Saturday, September 30, 2006


These are the WIPs I have on the go right now, from oldest to youngest:
  • Fleece Artist Goldilocks Shawl - maybe two or three more rows, and that is IT. I declare it to be done. It's my oldest WIP - probably around 2-1/2 yrs.
  • Picovoli - it just needs to be blocked
  • Mariah - I just ripped out the nearly-finished fronts and back, so basically all I have is a sleeve.
  • A pair of plain old socks in a yarn that I've forgotten the name of. I'm sure the ball band's around here somewhere.
  • Print o' the Wave Stole in Jaggerspun Zephyr
  • Two pairs of Fuzzyfeet that just need to be felted & embellished
  • A pair of Fuzzyfeet in variegated Patons Classic
  • Mu Shu afghan, heavily sedated! Again, in Patons Classic
  • A pair of plain old 48-st socks in Cascade Fixation
What I've got in mind to make for Christmas:
  • One, maybe two stockings. Christmas stockings, that is, not crazy Nancy Bush-style. Sheesh.
  • A fingering-weight shawl - maybe Kiri, or Leaf Lace, or Flower Basket. Something simple.
  • Another Goldilocks Shawl
  • A lacy scarf in Hempathy
  • The aforementioned afghan
  • The aforementioned Fuzzyfeet, with maybe another pair (that makes four pairs in total)
  • Anywhere from one to three pairs of socks
  • Two pairs of felted clogs
  • The aforementioned Fixation socks
  • Maybe a sweater
I know, I know, I'm insane. Just the afghan is going to take me until midnight on December 24. (I like big blankets and I cannot lie.) But I didn't knit hardly ANYTHING for Christmas last year because of self-confidence issues. So this year - ha! You'll get yarny goodness, and you'll like it! Mwa ha ha!

Friday, September 29, 2006

FO: Swallowtail Shawl

Finally! Please note: these photos were the first time I've ever used the self-timer on my cam, so excuse the less-flattering-than-I-normally-aim-for photos. Also, this is my first real lace project, so there are a ton of photos.

Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl, by Evelyn A. Clark, in Interweave Knits Fall 2006
Yarn: Lorna's Lace's Shepherd Sport, in colour Navy
Yardage: Just over 2 skeins, at 200 yards each. The recommended yarn comes in a 437 yd skein, and I imagine you'd use every last bit of that. As it was, I started the third skein on the next-to-last yarn, so if I'd used a size smaller needle I probably could have made it with just two skeins.
Yarn Source: Bought at Three Bags Full on opening day. Visit this store; it's fantastic!
Needles: Denise Interchangeables, 5mm (US size 8).

Pre-second blocking. Note the wavy top edge.

Thoughts: This is a great pattern. For my first ever shawl, it was pretty hazard-free. By this I don't mean it was slow as a garter-stitch scarf; rather quite the opposite. There's three patterns, really: the budding lace that makes up the majority of the body, the deadly lily of the valley section (more about that below), and the adorable peaked edging. So there's a nice blend of comfort and change - you've got just enough time to memorize a pattern (it takes me FOREVER to memorize lace, incidentally) and then you're swept up into something new. I like this, incidentally.

The yarn is cute, though I regret the colour. Everything I own is in this steely-blue colour, not to mention knit - I have two sweaters' worth of yarn in this blue, not to mention my Picovoli which I finally finished seaming last night. (More about that in a couple days.) That's four different projects right there (including the shawl), and oh yeah, it's all different yarns! I don't even realize this stuff in the store, then I get out and say, "Hey, don't I already have this yarn?" Le sigh.

Anyway, this was the first time I've ever knit with Lorna's Laces, and I see why people love and loathe it so. Breathtaking colours (I have two skeins of sock weight in the Argyle colourway waiting impatiently in the wings) and super soft. On the other hand, superwash; I'm finding that superwash anywhere than on my feet - and sometimes even then - feels kinda funny. Also, I'm afraid it may be starting to pill - yes, already - but it may have just been stray yarn fluff. This might surprise, but there's a lot of stray yarn fluff in my room.

The needles felt fine, but that wasn't a big surprise as I love my Denises passionately. The big issue was the sizing, and I think I picked the right size with the 5mm points. I wouldn't ever go bigger in proper lace: there's a reason it's traditionally done with itty-bitty thread. A few days ago I tried a Kiri Shawl in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, and it was just a sad gigantic thing.

This pattern is fantastic, and I really enjoyed it - bravo to IK staff on the lack of errors (as far as I could tell). The only part I didn't like was in the damnable lily of the valley pattern, with its p5togs. Grrrrrrrr. Purl five together? Who does that? Craziness, I tell you! It's just damn fiddly. I eventually wound up p5tog-ing when I could, and improvising my Lazy Purl Decrease(tm) when I couldn't. Basically, just slip two or three of the stitches to be decreased purl-wise, purl the two or three sts still on the left needle together, then pass the slipped stitches over one by one. I couldn't tell the difference between the two methods, because as far as I know they still move the stitches the same way.

So would I make this pattern again? Possibly. It moves fast (excluding the blocking saga, I knit this in 6 days), and my aunt has asked for me to make her one. Plus shawls are just so pretty! I really recommend this pattern.

My "international woman of mystery" pose.


is this here?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Don't make me send a telegram to Rooster, he'll shoot ya

Yes, Swallowtail's finished blocking. No, I don't have any photos yet. It was finished three days ago, and I still haven't taken photos. It's because I think I'm going to (gasp!) have to re-block it. I just pinned it out at the corners and centre back, then pinned in between there, then inbetween those pins, and so on . . . Well, I hadn't read Stephanie's elegant method, and the top is all scalloped. It's very beautiful otherwise, but I'm not convinced all those 208 nupps were worth it.

Anyway, for your entertainment, I present the following little list, tentatively titled "Things You Do Not Want to Hear Your Bus Driver Say, Never Ever Ever." I had some details before, but I think it works better it you get about the same information I had.

"Oh, shit!"
"Think, man, think!"
"Don't look! No, seriously, don't look!"

For bonus points when you're on the bus, read a biography wherein the protagonist is crippled for her lifetime in a gruesome bus crash. There were . . . vivid details.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

bang bang boom

During a hot date with Hugh Laurie last night, I cast off Swallowtail. Then I put my yarn and needles away and lay down and watched the rest of the DVD.

And now I still haven't touched the shawl. I wonder why. Maybe it's because I'm nervous. Maybe it's because I was accidentally monogamous to this project. Normally I'm picking up and discarding projects so quickly that passersby are in quite serious danger of getting a dpn to the eyeball, but I didn't even think of not working on Swallowtail.

Well, screw this. I know it's going to look great. Once more unto the T-pins and all that.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

In the land of otters

Here I am in Ottawa! Yesterday was the first day of school, but I'll talk more about that later. The flight was okay - I caught a red eye and wound up here yesterday just after 9:00 AM EST. It was so foggy here that the flight before us had to be rerouted back to Toronto (or T'ranna, as everyone pronounced it). This led to some hilarious mixups, including one of my suitcases (that would be the one with all my YARN in it*) getting lost along the way. However, considering this was the eleventh flight I've taken this year (for reals), the odds were coming up and everyone at Westjet did an awesome job, and got my suitcase to me by 10:00 or so Thursday night.

Now for slightly more fun matters. As previously mentioned, I'd brought two things to work on during the car ride to Seattle to see Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, my It's a Wrap! in Fleece Artist, and some Lorna's Lace Shepherd Sport to start the Swallowtail Shawl. Well, I finished It's A Wrap! (would it kill them to give this thing a name's that's just a plain ole noun?) in the queue at the border crossing while I taught my mom to knit a mitered square. Yes, it's completely awesome that she wants to knit. I'm so pwoud. I've already got her onto the Noro.

I started on the Swallowtail Shawl right away - fortunately (and uncharacteristically!) I'd thought to wind a hank of Lorna's Laces into a ball beforehand. I screwed up once or twice with the beginning, and I still don't like how it looks. You make a tiny garter-stitch square of two stitches by six rows, then pick up stitches from the side and beginning to wind up with 7 stitches, which you use to begin the pattern. Maybe it would have look better if I'd just woven in the end in the garter-stitch square rather than the lace. I've talked before about how I weave in my ends, and I did it in the lace rather than the garter stitch because I thought it would make working with the tiny piece of garter stitch even more awkward and make it harder to pick up stitches. Let's just hope it works out in the blocking.

Note: I took the below photos in my aunt's backyard here. It is cooler here than in BC, which I am totally digging. But it was so grey out as I was taking these that I even I went "Huh." Fifteen minutes later, rain and thunder and lightning! It was awesome.

Check out that flaring bind off. Attractive, no?

I bound off really loosely. Here's hoping blocking fixes it. Speaking of blocking, the lace pattern is basically invisible on the right side. It's as bouncy and stretchy as all get out thought, so I have no doubt blocking's going to make this as loose and airy as . . . something very light and airy. I was going to say a silk scarf, but my mind just won't allow that because they wouldn't ever be the same. But it would be as much like a silk scarf as it is possible for an aran mohair-wool yarn to be, I suppose.
Anyway, ym point was that while the lace pattern is invisible now, I hope I don't lose the lovely simple knit-purl pattern on the back after blocking.

Top: Right side. Bottom: wrong side.

Now for my particular love o' the moment, Swallowtail**. I knew I was making it bigger than in IK, but . . . this is going to be big. It's big right now and I haven't even finished, yet alone blocked it. On the other hand, it's moving along fast. Not "finished it in four days" fast, but fast. Here it is on Tuesday:

The camera always adds 25% more wrinkliness to unblocked lace.

And here it is yesterday, one row into the final chart:
Of course, I would pick the one photo that shows plenty of the beginning, but zero of the actual progress made.

I simply adore the individual patterns, from the simple flower buds in the body to the 'nupps' in the lily of the valley edging. Why it's called lily of the valley is a mystery to me, but I guess that's why I'm not Evelyn A. Clark. I sincerely hope the nupps even up and open out in blocking - maybe they look more like lilies then, rather than clumpy fake eyelashes.
Well, Jim, it would appear that Sarah's managed to infiltrate a community of wild nupps. What a fscinating discovery this is, Jim. As we all know, the nupps are born when a (k1, yo, k1, yo, k1) in 1 st breeds with a p5tog on the next row, and a complicated birth it is. I wouldn't be surprised if Sarah's hands were cramping quite badly after all that! It's a rather large community, too: 208 nupps! Beautiful, Jim, just beautiful.

Uh . . . yeah. After all that, basically all I can say is that it seems like I'm going to have to wind an entire third ball for essentially the last two rows. Fun. At least I'm going to be done today, not that I'm eager to get this thing off the needles. It's so pretty, and no stupid mistakes yet (except for this one time when I couldn't tell the different between the numbers 3 and 4, but we won't talk about that).

*Just kidding. You and I both know for all my yarn to fit in one suitcase, that suitcase would have to be only slightly smaller than your average bungalow.
**Don't worry, Mariah, Mommy loves all her . . . well, okay, she doesn't love all her babies the same, but she loves you as much as she loves Swallowtail. She just can't summon up the fortitude to attack your second sleeve right now.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

And here we go

I think I've got all the makings for a great road trip, don't you?

I've got my nearly-finished work in progress...

By the way, these chairs I keep posing things on? My dad built 'em. Beautiful, eh?

This is It's a Wrap!, a free pattern from the Garter Belt. I'm making a variation on Take 2 by Elizabeth. Hers was a light worsted linen/cotton, while mine's the aran-weight wool-mohair by Fleece Artist I wrote about here (and therefore a lot smaller than hers - 39 stitches rather than 79). This is just zooming along - I started it Tuesday night waiting in line at Bard and was more 75% done by Thursday.

I've got my upcoming project...

Three skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in Navy, for the Swallowtail Shawl in the latest IK. I'm thinking of using 5.5 mm needles; I'm bringing my Denises so I'll have the choice. (Also, I have so many things on the needles that I have to use the cord that It's a Wrap! is on right now.)

And I've got more Great Big Sea and Barenaked Ladies than you could shake a stick at...

I can't think of any better way to end the summer. Let's roll!

PS. I didn't realize just how freaking Canadian this post was until I finished. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Fleece Artist, a road trip, Great Big Sea, the 'Ladies . . . I'm really rather proud.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Fibre wench

(Note to Skrabadoo or my Secret Pal-ee [if you've discovered who I am] - if you want to be surprised, do not read this post until you get your packages.)

Yeah, I know, what a total steal of a post title off La Harlot. But the thing is, it's very fitting (for more than one reason!).

Reason numero uno: I have been cheating on my yarn. (Dun dun dun!!!!) With quilts. Hopefully my fibre karma balances out because I gave these quilts away. Here are the two quilts I made recently:

This is the pink one. I made it first. I designed the pattern myself (I know, how adorable!). I made it for the 5 Senses Craftster swap, where you pick a colour (mine was green) and then your partner makes something for each sense bouncing off that colour. For instance, my partner Skrabadoo picked baby pink, so for taste I picked out pink Jelly Bellies, and for sound I made a mix CD with happy, bouncy tunes. That sort of thing. The quilt was touch, especially because most of it is flannel (only the brown and pink stripes are otherwise; they're quilting cotton).

Here's the back (it's actually a gingham print, something I wish could be seen in the photo). I like the argyle effect here, one that isn't so strong on the front. This was originally designed as a argyle pattern after all; I call it Almost Argyle because any knitter worth her dpns could point out the numerous liberties I have taken with the traditional argyle pattern.

I think the issue with this one is the choice of colours on the front - there's a much greater contrast between the flowered stripes and the flannels than there are between the different flannels, so it looks more like boxes than argyles. Plus, the flannel is so much fuzzier, especially after washing, that I think you wouldn't get much definition to begin with. It's like knitting intarsia in mohair (pause to capture breath, cease fearful tears) - the fuzziness would overwhelm all your hard work.

Still, I really like the whole quilt. This is only the fourth quilt I've ever finished, and the first one that wasn't only squares. I also was a bit more adventurous with the quilting, creating that lovely effect on the back. I took some pictures of this quilt while it was in progress, so I hope to have a tutorial up here soon on how to make this quilt.

Here's the second quilt:

I would just like to say this now: I love this quilt. Love it. It was hard to give this baby away. It is the prettiest quilt I have ever made (and I'm humble, too). It's so pretty, let's see anyother photo:


See the changes that happen with different colours and fabrics? (No, I'm not sure when this turned into me teaching a quilting lesson either.) It's the same pattern as above, just that it's all cotton now, and obviously different quilting. Here's the back, to give you a more detailed idea of the quilting:
Oh, I loves it so. It's the most adventurous quilting I've ever done, and it worked! Both of these quilts are the same size, just a nice lap quilt to curl up under whilst knitting in the winter. This was part of the final package for the Secret Pal 8 exchange. And her "reveal" package is in the mail now, so I going to let the cat out of the bag . . . it was the lovely and (uber, uber!) talented Lara of Spinny Bunt Knits. Feel free to go over and check her out, but shhh! At least until she gets her reveal.

(My reveal is on its way. I am SO freaking excited.)

Oh, and reason number two why I'm a fibre wench?

My mom and I are going to see Ms. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee herself in Seattle tomorrow. Vibrating with joy right here. Yes, there will be pictures.