Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Quick note! I am here, and have been knitting as much as I can, but it's been an intensive week at work, so no blogging time in the evenings. I am into Clue 5 on my Vernal Equinox shawl though, and its beauty cheers me up when I do get a chance to relax. I'll have a photo of it and a crochet project, I hope tomorrow?? We'll see.

Thanks for all the comments on the previous blog post. If you haven't read them, you will find them educational, so perhaps you might want to check out the comments. That might make up for me not being able to write!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Responding to Comments

Every once in a while a blogger needs to respond to comments. Today's the day for me! At some point recently, someone asked me a question and I said I'd answer it in a later blog post, but now I can't find the darned comment. If you asked me something and I said I'd answer it later, but I didn't, remind me. Sigh. Poor old brain.

But the last bunch of comments I read made me want to expand. First, I had to chuckle a bit when John-Francis pointed out that the Aeolean shawl was  NOT restful. It was extra not-restful for him, and I totally gave up on the nupps, myself. But I did love touching that alpaca yarn, and I certainly had a feeling of accomplishment when it was through! There's definitely some knitting that is more relaxing than other knitting. So, that point is well taken. I do like it that now I find SOME lace knitting relaxing. Why? I have to think just enough that the pattern distracts me from whatever busy-ness is going on in my mind. That is a good thing sometimes. No doubt we all have times when the voices in our heads are overly persistent. "Do this, do that, pay this, budget for that, plan for this..."

Since I have no illustration today, here's a gratuitous photo of my Aeolian.

Johanna agreed with me that perhaps one reason so many people have taken up knitting in recent times is its relaxing nature. I also think the social aspect has a lot to do with it. Knitting is a positive, healthy and relatively non-controversial hobby that can be shared with many different ages and persuasions of people. It helps you see that you have things in common with such a wide variety of people. anything that brings others together in these times of divisiveness is a fine thing in my book.

And Cindy wondered if people tend to stick with the craft they learned first. I had to really think back to remember whether I learned to knit or crochet first. I know I crocheted more when I was a child and teen, but you know what? I did learn to knit before I learned to crochet. I think my mother taught me to knit, using her rudimentary skills, to shut me up one day. I am positive my grandmother taught me to crochet not long after. My love of multicolored items made crocheting those granny squares so much more enticing than the boring expanses of one-color knitting, in my Child Suna mind.

But wait, before any of those things I learned to embroider. For years my first crewel project hung in the family kitchen. I wish that hadn't gotten lost. I think I did a cross stitch (stamped) when I was in first grade. Wow, I just HAD to keep my hands busy as a child. But I really don't embroider any more. I stopped when I first needed glasses, I think (late 20s).

So, y'all--do you go back to your first love in crafts? Is it like comfort food, only with fiber? If you quilted first, is that your favorite thing to do when stressed or in need of relaxation?

Also, Kerry--can you send me a Ravelry link to your shawl in the Melody so I can look at it?

Thanks, commentators, for getting me thinking.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vernal Equinox Progress

I thought you might like to see a glimpse of how the Vernal Equinox Surprise shawl is coming along. As of last night I was in the middle of Clue 3. I think it's very pretty, and am doing OK on it! On Monday I even managed to knit six rows in the middle of a knitting group. Amazing power of concentration, huh.
Vernal Equinox Surprise in Progress
I think the way the Jojoland Melody yarn slowly transitions from color to color is quite graceful. I had worried it wouldn't show up well in laceweight, but I think it does. Sorry about the garish red pillow background, but the tan part doesn't show up well against the new couch. The old denim one made such a nice background, but hurt my back!

Knitting a shawl is so comforting, so relaxing, so pleasant.  Such a nice contrast to the local, national and international news. No wonder so many people have taken up knitting the past few years! Glad I have my yarn stockpile.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Making Something with Homespun

I haven't shared this pretty yarn yet, and I should have. My friend Deana has recently begun spinning, a lot, and is getting better and better at it. I love watching her feet and hands working to make genuine yarn out of globs of fiber. This stuff was the February colorway, I think, at Yarnorama, plus some really pretty rust colored roving that I don't know where she got it. After she spun it she gave it to me, since it's more "my colors."
Yarnorama Fleece and Rust-Colored Fleece Spun by Deana

Two skeins are the two yarns plied together, and one single-ply one is the plain rust yarn while the other is the Yarnorama colorway. I have no idea if this makes any sense. I am not good at talking about handspun stuff.

Deana and I have both been pondering what to do with this yarn once I set it (it's been sitting in the bathroom waiting for me to do that--it's plied, at least the two skeins with both colors in them--but it needs to be "set"). Well, today I think I found my answer!

Good ole Brooklyn Tweed has come up with another simple but useful pattern and I think it would look nice in the handspun. It's Jared Flood's new Romney Kerchief pattern. This is a very simple triangle shawlette with just rows of purl interrupting stockinette to create the patterning. It's nice because I can make the thing as big as your limited yarn will let you make it.

I love it when I need inspiration and it shows up like that!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ordered Something

I've actually made good progress on the Vernal Equinox Surprise shawl. Of course, they go faster in the beginning when there are fewer stitches per row! But, I've gotten through the large number of double decreases in Clues 1 and 2, and am now in the pretty pattern that makes up Clue 3.

Honestly, I thought I would never get out of the "tan" section of the yarn, which is what came up first. It completely matches my couch, too, so I will need to find another surface to take an in-progress photo on. But, now it's turning purple and quite lovely.

I am glad I am using the KnitPicks clear plastic needles due to their excellently sharp points, but the see-through aspect can make grabbing the right bits for decreasing a little challenging. It's OK--I am having fun and that's what counts.

Also fun is the fact that I finally got around to redeeming a gift certificate I got from my choir director to thank me for a donation I'd made to the music program (my old laptop). She'd consulted the other knitter in the choir (who, sadly, no longer reads blogs or does Facebook, just posts to some group on Ravelry, so she won't read how thankful I am) and got the suggestion to give a certificate to The Unique Sheep site. That's interesting, because I had never bought any of their yarn before, but had been reading about their really cool stuff and wanted to check them out! How fortuitous!
Pewter Earth Colorway, from the Unique Sheep Website.

I ordered two colorways of their Gradiance collection, in sock weight. The laceweights looked more fun, because you get more colors, but, like I have mentioned, I really don't need more shawls. I got the Pewter Earth (seen above) and Hurricane Meadow colorways. (See all the colors here, and let the drooling begin.) For the yarn bases, I got one in their yarn with bamboo (Sushi Socks) and one in their yarn with tencel (Tinsel Toes) in it, just because I wanted to try some new base yarns.

These yarns are certainly something to look forward to and I am having fun thinking of socks to make using these colors. No doubt they will be sort of plain! I will want to let the colors shine.

This will have to do as blog fodder until I can get a photo of the shawl.  Work is hard so there isn't much time to make things to show you!

PS (added April 20): I got an email from my blogging friend Dragonfly, who let me know that the photo above, from the Unique Sheep website, is actually a photo she took of her own yarn that she used to make the Evenstar shawl. Apparently their original sample's colors weren't really true. Now, how about that for a small world? I borrow a picture, and it's really my online friend's picture! I love the Internet. And am impressed that out of all those colorways, she and I chose the same one.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Started Something!

It was a busy week for me with not much knitting time, but I did make some progress on the Flaming Desire sock. I am approaching the heel now.

But today my friend Carolyn came by to pick out yarn and a pattern for her special birthday gift. I told her I'd like to make her a shawl, since I make myself so many that I really don't need another one. We had fun looking at all my laceweight yarn and looking at some online, too.

She eventually picked out this yarn:

Jojoland Harmony, Colorway 06, Rainbow
I am happy to work with this yarn at last! Maybe my bad luck with laceweight will change, too. I am trying out using US size 4 needles, which are bigger than I used on my last couple of laceweight projects. We'll see if I like it slightly more airy.

Once we picked the yarn, we decided to go on Ravelry and see what shawls other people had made with it. That was a great way to choose. You could easily see which patterns were messed up by the yarn's color changes and which were enhanced by it. I ruled out a couple of patterns, like Icarus and Swallowtail, because I just didn't want to do them again. Once was plenty, thanks. So, we settled on the Vernal Equinox Surprise pattern that was  a popular knit-along last year. I remembered that a couple of people in my old knitting group had made it. I still see one of them, so I hope if I have an issue, Nancy will help me out! Hers was really pretty. It's a half-circle shawl with a lot of pattern changes, like most patterns that come out in "clues."

I hope I can handle it and that Carolyn will like it. It is good that I have two balls of the yarn, so I won't worry about running out! I started and think it looks good, though of course the first color in the skein was the least interesting one, tan. Hoping it gets more lively soon!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sock It Again!

Well, with that shawl out of the way (and THANK you for all the public and private comments on Litla Dimun--it's already my work-horse shawl and was perfect for a damp day today), I am trucking along on socks, waiting for a friend to pick a pattern for me to knit her a shawl.

Here is the first finished Flaming Desire sock:

Note the "interesting" crenelated top. For some reason, I did not cast on loosely enough, and it was trying to eat my calf, even though it's a smaller calf than it was a few months ago! So, I spent a couple of hours tediously un-doing the cast=on last night, and today I re-did it as a crenelated cast off. I figure it gives the effect of smoke from the flames of the pattern. Sure it does, yeah.

This is not the greatest photo, but I only have a few minutes between things to do, so my Blackberry came to my rescue once again. Wait until I get a photo of it on my foot or feet when the second one is done. MMM. The flame effect looks best from the front or back.

I'm really happy with the pattern. I even now like my weird heel effect. That's good, since I have to do the second one just like this one! With two pairs of socks, each with one complete, I vow to get something to finished object status this week. We'll see how that goes--lots going on in my non-knitting life, ya know!

Since I only had one sock picture, here's another nice flower. This is an ornamental cabbage blooming in a barrel filled with dianthus. I guess the cabbage will have to go in a week or two, but it certainly produced a grand finale!

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Simple Sock

My sister asked me for black-and-white socks, so I looked around my stash and found some yarn I think fits the bill. I probably last shared a photo of this project, which I named Bruce, because I worked on it watching a Bruce Springsteen concert on TV,  in December. I carried it around for a long time to work on when I needed something that didn't require a chart (like waiting in airports), but it went slowly. Then I took it off the needles because I needed a size 0 for some other project...that really slows a sock down. But, I did manage to finish the first of this pair last week.
This is my office, so you can deduce that I finished it while waiting for some software to crunch (I had a big project that had to churn away for a half hour). The yarn is from Knitivity as are many of my sock projects, and according to the label it was made in October 2008. I think it may be another one-off that didn't do what it was supposed to do for a named colorway, but I thought it looked cool. I like how it stripes.
The photo above was supposed to show how there is one rib that travels across the sock, but mostly you see a sideways Polycom phone and some fake flowers. Unfortunately, my little design element was so subtle that it didn't hardly show up at all! Because of that, sock #2 is going to just be a 2x2 rib standard toe-up sock. No bells and whistles. That's fine. They will be sturdy, comfy, and quite neutral for my sister's wardrobe that is also quite neutral.

I hope it will be fewer than four months before I show you the finished second sock. I'd sorta like to be done with this by her July birthday! (I could finish in a couple of days if I wasn't distracted by the more exciting orange socks!)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Last Litla Dimun Post!

I got the menfolk to go outside and take photos of me in the Litla Dimun shawl last night, so I can finally show what it looks like as a shawl. After hearing that it looked like a pair of underwear, and worse, a diaper from the blocking photos, I figured I better post!
I really think it looks nice. Sturdy, yet floaty! Here's the back.
And just for fun, here is a close-up of the pattern. You can see how the garter stitch looks quite delicate after blocking, yet it's still plenty warm. I wish I'd brought it to work today, as we have a little chill in the air.
It was a beautiful early evening yesterday, and perfect weather for spinning around in your new shawl! Farewell, Litla Dimun--Suna will stop obsessively posting about you now!

Some of our flowers look particularly lovely while we were in the garden with the camera, so I will leave you with our Creme Brulee petunia and the new yellow wildflower that just opened.
That was nice, wasn't it? What interesting colors they now have in annuals. This next one is a perennial we planted last year, but this is its first bloom.

A sock will show up tomorrow. And maybe more flowers. I have been taking a LOT of flower photos, and so has Lee!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Blocking Litla Dimun Shawl

Well, Litla Dimun is all finished, and I wore it to my knitting group yesterday, but I still don't have a photo of me wearing it. Dawn took some, but I am trying to be patient waiting to receive copies! To let you get an idea of how much nicer it looks blocked, here are a couple of blocking photos.

It has ended up very light and delicate, and looks much more like an actual shawl than it did while I was working on it.

I was touched when my friend Aggie said that the finished product was one of her favorite shawls...ever. It may not be spectacularly lacy or bead encrusted, but it is elegant and will be very warm.

I used some hair conditioner on it, and it does feel a bit softer, too. I promise to show you what it looks like ON someone soon.

Next I'll show you a finished sock. I finally finished one of the plain black-and-white socks I started for my sister in December. I'd take its needles off, which made it hard to work on for a while. Tomorrow or Thursday I'll show it to you. I had to work on it yesterday, because I'd left the Flaming Desire pattern at home when I went to Georgetown to knit. Sigh. I also tried to spin with my overly fancy drop spindle. I have some rather thick yarn. It is not worth showing off, for sure. I don't think spinning is going to be my thing.

Luckily I have some nice hand-spun yarn to play with soon, since Deana gave me some in a colorway she knows I liked better than she did. When I finish setting it, I will show you that, too. Wow, a lot of teasers. It's the best I can do after two long days of recording training materials. I am glad to work, but it does take away my way with words.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Odd Heel Flap Pattern and Some New Yarn

http://Yesterday I said I'd share some new yarn I've gotten in the past week or so, and I will, but first I thought I'd share what I have been doing on my Flaming Desire socks. Here is a phone photo of the first completed leg, on my arm in a Starbucks where I was waiting for someone who never appeared.
Flaming Desire, by Anne Hanson at Knitspot.
I sure think the pattern is pretty. And I do think it looks like flames. I have discovered that my usually stretchy-enough cast-on is a bit tight. To remedy that, I am considering un-doing the cast-on and putting stitches back on the needles, then doing a more stretchy bind-off. I might do the crenelated one that puts the fun large picots on, like smoke rising from the flames. I would welcome any other suggestions for a fun top to the sock. No one ever sees the tops of my socks anyway, so goofy seems like it would be OK.

When I got to the heel flap, Anne Hanson had recommended doing a version where the slipped stitches are on the wrong side of the heel. I felt creative, so decided to slip the stitches with the yarn in the back, which puts a horizontal bar across the right side. I was hoping it would make an interesting texture. Here's a slightly blurred image of what it looks like:
Tweedy Heel Flap

I find it a nice, tweedy effect and oddly different. I am sure a sock knitter who looks at them will say, "Hey, what's going on with your heel?" I am not thinking any of them would say, "Ooh, I will try this on my next sock," since it isn't that attractive, in my humble opinion. I don't know if I'd do it on a lot of other pairs of socks, but at least it's a change from the more usual heel flap choices (I do like flapped heels--slip stitch heels I can just never get to look the same on each side and that bugs me).

And Now for the New Yarn

I got what I think is the last shipment from the Intention Yarns club I was in. Two shipments were combined into one, and as usual, the instructions for what to do with them have not arrived in my email, so I have no clue what I am supposed to do with the roving they sent or the 200 yards of worsted weight yarn. I didn't take a picture of the roving, which I believe you are supposed to make felted prayer beads out of, but it is lovely, and I think I will try to use my drop spindle to make some yarn from it, with the help of Deana or Dawn or Suzanne. Or anyone willing to help for that matter.

Here's the worsted weight yarn. It is called "Friendship," and is 50% alpaca, 30% merino and 20% silk. It feels heavenly, as you would predict, and really is a lovely, ethereal semi solid silver. I am thinking it wants to be fingerless mitts or a cabled hat. I saw a hat that my friend Ray designed that might be good in a lovely soft yarn (the Double Entendre hat on this page). But, I really need a hat with ear coverings...realizing most of them are not pretty--maybe a nice color would mitigate that.

I also got two new sock yarn colors from Knitivity. I ordered them so fast that I got the prototypes--go me. It's nice to be able to order new yarn again, though I am knitting so slowly these days that I have to slow down the acquisition! The first yarn I got is called "Equinox" and was based on a photo of a sunset. I also think it looks a bit like flames.

The second color is something I'm surprised he hadn't done before, being a Texas dyer, "Bluebonnets." I do already have a sock yarn in a bluebonnet colorway, but this one has more shadings of blue and green, and less white, so it looks more like actual bluebonnets (which, by the way, are incredibly beautiful this year in central Texas after the wet winter).

Both of these are in Ray's sturdy superwash wool/nylon yarn base that I think will make perfect basic socks to WEAR and not dwell on a fancy pattern with. Sigh, that reminds me I need to finish the other pair of socks I am working on, for my sister. They are in Knitivity yarn in a simple pattern. I think I'll finish the orange ones and crank those others out, too. What a good knitting citizen I am.

[Additional note: I did not know this at the time I was writing this blog post, but if you head off and buy something at Knitivity, and mention my name, I will get a discount on a future purchase. Of course, if you heard about them from someone else, mention them, and they will get a discount! Discounts are good.]

I'm off to block Litla Dimun, so perhaps the next post will have a real FO photo of that project.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Lumpy Finished Object

I took the Litla Dimun to a women's group meeting on Thursday and suddenly, I was finished with it! It really did go faster and faster toward the end there. Here's a picture of it in its unblocked, lumpen state:
Litla Dimun Shawl in Undyed American Shetland Wool.
After seeing how big it came out and looking at my picture, I decided that, even though I have enough yarn left over to do it, I am not going to add a border. I think the elegant simplicity of the borders and gusset lace is just enough. It is also going to be a great size to keep in the office to wear when the air conditioning has gone crazy on me.

I can't block this until tomorrow, since we may have overnight guests who will want to use the blocking bed. That's OK, it will give me something else to blog about, right?

Tomorrow I will have some new yarn to show you. Blogger's photo uploader doesn't like me again, so I am not going to try to deal with the photos today!

I am happily back knitting on my Flaming Desire socks. I am enjoying how nice and big the chart is, and how quickly rows go. It's nice to get back to socks. I have so many socks I want to knit, especially one based on those Russian mitten patterns--I better get a move on! Plus, I am going to make a friend a special birthday shawl. OOOOOH, that will be fun.

Have a fun weekend, and enjoy your holiday if you are celebrating one of them this weekend!