Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Leaving on a Jet Plane

But before I go, I updated the gallery with some RFOs and my shawl-in-progress. I am taking that and DH's sock on the trip. I decided against the floral gathering sac, much as I love it, because I didn't want to deal with charts and have to take lots of yarn with me (I might be bringing some back, after all).

Will be back 9/25.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Official List of Current WIPs

This is it, a list of current projects that I will likely finish (and not rip out to do something else with the yarn).

1. A Very Harlot Poncho, in Rowan Kid Classic (color Peat).

2. Garter Stitch Lace Shawl from Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls (Interweave Press) in Rowan 4 Ply Soft (a gray blue color).

3. DH's black socks, in Cascade Fixation.

4. Socks for me, in Shepherd Sock.

5. Floral Gathering Sac.

Recently finished: 24x24 inch Snuggle for the Peninsula SPCA.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Shopping List for Italy

Our honeymoon is in two weeks. In addition to great meals, breathtaking museums, awe-inspiring churches, constant romance, and the enjoyment of Italy's natural beauty, I am planning some knitting-related shopping.

1. Better prices than in US on any Italian-made yarns?

2. Yarns that never make it to the US.

3. Subset of item 2 - if we happen upon a farm with fiber-bearing animals in residence, and yarn is for sale.... hoo boy.

4. Holtz and Stein needles. These hardly ever make it to the US. I am hoping they are more prevalent in Italy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Covet List

Here is my list of most-wanted yarns, kits, projects and other goodies. Some items more reasonable than others.

1. Ozark handspun. Lots of it, pretty much any colorway. It would be one spendy sweater.

2. Lorna's Laces: Helen's Lace, Heaven, Lion & Lamb, Shepherd Sock

3. Noni "Midnight Garden" Handbag kit

4. Lacey Lamb - a wide selection for many shawls

5. Carstarphen Sea Island Cotton - more shawls

6. Pretty much every shawl kit from Fiddlesticks Knitting

7. A Dale of Norway, undecided which pattern

8. Holtz & Stein ebony circular needles. I am going to keep my eyes peeled in Italy. I might luck out.

9. Lexie Barnes knitting bag

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Grace of Lace

Well, sort of. It generally went really well on Friday and Saturday. I knocked out over 100 rows of the shawl, and I am extremely happy with it. I dropped two stitches, and discovered exactly how difficult it is to rescue them when you're working lace. The first - eh, I probably should have ripped back and re-worked that row. But it doesn't look awful, and I think any unevenness should be resolved in blocking. By the time I dropped the second one, I was able to fix it pretty easily, and it looked much better than the first one.

I almost never drop stitches, but I am trying not to freak out over it. It happens to us all.

My more long-term concern is with my needles. I have used Clover bamboo from day one (except for my occasional dalliance with my Addi Turbos), and I really like them for most projects. But I am thinking that the tips are too blunt for lacework. It took some trial and error for me to be able to do the K2tog comfortably, because I had to keep digging the tip in to the stitch. I finally got it to work by changing my angle on the needles, and it isn't damaging the yarn. But it would be easier with sharper tips.

I recently fell in love with the Crystal Palace bamboo, and will probably acquire a major collection of them. Their tips are sharper, the cords more flexible on the circulars.... I am just not sure whether I should run out for a pair of size 6s to finish this shawl, or keep to the Clovers until the end.

Even with the little issues, I found myself enjoying the knitting at a deeper level than usual. I really got in to the feel of the wool (Rowan 4 Ply Soft, which is delicious), the rhythm of the pattern (fun, easy to memorize, pretty quick to work, even as the rows got longer), and the sense of accomplishment as the shawl started looking more and more like, well, a shawl.

The color is a soft blue-grey, and I think it will go with nearly everything from jeans to a black dress.

I did change the pattern a bit - I upped the needles to a size 6 (from the recommended 5s), and added two lace rows to the repeat, for a more open look. I am also going to add a smallish border.

In other news, I got in a few rows of the Snuggle, but only a few; I found that the chunky yarn and consequently larger needles made my hands hurt a bit. I also worked a few rows of the Floral Gathering Sac. We're on British Airways, so it is looking like our flights will be knittingless. I don't feel like I should "save" the work on this for the honeymoon, but I might bring a couple of smaller projects for our train travel in Italy. DH isn't looking forward to being bookless, either.

All in all, it was a quiet, nearly worry-free weekend, thanks to the knitting. Even so, when DH got home, I attacked him with a fierce hug, while the dog danced joyfully around us, bending herself in a "U" shape, head and butt being nearly parallel (which we refer to as Pepper being "beside herself").

Friday, August 11, 2006

Conserving My Energy

I haven't worked on DH's sock in a few days. I think it might be because I am planning to knit more or less nonstop for approximately 24 hours, beginning this evening, and I want to be completely fresh for the marathon.

It's just a theory.

DH's grandmother died, you see. With all of the travel issues, and our need to keep things calm on the homefront before our honeymoon next month, we decided that just DH would fly out for the memorial, and I'd stay home with the dog, keep an eye on things and all of that. He is coming back tomorrow night.

I have to confess, I don't do well emotionally when he is away. I probably do less well when I am away, and he is home. When I am at home, I just worry. When I am away, I worry and also become peevish. Not good. In either case knitting is, if not the cure, at least a very good homeopathic type remedy.

I ended up frogging the Snowdrop Shawl. I don't think the yarn was quite right for it (needs something more gossamer), and I probably wasn't fully ready to do a relatively detailed lace pattern and increases at the same time. Instead, I am using the same yarn for the Garter Lace Shawl from Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls, by Martha Waterman (Interweave Press).

It will be pretty and satisfying to make, and hopefully give me a good foundation from which to move on to more complicated lace shawls. It is triangular, so I can gain experience doing increases with a simpler lace pattern.

The book is pretty good; I picked it up at the library last weekend. Waterman gives a lot of interesting detail on the history of making shawls, and includes useful tips, like how many stitches you should have on the needles if you're going to knit in the round on circulars. First time I had ever seen a list like that, and it is a great thing to have. She also tells you about the different ways shawls can be constructed, in a way that I found very clear, and easy to picture (I am very visual; I would have a hard time knitting something and being unable to see how it would evolve into the finish product).

I wasn't super thrilled with the shawl patterns, though. She doesn't chart most of them and gives the yarn requirements in ounces, rather than meters or yards. I suppose that doesn't matter too much, as the patterns generally did not appeal to me, the two exceptions being the Garter Lace that I am working on, and The Children of Lir. Lir is really beautiful and intricate looking (even though it uses only one lace stitch pattern, and a seed stitch border).

Whatever its shortcomings (which truly aren't that many or serious), the book is worth picking up, even buying, for the stitch library. It doesn't include every lace stitch ever invented, but they are all good ones (certainly enough to inspire you and get you started on just about any shawl you would want to make). Unlike the shawl patterns, the stitches include both written instructions and charts.

I am concerned about being able to knit on the honeymoon. Obviously, I am concerned about terrorist threats as well, but that seems more remote to me than being told to drop my knitting in the bin at the security checkpoint, and never seeing it again. If I don't knit.... I don't know what else I will do for 10+ hours (because I never sleep on planes).

Initially, I had wanted to fly through Heathrow and Gatwick, thinking that changing planes and going through customs would be easier in an English-speaking country. Now I am rather wishing we were going through Frankfurt instead.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Face of My Enemy

I have seriously slacked on the name change front. Wanting to be Mrs. Dickinson is easy. Making it officially so is a little more difficult, especially for the patience-challenged. I went up to the Social Security Administration office in Chinatown today, sans appointment, on the theory that… what? There wouldn’t be a line? Even I am not that delusional. I don’t know what my theory was. In fact, I don’t think I had one.

I didn’t bring my knitting and it hardly mattered. No amount or quality of knitting could have made that wait anything less than harrowing, long, tedious, awful, insane, epic and, last but not least, ridiculous (my favorite wait-related adjective). I could have been knitting the most complicated Aran sweater in the most gorgeous cashmere ever created, and I would have felt every second of the hideous wait. Even the security guard said, “it will be very long,” in the wise way of a man who knows of what he speaks.

Apparently, while appointments are theoretically available, it would require calling the SSA’s toll-free number. The wait on hold is the telephonic equivalent of the wait in one of the SSA’s offices. He advised me to come back later in the week, closer to closing time. If it is still intolerable, I will mail in my stuff and hope to high heaven that my original documents come back to me.

Assuming I don't run for the hills, I will probably need more than DH’s socks to keep me busy. I started the Snowdrop Shawl and it is going pretty well, I have to say. I think the Rowan 4 Ply Soft is going to work. It probably will be less gossamer than the original version, but still a nice shawl when complete.

I finally passed the halfway point on the Snuggle. We rented a couple of movies, and a garter stitch Snuggle is exactly the kind of thing you can do with your eyes on the small screen. I paid so much attention to the movie (Match Point) that I was able to predict quite a few plot points before they were revealed. And before I knew it, I was on the decrease side of my Snuggle.

As for the other movie, if I were a famous film critic/knitter, my review of V for Vendetta would consist of one sentence: “this movie is a perfect choice if you are working on a project that requires your fullest attention, such as The Yarn Harlot’s ‘Snowdrop Shawl.’”

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Boat I Missed

Dude, I could have knit myself a wedding dress, assuming I’d started it before I even met my husband. Okay, maybe it wouldn’t have taken that long. But it would have taken a seriously long, long time. It sure is pretty, though. And I suppose if I start now, it would be ready in time for a renewal of vows ceremony.

A couple of boats I am planning to catch:

1. A wedding shawl for a dear friend. Maybe Eunny’s Print O’ the Wave?

2. Baby things for another friend, to be started the moment she announces those three blessed words (“we’re having a baby,” for anyone going “huh?” right now).

Some more lacy, gorgeous things on the horizon:

1. KnitPicks’ Adamas Shawl in Shadow (color is Vineyard).

2. Knitty’s Branching Out Scarf in Artfibers’ Tsuki (in a gorgeous, deep, mossy green).

In other news:

The sideways scarf is looking good, although I probably won’t use all of that mohair. I am not sure what else I might do with it. Maybe a headband, kinda like The Dream Swatch Headwrap.

I learned a very valuable lesson this morning. Knitting while half-asleep is a bad idea. I stayed up later than usual last night, was too lazy to make coffee this morning, and thus headed off to the city totally uncaffeinated. I don’t like sleeping on the train, so I pulled out my sock. It was easily the slowest knitting I have ever done, and I dropped a stitch, which usually only happens when I am sleepy. Note to self: if you want to knit in the mornings, set up your coffee the night before.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

All the News That's Fit to Knit

Let’s start with the most recent. I believe I can say that I successfully overcame the second sock syndrome, as my second sock is nearly done! I am very much looking forward to starting the socks for my husband after these are finished. His are ribbed, black cotton, with an XOXO cable going down the front, until the toe shaping. They are gonna be fab. They are more or less Cat Bordhi’s “Simple Sock in Three Sizes,” but I am doing the cable in place of the ribbing for just that bit in the front.

Although this project is mostly for the long honeymoon flights and layovers, I did at least want to get a good start on Pam Allen’s Floral Gathering Sac before we left. I had started it, frogged it, and restarted, and now I think we’re in good shape. I did the first row of the color pattern last night and felt like a champion. Picture it: our couch, husband watching the A's game, and me: knitting in my lap, arms thrust in the air, hands splayed out, eyes squeezed shut, and the decisive utterance: "I rock!"

I am sure I will work a few more before the trip, but the main thing is, we’re working the sides back and forth (the bottom is done in the round), the pattern is established, and the bobbins are all set up. Believe it or not, this is my first intarsia project. Probably a little ambitious, but I have wanted to make this bag for so long, and I couldn’t really get behind any entry-level type intarsia projects I found. I think there’s value in cutting my teeth on something I truly love, and will use forever.

My first Snuggle is at about the halfway point. It is a little boring, but should go quickly when I am in the mood for something easy. I also have a few other things happening – a raglan sweater that I work a few rows at a time. I am (gasp) actually thinking of frogging in favor of doing something else with the yarn, even though I do like the style. I might not be much of a sweater person. We’ll see.

And now we come to the problem of the mohair. I adore mohair. Especially this particular Colinette Mohair in Mushroom. It is a random ball I acquired somehow, and never used. I really don’t know what to do with it at this point. I keep starting various scarves with it and frogging, tinking, frogging, tinking. This isn’t going to work much longer, either for my sanity, or for this lovely yarn. My latest plan is to use it with some leftover cashmere (oohhhhh, yuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmm) and Sanskrit in a sideways scarf. I will probably give that a whirl tonight, with fingers metaphorically crossed.

Last but not least, I am beginning to understand how unflattering are public displays of impatience (hereinafter "PDI"). Sadly, I often find myself rushing to the train, or waiting, eyes fully a-roll, for MUNI. Sighing, tapping my feet, even pacing, while some unimaginable force delays my return to the place I long for above all others: home. In the future, I might try to restrain myself from PDI. Why, you ask, when I look so cynically cute tapping my feet and rolling my eyes? Because I have seen others of late engaging in PDI, and it was not pretty. In a flash, it was as if I was looking in a mirror, and saying to myself, "gawd, what is her problem?" I'll set a realistic goal, with a caveat (law school had to be good for something): no more PDI during the commute unless it is something so clearly reeking of incompetence on the part of public transportation authorities that everyone is engaging in PDI.

I will apprise on further developments.