Monday, September 24, 2012


I am putting the "bleh" in "blog"

Saturday, March 24, 2012

UFO Update

Omigosh, two posts in one day? Can this be? Well, this is really a quickie, so I am not counting it as a real post. This is mostly an update to keep myself on track with my promise to finish things this year.

My current UFO count on Ravelry stands at 12, which is one less than the end of the year. I have actually started and finished a couple things, but let's look at "2012 FO's, The Story So Far..."

1) Gold Magician scarf. This was a start AND finish, since I made it in a workshop in early February
2)A bit of fluff-- a super quickie scarf made with one skein of Berroco Lacey that I got in L.A. in January. Another start and finish
3)Altered Alva--a shawl made with one ball of Kidsilk Haze Stripe. Started and finished.

Hey, I am sensing a pattern here...

But wait!

4) plaid scarf-- a crocheted palid made from one ball of Kureyon Sock. Started in 2010. WOOT!
5) The Green Thing--my design submission for the NCK book project.

so by mid-March I have finished two old things and started and completed 3 other things. OK track record, but I have also brought a cardigan, two shawlettes and a bag into close range. Things are getting done...yippee!

Lace Challenged

I have noticed a pattern in my response to knitting lace charts. Whenever I start a lace knitting project, there is always a period where I can do nothing right. This pattern is despite the fact that I am not new to lace. In fact, I have knitted quite a few lace projects over the years, some of which have been fairly complicated.

I am not sure why this occurs, but the result is that I tend to be nervous as a kitten whenever I start knitting lace. By the end, I find lace projects some of the most satisfying knits, but that satisfaction often comes after a great deal of aggravation.

In my recent push to peel off the topmost layer of my stash (in the form of finishing UFO's), I have wrestled with a lovely little shawlette called "Billie Holiday" by a designer who goes by Susanna IC.
I am a BIG fan of Susanna IC's designs, as they tend to be fluid and elegant, and lean towards that practical crescent shape that so many designers do these days. A crescent shaped shawl can double easily as a stylish scarf, while you are outdoors, wearing a coat. Inside, it can drape over your shoulders, adding warmth, but not too much.

But I stray off topic.

I bought a BH kit off a fellow Raveler, who was destashing. I loved the dark indigo colorway, with just a hint of fading here and there, just like newer blue jeans starting to really break in. Ever the impulse buyer, me, I snapped it up. This was a project I was into, so I didn't have the yarn long before I rewound the skein and gathered what I needed to start. And, start I did, casting on 341 stitches. First thing let me say is it is a GOOD idea to put in markers ever 50 stitches to keep your count straight. Furthermore, count twice. Count three or four times even. Five counts won't hurt either. Nothing like getting to the end of a 341 stitch lace row and find yourself off a stitch. At this point, it means you have to rip out, because fudging will make the edge uneven. So rip and recast on. Goody.

Next, put markers between each motif. This helps IMMENSELY. Then count the stitches between each motif. Hey, count again! It couldn't hurt. Then get cocky and knit a couple of rows, realize on row 5 you have dropped a stitch, try and fix it, fail, get a tangled mess at that point, rip it all out and start over. Again. See where I'm going with this?

This has been a hell project, but really, I am not sure why. The chart is clear and I could find no mistakes. The lace pattern follows a fairly logical progression. Add some beadwork in, for extra fun. I will say the yarn, Miss Babs Moo & Ewe, while a lovely color, is a slippy pain in the ass to work with. This, of course, does mean it will likely drape very nicely as a finished shawl, which is a very good thing. Still, one must reach the top of the mountain before planting the flag, so plan on muttering foul language under your breath while stitches leap from your needles like lemmings from a cliff top from time to time.

So back to my progression: after a purl row, put in a lifeline. And don't use thread, use YARN. A nice constrasty acrylic with do--one with some grab. This, I found, is what you do with that afghan yarn you get from well meaning friends who say "My grandma died and she has all this yarn and I want it to go to a good home. You knit. Would you like it?" This last question opens up a whole other blog post topic I will get to another day. Cheap afghan yarn. It does have it's uses. Like lifelines. Or yarn bombing. And how can one say "no" to much-loved Grandma's crappy Red Heart or Caron, without insulting the grieving friend...

Ahem. Lifelines. So I have one on row 8 of a 28 row chart and I thank it. It has stayed in place, like a net under a tightrope walker. I am now on row 27, almost off the lace chart. In fact, the last row is a purl row and row 27 had no yarn-overs, so I am essentially done. I even made mistakes that I was able to fix. It was cocky to not add another lifeline, and I thought about doing so, but I kept saying "one more motif row" and my stitch count would balance and I kept on going. I reached my stride. I dropped a yarn over here or there, but was able to fix it. I did have to make myself quit knitting some nights when I realized I was getting tired and was about to start seriously messing up if I pushed on for just one more row, which really would have take too long anyway at 341 stitches of a complicated chart at 11 PM on a work night...So I took things in bite sized pieces and now I have broken the back of the chart. I am about to begin the short row shaping, which is in stockinette. Once I have sussed that rhythm, this will likely become a lunchtime project until I get to the beaded top row.

I chalk my lace knitiot savant tendencies, my propensity to biff lace charts at a project start and coordinating my hands and brain to being like an old car that needs to be warmed up a bit before driving it. It's just one of those things and all part of the process. I have other lace projects to start-- yes, more lace! In fact I want to start this in couple of weeks for a KAL. Bring out the straight jacket...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ravelry is Forever? Or Maybe Not...

I noticed one of my Ravelry friends was missing this morning. It's not that I regularly check on these things. I am not much of a forum poster or thread follower; in the almost 4 years I have been a Raveler, I have made posts to the forums 35 times.

Still, this knitter was busy. She was a fairisle MACHINE, cranking out numerous complicated fairisles a year, with some fancy cabled sweaters for added spice. She wasn't a good knitter, she was a GREAT knitter. I was a big fan of her work. Then she had a sudden and quite unexpected medical issue and she could no longer knit. I can't imagine that. It would be awful.

She bought herself a circular sock machine, and started using that. She condensed and archived a lot of her fairisle projects on her Rav page, and started downsizing her stash. Yikes. Still, when she posted, she sounded positive, and she had her previous projects as a body of work. It sounded like a hopeful new chapter.

I hadn't been by her page in months, so I randomly thought I would cruise by her page this morning to see what she was doing. Gone. Nothing. There is what looks to be a new Raveler with her username. Her forum posts (and she had lots) are all deleted. She has been erased from Ravelry. Given her circumstances, I can understand, I think (assuming she erased herself). It might have been hard being an Olympic level knitter and then not be able to continue with the craft she obviously loved. Still, she removed what I thought was an impressive legacy of knitwork. I can't imagine how much psychological pain she might be in that would prompt her to remove her projects, which were impressive and well worth the bragging rights. What scares me for her, is maybe she wasn't recovering. Or was getting worse.

I never really knew her or even met her, but her online voice was fun. I enjoyed periodically seeing what she was up to. Now she has been neatly excised, although there are holes left in the forum threads where people use her username like they were addressing her in her now deleted posts, or refer to her. That username is now a stranger's name. I find myself made sad and a little disturbed by her disappearance. I hope she is OK. I send this thought to the Universe: I wish her well, and hope things work out for my unseen online friend.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Getting Things Done

Jiada is about to be blocked.

The body is, anyway. Of the 7 knitted pieces that make up the pattern, 4 are knit up. The remaining 3 are the sleeves and collar; the sleeves are on my needles even as I type this, but I have to cop to feeling some stockinette aversion last night as I knit a few rows. Some people truly enjoy this kind of knitting, rows and rows of plain stockinette. These people find it meditative and soothing. Me, I need more engagement. It's the knitting version or road hypnosis for me, my brain becoming detached and drowsy. It bores me. Sad but true.

Then again, maybe it is just this project; I don't know. Still, I am committed to finishing, and I want to block the body and sew it together before I finish the sleeves to make sure they don't end up too damned long, as so many drop shouldered sweater projects I knit up do. I like my cuffs to hit just below the wrists. Any longer and the sleeves need to be tight enough to push up, which is not the case with this pattern.

Like so many of my UFO's this project has become a monkey on my back. I shuffle through my stash boxes and the bag with the yarn and half-done knitted pieces surfaces again and again, like some floating dead body. OK, that analogy was a little too Norman Bates, but it speaks to the point: some craft projects you are committed to, once you start, but the process is sometimes really really NOT fun, for some reason. Jiada is one of these for me.

Still, I have surmounted my knitter's block--such is the power of 18 hours of driving to and from Phoenix with me not behind the wheel: a right front and both sleeves knit to the elbow. (I am a slow knitter, I admit it.) In the interests of proper fit, I am planning to take advantage of a free Saturday to block the body now, also good since I don't have the blocking boards or floor space to block the whole sweater at once.

There is another reason to finish this: I have been thinking about steeks. As I wrote in my last post, I took a steeking class at TNNA and the wheels are turning. I have three projects that I am planning to steek, now that I know how. I have one fairisle, Peony, that required sewing machine steeks. I can now forego these, add in twisted stitches before I join the shoulders and put in crochet hook steeks.

Another project is a cropped Noro sweater I knit several years ago. I like the yarn and the color, but the sweater is cropped. On me, not good. I have long thought to take off the sleeves, use the yarn to make it longer and convert it into a vest. Now I know how.

Lastly, is the infamous Zarah, that has haunted me for years--I have old posts on it, adding in bust darts, carefully checking gauge and trying to make it fit I was at a point where the bodice would need to redone to remove bulk at the shoulder to keep the sleeves from looking saggy. Now I can add steeks, instead. I plan to get all three items out in the near future and bring them back from the Sargasso Sea of unfinished fiber business. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig!

I am back from TNNA, and I hardly know where to begin.

Let's start with the mundane details and go from there. I got a chunk done on Jiada, while driving, although, as usual, I underestimated my knitting speed. As it stands, the body--back and two fronts are now done, and the cuff part of the sleeves and the right color band. That leaves the blue part of the sleeves and the collar. It may not seem like it, but I got a lot done.

On to juicier subjects, like, say...TNNA. Man. I am still gobsmacked over it all. I saw yarns not yet in stores, such as the lucious Noro Shiraito and a wonderful yarn from Dream in Color called "It's Nature Silver"--a hand dyed laceweight with a thin sliver thread running throughout that I can't even find link for on the net. Take my word for it--it is a GREAT looking yarn and I would love to get my hands on some.

And the ORANGE! The Pantone color of the year "Tangerine Tango" was abundant in yarn form, which made me giddy just seeing it. Picture me darting from booth to both petting the lovely yarn, like so many sunny orange tribbles. I saw orange and it was good!

There were also lots of lovely patterns and a few celebrity sightings. My group ran into Cat Bordhi several times and I have to say what a fun person she is! I also saw Kristin Omdahl and Ysolda Teague, but frankly thought just barging in on them to gush like a fangirl was a bit too forward. I did, however, chat with Anne Kuo Lukito, who was very gracious and had all her wonderful hats on display, plus several other models of her designs, including a really lovely jacket with a brioche stitch collar.

Another fave for me was the Alchemy booth. The colors they achieve with their yarns are INTENSE and gorgeous. I didn't think to pull my camera out--too touristy--but I loved what I saw. More orange and all good including "Monk's Orange", a true intense orange and "Blood Orange", orange with bright hints of poppy red. They also had a new shibori design called "Meadowlark"--watch for it--it's a stunner.

Another yowza yarn was Berroco's "Ricrac", with the rosabella and poppy colorways being my favorites.

There was a fashion show as well, and I saw some great designs including 3 from the Stitch Red project to raise awareness for heart disease. Another red design was one called "Johnny's Sock" on display at the Skacel area in Admiral red yarn. Another fab item I can find no info about online as of yet, but will keep my eyes peeled for it.

I had three great classes and a tutorial as well. "Norwegian Purl", by Beth Brown-Reinsel, "Steeks to the Rescue" with Chris Bylsma, and "Broomstick Lace Basics" with Mary Beth Temple. As if that technique feast were not enough, Skacel sponsored Brigitte Elliot in a free, one hour swing knitting tutorial. I was a busy knitter, let me tell you!

It was a fiber fest. What I have mentioned above is what I remember without referring to my notes, meaning those are the things that really stood out for me. The was more--lots and lots more, including needlework, buttons, ribbons and beads, but those items will have to wait for another blog opportunity, as will the framework exploits of me and my colleagues when not actually AT the show.

Now, I must go practice my new mad skillz...

Monday, January 16, 2012


Jiada is going on a road trip. Yep, the boring stockinette is going to be my traveling project, with me locked in a van knitting away, Maybe then I can get that bad girl DONE. I am going to TNNA and am excited as all get out about it, but I something easy on my needles. That would be Jiada.

Speaking of done, the green thing is FINISHED, as are two small scarf projects that have sat for months. Three things off the UFO list and it is only January 16th. Pretty good, I'd say.

Now to finish that packing...