Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Pardon Our Dust

Eh, I've seen better photosFor our collective birthdays, Peter and I got a new digital camera. (Actually, we were given an Amazon gift certificate on his birthday and I have been spending the months since then researching and stressing about which camera to purchase.) The camera, a Canon A540, arrived at our doorstep yesterday. My old digital camera is an ancient piece of junk that came free when we bought a desktop several years ago. Over the years, I have been able to coax some nice photos out of the old camera--but doing so has not always been easy. Naturally I thought that getting a new camera with tons of bells and whistles would infinitely improve my photos with a touch of a button. [We pause here to give everyone a chance to laugh at me.]

The new camera came with SEVEN manuals. Granted, three are in Spanish and are repeats of three that are in English, but finding seven booklets stacked on top of my tiny camera was a bit intimidating. I've taken many photos already and have read 1.5 manuals but I still can't get a decent photo without using the flash. Of course, the sun hasn't been cooperating with me--it's either been behind clouds or on the other side of the world the entire time that I've owned this camera. At least I can blame my less than spectacular photos on the weather and not my lack of photographic talent.

So anyway, please bear with me for the next few weeks. The photos you see may not be the best ever, but I'm trying my darndest.

Barbie Border!
For many months, the Poor Neglected Barbie Shawl resembled a hot pink jellyfish and any progress that I made on it was unnoticeable to the casual observer. Not anymore! I started edging over the weekend and visible progress is evident as the edging grows longer. This is my first time knitting a perpendicular border/edging on a lace shawl. My only other lace shawl had a crocheted edge. Because of my lack of experience with knitted-on lace edgings, I was overly optimistic when I started this edging.

A long way to go!When I finished the last round of the shawl's center, I naively thought, "Yay! Just the edging is left! I'm almost done! No more long rounds!" [We pause again for a second burst of laughter. Wipe the tears from your eyes. Are you ready to go on now?] Then, I knit one repeat of the edging and stared at it. "So narrow? How many more times do I have to repeat this?"

Despite Barbie's insistence that Math Is Hard, I did some mathing. The last round of the shawl had 576 stitches. Each repeat of the edging "ate up" 12 measly stitches. I needed 47 more repeats of the edging. Because I was in a mathing mood, I did one more calculation. Each repeat of the edging has 540 stitches total. One repeat of the edging was almost as much work as the last round of the shawl! 540 x 47 = Nowhere close to being done. *sigh*

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Niecephew Has Landed!

Niecephew is a boy! His name is Logan Bailey. (Does the name remind you of a loganberry? I think I'm going to send some loganberry jam to the proud parents.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Exactly like this, only different

I'm sure that my faithful readers (assuming that I have any) have noticed that I haven't been blogging very much recently. For a few weeks, I wasn't blogging because I was very busy with my work. Then, I wasn't blogging because I had nothing to blog about. Since I finished Mariella two weeks ago, I've been furiously knitting on the skirt of the dress that I'm knitting for Annie Modesitt. No offense to Annie, but the skirt was so boring that it hurt. Stockinette in the round. Starting with almost 200 stitches and increasing to over 400 stitches of STOCKINETTE IN THE ROUND.

Luckily for me, I can knit stockinette in the round without looking at my hands. This ability saved me from committing hari kari with my knitting needles. (Of course, I probably wouldn't have succeeded in the act because I was using blunt-tipped US size 8 Addis.) I watched several hours of TV. I read the entire DaVinci Code in one day. I would have taken the thing to the gym if it weren't so incredibly huge.

Dandy Dress with CleoAnyway, I finished the dress this weekend. Naturally, I can't show it to you, but I want you to understand just how enormous this project was. So I found a dress in my wardrobe that has approximately the same dimensions as the knitted dress. For your reference, the cat tree is approximately 6 feet tall. The knitted dress is exactly like this dress, only different. (1) The knitted dress is one color. (2) The knitted dress has a scoop neck and short sleeves. (3) The top of the knitted dress is more "blouse-y" (4) The skirt of the knitted dress is not pleated but increases to about the same fullness. (5) The skirt of the knitted dress is 1 or 2 inches shorter. Stop for a minute and think, just think, about knitting something this size. It's crazy and I'm crazy for doing it.

The dress gets shipped off to Annie today. Poor Neglected Barbie Shawl is neglected no more.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Amazing Lace: Challenge #1

Meet the Team
I intend to have at least two and perhaps three teammates this summer. I will be starting the summer with The Poor Neglected Barbie Shawl. Barbie and I have had a long history together, which is quite surprising because I am normally driven by the need to finish projects before starting a new one. Not so with Poor Barbie. But let me start at the beginning.

Poor Neglected Barbie Shawl!Barbie and I first met in January. Monkee introduced us and I was immediately enamored with her. At that time, her name was Dayflower Daydream but because the yarn's colorway is Barbie Rose, I quickly renamed her the Barbie Shawl. At first Barbie and I were constant companions. She was, I decided, to be a long-term lace project that I would work on diligently without succumbing to my usual I-must-finish-now-or-else! attitude. I wanted to savor and enjoy her.

After a few weeks of doing exactly as I intended, I began to be unfaithful to Barbie. I cast her aside, leaving her at the bottom of my knitting bag as new projects lured my fickle attentions and were unceremoniously plopped on top of her. Occasionally, I would pull her out to knit a few rounds but then I would return her to her place in the bag, preferring to give my precious knitting time to garments and gifts. How I used Barbie as a mere "filler" project! It's a wonder that she kept taking me back allowing me to enjoy her pinkness, even if only for an evening.

But this summer, I vow to be a better partner to Barbie. I hope we can patch up the wonderful relationship that we enjoyed early in our relationship. I am committed to making our partnership work. I am looking to the Amazing Lace KAL to bring us closer together and help us fully understand each other. If all works out as planned, I hope to have her finished and blocked by the end of June.

The pink and purple temptress!For the last part of the summer, I plan to team up with the Shaped Triangle Shawl from a Gathering of Lace. This is a controversial partnership between me, a rather repetitive pattern, and some handpainted lace-weight yarn. The formation of this team is the result of a rather impulsive purchase. I always admire the pretty color combinations of handpainted yarns, but as a knitter who likes cables and lace, I rarely buy handpainted yarns because variegated yarns are not compatible with either cables or lace. But one day, during a 20% off sale, I couldn't resist the pull of a lovely hank of Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace in Iris Garden. Pink! Purple! It had to be mine. So I bought it without any pattern in mind. Shame on me.

Over the next few months, I paid the price for my impulsive buy. I searched and searched for an appropriate pattern for the yarn. The search was difficult as I learned what I already knew: variegated yarns and lace are not compatible. I thought I had to give up on my pretty-but-possibly-useless hank of yarn. That is, until Rachel gave me an inspiration. She mentioned that, like a couple of her Knitting Olympics teammates, she hoped to make Ene's Scarf with some handpainted sock yarn. I studied the photos of her teammates and decided that Ene's Scarf DID look wonderful in handpainted yarn! I Googled and found Ene made with Helen's Lace--perfect! Except...the Helen's Lace Ene was knit with two strands and used more than one hank of yarn. So the search was on again, but this time I knew what I was looking for: A lace pattern with very small motifs and a lot of "air" between the motifs. From there, I didn't need much more to decide on the Shaped Triangle Shawl from a Gathering of Lace.

And finally, depending on how all the lacing goes this summer, I may also make a Flower Basket Shawl using the luscious lavender Texas mohair that I bought last year. So here we are: Team Purplely Pink!

Team Purplely Pink

Monday, May 15, 2006


It's not a cute as me, says Scout

Pattern: Mariella from Rowan Tuscan Retreat
Yarn: Rowan Holiday in some bluish color--perhaps it's Rock Pool? I'm too lazy to look at the ball band.
Needles: US sizes 13 and 15 (!!)
1. I'm going against my general rule that knitted garments look better when modeled by a person because I'm not pleased with the way this sweater looks on me. Or maybe I'm not pleased with the way I look with this sweater on me. I'm not certain if I'm displeased with the look because the sweater is ribbed (and therefore tight) or because the sweater is made with chunky yarn or both. Probably both. I think that chunky, tight sweaters make people look chunkier than they actually are.

2. When seaming this sweater (and when I was still thinking that I would wear it) I was worried about having too much bulk in the seams. So, I used only half the stitches to do the seams and I used left-over fingering weight yarn to sew up the seams instead of using the sweater yarn. I think the technique worked quite well--the seams are not bulky at all. But they aren't as neat as properly mattress-stitched seams.*

3. I DO think the sweater is very cute and would be very cute on the right person. Unfortunately that person is not me. However, I didn't spend much time on the sweater (one week) or much money (none) on it, so I'm not unhappy. Plus, this sweater will have a happy home in Yarntopia where it will hopefully help to sell lots of yarn.

*Edit to add: Okay, because so many of you complained about me complaining about my seams--look that the image. The seam is the single row of knit stitches in the middle. Half of that row of knit stitches is from the front piece of the sweater and half is from the back half. Notice how crooked the line is? Notice how the Vs of the stitches are not even? Some are small, some are large, some have a small leg and a large leg. Hideous! Hideous, I say! My dear readers, you should be expecting such anal behavior on my part. And Rachel--you should be praising my attention to detail and nodding furiously in agreement as you look at the photo. Not too long ago you were threatening to shun me if I became a sloppy knitter!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

This Is Just to Say*

I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next summer.**
I finished Mariella. It is very cute when lying on my blocking board. Not so cute when on me. Expect a full FO report soon. (Note that “soon” is a relative term.)

I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do
I only wish that I had nothing to do. Instead, work has been crazy busy recently. I used to knit 2–4 hours every day. Now I’m lucky if I can knit a single stitch. However, I’m still happy because busy means that my new company (of which I am president, secretary, and treasurer, and have the papers to prove it) is off to a successful start.

and its wooden beams were so inviting.
Around the World in Lacy DaysThis summer’s Amazing Lace KAL is very inviting. It's a KAL with a twist. Not your everyday KAL. Although I’m not much of a joiner, I jumped to join this KAL. I intend to finish The Poor Neglected Barbie Shawl and do/start The Shaped Triangle Shawl from A Gathering of Lace and perhaps make a Flower Basket Shawl along the way. This, of course, depends on what’s happening with my work.

* Title from the famous poem by William Carlos Williams

** Subheads from the infamous spoof by Kenneth Koch***

*** Footnotes to show that I’m not plagiarizing.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Fallen Woman

A public service announcement:
Thank you everyone for your compliments on the Cap-Sleeved Top and thank you for not completely shunning me after I made my dreadful confession. I promise not to slack off too much. I will keep my left-slanting and right-slanting increases and decreases in order and I will continue to bend over my blocking board until my back aches just to insure that each piece matches the schematic down to an 1/8th of an inch.

Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging:

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee may have been the first to call herself the Yarn Harlot, but she isn't the only knitter to exhibit whoring tendencies when it comes to yarn. Just last week, I had to admit to myself that I have begun to prostitute my knitting ability in exchange for free yarn. Exhibit 1.

Exhibit 2:
I would rather jump Elly than pose in this photo.

It's the beginnings Mariella from Rowan Tuscan Retreat. I'm knitting it as another display knit for Yarntopia. I went to the store last week to drop of the Cap-Sleeved Top and spent some time talking with Amy. One thing lead to another and I soon found myself in possession of more free yarn.*

Mariella is being knit out of Rowan's new yarn Holiday. When I did my review of Debbie Bliss's Pure Silk, Terby commented that she would like to see more yarn reviews from me. I'm not sure that this yarn is worth a full blown review, because like some of Rowan's other summer yarns, Holiday borders on being a novelty yarn. When it comes to novelty-type yarns, I think that knitters will either knit with the yarn or will not knit with it. No yarn review is going to help them choose between X novelty and Y novelty.

like a railroad trackSo here's a briefish review: Rowan describes this yarn as "a loosely constructed chainette yarn in a cotton blend." Weird, huh? The photo at right shows what the yarn looks like when you stretch it out and this photo shows what it looks like coming off the ball. I don't understand why Rowan likes making such intricately constructed yarns. I assume that the process must be labor intensive, yet the interesting construction of the yarn is not evident in the yarn as it is used or in the final knitted fabric. I guess the point is to make interesting looking yarn.

I was afraid that the big gaping holes in the yarn would make it difficult to knit with, but it isn't so bad. I do occasionally catch my needle in the yarn, but not nearly as often as I had expected to. Because it's a bulky yarn, it knits up quickly. Very much an instant gratification yarn. However, my gratification was tempered by the care instructions on the ball band: Dry clean or hand wash. Whatever. This baby is going into the washing machine. I'm not certain why I can't. Maybe I will try washing a swatch instead of completely throwing caution to the wind.

I can't see the railroad anymoreThe fabric produced reminds me of terry-cloth without the fuzz. Or maybe it's cheesecloth. Or both. It's light and stretchy and I believe that it will make an excellent summer top that is perfect for the sweltering heat of Houston.

* To those who were wondering, I will get to keep these display knits eventually. They go to the store for a few months to entice people to buy yarn and then they come home to live with me permanently.