Block and Load!

So I really liked the yarn I used for my Spring Thaw Shawls, (which was Paton’s Lace btw) although with the mohair it does have a bit of a halo that may not be ideal for all designs, and its a bit more crabby about any frogging.

Since it had worked out so nicely, I bought some more in other colors.  A simpler repeat pattern lace shawl is actually an ok trip project since you only have to pack a skein or two to work the whole project.  Whilst I was on holiday I started up a Vernal Equinox Surprise Shawl, and based on its name I decided to go with the “Sachet” color way, which is white and sage and plum.

I cast off on the 5th.  The thing with lace is it benefits incredibly by blocking, but non-knitters or newer knitters don’t always see how you got to pile of yarn fluff to the more nice looking lace.  So I’m going to start out this post with an unblocked photo.

Taken at night with poor lighting.

Taken at night with poor lighting.

Issues of lighting aside, it does look like a lace shawl, not super lacy but its not something repulsive either.  And then you block it.

For the record, it is an overcast rainy day, but the lighting is better.

For the record, it is an overcast rainy day.

And it goes from this textured ripply shawl, to a true lace shawl.  And like the Grinch’s heart, it can grow a few sizes too.  You does not need to be super fancy pants to achieve a good block, though to be honest it may help; I don’t know.  I just use towels and Sewing Pins and sometimes a few bits of old school acrylic yarn in the case where the edge is super loopy like this one.  The yarn is my blocking wire that stretches the loops out evenly so I don’t have to pin every single loop out.

There are several different types of lace repeats in this shawl

There are several different lace repeats in this shawl

This shawl was a bit difficult for me to finish… not because of the pattern, but because I wasn’t really making it with a giftee in mind and started to have good ideas about what I wanted to do with some of that Alpaca yarn I just got.

I didn't even finish trimming my cast on tail before this photo.... ¬.¬

I did not even finish trimming my cast on tail before taking this photo…. ¬.¬

But I don’t like to leave too many projects undone, so I finished it up, and it shall be folded up nicely to await the perfect person for it to go to.

That's right... I can fold half circle lace shawls AND fitted sheets.

I can fold half circle lace shawls AND fitted sheets.

Knitting with recipient in mind is a huge motivator for me, but sometimes you find you need to use your yarn and just knit something, and in the long run it seems to work out alright.

Know your fiber and the animal it came in on – Alpaca

Ben’s mother, Dale (the Sunflower quilt lady), always finds really creative and new things for us to do when we visit Kansas.  We’ve been to the Omaha Zoo,  the Cosmosphere Space Museum, and even to a tiger rescue ranch (since closed).

Tiger Tongues feel just like really big cat tongues when they lick your hands btw.

A most interesting experience!

And this holiday visit we went to an Alpaca Farm called Alpacas of Wildcat Hollow.  Dale also knits, so naturally we made some yarn purchases.  (Fellow knitters, and friends of knitters know this was inevitable! Non-knitter Ben got socks instead.) 

So this Christmas I received two beautiful hanks of 100% Alpaca in fingering weight with which I plan to make an amazing shawl.  I am presently debating if this will be a good excuse to build my own pattern or not.

A variegated Rose color

A variegated Rose color

AND… she picked up a sport weight skein for me to knit her a wonderful scarf.  Going for a more textured than lacy design as Kansas is cold, as in hide yo’ ears! hide yo’ toes! We gettin’ frostbite up in here!

Violet and Teal

Violet and Teal

So let’s talk Alpaca fiber.

Alpaca does not have lanolin like Sheep wool, which is apparently where most people with wool allergies run into issues!  It also is less prickly, naturally water repellant, and a better heat insulator.    Alpacas are closely related to llamas, but have finer fur for making yarn (It seems the llama, being larger with less fine fleece, is more of a pack animal, whereas the Alpaca is more of a fleece production animal).  The fur is shorn from the animal much like sheep wool, but has a greater yield per fleece than sheep.  There are 22 naturally occurring colors of Alpaca, and it maintains a nice luster even after dying!

So there’s a few bits about Alpaca, and something to look forward to working with in the coming new year!

Holiday Double Header!

As a crafter, its always great when you get feedback on your work.  And even more so when it comes in the form of a comment/sale/inquiry from a stranger.  So this past month has been pretty amazing to me as a crafter.

  • I made a sale on a custom stocking
  • I received and completed a custom Knit Scarves Order
  • And I got asked to be featured in a StarCraft Crafting video Blog

And so without further ado…. let’s roll the tape!

So thanks to Gillyweed, Emily and Mike… for making my December one to remember!

You can see more of Gillyweed’s vlogs here

The Stockings were Hung….

This morning I woke up a good hour early, and rolled over to peek out the window to gauge the time and…. snow!  Like a good inch or so, there was snow on the ground and the tree branches.  I was so excited I couldn’t go back to sleep!  I love snow… so much that relatives several states away will call to tell me when they get their first snows of the season.

But we were on stockings.  Ben and I have stockings… we hang ours on the knobs of the china hutch.  Its not that we don’t have a fireplace, with mantle, but we don’t have those stocking hooks… and frankly the way I try to stuff them its probably good that I can pull out the drawer below for added stability sometimes!

While I did not make quite so many stockings this year, Ben and I signed up for the Redditgifts Secret Santa Exchange this year and I knew I wanted to give our giftees some custom Christmas Stockings full of holiday cheer.

My giftee collects vintage hand fans.  So I thought a modified Grandmother’s fan design would be appreciated.

Stuffed so full I couldn't even fit that last gift in!

Stuffed so full I couldn’t even fit that last gift in!

Ben’s giftee really liked the Seattle Seahawks, which means I know have half a skein of “Action Green” yarn in my stash:

The Hawks are doing pretty good this year!  Up to 12-2

The Hawks are doing pretty good this year! Up to 12-2

And I did indeed make sure to put 12 feathers on the heel and cuff….

The back of the Hawk's stocking featuring the rest of the wrap around design.

The back of the Hawk’s stocking featuring the rest of the wrap around design.

I do hope they like all their gifts, and as with the last gift exchange,  (Which was Star Trek in case you forgot!) I will update this post with any response from our giftees.

Meanwhile, my Santa was really quite on the ball… she has already sent me a great new knitting book called Woodland Knits.

Thanks again my Santa!

Thanks again my Santa!

There are some adorable patterns in there to give me lots of ideas in the new year.  I say the new year because this week I was all about a pair of commissioned custom StarCraft2 Scarves.  And I’ve cast on the second of my sleeves on my Spoke Sweater.  So between the housekeeping and cookie making and early Christmas having…. I am knitting like a made fiend to see if I can’t get it done to wear Christmas Day.  

Here’s a quick preview of the main body so you can see how far along I am:

Just needs some seaming, sleeves and a good blocking!

Just needs some seaming, sleeves and a good blocking!

UPDATE!  My Secret Santa Giftee received and liked her gifts!

And so did Ben’s Giftee (who posted a whole album – click the title)  Ben also posted what he received here.

Post-Op: A Luscious Sweater Story

Way back in April I cast on my Luscious Sweater.  It is all knit on size 2 needles in fingering weight yarn and its pretty much all stockinette… which meant lots and lots of pretty repetitive knitting.   At first I had high hopes that I would have my sweater done by my trip in June.

There were errors in the pattern.  Simple stuff that honestly felt like the pattern needed just a bit more proofing, but I was only the second person on Ravelry to cast on, and the other person hadn’t posted updates since they started, so I was determined to keep on.   (For the record, the first two errors I verified with the pattern publisher, but after that I decided to save them up for one email at the end.  I did post every issue I had on my project page.  I believe that most of my issue came from stitching the non-standard larger size.)

Day before I leave on my trip and I’m casting off my last piece and blocking… spirits are high!  I’m seaming up the other pieces because I am totally going to have this for my trip!

And then.. I pin the last piece in place and discover….. the two tails,  do not line up.

So disappointed

So disappointed

And this isn’t a minor off by a few rows, made a small error no one else will notice issue… this is a one side falls at the knee.. and the other side drags on the floor.

So I set it aside and went on my trip and it was an INCREDIBLE time.

And I came back and I pondered and plotted and wondered if it was possible to fix this train wreck or should I just frog it… all 13 balls of yarn.

In the end.. I decided to fix it.

I threaded some 10 weight crochet thread through my main drape section from the side seam to the exterior as a life line:

Its called a life line for a reason!

Prepare the patient for surgery

I carefully un stitched the long side seam of the main drape:

Preparing the patient for surgery

How “Unseaming” !

And then…. I cut off the first tail of the drape….

Post scissor application

Post scissor application

I carefully picked up every stitch along my row and set out to knit again!  I started out with an additional set of short rows, because I wanted to make sure that the drape tapered a bit more towards the knee.  (I’m not certain I actually needed to do this… it just felt like I should and at this point… the sweater was unwearable so what’s the harm of trying imo.)  My thought was that the issue was that the taper of the main drape wasn’t at a sharp enough angle, so I increased my decreases by half again.  I’d left my shorter side drape pinned in place so I had a comparison for length to aim for.   I got to the end of the new tail of the drape and laid the sweater out for comparison.

The measure here is lined up with the new tail and the side drape point.

The measure here is lined up with the new tail and the side drape point.

It looked to be significantly closer in alignment than the original!  I knew since my side drape was just pinned at this point, that I could adjust that piece as well, and so this looked to be markedly successful!  So I got out my scissors and amputated the other side of the drape tail.  I followed the same basic directions of short row set followed by increased decreases.  I did lay out my sweater repeatedly to check if I was on-target for matching.

So after stitching a new front tail… I re-seamed my long seam, and stitched down the side drape and….

SUCCESS!

SUCCESS!

It is absolutely much more symmetrical!

Now… I am a little bit uncertain how I feel about this sweater, but I’m not sure if that’s the taint of the earlier disappointment or something else.  I’m wearing it today… and we shall see.  Here’s some wearing photos so you can see the fit.

Show in standard Misscarlotta not-quite-focus

Show in standard Misscarlotta not-quite-focus

And the other side:

Front knee is slightly bent.

Front knee is slightly bent.

So there you have it… the final results of Doctah Knittah!

As a side note… I am so very glad this wasn’t my first sweater and that Ben’s Ben was so successful, because as I look at future knitting projects, prior results make a huge impact.  I haven’t yet made a second pair of socks… because the first pair was so dang boring on sock #2.

An August Spring Thaw

Did you ever have those moments when you look back and say to yourself, now if only I had done this in a different order…..

Such as… if only I had started with the Spring Thaw Shawl instead of the Gamayun Bird, I’d at least have finished one of them on vacation.  And I totally could have managed it on the plane.

So without further delays… allow me to present a completed Spring Thaw Shawl!

Spring Thaw... just in time for fall chills

Spring Thaw… just in time for fall chills

This pattern is actually pretty easy to follow along, and available in both written and charted if you want to get your toe in the waters of lace so to speak.  I went with 12 leaf repeats down the center spine, primarily because of how my yarn colorway was working I decided I wanted to end as I began.. in the dark smoke.

Perfect for a gentle breeze like the one today!

Perfect for a gentle breeze like the one today!

The yarn I used was Patton’s Lace in Woodrose, and it took me just under a skein from start to finish….. which means I have another skein of it.  To me, the browns and greys make it more interesting than just a simple pale pink.

The mohair in the mix gives it a nice soft fuzz to the pattern.

The mohair in the mix gives it a nice soft fuzz look.

I was rather surprised at how quickly this came together… from cast on to fully blocked and photographed in just 6 days!

Full view

Full view

 

Heading into Charted Waters with my Evening Grosbeak Gamayun Shawl

So a few posts ago, I was talking about my troubles with my Gamayun Bird Shawl and even before that I was posting about the planning of it to have a colorway similar to the Evening Grosbeak female birds we get here, because I find their grey and yellow to be rather lovely.

I am ready to say that I finally finished my shawl!

Normally I post inside, but today was just too nice of a day to not get my bird in the sun!

Normally I post inside pictures, but today was just too nice of a day to not get my bird in the sun!

This was the first charted lace knit project I’ve ever tried.  And so I made one kind of major mistake… I read the chart left to right, as I would read a book or a cross stitch chart.  But in actuality, knit charts are supposed to be knit right to left, the opposite way.    Now I was fortunate in that this is a fairly symmetrical pattern so when I discovered my error as I was about to forge onto chart three… I was able to read stitches and adjust my pattern to turn out and not frog back for the bazzillionth time.

Here’s a bit of an indoor close up:

Mirror, Mirror Gamayun on the Wall

Mirror, Mirror Gamayun on the Wall

So technically speaking this is a mirror version of the pattern, but I have this rule that if you can look at it with the eyes of someone that didn’t knit it and it and the issue is not noticeable, then you should just chalk it up to the field of “one of a kind” and not a mistake of epic proportions.

This pattern did give me a good opportunity to use life lines (which are a separate contrast yarn you thread through your rows every so often in case you have to frog back some so you don’t drop any of those stitches) which I am certain I will use when I take on the task of fixing the Luscious sweater.  (No, its not fixed yet.  Be patient… its my second sweater ever and I’m spending quite a bit of time figuring out the best way to fix it with my limited skill.)

Taking Flight: Knitting for the birds and airplanes

So let’s say you find yourself in the enviable position of taking a vacation to foreign lands, and you find yourself facing a 5 hour flight followed by an 8 hour flight.  And somewhere down the line of trip planning you decide that a fair portion of that 13+ transit hours could be spent knitting… and then you wonder about if they even allow knitting needles on flights.

Well first let me say that if you live in the US, the TSA has given the knitting needle OK; however, cutting implements are a whole other matter.  But when one is planning an international trip, one has to consider the other countries… and that’s where it becomes a little more of a “maybe” situation.  You can send your project off in a self addressed envelope if they turn your needles away, but if you’ve just spent a month knitting up half a sweater the idea you might find yourself waiting for the postman for the other half just doesn’t sound like a good time.*

So while I had high hopes when I started of actually wearing my Luscious Sweater on this trip, its time to admit that the project will need to wait until I return.

I did finish up the main drape section!

I did finish up the main drape section!

So now its time to pull out some back up plans.  A project that won’t be too big so it only takes a couple balls… yet big enough to keep you occupied for several hours on a plane and during vacation down time.  My solution… a shawl or two!

 ~ And thus we come to the bird portion of our knitting blog. ~

Not that long ago I was thinking to myself that it would be pretty amazing to have some bird colored yarn.  The Stellar’s Jay Vibrant Blue and Black, the Kingfisher’s Teal and Rust… or the Female Evening Grosbeak:

Evening Grosbeaks are primarily monogamous, so Fellas if you like it you better put a chirp on it.

Evening Grosbeaks are primarily monogamous, so Fellas if you like it you better put a chirp on it.

I am hoping that this Rock Candy Colorway by Sockease will do the trick.

Oh oh Oh!

Oh oh Oh!

And my plan is to make it into a shawl called Gamayun Bird out of it.   Since I’m a bit of an optimist in my knitting (hence the unfinished aforementioned sweater) I also bought some other lace yarn for another potential project… but you will have to wait until I cast that on for an update.

The Grosbeak males are a much more vivid yellow.

The Grosbeak males are a much more vivid yellow.

 

*All that stuff about the Postman… well let’s be honest, earlier this month we received an envelope with no stamp, no return address, and the wrong zipcode.  The vast majority of the time they certainly get it right!

Enter the Entrelac Zone (and some Luscious Progress)

I took a face your Fears challenge to learn Entrelac.  Which if you are unfamiliar with its a style of knitting that turns out looking like a basket weave texture that you get by picking up and binding off (by knitting combining two stitches into one in pattern) which is unlike counterpanes where you make each unit separate and then assemble.  On the whole most patterns seem to stick with smaller blocks and just knit along for texture, but there are a few items that are really unique out there like the Forest Path Stole which combines blocks of lacy texture.

Most people start out with a nice simple scarf… but I am not most people so I went with… the Nyan Cowl.

Technically I have not finished the Nyan Cowl as I mean to finish the poptart as a nice little pocket for toting around something small, such as your ipod or secret pocket of poptarts or whatever, so that and the finishing touch of affixing the tail to the front need to be done.   I am debating if I should write up this guy as a pattern since he is a bit cute if I do say so myself.

Since I wasn’t quite 100% on how seriously I should have actually approached the challenge, I also decided that I’d start a small baby blanket with the still large quantity of baby yarns I have been gifted in my stash so here is the early preview:

Something a bit more traditional than the Nyan

Something a bit more traditional than the Nyan

I also have some updates on my Luscious Sweater since my earlier post of just yarn.  I have cast on the main section, found a couple of errors in the pattern (detailed in the Rav link) and I am now working my way up and over the shoulder from the V-neck base marker.  These photos are earlier than that, but they give an alright impression of how the fabric of the knit is coming together.

Early progress of the "wrong" side showing the edge and the main stitches twined together

Early progress of the “wrong” side showing the edge and the main stitches twined together

Right side up, front bottom edge of the sweater

Right side up, front bottom edge of the sweater

I am actually on about the 4th ball of the main color (out of 13) and so knitting along there are 3 balls attached to the project (Each edge in the contrast and the main color) to which I am thinking someone needs to invent some stackable snap-together yarn bowls.  Think on that just a bit… you get to where you need to twist you just snap them apart, twine them the right way and re-snap them together.

Progress Updates, Future Yarn projects and a little bit more

Firstly let me start out by saying… I have been knitting things since March… just they have been very little things… or not done yet things.

Little things like this cute doily out of crochet thread on needles I never remember the size of because my needle gauge tool only goes to the first 0.  (You’d think a single 0 would be enough, but apparently the world is not prepared for negative numbers in needle sizing.):

Pattern is called Auge

Pattern is called Auge

This is not your granny’s doily though…. This baby is not soon to be draped over an armchair or under the candy dish. This is your first cup of coffee or glass of water by your bed… because that’s just how big it is.

That's no doily! That's a coaster!

That’s no doily! That’s a coaster!

I have also been working on my double knit scarf and I’m a bit further along than these photos as I am now nearly done with flake number six.

Delicate White flakes against a dark green background.

Side A: Delicate White flakes against a dark green background.

IMAG1061

Side B: Powerful Green flakes on a snowy white background

So I think with my current progress I am at least past the hump of the middle of a scarf project.

Now I must confess I have still not gotten any further on my bird needlework project and every time I’m up in the library room with my sewing I remind myself I really ought to finish it up.

But in the mean time…. I did say I was going to make two sweaters this year, one for Ben and one for myself.  And I’m only half done with that project… so I took the next step and… couldn’t narrow it down past two designs I really liked.  One is called Spoke, and the other is called Luscious.  Well I figured the easiest method since they took two different kind of yarns was to browse through my various yarn options and see if I couldn’t have the yarn decide.  (Each take a different yarn weight)

Well the yarn decided alright…. it decided I was making two sweaters!

A Future Spoke Sweater!  (and a side of conductive thread for gloves)

A Future Spoke Sweater!
(and a side of conductive thread for gloves)

Future Luscious.  The heathered color on the left is the main body color, with the darker as the trim.

Future Luscious. The heathered color on the left is the main body color, with the darker as the trim.

As if that wasn’t enough yarn… I got a nice reminder that I had Jimmy Beans Bucks from some yarn I bought when working on Debora.   So I did what any good knitter would and bought a beautiful skein of lace weight yarn.

I am leaning towards the Frozen Leaves Shawl with this, but it means a full charted pattern.

I am leaning towards the Frozen Leaves Shawl with this, but it means a full charted pattern.

And that brings us to the end of the updates and progress… and you are wondering what exactly I meant by a little bit more.  Well…. I was contacted recently by someone that is getting ready to cast on a Debora blanket!  And to me… well that’s pretty awesome!   If you’ve ever watched Howl’s Moving Castle, then you will know what I mean when I say that’s the “I like your spark!” compliment.