November 19, 2005

Peacock Feathers Shawl

It's a damn horse blanket.

Pattern: Peacock Feathers Shawl, from Fiddlesticks Knitting
Yarn: Ornaghi Filati Merino Oro, in color 907 (sage)
Yardage: Approximately 1000 yards
Yarn Source: All About Yarn
Needles: 2.5mm (US1) Addi Natural bamboo circulars
Gauge: ?? 76"x38" finished dimensions
Modifications: Knit with cobweb weight yarn and 2.5mm needles instead of lace weight yarn and 3.5mm needles

See all entries on this project


Those crochet loops - gah! What miserable cur decided to inflict this scourge upon the suffering world? What kind of insane revenge plot prompted the designer to include a crochet bind-off? What mad scientist invented crochet in the first place? Crochet sucks; crochet is impossible to do; the yarn keeps splitting; what kind of magic witchy fingers are needed to do this properly . . . what? The yarn goes around the needle?


After that, they flew by, and now we're just waiting on blocking, here.

Items on today's to-do list include:

  • Block the Peacock Feathers Shawl
  • Go to the yarn store
  • Finalize Thanksgiving menu
  • Do the Saturday Quote-Acrostic in the Post
  • Assist in the purchase of a chainsaw

Not necessarily in that order :)

Anyway, look for an FO this afternoon! Huzzah!

November 18, 2005


Ahh, crochet - my friend, my enemy. So we meet again.

Fifteen years ago, when I was a child unschooled in the ways of the world, I thought you were great. I used you to help me make this:

What was I thinking? This closeup is all that needs to be seen to know that it was a hideous concoction of bronzey metallic thread, hip-length and pocked with "flowers" along the body and bizarre little nehru collar.

You've been used to foist truly heartless crimes on humanity:

I threw you down in disgust, struggling to see any good in the world at all through the stain of fugliness you'd left in your wake.

Now, I need you. Would you be happy to contribute towards something pretty? Would it be a first for you? Will I even remember where to begin?

I'd forgotten all about you - I daresay you'd forgotten about me. But it's all coming back to me now.

November 15, 2005

Am I still invited?

I'm always late to the party. In ninth grade, I was the last person to find out that Allison Whittier and Bryan Kranz had broken up at the senior prom after-party. This was news that rocked the world, people - and I had no idea, until I saw Bryan necking with Shannon Hines.

Then, I heard only that Bruce Willis had a new movie that was kind of interesting, didn't bother to see it, and thus was embarassingly confused whenever anyone brought up the fact that he'd been "dead the whole time." He was staring at me from the checkout line magazine display every week - how could he be dead?

The list goes on and on. You mean those people were high?! Why is everyone so down on Ray Lewis? There's this site, it's pretty funny, called The Onion...oh, you mean you've heard of it already? I don't know, I thought those were pretty nice boots Condoleeza had on.

I think the crowning glory of my shining career in cluelessness came when I realized that the "Every Kiss Begins With Kay" jewelry-store jingle is a pun - you'll receive a kiss when you bring home a gift from Kay Jewelers, but also, the first letter of "kiss" is "k," har har har.

I realized this TWO WEEKS AGO.

So I don't feel so bad that I've just now discovered the wonder and glory that is the nostepinne, or more properly, the wonder and glory that is the nostepinne technique. Sure, people have been doing it for centuries; sure, it's a common-sense kind of thing; sure, I'm an idiot for drawing complex diagrams of a handcranked ballwinder's movements and thinking I'd build one someday. I don't care - I'm too pleased with myself.

Those are the scraps I'm collecting for my Someday Fair Isle Vest, wrapped into neat, stackable cakes with an elegantly low-tech and seamlessly appropriate method. Ahhh, tradition.

Executive Summary of WIPS - the Peacock, she grows. I'm going to limit chatter and pictures, I think, because 1) I know lace-in-progress is deadly monotonous, and 2) everyone saw a thousand Peacocks being worked this summer. Next time you see it, it'll be blocked and draped around the nearest available elephant.

The convertible gloves - I finally got around to asking Jeff about them, and miracle of miracles, he likes them. They fit perfectly, without ripple or wrinkle; he likes the color, the yarn, even the cable. Huzzah! I'll finish those, too, this week, start test-knitting the pattern for smaller hands (crossing my fingers - I think it just might downscale perfectly with smaller needles and fingering weight yarn), and then offer a nice little free pattern. Whoop!

November 14, 2005

Forgive your enemies, but don't forget their names

Oh baby, do I forgive you. It's such a pretty thing, it would be a sin not to make peace with it. Or to throw it out of an eighth-story window and hope it lands in the street to be crushed by a passing delivery van, or lay it too near the stove in a wild hope that the pilot light will catch, or anything, uh, hypothetical like that.

Thanks for all the notes of commiseration you guys left :) It really is inexplicable, isn't it? Clearly, this shawl wants to be, needs to be, IS GOING TO BE a full 88".

Fighting against destiny, I got out my graph paper and my calculator to do some fancy footwork with repeat elimination - I thought I would take out two of the "feather" sections in the middle charts. That threw the design out of proportion; the "plume" section was too long now. In trimming the plume section, I found that the only logical place to cut it would make the feather section too long again - but I'd already knitted way past the point at which I'd have had to stop with the feathers. I'm a high-strung, twitchy sort of knitter if there ever was such a thing, but even I draw the line at tinking lace that doesn't have to be tinked. So, this shawl is going to be large, and my dear little grandmama can gather it with a pin when she wears it.

Or use it as a bathrobe, or a painting tarp, or go parasailing with it; just so long as she enjoys it. Right?

I'm about halfway through the 7th chart now, and should probably have a FO by the weekend (yay! I lurve blocking; it's my favorite part of knitting lace)

November 11, 2005

Riddle me this

I'm using yarn that's really no more than two wispy threads twisted together. It snaps when it snags on a rough fingernail. It's a bitch to wind, even with a high-quality swift and ballwinder, because the yarn is not heavy enough to keep the swift turning. It's practically sewing thread.

I'm using tiny 2.50mm (US1) needles, the smallest size of bamboo circulars carried by the well-stocked notions department of my favorite yarn store. The little pins - about the diameter of cocktail toothpicks - flex dangerously between my fingers as I knit. I feel them bend and give, and bite my lip for fear they'll snap in my hands or during transport.

My point is, everything is pretty much as small as can be. If the materials got any smaller, it would actually be NEGATIVE knitting. In a mathematically inexplicable paradox, the fabric would un-knit, the earth's rotation would reverse, and time would move backwards as I worked.

So seriously, what the hell?

At row 120 of 249, more or less half the center-to-tip measurement of the shawl should be completed. Just for giggles, I pinned and measured.


Which means completed tip-to-center will measure a little more than 42", which means tip-to-tip will measure about 86".

Only two inches smaller than the pattern measurement. Angst and worry and nail-biting and hemming and hawing, and for what? Two. Measly. Inches. Excuse me now while I curl up in the corner and sob like a child.

November 10, 2005


To do a rather serious disservice to a certain fun-loving founding father:

Ballwinders are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. That's 1,365 yards of cobweb weight Merino, baby, all wound into one beautiful, silky-soft, endless, stable center-pull yarn cake. Ahhh.

The skinny on Peacock Feathers:

This pattern is very pretty, and by "very pretty", I mean "even people who normally find lace too fussy and precious see it and are immediately consumed by the sort of white-hot lust that builds up behind eyeballs and turns the brain into a quivering mass of covetousness". Thus, it would make an excellent all-purpose gift for nearly anyone who likes pretty things.

I knew all along that I'd have to purchase a skein in a new color to make the Peacock that will complete the Lace Trifecta for my mom, my auntie, and my grandmother, but I also had 75 grams, or 1,023 yards (if the label is to be believed) of the same yarn left from the FIr Cone Shawl. It would be the perfect color for a Peacock for Jeff's mom, if only I could get a whole shawl out of it.

The pattern calls for 4 ounces, or 1,260 yards, of laceweight on 3.5mm (US4) needles to make a shawl measuring 88" from tip to tip and 43" from the neck to the lower point. That's big, and by "big" I mean "the size of a damn parachute." Some women could certainly pull that off, but not my 4' 8" grandmother.

Then there's the issue of the yarn substitution - I'm using Merino Oro again. The shawl pictured looks quite solid in the straight stockinette portions - I would have to use a much smaller needle for cobweb yarn. This would, coincidentally, work out to a smaller shawl, which would be fortuitous indeed.

But how much LESS yarn would it use? I didn't get to the store all week, but went ahead and cast on with the yarn I had (the teal, of which I had a limited amount) and the needles in my posession (2.75mms, which make a rather too airy fabric in st st). My progress so far has gone like this:

1. Work three rows
2. Regard knitting critically
3. Hem and haw over whether the finished shawl will still be huge
4. Hem and haw over whether the teal blue will run out
5. Decide to keep knitting a little more so as to "get a better idea"
6. Repeat until all reasoning faculties are sufficiently dulled by endless circular logic, doubt, and apparant hopelessness. Wonder if this is what insanity feels like, to keep doing something though you don't want to and know you probably shouldn't and it's tormenting you every single moment that you continue to do it with self-doubt and worry and why don't you just stop?

Duh. Why didn't I just buy the new skein, which I would have to do anyway, knit that shawl first, and use that as an (obviously) accurate yardage measure and size measure without concerns of running out of yarn? Why didn't I just do that from the beginning?

Why? And why am I spending all this time thinking about this whole silly, easily-resolved conundrum?

At some point, I need to lay off the crack, and by "crack" I mean "lace". Clearly, it's destroying my mind.

November 09, 2005

The 1,002nd night's story

Thank you so much for all the positive feedback on the cable how-to. I'm glad you guys found it helpful!

One glove:

The problem is, I'm about 98% positive he's going to hate them. So do I ask him to try it on now and spare myself the work of finishing when he says he hates them, or do I wait until later and feel bitter and angry when he says he hates them? Would I knit another pair of gloves when he says he hates them? Would I throw the yarn down a well in disgust when he says he hates them? Am I working myself up into a frenzy of knitting angst, because I think he's going to say he hates them? Am I being totally unfair here by assuming he's going to say he hates them?

Probably should, probably shouldn't, probably would, probably wouldn't, wouldn't doubt it, and yes.

And now, a charming bedtime story to tell your children:

The Improvident Girl

Once upon a time, there was a rather insufferable girl who lived in a faraway land of decadence and bloat. She ordinarily sniffed self-rightously at the careless, frivolous consumption she saw all around her, rolling her eyes and speaking in sneering tones of the Walmart society of bigger, now, easier, faster, more, More, MORE!

She was smugly making some peacock-patterned lace out of leftover yarn, blinded by her self-satisfied resourcefulness to the irony of arrogance about thriftiness at all, much less thriftiness about a symbol for vanity. Then she started worrying about yardages,

which made her worry about needle sizes

which made her worry about finished dimensions

which made her wonder about finishing techniques

which made her think about blocking wires

which made her wish for no-rinse wool wash

until she was scribbing a list that included new yarn, new needles, a new pattern, a book on finishing, wires and soap. She stopped on her way out the door, realized she was completely insane and a hypocrite to boot, forgot to eat from shame, starved to death, and was buried in a potter's field in a deliciously gruesome demonstration of Nature's wit.

The End.