Friday, September 30, 2005

Resolutions Schmesolutions

In my attempt to bring about a reduction in the amount of chaos that surrounds my knitting projects, long ago I decided that it would be a really good idea to finish two projects before casting on another. Brilliant. However, last week, I threw caution to the wind, and cast on not just one but two new things - first, a sweater that I'd been drooling over in the Vogue Knitting magazine Fall 2005 issue, and second, a small, practice lace scarf using the Estonian Garden pattern. So I seem to be going the opposite direction, having just finished one project (Viennese shrug) before jumping into two more. . .

The Vogue sweater is made of handspun. The pattern calls for Woolease Chunky, and of course, the sweater would have happened much more quickly had I gone out & purchased that, but none of the shops in the area had sufficient amounts of any one color to make the entire sweater. A large bag of Romney roving from Ferndale Fibers literally hurled itself out of my fiber stash (yes, it is piled rather high), and fortunately, since I am making chunky yarn, it's spinning up very quickly. It's three ply & the color is close to milk chocolate. Yummmmmm.

I do have to say that this issue of Vogue Knitting has many wonderful designs, including some luscious lace projects. Unfortunately, the editors saw it more fitting to include numerous glamour shots of pouty, bulemic models rather than *charts* for the lace projects. I've considered subscribing to this magazine . . . not so sure right now.

The other photo today is of my pooch. We'll be celebrating her 11th birthday in a few days. She's a spry old girl & the sweetest "schnoozer" that I've ever met.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Knitting on the Edge

After a couple of knitting mishaps along the way, the Stahlman "Catharina" shawl is back on track & nearing completion. This is my first experience at knitting a lace pattern on the edge of anything, but as it turns out, it is not difficult. . . a lot like adding I-cord, which is a piece of cake. The zig-zag lace edging pattern perfectly matches up with the lace pattern on the bottom of the shawl, a fact that I realized after inadvertently switching over to the "Josephine" lace border graph on the same page, which has a different number of rows in its repeat and therefore didn't line up with the shawl's lace pattern. The one difficulty I'm having right now is that the shawl keeps scooting across the table as I'm working on it. Usually to the left. Which, when I think about it, reminds me that when I'm knitting socks, I often find myself leaning toward the left. Does this happen to anybody else?

The yarn for this shawl is handspun. I bought the roving last October on our anniversary getaway, a trip south along the Oregon Coast. I used wool/opossum from Woodland Woolworks for one ply, and wool/alpaca from Pacific Fibers for the other ply. Both were a delight to spin & they worked well together.

The next project is already started - a cropped cabled cardigan from Vogue Knitting. This, again, is handspun - a three ply romney in milk chocolate color. I don't know which is more fun - spinning the yarn or knitting the sweater. The back of the sweater is now finished, and I'm about halfway done spinning the yarn.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Viennese Shrug Finished!

This pattern was in INTERWEAVE KNITS magazine, Summer 2005 issue. I fell in love with this shrug, but wasn't sure I was up to the challenge. Nothing like jumping in with both feet! First of all, it's made with sport-weight yarn, which I found at the IK website. I used Dale Tiur yarn instead of the Morehouse. The shrug was made using a provisional cast-on down the mid-back, knitting the left half to the cuff. Then, picking up the stitches from the provisional cast-on, I knitted the right half to the cuff.

Although the Leaf Spray lace pattern varies in width from 17 stitches to 31 stitches, it was pretty straight-forward. As a relatively new lace knitter I had few problems. And surprisingly few tears. My only point of confusion was in picking up stitches for the second half of the shrug. I counted, and re-counted, and somehow came up four stitches short in each lace repeat, plus one. I was counting the four YOs, which, at this point, were not *there* yet. And (you probably already know this) if you're picking up stitches going in the *opposite* direction, you lose a stitch, so need to make one up somewhere.

I used markers to separate the seed stitch edge, and between each lace pattern repeat. I also enlarged the Leaf Spray lace pattern, laminated it, and used extra-sticky Post-it notes to keep track of my place in the pattern. If I were to make it again, I'd probably make the cuff a little less snug - maybe 50-52 stitches instead of the 48. It was a relatively quick knit! And, best of all, it's very comfortable to wear. (The slight scowl in the photo is from squinting in the sun. The shrug is great!)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Sock Must Die . . .

. . . or so my miniature schnauzer seems to think, when possessed by those brief, dizzying moments of canine ferocity which only parents of terriers can truly comprehend. Yesterday, it appeared that such had happened to one of my current socks-in-progress. However, the truth was that I had (carefully) placed the sock in a knitting bag, assuming that it would peacefully coexist with the also-included shrug-in-progress, for our drive off to the countryside. What occurred inside that bag while nobody was looking will forever be a mystery, but let me just say that when you see size 1 dps protruding through the sides of the bag, you know it's not going to be pretty. Two of the dps had completely escaped their stitches. Loops of yarn were everywhere. And if that were not enough, the aforementioned miniature schnauzer dove into the front seat, where I was methodically attempting to sort out the mess, caught a length of yarn around her foot, and with great agility fled to the back seat again, taking the yarn with her.

Now, I am not normally reduced to a blubbering mound of frustration by knitting projects. Okay, well, sometimes, but generally that's just with lace knitting. Socks, I can do without problem. Uncomplicated socks I could probably manage in a persistent vegitative state. This was an uncomplicated sock. So theoretically, it should have been a small problem. However, in a moving VW Beetle (I love my car, by the way - "Eduardo" is a diesel, and I use biodiesel which works great) on Interstate 5 (note to Department of Transportation - this road needs resurfacing) with Miss Pooch jumping from front seat to back, well, let's just say it didn't go so well. By the time we reached Mount Vernon, I decided the best approach would be to stop at Hellen's Needlework to purchase a crochet hook, sit quietly for 10 minutes & attempt to sort out the increasingly worsening mess. I wish I had taken a picture, but by that time logic & reason were long gone, replaced by near-tears & more and more colorful language. I walked in the door at Hellen's, held up the doomed project, and begged Hellen to "KILL IT".

God Bless Hellen. Hellen is the one who, a few years ago when I first decided to get back to knitting, helped me to make sweaters that *actually fit*. She is a down-to-earth, matter-of-fact, no-nonsense kind of person who took one look at that mess, took it out of my hands, and fixed it while confessing to a few moments of frustration with knitting herself. I browsed for a bit, did a little retail therapy, and left a better person, with the sock again intact. I also bought some end caps for dps that have a little elastic connecting them. May this never happen again.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Evergreen State Fair Spin-in

Meet Martha - She's a very sweet angora goat that I met at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, Washington yesterday. I was at the fair, along with 69 other Northwest Regional Spinners Association folks to demonstrate spinning, and of course I needed to visit the fibery beasties while I was there. Martha was in a pen with another equally lovely sweetie, and I casually asked the family who just happened to be there if they ever sold their fiber. . . Well, as they say, the rest is history. They were most willing to give her an immediate haircut (a relief to her, they assured me) as she was not being shown any more this season. . . so I came home with a generous amount of raw yearling mohair. Such a treasure! I can hardly wait to wash it up!