Returning

Tentatively, I post. It’s been nearly a year since I last was here, a fact I can scarcely believe–has that much time really passed? I’ve had a few posts in my head that never made it further, so those perhaps muddle my memory, telling it that it’s not been that long. But it has.

I did think about retiring this blog entirely. In the past year I haven’t even really knit that much, too tired at the end of long work days. But I was never quite ready to let go. And after a good project sort and stash review last weekend, I think I’m ready to try again. I even have a list of posts I could write, to make it through for a while until I’ve any new project to post on. I’m re-energized. And after a bit over a year of working full time with a lengthy commute, I think I’ve finally settled into that so that I feel like a more aggressive knitting schedule is actually possible.

It helps that I finally realized that the main problem with my lack of knitting (or other crafting) progress is that everything I was working on was in a point where I needed to make a decision on something or have a set time to just sit and work it out, while the time I had available to knit was little bits and pieces, not enough to sort things or make decisions. And I’m rather tired of knitting to precise gauge. This led to the project toss, wherein I frogged two long-abandoned projects, decided to pick one up again that was long-hibernating, and sorted which projects I needed to “work out.” They still need decisions or fiddling, but at least I know where they are at, and that the next time I have a chunk of time (perhaps next weekend?) I can pick up one to finish.

And I decided I needed a controlled bout of startitis. Nothing overboard, just enough that I should always have a project in progress that doesn’t need thinking about if I only have a few minutes or am too tired for something more difficult. I spent a few hours with Ravelry and my stash, and on top of the no-longer-hibernating project, I have two more started/ready to start. Both lace shawls, on the smaller size–which I find more useful for wearing.

I started the first yesterday, a Boxleaf Triangle:

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This is an Anne Hanson pattern, and the yarn is Brooklyn Handspun Soft Spun Plus, a superwash merino. The pattern is simple, a ten row repeat with patterning only on right-side rows. If I read the pattern correctly, it could be resized to however much yarn you have–it is worked from the center back out and the edging is integral. And I started it without swatching–a minor rebellion as I’ve knit so many of Anne’s patterns that I know what size needles I should use based on her sizing. Not to mention it’s lace–as long as I like the drape of the knitting and have enough yarn, gauge really doesn’t matter that much.

I have so many other projects and plans to show, but I’d rather spread them out a bit. Fingers crossed I actually return soon to show them off!

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Welcome Fall!

Although I, like many, always associate the beginning of Fall with Labor Day, (and an associated drop in the temperatures), it officially arrived yesterday—a development I find very pleasing. I like summer in the theoretical sense: that is in January summer is very appealing, but the arrival in June of hot, humid temperatures always dampens my appreciation for the season. Surprisingly this summer, I managed to knit through quite a bit of the uncomfortable days. I discovered if I sat just so in relation to a ceiling fan, I could usually knit contentedly. I had hoped to have at least one new shawl finished fir the start of fall. Rock Island, at least. Instead I have three partially completed shawls. But since one is approaching the finish, one is to the last section, and one I just enjoy a bit too much to care, I’m not disappointed.

If you recall, Rock Island was being employed as an “incentive” knit. I hit my goals for the other two shawls, which should have allowed me to start the lacey mid-section of Rock Island, but I was sucked in by the new chart for Swan Lake. After completing the main section (my goal) for Swan Lake, I looked ahead and noticed that the “wing” is attached similarly to a knit-on edging, only instead of a short repeating pattern, it grows every other row in a triangular manner. It seemed that it would be quick enough to get through the first chart of this new section, so I started. Then decided that I might as well finish off the thing while it’s on the top of the work basket.

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I’m approaching the end of this one (although it’s starting to drag as the rows get longish), so Rock Island waits. With the change in seasons, sweaters are beginning to call out my name (this usually starts in August, but I was determined to make progress on the lace this year), so I might turn that direction next, but I would like to get Rock Island finished as well. As for my third lace of the summer, Aeolian: it might just have to wait for a while. The rows are a bit too long right now to encourage me that direction.

So I guess my fall is looking a bit pre-planned: finish Swan Lake, finish Rock Island, finish Ondule (sweater). The real question: will any new project lure me in or am I destined for another round of finishitupitis? Only the knits will tell…

Edging Complete!

I’ve been very busy knitting lately–it seems that although I’ve felt a certain sluggish reluctance to do much productive or active this summer (perhaps symptomatic of the excess of study I’ve been doing, perhaps it’s a summer thing), I’ve managed to complete more knitting these last few months than I did in the colder winter weather more conducive to knitting. Lace, perhaps, should be blamed. Although it is more likely the fact that I finally made it to a new project, one that hadn’t been hanging over my head for years or that was in some sort of redo stage.

This would be that lace. The edging of Rock Island, 100% complete.

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I believe I mentioned in my previous post that this has been serving as my incentive project. I decided to not allow myself to move past the edging until I had finished the Final Agave chart for Aeolian (check) and another 20 rows of Swan Lake (check). So earlier this week, I moved on to the next step of Rock Island.

This is the first pattern I’ve come across which utilizes YO loops to simplify the picking up of knit stitches. In the picture above, you can just see the YO loops on the side of the edging. The instructions next say to pick up and knit in those loops, giving specific guidance as to how many stitches to be created from each loop. I found this ridiculously easy, especially as compared to other “pick up and knit” patterns and especially after I threaded a spare circular through all the loops. Of course, the method only works when a line of yarn overs running through the knitting is acceptable!

A detail view of the picked up YOs:

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After all the picking up, a stretch of garter stitch and decreasing to begin forming the triangle of the shawl and arrive at the right stitch count for the next lace chart. At this point it looks rather ruffly on the needle. I can’t wait to dive into the lace chart (I’m only a row or two away), but I think I’ll continue using this as an incentive and try to finish the current chart for Swan Lake first. I’m still hoping to have one or more new shawls for the fall–if I keep on track with this incentive program, maybe I can even have three!

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Lace on all Fronts

I’m not sure how it happened, perhaps I just needed a project that wasn’t a complete redo, but I seem to keep knitting lace, lace, and more lace! I kept on with Swan Lake from my last post, finishing out the chart. At that point, I was a little bored with the repetition of the cat’s paw pattern, which also made up the next chart, so I decided to switch projects, to another long-suffering WIP. (They’re pretty much all that way around here at the moment.)

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Aeolian is actually one of the newest projects I have around. I started it during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but then let it sit until this week. It took some time to find where I had left off (note to self: it helps to read the directions instead of just blinding jumping in to the charts–that’s how you find out that the first and last stitches aren’t actually on the chart), but I’ve been moving right along since. Or as ‘moving right along’ as rows that take +30 minutes each can be. The above picture is actually old, but this is definitely a ‘spaghetti mess’ of lace, so new pictures wouldn’t look much different. That, and I’m mid-row so getting any sort of non-clumped picture isn’t going to be happening soon!

As much as I’ve been enjoying Aeolian, long rows and all, I’m probably going to be starting a new project this weekend. I’ve not participated in Seasons of Lace recently, for the simple fact that I haven’t been knitting much lace, at least not with any speed, but this summer there’s a Rock Island KAL. And despite the fact that 100s of other knitters (according to Ravelry) are making this and despite my pitiful success rate with KALs, I love the edging so much (well, actually, the band between the center and the edging–is that called the border?), that I decided to join both Seasons of Lace and the KAL. I even have the perfect (I hope–swatching to commence shortly) yarn in the stash:

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Fibre-Isle Niji, aka Louet Mooi. (It appears to no longer be available under either name?)

So now, just one question remains: will any of these (Swan Lake, Aeolian, Rock Island) actually be finished come fall?

Last Crocus of Spring

It took a complete frog and restart (pesky gauge issues–helps when you actually check the gauge…), but at long last, Crocus is complete:

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Pattern: Crocus Pocus by Susan Pandorf
Yarn: Knitting Notions Classic Merino Bamboo, colorway Lilac
Needle: US 2 (2.75 mm)*
Modifications: Omitted beads; omitted final pattern row & switches to “standard” bind-off due to slight yarn shortage. (Yes, 2nd time around as well. Oops–better actually check my gauge next time)

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Crocus is a nice shoulder shawl that will serve me well come fall. If the recent weather is any indication (Monday and Tuesday were near unbearable), I won’t need this before then. I just loved working with this yarn. It held up to the frogging, and has a very nice “spring” to it that makes it easy to work with. I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t knit with 100% merino unless it is “superwash,” as I have a knack for felting it while knitting, but this bamboo-merino blend worked beautifully. It also blocked very nicely–going from 42″ wide x 17-3/4″ tall to 59-1/2″ wide by 29″ tall finished. Which is bigger than the patten states, so yeah, I still didn’t get gauge on the redo–but that worked out fine.

The only question now, is what to turn to next? Something completely new now that I’ve finished two projects without starting any new? Or perhaps a return to the long neglected Lerwick, which at least has the advantage of being very lightweight and suitable for summer knitting? A visit to the knitting basket is in order!

*Edited 6.4.11 when I realized I had the wrong needle size indicated.

Evenstar, Complete

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This is the first KAL I’ve actually completed. Five months late, of course…

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Pattern: Evenstar Shawl
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silk Thread II, colorway “Winter Solstice
Needles: US 3 (3.25 mm) DPN & US 2 (2.75 mm) circular
Modifications: none, save the graft

If I thought it was a never-ending edging, I swear the graft was worse. I’ve had to graft knitting before–sock toes, lace edges. No biggie. Except this time my perfectionist streak kicked in, and it had to be just right.

Initially, I followed the pattern grafting instructions, which were no different than a typical Kitchener stitch. This would be perfectly fine, unless you’re the sort which notes that there’s a bit of garter stitch to either side of the graft, there’s a yarn-over pattern that’s being interrupted by the graft, etc. Which I am. I ended up working a  modified version of the instructions provided here. I re-knit the last row of the edging with a contrast thread. As it was too late to start the provisional side with a contrasting thread, I had to do my best guess for that half of the grafting. And then I made several stabs at getting it just right. The best of the bunch had a reverse stockinette ridge down the middle. Opps. It finally occurred to me that instead of holding the live stitches on round needles, I would actually be able to tell what I was doing if I pinned them all flat to the back of a dark pillow. This proved successful, and I will definitely remember it for future troublesome grafts.

Now…what next?