Sunday, October 30, 2011

Through the Looking Glass - Clues 4 & 5

I completed Clue 4 yesterday while watching The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn.  He must have been fun to know.  Not many men can pull off a role like that.  I just love knitting this pattern, with this yarn.  It is amazing, but Janine le Cras' designs actual make me a monogamous knitter.  The lace pattern isn't too complex, but it isn't boring knitting either.  It is just right.  I also knit most of Clue 5 last night.  While I was finishing Clue 5 this morning we heard a strange booming sound that seemed to be coming from the area of the chimney.  It sounded like someone or something banging on a piece of sheet metal.  Then we heard crows cawing.  After I finished the clue I went out onto the deck to take a look and there were two large crows on top of the chimney.  I don't know what they were trying to accomplish.
I think this is the first picture I've taken of this shawl in natural light.  There is even some sunlight in the upper right hand corner of the picture.  The next two clues are basically the same as Clue 5, which was a very easy clue, and then I will be on to Clue 8, the knit on border.  I need to find something to do with the leftover yarn, though, it is too pretty to let it sit languishing in the leftovers pile.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Through the Looking Glass - Clues 2 & 3

I finished up Clue 2 last night but didn't feel like posting because I had a major allergy attack and was all stuffed up.  Since the chemo triggered menopause began I periodically have these massive allergy attacks, for no apparent reason.  Actually, the first year or so after the chemo I didn't have any problems at all with allergies, but then something changed.  Every day is something of an adventure where my hormones are concerned.  It is amazing the amount of influence they have over our bodies and our brains.  At this point I just roll with it, and treasure the good days (which thankfully seem to be coming more often and lasting longer)..

This morning I finished up Clue 3.  This was a short clue whose primary purpose (I think) was to transition to the next gradiance skein. This is the second shawl that I am knitting with a gradiance colorway (the first was the In Dreams shawl) and I love them.  Which reminds me, I still have a ten percent off discount code to use at The Unique Sheep...
This clue has nupps or beads, depending upon your preference.  Personally, I am not a big fan of nupps so I went the bead route.  I wasn't sure about the bead color at first.  These beads came with the Gold Mustard yarn that I had originally purchased for this shawl and I wasn't sure they were going to go with the Tart Berry, but the bead color is Berry-lined Light Topaz, so I was hopeful.  When I first started adding the beads I wasn't sure I was going to like them with the light pink and I even tinked back and did a row with nupps, but then when I was purling back on the wrong side and got to the first nupp I remembered why I really hate nupps.  So I tinked back and put the beads in and now that I have finished the clue I think they will work.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Through the Looking Glass - Clue 1 - Take 2

So I was happily knitting away on this shawl with the Autumn for Anna colorway when the yarn informed me that it really didn't want to be an Alice in Wonderland themed shawl.  It wanted to be something fall-like.  Then, when I was looking at colors for the Jungle Book KAL I spotted the Tart Berry colorway and just fell in love (we will not go in to how many colorways on The Unique Sheep that I have fallen in love with).  My yarn came this past weekend just as I was finishing up my Golden Phoenix shawl so I happily cast on and finished clue 1 today.

And speaking of my Golden Phoenix, it blocked up so wonderfully.  The shawl is soft and drapey and the beads on the ends give it a wonderful swag.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tools of the Trade - The search for a new knitting bag

Almost two years ago I purchased a Namaste Hermosa Knitting Bag, and it has served me well but it is starting to show its age.  The first thing that I noticed was the side sagging.
You will notice that the sagging occurs where the side pockets are attached and is due, no doubt, to the weight of the contents of those side pockets.  The other thing that I noticed was wear on the handles.
I do love the capacious nature of this knitting bag, but I don't really like the fact that it was basically just one big pocket inside, other than a couple of little side pockets.  I also don't like the length of the handles.  I used to carry this bag over my shoulder, but lately have been carrying it in my hand, and I am not tall enough to keep it from occasionally brushing the ground.  So, the search began.  I am currently trying out a bag from Sherpani.  A Moda Sport Tote Bag.

It is definitely smaller than the Hermosa (but what wouldn't be).  And it has lots of pockets.  There are 6 just on the outside.  That front quilted section is divided into two pockets, and there are two water bottle pockets, one on each end, and the zippered pocket that has a built in key lanyard.  Plus there is a large pocket on the back.  And the handle strap length is adjustable.
Inside there are more pockets.  Small pockets for cell phone and other small incidentals, plus a large zippered pocket, and two more water bottle pockets on the ends.  And the whole thing can be zipped closed, something the Hermosa didn't do.
I am still figuring out how to pack it, but so far it has been working okay.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Phoenix and the Carpet - Finished!

We were just serenaded by owls.  It was kind of creepy.  There were several calls going on, some kind of howling, some hooting, some almost cawing.  They were close behind the house in our woods.  It woke the kitty.  But it is quiet now.  Not sure what set them off.

Finished my Golden Phoenix early this evening.  I did a gentler block than I typically do on shawls, it just seemed right.  I started out with blocking wires down the sides, but they were pulling the sides in a way that I didn't really like, so I ended up using pins about every inch.

Pattern - The Phoenix and the Carpet by Janine Le Cras
Yarn - The Unique Sheep Luxe, in Gold Mustard, just over 200 grams.

And I received yarn today, two of my orders from The Unique Sheep.  Both Luxe.  Sunflower, for the Jungle Book KAL.  I know, not very jungle like, but I like the color.  I seem to be on a bit of a yellow kick lately.  Yellow used to be my favorite color when I was growing up, and I still love it.  In fact I painted my living room a bright yellow (the previous occupant had painted it Mental Institution Green, the first thing I did when I moved in was repaint it).
And Tart Berry, for the Through the Looking Glass Shawl.  Perfect timing, really.  I've already cast on.

The Phoenix and the Carpet - Clue 9

And a quick picture of Clue 9.  On to the last clue!  I still have to figure out how I want to do the bead placement and bind off, which means that I also have to frog my first attempt at this shawl.

So why is it that when you are stressed out about something you always wake up at 3am thinking about it?  Not that I would have been having this experience lately, but some housework did get done before dawn this past Thursday.  Thankfully I have slept better the past two nights.  Emotional and psychological resolution is a good thing, now I just have to get the reality to match.

Barcelona Pullover - Finished!

I also finished my Barcelona pullover last week.  The change in color between the top half and the bottom half is partially due to uneven natural lighting and partially due to the way the yarn colors pooled.  In the bottom half of the sweater the pink really started to dominate.  I love these sweaters made with Fiesta Yarns, they are just so colorful and fun and now that the weather is cooling off a little I am wearing them whenever I have the opportunity.  I wore my Poppies sweater this past Thursday and threw my Limestone Shawl around my neck to add a little extra warmth.

Pattern - Top Down Raglan from Sweater Wizard Software
Yarn - Fiesta Yarns Boomerang in Barcelona, 3 skeins
Needles - Size 5 and 6

The Phoenix and the Carpet - Clue 8

I finished Clue 8 yesterday, but only snapped a quick picture because I really wanted to keep going and start Clue 9, the penultimate clue.  I am hoping to finish this shawl up this weekend.

There was one nice thing that happened this past Wednesday, I came home to an unexpected package from The Unique Sheep.  I was quite puzzled, because although I do have several yarn orders in with them I had not received any shipping notices, and the envelope really didn't feel like it contained yarn (it wasn't squishy).  When I opened it I found a very nice Thank You card thanking me for being one of their top customers this past year and these goodies.
A little notebook and matching pen, a magnet, a tape measure, hand lotion, yummy tea and pattern tamers.  It did bring a smile to my face on a day I really needed one.  I will confess, however, that I have never really understood the point of pattern tamers.  Oh, I get the magnetic strip idea.  I use them when knitting anything with charts.  I just don't get the idea of putting a patterned ribbon on them to make them pretty.  It seems to me that it would detract from their functionality by distracting the eye from the very thing that it is marking.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Birthday Do-Over

This past Wednesday was my birthday.  Unlike my birthday last year (which was wonderful and spent in Jordan) last Wednesday was (to paraphrase Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly) not my best day ever.  The stupidity at work that has been stressing me out for the past few months finally came to a head with the result that I am now looking to get out of my current organization.  I have a few possibilities, I just hope that one of them pans out in the near future.  You know how it is, once you finally decide to do something, you just want to do it.  It is a wonderfully freeing feeling knowing that I will be getting out, there is a lot of stupidity (mandatory work force development classes to name just one) that I will no longer have to put up with.

Bruce and I have established something of a tradition of taking our birthdays off from work.  I had to go in this past Wednesday because Wednesday is my telecon day and I really can't miss them, so we decided to move my birthday to today and try to forget that Wednesday even happened.  So, I have spent the day watching movies on Fox Movie Channel and Turner Classic Movies and knitting.  We also took a walk around the neighborhood, and had a late lunch early dinner of waffles.  Made from scratch.

And here are beauty shots of my Diadem shawl.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Phoenix and the Carpet - Clue 7

My brain recovered enough on Monday that I was able to finish Clue 7 of my Golden Phoenix.  Just 3 more clues to go!

But on Tuesday I came home from work so mad I was swearing like a sailor.  One of the managers where I work apparently considers the people who work for her to be furniture because she periodically likes to rearrange us.  This time she is even changing work assignments (alienating employees and sponsors and risking the success of the projects affected), and even though no one (except her) thinks this is a good idea, no one is willing to stand up to her and tell her.  I am so tired of the managers where I work being unwilling and/or afraid to do the right thing.

On a much brighter note, I finally received my first shipment in the Flavour series.  This is a joint venture of Roxanne of Zen Yarn Garden and Woolgirl.  The first offering was Pumpkin Spice.
I was restrained and only purchased a single skein of Serenity 20 (70% superwash merino, 20% cashmere and 10% nylon).  Each shipment comes with a coordinating stitch marker.  The current offering is Roasted Chestnut and Divinity, and you can order through the end of the month.  Once again I was restrained and ordered one of each color in Serenity 20.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Diadem - Finished

It was a bad week, hormonally speaking, so I didn't get a lot of knitting done.  Most of the week I was dealing with an on-again off-again migraine that never really went away.  Friday afternoon it came back with a vengeance and with visual aura.  I mostly managed to get it under control Friday evening with a combination of Exedrine Migraine and meditation/biofeedback, but it still hasn't completely gone away.  I did manage to finish one of the sleeves of my Barcelona Pullover and get about half-way through the second.  I also managed to knit about half of Clue 7 of my Golden Phoenix shawl.  And I managed to finish my Diadem.  I thought about making it a little larger and even expanded the final chart, but I had so much trouble focusing on the last lace row of the existing chart that I decided I just wanted to finish.

And just for comparison, so you understand the transformative power of blocking, here is a picture of the finished shawl before I dunked and blocked it, a purple squidgy pile of yarn.

It hasn't helped that our house has been invaded by what I am pretty sure are wolf spiders, apparently they come inside in the fall looking for a warm place to winter.  I just captured one (literally, it ran across the floor of the room and I had to stop blogging and catch it) and released it outside.  Here it is on our deck.  He (she? not sure how to sex spiders, I'll stick with "he" seeing as how we have no neuter gender) is at least 2 inches across.
This is the third one that I have captured and released this weekend, I don't think that I have been catching the same one over and over, because I swear they keep getting bigger.  I spotted the first one yesterday morning.  It was on the floor right next to the day bed that I sit on, less than two feet from me.  It crawled onto one of my (many) knitting bags, so I picked up the knitting bag and took it out onto the deck and shook him off.  Then, yesterday afternoon, while Bruce and I were sitting here watching an episode of Farscape one ran across the floor, and stopped under a mini chaise that I picked up in Philadelphia.  I captured him in a plastic container and we released him outside, and now, this morning, number three.  You have to admit, he really is a gorgeous spider, and pretty well behaved and easily captured.

And lest you be grossed out by the spider story, here is an amusing picture.  We found this in our bag of goldfish that we snacked on yesterday.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Phoenix and the Carpet - Clue 6

Spent all afternoon watching Turner Classic Movies and knitting on Clue 6.  It took about 3 hours to knit the clue.  A bit of marathon knitting, but now I feel a bit brain dead.  Time to take a break and make dinner.

The Phoenix and the Carpet - Clue 5

Half-way done.  I started the second skein of yarn almost at the end of Clue 5.  I spliced the new skein into the old.  As I was knitting I started thinking about what to do with the Luxe in Autumn for Ana and I think I may try a lace over-skirt variation on a circular shawl.  I thought I would start with an i-cord and then cast on to that, work back and forth until it was large enough to get over my hips or shoulders, then join.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Diadem - Chart B

I have been enjoying knitting my Golden Phoenix so much that I actually achieved project monogamy this past week, but today I did tear myself away long enough to finish Chart B of my Diadem.  It is every bit as beautiful in the Moon Purple color as I thought it would be.

The Phoenix and the Carpet - Clue 4

Finished Clue 4 this morning.  This shawl is knitting up so quickly, and I just love knitting it.  It is such a relaxing knit without being boring.  The yarn is lovely to work with and who wouldn't be cheered up by the color.  I am almost half way done.

I realized that I haven't posted beauty shots of the Teaberry shawl, so without further ado...
Although both pictures were taken in natural light without flash, the color in the bottom picture is actually closer to reality.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Phoenix and the Carpet - Clue 3

Finished up Clue 3 this evening, watching a very funny movie called Matinee.  I am so loving this pattern, although I have made a couple of modifications for the sake of symmetry.  I was having problems getting the beads on the stitches for a while.  I was using the crochet hook, but I had to use a 0.6mm crochet hook to get through the size 8 beads, and getting the yarn through without splitting it was not easy.  But then I remembered a method that I used when I first started adding beads to knitting - a needle and thread.
That big silver spring thing is called a bead stopper and it keeps your beads from sliding off the end of the thread.  It is just a spring, with the outer loops bent out.  To get a bead onto your stitch you simply thread the sewing needle through the stitch, then loop the needle back through the bead, slide the bead down the thread and onto the stitch, put the stitch back on the knitting needle and then pull the sewing needle out of the stitch.  No splitting of yarn, and you are far less likely to lose beads in the cushions.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Phoenix and the Carpet - Clue 2

I took a mental health day today.  I was getting my piano tuned and there has been some stuff going on at work that has me pretty stressed and I just needed a day off.  So I spent the day knitting.  It was exactly what I needed.  This pattern is especially soothing to me.  It isn't a difficult chart and the geometry and symmetry of the pattern is pleasing to the eye as well as the soul.  I have decided to call this shawl the Golden Phoenix.  Here's to rising from the ashes.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Phoenix and the Carpet - Clue 1 - Take 2

My yarn has started talking to me, telling me what it wants to be, and what it doesn't want to be.  I distinctly remember when this happened with fabric, but that is a story for another post.  This weekend the Luxe yarn in Autumn for Ana that I was knitting Through the Looking Glass with informed me that it really didn't want to be Through the Looking Glass and that maybe I should design a fall themed shawl for it, perhaps a circular shawl.  So I frogged the first clue and went looking for another color to knit Through the Looking Glass in, and I think I may have found it, but will reserve judgement until I receive it.  In the meantime I decided to restart The Phoenix and the Carpet shawl in the Luxe yarn in Gold Mustard.  I happened to have size 8 beads that exactly match the megatamas that came with the original yarn that I purchased for the knit along.  So far I am happy with the combination of yarn, beads and pattern, and so far the yarn has not protested.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

My Diadem - Chart A

And here it is, the first chart of my Diadem.  The yarn is, of course, fantastic, the colors, to die for.  I love this pattern, it is actually pretty easy, but a lot of fun to knit and the resulting shawl is just gorgeous.  'Nuf said, I'm going back to my knitting.

Diadem by Ruth Greenwald
1 skein Serenity Silk + by Zen Yarn Garden
Size 5 needles

Moon Purple

And speaking of positively scrumptious yarn, look at what showed up in my mailbox this past week - my custom dyed order of Purple Moon from Zen Yarn Garden.  The above pic is of the Serenity Silk + (75% Superwash Merino, 15% Cashmere, 10% Silk), 2-ply fingering weight, 500 yards/100 grams.  I have already wound one skein into a ball and will soon be casting on my Diadem shawl.  I gave my original Diadem Shawl to my sister, Virginia, so I really needed to make myself one, and when I saw the Purple Moon color from the last Light and Dark Lace Club I knew that I wanted that color for my shawl. I don't have any set plans for the other 2 skeins of Serenity Silk + other than that I want to make a larger shawl from them.

I also got 6 skeins of Serenity Worsted.
I plan on knitting Evendim with this yarn.

My Scarf-In-A-Scarf

I also finished up my Scarf-in-a-scarf this past week.  This has been my mindless knitting that I take to work.  I love these kits from Hand Painted Knitting Yarn.  The colors are so beautiful and blend in the most wonderful way, and the matching silk scarf is so lovely and elegant.  I have a number of their kits.  I already started on my sister Virginia's scarf-in-a-scarf.

Teaberry Shawl

Well, the nameless shawl has a name and is finished.  I named it Teaberry because the color of the yarn reminded me of the color of the Teaberry gum label, and I really liked Teaberry gum.  I used 110 grams of my 116 gram skein, leaving just 23.5 yards left.  While I was working on the third section of the lace pattern I contemplated doing three repeats of the motif, which I could have done, if I left off the last couple of rows, which don't have any lace, but I wasn't sure how the shawl would look.  Would it have a nice edge?  Or would it just look unfinished?  I had a spreadsheet that I was using to keep track of my yarn usage and how many stitches I had knit.  Yes, I actually calculated how many stitches I should be able to get out of my 450 yards.  In the end I just got tired of knitting the lace pattern after that first repeat in the third section, and decided to finish with a knit on border.  I decided to use the border from the Diadem Shawl by Ruth Greenwald.  Conveniently the number of rows in the border pattern fit perfectly into the number of stitches that I had after finishing the body pattern.