:

100% baby camel yarn. 3 skeins in a warm cream color. Which, at 463 yards a skein, gives me loads to play with. I'm thinking of a shawl for my MIL, who also knits. She knits continentally, which makes sense since she moved here from Poland almost 45 years ago.

From Penn Station I went to NJ, where I spent the night with my MIL. We went shopping, which she needed to do because she's lost a lot of weight since my FIL passed away in February, and she doesn't really like to go by herself. I also astounded her with the information that pizza parlors will sell individual slices, much to her delight.

Wednesday I went out to my parents' house, which is located on a small lake--cool and comfortable, and lots of fun. Part of the reason for my trip was my nephew's birthday. He turned three on Saturday:

He's so flippin' adorable I can't stand it. And completely adores my brother and father (pooh-pa, he calls my dad). "My daddy can do that" "My daddy help me do that" "My pooh-pa play with me". So frickin' cute.

A little overstimulated at the party, but he didn't have a nap. And he did have two pieces of cake.

L and her boyfriend came out (with the dog, much to T's three-year-old delight) for the party, and stayed overnight at my parents'. My parents adore L ("this is our other daughter" is how they introduce her)


Uncle George and I gave him a fishing rod and a bed tent-thingy (he loves the tent he has right now, and told his dad he wanted to go fishing this summer. Uncle George was happy to oblige with the fishing part).

So on Sunday we all gathered again at my folks', and Uncle George took T fishing. He had a great time (they both did, I think!) and caught 4 fish! I was surprised by how long his attention lasted--over half an hour, and then a break, and then back to fishing. "No touch" on the worms or the fish, but the actually casting and reeling parts were hits.

I've also been working on my new shawl:
















Stripes and Torchon Lace, also from Victorian Lace Today. Clearly, the book was an excellent investment. When L and I were deciding on a pattern for her shawl, my SIL kept looking at the Stripes and Torchon pattern, saying how much she liked it. I can take a hint, so I'm using the Malabrigo lace yarn I bought at Webs. The yarn is really nice--very soft--and generally I like it. When I wound the first skein, however, I found a knot, and made two balls. The huge, honking line of demarcation is the result. I'm not going to worry about it, though; it's actually less noticeable in real life, and I think once I add the border--it's a fairly wide one--it will be even less so.

Yesterday we came back to MA, and I'm now trying to get myself back on track, despite having caught an ugly cold. Hopefully this lovely weather will knock it out of my pretty quickly.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sockapal-green-and-blue-za

On my recent trip to Webs, I bought this yarn for my pal:


Lorna's Laces in Icehouse. Yummy greens and blues. The greens are a little greener than is showing up in the photo.

I've never used LL before, and want to do a cable-y pattern. But I've heard rumors of pooling, and wonder if that will interfere with the cables? Any recommendations or thoughts? What about lace? I think I need to start knitting before I really can tell, but I'd love to know what kinds of experiences you've had with Lorna's Laces and different types of patterns.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Yarn Mecca

Yesterday morning, I got in the car and took a drive west to Northampton, MA. I had a lovely drive--an audiobook to listen to, and nothing much on my mind except for yarn.

And then I got there. Webs. The yarn Mecca.

I had heard of course, of the overwhelming amount of yarn (which made even the Yarn Harlot pause for a moment) . I had perused their website, which gives a hint of what's to come. I looked at their online "tour" of the store.

None of which had prepared me for the moment I actually got there.

So. Much. Yarn!

An unbelievable amount. I managed to escape without completely breaking the bank (without, in fact, even going over my budget--mainly because Webs gives you a lovely discount (25%) off yarn when you buy more than $100 worth of items. Some of sale & clearance items aren't discounted any further, but they seem to count toward the total, so several of my purchases were discounted.

I bought sock yarn for Sockapalooza:

Lorna's Laces Shepard Sock in "Icehouse." I looked at their house brand, Valley Yarn Franklin, but decide that I liked these colors a bit more, and that since I've never knit with Lorna's Laces, I would go with this. My sock pal doesn't appear to have any in her stash on Ravelry, either, so I think she'll like it.

Now I just have to decide on a pattern. I want to do something cable-y, but I'm not sure if the colors will look good. Swatch first, decide later.



I bought a sweater's worth of this:

Elizabeth Lavold Silky Tweed in a nice dark blue. It's for a husband sweater--he's been bugging me a bit for one, and since he seems to be serious, and is giving me pretty much free reign, I got this. I've made hats for him, and a scarf, and a pair of socks (he wears the hat, but the scarf and socks only rarely).

He did ask for a pirate scull-and-crossbones, but I think not with this yarn. Any suggestions for a pattern?



To satisfy my lace kick, I bought this:

Hand-dyed for Webs--it's 80% Alpaca and 20% silk, almost 1000 yards. It's earmarked for a shawl for a co-worker with whom I frequently collaborate; the colors are pretty close to my large rectangle, I know, but she had admired the colors.








And this:

Three skeins of Malabrigo's new laceweight--super soft and lovely colors. This one's called "Blue Surf." It will become a shawl for my SIL--I'm trying to get an early start on Christmas this year. There are only two skeins pictured here, because the third one








Has been wound into balls (one knot, and one slub that I decided to avoid putting in the middle of the pattern) and I've cast on with it!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Raveling

Ravelry-ing, that is!

I'm not sure how I managed to get on the list early enough, but Frecklegirl Jess sent me an invite a few days ago, which I jumped at.

Much to the detriment of all the housecleaning I had planned on doing this week, but so. much. fun.

The site, if you haven't seen it yet, is well worth the wait--it's a totally brilliant community. You can
  • enter all of your stash, to see it at a glance;
  • enter your needle collection and text your account when you're in the lys to see if you really need a sixth set of size 5 dpns;
  • enter all your projects, in-progress and completed;
  • enter projects and yarns you're considering into a queue;
  • browse other people's projects and see their comments on the patterns;
  • browse other people's stashes and see comments on the yarns;
  • comment anything and everything;
  • ask questions about yarns, stashes, projects, techniques; and
  • do so much more I can't even hope to have a comprehensive list!
And it's definitely a community--I can't wait to finish my large rectangle shawl, in part because I want to wear it, but also because I want to post a picture there, as well. I got a lot of nice feedback on the Alpine lace shawl, which is motivating me even further on the large rectangle.

My sock pal is on, too, which means I've lurked in her stash--I've seen which yarns she has, and which colors she tends toward, making me feel more confident in my ability to find a yarn she'll enjoy. I've also looked at which patterns she's got in her queue, and am now debating whether or not I should make one of those patterns for her, or find something new and different. Hopefully this will not make her feel like she has a stalker. I must admit, it's made me feel a little like she has a stalker, and it's me.

Jess and her husband, Casey, have done an amazing job--every time I go back (which is often!), they've improved, added, and updated something else. They're still working the bugs out, and are adding people as quickly as they can, but are a) only two people who still have to sleep sometime and b) don't' want to overwhelm the system before all the bugs are worked out.

So if you're waiting on the list, be patient! It's well worth the wait.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lurking

Although I have not yet purchased yarn for my sock pal, I've been lurking on said pal's blog, and perusing various stitch dictionaries to try and come up with the perfect pattern. I'd like to try and design a sock for my pal; given what I know so far, I have some ideas.

I haven't contacted my pal yet--nothing on the blog suggests she's getting antsy about it (I know that there has been some worry on the pligg from people who haven't heard anything from their pal). If she does, I'll leave a comment, but generally, I'm going with the idea that this is a secret swap, and so not contacting her is ok. I did get a comment from my own upstream* pal, and can't wait to see what she's making!

I'm hoping to take a trip to Webs sometime this week, and am thinking about some of their sock yarn. Their Valley Yarns Franklin looks lovely, especially the Aruba and Spruce colorways, both of which go with my pal's blues-and-greens preferences.

I think I need to see the yarn in person, though (thanks, pal, for the perfect excuse to make the trip!). I think it's about a two hour ride from Boston, so I'm hoping to leave after rush hour, get there in time to shop, have lunch, and come back home before rush hour strikes again--maybe on Friday. I'll be driving mostly against rush hour, though, so it should be ok. The DH says he's willing to come (he's even said it sounds like fun), but I think if I wait for him, I'll have to rush through the socks. :) He keeps making plans to go fishing on all the days I want to go to Webs. On the bright side, the amount he spends on fishing paraphernalia makes the amount I spend on yarn look a mere pittance!

*I love this way of putting it: upstream and downstream pals. :)

Border patrol



I'm making pretty good progress on my border--I spent several hours knitting and listening to an audiobook (for some reason, I keep wanting to call them "books on tape," even though I've downloaded them to my iPod.) I belong to Audible.com, and they run specials every day--a different book for $6.97. Last week, they offered Justice Hall, by Laurie R. King--the main characters are Sherlock Holmes and his wife, Mary Russell. Russell is the narrator and main focus, but they're pretty clever detective stories in the style of Conan Doyle.

So as I listen, I'm making good progress on the border. I'm around two corners, and have about a foot left on one long side, the cast-on edge, and about six inches on the start side before grafting. With any luck, I'll be blocking by the middle of the week.


This picture is a much better representation of the color:

I love watching the changes. And the silk/cashmere blend is just yummy!

I'd like to be done for the weekend in part because I want to go down to visit my family next week--my nephew, T, turns three on May 26, my best friend L (and recipient of the Alpine lace shawl) has a birthday a few days later , and my mom's having surgery on June 1. My brother and SIL are throwing a party for T on his birthday, but I'd like to go down a bit early to hang out with L and spend some time with my mom pre-surgery. And if I happened to have a glamorous new shawl for the party, well, that would be ok.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

We have a border!

After six failed attempts, I think I've finally come up with a border that works for my large rectangle:
It's the willow border from the myrtle leaf shawl, also in VLT, which is the one I've been trying to add for three days now. Last night I managed to figure out the tension and joins well enough to make me happy, and I should (according to my admittedly sketchy math abilities) have more than enough yarn to finish. Although not too much more, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

The color in the photo isn't very accurate--the yarn (Posh Eva in Sari) is much richer and more beautiful in real life. I'm still learning how to use our fancy new digital camera.

Since the border repeat is so much shorter than the center panel, it's interesting to see how that affects the color changes--it's less stripe-y and there's no pooling. Not yet, anyway.

Here's my progress so far--the color is closer to true in this photo:

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Alpine lace in action

Knit. Rip. Repeat.

The border for the large rectangle looks like this:


Non-existent.

So far, I've knit three repeats of the called-for border and realized that I won't have enough yarn to finish.

Rip.

I decided instead on the willow border from the myrtle leaf shawl--only a 12-stitch repeat. But as-written, it starts on the other side of the center panel, so I thought I would flip the pattern.

It took several tries to get the pattern down and the tension right. Except by flipping the pattern, I'm purling the border to the center, which makes for a wonky join.

Rip.

Rip.

Rip.

Rip.

I've restarted the border on other side, using the pattern as-written. But my tension's off.

Rip.

And I still need to do the knitting math to make sure that I have enough yarn to make it all the way around the shawl.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Alpine Lace: Blocking!

Alpine knit scarf with double rose leaf center pattern and diamond border from Victorian Lace Today (p. 36)


Knitting: check.
Ends woven in: check.
Euculan bath: check
Blocking: in progress.
Beauty shots: coming soon.




The final blocking measurements were 20" by 60". VLT gives final measurements of 18" by 65"; I started with 800 yards instead of the called-for 850 yards. I'm pretty happy with the way the project came out.

Even after a soak, you can still see where I switched skeins--next time I try something like this, I might alternate skeins, but I don't think it's too much of a problem. The first skein was lighter and had some white in it; the second skein had a dark pink instead.

One of the modifications I made was, besides making it shorter, to change the number of center repeats from an odd number to an even number. It seems to me that if you follow VLT's directions, and have an odd number of center repeats, the borders will wind up unbalanced. The way the pattern is set up, you do three full repeats of the border, followed by a half repeat with an internal garter-stitch border and then start the center panel. There are two repeats (8 stitches each) of the center pattern for every one repeat (16 stitches) of the border. So if you end with an odd number of center repeats, the scarf will end in the middle of a border repeat. (This made way more sense when knitting than when trying to explain it.)

I really like this pattern--it's marked "experienced lace" which gave me some pause, but once you actually get started, it makes sense. I did need to keep the chart with me for reference--not a traveling pattern, at least not for me. But it knit up pretty quickly--I started it mid-April, and finished knitting a few days ago. It just took a while to get the ends woven in. :)

The yarn (from Posh Yarns) is so soft, but I found the 100% cashmere was fairly fragile--too much pressure and it broke. This is my first experience with pure cashmere, though. I got used to it and managed to get through the second skein without any problems. I'd buy it again in a heartbeat, though--the colors are beautiful and very subtle, which is exactly what I was looking for. The other lace yarn I bought from them is more vivid, but just as beautiful and just as much of a pleasure to knit with. Definite yarn p*rn.

I had about 4 grams of yarn left over at the end--I wish I had weighed the first skein before starting (the second one weighed 53 grams) so I would have had a more concrete idea of how much yarn I needed for the border. Each center repeat took about 2 grams of yarn, so I might have squeezed in another two repeats, but since my scale only weighs full grams, and not fractions, I didn't want to push it and end up two rows short.

Overall, the verdict is a definite thumbs up: yummy yarn, great pattern, interesting knit!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Mother's day contest


Five minutes for Mom is having a contest (several, actually!) for mother's day!

I just threw my name in the hat for an ipod nano, which I would actually love to give to my mom--she likes to listen to books on tape.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

A knitting MEME

I saw this on Fiber Dreams and thought it would be interesting to try. It's my first meme! (Meme? MEME?)

Mark with bold the things you have knit at least once, with italics the ones you plan to do sometime, and leave the rest.

I added a * next to things that I think that maybe, someday, I'd like to try, but don't have any real plans for.

Afghan
I-cord
Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Shawl
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn*
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Hat
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Sweater
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Cardigan*
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Slippers
Graffiti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)
Continental knitting*
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Scarf
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money
Button holes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting*
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colors*
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cozies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars*
Olympic knitting
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with DPNs
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Bobbles
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Steeks
Knitting art
Knitting two socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars simultaneously
Fulling/felting
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener BO
Purses/bags
Knitting with beads
Swatching
Long Tail CO
Entrelac*
Knitting and purling backwards*
Machine knitting
Knitting with self-patterning/self-striping/variegating yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere
Darning
Jewelry
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern*
Gloves
Intarsia*
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm warmers
Pillows
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Rug
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Shrug/bolero/poncho
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

I tried to only italicize the things I think I have a reasonable chance at doing in the near future--I have plans for a pair or two of fingerless mitts, and for felted slippers for my dad. He's got huge feet (12 EEE), making socks seem a bit crazier than I can handle. They also make finding slippers that fit difficult. But I have patterns printed out already for both of those entries.

Someday I'd like to try Fair Isle, and steeking, and entrelac, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. Right now, I'm on a bit of a lace kick--two shawls on the needles, and plans for a third (also from VLT) as soon as I find some good yarn for it. I'm hoping to get out to Webs sometime this month, during their annual sale. If I do, it's on my list of things to look for!