Sunday, July 31, 2005

Knock me over with a Peacock Feather

Seems like only a week ago that I was complaining about knitting a gigantic lace shawl....I take it ALL back. The work was totally worth it.

Proud Peacock

Pattern: Peacock Feathers Shawl from Fiddlesticks Knitting
Yarn: Jaggerspun Zephyr in peacock green, courtesy of Monkee
Needles: US size 3
Final Dimensions: 81" wide, 41" tall
What I learned: Blocking lace is magic!
Lots More Photos: See my finished object gallery!

The bad part about finishing this shawl is that I had to lie to my mother. I don't want her to know that I finished the shawl because she will expect to see photos. I don't want to send her photos because I just want to send her the shawl! So when she asked if I was done, I flat out lied and said that I wasn't and that it wouldn't be finished for a week. I'm so bad.

Blocking Photos:
Tip of shawl
Corner of shawl

Friday, July 29, 2005

It's the End of the Lace as We Know It...

...and I feel fine tired! I stayed up too late knitting. But after 10 charts, 250 rows, and 62,500+ stitches later, I have this!

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Now all I need to do is the crochet cast-off and then block the shawl until it's gorgeous. Who knows how long those two steps will take. By the end, as the number of stitches in each row grew closer and closer to 495, I was spending nearly 30 minutes knitting each row. So, I'm thinking the crochet cast-off will take me at least an hour to do. Probably more because I'm not very speedy with a crochet hook.

As for blocking--I'm not sure when that will be done. Wendy said that she spent an hour pinning out her Peacock Feathers. I'm sure that I will need more time because I'm not using blocking wires and I have never blocked a lace shawl before! To make matters worse, life (namely work) will probably prevent me from blocking it over the weekend. Grrr.

Other stuff:
I'm giddy about this. "It's time to put on make up! It's time to light the lights! ..."

Monday, July 25, 2005

Call me Weird

Amy sent me a meme. Apparently she wants to find out how strange I really am.

n. pl. id·i·o·syn·cra·sies
A structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group.

Write down five of your own idiosyncrasies. Then, if you wish, tag five people from your live gerbil or friendslist to do the same.

1. I sing all the time. Occasionally, I actually sing the words to an existing song. Sometimes, I sing new words to an existing melody. However, most of the time I make up entirely new melodies and lyrics. These songs are usually about what's I'm doing at the time or about my cats.

2. (Structural characteristic) The hair on the left side of my head flips inward--toward my face. The hair on the right side of my head flips outward--away from my face. It drives my hairdresser batty. She just can't leave it as it is. She always works so hard to make the right side flip inward.

3. I won't eat some vegetables when they are cooked, but will eat them raw. Carrots and spinach are examples. I won't eat other vegetables raw, but will eat them cooked. Broccoli and celery are examples.

4. I keep my fingernails extremely short. I used to play the cello and had to keep my nails short to play it. Although I rarely play now, a get very annoyed if my fingernails extend past the tips of my fingers.

5. I find clowns disturbing. As I child, I was afraid of clowns. (Even the toy clown in Poltergeist scared me.) I used to think that I was the only person who disliked clowns, but then I read an article in the newspaper about how dislike and even hatred of clowns was quite common.

I'll tag my fellow Eph knitter Llyr's Daughter. I'll also tag CarrieScribe because she's a chemistry teacher.

Confessions of a Shawl Knitter
I picked the Peacock Feathers pattern because I wanted to do a lace pattern that didn't repeat throughout. I think Kiri, Birch, and the Flower Basket Shawl are lovely, but the thought of doing the same thing over and over again didn't appeal to me. I also picked this pattern because I didn't want to knit something that everyone, their mothers, their best friends, and their dogs were knitting--i.e. Kiri, Birch, and FBS. (But soon after I ordered the pattern, I found out that Wendy was knitting Peacock Feathers and now everyone wants to do it, too! So much for bucking the trend.)

My feelings about this project have been quite mixed. I generally like to try new things and enjoy learning new things. But I'm not feeling any excitement with this shawl. I know that the shawl will look quite nice when I'm finished and I find the lace pattern quite easy to do. But I'm not having fun. I think the problem is that I derive much of my knitting enjoyment from watching things develop and grow. Most of the time, the shawl just looks like a green blob, so I'm not able to enjoy its development. And the green blob seems to grow quite slowly, so I'm not able to enjoy watching it grow.

I'm a bit sad to learn that lace-shawl knitting is unexciting for me. I've always admired the shawls churned out by other knitters. I guess I will just continue admiring them from afar and stick to sweaters. Maybe I will try some socks in the future.

Need a photo? How about a flower?
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Friday, July 22, 2005

Channeling Grumperina

During the Pearland SnB on Tuesday, Monkee (aka giver of the Zephyr) asked me if I had enough yarn to finished my shawl. At the time, I thought I did. But after knitting for a few more days and watching the ball of yarn begin to shrink drastically with each row, I started getting nervous. Was I going to make it? And more importantly, how could I find out? Luckily for me, Grumperina has taken obsessive-compulsive knitting to a whole new level and I have learned from the best.

Step 1: Determine how much of the shawl is finished. I thought about doing this early on, but I didn't want to do it because I knew the numbers would make me unhappy. I knew that I would discover that I wasn't as far along as I thought I was. But I finally reached a point when I had to do the calculations. My first attempt was to do lots of mental math to try to derive a single elegant algebraic expression that calculated the percentage of shawl finished. Feel free to laugh out loud.

So, taking a cue from the Grumpster, off to the excel spreadsheet I went. Using my slowly decaying spreadsheet skills, I created at table that calculated the number of stitches in each row, the total number of stitches completed after each row, and the percentage of the shawl finished.
Excel Madness

Now, the spreadsheet calculations aren't perfect because some rows have double or triple yarn overs which are counted as one stitch instead of two or three. However, the "extra" stitches created by the double/triple yarn overs are decreased away on the following right side rows, so they didn't mess up the overall stitch count equation. But, I know my total stitch count is short. However, I'm not going to take the time to add in those extra stitches.

Result of step 1: I have 62.82% of the shawl finished. As predicted, the number made me very, very sad. I thought I was closer to 75% finished.

Step 2: Find weight of yarn not yet used. Easy to do (again following Grumperina's lead), just throw that baby on my digital food scale! Result: 1.125 oz
Not much there...

Step 3: Find weight of yarn knitted. Much more challenging because the shawl is still on a needle and has lots of stitch markers in place. Therefore, I need to weigh the entire shawl and subtract the weight of the needle and the stitch markers. But how do I weigh the needle alone when it is still in the shawl?

Hypothesis 1: The weight of a 40" US size 2 Addi Turbo is "close enough" to the weight of a 40" US size 3 Addi Turbo. (Size 3 being the needle in use.)

Corollary to Hypothesis 1: The weight of a 40" US size 1 Addi Turbo is "close enough" to the weight of a 40" US size 2 Addi Turbo.

If the corollary is true, then by a great leap of faith, the hypothesis is true.

Tests of the corollary prove the corollary to be false. (size 1 = 0.125 oz, size 2 = 0.25 oz)
Hummm....what to do? Obviously, I must propose a currently untestable Hypothesis 2 and pretend that it is true.

Hypothesis 2: The combined weight of a 40" US size 1 Addi Turbo and a US size 2 Addi Turbo is "close enough" to the weight of a 40" US size 3 Addi Turbo. (1 + 2 = 3, right?)

Now, weigh the shawl (2.625 oz)
Shawl still squashes nicely

Weigh an equivalent number of stitch makers and the size 1 and 2 needles (0.50 oz)
No witty caption

Result of step 3: 2.125 oz of yarn has been knitted.

Step 4: find percentage of yarn knitted. 2.125 / (2.125 + 1.125) = 65.38%

Step 5: Scream!

Step 6: Start planning bribes to get more yarn from Monkee.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

My vacation from work, blogging, and "real life" will end in about an hour. (Ok, technically, my vacation from blogging is ending right now.)

When Mom and I were at a local yarn store, I picked up some Koigu with which to make sachets. Mom was so intrigued with the yarn and the pattern that she insisted that I make a sachet while she was here so that she could see how it fit together. Like a good daughter, I obliged.

Be still my heart!

Pattern: Heart Sachet from Interweave Knits (clicking on link opens a PDF)
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM dye code P211, 100% Merino wool
Needles: US size 1
Cat: Cleo (one of the rare pictures in which she wasn't grabbing the heart)
Filling: Nothing yet--I'd like some advice on how to stuff this thing. I'm afraid that if I just put dried flowers in it, little bits of dried flowers will leak out over time. Should I put the flowers in some pantyhose before putting it in? Should I supplement the dried flower stuffing with polyfil stuffing? Do I need to worry about oils from the flowers damaging the yarn? Help!
Notes: This yarn is perfect for the project! The variegation helps highlight the mitered squares. Weaving in ends as you go is essential--unless you want to have 28 strands of yarn hanging out of your project.
Additional photos: Close up with less dramatic lighting: one side and the other. The top of the heart isn't sewn up completely and you can see a stitch marker/holder peeking out in these photos.

I also worked on Peacock Feathers. I'm now nearing the middle of chart 7, which means that I'm on the big feathers at bottom third of the shawl. Most of the time, the shawl just looks like a green blob. I attempted to stretch out a portion of the shawl to show off.

Strutting my stuff

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Another Trip Down Memory Lane

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This sweater was my third finished object. The first two were also sweaters. I made this sweater for Peter when we were still in chemistry grad school--several years before we were married. Lucky for me the silly boyfriend curse did not hold true for this sweater. The pattern came from one of my mother's books, but I don't know which one. It's knitted in Brown Sheep Nature Spun. I know that because I still have lots of leftover yarn from that sweater.

I'm not going to show any close ups of this sweater because, frankly, I was quite horrified when I pulled the sweater out to take a photo of it. First of all, it's way too big for Peter. I didn't know anything about sizing back then. Peter always buys x-large clothes because he needs the length in the sleeves. So, I made him an x-large sweater even though I could have made him a medium and just increased the length of the sleeves. Secondly, my finishing techniques were not so good back then. I didn't know how to mattress stitch, so I crocheted the seams. And the collar! I can't bear to look at it. Yet, Peter still wears this sweater when he has a chance. Now, that's love for you. Just looking at this pathetic excuse for a sweater inspires me to fix that other sweater that I made for him.

Peacock Feathers is still continuing. I'm just starting chart 5. It's now too big to stretch out on the needle and I haven't gotten to the point where the pattern changes again. So, no new pictures. It's just a green blob for now.

My mother is coming to town for a week starting today. I won't even try to hide the shawl from her as it's the only thing I'm working on now. But I'm not certain that I'm going to tell her that I'm going to give it to her. In any case, I probably won't be blogging much while she's here.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Science magazine is celebrating it's 125th anniversary. As part of that celebration, the editors have posted the 125 big unanswered scientific questions. The top 25 questions have essays about them. I haven't had a chance to read through them, but many of the top 25 seem to relate to biological sciences--not exactly my area of expertise. (Not that I'm an expert at any science.) However, I did read this wonderful essay about questions and the nature of science. As it says up there^^^--science IS the belief in the ignorance of experts. Science is more about what we don't know rather than what we do know.

What about knitting?
Peacock Feathers should be called Snail Feathers. Yesterday, I knit a row. Yes, one single row. I'm on row 130 out of 249. Don't you dare say that I'm more than 1/2 there because I'm not. The thing grows by 4 sts every other row!

Ah well, life and work are busy right now. Peacock feathers isn't very good for conference call knitting so the 4-6 hours/week that I normally spend on the knitting on the phone is not happening. Plus, my mother is coming for a visit. So, I'm frantically cleaning the house.

Perhaps later in the week I will entertain you with a photo of a past finished object. For now, silly cat pictures will have to do!

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When Scout was three months old, she climbed our (fake) Christmas tree. (Note that Peter is 6'4", so Scout climbed pretty high up.)
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Now, she's so fat that she would probably cause the tree to collapse.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

And the Yarn Kept Rolling in from Every Side...

The reason why I put myself on a yarn diet was because I bought three sweaters worth of yarn in a week. (Then, I bought another sweater worth the following week, but with good reason!) So far, three of the four batches of yarn have arrived. I'm not one to keep a large stash of yarn, so I'm a little embarrassed to show you just how many balls of yarn are sitting around. Therefore, this yarn p0rn will be a tasteful--just one ball of each type/color.

First, the Rosa yarn--Rowan Handknit Cotton DK.

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The light blue on the top will be the main color. The red and the darker blue will be the flowers and the green will be the little spots between the flowers. The colors are actually much more muted than they appear here. They aren't colors I'd pick for myself, but my MIL loved them.

Next, the yarn for my two winter sweaters.

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The pink is Karabella Aurora 8 with which I am going to make Grace from Debbie Bliss's Cotton Angora book. The blue is Berroco Pleasure. I *think* it is going to become Rogue. I can't believe that I bought this yarn. It's one of the few times that I bought yarn without a specific project in mind. But it's bunny yarn! It was super cheap!

Pokey little Peacock
I'm trudging along with the Peacock shawl. I'm into the third chart out of seven. (Then there are two edging charts--why didn't the designer number the last two charts 8 and 9?) Full view below, close up here.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The best laid plans...

Look what I did!
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My Peacock Feathers pattern showed up and I knit like a fiend on it.

Yes, I know I said that I was going to make a Tivoli tee. I swatched, washed my swatch, measured my swatch, and was a mere two hours away from casting on when I decided to take a peek at Grumperina's blog. Good thing that I did! Kathy had just posted an entry announcing that she was going to provide a standardized pattern which is to include a 32" size. Instant dilemma. Should I wait for the standardized pattern or do the maths* myself to convert the currently available 31" size to 32-33"? Well, laziness won out. I'm waiting for the pattern.

* I said maths because this is Kathy's pattern and she always says maths. When I lived in England, I said maths all the time, but reverted to using the singular when I moved back to the United States. Don't you think maths makes much more sense? It is short for mathematics which is plural.

More plans out the window
I said that I was on a self-imposed yarn diet. I already broke my diet--but with good reason. A reason that Peter cannot argue with. I bought yarn to make Rosa Reef (to be referred to as Rosa from here on) for my mother-in-law. For the last month, I have been asking Peter if his mom would like a shawl or something else knitted. He suggested that I ask her to pick out a pattern, so I did. When she was visiting this last weekend, she picked out Rosa. (So much for avoiding color work for awhile.) I showed MIL the color options on the computer and she became stressed out. She couldn't pick colors from a monitor. So off to the yarn store we went! She and I sat on the floor with many balls of yarn trying different color combinations until she found one that she liked. We did end up having to buy some of the yarn online because the yarn store didn't have enough of the main color yarn in stock.

Once all the yarn arrives, I have to decide which to make first: Rosa for MIL or Rebecca sweater for me??

You can't see the life line in the Peacock feathers shawl in the photo above. It's not there because I think the pattern is tricky. It is there because I had a major disaster this weekend. If I ever have a similar disaster, the life line should allow me to avoid starting completely over. I move the life line every few rows. As much as I like charts 1, 1a, and 2, I do not wish to knit them a third time. Note to self: Do not sit on part of circular needle while picking up work.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Coral Tank


Pattern: Coral from Rowan 31, size small
Yarn: Euroflax Linen, Athens, shade: purple, blue, white
Needles: US 7 for main body, US 9 for edges, US 13 for cast on and bind off
Alterations: Converted pattern to be worked in the round, changed shoulder shaping to use short rows and three-needle bind off
Overall thoughts: The pattern was insanely easy and quick to knit. The tank is very comfortable, but I'm not certain that it is very flattering on me. It's very see-through, but a nude-colored camisole takes care of that. I see this more as beachwear or something to wear when it is extremely hot outside. Peter doesn't care for it at all. But I think the pattern and the yarn were well suited for each other. What I like most about this tank is that I can (and have) thrown it in the washer and dryer.