Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Forest Canopy Complete!

My poor photographic skills in the last post showed the yarn I'm using for Forest Canopy quite washed out in the sun. This is what the yarn actually looks like. It is a blend of 2 shades of blue, 2 shades of purple, and 2 shades of green.

In knitted form, it does appear kind of a grey blue in artificial light, and more of the colors show in daylight. Each batt that I used in spinning it was hand blended with hand cards so the mix of colors was never exactly the same. Approximately 20 individually blended batts went into the singles and then were plied together. The effect leaves muted stripes of color waves. The wool is long staple and silky blends of Romney lamb and a BL-Romney cross.

These photos are fairly true to color in natural sunlight.

And of course the blocking shot. It blocked out to 70"x35" - not much smaller than Kiri and it won't likely shrink up much because of the type of wool. Which means I will probably knit another sometime soon.

Pattern: Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl, Susan Pierce Lawrence
Yarn: My handspun fingering weight, approximately 346 yards
Needles: Knit Picks Options slick metal size 8's
Pattern review: The pattern itself is specifically designed towards new lace knitters and is very well written. It contains useful advice on yarn and needle selection, life lines, gauge and swatching etc. The instructions are written and charted, well layed out and very clear. The repeats are easily memorized and rythmic. It is an ideal example of patterns that make "reading your lace" very easy and quick to know exactly where you are at at all times. Great travel knitting project.
Issues: The only issue I had was the line"Slick, metal needles are a recipe for disaster when knitting lace. Needles made from wood or bamboo are preferable to those made from metal." I prefer it very much when pattern writers express things like this as *their opinion* instead of a declaration. Something like "I find slick metal needles difficult to work with in lace knitting and prefer wood or bamboo because it provides a little more grip to the stitches. Choose needles that work for you." is a perfectly benign way to put it instead. After all, does my shawl look like a "disaster"? It would have been if I tried to use bamboo needles, the 'sticky' is just too much for me...... jmo

Friday, February 16, 2007

Plan, what plan??

Where there's a plan, there's always the option to chuck it out the window, isn't there? I mean, I had all the best intentions to establish a bit of project monogamy and get some of those wip's completed, but I appear to be claustrophobic when I place arbitrary, if logical, restrictions on myself. The practical side of my brain screams for a bit of order when I take on too many different things simultaneously but the creative side screams that that kind of thinking is for straight-jacket certifiables, and since I'm just ordinary crazy, it is far more fun to live on the edge and cast on with wild abandon. And people think knitters are calm, quiet types....riiight.

So Marina explained "the Norwegian way" of dealing with pattern repeats that refuse to cooperate and meet the specific measurements required and I think this method will indeed tame Ambassador. So I recalculated and cast on. Well, almost cast on, I still have to count the stitches one last time before I can start. So, no pictures - it's a needle with loops on it, lots of loops, not exciting. Well exciting, but know what I mean.

Then we have Sweet Germaine making an appearance. It's a scarf for a friend (that I was, ahem, supposed to do last year) in cables and arrowhead lace. So I have some lace and cables going on to quell the desire and hopefully keep me from starting yet another sweater. The "sweet" part? It's Prime Alpaca and knits like a dream! If you ever thought about trying it and hesitated, it is really nice yarn and quite reasonable. Spunky Eclectic has all the Henry's Attic yarns at good prices.

Then we move on to the "shawl issue". Remember when I did Kiri last year? I never thought I'd actually use it, I just felt compelled to make it. Well it lives on my living room sofa and I use it all the time, especially while I'm waiting for the heat to catch up. It is a touch too long though and in a bit of jeopardy when I jump up to go stir the chili or some such thing so I wanted to make one a little shorter. Now I have had a skein in stash forever that was from the first fleece I ever bought off the back of a stinky sheep (I actually like the smell of fresh wool, even after finding out what that stuff is that's stuck in the skirtings, but we already established the "crazy" part of this post haven't we? moving on.) It has my first explorations at cleaning, dying, hand carding and blending. So it's a little less refined than it could be but it has a bundle of heart that went into it so I wanted to make a shoulder shawl from it.

Enter Forest Canopy:

It's about that big too but I thought I'd spare you another picture of Earnshaw ;-)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Valentine Day Tribute

Happy Valentines Day to all!

While this holiday has become quite commercial in US society, to me it has always remained a day to remind us of caring. Not going through the motions, not expressing platitudes, but honestly and truthfully expressing love from the heart. So this Valentines Day, I have not bought a box of chocolates, nor have I smelled a single flower. This day, I tribute to Sonya and Kevin at Cottage 46. Sonya is a favorite of mine in blogland and shares her knitterly experiences with enthusiasm and integrity and I have found her to be quite an inspiration. Sonya and Kevin are having some rough times right now and the gracious Rebekah, during her own challenging times, has started a project to honor them and keep them warm with knitterly love and hope.

So enjoy the love, and spread the warmth. Contribute your knitterly love to some folks that need it, now more than ever. I know that is what I will be doing.

Hugs to all of you that stop by that have some challenge to face, my heart goes out to you all.

Monday, February 12, 2007

It was nice while it lasted.......

I am so glad I had a wonderful day yesterday because today I realized that I was totally full of it. It was a happy state of affairs for a brief while.

I mixed up my calculations on Ambassador. What I did figure out is what it would take to make it work. What it takes, I don't have. The only way to get matching shoulder seams with this pattern is to have an even number of repeats. For an odd number of repeats, in a cardigan, you end up having to split at the sides with 3/4's of a repeat on each side of the front and 1/4 of a repeat on each side of the back. With a perfectly symetrical pattern, there is no way the shoulder joins will match up in pattern.

So if I need an even number of repeats for this whole concept to work, then I have a choice of 10 or 12. At the swatched 8spi, and a repeat of 32 stitches, I can have a 41 inch sweater (with button band) or a 49 inch sweater. I need as close to 44 as I can get. So for my theories to work, I either need to lose 3 inches over all, or I need at least 7.5spi for a sweater approximating 43.67 inches. That was my big 'Hurrah!' moment. 7.5spi is perfectly respectable for stranded color work. I would be very happy with that. It just isn't happening.

So I did manage to create what I think is a really nice pattern. I came up with a sweater design that suited it. I conquered most of the math. I swatched like a good knitter. I came up with edge treatments and finishing details that worked. I even did most of the calculations that would allow the sleeves to be picked up and worked from a second set of charts that shifted sideways so not only would the shoulders match, so would the sleeve seams. So I consider my concept a success and I got farther with it than I thought I might. It just won't fit if I execute it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I had such a fun day, did you??

I discovered that half the reason I'm missing everyones posts is because between "the New Blogger" and Bloglines I lost a bunch of my feeds. I am in the process of repairing this situation which makes me very happy.

There was a good deal of lively conversation on KBTH with the new IK and some helpful advice on Turkish Cast On's. I now have answers to why I bent my needles (for the first time ever!) trying, albeit awkwardly and incorrectly, to master a toe up technique for socks. I received some wonderful enabling advice on some Romney sock yarns from Red Bird Knits that I wasn't aware of. I have a great fondness for Romney, some of the best fleece I've worked with, but I had never found a Romney yarn. They are currently out of stock but it's on my bookmark watch list. Romney can be anything from fine and long and silky like the finest shetland for laces.... or carpet fiber. I've enjoyed the silky stuff and still have some fleece to clean!

I also chatted a bit with Marina on some of the techniques she's used with her wealth of fair isles and spent a good bit of the day working out some things with the Ambassador sweater! Maybe not exciting to all of you, but I'm very pleased. I was brainstorming techniques for the hem and cuff/collar/button bands. I wasn't too excited about a seed stitch, garter stitch, or corrugated ribbing for the simplicity of this design. So I combined them all in very small amounts and I think it works. Simple, yes. But the sweater is simple so they work together. I washed up the coned Harrisville Shetland that I had for this project and re-swatched. Still a tight knit at 8spi but improved over the 9.25spi I was getting while it was still oiled.

A little blurry but you get the gist. I also figured out the gauge issue, and the repeat issue and hopefully the way to get just the right shoulder seams. I know many of you are asking yourselves why I would be crazy enough to design a sweater in just two colors and actually be excited to knit it? Why, because I am going to bribe myself by knitting it at the same time as something more challenging or completely monochrome so it is refreshing in comparison! That will work, won't it?!?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Earnshaw Begins

First, for the record, I have not finished spinning the 2000+ yards for Earnshaw. But... I couldn't resist casting on to see if the yarn would play out as I had intended. It is definitely going to be a happy knit! Reminds me of all the pinwheels we would put in the yard in the spring when I was a kid. I love the color orange - bright yellow orange - but it isn't the most flattering color unless it is just the right shade. I did manage to capture the shade that I wanted and the mix of colors keeps it in balance with all the rest. See? Totally happy colors :) Now my challenge is to continue spinning bulky singles to finish this. Sounds easy? Not! If I get distracted for even a few minutes, my hands automatically start drafting for a 2ply sock weight, the most common weight I spin the most of.

Now, my concession to the 2007 Knit from your Stash philosophy is to finish a WIP (or more) for every new project I start. I want to clear the decks to focus some time on Anne Boleyn that I haven't touched in months and months and to resurrect Alba in her final colorway. I also want to knit a heavier weight shawl - preferably in Silky Wool (I love that stuff!) and the Ambassador fair isle that I'm struggling a little with. So the following are my current targets:

1. Earnshaw - new
2. Handspun purple socks - wip
3. Sweet Germaine scarf for one of my best friends - new (but I should have started it much sooner)
4. Red Twist socks - wip

We'll see how I do ;)