November 07, 2005

Oxymoron of the day: listed stream-of-conciousness

1. Thank you very much indeed for the lovely comments about the shawl - I really appreciate them. Some more shots of the Fir Cone have been added to the project entry below - the fact that Jeff is eight feet taller than I am makes his photographs of me come out looking like they're of a foreshortened elephant man.

2. I've realized that personally, I feel pretty "meh" about this one. I was joking, of course, when I ranted and raved about how miserable the experience was, but I really am very underwhelmed by the finished object. It might be just because I'm not really big on frilly lace, personally, or it might be this particular arrangement of patterns - I think the border patterns are way too simple and geometric for the organic tessellation of the center square, and the edging needs to be much wider to put the thing in proportion. At any rate, I'm starting to understand shawl constructions fairly well - the Peacock Feathers shawl is the next one I'll do (to get a taste of triangular shawls) and then I'll buy a dictionary of Shetland lace stitches and bid good riddance to $10 patterns and $40 books.

3. The Christmas gift pile grows.

Unfortunately, so does the list of gifts not yet knitted. Among them:

  • Peacock Feathers shawl for my grandmother
  • One more shawl (maybe) for J's mom
  • Incomplete sweater for my dad
  • 2 pairs Knitty's "Cigar" gloves for my cousins
  • Incomplete Felted Floral Bag for The Most Totally Awesome Swapping Of Seasonally Appropriate Gifts Ever
  • 32904829038409 pairs Fiber Trends felted slippers for everybody I've ever met in my life. It's a very well-written, clever, useful pattern indeed...too bad I'm starting to think just poking myself in the eye with a needle might be more fun than making another pair. People love these slippers. I loved them, too - that is, the first four sets, or so.

4. Dale Hauk is...weird. I can't say it's a pleasure to work with, as it's rough and oddly dry-feeling and slightly oily at the same time. The finished fabric doesn't exactly repel water, but it does dry much more quickly than untreated wool of the same weight.

5. I guess Jeff's convertible mittens are next up.

Here's the cable I'm planning to use for the back of the hand. I apologize for choosing such a dark grey for this project - not very blog-friendly, but I was going for subtlety, here. A manly cable, if there is such a thing.

6. For everyone to whom I promised cardigan mods by today...we had some fire engine-requiring excitement yesterday (everyone's fine!), and I didn't get around to it. This week, though, I swear!

November 06, 2005

Done: Fir Cone Square Shawl

Pattern: Fir Cone Square Shawl, Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle
Yarn: Ornaghi Filati Merino Oro, in color 60 (teal)
Yardage: Approximately 1650 yards
Yarn Source: All About Yarn
Needles: 3.00mm Addi Natural bamboo circulars
Gauge: ?? 52"x52" finished dimensions
Modifications: Knit with cobweb weight yarn and 3.00mm needles instead of sport weight yarn and 4.5mm needles

See all entries on this project

November 05, 2005

Stay tuned.

Ashley and Laura - brilliant idea about the adding of side panels to the felted vest. I'm kind of ashamed I didn't think of it myself - thanks, you guys! It remains to be seen how successful the operation can be; the patient is young and otherwise healthy, but a rigorous and exhausting round of soaking, stretching and blocking will have to be undergone before surgery can even be attempted. Then, we have to worry about cutting straight and then creating holes to knit up with the trim yarn. In any event, I don't believe we'll be able to save the armhole trim; it'll have to be sacrificed for the greater good.

Homestretch on the shroud for wrapping the spawn of unholy unions Fir Cone Shawl. The next image will be an FO...that is, if the finished piece doesn't suck the breath out of my chest or smother me in my sleep, once it's free of the needles.

New acquisitions:

That's Dale Hauk, a sportweight 4-ply wool treated with Teflon to make it water resistant. I've never worked with it before, but thought it would be mighty keen for making a pair of convertible gloves for Jeff.

I have yet to swatch it or start playing with it, but in the ball, it feels only a bit strange. It's not plastic-y or crunchy; rather, it feels almost a little oily, like raw wool full of lanolin. Odd; we'll have to see.

And that's the pattern for the Heartstrings Flared Lace Smoke Ring, which I bought because the lace rib was so interesting-looking. Maybe I'll actually knit it some day...I think I have a slot opening up right after the next ice age.

Will the felted vest survive the operation and make a full recovery? How will the shawl block out? Is the Teflon yarn high tech, or highly unpleasant? When in the next millenium is the smoke ring going to be knit, and what in blazes prompted the purchase of the pattern?

Find out all this, and more - same bat time, same bat channel.

November 04, 2005


Any felting gurus out there? Or felting surgeons, or maybe even a felting undertaker?

I made this vest for my mom last year, out of Beverly Galeska's wonderful book Felted Knits.

It's just the kind of thing she likes for cold weather; something warm that leaves her arms and hands unencumbered to fly about, taking care of her own business and everyone else's. Unfortunately, it's about four inches too small in circumference.

The item is knit all in one piece, with a short-row collar and edgings knitted on with superwash wool after felting.

Does anyone know how I can add some width to this thing? I'm thinking that there's no reason why a soak in warm water and some judicious pulling and stretching would hurt it, but I know you guys know better than I do. The felt is very thick and sturdy - do I have to worry about tearing it or pulling it apart?

The fir cone is reminding me of that old vaudeville act, the one where a performer would carry a potted tree across the stage behind his oblivious partner. It would be a little larger and more mature each time, until he was eventually lugging an enormous piece of greenery across the stage, dripping oranges and leaves.

Yeah, think of it exactly like that.

November 02, 2005

(Expletive Deleted)

Silly me. I made a slight miscalculation yesterday when I said the edging would only need 904 rows. I forgot that there are two edging rows for each border stitch - that means 1,736 edging rows will need to be worked. That's 124 pattern repeats and - count 'em - 24,304 individual stitches needed to complete this shawl.

The edging is very pretty, though; the most successful representation of a wave I've seen in knitted lace. It's got a rolling, undulating sort of feeling created by cleverly manipulated decreases and YOs - the double-thick area where the decreases run actually looks like a crest along the top of the wave. It shows that I'm enjoying it - I'm about to turn the first corner already.

There's only one problem.

Why do I feel absolutely infuriated about this? I knew going in that I might have to buy more yarn; I'm subbing yarn and needles, so I couldn't say that I had any real certainty about yardages. So why did it send me into an unbecoming little tantrum, complete with foot-stamping and oath-growling, late last night?

The only local source is closed on Tuesdays, natch.

Time to tackle the WIP list and get some stuff off the production line to make room for more exciting projects (the knitting is always greener on the other side).

November 01, 2005

It is begun

I finished the lace borders of the Fir Cone Shawl last night between candy dispensing and did two repeats on the edging.

The last border round was made up of 860 stitches. Yes, you heard correctly - eight hundred and sixty. The edging, which is knitted together with the body on every wrong side row, will consist of nine hundred and four rows, since a full repeat gets done over each corner.

You can't see it from there, but blood is dripping from the walls as I type.

A lot of people have asked for more details on the cabled cardigan:

The book is Adrienne Vittadini 15, published in the fall of either 1999 or 2000. I've had my copy for ages, but I *have* seen some back copies in stores as recently a couple weeks ago. Be warned, though, it's a pricey book - I paid $19.95 for a book with just two patterns (the cover and the cardigan) I made any use of.

The pattern is really quite different from what I ended up with. The book calls for light worsted wool/alpaca on 4mm (US6) needles, while I used a mercerized cotton yarn on US4 needles. I split the garment down the middle, did more of the waist shaping at more frequent intervals, added some short row shaping at the bust, and knit on a stocking-stitch hood adorned with a cable that trailed up from the body of the garment.

If anybody would like more details, I'm always happy to provide them, though I didn't keep extensive notes. For the most part, I made things up as I went along, dealing with construction issues as they came up (my motto: Speak softly and carry a big calculator).

October 30, 2005


This morning, I put one corner of the exponentially-growing Fir Cone Shawl on scrap yarn and roughly pinned it out.

The motif in the inner border is a little triangle:

while the outer border has a geometric wave punctuated with little clover shapes.

It's all very nice and everything, but this shawl is killing me. I don't mean in your figurative hyperbole-for-the-sake-of-the-narration sense; I mean that the thought of starting each slightly longer row makes a little piece of my soul wither and die. If you look carefully in the upper left, you can see a cloven hoof in the ruched lace. Last night, the edging flew off the needles by itself, all the windows jammed shut, and the ambient temperature dropped by about 40 degrees. It burned the fingers of a passing nun. Telephones crackle with static when it's near. Babies burst into tears around it for no reason. I saw it turn a dog to stone. TO STONE, PEOPLE.

Dressed as a lamb, indeed.

October 27, 2005


Lulu asked for yardages on the Norwegian Stockings. I used about one and a half skeins of main color (brown), just about one of the main accent (blue) and a very teeny amount of the cuff accent (white), all with Dale Baby Ull (tangent - Yarndex rocks my world. End tangent), which has about 180 yards to the skein. I'm stumpier than Cotton Hill, so I did just two and a half repeats before decreasing, three and a half after, and (I think) four for the foot. The original pattern calls for eight skeins total of sportweight Dale Heilo, which has 109 yards per.

I'm of the opinion that the best way to learn traditional Fair Isle is with a small project in the round (tangent - I think these are a great beginner project, if you're already comfortable with socks. I hate it when people assign difficulty levels to projects or say that something is too hard for a beginner - all knitting is made of the same basic knit and purl stitches. These stockings have a simple, clear, repetitive pattern, and not much else going on to distract you other than standard sock shaping, and so are perfect for anyone who wants to learn something new and likes to tackle challenges head-on. End tanget), but I'd add that DPNs might not be the way to go. Though I know that's how people in Scotland knit for ages before we had fancy schmancy circulars, it's 1) damn hard to maintain an even tension around the corners, and 2) just another thing to deal with when you're already wrangling with different yarn colors. Magic Loop, or two circulars, is how I'm going to do these next time. All that said - good luck with learning FI! Here's an excellent crash course - not the way I do it (I usually knit with both colors in my left hand), but this is the traditional method, presented in a very effective way indeed. The Philosopher's Wool books are interesting, too, and Alice Starmore's Art of Fair Isle Knitting is absolutely invaluable.

On to the cono dell'abete - I did it. It took roughly the same length of time as it did to build the ark, ride out the deluge, and repopulate the world, and it wrang figurative blood, sweat, and tears out of me (okay, okay! Maybe there were one or two literal tears), but I did it. I picked up Six! Hundred! And! Twelve! dratted, golswinked, doggoned stitches.

Just starting, picking up easy selvedge stitches. Mood: Cocky, with a hint of relief.

1/3 through, and just realizing that, having put the "cut me" loop on the wrong side of the piece, the thread will have to be picked out on every stitch as opposed to simply unraveled. Mild expletives uttered. Mood: Hopeful, but fading fast.

Halfway through. Fingers aching from picking out never-ending thread. Wishing evil visitations upon any and all associated with lacemaking, ever, in the history of knitting. Mood: First-degree murderous.

It got done, though. And for what? This bulbous, floppy, unappealing thing? I'm always amazed by the waiting transformation...but really, it's useless till then (tangent - well, maybe I'll just keep my mouth shut. End tangent).

October 26, 2005


I finished the center square of the Fir Cone Square Shawl last night and pinned it out to get an idea of the size the finished thing will grow into before I pick up stitches for the borders and it becomes a shapeless bag on the needle.

I do have a problem, though - I cast on for this riding shotgun in a car, when no waste yarn was handy for the provisional caston required. Undaunted, I simply cast on with the project yarn, knit a few rows of stocking stitch, and left a long loop at the edge before starting in pattern. My reasoning was that later, I'd go back, cut the loop, unravel the stocking stitches, and be on my way. As it turns out, it's not going to be so simple - the sticky laceweight isn't exactly the best medium for clean "unzipped" stitches.

Oh, how the would-be mighty have fallen.

October 25, 2005


Gleefully unrepentant, I'm merrily working away on the center square for the Fir Cone Shawl.

I haven't been able to find many finished shawls in blogland (though this one is beautiful), but could see from the image in the book that the blocked piece would be very large and very heavy - a mite large and a mite heavy for the 5'0" slip of a lady I'm planning to give it to. It would be a horse blanket on my wee little aunt.

Soo, I'm subbing Merino Oro (cobweb weight, I guess? ~350 yards to 25 grams...) and teeny-tiny 3.00mm (US whatever) needles for the sport weight yarn and 4.5mm (US7) yarn and needles called for. This will (hopefully) make a lighter, airier, smaller shawl. Judging from the way the square looks stretched out, I'd say we're right on track.

I'm up to the 9th of 12.5 repeats now - I got a lot done while watching Moulin Rouge last night (yeah, shut up. I only watched it to see Ewan McGregor's pretty, pretty, pretty face...and to hearken back to sweeter, simpler, better days, when blood was young and hearts were bold, and life was life and men were men, and when the total transformation from Ewan "My Boyfriend" McGregor to Ewan "Another Paycheck" McGregor was a few missteps away yet. I mean, I don't begrudge actors their livings or anything, but please, make a not-shitty and not-totally-mediocre movie? Please? Just one more? I know he's always made lots of crap films between good ones, but at least they were sometimes interesting crap. Though the last decent movie he was in was Young Adam three years ago, I still sort of want to see the awful-looking Stay, because depending on your mood, it either has an amazing team behind it - Mark Forster of Monster's Ball and David Benioff of 25th Hour - or a maudlin, anvil-dropping team behind it - Mark Forster of Monster's Ball and David Benioff of 25th Hour. And because after all, I'm shallow, and Ewan McGregor's face is pretty, pretty, pretty.)

October 24, 2005

One after another

Thank you for the nice comments about the stockings!

I really liked this pattern; it called for sport weight yarn (Dale Heilo) on 3.25mm (US3) needles, but I downsized it a little with fingering weight (Dale Baby Ull) on 2.75mm needles. The pattern worked out just fine with the new gauge...don't you love it when that happens?

Blossom, Anna and Lulu all asked if they stay obediently up.

Oh boy, do they.

I cheated a little and sewed a band of elastic into the ribbing. If I make these again, I'd probably do what the Big Book Of Knitting recommends and create a tube of stockinette with three needle bindoff at the top of the ribbing as I knit to hold a band.

Overall, a very fun, semi-quick knit, though my tension leaves a little to be desired around the needle changes - it's hard to create an even float when the yarn wants to take the shortest distance around the corner. I might have to...gasp! try Magic Loop out if I make these again and forego my beloved DPNs.

So all along, I've been insisting that these little socks were just a break from the thirteen quintillion other big projects I've got going; that they were a fun little fillip and that I'd get back to duty-knitting just as soon as I could.

Lies, all lies.

Despite all the bitching I've done about Merino Oro, I went out and bought another skein and cast on for the Fir Cone Square out of Folk Shawls.

This'll be a Christmas gift, too, so it counts as Knitting I Should Be Doing, right?

My Sainted Boyfriend came with me to the yarn store and got suckered into keeping the swift turning evenly while I wound all 1300 yards of this by hand. Sorry! And also, hee!