Archive for November, 2008

Spin Doctors

I hope everybody here in the States had a good Thanksgiving! Ours was okay, even though I was (and am) a little under the weather. I'm thankful for all of you!

Here's my latest handspun, all skeined up.

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And here's what it looked like a few days ago, before the massive bleeding that occurred in the finishing process. The colors in the pictures are accurate, at least on my monitor. Definitely a big difference!

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The whole thing shook my spinning confidence a bit, but not for long. On Wednesday night, I taught Allison and Jessie how to spin on the Babe. It was the first time I've taught anyone, and I have to say, it was pretty thrilling. Almost as good as watching a birth! They both made very lovely yarns, and I was proud. We even composed a song during the lesson:

I like big batts and I cannot lie,
You other spinners can't deny
that when a fleece comes in that looks good for making lace
with the wool up in your face
it gets SPUN!

Good times!

I also got my Lace Leaf Shawl back on the needles. I noticed one more mistake, but it's pretty minor. I think I can just throw an extra k2tog in there somewhere and be all back to good. You know, at the beginning of my vacation I was totally convinced that I would be done with the whole shawl before it was over. I think maybe I could have been too, if I hadn't had to do all that ripping. I've heard Kristin at the Knit Nook say that however long you think it's going to take you to knit something, you should multiply that by three. So true!
 

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Needles and Pins

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The yarn is Jaegerspun Zephyr Wool/Silk, lace weight, in Blueberry. Aka, my future Lotus Blossom Shawl. Blue isn't normally a color I gravitate to, but this color really called to me. At 14.00 for 630 yards, it's a bargain! And from the small bit of swatching I managed to do, I can tell you that it knits up beautifully.

What I am learning is that choosing a needle size for a lace project is a very open ended thing. It's not like knitting a sweater, where gauge can make or break the project. It all depends on your preference for "openness" in your lace. Here's my highly unscientific "average" needle size chart, gleaned from looking at a whole lot of lace on Ravelry:

Lace: 3 – 6
Fingering: 5 – 8
DK/Sport- 7 – 9

But then, you'll see something like this Shetland Triangle in Silky Merino (which is a DK) knit on size 5's, or this Dragon Scales Shawl in Smooshy (a fingering) knit on size 9's. They're both lovely, so you have to assume that the people who knit them just swatched it out until they found the perfect size for them. (Or they made extremely lucky guesses!) I still think I should have gone up a needle size for my Lace Leaf (I'm using a 7) but maybe it will turn out okay. I'm planning to try to block a chunk of it out on the needles so I can guesstimate how many more repeats I have to do. It was surprisingly not that big when I took it off the needles before, but I'm going to block it to within an inch of its life so we'll see.

Some November Sweater related content: The Cosmicpluto B-Side Cardigan. I keep seeing the ad for this pattern in Ravelry, and every time I think "Ooh, cool!" I love how the cable gives it an asymmetrical look, and the size range is really good. It calls for DK weight. Wouldn't it be just divine in Malabrigo Silky Merino? Yes, yes it would!

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Super Shawl Shimmy

After I took the Lace Leaf off the needles yesterday, I didn't put it back on the needles right away because I knew it was a job that would require some concentration. After Iris went to sleep, I started to get it back on, only to have the needle come up missing. I decided to cast on for new socks rather than hunt up the missing needle, but letting that shawl sit with all those naked, loose stitches made me uneasy all day. I turned the living room upside down tonight, found the prodigal needle, and got the shawl back on. Phew! All is right with the world.

Or rather, it would be if I hadn't realized after re-needling that I actually need to frog two more rows than I did. So it all has to come off again, and the cycle begins anew. I am comforted by the fact that it could always be worse. So much worse!

In other shawl related news, I ordered the Lotus Blossom Shawl pattern from Fiddlesticks Knits. It's definitely the most I've ever paid for a pattern, and I don't mind telling you that it's driving me crazy that there's no option to download it as a PDF. It's not just a matter of the internet spoiling me with instant pattern gratification (even though it totally has!) I like having the security of the PDF saved to my hard drive. Around here, a lot can go wrong with a printed pattern! I could scan it into the computer myself, but buying it in PDF format is just so much more convenient! But, the shawl is gorgeous and I have some yarn here that just screams Lotus Blossom to me. (Hint: New yarn, not my Pigeonroof Studios. Not yet, my precioussss.) I've heard about the greatness of Fiddlesticks charts, so maybe it will be worth the pain of waiting for snail mail after all.

While I'm waiting for my pattern to get here (and avoiding taking Lace Leaf off the needles to frog AGAIN) I'm swatching, swatching, swatching. If you're not a rabid Sundara fan, you might have missed this great post about lace yarn and needle sizes- check it out! Good stuff!

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They Come in Threes

Three bad things happened to me today. Nothing earth shattering or life altering. Mostly just annoying!

1. I made a mistake in the Lace Leaf Shawl that I couldn't figure out how to correct without ripping back, so it had to come off the needles. (And, I haven't worked up the gusto to put it back on the needles yet.)

2. My most favorite socks ever got a huge hole in the bottom of one, and is seriously thinning out in the other. I'm not sure if I should try to darn it, or patch it, or just knit some new ones. Except I can't really knit new ones because Allison knit these and new ones just won't be the same!

(Note: I already cast on for a pair of Log Cabin Socks (Rav link) in Eco Wool. Apparently, I have a very short grieving process.)

3. I finished plying my Hippie Art Chick yarn and during the twist-setting process it went from a bright and crazy hot pink and white to a much more muted dusty rose and lighter dusty rose. It's not really ugly, just not what I was expecting. I've never had a yarn/knitted object bleed like this stuff did. I washed and rinsed it 5 times, and pink water still comes out when you squeeze it so I gave up. Maybe I should have steam set it instead? Who knows. Maybe it will look better in the morning.

I'm not what you would call a superstitious person, but I do believe this thing about bad things coming in sets of three. Now that all three things have happened, I feel free to move on without worrying about the next thing, so that's a relief at least.

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Contenders

If you're tired of shawl talk, I do apologize. But I can't get them off my mind! I'm about to start my 11th repeat on Lace Leaf, and the closer I get to the end (which could be either 3 or 6 repeats away, depending) the more I obsess about which shawl to cast on for next, and in what yarn.

When I first cast on for Lace Leaf, I practically had to sit on my hands to keep myself from casting on for the Garden Shawl (Rav link), another from the Knitting Lace Triangles book, with my Dream in Color Smooshy, colorway Pansy Golightly. (Rav link) (I didn't really sit on my hands, since that would have necessitated putting down Lace Leaf, but you get my drift.) I still might do that next, but I'm not sure that the resulting shawl would be big enough to suit, since I only have the one skein. More of a scarf really. But, if I make it and it is decently big, then that would open up my sadly underused sock stash in a whole new way! It might be worth experimenting with. Surely someone would want the scarf, even if it was too small for me. Some of the one-skein-of-sock-yarn shawls on Ravelry look huge, but of course it's hard to tell if you don't know the size of the model.

In the end, I'm not risking anything major, so I'll probably give it a try. I think it's a good idea to step down from a DK weight shawl to a fingering before I go all crazy on my PRS laceweight. Speaking of PRS laceweight…

It risks becoming one of those yarns that ends up being stashed forever because it's too precious to use. My fear of ruining it is in constant competition with my desire to see it knit into the most ideal project possible. I have 1300 yards, so I have plenty to do just about anything I want. I might even have to do one large shawl and a scarf or something. Some contenders, all linked from Ravelry:

Norwegian Woods Shawl
Seraphim Shawl
Lotus Blossom Shawl
Hidcote Garden Shawl
Baltic Blossoms Shawl
Veil of Isis
Estonian Triangular Summer Shawl
Summer into Fall Shawl
Juno Regina

There are so many beautiful choices! Right now I'm leaning Hidcote Garden, but I have plenty of time to change my mind. I'm open to suggestions, so feel free to leave 'em in the comments! As you can tell from my list, my taste skews heavily towards triangles, but I'm not ruling anthing out!

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Friday Night Ravelry Surf #7

A small sampling of shawls that caught my attention lately around Ravlery:

SpinnyKnit's Big Shetland Dude! Less than a skein of Eco Wool and finished in two days! It boggles the mind.
ThePurlFisher's Peonly Shetland Triangle The yarn is gorgeous and the kid wrapped in the shawl- too precious for words!
plyandburl's Frost Flowers and Leaves for Wedding– Awesome chuppah!
Pioni's Flutter Scarf This isn't a shawl, but it's so pretty! Have I mentioned that I'm supposed to be knitting one of these for my mom for Christmas? Thankfully, her birthday is in January so if I miss the big deadline, there's still a good chance I could hit the next one.

I could probably spend this whole vacation looking at shawls. I'm only cutting myself off now in the interest of working on my own!

I hope everyone's having a great weekend!

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All I Ever Wanted

Today marks the official start of a long awaited (and I like to think well deserved!) vacation. It's the longest break I've had from work since my maternity leave!We're staying home, so I have big plans for cleaning house, decorating for the holidays, and relaxing with Iris and Bob. Oh, and knitting, spinning, and sewing. Speaking of knitting:

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Halfway through repeat nine. I know I said I was going to stop at 13, but now I'm thinking maybe 16 would be better. I want it to be dramatically large, which for a person of my size is no small feat! According to the chart in Knitting Lace Triangles, 13 repeats should yield me a shawl that is roughly 6 feet (1.82 meters) along the upper edge, and about three feet (.91 meters) from top to the bottom point. Which is just right, I think. But I think maybe I'm getting a smaller gauge than the book. It's hard to tell, with the lace all squished up. I guess I'll just keep doing repeats until I'm feeling deeply murderous. Decisions, decisions.

Iris would probably prefer that I quit the shawl now and keep sewing. The blanket will likely benefit her more in the long run. And the scrap are more fun to play with!
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