Saturday, May 31, 2014

Silk Moth

I woke up this morning to find this beauty chilling on the sliding glass door.  This photo is actually taken through the glass as I didn't want to open the door and risk disturbing him.  I wish he would open his wings for me though and give me a proper beauty shot.

After Bruce got up we opened the door, but could barely squeeze through to get out because of where he was positioned.  I blew gently on him and he opened up his wings, so I took a picture.  Unfortunately there were a lot of reflections, as would be expected, and now with his wings spread I could barely get through the opening of the glass door to get back inside, and there was no way that Bruce would make it.  I took a twig and carefully got him to transfer to it and took him over to the rail, where I was able to get this beauty shot.
He is a little the worse for wear, missing some legs and one antenna, and you can see some holes in the left wing, so I don't think he will last much longer.

I showed the picture of this moth to my sister, Virginia, while we were at Bead & Button and she informed me that he is not a Hawk Moth, he is a Silk Moth.  They can't actually eat and only live long enough to mate, so that is why he was looking a little the worse for wear.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Wind in the Willows - Clue 3

I finished this up a week ago - the advantage of getting the entire pattern so I could make the modifications for the group.  This one was easy to modify, I just added 3 extra purl stitches at the end to make the pattern symmetric.  Here is a close up to show how the two clues line up.
I have finished the chart modifications for all of the clues and am almost done with clue 5.  Making sure that things line up correctly has been one of the biggest challenges - along with modifying the written directions correctly - especially between charts 4 and 5.

Project:  Wind in the Willows by Janine le Cras
Yarn:  Sunglow on Selene by the Unique Sheep
Needle:  US 3 (3.25 mm)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Wind in the Willows - Clue 2

I can finally show my shawl.  I finished this up last Sunday but couldn't post about it until today.  As I stated in my previous post, I skipped clue 1 and started with clue 2 so I would have a larger neck opening.  This meant that I had to do a long garter stitch tab - 162 rows - and picked up 81 stitches along the side and 3 stitches along the bottom. I also added extra rows between the lace motifs to avoid working lace stitches on wrong side rows.

I also worked clue 2 on my 3/4 shawl clue 1 test knit.  I realized as I was looking at the later clues that I needed to work more stitches for the 3/4 shawl version and I wanted to test out the increase row that I had worked out.
I still think the 3/4 shawl would look better if clue 1 were left out.  To do that all you do is a garter stitch tab with 146 rows, picking up 73 stitches along the side and three along the bottom.

Project:  Wind in the Willows by Janine le Cras
Yarn:  Sunglow on Selene by the Unique Sheep
Needle:  US 3 (3.25 mm)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wind in the Willows - Clue 1

The latest Unique Sheep Mystery Knit Along started last Friday (May 16).  For this one I picked Sunglow on Selene and Ellen of Earthfaire picked out the silver-lined yellow beads.  She picks out the beads if you select the bead option when you sign up for the club and she has an excellent color sense.  I used Selene on Watership Down and really like it.  This is a circular shawl, and you know how I feel about those, so of course I am making mine as a cape.  There was enough interest in the group that I am writing up the modifications and making modified charts for a half-circle, a three-quarter circle and a full-circle cape.  Laura was kind enough to send me the complete pattern to help me with my modifications and I'm sending her my modifications so they can get included in the pattern.  Pretty cool, huh.

Seeing as how I am now a moderator in the group, I dutifully did my gauge swatch.  I hardly ever do those for lace projects, but I felt that I needed to set a good example for the group.

If the picture looks like it is upside down, it is.  I had to shoot it upside down and then flip it.  My gauge is spot on.

Of course, when the first clue came out I was super excited to get going and didn't really look at the complete pattern as carefully as I should have.  The first clue is always an easy one - once you get past the circular start.  I did one of those on Evenstar with pure silk, no less, so I don't feel I have anything to prove at this point and happily avoid them.  I did clue 1 for all three variations so that folks could see what they looked like.

I started out with the half-circle as this required the fewest changes from the original pattern.  The first chart has 10 stitches and is worked four times around the shawl.  So, says I to myself, I need to work it twice, therefore I need 20 stitches when I get to that point.  The thing that I didn't take into account was the way a circular shawl works.  You see, there is a knit stitch between each repeat of the lace pattern and I didn't put that in at the beginning of the chart to make the pattern symmetric when worked flat as opposed to worked in the round.

I started out with a garter stitch tab, casting on 3 stitches and working 10 rows and picking up 5 stitches along the side and 3 on the bottom, ending up with 3 edge stitches, 5 body stitches, and 3 edge stitches.  I then worked the initial rows.

Row 1 - k3, p5, k3
Row 2 - knit
Row 3 - k3, p5, k3
Row 4 - k3, (yo,K1) 5 times, end k3 (16 sts)
Work 3 rows in stockinette stitch
Row 5 - k3, p10, k3
Row 6 - knit
Row 7 - k3, p10, k3
Row 8 - k3, (K1, yo) 10 times, end k3 to end (26 sts)
Row 9 - k3, p20, k3

Once I got to my 20 stitches, I worked Chart 1, two times around the shawl, purling the wrong side rows and keeping the 3 edge stitches on each edge in garter stitch.

After working the chart I worked the increase round:
k3, (K1, yo) 20 times, end k3 (46 sts)
K3, p40, k3

What I should have done is this:
On Row 8: k3, yo, (K1, yo) 10 times, end k3 to end (27 sts)
Row 9 - k3, p21, k3

And then add an extra knit stitch before that pattern repeat.  I didn't knit that one up, and honestly, at this point in the game you can't really notice the difference.  It does matter for Clue 2, however.  But the fix is an easy one, just a simple modification to the increase round:
k3, yo, (K1, yo) 20 times, end k3 (47 sts)
K3, p41, k3
sets things up for Clue 2.

For the three-quarter shawl I started with a garter stitch tab and skipped all of those early increase rounds, working a 60 row garter stitch tab and picking up 30 stitches along the edge and 3 along the bottom.  But wait, don't I want 31?  Yes, I really want 31, but again it doesn't matter, because you can get the extra stitch when you do the increase round.  I worked 3 repeats of the pattern.
Now the problem with this is the size of the neck opening, kind of small.
The original increase round that I worked is:
k3, (K1, yo) 30 times, end k3 to end (66 sts)
K3, p60, k3
When I really wanted to work:
k3, yo, (K1, yo) 30 times, end k3 to end (67 sts)
K3, p61, k3

But in reality, both of those turned out to be wrong when I looked at Clue 2.   That explanation will have to wait until Clue 2 comes out tomorrow.

I also worked the full-circle cape for clue 1.  This time I did 80 rows of garter stitch, picked up 40 stitches along the side and 3 stitches along the bottom.  And yes, I really wanted to work 82 rows of garter stitch and pick up 41 stitches along the side and 3 along the bottom.  But again, it doesn't really matter, it is a simple matter to fix it on the increase row before starting Clue 2.
In my haste to finish, I actually forgot to do the increase row on this one.  But once again, you can see how small the neck opening is, so I decided to skip Clue 1 entirely and start with Clue 2.

Of course all of these lessons learned have been incorporated into the instructions that I put together.

You may also notice that none of these use the yarn I bought for the project.  They are all leftovers from other shawls.

Project:  Wind in the Willows by Janine le Cras
Yarn:  Sunglow on Selene by the Unique Sheep
Needle:  US 3 (3.25 mm)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Twisted Rib Pullover II - One Sleeve Done

I have been working on my pullover when I haven't felt up to working on lace and I finished up one of the sleeves last night.  I'm doing top down set in sleeves.  I really like the technique, but I like any technique that cuts down on the amount of seaming that I have to do.  I also think it is a little bit of magic the way the sleeve appears.  I deliberately made the sleeve with some positive ease because I really don't like tight sleeves.  I also came up with a very slick way of picking up stitches for the sleeve evenly around the armhole.  I used an app on my iPad called Knit Evenly Calculator by JAKRO SOFT LLC.  I have been using it for evenly increasing and decreasing in patterns.  I love the way it will step you through each increase or decrease.  For picking up the stitches I used it as a decrease counter.  I knew how many rows I had knit for the armholes, and I knew how many stitches I needed to pick up in the armholes (not including the stitches of the underarm).  Wherever the app told me to k2tog I simply picked up a stitch and then skipped the next pick up spot.  It worked like a dream.  On to the second sleeve.

Pattern:  Design 1835 from Moments No. 005
Yarn:  SMC Select Extra Soft Merino Fino in Malachite
Needles:  US 3 (3.25 mm)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Capricorn - Finished!

I finished the shawl this past weekend.  I thought about extending the second chart, but my brain wasn't up to it.  I ended up using just under 100 grams for this shawl (4 of the 6 skeins) so this pattern is perfect for a single skein of sock yarn, and if you're running short you can always do fewer rows of the border chart.
And it is the perfect size for me, and the shape keeps it in place.

Pattern:  Capricorn by Janine le Cras (The Unique Sheep Zodiac Shawl Club)
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Verve in Capricorn
Needles:  US 6 (4 mm)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Capricorn - Chart 2 Done

I've finished up Chart 2 and haven't even used up half of my yarn yet.  All I have left is the border.  I'm going to have a lot of yarn left over.  I thought about adding an extra repeat or two from the second chart, but now I think I will just finish the shawl and make something else with the leftovers.

Pattern:  Capricorn by Janine le Cras (The Unique Sheep Zodiac Shawl Club)
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Verve in Capricorn
Needles:  US 6 (4 mm)

Capricorn - Chart 1 Done

When I finished up Koi Rama I immediately started Capricorn, the previous offering from the Unique Sheep Zodiac Shawl Club.  When I complete this shawl I will have done all of the club shipments except for Taurus.  I need to decide on a pattern for that yarn because I don't want to do the club pattern.
The yarn colors are not something that I would necessarily have picked for myself, but I do like the way they are knitting up.  The pattern is by Janine le Cras, one of my favorite designers.  This pattern I am knitting old school, though.  I put it in to Knit Companion, but ended up using one of my magnetic boards and a page protector because there are separate charts for each side of the shawl, and the charts are kind of big, so it really is just easier to work from the magnetic board than to be constantly switching charts in Knit Companion.

For this shawl I decided to try out a new method of switching skeins - join the strands by sewing the end of each one through the other.  The method was posted by Steph from Canada.  According to her once everything is knitted in I won't need to do any other weaving in of the ends.  I can just snip them off after I'm done blocking.  Sounds good to me.
When I got done sewing one end in I pulled on the two pieces until the colors matched, then I trimmed the excess and sewed the other end.  After I was done I did an experimental tug and was amazed out how sturdy the join felt.  The yarn didn't budge.

And the big news of the week?  I am now a moderator in The Unique Sheep Mystery Knit Along Group.  I was blown away when Laura asked me.  I respect and admire Laure, Kelly and Janine immensely so I feel very honored to be a moderator on the group.

Pattern:  Capricorn by Janine le Cras (The Unique Sheep Zodiac Shawl Club)
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Verve in Capricorn
Needles:  US 6 (4 mm)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Koi Rama - Finished!

I finished this shawl up last night, but didn't block it until this morning.  All last week I worked steadily on the final chart.  Even though I cast on for the large size I only used 3/4 of my yarn, and my shawl ended up a medium.  This just goes to show you how much gauge can influence the finished size of a project.  I used the recommended needle sizes, but I did not do a gauge swatch (I rarely do for shawls).  As long as I like the resulting lace, I keep going, and don't worry that much about the gauge.  I guess the designer knits looser than I do.  I also am not a strenuous blocker.  I pull until I feel resistance, but don't stretch my yarn to within an inch of its life.

I used to be a loose knitter, but I adjusted how I hold my yarn and now I almost always get gauge for commercial patterns.  I am a thrower rather than a picker and I pass the working yarn over my index finger, under the middle finger, over the ring finger and loop it once around the pinkie.  I have found, however, that I almost never match the gauge of independent designers.  At this point I don't even bother trying.  I look at the weight of the yarn and the finished item and pick a needle size that I think is appropriate.  When I look at the specifications for the pattern and compare my needle choice with the designers I can get a sense of whether or not they are a tight or loose knitter.  If I have never knit with the yarn before I will do a gauge swatch, just to see how it knits up, but I don't fully believe the results of gauge swatches.  I use them to get me started with a pattern and make the initial adjustments that I need, but they can't tell the entire story, so I check my gauge after I have knit some portion of the garment, and then if I am happy with the fabric I fine tune my adjustments.  If I don't like the fabric, I will ravel, change the needle size and begin again.  Thankfully, lace knitting has taught me to enjoy the process of knitting, and not just the end product, so I can rip out and begin again without anger or frustration.

Pattern:  Koi Rama by Kitman Figueroa
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Tinsel Toes in Pisces
Needles:  US 8 (5.0 mm), US 6 (4.0 mm), US 4 (3.5 mm)