The Knitting Fairies

[flickr]photo:6838300919[/flickr]

I’m sure every knitter has experience the following two things:

  1. Wishing some magical knitting fairies would visit in the night, and sneak a few rows in on your current project.
  2. The feeling of knitting and knitting and knitting yet getting nowhere – affectionately known as the black hole of knitting

I had been feeling both of these things recently with my Honeymoon Shawl. I’ve been knitting away on the second half, yet feeling like it hasn’t been going anywhere. Last night at work I was knitting away, moving my Post-It up the page every time I finished a row of Chart 2. Chart 2 is 24 rows, and I need to do 6 repeats of it for each half. Yesterday night I was closing in on finishing the 3rd repeat when I looked down at the knitting in my lap and thought ‘That looks really long all of a sudden.’

Looked at my chart – 2 little hash marks, which meant I was still on repeat #3.

Looked back at the knitting – it looked longer than that.

Counted rows completed by counting the nubs on the edges.

Re-counted the nubs on the edges.

Counted the zig-zags in the middle, just in case I’d gotten the border chart mixed up and had done too many nubs.

And in that instant, I was suddenly one row away from finishing repeat #4! One row later, and I was working on repeat #5 of 6!

Thank you, knitting fairies.

Honeymoon Shawl

So way back in the day, before the wedding, I had this crazy idea that I would knit myself a shawl in our wedding colours, teal and green. When I was assessing my works in progress in October, I found it again, and decided that it would be a great thing to take on our honeymoon. I could wrap up in it on the plane, use it when it gets cooler in the evenings, and it is a bit like having a piece of our wedding day there, colour-wise. I thought all these thoughts, and then knit myself some mittens, a few hats, and even designed P his own special hat. At the end of January, I realized that if I wanted to take it on our honeymoon, I better get knitting.

Potager is constructed by making two identical halves, and them sewing them together at the end. I finished one half quite quickly, as the edging part with the beads was already done from earlier in the year:

honeymoonshawl2ndhalf1

I worked on this half every spare moment I had, and when I was done, I started the second half. That went pretty quickly for a while, but doing the 60-row edging chart twice was quite daunting, and I slowed down near the end of it. Now I’m on the easier column section, but I keep finding other things to do when I should be knitting. I think I was going so fast earlier that I’ve knitted myself out.

honeymoonshawl2ndhalf3

I want a shawl that is about 60″-64″ long, and currently the one half I have done is measuring at 24″. I thought that would be fine, because everything stretches out when you block it – my Evenstar grew huge after a good bath and a good stretch! It was about when I lost the knitting mojo when I remembered that the teal yarn I am using is 100% silk and won’t block out like wool does. I should really try blocking the one half to see how much (if any) it grows, and to see if I need to add a few more repeats to it, and the one I’m currently knitting. The good thing is that all those stitches are still live and easy to knit on to, as you kitchener stitch it together in the middle.
honeymoonshawl2ndhalf2Luckily, I’m getting a lot of knitting time at work lately, and I make sure that the only thing I bring to amuse me then is the knitting, so I have some ‘captive’ knitting time. It will definitely get done, if the silk blocks out bigger. If I need to knit 6″ more on both ends, I’m not so sure.

Any tips on blocking 100% silk? Will it GROW?

Honeymoon Shawl

Sometime back in May, in the middle of the pre-wedding CRAY-ZAY I thought it was a good idea to knit myself a wedding shawl, in our wedding colours. I started it, for sure, but it was nowhere near done on the day, and I had given up on getting it done a few weeks before. It turned out that the day was warm enough (or I was nervous/sweaty enough) that I didn’t need a shawl, although the AC in the hotel room was a little chilly, so the photographer got this awesome photo of the only time I wore my Evenstar shawl that day:

girls get ready104

I was recently assessing my knitting works-in-progress, and pulled out the wedding-shawl-that-wasn’t.

DSC07433

It’s a lovely pattern, Anne Hanson’s Potager, and the yarn is from the Unique Sheep (Marici 100% silk in Velvet Teal) in just the right shade of teal. I even found frosted apple green seed beads to put in instead of the nupps:

DSC07432

They’re a little hard to see, but nothing an eventual blocking won’t fix. I’ve decided that once I finish the orange & purple striped sweater, I’m going to work on finishing this beast. I think it would be a nice shawl to take on our honeymoon, so that is the new goal for it. I’ve been trying my best to stay monogamous to my big projects – I’m allowed an easy-knitting purse sock and one large project.

It will be a time-consuming shawl because I’m knitting it in laceweight when the pattern was written for fingering weight. I wanted a substantial wedding shawl, so I’m working a size bigger than the largest size in the pattern. I think I’ve got 8 repeats across the rows. I’m just about done with the fancy lace part on this end, then the longer middle bits are an easier design and don’t have the beads, so it might even be a portable project at that point. Or at least a ‘bring to work for break time’ project.

DSC07435

I really don’t know if P thought I was going to finish it when I started. He certainly didn’t discourage me, because I probably would have snapped. And he didn’t mention it on the wedding day at all, or even in the weeks before when I’d stopped working on it. He’s awesome like that.

Standby Knitting… Knitting GO

So last week, I wrote about not knowing whether I should attempt some wedding knitting. I felt like it would be a shame not to knit anything for the wedding, as it is my favourite hobby, but didn’t want to stress myself out. Well everyone wrote back with such wonderful compliments, and messages of support, so I dove in!

Monday I wandered over to a yarn store not 4 blocks from here, hoping to find some perfect teal yarn. I wasn’t too hopeful – it’s always hard going shopping for something so specific. Well, I walked in and found this:

DSC06081

Three little skeins of teal sock yarn! I brought it home and pulled out some black sock yarn I already had: I’d actually bought it a couple years ago to make some socks for Cinnamon Buns, but never got around to it. I started the socks that night, and they’ve become my work knitting. Before you think I’m a bad employee – theatre can be a very ‘hurry up and wait’ type of environment (depending on the show, of course), so it is good to have things like knitting to keep your hands and brain busy. A lot of my current cast does crosswords – I knit. Naturally, I only knit in those dead spaces, and if there’s an emergency (busted button or snap, broken prop) or I have a cue (handing off props, guns, blood bags, helping people change outfits in 10.5 seconds, supervising the safe “hanging” of an actor… I have a weird job) the knitting is the furthest thing from my mind. That said, here is what one night at home and a week at work (on a show with a slow Act 1) looks like in knitted form:

DSC06101

I’m getting close to the heel: you can see the start of the second skull pirate on the bottom right, a few rows after finishing him, it is time for the heel. I’ve made Cinnamon Buns try on the sock so far, and it fits, which is awesome. If you’re a knitter, the teal is Koigu KPM, and the black is Blue Moon Fiber Arts mediumweight.

I’ve decided that I will work on Cinnamon Buns’ socks first, and start my wedding shawl when they are finished. If I were to pick just one project, I’d knit his socks, so I won’t be too fussed if I don’t finish the shawl. Oh, shawl patterns! You know all those ones I showed you last week? I picked one! I picked one that wasn’t in that original post – in my defense, it is a much more recent pattern than those ones, and I hadn’t done a new search in a while. I will (maybe) be knitting Potager, by Anne Hanson for my wedding shawl:

potager738_72dpi

(photo from Anne Hanson’s website)

This shawl is just what I was looking for. I wanted something that evoked leaves or flowers, to go with the flowers on my dress. There are a lot of lovely geometric shawls out there, but I wanted something more organic-looking. There will be some beads on the two ends, and I’ve ordered some 100% silk yarn from the Unique Sheep to knit it with. As one commenter mentioned, it’s my wedding, this is the time to invest in silk! Wool is a little more forgiving, but I want that sheen that only silk has.

Now the race against time begins!

Second in Section

What with getting engaged, and now planning a wedding (June 2011!!), life has gone a bit crazy. I’ve barely knit since coming back from San Francisco. I seem to be able to waste as much time as I want looking a wedding blogs, wedding dresses, wedding everything online. I’m going to try to make myself have one wedding-free day each week. We’ll see if it works. In other news, I finished Evenstar before going on our trip:
DSC05372

Oh yeah, and I entered it in the Calgary Stampede Western Showcase and won second place in the whole knitting section! Here’s me when I discovered it:

DSC05370

I have now officially earned (well, won) money for knitting! Second place gets you $125 and a pretty blue ribbon. The big teal shawl on the right in the photo got first. It was great to see everything so well displayed – every time David goes to the Easter Show on Sticks and String, there are horror stories of how badly displayed the knitting is. Well done, Stampede.

I’m probably going to knit myself a wedding shawl (this one took under 2 months, I’ve got 11 until the wedding!) and mum asked if I’d still be able to submit it to the Stampede. The answer is a very large “maybe?” Knitting take-in was June 30th this year, and we’ve chose June 25 for the wedding, so if stuff stays the same, yes, I will be able to enter my wedding shawl into the Stampede. Or I might make a different one for the Stampede. After all, I have set a precedent!

Second in Section!

Life with Evenstar

I’ve been spending a lot of my free time lately knitting. Knitting away on the edging of my Evenstar shawl. This is the ginormous shawl that has a deadline that’s coming up in a couple weeks. I’ve been exclusively knitting this shawl since I started it, not wanting any distractions, or anything to detract from my knitting time. The edging is 56 repeats of a point, and I had been pushing myself to do up to 4 in a day.

‘Had’ is the operative word in that last sentence. On Tuesday, I looked at the little tally on my pattern print out (I make a mark each time I complete row 20) and I thought ‘ that can’t be right!’. But it could: I only have 7 repeats left to go! That is this much:

DSC05076

I can now actually see the beginning (and end) as I’m knitting.

So with only 7 repeats to go, and more than 2 weeks until the deadline, what is a knitter to do? Cast on something else, of course.

DSC05074

That is the Eunice pattern from Cookie A’s book Sock Innovation. I recently started watching Round the Twist, a video podcast by Carin, and she has decided to knit every sock out of said book. I caught up on all 40+ episodes over a few weeks, so I’m joining in after she has already completed a different set of socks. I also need to do this to start using up some of that Sock Summit stash. The yarn I’m using is Wool Candy BFL in the colour ‘Robin’s Egg’.

DSC05072

I’ve been having a bit too much fun with this sock – I need to put it down and finish up that last little bit of Evenstar, and then block it. That’s why tonight I’m going to watch The Two Towers and knit, and tomorrow will be Return of the King. Those two movies should be just the right amount of time to finish 7 beaded points.

Bead star!

DSC03679

That’s right, I’m on the beaded border now! I started the border on May 25th, and I have do have a deadline for the shawl to be done – June 30th. In between now and then I have a week’s trip to San Francisco (not planning on bringing the shawl, I’ll be too busy seeing things!), a couple weeks of unemployment, and some work. Let’s call it 24 days, because I also have to block this baby. The edging is made up of a a 20-row pattern repeated 56 times around the edge of the shawl. That means I need to do 2.33 repeats per day. So far, I’m ahead of schedule, but I have spent the past few days hanging around the house and knitting.

DSC03680

I am cautiously confident though. I feel like I’m getting a rhythm going with the beading. I pick up 3 beads on the crochet hook at once, which saves a little time, and the actually knitting is pretty easy.

I did have to make up my own way to start this border though. It is a knitted-on border that knits 1 stitch of the border together with 1 stitch of the main shawl every other row. This attaches it and means that there isn’t actually a bind off in the whole project, keeping it nice and stretchy. You start the border with a provisional cast-on so you can graft the start and the end together. The pattern had instructions on how to do this without cutting the yarn. I couldn’t wrap my head around that part, no matter how hard I tried, so I just cut the yarn and moved on. It will look just the same, I’ll just have 2 extra ends to weave it. I think it is worth it for the lack of headache.

DSC03681

The pale pink line you can see in the photos is a lifeline – I ran embroidery floss through the live stitches of the body of the shawl before I started this edging, in case I messed up.

The beads are slightly darker than the yarn, and are a nice matte, frosted finish.

And in the darkness bind them…

So that Evenstar shawl I’ve been knitting. It’s pretty huge right now – I’m on the last clue before the beaded border, and I’m really starting to believe that this shawl will be 5′ across when blocked.

I’ve been doing most of my knitting at work. I work in the dark. This hadn’t been a problem, and for some silly reason, I felt myself too good for lifelines. I regarded them as training wheels – I don’t need those any more, I can do this! Well, now I think they are more like PFDs: something that might feel cumbersome, but is definitely needed because you never know when your boat might flip over.

There have been mistakes. These mistakes have all been on the last repeat. Maybe I get excited about the new row that is coming, and mess up the last few stitches, or who knows what.

I saw a mistake about 4 rows down from where I was one day. Remember that this shawl is at about 600 stitches around. I was not going to rip back that many stitches! I dropped the stitches in question, and fixed the mistake (I missed a YO, which left a blip in a YO border in the pattern).

A few days later, I noticed a bigger mistake. I couldn’t tell if it was further down than the first mistake (because I’d knitted on it for a few days) or in the same spot. So I dropped those stitches down, and tried to fix. It was big and scary, I was dropping 7 rows in a complicated lace pattern, but I persevered. When I had finished, the mistake was gone, but I’d messed up the stuff beside it pretty badly. The ‘stuff beside’ is the main motif of the Evenstar shawl, the stitches that look like Arwen’s pendant from the movies.

I dropped again, this time dropping and re-knitting the Evenstar bit. I was not looking forward to it, I put off starting by knitting a whole row of the shawl, till I got around to that part again. The Evenstar motif has a wacky little increase/decrease where you end up making 7 stitches in one group. It was that part that I didn’t want to do without the end of the yarn being free.

But… I managed! I showed my knitting who was boss!

No photos of the scary process, because I didn’t want to pick it up and put it down and disturb it by getting the camera. All is well – I’m hoping blocking will even it out a bit where tension changed (I tended to re-knit with smaller needles than I’m using on the whole thing, because it made maneuvering easier) and if I need to, I may employ some judicious duplicate stitch.

It was stressful, but I was very proud of myself for not crying, not sticking it in the back of a drawer, or martyring myself by ripping back to the easiest place to pick up stitches, the stockingette band 71 rows below.

Evenstar Start

I started the beautiful Evenstar shawl last week. This is a ‘mystery shawl’ project, meaning: I signed up on the designer’s blog, and she is sending out clues every two weeks. Each clue is the next section of the shawl, so you knit that clue, and eagerly await more emails. You don’t know what your finished project is going to look like! The clues started in February when I was busy with work, and trying to get rid of a few other projects that have been hanging around. Clue #6 was just released. I 5 days, I’ve managed to get this far (this is clues #1 & 2):

Evenstar Shawl

Not too bad! The first part went very quickly, and I got very excited, but the thing to remember about this shawl is that the stitch count will double every so often, so it makes a flat, circular object when finished. I have to keep explaining to people that I am not knitting a hat, or a bag, but a flat thing. It’s just got too many stitches on a short circular, so it is scrunched up. Currently, my rows have 280 stitches in them. Tomorrow I am expecting to finish clue #3 – that’s when it doubles again.

When it changed from 144 to 280, it took some time to adjust to the new longer rows, but I eventually felt like I was knitting at a respectable speed again. I’m scared for 560.

Evenstar Shawl

You might ask, why would one go through all this knitting without knowing what the finished project will look like? Some designers just know how to play on the strengths of people’s obsessions:

Evenstar Shawl

Yes, that would be the Evenstar Shawl and all the yarn (Yarn Chef Creme Brulee, colour ‘Dusk in Provence’) on my Tolkien shelf. The little grey edition of The Hobbit is the one that dad read to me at age 4, which I then read by myself at age 5, and is the book that started it all. The pages are brown, one falls completely out (the one with the ‘attercop attercop’ song), and there’s obvious tea stains, but I love it. I love all those books up there. The yarn is sitting in front of LotR, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales. There’s also a whole bunch of other related stuff behind all those books.

Obsession? Moi?

Weekend Startitis

I got a nasty case of start-itis over the weekend.

I had been knitting away on the right front of my $1.50 cardi, when I decided to hold it up against the back piece. The armholes were at totally different heights. I was suddenly thrown off my “this-will-be-the-best-knit-ever” horse. Then I realised that the back was all crinkly and shrunk from the stitch pattern, so I stretched it and measured. The front would also be a different size when blocked, so I tried to stretch that too. I didn’t have enough hands. So I decided to block the back piece to make measuring easier.

IMG_2689.JPG IMG_2690.JPG

Even with the back all blocked, the front armhole still starts lower. But then again, the front needs to be stretched too, to open up the lace. I hope that between stretching it up and sideways, it’ll grow that little bit it needs. If not, oh well, I’ll just frog back.

I’m also getting slightly concerned about running out of yarn, but we will not speak of that.

Friday these length worries had gotten to me, so I found a ball of sock yarn, and brought that and some needles to work to swatch for the Sidewinder Socks. I got gauge, but couldn’t actually start at work, as I had no waste yarn, and I got gauge on needles I only have as DPNs. That was put away until I could get to my LYS.

So Friday night, my cardi was blocking and awaiting analysis, my LYS closed before I got off work, and my boyfriend was at work. What’s a girl to do? Cast on for a lace shawl, that’s what!

IMG_2694.JPGIMG_2695.JPG

It’s the Large Rectangle in Leaf and Trellis pattern from Victorian Lace Today (on page 54). The pattern calls for a size 6 needle, but my yarn is a bit thinner, so I started on size 5s. I knit a bit that night, and a bit more at work on Saturday. I got 9 rows done.

Sunday, I went to my LYS to pick up a needle for those Sidewinders, and a needle for the shawl (my Denises were snagging the yarn at the joins). Addi (which is the circular line they have) doesn’t do 2.25mm needles. bah. I picked up a 2.0mm instead, as with socks, you should probably err on tighter gauge than looser. Then, while looking at the bit of shawl I had knit with Amy, I realised it was much, much too open for my tastes, so I bought a 3.25mm (US 3) for that one. Sadly, they had none of the lace Addis in that size. I bought a Natura, because I do like the bamboo.

So I got home, and cast on for the Sidewinders, and worked on that for most of the rest of the day.

IMG_2693.JPG

I don’t want to leave the cardi behind in the dust, but the different sizes and stitch patterns and blocking sizes were making my head all exsplody.