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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In which the word "might" figures prominently.

My family and I are at the beach this week, feeling very relaxed.  Almost as relaxed as the internet connection here.  Almost. 

Also relaxing is my progress on Color Affection.  It is still as much a delight to knit as it was at the beginning.  I'm tempted to start planning my next one in a different batch of colors.  It is all knit, with a choice of three colors, and I'm a total sucker for anything that changes colors.  To see stripes of color building up, especially on this knit, where it...oh my gosh...curves...due to increasing stitches cleverly here and there, well, that just pushes my happy button. 

I'm on the last pattern repeat before I slap a border on it, and the rows are getting very looooooong, but it is wonderful vacation knitting.   I can't wait to see it off the needle.

Another thing that's fun about vacation is deciding what projects/yarns/winders/needles/notions/wool wash/neuroses/phobias/blocking pins/etc to pack.  I am in fear of being without exactly what I need, needles, yarn, or both.  To run out of things to knit while on vacation would provoke a total "Home Alone" reaction from me.

I also get plagued by the "mights".  I might decide I need a different size needle for the casting off of my project.  I might need more yarn for what I'm working on.  If so, then I might need to either wind yarn before I leave, or pack the swift and yarn winder.  I might decide to start a whole new project, seeing as I'm on vacation and all, and since I'm going to splurge, why not cast on something new, too?  I just might, you know.  Don't fence me in.  I might could, just would, mighty mighty scmighty tighty whitey flighty mighty might....

And, dear God, I might run out, not have enough, not the right kind, better pack more, including that acrylic/nylon blend you bought by accident three years ago...never know if I might need it.  

Oy vey.

This is how I ended up packing my two children's clothing into one suitcase, and my husband got the equivalent of a plastic grocery store bag, while I went whole hog and used the grand dame super sized wheeled suitcase that doubles as a rolling casket should anyone expire whilst on vacay.  It could happen.  It might.

I brought a little light reading with me on vacation, too. 

Behold The Principles of Knitting, by June Hemmons Hiatt.  A very, veeeery informative book about any and every aspect of knitting.  It boggled my mind, and I think that, so far, the only words I can throw at this book (professional book review that it is) are things like, "holy crap, I didn't know about that", and "Geez, this sucker is heavy", and "Huh, I didn't know you could do that either".  Seriously, this book has got Food-For-Thought-And-Knitting written all over it.  It is the long awaited, much anticipated second edition.  The first edition went out of print in the 90s, I believe, and copies of it became as valued as Grandma's fine crystal goblets.  I have long wondered what was between the covers of this fabled book, and now I'm very glad it is in my possession.  You might like to explore it, too.  Undoubtedly it will teach you many things you didn't know about our favorite craft. 

As it might rain today (thank you Beryl), we might go to the aquarium, and I might curl up with this book later.  Although the concept of curling up with a textbook of this magnitude is right up there with getting a mohawk for your new job as a banker, I just might try it anyway. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Take Me Out to the Ballllllgame!

Take me out to the crowds....

Buy me some cotton and mer-i-no....

I don't care if you crochet or sew...

'Cause it's root, root, root for the fiberrrrrr....

With knitting, you know you've got game...

Wait a tick...those aren't the words to that song?  You're kidding!  Could have fooled me, considering where I was this past Saturday.  Behold the power of the Stitch N' Pitch!  Where a couple hundred crafty fiberistas (fiberistos?) can commingle, craft, and cheer on the Durham Bulls.

I have to confess, since I'm not from these parts, I always want to say Bull Durham rather than Durham Bulls, all because of Susan Sarandon.  I tried to channel some Annie Savoy, to no avail.

 Yeah, there's only one Susan Sarandon, but I can dream.
It was a wonderful experience, seeing all these...people, just scads of them, knitting, crocheting, hollering at the game.  All united under one roof in their love of using fiber and their hands to create.  Pretty. dang. cool.  If you didn't make it there, please consider it for next year.  

Other than that, this is shaping up to be a rather busy week.  Tomorrow is my birthday and I already got myself a little something fibery to celebrate.  It is coming along very nicely, and I adore it.  Can you guess what it is?

The yarn, the glorious yarn, is Madeline Tosh Merino Light in Stovepipe (bluish grey), Ophelia (blackberry), and Calligraphy (oatmeal-y grey).  The pattern is Color Affection, which is blowing up all over Ravelry and the blogosphere.  I adore it.  Strongly recommend it, actually. 

Next week my family and I will be at the beach, and I am looking forward to it immensely.  I am not looking forward to the packing of two small children for the beach, however, yet I AM looking forward to packing up my knitting for the beach.  Silver lining.  The beach is totally the silver lining too, come to think of it!  See you next week!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Quick Knitterly PS!

Hey yoooooou guyyyyyyys!

(Remember "The Goonies"?)
There is a fantastic outing coming up where we can all hang together, knitting and crocheting in public, making those regular folk nearby elbow each other and remarking upon our general fabulousness.

What is this outing, you ask?  Do tell!

Why, it's the Durham Bulls Stitch N' Pitch!

As you can see here, it's Saturday, May 19th.  The game is at 7pm, and tickets are only $9.  Nine bucks!  Only nine bucks to channel your inner Susan Sarandon and knit while you do it.  What a deal!

See you there, right?  Play ball!

I has a sad.

It's official.  I have a condition.  A heartbreaking, possibly progressive illness.

 I have (Acquired?) Lace Developmental Disordered Syndrome...uh....Condition. 

ALDDSC.  Totally.  I'm not sure if it's progressive or not.  But I am very bummed about the current prognosis. 

Yes, I am using kittens to talk about my feelings. 
 See, I figured that, if I caught my mess up (remember last week?) and took drastic steps to correct the problem, then that would be that.  Problem solved.

Au contraire, mon frรจre. 

I knit carefully.  I used lifelines.  I read the chart.  I even counted out loud to myself.  Yet somehow I contracted this condition (bacterially?) where I am unable to make lace.  Observe:

Here is last week's Vlad.  I had already had a terminal issue with the first attempt, had frogged, and started it over.  Here we have a correctly knitted set up chart and the first two body repeats done.  Correctly.  The first attempt had the correct number of pattern repeats on one half of the shawl, and was lousy with extra stitches on the other half. 

Now see the picture from this morning:

Houston, we have a problem.  The first symptom I can see is that I have three hands here.  GAH!  Oh, wait, hang on.  Forgot I enlisted my husband to help spread the lace out.  Whew....  Ok ok, I don't know why the picture flipped sideways on me, since I did not snap it sideways, nor upload it sideways,  but what we have here is a total mess.  I have not enough pattern repeats on one side, and way more than too many on the other side.  What the $&%@!!!  If I can read a knitting chart (I can), and if I was reading the pattern in the language I am most fluent in (I was) and if I used lifelines (I did) and if I was even counting out loud to myself while knitting the smarmy bugger (yup), then shouldn't I be granted immunity from this kind of crap????

Therefore, without a doubt, I am afflicted with the aforementioned Condition.

Is there a way to treat this condition?  Will I be Lace Intolerant all the rest of my knitting life?!? 



Ok.  Deep breath.  I will summon the urge to rip back the offending muck up to the last "save point"/lifeline and try again.

Oh yes, I will survive.

When I got thoroughly annoyed  set down my lace (shut it) shawl, I picked back up another project and made real, appreciable progress with it.  When one project slaps me upside my head, I find it comforting that at least I can still master a simpler knit.  I have here both the front and back of the Krista Tee

All that I need to do with it is knit up the little sleeves, sew it up, and voila.  Of course, that is if the Knitting Goddess/Ruler of the Yarny Universe doesn't have other plans for me.

Excuse me while I go throw salt over my left shoulder, cross my fingers, toes, and eyes, and spin three times counterclockwise while a rooster crows.  Facing northeast.  Whilst holding a skein of worsted weight in a color pleasing to the Goddess.

I need to go lie down. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How (not) to knit a lace shawl

I am a glutton for punishment, folks.  How many times have you heard me say write that I just can't knit lace?  How many times have I bewailed the fact that I've been bested by the Swallowtail Shawl that everyone and their three-legged blind dog can knit?  But I cannot resist admiring lace for its precision, the way it reminds me of stained glass windows, the intricate and precise math that demands each row has the correct stitch count so you can proceed to the next row and not have doom fall upon your head.

The Swallowtail Shawl.  My personal kryptonite.

An Elizabeth Zimmermann tribute shawl

Batik, up close (obviously). 

Oh.  Haruni.  Oh. 

As an aside, I have been re-reading The Pillars of the Earth, and while it is not a knitting book, I found there were some similarities between knitting lace and building a cathedral.  In the book (spoiler alert), when there was a divergence from the plan the architect had drawn up, do you know what ended up happening?  Cracks began to appear in the walls, and eventually the roof caved in. 

What does this have to do with knitting lace?  Well, when you (read: me) get to the end of a row, and you are short one stitch, and you decide to just "wing it" and increase another stitch to make it all "work out" ok, you have already destroyed your lace.  Your roof has caved in already, my dear.  Especially when a couple of rows after that, you suddenly find you are short yet another stitch, and later on you have three extra stitches, wildly enough.  Why, how could this happen?  You only just futzed it a little bit.  Isn't knitting a rather organic, fluid art?  How can one or two extra little stitches cause such havoc?  You don't have disaster strike when you have a couple extra stitches on your hand knit sweater, for cripes' sake!

That's when my knitterly tendency to duck my head and plow on through and live in knitting denial (a real, pervasive Syndrome, I'm sure) backfires in its most spectacular way.  Imagine having the first half of your lace shawl having the exact right amount of pattern repeats, and once you cross the midline, your flying buttresses holding up the roof suddenly are multiplying like rabbits...being rabbits.  When you get to the point where there's no denying it any further.  Your steeple is leaning to the left like a drunk on Saturday night.  Oy vey.  There's no fixing it as you go at this point.  This calls for a full out swan dive in to the frog pond.


This is the most dignified frog I've ever seen.  He probably believes in KDS (Knitterly Denial Syndrome). 

I have been struggling in vain against the call of the lace shawl lately.  Specifically, Vlad

After some hemming and hawing, I got on the horse, cast on my stitches, and started up.  Things were going swell until my little issue with stitches popped up, somewhere in the second chart.  I winged it, like I mentioned earlier.  Added a stitch here, misunderstood that a double yarn over was meant to be purled into twice on the wrong side, rather than having the second yarn over dropped to make a larger hole.  I ended up with a cathedral that had the steeple tilting madly to the left like some sort of weird surreal/Cubist painting.  Like any good knitter, I turned to Facebook for help on whether or not to frog.  My friend nailed me right off the bat.  "Could you live with a lace shawl tilting that much?" she asked.  Knowing how much I revere and admire the precision of lace, I knew what I had to do. 


The thing that kills me about lace is that it's so hard to pull off the needles, rip back, and get back on the needles again, knowing where you are and how many stitches you ought to have at that point.  So there is a little invention called lifelines.  A lifeline is a length of yarn you leave at certain points in your shawl knitting that stay in that row as you continue knitting onward.  I've heard you can just leave a set of circular needles as a lifeline, but I don't have multiple pairs of the same size needle, but it's a neat idea.  It is a guaranteed save point in your knitting, like a back up drive for your shawl.  If it crashes, you can go back to your last "save point", reload your knitting needles in place of the yarn length, and continue on, without losing thousands of carefully crafted, perfect stitches.  This time I may have done a little overkill on the lifelines, but better safe than sorry.

My husband is a good man with helpful hands. 
I'm keeping all my lifelines in place, from the transition from the setup chart to the first pattern repeat, and for each successive pattern repeat.  If I remove the old ones, I can't be sure my rusty brain will remember at what part of the pattern I put in the last lifeline, hence rip.   On another note, the yarn here is Ella Rae Lace Merino and the colors present in this particular colorway (which I can't recall what it is, since the label is buried in the middle of my yarn ball right now) really remind me of a spectacular twilight/sunset.

My friend is also attempting to knit some lace.  When I talked to her earlier today, right off the bat she said she was doing something stupid.  "Oh really?" I asked.  "Yeah," she replied calmly.  "I'm trying to knit lace and watch "Game of Thrones" at the same time."  What was stupid about that?  She was having trouble knitting what she claimed was the simplest lace ever:  My So Called Life Lacey Scarf.  "All I want," she continued, "is lace to watch TV by."

That, and world peace. 


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