Friday On The Needles – Flames!

(Ok, I know this is late, but better late than never, right? Just pretend you are reading this last Friday!)

This has been a busy week of project swapping. I started a scarf but got about 40 rows in and decided I didn’t like it, frogged it, and started another.

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The Mariner’s Scarf. I like the basket weave, but it just wasn’t draping right with this particular yarn.

 

The Winter Flame Scarf is much more suited to this particular yarn. It requires a stiffer drape so that the stitch definition really shows.

The yarn is much more suited to the Winter Flame Scarf. It requires a stiffer drape so that the stitch definition really shows…now if only my phone camera would cooperate.

I checked out Wendy Knits Lace by Wendy D. Johnson from the library and fell in love with several of the designs, particularly the Tiffany Shawl and the Two-Thirds Shawl. I had the perfect violet bamboo yarn for the Tiffany Shawl in my stash, so I whipped up the first chart in the pattern.

The beginning of Chart A of Wendy D. Johnson's Tiffany Shawl.

The beginning of Chart A of Wendy D. Johnson’s Tiffany Shawl. Not sure how I feel about the stitch definition with this yarn/needle combo, either. May try a smaller needle before I commit.

However, for the Two-Thirds Shawl, I faced the classic knitter’s dilemma. In spite of the countless skeins of yarn in my stash, I did not have enough of any of them. Seriously? I’m obviously slacking on my stashing here! Fortunately, a friend handed over a gorgeous hand dyed skein of pure bamboo cobweb. My favorite LYS owner offered to wind it for me if I was willing to bring it in when she didn’t have a class going. However, my being the impatient sort, I decided to wind it myself, without so much as a second pair of hands. HUGE mistake. Or as I like to refer to it, a horrifying tactical yarn disaster. With three cranks of my ball winder’s handle, my beautiful skein turned into a somewhat hopeless pile of thread spaghetti.

Lesson learned: buy a yarn swift or wait for the LYS to wind it!

Lesson learned: buy a yarn swift or wait for the LYS to wind it!

I have spent several hours a day for the last four days unraveling the mess a few inches at a time. This is a 1050 yard skein, so 3150 feet of  tangled web. It will be months before I’m done winding it, but I did learn a valuable lesson in patience.

Wendy Knits Lace is well written with easy to follow pattern instructions. As a bonus, the pattern charts can be downloaded from the publisher’s website, so no trying to scan the chart and ending up with blurred symbols. I’m not a huge fan of the 3in1 stitch used in the Stacy Shawl, as I think it twists the yarn excessively, but most of the other patterns are quite straightforward. Wendy includes something from the most popular wearable categories, including scarves, shawls, socks, caps, and sweaters. As one of my LYS owners said in a recent knit group, she only buys books that have at least three patterns that interest her. Wendy Knits Lace meets that requirement and more.

My KnitPicks order came today and I am overwhelmed with smooshiness! All of my wool and alpaca is so soft and luscious, I can’t wait until winter! Okay, maybe I can because if not, I’d never have these projects done in time. I immediately dug out a skein of Swish DK in Coal and started the first few rounds of the Eva Marie hat. This is my first “in the round” project, so I was thrilled to have my join turn out surprisingly effortless, thanks to this fabulously helpful video from New Stitch A Day!

For the moment, Morrigan is taking a break, and the Quilt and Cable is still in time-out. I’ll get back to them soon, no worries.

I managed to make it to my Saturday and Sunday knit groups, as well as my Tuesday morning, but haven’t been anywhere since then. My lovely daughter turned 21 (that’s her in my header!) on Tuesday, so we took her out for karaoke and some not so wild drinking. Because she’s only had a margarita here and there, she has no tolerance and spent Wednesday trying not to move in an effort to keep water down. She very cleverly took Wednesday off from work, so she had the entire day and half of Thursday to recover and I stayed home to take care of her.

Last night, I had a painful flare of PCS (precordial catch syndrome) that lasted until 6am this morning. In spite of pain meds, I spent the night tossing and turning because I couldn’t breathe. I am hoping that taking time to stretch in between knitting frenzies will help it from happening too often. Just another bunch of letters to add to my alphabet soup of pain syndromes. Thank goodness for knitting, because it really helps take my mind off much of the pain.

In spite of that, I’m going to this weekend’s knit groups come hell or high water.

Friday On The Needles

It’s been a long and busy week. I started the Morrigan shawl on Sunday and I’m about 3/5ths done already. I love love love these easy patterns that look so intricate! Even though I’ve been super tired this week and have had to take naps and go to bed early several times, I still managed to get quite a bit knitted up.

It helps that I made the effort to go to Wednesday night’s Inskein Asylum, a knitting meet-up at my LYS, Inskein Yarns. Of course, there were a few distractions when I first walked in the door, like the long shelf with tons of gorgeous yarn all 40% off. I managed to keep myself under control, just barely. I met more knitters and had a blast. Conversations always start with, “What are you working on?” and go on to, “And then he took off his clothes…” Knitters are quite passionate, with yarn or without!

Tonight is another knitting meetup at another LYS, Yarnivore. It will be my first one there, but I’m sure a few of the people that I met last Saturday will be at this group too. I’m just hoping for comfy chairs. My tailbone can’t handle another evening of uncomfortable chair pressure; I’m still recovering from last weekend.

This week, I’ve mainly worked on Morrigan while the Quilt and Cable throw is in time-out. I went to pick it up on Sunday evening and discovered that I made a terrible cabling error that was super obvious, so I had to frog it back six rows. SIX! I wanted to cry. That’s well over 2000 stitches. I finally got that done yesterday afternoon, so it’s ready for me to pick it up again in a few days.

My main problem with these two patterns is that I’m working both of them on 7 needles. Although my Chiaogoo interchangeables came with three small cables, I only have one pair of each needle size. Fortunately, my needle set came with end stoppers so it’s not that hard to switch them out. The other problem is that I only have a 14″, 22″, and 30″ cable. The Quilt and Cable throw is 5.5 feet long, which barely squinches onto my 30″ cable. Back when the set came out, that was the longest available, but after a quick check on Amazon, I found they now carry 37″ and 50″ cables! FIFTY inches! I double checked on eBay and found them for a few bucks cheaper, so I ordered it in both the large and small diameters as well as a second set of end stoppers. Having that extra length will make my life so much easier, especially when working up a large shawl or a side to side scarf. Ever since I got them, I’ve used my interchangeables for everything. I’m so used to the flexibility and the small needle length, it makes my straights seem bulky and uncoordinated.

Last night was a little splurgy after I received an email from KnitPicks about their yarn sale. OMG! Who can resist cashmere for less than $5 a skein? I bought some alpaca, Peruvian Highland, and merino (regular and some superwash), as well as a set of Caspian cable needles. I tried using regular cable needles but they are too small and slick; I tended to drop stitches when the needle slipped out. The Caspian cable needles come in three sizes and they have ridges to keep stitches from dropping. Genius!

Of course, now the question is what to work on next? I’ve been furiously adding patterns to my Rav queue, and I ordered this year’s Knit Scene Accessories issue because it features a beautiful hat and cowl set by SusannaIC, the Eva Marie. I also plan to pick up Dee O’Keefe’s Lace Triangle Collection ebook. All four of the shawls in the collection are breathtaking and I can’t wait to get started on them. Meanwhile, work continues on Morrigan. I’ve finished the third repeat, so technically I only have one more repeat to go, but I want mine a bit longer so I may add another one or two repeats. We’ll see how much yarn I have at the time.

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My son graciously modeled for me. You can see my life lines in white. I may be insane but I’m not crazy! I’m not using stitch markers, but I always use life lines.

Have a great weekend and remember, “Knit through everything!”

Knitting Insecurities, WWKIP, and Ravelry

Saturday, June 14 was World Wide Knit In Public day and I was so excited to finally be qualified to go. As a crocheter, I’ve seen posts about WWKIP for years and desperately wished I could join in, but I didn’t knit. This year, not only was I out there knitting, I helped to teach someone else to knit. That’s what I love about this craft; while there are classes galore, knitters are thrilled to pass along their knowledge and skills for free. I took along my Cambria throw, but I was so busy admiring other people’s projects, feeling up all the yarn, and chatting up a storm with others who speak my language, I only managed to get about 30 stitches done.

I was really nervous about going, since I’ve only hung out at my LYS (local yarn store) twice since I learned how to knit back in October, so I didn’t know anyone. When I arrived at the mall food court for the event, there were already about twenty people sitting around several tables casually pushed together. Everyone smiled, moved over to make room, and welcomed me into their conversations. Knitters are the NICEST people ever! I had worried that I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to, but these women (and boy and man) enfolded me like I was an old friend. It helps that every knitter has instant conversation starters: “Oooh! What are you working on? I love that yarn, where did you get it? Did you make the one you’re wearing?”

I held out for three hours on the worst chair ever, and in that time, I added seven people to my Ravelry friends, met a published designer, several spinners, and a lovely woman who dyes the most beautiful yarn. Stacie from Must Stash Shop handed me a business card with a gorgeous mini-skein of sock yarn attached. What a great marketing tool, because now I’m lusting after her work.

I’ve tried to join other groups (non-crafty ones) before but I was often made to feel like an outsider. While people might say hello, they certainly weren’t friendly. So many groups want to feel exclusive and they do it by excluding people. Not knitters! Much like the sheep that give us our fiber, they are a fold and are happy to bring someone new into it. I was invited to attend other knitting meetups around town, including one that night and the local Stitch ‘N Bitch group. After going home for a much needed nap, I venture back out for more fiber goodness. The night group had several people that attended WWKIP, so I felt right at home. Although I was in another awful chair, knitting and great conversation took my mind off the pain. I stayed for another couple of hours before my back started screaming at me, and even then, I still found it difficult to pull myself away.

Being surrounded by knitters with way more experience, I felt somewhat inadequate. I only brought one project but everyone else had two to four works in progress that they switched between. What?? Startitis is not only embraced but encouraged? Yay! So yesterday, I cast on for the Morrigan shawl (published by Hedgehog Fibers) with some super soft cashmere/mink blend. Morrigan is a super easy lace that looks impressively intricate. The most difficult stitch is a centered double decrease (which is not hard at all) so it’s perfect to take along for knit nights. I got pretty far in the nine hours that I worked on it (off and on, of course) and I’m quite tickled.

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As promised, here is a pic of the Cambria throw now that I’ve finished the second set of wraps. While it is more rounded than an EKG, I think the up and down wave pattern is fitting for a cardiologist. I love patterns that are deceptively impressive but truly simple.

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There was lots of Ravelry talk on Saturday, and as I mentioned, I added several friends throughout the day. I learned how to find my Ravelry number, too; I am Raveler #1102279. Considering there are now more than FOUR MILLION Ravelers, I’m old hat! One person in our group is in the 20,000s, so she’s definitely a veteran. Rose-Kim Knits has an excellent tutorial on how to find your number. Check it out and post your number in the comments!

 

 

Better Swatch Out

I am always one who jumps right into something with little to no planning. It usually works out, but sometimes, it costs me a lot of time that I would have saved if I’d done it right from the beginning.

I’m currently working on a cabled throw for my son’s cardiologist. I bought 24 skeins of navy blue Ice Alara yarn, but it’s a dk weight, while the pattern, the Cambria Quilt and Cable Throw calls for chunky yarn on size 8 needles. Since I’m a tight knitter, I thought using an 8 would still work, so I cast on and started knitting without swatching first. After over 40 (very long) rows, I decided it was too loose and I didn’t like the drape. I tried size 6 needles, but that made it too small and I wasn’t sure I’d have enough yarn to get the size I want. Finally, I settled on a size 7.

Again, I cast on and started knitting. After five rows, I decided it was too short. I frogged it and cast on a third time, only to find I had it too long. I gave up and worked up a swatch so I could find out how many stitches to the inch, then calculated how many stitches I needed for the number of inches I wanted. With the fourth cast on, I finally have it right.

My first try (on the 8 needles) seemed to go so much faster. Of course, I had 72 less stitches per row, and the stitches were bigger. The 7 needles are giving me a good tight stitch, but with 340 stitches per row and 5.5 rows to the inch, I’ve only got about four inches after almost an entire week.

Sigh. I will take this as a life lesson to swatch, swatch, swatch…at least when I need a somewhat exact size. I console myself with the knowledge that this project is something to be very proud of and will make an amazing thank you gift, so it was worth all the effort to get it right.

I finally finished a shawl for my friend. I was supposed to have it done by the end of last October, but that project also suffered from start-over-itis. In the end, the shawl she received looked amazing. I used the Kuura pattern and Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable in the Tidal colorway. It is so soft and airy, and looks impressively hard even though it was ridiculously easy. Unforgettable is self-striping, which made it even more impressive.

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Kuura is a  great pattern for beginner lace work. It’s easy to memorize the rows and I only needed one stitch marker before the center stitch.

I have recently stocked up on some gorgeous alpaca and alpaca/silk yarns, and I am super excited about the project after this throw is finished: the Bella Botanica shawl. I plan on ordering some glass beads from Lima Beads, but I think I’ll skip the nupps. I don’t think they add much to the overall design and will detract from the beadwork.

I’ll post pics of the throw as soon as I finish the first cable set. Right now, I’m still on the first set of 16 rows of ribbing, with four rows left before I start the cables. My worst problem is that knitting relaxes me to the point that I keep falling asleep!!