Missing a Two-Foot Putt

MEMO TO SELF: You will never be such a good lace knitter that you can cavalierly neglect to check pattern and count stitches, and if you get cocky enough think you are, trust me, you will pay!

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After a brief delay, during which I set my Way of Life Stole aside to try in vain to win a contest in the KAL group for my Sky Drama, I happily returned to work on it.  I’m terribly addicted to this stole, and was definitely feeling withdrawal symptoms. I can’t imagine what I’m going to do when the project is complete, but I’m hoping something else will grab my attention with equal force.

So anyway, as I got to the seventeenth and last repeat on the 23rd row of Clue 6, which is the final pattern row for the clue, I realized that there were supposed to be six stitches left to knit plain, and I had just four. I tinked that repeat and tried it again, but still had only four left, so I looked at the next row down. There was nothing wrong with the pattern, but there were also two stitches missing at the end of that section. I got a weird little prickly feeling and decided it was time to turn off my audiobook. The design area looked perfect for the entire repeat, but there was clearly something wrong somewhere. I’ve not left any other mistakes in the piece, and I didn’t know how an adjustment might fit into the future clues. It took me a good while, but I finally found an errant decrease at the beginning of the solid edge – 22 rows earlier! How could I have managed to be so self-confident that I’d not been checking how many stockinette stitches were along that edge for that long??? And when had I dropped my obsessive double-checking? I watch every single repeat carefully, and if I get to the stitch markers wrong – and for that matter, often see the error based on how the previous row is lining up – I stop instantly and am able to fix the error quickly. How then did I let myself get clear to the end of a 309 stitch row and space out on the last couple of stitches? It struck me very much like the skilled golfer who hits the ball to within two feet of the cup with his first swing, then, knowing he’s home free, misses the putt. In other words, I sure felt dumb!

I toyed with just taking out a few stitches down to that spot, but although I could tell it was there, I couldn’t find the other mistake, and with all the decreases and YOs playing together over 22 rows, a much wider section of stitches relied on one another than could be worked that way. I finally realized there was nothing to do but the unthinkable…

I’ll leave my expression and tension level during this frogging to your imaginations. I’m quite sure you can get a pretty good picture of what was going on here, and if not, suffice it to say it wasn’t pretty. 18 stitches wide by 22 rows… sigh…

However, a miraculous 2 hours and 3 podcasts later…

All I can say is that I totally amazed myself with this repair. I’ve been knitting lace for 11 months now. One of my few major goals for myself this year was to master lace knitting. I still have a hurdle I’ve mentally placed for myself, which honestly isn’t going to happen before the end of the year, but I realized last night that I no longer find that last step the least bit intimidating. I’ve grown more as a knitter in the past 12 months than in the entire – ummm… well… in my entire lifetime. It’s been a very exciting trip, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next!

And may I just add that it’s going to be a very long time before I forget to check the end of row treatment again?

So, Clue 6 is finally done, and just an hour or two before #7 was posted! Not sure how long this is, as I can’t begin to stretch it out on my 30″ cable, but relaxed, it’s now 17″ wide, with three clues to go. I have the advantage of having seen the next clue as I’m writing this, and I’m terribly suspicious that the last clue might have something to do with an edge treatment…

Published in: on October 31, 2008 at 10:47 am  Comments (2)  
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About the Right Wing

No, this is not what you are thinking it is! Despite my rather decided political opinions, I’m not one to blog about same. The right wing that I’m talking about right now is the last of the shawls to which I promised an introduction a few posts back. I have a few minutes and thought perhaps I could sneak in a post real quick. Otherwise it’s going to be done the first time it’s in here!

This shawl is the product of a knit along hostessed by Schoolhouse Press. Amy Detjen designed this lovely and unusually constructed project, calling it the Pansy Shawl. Since I have a tremendous weakness for violets, which share the shape of pansies, though in miniature, and because I’m knitting mine in linen yarn with spring in mind, I’ve titled my project “Spring Violets.” Amy’s put several delightful twists into the project, introducing me to sideways shawl construction, centered eyelets, and the incredible fun of working short rows in lace. I love watching the pattern as it seems to magically materialize in the center back section of the shawl, and am having a tremendous lot of fun with the project. Despite the new techniques, I’m finding this to be a very relaxing and enjoyable knit, and I could easily picture wanting to make another sometime as a gift perhaps.

Swatched, but...

Swatched, but...

So, I’d almost talked myself out of joining this KAL, but at the critical moment, I found Euroflax millends for $2 per skein, and in lavender, of all things. I couldn’t resist at that point, and I bought 12 skeins, hoping it would be sufficient. I’ve knitted several outfits for the Bleues using Euroflax, and had promised myself something from it as soon as I could afford it. The knots here and there are small price to pay for the bargain I got with millends. I swatched it and loved the fabric I got, but I was also really concerned that I wasn’t going to have enough yarn if I made the fabric as dense as the swatch, so I changed needles to knit much looser. Now that I’m past halfway, I find I was so far off in that thought as to be depressing, but I’m also not of a mind to frog the whole thing and have a do-over, so loose it will stay. It’s not awful at my current gauge, but I do wonder if it’s not going to stretch something fierce when I wear it.

So, the right wing business is because the shawl begins by casting on at the right “cuff” for lack of a better term, and is then knit sideways, increasing until the right wing is as big as desired for the first half of the project. Then the knitter chooses how broad the inverted V-shaped wedge in the back should be, and once that is completed, knits the left wing of the shawl back to the fingertips, producing a Faroese shaped shawl from a totally new angle.

This would be my right wing – a photo taken last week, which would look better had I slipped in some blocking wires, I think. It would also be improved if the cable were long enough to spread the stitches, but I like working more compactly. I’m unquestionably looking forward to getting far enough down the other side that I can actually spread it out.

The pattern is clear and easy to follow, and it has substantial latitude for personalizing the size. In fact, this could be knit from nearly any yarn you choose, and at the gauge of your liking quite easily. More than a few people in the KAL are using unspun for their yarn, and they are getting wonderful, wintery results, totally different from my spring-like project. I think this would make a lovely Christmas gift if you are looking for an easy, but very attractive shawl to make for someone you love.

Wedge pix coming soon!

Back on the Job

It’s been a long while since I’ve said much about my sewing room, mostly because it’s been somewhat neglected. Having worked very diligently to get the back wall ready for the wallpaper liner in September, we were blessed with what I have less than fondly referred to as a dry hurricane. The Sunday afternoon that was to be “the day” was sunny and clear – a very deceptive day, because we also played host to Hurricane Ike, as he pushed a massive front through Ohio. I’ve never seen wind like what we experienced – and yes, it was hurricane force winds. Considering it was blowing lumber off the picnic table, which is in a sheltered location, pasting wallpaper there would have required nailing the stuff down! To make matters worse, the wind took out the power not only for us, but for millions of others, and I’m not keen on trying to hang paper in the dark.

Turns out that this was just the beginning of what was to be a very frustrating adventure for me. Power was restored the next day to most everyone. We even got power here – sort of… We have two power feeds to our house, and one came back just fine, while the other didn’t. I knew immediately that spelled trouble, as individual outages are very low on the totem pole, and since we had a little bit of power, too, I was sure we were in for the long haul. What we had was lights in the kitchen, downstairs bathroom, laundry room, and master bedroom, which included having the refrigerator and freezer working. This was a sincere blessing, and I’m far from being ungrateful. However, what we did without was power to all other rooms, and everything on the 220 line was out, hence no stove, oven, washer, dryer, hot water heater, or air conditioning. Whereas I could see in the kitchen, I couldn’t cook. I could see in the laundry room, but not wash clothes. And I could see my goosebumps in the bathroom if I decided to take a cold water bath… DH ran a heavy duty extension cord through the house so I could be online, meaning I didn’t go totally nuts. However, by the end of 12 days of groping around my house by flashlight and taking diaper wiper baths, I was a certified grouch. In fact, I was in such a foul mood that I didn’t even trust myself to blog about it.

A few hours before the end of the 12th day, I called the power company to see if we were on the schedule. No… sigh… So I called some friends and begged piteously to use their shower, which after nearly 2 weeks sounded mighty fine. I got home two hours later to find our power restored, 12 days almost to the minute after we originally lost it. Wish I’d have done the shower bit a lot sooner!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand… It was several more weekends before DH and I both had the same day available for a big project again, but it did happen at long last. I’m sure glad this part of the project is done! Here’s the new look on the back wall in my sewing room.

Impressed? Oh… Would you be more impressed if I reminded you that it used to look like this?

I know that wall pretty intimately now, truth be told. First I sanded the paneling, then I scrubbed it. Next came a coat of primer, followed by the wallpaper liner, which is hung horizontally (always fun… and definitely not a solo project). By the time it has two more coats of primer over the liner, it looks very white, but it’s also barely changed appearance in quite a while – not a terribly rewarding project actually, especially if glare white isn’t your favorite look. I’m working on two coats of brown now, so if not for having already been over the wall 6 times, it wouldn’t be too bad of a task. More pix coming – and hopefully soon! I’m eager to have my room back, but there’s so much else happening, it’s tough to spend much time in there. However, when I DO get in to work, I have to say that it’s a tremendous joy to not have to look at any fake wood whatsoever!

Published in: on October 25, 2008 at 5:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Progress Report

I don’t have much time, but I wanted to at least post this week’s progress report from two of my KAL shawls before I go to bed.

My Way of Life Shawl continues to be my Siren, as I just can’t put it down when a new clue arrives. On Thursday morning, clue #5 was revealed, and by late Friday night, I was done with the 24 rows, and more than a few CD’s of my current audiobook had been wantonly gluttonized as well. So much for only listening to one per day to make the pleasure last… Since there are 9 clues in all, I’m now past the halfway point, and though I’m eager to see the finished shawl, I’ll be sorry to see it done, too. I’m really glad I have more projects using the Dream in Color Baby I bought from Loopy Ewe, as I’ve loved every moment of working with it so far, and I find the subtlety of the color changes to be the perfect way to add interest to a lace project without overwhelming the pattern. The good thing about completing this will be seeing it blocked nicely instead of displayed with just a bit pinned out the best I can get it.

I’ve also completed Clue #2 on my Sky Drama shawl (pattern title Fall Mystery Shawl). This one is giving me a run for my money as it requires the knitter to do some of the project designing on the hoof, so to speak. I’m frequently finding things that don’t work the way I expect, which leads me to readjust a lot of what I’ve done. After a substantial bit of time playing with charting, I opted to put two rows of flowers in this section, and thought I had a great idea in using twisted stitches for the stems. In the end, that ended up not to show a bit, due to the open feeling of the background fabric. Below the flowers, I wanted something solid to anchor them – some sort of ground. My first two concepts didn’t work, but the third seemed to do the trick, at least up close in person. I worked 4 ridges of garter stitch interspersed with staggered slipped stitches, and it makes a nice texture. After working the first few blossoms, I decided to change the style of decrease, and instead of a bead at the base of each flower, I worked a centered eyelet. And, after I’d worked the beads into the flowers and was disappointed that they were not in the center of the blossoms, one of the group members posted that the beads would be centered if they were put onto the stitch AFTER it was knitted instead of before. I found that awkward, but discovered that it worked well for me to place the beads during the ensuing purl row. I’m extremely grateful for her posting that, though I’m baffled as to why I didn’t think of the idea myself… I have the third clue graphed and just started, and since I’m just a few days behind on this one, I’m hoping very much that this clue goes smoothly for me.

Sky Drama on the Needles

I’m laughing as I write that title. Sounds like a wild and crazy adventure, doesn’t it? Actually, it is, in a way, but… well… Let me start at the beginning.

As promised last week, I’m finally sharing more about another of my mystery shawl projects. It was a “life happens” sort of week, so yes, I’m behind. Anyway, this is the Fall Mystery Shawl being presented on the Icelandic Shawl Group on Yahoo. The clues are being pulled at the end of each week, so it’s too late to get in on the KAL portion, but if you are interested, the pattern will be available from Wendy McDonnell after the KAL is completed. This is the shawl that belongs to this swatch:

I’m knitting with some absolutely mouth-wateringly wonderful, laceweight yarn from Lisa Souza in the Sky Drama colorway. It’s the first of her yarn I’ve ever seen, and all I can say is that I’m incredibly glad I risked buying it. It’s extremely soft and wonderful to handle, and the colors have a wonderful richness without being too bold. I’m just not sure how to describe it, but the thought that keeps coming to me is that it just feels alive. The beads are Transparent Rainbow Clear Dyna-Mites in size 8/0 from Fire Mountain Gems. Beads are notoriously difficult to photograph, so you will just have to trust me that in person they add a pleasant, but not overwhelming, bit of sparkle to the shawl. I’m really pleased with my bead choice, and the holes seem to be consistently large enough for me to put them on with a size 13 crochet hook.

Now, I said I love Lisa’s yarn, and it’s a good thing, as I had a mile and a half of it to wind into a ball. (Any idea how long that takes?) It’s all – gloriously enough – presented as a single skein, and I now have an amazing yarn cake, especially considering I wound it on a standard sized ball winder. I was really holding my breath toward the end and fighting the urge to tighten my winding tension from the time I was about halfway through the skein, but I managed to behave myself, and was paid off with it working out – barely! I have to add that I’d been in fear of what sort of tangly mess I’d have with well over 2000 yards of laceweight being hand-dyed and skeined, but I was amazed to find not a single challenge in the winding – one of the best skeins I’ve ever handled. Get the idea I adore Lisa’s stuff? True confessions… I love it so much that I actually did a yarn ball photo shoot!

Don’t you just love the way the yarn wound into plaid? For the curious, these are all straight out of the camera. The last two are forced out of focus by putting the camera too close to the yarn. I’d never done that before, but I’m thrilled with the results. A fantasy would be to figure out how to make the last two photos – well actually all four – into scrapbook paper, though first I need a way to print 12″ paper… There should be someone out there that does that as a service – custom prints scrapbook paper from client’s own photos. Hmmm…

So anyway, the first clue for this shawl came out on October 3. I have to say that it totally confused me at first reading, as it’s not being presented in a traditional fashion. Once I finally figured out what was supposed to be going on in the first clue, I graphed it, and from there I was fine. The designer’s concept is to encourage the knitter to set up the basic outline of the shawl from her instructions, then work through it by reading the knitting. My brain just isn’t the most comfortable working that way, and since I knit for relaxation and enjoyment, I was much happier once I put the pattern into a format that works with my thought processes more happily. It was just too much for me to think about to have to watch each individual element as I worked along the row, taking the appropriate next step, especially when I was distracted by stopping to add beads. Once I had a graph made, I had smooth and happy sailing.

One thing that did happen in the graphing is that there was a set of increases that wasn’t working right straight off the pattern. I couldn’t figure out how to graph what was really intended, so I ended up creating (unventing?) my own special centered increase. I rather like the way it turned out, and so far it’s working well through the first two clues, so I’m hopeful it will continue to look good. I might have to incorporate it in something else one of these days. You can see it between the two diamond panels here in my photo of the first week’s work.

Since I took that picture, the second clue has come out. I’d moved the point of the diamond over by one space to center it when I originally knit this first section, but didn’t like that blunt end much. Once I read week two, which says to work as many rows as the knitter likes in the given pattern, I decided it wouldn’t be a problem to have an extra row on clue one, so went back and redid them to look like this. I’m much happier now. I really wish I’d paid better attention to how the beads were fitting into the design, though. I’d like them a little higher – but that’s probably somewhat of a hyper-detail that’s not really necessary…

Because this pattern is written in a way totally different than I think, I’m finding it to be the most difficult shawl I’ve worked to date. The actual knitting is easy enough – though picky because of the beads. My problem lies in being a mathematical/logical thinker. Once I get it all down on paper, and I can see what I’m doing, I’m fine. I am rather enjoying the challenge of decoding the concept into a pattern I can work happily. I’ve graphed, but not worked, Clue 2, and I’m already curious to see where this will be going next. Hopefully, pix of the second clue will be here in the next few days, so stay tuned!

I do so like Lisa Souza’s yarn… sigh… :o)

Serendipity

It continues to be a string of odds and ends sort of days here, with so many out of the ordinary things happening that I can scarce keep up at times. Today was no exception. DH discovered that Sarah Palin was going to be speaking not terribly far from here, so headed off to obtain a couple of tickets to the event. And no, this isn’t going to turn into some sort of political post. I’m not generally keen on politics on any level, to be quite honest – not national, not local, and especially not in little cliques of people. However, this was a bit of an adventure for me, as I’d never been to a political rally, and I’m infinitely curious by nature.

Thankfully, I grabbed some of my knitting on the way out the door, as the highway patrol wasn’t managing traffic in an overly equitable fashion. It took us 45 minutes to travel the last 2 miles, and even though I was the driver, I put seven rows on my shawl – probably the only thing that kept me from going bonkers as we counted two dozen cars coming toward us, then would have our own turn to move forward 3-4 car lengths before oncoming traffic continued with another 20 vehicles. This made us satisfactorily late, meaning we missed all the preliminary speeches, got to park on the far side of the highway, and once we found our way to the room and went through security (Don’t you just love watching a man paw through your purse?), provided us with a spot to stand in the open area between the two large and very warm people masses gathered at the event. It was, for me at least, a rather odd sensation to be there seeing someone I’d only seen on TV in an atmosphere I’d only ever seen on TV – a really strange feeling of unreality to it all. I doubt I’d ever make a habit of going to such activities, but I’m quite glad for having had the experience.

Afterward, I was looking forward to a trip to UDF, promised by DH before we’d ever left the house, but even though we’d hung around for 45 minutes post speech, hoping to perhaps gain an autograph, there was still quite the traffic jam remaining. Since there was a Dairy Queen in the front yard of the hotel that had hosted the rally, we decided second best would work. Of course, we weren’t the only people with this idea, so the moment a table opened, I grabbed it, leaving hubby in the ordering line. I was terribly tired from the long walk and nearly two hours of standing. A few minutes later, a couple of men asked if I was actually going to be using the table, and since there were just the two of them, they were quickly invited to join us. I was surprised to hear them speaking something other than English on their way to pick up their own dinners, but the room was too noisy for me to hear what language it was. A few minutes later, as the four of us settled to our eats, I quickly discerned German – not a language one hears around here. And once introductions were made, we had a second surprise, because while one man was German, it turned out that the other was Israeli Jew – even more out of place in Clinton County! Of course, that begged questions as to why they were in our forlorn corner of the world, and the surprising answer was that they were there for the same reason we were – to see Sarah Palin! Long story short, they were sent to the States by a German broadcasting company, in order to film a half hour documentary about the American Presidential campaign/election. Since Obama was in Dayton this morning, and Palin in Wilmington this evening, they were winding up a busy day of filming. Needless to say, we had a lovely time sharing thoughts and opinions about the election campaign, the economy, and other assorted topics, as well as travel stories from our visits to Germany, and tips for Americans who might like to travel to Israel at some point. It was a delightfully serendipitous time, and I was terribly sorry it had to end. I’ve thought all night about how things worked together just perfectly for us to have such an unexpected pleasure, and what a special happening we’d have missed if we’d not been willing to share our table.

I do so love serendipity!

Published in: on October 10, 2008 at 9:26 am  Comments (1)  
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Just a Quick Update

This has been a super involved last few days, so I’ve not been able to blog everything I’d planned – yet. However, I got one project to the current version of complete and wanted to share. This is my Way of Life Stole with clue 3 completed. It’s getting big enough to be tough to pin out, so there are a lot more irregular looking stitches, which is driving me nuts in the photo. I know they are all knit correctly, but up close and unblocked, it’s challenging my lace knitting sensibilities big time! However, for better or worse, here it is.

Waiting for Thursdays is such a pain right now. I’m loving working on this and wish I could just fly straight through it instead of having to wait for the next clue. Even worse, I think I’m going to be away for the last clue or two, so we are talking some seriously delayed gratification!

I did want to add that I feel like the new stitch markers have made a world of difference. The ones I bought from Knit Picks are fine with thicker yarn, but the rings are open just a bit, and lace yarn slides into them almost every time. How it slides in so easily and is such a problem to remove is beyond me. I was having to stop every 18 stitches and work the yarn gently back through the rough edges, which really slowed me down. In addition, the markers were moving around, which was allowing me to make errors undetected. The markers from Lacis are solid rings, and for lace knitting, I’m considering that a must now. My speed has picked up dramatically since I no longer have to stop, and I’ve not made a serious error since I put them on the needles. Why I never bought them before is beyond me!

Published in: on October 5, 2008 at 8:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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