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:
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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:

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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:

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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.

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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’.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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):

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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?