Finished: Swan Lake

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This is a project that seems plagued by languishing. Started in 2007, then left alone for two years before a frogging and restarting, making it further the second time before being left alone again. I finally picked it up again this summer and made great progress, finally finishing in early October. At which time it was forced to wait over a month before I was able to block it. Once blocked, I was thoroughly stumped by how to photograph it. Every stole I’ve knit before is symmetrical, which I find much easier to take pictures of: you only really need to worry about one half. This, not so much.

Of course, I finally worked out how to get some pictures and then I proceeded to let them sit on my camera for a week. It’s looking like my New Year’s resolution will need to be “get things finished in a timely manner”!

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Pattern: Swan Lake by Melanie Gibbons
Yarn: The Alpaca Yarn Co. Suri Elegance
Needles: US 1 (2.25 mm) for the body and US 0 (2 mm) for the “wing”
Modifications: none

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This was my first (and only, so far) beaded knit. You can just make them out in the following picture. I’m still on the fence as to whether I like beads in my knitting, but I didn’t have any trouble adding them here. I have no idea what beads I used; they were some I picked up at the local craft store.

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Overall, I’m very happy with this project. (And happy to have such a long-standing WIP finished!)

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Autumn Plans

I believe I promised to be back later this week with a summary of my plans for fall knitting. As it is now about as close to the end of the week as I can get and still be in the same week, I’d better hop to it!

The three-word summary: autumn = lace.

Of course, I’ll be working on some non-lace knitting as well – if nothing else, I want to finish my braided pullover. But with Seasons of Lace in full swing for the fall, I have eyes-bigger-than-my freetime plans for lace knitting.

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First up, Lerwick Lace Shawl (Ravelry link). I started this at the end of May thinking it would be the perfect summer knitting – lightweight enough not to stick to my hands during the hot summer weather and complex enough to hold my attention. As it turned out, we had very little hot summer weather (one of the coolest July’s on record) and my attention was distracted by the much less complicated braided pullover. So this has been languishing in the first half of the edging. I picked it up again last night, though, and added another four points, so maybe I can get on a roll and finish the edging before the fall’s out.

Next, a very old UFO. I did some project organizing last spring, finishing up some, frogging and reassigning yarn on others, and delegating others to the “finish-it-soon” pile. (I’ve been on this big organizational kick lately. I’m almost surprised I haven’t purchased some containers to sort my smallish sized stash by yarn content and color family. Hmm….) Anyway, towards the bottom of the pile was a project that I started as part of a mystery stole project, two years ago. Turns out, I don’t follow along with mystery projects very well. It might have actually headed for the frog pond if I hadn’t seen a finished version of the shawl at the Great Lakes Fiber Show this spring. The pattern is Swan Lake by Melanie Gibbons, and I’m using Suri Elegance (Alpaca Yarn Co.) with some variegated blue-purple beads.

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I didn’t like my gauge on the project (not to mention that it’s been so long, I think my tension may have changed), so I did frog it for a restart. I washed, dried, and rewound the yarn and spent an evening knitting in July before the aforementioned sweater distraction. In the past two weeks, I’ve managed to finish Chart B, and I think this will be a nice fall project for when I have the time to fuss with adding beads. (I’m good at dropping them, so…)

Of course, what fun would fall lace knitting be without some new projects? (Easily distracted by shinny new lace projects….) The first of the new projects is Rose by Susan Pandorf (Sunflower Designs). I’ve purchased several of her patterns, including all of the Garden Variety designs, but this is the first I’ve tried to knit. Although the pattern calls for copious amounts of beads, I think the lines of the design are strong enough that they aren’t necessary, so I’m opting to knit without any beads. I could, however, be setting myself up for a nice little UFO, as I decided this would be a nice summer stole of linen yarn (knitting it in the fall, I make tons of sense). I think the yarn works perfectly well with the pattern, but my hands aren’t quite as enthusiastic. They’ve been spoiled by nice soft merinos and cashmere-silk blends.

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So far, I’ve managed to complete two gauge swatches (blocked, even!) and the first four rows of the actual stole. The picture above represents the swatch at the needle size I’m using.

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Finally, THE fall project. Assuming I can find a gauge I like. I bought this yarn in the spring, knowing it would make for a perfect autumn knit, with its reddish and coppery tones. The yarn is Briar Rose Angel Face, and is absolutely lovely. I also knew immediately that I wanted to knit Aeolian with it. There was a knit-along over the summer for Aeolian, but this yarn had to wait for the fall, so I’m just getting started swatching. Based on an initial swatch start, it may be a bit lighter weight than the yarn called for, but I was planning on making the largest size anyway, and as I’m on the short side (OK, downright short), I think it will work out ok.

So, my plans for the fall. Over ambitious much? Guess I’d better get to knitting….

il mare oscuro

One of the best experiences from my university years was the semester I spent in Florence, Italy.  Firenze.  It was a “safe” study abroad experience – there were about 40 of us from the architecture program all there at once, with housing located by the school (apartments), classes all held together in a school space leased by the program, and most of our classes were in English.  But we did have an Italian class, taught by local professors and our daily living could easily require us to use a little Italian – buying a bus ticket or a loaf of bread for example.  On the other hand, as often as not, the Italians (at least in the big cities) were just as willing to speak English – either to practice or to accomodate Americans with money.  I always considered it a bit of an accomplishment when I could get through an entire transaction without either resorting to English or without the Italian vendor switching to English to accommodate me.  Italian is a language I like.  I don’t find it quite as easy as Spanish (of course, I had 8 years of Spanish in school), but I do love the way the syllables roll off the tongue (once one learns to pronounce the sounds, of course).  It has a flow of the sounds, a rhythm, that came to mind as I finished up my stole.

When I started the stole, I hadn’t really intended to design it myself.  It was the nature of the yarn that led me to my own design.  It has a sheen to it, and the muted blues, greens and purples reminded me of water, or a storm.  I decided that I needed a pattern to match.  But I couldn’t find anything, so I resorted to Barbara Walker, and found some motifs that seemed appropriately sea like.  A flame chevron pattern stands for ocean waves.  Ivy becomes sea weed.  Waves lap the ends.  So, I made my own mare oscuro, my dark sea.

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Pattern: My own, composed of motifs from the Barbara Walker stich dictionaries
Yarn: Briar Rose Fibers Sea Pearl (merino/tencel) – very nice to work with and lovely sheen.
Needle: 3.5 mm/ U.S. 4
New techniques: Russian join, sewn bind off

past the half

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It’s felt a lot like fall lately. The temperatures have been cooler, I’ve been waking up to gloomy skies, the professionals have started playing football (American) already. And then there was today – it’s warmer, sunny, the cicadas are chirping, and the sunflowers are starting to bloom in my mom’s garden. So, I’ll conveniently ignore that all the local school aged kids are about to start school again (already? they just got out!) and continue to believe that it’s summer.

As far as knitting, I am officially past the halfway point on my stole…unfortunately, I didn’t hit the halfway point until well after the halfway point of Ravelympics!

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I guess I really need to get moving…at least everything is worked out–no frogging and redoing.  The size seems to be coming out right and I have more than enough yarn (my biggest worry).  I’m even still enjoying working on it.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to join the halves.  I used a provisional cast-on for the first half, and my initial thought was to knit the two halves separately and then graft them together.  However, looking at it, I decided that it would be easier to pickup the stitches from the cast on and knit from there.  So far it seems to be working.

Now I just need to get moving if I’m going to meet the deadline. (I can’t believe some people have finished sweaters already!)