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.

CAM00353

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.

Advertisements

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.

CAM00327

CAM00326

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!!

Friday On The Needles

Woke up this morning to a gorgeous snow day. Yes, I’m from the South, so snow is a complete novelty for me. I think it’s beautiful. This is a little dark because it was early in the morning, and the haze is actually snow falling.

christmastreeswithsnow

 

Anyway, since we’re homestuck (and I don’t mean the game), it’s a perfect day to have a cup of tea and wander around in my fluffy socks with the sticky dots on the bottom. Leigh has made me a beautiful room to nest in (she really did make it for ME!).

bed

Crocheted shawl on the back of the chair, and knitting bag in the seat, of course!

Today, I got up, made my coffee, took photos, helped Bill with breakfast, loaded the dishwasher, took a shower, and I’m finally sitting on my bed about to get back to work on the Simple Lace Scarf, which is incredibly easy…just three rows of lattice lace then four rows of knitting. It only takes a bit of concentration in order to remember to YO, K2TOG or K2TOG, YO. They alternate so that the lattice is actually slanted and pretty. I needed something simple to work on while we drove to Connecticut, and this fit the bill perfectly.

IMGP4483

I’m using a cashmere silk blend, so it’s soft and fluffy with a bit of squish. It’s not blocked yet so the lace isn’t quite as prominent as it will be. I doubled the width because I like my scarves wider than average, but that’s just me.

The snow is really coming down and  tomorrow is due to be record lows. My husband wanted me to really experience winter in the north to make sure it doesn’t affect my fibro and make it worse. Fortunately, I think my meds are exactly balance, plus getting away from the Hill Country Cedar was an instant fix for my runny nose.

This is my second full day here, and I’ve already accomplished tons!

Singing The Blues

I’ve been on a fruitless quest to find a coastal themed quilt that isn’t so literal. I don’t want anchors in the corner, or various seashells all over. I don’t want plain strips, but it can’t be too flowery. In no case would I consider one with lighthouses on it. So you can see my dilemma.

While I haven’t completely given up this quest, I decided to check out ravelry for any crochet afghans that might work, and came across one by DROPS. The pattern is unnamed, so I’ve decided to call it Coastal Cool. Click HERE for the link.

While the pattern is throw sized, I want one that is big enough for a queen sized bed. That means instead of making 5 each of 6 different squares, I’m going to make 12 each of 12 different squares for a total of 144 squares, which will be approximately 86 inches by 86 inches.

What I love about this pattern is that in spite of it looking like different patterns for each square, it is actually the EXACT same pattern! The only thing that changes is the color combinations. It took me about six squares before I finally had the pattern memorized, but now that I have, I’m moving pretty quickly. I don’t think it will be done in time for use this winter, but it will be ready and waiting for next winter. Maybe if I’m lucky, we’ll get our usual freezing cold March, so it will get some use this spring.

After working on this for a week or so, I’ve finished 18 squares. Only 126 more to go! This is a great project to take on the go, or to work on when it’s hot outside, because each square is about 7 inches. There’s no giant bundle of blanket on my lap, nor do I have to whip out an 86 inch long ripple while sitting at the doctor’s office. This is actually great to work on while standing in line, like at the DMV or the bank.

The only changes I made to the pattern are to use Simply Soft yarn and an I hook instead of an H. I am a tight stitcher, so I have to use the next size up hook in order to get the right gauge, although gauge isn’t really that important for this pattern. I will need to figure out how to block all 144 of these things before I sew them together, just to make sure they are uniform, but I’ll worry about that later.

I would not usually attempt a granny square ANYTHING, mainly because of all the ends that need to be woven, however my daughter doesn’t mind weaving in the ends, and it gives her something mindless to do while we watch TV. Sewing them all together will be a pain, but it uses a loose zigzag rather than a tight seam.

I think this will be quite pretty when it is done, but I’m not sure I’d ever make a second one! Here are the first two block combinations:

coastalcoolsquare  IMG413