Confessions of a missing bloggist

I confess, that despite my absence from blogging I have been knitting, and therefore, I also confess that I have not been blogging about it. Having said that, I think it’s time to do some catching-up.

From the depths of my knitting projects languishing in neglect, I present Bird’s Eye Shawl. Never reaching it’s originally intended size, and having become bored at the one-third point, I decided to call it “finished” and began casting-off last fall. The cast-off was so laborious, I didn’t finish it until April. Actually, I’m now glad that I didn’t make it bigger, because the rate of increases would have made the ends so long that I would not be able to wear it much. As it is, the ends are so long and tapering that I don’t know what to do with the ends; they get caught on things, trapped in car doors, pulled by small children. The resulting fabric is beautiful, and so soft, but I find I don’t wear it much because of the long ends. If I were to do it differently, I’d forgo the increases and make it into a rectangular wrap. Finished size: 200 cm (78 in.) x 85 cm (33 in.), blocked.

Project: Bird’s Eye Shawl, by Sharon Miller
Yarn: Heirloom Knitting Merino Lace
Needles: 3.00 mm/US 2.5

Next to finish was Langston, in response to my daughter’s request, “Please knit me a sweater.” I added a few more rows to the bottom and cuffs, and a crocheted a little reinforcement to inside of the collar, to keep it slipping off of my 4-year old’s shoulders. Of course, by the time I finished it, she wasn’t able to wear it because the weather had turned too warm for wool sweaters on an active and vivacious 4-year old, but it should fit her fine this fall because it’s pretty roomy.

Project: Langston, by Teresa Cole
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss DK
3.25 mm/US 3 & 3.75 mm/US 5

Then came Chinook Scarf, an end-of-the-year gift for my son’s first grade teacher. Fortunately, I started Chinook in April, and by most accounts of others on Ravelry who had knitted it before me, there was a good chance it would be done in less than a month, and it was. It is a narrow crescent-shaped scarf that started-out kind of fun and by about the middle began to drag on. The only thing that kept me going was that looming deadline of the last day of school in June, and still, it is a fun scarf, and I am toying with idea of making another one. It was tricky to get the I-cord edging just right because of it’s tendency to curl, and I found that if I kept the three stitches that comprise the I-cord quite loose, the curling wouldn’t be as pronounced. The other thing I realized, which is hard to see in many of the finished photos on Ravelry, is that the scarf is and arced crescent, and therefore to some degree the curling of the edge creates the arc.

Project: Chinook Scarf, by Ali Green
Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Fingering
3.5 mm/US 4

For fun and relief after Chinook, I went onto Twig. I had this ball of fingering weight Shetland wool yarn loitering around in my stash, begging for a chance on stage, and I could leave it standing in the wings anymore, and I needed something fun and quick. I have no idea what brand it is nor could I trace it to any project I’d ever made, but I loved it’s peaty green color and was desirous of making a neck wrap of it. Based on the yarn weight, I approximated that I had about 150 yards of it, which gave me very few options, and then I saw Twig, and I knew that that was the one. Twig was fun to knit and, as you can tell from the pictures, very unusual to make. Great fun and I look forward to wearing it under a coat or sweater this fall.

Project: Twig, by Grace Mcewen
Yarn: stashed fingering weight Shetland yarn

Elm Row came out of buying a skein of Cascade Yarns Alpaca Lace for a specific project and then deciding to use something else, so into the stash this went. I found Elm Row while sifting through Ravelry using the Advanced Pattern search (my favorite method of finding patterns) and knew that this would be perfect for Alpaca Lace. I loved knitting this, although I had to keep back-tracking and fixing mistakes because I was trying to knit it while watching movies. I fell in love with the yarn, and it’s so indescribably soft, I would love to have a whole bed made of it. I think this will probably be my new go-to scarf this fall and winter.

Elm Row, by Anne Hanson
Cascade Yarns Alpaca Lace
Needles: 3.25 mm/US 3

Since I didn’t use all of the skein of the Alpaca Lace for Elm Row, I just had to do something with as much of the remainder as I could. So I decided to look at Anne Hanson’s patterns and found Hellebores, which consists of a beret and wristlets, so I chose the wristlets. I like these wristlets! Just enough lace where it counts and ribbing where the cuffs are hidden by a coat sleeve. This pattern was easier to knit while watching movies, and it went along quite smoothly. I have to say that I am impressed with Anne Hanson’s patterns; she has such a sizable collection to choose from and they are well-written and interesting to knit.

Project: Hellebores Wristlets, by Anne Hanson
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Alpaca Lace
Needles: 3.25 mm/US 3

Brain surgery on Elmo.

My 2½-year old son had been asking off-and-on for the past few months and yesterday it finally came to the point that it could no longer be avoided: Elmo needed batteries. Actually, we don’t have an Elmo doll, no, we just have his head, complete with clasp to attach it to…something, I guess. Elmo’s head (pictured with a US quarter for size) is one of many cast-offs from the children of friends, and I never gave it much thought, but my son has become rather fond of it. Unfortunately, changing Elmo’s batteries is not an easy task because they’re sewn into his florescent orange head, also rendering him un-washable. Since it’s a cast-off, its batteries began fading about a year ago, but my son kept asking me to fix it, and it got so worn out that you could barely hear Elmo’s infectious giggle as he says “Hey, that tickles! Oh boy! That tickles!” Despite my protestations of “it’s broken, I can’t fix it,” my son just couldn’t grasp that its repair wasn’t possible. Even my husband got in on the act, “Can you fix it for him? He keeps asking.” So late last night, with seam ripper in hand I opened Elmo’s head and removed the batteries from the voice box. A bath, a ride in the clothes dryer and $10 in watch batteries later and tonight after an hour of sewing while mind-numbingly listening to Elmo’s constant banter as I continually set-off the voice box (earplugs helped just a bit), Elmo is ready for play tomorrow. The thought occurred to me that I would hate to work in a factory where these things are made: thousands of them going-off at once as the sewing machine operators assembled them. Well, the end-product is appreciated by the little ones.

On the knitting front, not much progress in the ballband dishcloth, because I’ve been spending my precious knitting time on Sharon Miller’s (Heirloom Knitting) Bird’s Eye Shawl (if the color looks a bit off in the photo, it’s because the yellow part is my shadow, it’s not the yarn). Wow, it was a rough go last week getting the shawl started. I think I had to scrap it after 15 rows, three (or was it four?) times, and by “scrap it” I mean through it away. I would get lost on which row I was on, try to rip it out to a point where I knew where I was on the chart, and then the yarn would get stuck and break. Toss it. Can you feel my pain? It still hurts just thinking about it. I mean, well, that’s just torture for a knitter. But that’s in the past now and things are coming along nicely.

I had to enlarge the chart about 140% to get it big enough for ease of following, and then I used 4 different colors of highlighters to differentiate the four rows of repetition, so that when I look away from the chart, I can at least recall what color row I was on and go from there. I also use a counter to count my row progress, but the chart only goes up to 20 rows, so I may also add a second row counter to help keep track of which of the four rows of repetition I’m on.

I can’t decide if this pattern is harder or easier than the shawl I made in 1996. I think it might be harder because, unlike many lace patterns, it doesn’t have design direction, not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just different for me. By design direction I mean that when you look at most lace patterns they often have lines and peaks and valleys and circles and such, and they all form an overall design that you can see when you stand back and look at them. These design directions help you “read” the pattern as you go and once familiar with the pattern, you can often anticipate when the next yarn-over or knit 2 together is, for instance. Bird’s Eye Shawl is simply a pattern of repeated doughnut shapes (bird’s eyes) that appear to be suspended in a web, there are no lines or centers of the shawl, like the one I made in 1996. Now, the interesting thing it that as I knit the bird’s eyes, they don’t look like they’re going to look as they should, and then, as the earlier rows get handled while knitting the newer rows, the older ones get fuzzy which then help the bird’s eye form more clearly. You might be able to tell in the picture, the difference of the newer bird’s eyes from the older ones.

I like the pattern, and am enjoying both it and the fineness of the yarn; so light and airy.