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.

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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!

 

 

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.

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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!).

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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.

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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!

All Yarn And No Needle

Down here, when someone is either a complete idiot or they arrogantly brag about how awesome they are but have nothing to back up their claims, we say they are, “all brand and no cattle.” In Texas, anyone can register a brand, as in what’s burned into animal flesh to identify which ranch they belong to. It is not a requirement that one own a ranch nor cattle of any kind. In order to sound rich or important, people would register brands even though they had no reason for it. All brand and no cattle.

Over the shopping frenzy weekend, I bought several skeins of different yarns from vendors on both eBay and Etsy. O.M.G. I came home yesterday (after buying these things on Friday night and Saturday morning, mind you!) and found three bags on my porch. I essentially got most of my stuff in less than one business day! Unfortunately, I couldn’t play with any of it because I still haven’t purchased my needles. In our family, we go into self-purchase lockdown on November 1. No one is allowed the buy anything for themselves until after Christmas. This does not apply to yarn, however. Yarn may be purchased at any time for any (or no) reason. I’m pretty sure that’s chiseled in as the 11th Commandment. Thanks to lockdown, I can’t just buy my needles. I have to wait till Christmas to see if they turn up under the tree. All yarn and no needle.

Although I lacked the proper needles, I very carefully cut open each bag and was in pure heaven when I saw and felt my ICE Artic Merino.

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SOOOOO soft, which a hint of a shiny glimmer. I chose the midnight blue color and it is deep and rich and perfect. I quickly decided that this is MY yarn, and I will make something for myself with it. I found the Kuura Shawl on Ravelry and I heard a choir of angels all sing “Aaaahhhhh” and knew this was the pattern I would use.

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I have had a soft spot for Finland in my heart after spending a month of summer in Helsinki, so the fact that this shawl is Finnish just made it more perfect. I can just imagine casually wrapping it around my shoulders as the night starts to chill while walking along the Esplanadi, window shopping at all the quirky stores. In typical Finnish design, Kuura has clean and simple lines, nothing overly complicated, yet manages to look intricate and delicate.

In addition to the ICE Artic, I bought a few skeins of other ICE yarn, two skeins of handpainted yarn from my_special_tea, and two skeins of JL Mira from onlinebargainsgalore. If you’ve never tried JL yarn, I highly recommend it. You can find it on eBay and Etsy, or can order directly from Julia’s Yarn. I’ve used several different collections and have always been very happy with it. The bamboo and wool Zania is one of my favorites. Mira is a fingering/sock wool and is decadently soft for a pure wool.

Those weren’t my only yarn purchases, but they were my faves from the day. I am still waiting on a skein of cashmere fingering, some alpaca wool, and more Mira. It’s killing me to see this yarn sitting here feeling lonely and neglected. I can almost hear it crying. I’m trying to look at the bright side; this forces me to continue to work on the Afternoon Tea shawl that I’m making for a friend.

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I can’t put it down and go play with other yarn until I have some needles. C’mon Christmas!!!!

Easy Going – Cheri McEwen

There’s nothing like sleet and a sick child to make us hookers run for our yarn. When it’s cold and rainy outside, I want nothing more than to bundle up next to my fireplace and lose myself in yarn and a good tv show (currently, I’m working my way through the X-Files…so maybe I should take out that modifier “good”). On top of the weather, I have a child who is under the weather. My poor daughter, who is rarely ill, has succumbed to this year’s flu, and has been coughing, shivering, and whimpering next to me since last year. Ok, yes, I know that was just Sunday, but it sounds so much more dramatic, don’t you think?

While she’s sick, I have to be ready to jump up at a moment’s notice. I’ve been running for the thermometer, tylenol, hot tea, chicken soup, pudding, popsicles, apple juice, cough syrup, mucinex, and kleenex, and that’s just been the last four hours. Having to drop my crochet every few minutes makes it difficult to track a complicated pattern. As much as I love a good, complex Doris Chan, it’s these drop everything days when I appreciate the simple repetition of a Cheri McEwen pattern.

What I love about Cheri’s patterns is that they look complicated, and while the first few rows might be a little iffy and require some attention, once you have the repeat down, they become wonderfully mindless, easy to drop and pick up again with little thought required as to, “Where was I?” I’ve made three of her Butterflies Shawl, and they whip up super fast. Today’s project (and likely the rest of the week) is her Small Talk Shawl. While it looks like a ridiculously intense pineapple pattern, it’s actually so simple! What’s really nice is that the pattern doesn’t call for a particular yarn or hook. If you use something proportionate, it will turn out like the picture. A slightly larger hook or finer yarn will make for a lacier look, while a smaller hook or chunkier yarn can give a tightly woven feel.

I first came across Cheri’s work on Crochetvolution and again on Ravelry.com while looking for shawl patterns. She’s quickly become one of my favorite designers, and I usually have one of her patterns working in a to-go bag for when I’m headed to the doctor’s or anywhere I may have to wait a while. She does an excellent job of explaining any pattern specific details, and always has a chart to go along with the printed pattern. I’ve found that a quick glance at the chart is enough to remind me where I am if it’s been a while since I’ve put down that WIP.

Great for a last minute gift because of the easy repetition, her stuff is fun to work on all year long. So while I’m trapped in my house nursing my sick child, I will finish whipping up this lovely Small Talk Shawl. I’m using some ancient baby yarn called Softer Than Angels. I know it’s ancient because the price sticker is from Winn’s, an old fashioned five and dime that closed down in the eighties, which makes this around 25 years old. However, a good acrylic never goes bad, and the lavender and green 3 ply is light and perfect for spring.

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That is not a pineapple!

 

Another Year, Another Project List!

Now that the holidays are just about over, I have a bit of time to catch up on blogging. I know I owe y’all pics of the All Tied Up In Knots shawl, so here it is…modeled by its new owner, my friend J.

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The front of the shawl. There is a nice amount of overlap, so it can be held close with a shawl pin if needed.

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Closeup of the edging. The back filler and the edging are all one piece. For the back, I used three columns. I stopped at the center and continued the split with the two separate columns. This is just a simple twist cable, but the seam itself adds some texture and interest.

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A closeup of the back. Three simple twist cables and an easy over/under seam stitch to connect the two panels with the middle.

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Here you can see the filler with the three columns. It also adds a little stretch, and the loose stitching allows it to breath so she won’t get too hot.

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Here is the front right panel. As you can see above, there are two repeats on each side, one front and one back. The Celtic Knot was designed by Becleigh Durham of Australia.

The Celtic Knot pattern is available on Ravelry or on Becleigh’s blog, The Thick Plottens. As you can probably tell, it took FOREVER to finish it! It is essentially four baby blankets and a scarf all sewn together, just to give you an idea of the time factor. However, I can truly say that I am now a post stitch MASTER!

With that out of the way, I can move on to new (and old) projects! Last night, I started on the “Plum’s the Word Shawlette” from Crochet! magazine. It’s only available to subscribers or CGOA members, as it is a web extra and is not published in the magazine.

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Plum’s the Word Shawlette as featured on the Crochet! magazine website.

I’m also working on a couple of original designs, so you’ll be seeing those later on this year.

I still have a few old projects to either finish or frog. I’m working on my son’s afghan that will likely be ready next Christmas. I’m also going to try to get some wedding wear done to post on Etsy. Most importantly, I need to take photos of all the other completed projects that I found lying around in my craft closet!

In between crochet work, I am organizing my craft studio, so you’ll be seeing pictures of before and after (prepare to be horrified!). I have a few chain maille projects lined up, and I need to create room for my daughter to work on her sewing projects. She received two sewing classes for Christmas, so she’ll actually know what she’s doing! Besides her sewing, I will be working on a simple strip quilt made from jelly rolls that I found at Big Lots, of all places! They were only $7.50 for each roll! This will be my first attempt at quilting, so wish me luck.

As we start the new year, I wish everyone joy and prosperity, and the energy and will to finish all of your UFOs (unfinished objects)!