Sunday, February 26, 2012

Damask Rose Shawl - Finished!

I finished up my Damask Rose Shawl last night with 18 grams of yarn to spare.  I love the colors of this shawl, although as gradiance sets go, it does seem a bit atypical to me, although I will confess that I am only beginning to get to know the beautiful yarns of The Unique Sheep.  My strategy of no transition rows was not as successful on this shawl as on the other two shawls that I used it on, but it was no transition rows or stripes, so I decided to stick with no transition rows.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

How it all began

Back in the summer of 2000 I was in graduate school at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana studying the history of science when the Beadcats (my sister, Virginia, and her business partner Carol) came to visit Yellow Springs, Ohio.  Now, South Bend is only 5 hours away from my home town of Yellow Springs, so of course I had to come home to see them.  They were en route to Cincinnati, Ohio, where they were going to have a booth at Convergence, the Handweavers Guild of America conference.  They stopped in to see the family and to see if they could get some help at the show.  My brother, John, volunteered to come help them set up, and I volunteered to help them set up and help them man the booth at the show.  It was my first real exposure to fiber, fabric and beads, and I was hooked.

The show was kind of slow, and I remember that the booth next to ours was selling knitting machines and I sat with one just behind me that was set up and running the entire show, and that convinced me I never wanted one in my house.  To make the time pass we decided to do a little bead along, and Carol taught me how to bead a spiral rope.  I picked some colors, and by the time the weekend was over I had made this:

I enjoyed this project so much, that I selected some more flower, leaf and lentil beads as part of my payment for my labors that weekend and made this:

There is a matching bracelet as well as earrings.  I still have the bracelet and I think I still have the earrings, but I gave the necklace to my niece, Erin, when we went to my brother David's wedding in 2004.  I made dresses for my sister, Liz, and her daughter, Erin, for the occasion and the necklace matched Erin's dress.  I was originally only going to loan it to her, but she loved it so much, I just couldn't take it back.

I then decided to make a more dramatic variant, and created this necklace:
The large focal beads are catkins, and I used the medium sized ones to make a pair of matching earrings.

It was at this show that fabric spoke to me for the first time.  I was wandering the floor when I went by the booth for St. Theresa Textile, a Cincinnati store, and a purple batik said "Buy me!"  I walked into the booth, pointed at the fabric in question and said "I have to have that."  I had no idea what I was going to make out of it so I bought 5 yards.  I soon discovered retro patterns and made this dress:
The pattern is Simplicity 9192.  I loved this pattern so much that when I found another really gorgeous fabric I made another one, which I wore yesterday to a retirement luncheon for a colleague (yes, it really was warm enough yesterday to wear this outfit).
The lace shawl is Broderie.

I also bought some fiber at the show, and when I got back to South Bend I bought "How to Knit" by Debbie Bliss and started knitting.  I did knit a scarf out of one of the two yarns that I bought.  I think it is a kid mohair, silk combo.  The yarn is a boucle, so I wanted something simple.  I think I did a moss stitch.  I still need to weave in the ends.
The other yarn I bought is a worsted weight purple/blue variegated wool/silk blend that I will probably knit into a vest.

And so began my love affair with fabric, fiber and beads.

Friday, February 24, 2012


This past Wednesday, when I should have been knitting and listening to my telecons, I was not knitting, but I was thinking about knitting.  In fact, I was thinking about knitting this top.  This is Fiesta Yarns La Luz, 100% mulberry silk.  Have you ever noticed how silk can sometimes feel crunchy and at the same time be so soft?  This is one of the Flower of the Month colorways that has been sitting in my stash for a while.  After trying on the body of African Violets I wanted to knit a short sleeved version of the top-down raglan so I pulled this yarn out.  The yarn band recommends size 6 (4 mm) needles, but I automatically go down 2 needle sizes with Fiesta Yarns, so I am knitting this on size 4 (3.25 mm).  My gauge is a little tighter than that on the yarn band, but I like the fabric, and I love the colors.  The pattern is from Sweater Wizard Software.  The plan is to knit just the body, probably without the ribbing at the waist, and then do some finishing around the hem, neck and arms.

Boreal Socks - Chart 2 - 3 repeats

I finally finished the third repeat of chart 2 and am within about 0.5 inches of starting the heel.  I only knit a couple of rows a day on these, usually in the morning before I go to work.  I love all of the beautiful sock designs out there, but I feel bad wearing them with shoes, hidden by pants.  I think it would be fun to bring back the breeches from the 18th century that the men used to wear that come to just below the knee and wear them with hand knit socks and flats.  Of course, to pull this off you would have to knit knee socks and most of the sock patterns I have seen don't come up past the calf.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Damask Rose Shawl - Chart 2

I finished up Chart 2 last night and started on the border.  The gradiance set for this shawl is really interesting because skein 1 is so different from the other skeins.  I don't think there is any really good way to transition between skeins 1 and 2.  If I had done the recommended transition rows then I would have had stripes.  I didn't do any transition rows, so there is a pretty dramatic change.  I started skein 3 towards the end of Chart 2.  It has pink in it.  The interesting thing is that skein 2 looks like a pale salmon pink when it is on its own, but when you put it in the shawl you see a paler version of the yellow that is in skein 1, as well as the pink that is in skein 3.  It will be very tricky, if not impossible to capture with the camera.  I like the way it looks like the green and yellow are bleeding into the salmon.

Now that I have decided to let the yarn do all the work transitioning colors I am eager to try other colorways, especially if I can compare my results without transition rows to projects with transition rows.  I happen to have 336 yards of my Tart Berries in Luxe that I knit the Through the Looking Glass Shawl out of.  When I finish this shawl I may cast on another Over the Moon shawlette.  I picked that pattern because it is so simple, no lace work until the feather and fan border, so I can really observe the color changes.  Unfortunately, 336 yards is not a whole lot, so I will have to finish the shawlette with another color, but I do have some other colors of Luxe in my stash, so we'll see what I can come up with.

We were really hoping for some decent snow yesterday, but we only got about an inch.  I suppose it was for the best, it was a heavy wet snow, which caused power outages in areas that had more accumulation.  I made stew anyway, because who doesn't like stew on a cold snowy day.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

African Violets Pullover - Body Done

So this colorway doesn't really remind me of African Violets.  I will confess that the first word that came to my mind was camouflage.  Camouflage is an interesting word.  It is probably derived from the word camouflet, which is French, and means "smoke blown in someone's face as a practical joke", but the modern definition is "an underground explosion of a bomb or mine that does not break the surface, but leaves an enclosed cavity of gas and smoke".

This is certainly the tamest of these pullovers that I have made, and it is also the best fitting.  I adjusted the increases of the body and neckline to give more ease in the very top portion, where it fits across the shoulders.  I have wide shoulders and the other pullovers, while they fit, are a little snug across my shoulders and will ride up a little.  So I increased every other row for about half of the distance of that upper section before you separate out the armhole stitches, and then spaced out the rest of the increases.  It increased my yarn usage a lot more than I thought it would.  In fact I ran out of yarn on my second skein while I was working the rib around the bottom so I didn't do all 15 rows, and I had to break into my third skein to work the ribbing around the color.  I still have plenty to knit the sleeves, though, there just won't be as much left over as my other pullovers.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Christmas Shawlette II - Beauty Shot

I finally got home early enough to get some natural light, and the sun was shining.  The colors blend so beautifully in this shawl, which you might not expect considering that red and green are on opposite sides of the color wheel.  This shawl was knit without any transition rows, I just made sure to match the colors when I switched skeins.  The edging on this one is a little different as well.  Instead of binding off the three stitches in purl I bound them off in knit, which made a little point on each of the scallops.  For comparison, here is my other Christmas Shawlette.  The biggest difference from a color perspective is the striping that you get with the first color change from the gold to the silver and gold.

Damask Rose Shawl - Chart 1

This is the first project from the Smell the Roses Club, the Damask Rose Shawl.  There has been quite a kerfuffle over on Ravelry regarding this shipment.  Apparently there was a miscalculation in the amount of yarn required and folks were coming up short.  I am one of the fortunate ones that received a fair bit of extra yarn (26 grams) so I should be able to knit the shawl as originally designed.  I love the pastel shades of the yarn and I am really enjoying knitting with Tinsel Toes, it may be my new favorite fingering weight yarn.  I will confess that this clue became a bit boring with all of those knit stitches because I still had to count to make sure that I hadn't missed a yarn over (which I did several times), and all of that counting was putting me to sleep.  I am intrigued by the shape of this shawl.  There are four triangular panels in chart 1, which would make a square, but there are no increases at all in chart 2.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Christmas Shawlette II - Finished!

I finished this up this evening.  On this shawl I did not do any transition rows when I changed skeins and, although it is a bit hard to tell with this photo (I had to use flash), the colors flow beautifully into each other.

For a comparison of technique, here is my other Christmas Shawlette in which I did do transition rows between the skeins.

Both techniques yield beautiful results, so personal preference should dictate which technique one uses.  For myself, I like the ease of no transition rows, and it definitely makes it easier to use up each skein before going on to the next, reducing the risk of running out of yarn.  On the silver and gold shawl I had 20 grams of yarn left over, but on the green and red one I only had about 10 grams left over.  If I had been careless with my transitions, I could easily have run out of yarn.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Velveteen Coat - Vogue Pattern #Unknown

I started making this coat back in March/April of 2006.  The fabric is a heavy weight velveteen, lined with crepe back satin.  I bought the fabric from Fashion Fabric Club Online.  It is so gray here that I had to use the flash to get the picture.  The pattern is a Clair Shaeffer Vogue Couture pattern, but I can no longer find it, so I have no idea what the pattern number is, and a quick search on the internet yielded no results, so I am guessing that it is out of print.  It certainly is not to be found on the Vogue web site.  So, for the past 6 years it has been living on one of my dress maker dummies (yes, I have more than one) waiting for a suitable method of closure.

I originally bought a number of beautiful glass lamp work buttons at Bead & Button, but one of the shanks broke and I was nervous about using them only to have them break.  Recently I thought about using some Czech pressed glass buttons, but the sticking point was always the button holes.  The fabric is heavy enough that machine sewn button holes just weren't going to work, believe me, I tried.  Next I thought about binding the button holes with silk ribbon and I spent an afternoon trying to make that work, to no avail.  I also tried binding the button holes with hand stitching, but I couldn't get that to look the way I wanted it to.  Finally I hit on the idea of frogs.  So, off to the internet I went and googled and I found Angel Trim.

They are located in Hong Kong and have an amazing supply of fashion accessories.  I selected half a dozen different frog designs and submitted my order only to have it fail after I had completed the payment process via PayPal.  You can well imagine my alarm, my money had been sent, but not my order.  Fortunately I still had the page with my cart on it open, so I hit the "contact us" button and copied and pasted my order into the message, that was on January 29.  On January 31 I received an email thanking me for my message and saying that my order would go out that day, airmail.  On February 9 I received another email from them telling me that they had been sent registered mail, with a tracking number, and asking me to let them know when they arrived. That same day I had a notice in my mailbox that I had a registered mail parcel.  I just picked them up from the post office today.  With their selection and service I will definitely be shopping there again, and shipping was surprisingly inexpensive - only $11.

Now I just have to make something equally spectacular to wear with the coat.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Beauty Shots

And here are beauty shots of my latest shawls:

Three Quarter Time Shawl

Knitterati Mystery 1
I think it would be fun to make this larger and longer so that you could actually wrap it around you waist.  This one doesn't quite go, I have it pinned in back.  It shouldn't be too hard, just make a longer garter stitch section, and increase the length of the short row section or turn the ends into ties.

Yarny Goodness

My husband likes to joke that it is always Christmas at our house because of the packages of yarny goodness that regularly arrive.  Now, I don't get such wonderful packages everyday, but I do get them on a regular basis thanks to the number of clubs that I belong to.  These are the packages that came this past week.
First up - the first shipment for the Stop and Smell the Roses Shawl Club from the Unique Sheep.  Packages from The Unique Sheep always fill me with anticipatory delight, and this one definitely lived up to the anticipation.  The yarn is Tinsel Toes, a fingering weight Tencel/wool blend that I have recently become enamored of, the color way is Damask and when I saw it, it took my breath away.  The name of the shawl pattern is, appropriately enough, Damask Rose.  There is also a pretty rose on a clip, a rose stitch marker and a rose button.  I so want to cast on this shawl, but first I have to finish my second Christmas Shawlette.

This is the first shipment of the 2012 Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin' Sock Club.  The yarn is actually more purple than the picture shows.  It is a wonderful, glorious purple.  The official name of the color is H.R.H. Crown Princess of Purple, Violetta.  The yarn is their light weight sock yarn in 100% superwash merino.  The two patterns are just exquisite.  I may have to buy another skein so I can make them both.  I know I could find something suitable in my stash, but I really think they need to be a matching set.  These socks have yet another heel technique for me to learn.

These are my color options for the next installment of the Light and Dark Lace Club.  The yarn is Pelusa lace, which is a lace single in 100% superwash merino.  The colors are, from left to right:  Olea, Golden Locks and Scarlet Letter.  I am leaning towards the Scarlet Letter, but I bought extra, just in case I end up making more than one of the shawls.  After Diadem proved so popular, I thought it best to be prepared.

And last but not least, the February installment of the Crochet Block of the Month Club.  The yarn is Sushi Sock a blend of Superwash Merino, Bamboo and Nylon.  The colors are Forest and Mist.  The pattern is Winter Laurel.  This is my second year in this club, and I am so behind on my blocks.

Boreal Socks - Chart 2 - 2 repeats

Well, these are not getting finished as quickly as I had thought they would, but I have finished 2 repeats of the second chart.  I have at least one more repeat before I start the heel.  I am going to try a new (to me) heel technique from Alice Yu using shadow wraps.  Everyone on the forum is raving about how easy they are and how there are no holes.  I do love the leaf pattern, it is so organic and sinuous.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Knitterati Mystery 1 - Finished!

I finished the mystery project this morning.  The lace border presented the most challenges because of the short row sections at each end, and the lack of detailed explanation in the instructions.  I added some beads to the lace.  I ran out of yarn before I finished but I managed to get through the lace pattern before I ran out.  Then I was faced with the dilemma of how to finish.  Fortunately I have a reasonable quantity of this particular yarn base in my stash and, even more fortuitously, I happened to have a skein of red that was just a bit darker than the one that I was knitting with.  I finished the garter stitch rows after the lace pattern and bound off and then decided that to make the shawl look more finished I would pick up and knit an edging on the inside curve as well.

Pattern: Knitterati Mystery 1, Knitterati Sock Club January 2012 mystery pattern
Yarn:  Main color - Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 in Cranberry Sweets (100g, 400 yds); Edging color - Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 in St. Valentine (22 g, 88 yds)
US size 5 (3.75 mm) needles