Monday, October 12, 2009

Edging Forever

Edging mania. Edging everywhere. I'm in edging hell (or heaven, depending on how you think about it), and it's not going to end any time soon.

This is the edging and start of the border for the Shetland Lace Shawl by Hazel Carter. The pattern is in A Gathering of Lace. My lace knitting pals and I decided to knit this pattern as a group project, and I've mustered quite a bit of enthusiasm for myself to keep this one moving.

So far, I'm pleased with my yarn choice: Yarn Place's Heaven, in the color Glorious Blue -- a tencel and merino blend in deep turquoise that is truly glorious. This cobweb yarn has a bit of shine, good stitch definition, and will make a feather-light Shetland shawl.

Since the shawl will be knit in the traditional Shetland style favored by Hazel Carter, I'll be finishing this border, then knitting the center, then knitting three more edging+border combos to graft onto the center square. Like I said, edging forever.

Since I've been stalled on The Princess Shawl edging, I've been knitting other diversions, like the Figure 8 Fantasy Shawl, by Kristin Omdahl, which has now turned into something a little different.

I've knitted four figure eights, and am crocheting them together, with the desire to make a more rectangular stole. Knitting those figure eights is a bit addictive, I must say. I probably could have knit four more.

The yarn is Malabrigo SuperSock in the color Stonechat -- a very interesting mix of red, burgundy and a sandy stone color.

This crochet edging is my own, and I'm winging it to get to that elusive rectangular shape. I'm a bit fascinated by freeform crochet, so depending on the outcome of this experiment, I may do more.

The sad truth about Spring Blossoms: it's still unfinished. This one has been lingering in my knitting basket for many moons, unfinished because ... I underestimated the yarn needed to complete the wide edging.

It's truly lovely, and I will finish it, but I need to decide how to complete the last corner. It will either be with a flashy motif in a different yarn, or maybe a similar yarn. I refuse to rip out all of that gorgeous eding. I found a slighter duller color that I may be able to finesse into something, but it remains an idea at the moment.

There you have it. Four projects with entirely too much edging for one person to complete swiftly. I shall persist.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

One more time ... San Mateo County Fair 2009

It's been a while. Let's get straight to the knitting.

I entered my PaƱo de Portada (lace cover cloth) from the book Muestras y Motivos, Tricot Hogar No. 1, in the San Mateo County Fair this year.

This pattern is in Spanish, so my friend Laritza provided help with the translation. The "big doily" as my husband likes to call it, was knit from a no-name laceweight yarn, 70% merino and 30% silk, that was given to me by my friend Bill. I knit it fast -- it took about six weeks -- with the express intent of entering it in the Fair.

The pattern is not so much complex as it is tedious in some places. It was knit on size 0 needles. Some of the repetition tripped me up on occasion. You know, when you knit the same repeat 10 or 20 times, you start to lose track of where you are.

If I were to do this again, I'd switch to larger needles around Row 50 and again at Row 87, to get a better, more open effect after blocking. Importantly, there is an error in the pattern. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else. The pattern indicates the first double decrease on Rows 199 and 205 are knit using the last stitch of the previous row and the first two stitches of the current row. The row numbers are wrong. They should be: Rows 183 and 189.

When all is said and done, even with my complaints about the pattern, I'm happy with the final piece. And I won Best of Show in the Textiles Division!

The exhibits area was much, MUCH better than last year. In 2008, the space was cramped, and mainly taken by the quilters who have a great deal of support at the Fair each year. The knitting, crocheting and other needlework was all crammed together. The lighting in the big tent was dim, and it was difficult to see everything.

This year, the Home Arts took over one side of the Expo Hall. Quilts were hung on bars from the high ceiling. More glass display cases were added. The lighting was perfect. Home Arts shared the hall with Fine Arts on the opposite side.

A super, moving chandelier hung over some of the paintings that caused us to stare up at it for about five minutes.
It was made of cardboard tubes covered in silver reflective paper and string, with a mechanism that made the tubes rise and fall in a sort of merry-go-round pattern. They even stationed a bench right under it, just for the gawkers to sit and marvel at it. Straight down the middle of the hall was the Green Expo, showcasing vendors mostly selling home improvement items, but also selling the usual Fair tchotchkes and food, including aloe vera miracle cream, fudge, cheap jewelry, etc.

I was surprised and excited to see my "big doily" in its own display case. This year I the Fair. Next year, maybe the State Fair in Sacramento?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Yes, I do knit

Okay, so I haven't posted any knitting in a while. I swear I have been knitting daily. Really. I'm not kidding you.

Posting here -- well, that's another thing. I've got a few baby gifts in the works that I can't show just yet because they are gifts.

Then there's the hanky I posted last week. That's for a wedding coming up, but it's not really a surprise.

Then there's the sweater I made for Teva Durham's next book. That's a secret project I cannot share; but it's lacy. That's all I can tell you!

However, I have no excuse for not posting about this shawl sooner. My knitting pal Bill was going to visit his daughter. He's a great costumer and knows quite a bit about knitting, but he didn't think he would be able to complete this shawl in time to bring it as a gift for her birthday.

At first I was a little hesitant about the woolly yarn, but Bill loved the color and thought it would be perfect for his daughter. Also, he thought she would appreciate a warmer shawl.

He was right. It just goes to show, a good design is a good design. The Paisley Long Shawl looks great in laceweight linen or in heavier wool. It's a winner, either way, in my book.
It took me a little over a month complete it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

More Hanky Panky

I finished this hanky for my friend's daughter who is getting married in a few weeks. The edging is in natural silk to match the silk shawl she will wear.

The hanky blank is hemstitched: it has holes stitched all around the hem, making it easy to add edging.

The pattern is from an old crochet book. It was designed as a fancy doily edging, but my friend wanted something dramatic, scalloped and elegant, and this fit the criteria.

I had to do a little calculating to make the edging fit this smaller square piece.

I used a size 6 steel crochet needle and the fine Henry's Attic undyed two-ply silk. The silk is fine enough to use with this hanky. However, even finer cotton cordonnet (size 30 or finer) would be a more traditional medium.

For blocking, I washed the hanky in cool water with a drop of soap and then rinsed. I anchored each hanky corner in place on my blocking board with pins and pinned out every single little picot point.

After letting it dry completely overnight, I unpinned it, gave it a light spray starch and steam ironed it gently. I also steamed in the quarter folds to make it lay nicely.

Before storing, it's a good idea to repeat the blocking process but omit the starch, as it would cause yellowing with age.

I was certainly channeling my great grandmother while I was making this!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Extreme Sheep

If you love sheep, dogs, fast-motion video, LED's, and/or the Welsh countryside, this video is especially for you. (Thanks, Judith!)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Stitches West 2009

Stitches West 2009 was held at the Santa Clara Convention Center last week, so I made a trip there on Friday, February 27. Last year, on three trains (BART and CalTrain and light rail), I knitted the whole way, making the journey enjoyable. This year, I decided to drive. I didn't have much time to shop, so I wanted to make it there quickly.

When I arrived at the Santa Clara Convention Center, I made a right turn into the parking garage. A flagman waved me around a corner, then another flagman, then another, until I was outside the structure facing Great America Parkway where I had entered. No flagman. I looked around and didn't see any signs or directions, so I zipped around back into the garage, and drove through the little maze again, waved through by several people dressed in yellow. I got to the last flagman, who again pointed toward the street exit.

"Has no one left?" I asked.

"No, they're going to be here all day," he said.

"So, where do I park?"

"Go across the street, " he mumbled, "someone will show you."

I zigzagged out to the curb and, again, found no one to direct me. I was about to circle around again, when I looked a half block down and across the street and saw many cars parked in a dirt lot. I had come too late in the day, and now I would have to park the Mini in the dirt. (Muffled expletive.) I drove across all the lanes of traffic over to the left turn lane and went into the overflow parking lot. I told the guard that no one was outside of the garage at the curb to direct me across the street. He smiled and said he'd get someone out there by the street. I felt somewhat satisfied. Later on, I didn't see anyone out there. Hm. I had the typical thought that if only I could run the world, things would work properly.

At least my preprinted ticket worked like a charm -- no waiting in line. My secret was to use the $2 off coupon I found and print the ticket online before I left the house.

The market seemed a little bit smaller this year, maybe just a tad more condensed than last year. Fewer vendors? Maybe so. I didn't count them. But it felt just as crowded as last year. I bumped at least as many elbows and skirted the same number of aisle collisions as last year.

Red Fish Dye Works made the list of hot stops on my Stitches yarn tour. They have an online presence, but trust me, the elation of being in the presence of all that color must be experienced firsthand. Red Fish is a small dye shop in Acton, CA. They attend Stitches every year. This year, I indulged my desire for color with a capital "C" and bought some deliciously dyed silks in the superfine cobweb weight of 2/60. I know, I know -- I must be crazy. Crazy in love with beautiful silk yarn! I couldn't help myself. I've long been a fan of knitting lace with silk yarn. I made the Swallowtail Shawl with Kaalund Silk and the Gracie Shawl with Schaefer's Andrea.

I dropped by Galina Khmeleva's booth,
Skaska Designs, and picked up her Design Collection of Three Orenburg Shawls to Knit. She was signing books at the time, so I asked her to sign mine, and she did so in Russian. Afterwards, she kissed the man sitting behind the table taking credit cards.

I said, "That's good pay!"

He laughed and said, "That's about all I get!"

Galina's designs preserve the Orenburg tradition, and this book includes three patterns with charted and written instructions.

I was happy to see many of the vendors I saw before, and a few new ones. I popped in to the
KnitWhits booth to see Tina and her mom, and I picked up a kit for making these adorable Elfin booties. The kit comes with the non-skid sole fabric to cut and sew in place. Nice detail! Of course, Tina's patterns and kits are wonderful. I've made some of her socks and hats as store samples, so I'm a bit biased. However, I can tell you that working on her patterns is always fun. The techniques are explained well, and you don't feel like you're out in the woods without a flashlight. Plus, Tina is very accessible to answer questions.

I also stopped by
Carolina Homespun and found Morgaine and Jane hard at work. I didn't see Nina, who was out for lunch. They always have the coolest new gadgets at Carolina; whether it's a yarn meter, a swift, or wool wash, you can get it from Morgaine. Nice spindles, too! I got my first spindle from Carolina Homespun, a real beauty in exotic wood made by Adam at Mielke's Fiber Arts. Morgaine gave me a quick lesson and put together a nice beginner spinner kit so I was all set.

To be perfectly frank, I was ... excited ... to find this
highlighter tape from Chappy's Fiber Arts and Crafts. I got two rolls, one in purple in and one in green. For years, I've been using Post-It notes to mark my place on lace charts. I had heard about the highlighter tape but had never found it in a store or online. Chappy has a website and also sells on eBay.

The great thing about highlighter tape is that it's semi-transparent, so you can place the tape anywhere on your chart and read the previous row as well as the current row. With Post-Its, I was always looking to see what was underneath. Also, Post-Its lose their stickum after moving them over and over again, so you have to keep replacing them.
The tape seems to have a longer life.

You should have seen my face when I came across it. It was like I had discovered gold in my backyard.

" ... The tape ... you have THE TAPE!"

"Yes, and we have it in several colors. It's one of my best sellers. What colors would you like?"

" ... I can't believe I'm seeing it ... I've never seen it in person before ... "

"We have it in purple, green, orange, yellow ... "

"You have the TAPE!"

"Yes. I have it. What colors would you like?"

She must have thought I was nuts.

Discontinued Brand Name Yarns, I picked up a couple of Suri alpaca beauties. These colors are Misty Moor and Old Rose.

I like Suri alpaca yarn for it's shine and strength.

Most alpaca fiber comes from Huacaya alpacas. Huacayas are the soft woolly alpacas that you see most often. The Suris are more rare and have longer locks, which are more shiny and slippery, and slightly curly. Most Suri yarn is blended with another fiber like wool, silk or cotton. This Cherry Tree Hill yarn is 100% Suri.

I was on my way out the door, feeling pretty good about my judicious purchases,
when I spotted Yarn Place. I've purchased their yarn Gentle in the past at Lacis in Berkeley. This time I was in Yarn Place heaven, with all their beautiful yarns surrounding me. So what did I buy? Why, Heaven, of course. Heaven is their cobweb weight 45% tencel and 55% merino in hanks of 3100 yards, 120 grams. And the colors are insanely beautiful. This deep teal and rich charcoal were impossible for me to resist.

It may end up becoming this Jojoland swirl shawl that enchanted many knitters and was seen in a few booths around the floor.

Considering the number of people shopping (and buying), the recession did not seem to dominate the minds of this year's Stitches attendees. In fact, at least a couple of vendors I spoke to said this year's Market was a positive and enriching experience, both in sales and in the unwavering exuberance of knitters.

Stitches lives on!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Enjoying the Process

With Stitches West coming up this week, I'm interested in all things new and yarnie. But right now, I'm working on three projects that are not new, and are taking all of my knitting time. One is secret -- and very pretty. I can't tell you about it, but I can tell you about the other two.

One is a shawl for a friend that is coming along quite nicely. It's the Paisley Long Shawl again, but this time in a warm, fuzzy blue yarn. It's wool and mohair with a bit of a nylon binder.

"What?!" you exclaim. "Moose lace! Make it not so!"

At first, I was averse to knitting a lace shawl with this yarn, but as I've made progress, I've begun to enjoy the interesting texture of this garter lace. After all, it's Filatura Di Crosa Cambridge -- who can say no to Italian yarn? It's an experiment in lace for me. Because of the mohair, it is difficult to rip, so I'm knitting carefully.

The third project is the Princess Shawl. My main objective after the above two projects are completed will be moving this one ahead. The yarn from Colourmart is lovely, and I have a ton of it. I ordered six cones -- 7,500 yards each of two colors: deep teal and claret. The Princess is my deep teal beauty that calls to me every day when I sit down to knit. I so wish I could spend every knitting moment with it!

Certainly, I'm a process knitter, since the act of knitting gives me great pleasure, and I'm usually not in a big hurry to finish. However, I know that when Princess is completed, I will feel a loss, as if a dear friend was moving away. I imagine it is similar to the relief, melancholy and pride one feels when sending a grown child out into the world. Not handling it daily will be a little disconcerting. So why is it that, now, envisioning the magnificent deep teal Princess (MDTP) completed makes me want to press forward? Do I have an approach-avoidance conflict? Those of you with degrees in psychology may wish to provide further analysis.

See you at Stitches West! I'll be wearing a purple BAWDies (Bay Area Wool Divas) ribbon, and ACKD (Adult Children with Knitting Disorders) button and a TKGA pin. Bejeweled I shall be. Look for me fondling lace yarn. What happens at Stitches, stays at Stitches.