Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Blob Returns

Or the magic of blocking.
The blob:

The blob approaches soapy water:

The blob submerges:

The blob oozes out to dry:

(By the way, you probably don't want to know how I got that shot of the shawl on the bed. Let's just say it probably wasn't such a good idea for a klutz such as myself.)

The specs:
Pattern: Hexagon Spider's Web Shawl from the new Victorian Lace Today
Needles: Starts on size 7s and progresses up to size 10s
Yarn: Alpaca Silk from Webs in Eggplant, just over 1 cone (see a more accurate color, click here)
Stitches: Counting the crochet border, over 100,000!
Size: 72 inches across (That is a yard stick in the center there.)
Start date: Thursday, November 9
End date: Saturday, November 25 (That's a mere 17 days.) And yes, I neglected a lot else to accomplish this and I don't think I'll be doing any marathon knitting again any time soon. In fact, I think I'm not going to be knitting at all for a few days. I still have a dress to finish before next Saturday (the front is done; this afternoon is for the back). My hands are really tired and I realize I am insane. It is beautiful though and I am so glad I'll be able to wear it to the party.

I found no errors in the pattern though there was one time I was cursing it heavily because I thought there was. Turns out it was my error; I had an extra yarn over per section for a row and it threw my count off. Easily fixed. The crochet bind-off border (chain 8, knit into shawl stitch, chain 4, knit into shawl stitch, repeat) easily was the most annoying part because I thought I was so close to being done. I stayed up last night until nearly midnight trying to finish and only succeeded in binding off two sections. I finally finished this morning.

And I hope to get back to my regularly scheduled blogging. I hope to catch up on my commenting in the next week or so.


Monday, November 20, 2006

My Hands Haven't Fallen off Yet

I've been neglecting my blog, reading other blogs (so if you haven't had a comment from me lately, I'm trying to catch up!) and just about everything else the last few days. First of all, Saturday was my birthday and I treated myself to another hairstyle. You really don't know how big a deal it is for me to go twice within six months to have my hair done. I know normal people go every so often, but I've never considered myself normal. I mean, I hate spending one hour to three hours depending on just a style or also highlights (which I had done this weekend). It's three hours of sitting, but non-knitting time. I know some people love being pampered. I'm not one of them.

My birthday itself was good. I am now thirty-two. Doesn't bother me. I am truly in better shape now than I was at twenty-two. I'm happy with myself and my life. As for presents, I hate surprises. I mean I love surprises when they are out of the blue, but I truly hate knowing that I have a surprise coming and not having it in hand. And I usually manage to wheedle presents out of my DH before my birthday, so he's learned to get me several small things. Before my birthday, I managed to get Persuasion and a nice tea set from On my birthday, I got Mansfield Park (TWO Jane Austen movies - he really loves me:) and a headset for my phone so I don't have to hold it on my shoulder. And he surprised me on Friday by bringing home a lovely chocolate cake, dark chocolate. Doesn't it look good?

It is very good. I forgot to get a picture before trying it out. I also got a little mad money for yarn and yarn-related equipment from other family :)

The second reason I'm neglecting the blog you already know. The insane knitting and sewing. The lining is cut for the dress and I pinned it together to see if I would have fit problems. Yes, I have fit problems. It would be a little tight in around the chest and back, so I think if I cut just a little more on the sides in that area, it will be fine. So there is a silver lining (get it, the lining is silver; bad, I know). I hope to have the dress cut out today and start the sewing tomorrow. The shawl is coming along, around 60% of the way done. I guess if worse comes to worse, I could skip the last repeat; the shawl is going to be huge anyway. But if I spend that much time on it, I really want to do it right. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

WIP Wednesday – The Insanity Continues

All right, so the pattern is all cut out and the material is bought and about to be cut:

and I figured out that in about a week (I only got the yarn last Wednesday evening) I have a bit over 30% of the shawl completed. (And I was a huge geek about it. I actually went into Excel and did a lot of calculating; I'm pretty sure my equations were correct.) So as long as my fingers don't fall off and my sewing machine doesn't break (I will already have to wind the bobbins by hand because the bobbin winder is not working so keep your fingers crossed on that one for me), I might actually do this. Yesterday, I ordered longer cables for my Knit Picks needles (along with a few of the smaller sized needles and a few more pouches for my case). Hopefully, they'll get here before the shawl outgrows the 32" cable. Here's another picture of the blob, coming along quite nicely:

You might notice a yellow line close to the needles. Now, ordinarily I don't use lifelines any more, but something told me to this time just to be on the safe side. The pattern changes pretty abruptly at that point, plus I had to actually change the needle size (I just changed to the larger needle size and longer cable size at the same time), so I did it just this once as a safety net. And I think the color is even more accurate than in the last post. There was a bluish cast in the last picture I couldn't quite get rid of, I guess because of the shine. It does have silk in it after all. (And yes, this is the Hexagon Spider's Web Shawl from Victorian Lace Today. I am totally in love with the book!)

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Blob

Apparently, circular shawls look even more like blobs than regular shawls. I can't even begin to show you how pretty this will be. I'm going up to a longer cord soon, so maybe I can get a better shot of it.

But don't you think this deep eggplant, which is surprisingly accurate considering that it is cloudy, alpaca silk shawl will just look gorgeous with this dress in a dark silver-grey for a company holiday party? I've got less than three weeks to make the dress and the shawl and to find shoes. I realize that I am completely insane.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

WIP Wednesday, a day late

I was waiting until I got something yesterday via the big brown truck to post, but it didn't come until late and then Blogger wasn't cooperating. I'll show you what the truck brought later. First, here is my entrelac sock in some of that lovely Lisa Souza yarn. I'm using the pattern from Knitter's Summer 2004 issue. (Thank you very much, Debi, for the advice on it!)

Now, for what the truck brought me. And, yeah, I know, I'm supposed to be on a yarn moratorium. But when I went stash diving, I realized that most of my laceweight stash is actually in small increments, meaning enough for a lacy scarf or small shawl. There is no way I had 1800 yards of anything for the large hexagon spider's web shawl on pages 42-47 of Victorian Lace Today. Not even a chance. So I ordered yarn.

This is going to be the Spider's Web Shawl from the book. (There is also a bright purple cone that is not shown because I couldn't get an accurate color, but it's pretty much the same color as my Wool Peddlar. I had to order the third cone to get the 20% discount after all.)

I think I've finally put my finger on some of what is bothering me about the book. Don't get me wrong, I love the book. There are six different pictures of the shawl (it can be a small half hex, a half-hex and a full hexagon. Six pictures showing the shawl arranged in several different dramatic ways, all of which I love (especially the way on page 47), but I would love to see a picture of the full hexagon laid out so I can see the whole thing at once. It's also fairly hard to make a copy of the charts because it is a rather large book. But, having complained, I feel obligated to point out that there are LOTS of beautiful designs in the book and it is totally worth having.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Lacevember Meme

Did everyone vote today? I did and my kids went with me.

Here's the meme for Lacevember.

The knitting questions, or the usual suspects

How long have you been knitting? I've known how to knit since I was about 10, but I've only been really knitting for about 2 years.

How did you learn to knit? My aunt taught me on chopsticks, but I've learned a lot from books.

Favorite thing about knitting? The variety of patterns and the portability; being able to do something with my hands

How long have you been knitting lace? About 2 years

Favorite thing about knitting lace. The complexity of it. It really works the brain sometimes. And the beauty.

The yarn questions, or flash your stash

Favorite lace yarn? It changes. My current favorite is the Valley Alpaca Silk from Webs. It really is a nice yarn and you can't beat the price.

variegated or solids for shawls? Depends on the pattern. I love both.

Favorite lace color? It changes. Currently, I think my favorite is purple. I'm about to start two shawls – one the Hidcote in a lavender purple and a shawl from the new Victorian Lace book in a deep eggplant purple. I had just finished the Wool Peddlar in a bright purple.

Technique, or show us your skillz

Circs or straights? Circulars – easier on the wrists for me and can hold a lot of stitches.

Favorite lace knitting trick? The blocking. Definite magic there.

Lifelines? If so with what? I actually haven't used lifelines in a while. I used to use them religiously, but I've been brave lately (or just stupid).

Fancy blocking wires, or just sewing pins stuck in your carpet? I am a fancy blocking wires convert. I used to do the sewing pins in the carpet, but wires are so much quicker and easier!

Pattern, or can you follow directions

shawls or lacey items? Both

triangle, rectangle, or circular shawls? All of the above. I'm about to do my first circular

Charts or printed instructions? I can do either, but I'm a very visual person, so charts are preferred. I'll sometimes chart it out if the chart isn't given.

Favorite lace you've knit? So far, the Icarus

Favorite lace you want to knit? Hidcote and the hexagon version of the Spider's Web Shawl in the new Victorian Lace book.

Just Fun, yup that's right, just for fun

Favorite jelly belly flavor? Caramel Apple or Dr. Pepper

Tell me everything you know about Eric the Red..... He was a viking

Coke, classic or with lime? Coke classic, but I don't do sodas a whole lot anymore. Prefer hot tea.

Holiday carols, sing along, or wish they would be banned from all public airwaves? Banned except for one week prior to Christmas, then I would sing along and not be sick of them by the time Christmas actually rolls around.

What is the definition of irony? This post is the perfect definition of irony.

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop? Never tried to find out

Why is my cat always puking in front of my son's bedroom door? Don't think I can answer that one

What is your superhero power? Being a mom

If the laundry is 9 foot by 11 foot (just dreaming, that's a big laundry room), and the walls are 8 feet tall, and you are going to tile the entire room in tiles that are 3 inches by 5 inches, what color should those tiles be? Rose pink

What's for dinner tonight? Chili

What is clogging my children's bathtub drain? Don't know, don't want to know

Monday, November 06, 2006


I haven't told you about what my in-laws brought to me last weekend. They brought me Romney fleece. A friend of theirs raises sheep and they picked out one of the fleeces for me. It's my first fleece so I can't give a really good description, but it's fairly soft which from my reading, Romney is supposed to be a bit coarser. I think it's from a younger sheep. It had already been washed for me, so I'm going straight to carding although I'll need to wash it a little more once it’s yarn. There is a little vegetable matter, but most of it is falling out in the carding process. And it's spinning up very nicely, fairly thin. I've read Romney is a good sock yarn. I could make a lot of socks.

As for my decision about the Hex Coat. I think I'm going to risk it because I realized something. I started the coat back in June and in the same month I had a health issue which made me rethink the way I eat and exercise. Nothing serious, my blood sugar was just a little elevated, so I started eating better and actually doing planned cardio two or three times a week along with weight training. I got my blood sugar down and I've lost a bit of my "baby" weight as a bonus. I've done the math of the tighter gauge and in theory it should fit my new size perfectly. Yes, I am aware that this is only theory and that I am tempting fate and might well have to reknit the whole darn thing. I am okay with that risk. I think. (Feel free to remind of this post if the coat doesn't fit.)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Snowman Vest

The first snowman vest is completely finished.

A close-up of the snowmen.

Pattern: Snowmen and Skates Vest from Knit Picks
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette
Needles: Size 3
Buttons: My own that made in this post
Comments: I wish my tension had been a bit better, but this was my first big Fair Isle project. My tension has been better for the second vest so far.

Now, my other major project at the moment is the Hex Coat, but I'm having issues with the Hex Coat. I actually did a swatch and got perfect gauge. I was getting perfect gauge at the beginning of the project. So, why am I not getting perfect gauge now!? I'm not knitting at a tighter tension although when I measured last night I now have 19 stitches per 4 inches instead of the 17 I'm supposed to be getting. I am very frustrated and I don't know whether I should keep with it and try to block the pieces out a little before sewing them together (they are 100% wool) or if I should start all over. This is why I make so many shawls. The gauge is much more flexible and forgiving.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Knitted Items Meme and Victorian Lace.

Chris started a meme telling knitted which items you use the most. Besides my socks which I wear every day in the winter now that I have enough, I'd have to say these two items are the most used.

Lizzie and Shaped Triangle. You can see much better pictures by clicking on the names along with specs. (I know, yesterday you didn't get any pictures and today you get nothing but crappy pictures. I'll try to do better next week.) I love the Shaped Triangle because it's not delicate. It might look delicate in the pictures, but it's a thicker yarn and it is dark, so I don't have to worry about getting it dirty. Lizzie is just warm. She still doesn't have buttons or a belt, but she is warm and I just love her.

And another crappy picture that just doesn't do this book justice.

This is a must for any serious lace knitter's library and there are already half a dozen more projects for my ever-growing list of things to knit. My only complaint with the book is that there are a couple of shawls where there are several pictures, none of which show me the shawl like I would really like to see it. I don't know exactly how to explain it, but maybe you'll understand if you see the book. It is overall outstanding and I do adore it already. Gorgeous pictures with gorgeous scenery and lots of lovely lace. Now to decide which one to do first. I think I have my desire to make lace again.

Update: I got my book from Amazon. I ordered it over the weekend. So although their page for the book is still showing "Not Yet Released", they did have them at least when they shipped mine a couple of days ago. They just haven't updated the page.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

WIP Wednesday

I got nothing. Absolutely nothing to show. Hex coat, though progress has been made, still looks pretty much like last week. Snowman vest #1 still isn't finished; embroidering all those little faces is taking a bit of time. Snowman vest #2 looks pretty much like Snowman vest # 1, only with better tension. And the sock I started this morning doesn't even have a complete round yet. So, nothin' knitting today.

Thanks for all the early birthday wishes. My husband apparently didn't want to be outdone by me buying myself presents and he let me open (well, it wasn't wrapped technically) one early. (My birthday is still over two weeks away.) It was the movie Persuasion. Now, I know he loves me to give me that one. Getting him to watch it with me is a different story altogether.

Besides knitting I've also done a bit of reading lately and have come across a couple of good ones and taking my cue from Chris, I thought I'd mention them and tell you a little about them. The first is called Fairest by Gail Carson Levine (the author of Ella Enchanted). It has many elements of Snow White including a magic mirror and a girl named Aza who has white skin, red lips and black hair. She, however, is quite ugly and was abandoned by her birth parents in an inn where the innkeepers took her in and raised her as their own with their birth children. She does have a beautiful singing voice (she lives in a land where singing is highly valued) and has learned to "illuse" or make her voice sound like it is coming from elsewhere and Queen Ivi decides to make use of it to her own ends. I loved how Levine made the Cinderella story her own in Ella Enchanted and I very much enjoyed this book as well. It is a children's book, so a pretty quick read.

The other novels I've been enjoying are actually part of the series The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone. The first book is The Briar King. The Briar King takes place in a setting reminiscent of Medieval Europe where creatures from children's tales and legends begin to awaken, things that shouldn't exist. Dark powers and prophesies force Anne Dare, a young headstrong princess in love, to flee for her life for reasons she doesn't know or understand, and she doesn't know whom she can trust. Though there are many characters, each has his own unique personality and has a role in the thing happening; their stories interweave with Anne's. I've read two of the books and I'm about to begin the third. I'm very much looking forward to the last book in the series sometime next year.

I'm always open to suggestions for good books. I love historical fiction and fantasy. I like a little science fiction and sometimes mysteries. I think I'm overloaded on romances right now, but if you have a really good one to share...