Thursday, March 29, 2007


I was taking a brief "break in the action" this morning to do a little reading in my private suite. You know the one I'm talking about--it has 4 walls and a door that really closes and locks, there's a sink and a shower/tub and a.... Well I was parked on the throne so I grabbed the latest magazine to thumb through which happened to be the April issue of Harper's Bazaar. In it was an article called What's Age got to Do With It? by Gail Sheey (p.122). I haven't read any of her previous books (Passages, etc.) but one line in the article caught my attention. She was talking about women over 50 (I'm not quite there yet, but close enough) who are now "feeling free to reinvent themselves, to find and follow their passions, and to celebrate being seasoned women."

Interesting idea, I thought, and to some extent I sort of fit although not necessarily in the same way that she is thinking. My changes in course have been out of necessity as much as personal choice. But I loved her definition of the seasoned woman as "someone who has been marinated in life experience." Sheehy goes on to expand on this notion, but it struck a chord with me. I am at one of those turning points in life where you look back at where you were, assess how far you've come to arrive at the current place, and look forward with an openness to the possibilities that lie ahead. And while I think I have always followed my passions I have been quite conscious of the effect that being seasoned with life's experiences has had on me and those with whom I interact. Marinating really is a good thing!

I picked up some knitting in the last day or so, mostly because I was too fried to do anything constructive with the Dissertation. When I am that exhausted, lace knitting usually isn't a wise thing either. Late last night I discovered that I had made a mistake in my Shhh, it's a Secret Shawl that I'm designing. I tried to ladder down and fix the mistake, but I couldn't really decipher what I done wrong and I couldn't fix it either. The complex color variegations of the yarn both helped and hindered the process. I might have fudged it and gone on, trusting that the colors in the yarn would hide my error but I was on the last row before a planned pattern change and I was afraid the error might really mess up my stitch counts. So.... I patiently tinked oh, maybe 500 stitches? I don't really know. I am proud of myself for fixing the mistake. I just finished putting in a lifeline so I can frog back if I don't like the design I have planned next. I don't use lifelines much, but this time I know I need one. Who knows what will happen next? LOL

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

And miles to go before I sleep...

Well, I did it. I successfully defended my dissertation late Monday afternoon. The presentation went as well as I could hope for. Everyone was in a good mood and my committee was absolutely fabulous both in their support for me as a person and in their feedback of ways I can improve my work. The presentation was too long, something I knew going in but didn't know how to cut it down without omitting something important. From developing the presentation I saw some pretty glaring mistakes in my last chapter and some bugs with the way I had thematized my results. Let's just say that I got so caught up in the trees that I forgot to step back out again to look at the forest! I sort of forgot that the focus was on hope, and not all the other stuff that caught my attention ;-) I got some good help in the discussion with my committee afterwards, help I desperately wanted! I still need to read all the notes in the manuscripts before I can proceed with rewrites. I need to get started but I've been miserably sick all day so that's been a problem. I figure I can read and brainstorm and takes notes tonight, then start the revisions in earnest tomorrow. Let's just say I have miles to go before I sleep-- many miles.

When I got home form the University on Monday evening I was greeted with two surprises--well, that is in addition to the smiles and hugs from Mom and Dad;-) My dearest friend Wendy Shea-Messler called my folks to report on my successful presentation as she was driving home so they knew a bit of how things went. I thought that was incredibly sweet of her! Wendy's baby, Mason, also sent me good wishes and baby kisses for luck in the form of a tiny stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh bear. Pooh sat at the head of the table next to my notes and presided over the proceedings. I sure hope my other bestest pal Peter Rabbit wasn't offended by being left at home! Surely such things as this could only happen because a preemie nurse was presenting!

But... I am digressing, aren't I? I had 2 surprises waiting for me. After I got home I quickly changed clothes and slipped on my gardening clogs and headed out to the yard the breathe and cry and offer my thanks to God in prayer. Gardens are good for these things, so I wandered out. We've had strangely warm weather and everything that normally blooms in April is already in bloom in the 3rd and 4th week of March. It seems as if my perennials double in size literally overnight. But on Monday night I walked out and was surprised to find the first blossoms on one of my bleeding hearts. I couldn't help but be struck by the irony of the timing as I stood shedding tears of gratitude for coming through such a momentous life event. I thought it rather quite symbolic of everything I have been through these past 9 years.

My other surprise was the two packages of lace yarn that arrived in the mail. The first I had been waiting on for a couple of weeks, 3 balls of white Zephyr from The Knitter in CO. I figured the delay was related to demand as many folks want white lace yarn this time of year, and with free shipping I wasn't about to complain about yarn taking more than a week to arrive. I think I do get spoiled sometimes by fast shippers and besides, it wasn't like I had time to do any new knitting anyway! As expected, the yarn isn't pure white, but is rather a creamy white color--the color you would expect to see in fiber that had been bleached. I think it will make for a lovely intricate shawl or stole, although I haven't decided exactly what to knit yet.

The second package of yarn was from the YarnPlace in CA. Now they shipped it out speedy fast! I bought 2 balls of Gentle, a 5% cashmere/95% fine Australian Merino blend. Gentle is a good name as this stuff is exquisitely soft and beautifully spun. It's also very, very fine--cobweb weight fine. It takes 2 strands of this stuff to make it laceweight. I played with it a little and knit a couple of rows on 2.75mm needles. It's tiny, but very easy to work with. I'll have to think on what to do with this pretty stuff. I bought one ball in a rich buttery yellow and the other is my favorite blush shade called Ahhh Pink. Each 100g ball has ~1350yds which is enough for a modest sized shawl. I may consider ordering a second ball and double stranding one of the projects though, as this stuff is just so fine I might be knitting forever to finish a decent-sized project. I don't want to spend the time it would take to tat a shawl to knit one I suppose.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

What a Relief!

Whew! What a relief! From the dialogue that ensued here and on the Lace Knitting list after my last blog entry the consensus is I'm not a yarn snob after all. I am, it appears, what one would call a yarn afficionado--one who appreciates fine quality yarns, a connoisseur. Yeah, that would be me. I appreciate the finer things even though I may not have them. I cannot afford to buy the super expensive wonderful yarns that are out there unless there is a bargain source like ColourMart or I opt for only one or maybe two skeins for a small project. Anyway, I'm so glad my knitty pals helped me get my terminology straight--I wonder if they want to volunteer to do like wise for the big D???? LOL

Speaking of the Big D, my defense is on Monday afternoon. It's at the College of Nursing on the left in the picture, Neyland Stadium, home to the TN Vols football team is on the right. I put together a rough version of my PowerPoint presentation and went to campus yesterday afternoon to do a practice run with the computer & projection system. It was a very wise choice since I've never successfully done a PP presentation. My one previous attempt failed when I got to the college and the computer wouldn't open my saved file. I have since learned to not use the "pack and go" feature and just take a saved file on a disk or flash drive with me. Pack and Go=No Go apparently, although I have no idea why.

Anyway, I now know that I need to cut a whole bunch of stuff in order to fit my presentation into the time limit and that I won't be able to use the notes feature at the bottom of the page because it projects on the screen. That's disappointment as I was hoping to avoid needing to use paper notes and just put everything on the computer. Oh well, it beats the old days of laboriously inputing text for slides on the computer, having the computer tell the camera to shoot the slide film, then whisking the roll to the Photo Pro shop down the street for 1 hour developing, then dashing back to the hospital to make the presentation. Yup--don't miss that one little bit!

To reward myself for exceptionally good behavior I stopped by Loopville on my way home. Late on a warm sunny Friday afternoon in March, the place was quiet--just me a Piper. I haven't been by in more than a month and Jinka has gotten a ton of new stuff in. It's a wonder they find room to cram all the yarn and etc in that tiny little shop. Most of the stuff is pretty high end--silks and Claudia handpaints and bamboo, etc. She had some new handpainted lace yarn from ArtYarns--pretty but not enough to tempt me at that price. I did buy another 2-ball box of the Kaalund Classic Two lace yarn that I bought on my last visit and am knitting with now. This is great stuff! I also splurged on the new issue of Vogue Knitting which is loaded with lace! This is the best looking issue of VK I've seen in awhile. Most of the patterns were reasonable, knitable, and wearable garments--a combination rarely found in recent VK issues. There is a nifty lace top which is labeled "oversized" meaning "will fit normal-size people without clinging to every curve or bulge" that looks like just the ticket for a summer knit top for me. The pattern calls for a dk wt silk yarn, so Richard's silk will be just perfect! Yippee!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

On Becoming a Yarn Snob

There has been a rather lively dialogue among the knitting egroups lately, most especially in the KnitList and Lace Knitting, surrounding issues of yarn preferences. In today's Lace Knitters digest Gloria Penning, a lovely lady and expert on fine knitted laces and antique lace patterns, offered a thoughtful rebuttal to one of my posts. She spoke of her lifelong joy of knitting with products from such popular companies as Coats and Clark and the positive regard with which her handiwork has been received over the years. She concluded her remarks by suggesting that there were no yarn snobs in the Lace Knitters group.

I adore such dialogue among thinking people, especially where creativity is involved. Creating things with your own hands is such a personal experience-- there can be no one correct way to do whatever it is you are creating and the choice of media with one expresses creativity is likewise a matter of personal choice. But if that is the case, then why did Kimberly Chapman feel such a strong need to go on an extended rant about the virtues of Red Heart acrylic when knitting for her toddler on the KnitList the other day? Why such defensiveness over the choice to use Grandma's Big Ball or Sugar 'n Cream cottons as opposed to a DMC cordonnet or a cotton yarn with a fancy label purchased from your favorite specialty yarn retailer? Yet every few months or so, after a series of messages from knitters opining the virtues of using "fine quality" materials, the emotion-laden replies heat up on the lists. Clearly something is fueling these fiery conversations.

After a few years of observation, first among the tatters, then in beading and jewelrymaking community, and now knitting, the phenomena appears to be universal regardless of preference for creative expression. The tatters seem to have the fewest heated discussions about thread preferences. Perhaps this is because there is such an enormous difference in the ease with which the knots are created and advanced along the core thread that it doesn't take very long for novice tatters to realize that better threads make it so much easier to tat. Or perhaps its because fine quality tatting threads aren't terribly expensive and thus are accessible to most everyone. One can amass quite a stash of excellent tatting thread for a fraction of what it would cost to do likewise in knitting yarns. Tatting history may be a factor as well as our aunts and grandmothers did use cordonnet and good tatting cottons for their work, so the precedence has been set. Today's adventures include the use of color and innovative techniques or materials such as wire for contemporary tatting.

Beaders are more like knitters in their arguments over choice of materials. Here cost and accessibility are both a factor, but like tatters, beaders soon learn that less expensive, or what I call "craft quality" beads, are not such a great choice for most of their projects. Purchasing a few beads isn't too costly, but amassing a stash can be a budget buster depending on one's taste and where you buy your beads. Nevertheless most beaders quickly adopt a preference for higher quality materials. The good news is that so-called big box craft retailers have started to carry better quality beading supplies so they are accessible without having to find a LBS or resort to online ordering.

So where does that leave knitters? Are knitters a strange bunch? Perhaps, but I don't think so, especially since most knitters engage in other forms of creative expression too. But then why the fight? Maybe our knitting heritage has a great deal to do with it. I'm referring to recent history, what we know from the preceeding generation or two, at least in the United States. Let's face it, most of us were raised with Red Heart Acrylic and Knit Cro-sheen or comparable materials purchased at the Five and Dime, the predecessor to today's Walmart or JoAnn's. I well remember going to my local variety store, Whiteway, and buying crochet hooks, knitting needles, and Red Heart Sayelle to crochet my first poncho, then knit that first pair of slippers. I was so proud! It was so much fun! Those early experiences at age 8, 9 and 10 established my lifelong love for fiber arts. If I were so blessed to have my own children, I would start them off in exactly the same manner today.

And so that leads me to today's question, am I a yarn snob? I would have to say without equivocation, yes. Absolutely yes. I see it as a process of personal growth, a becoming if you will. Lest I wax too philosophical for most, let me explain in more understandable terms. Take for example the lowly hamburger. I like hamburgers. There's nothing I enjoy more than a nice fat juicy hamburger with my favorite trimmings. I prefer mine char-broiled or grilled, using freshly ground sirloin from Angus cattle, served on a toasted bun with a crispy crust out of perhaps sourdough or even ciabatta bread. Fresh mayo, bread and butter pickles, a dash of ketchup, and kosher salt and I'm a happy woman. Yum! But was I always that way? Not hardly. For many years McDonald's or those pre-formed frozen patties Mom bought wholesale from the slaughterhouse served on WonderBuns were just fine. I grew up. I matured, and so my tastes evolved as I came to experience something better. I feel the same way about chocolate. I can pass up a hundred Hershey's kisses for just one Harry & David or Godiva truffle. Similarly, I own a dozen acrylic pullovers which sit neatly folded in a plastic bin. Why? Because I'm wearing the one cashmere sweater I purchased on sale a year ago. It was my first taste of cashmere, and now I don't care for the others all that much any more. It's the same thing.

Now I don't always get to eat my favorite version of the hamburger and I do still wear my acrylic sweaters. I even eat Hershey's kisses. Maybe it's because cashmere and Godiva and fancy hamburgers aren't my everyday routine that I appreciate them so much. I don't think any less of people who love McDonald's or think acrylic sweaters from Walmart are the best thing in the world. Everyone knows Hershey's kisses are wonderful. Nor do I think less of folks who only knit with Red Heart or Sugar 'n Cream. Hey, I patronize those businesses and have some of that yarn in my stash too. Sorry, I'm fresh out of Hershey's kisses but I was recently gifted with a tub full of Harry & David truffles by a thoughtful mother who knows good chocolate will help me get through these final days of my dissertation. But if someone asks me where to get a great hamburger in Knoxville, Tennessee I'm not going to send them to Mickey Dee's, but I will tell them about a nifty little place on the banks of the Tennessee river where they have tiered decks overlooking a marina and their blue-cheese burger is to die for. Yup, I'm gonna send them to Jenna's. If someone asks me about fine cotton threads, I'm gonna tell them to look for Flora or Manuela or DMC cordonnet. If they want laceweight yarn, I'm gonna brag about ColourMart cashmere and KidSilk Haze because they are just like fine dining. And on that rare occasion when I do go out to eat, or buy yarn for a lace shawl that I hope will be a joy to knit, delightful to wear, and an heirloom to pass on to future generations, I want it to be the best I can afford. And if that makes me a snob, yarn or otherwise, so be it. After all, like beauty, snobbery is in the eye of the beholder. I don't consider myself to be a snob. If others do, then so be it. It is their privilege to have an opinion-- I don't have to share it. So let the dialogue continue... and knit on! And I will continue to espouse that life is too short to knit with crummy yarn. Please pass the truffles!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Beware the Ides of March...

Or perhaps "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble" is just as suitable an expression for how I'm feeling at this stage of writing the big D. Did Shakespeare have to labor as hard as I am to produce his literary works? Did he have to battle with exhaustion and wicked headaches and muddled thoughts? I haven't even started writing chapter 5 yet and my brain is so fried I can't think of what to say at this moment. Of course I'm not quite awake yet, so that may have something to do with it, but I'm so fried I can't even knit. Now that is bad!

We've had remarkably warm spring weather the past several days. When I needed a break all I had to do was stroll around the house, watch the birds and admire my flowers. The yard guys came and mulched the flowerbeds yesterday so they look especially wonderful this morning. The Bradford pear trees started to bloom yesterday and even the hydrangeas are beginning to leaf out. So far it looks like most of the perennials that I planted new last year are still alive and kicking so that's good news. I even found the bee balm I relocated to the north fence bed alive and thriving under a huge mass of weeds. That bed is a big mess, but it'll just have to wait another week or two before I can get it properly weeded and prepped for planting this year's crop of tomatoes. I haven't had time to deal with starting seed this year, so I may have to settle for buying my tomato plants this year. It's a small sacrifice to make for graduating, but it just had to be done :o)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Madness Continues

When most folks talk about March Madness these days they are referring to the NCAA basketball tournaments. Well that's all good and and fine. I love B-ball and I love the Vols and Lady Vols---and I want them to win it all! I think the Lady Vols have a much better shot at it frankly, but the men got a great seed and bracket tonight so there is hope.... But when I say March Madness I mean dissertation madness or the Big D. And tonight my mind is Big D as in Dead from overuse the last several days. I have a headache. I'm exhausted. I'm not nearly close enough to done with the manuscript and I have 3.5 days left to write before it must go to my committee. Yikes!

You know, getting a PhD is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. It's taken more courage, more tenacity, and more effort than anything else, ever. True lace knitting is a piece of cake by comparison, even with tiny patterns and cobweb yarn. But then I've never felt so supported by people everywhere in my life before either. These last few years have been something special. I have come to know the genuine goodness of ordinary, or in my eyes, extraordinary people who ask for nothing more than the opportunity to share their talents and be of help to me. That's what happened this weekend.

After much thought and stress, I finally arrived at the the climax of my research--the analysis of my interviews with mothers of premature infants about having hope while in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU. The key themes from the study emerged and I conceptualized them in the form of a 3-D pyramid with 3 sides: Hope and the baby, hope and the mother, and hope and others (NICU professionals, family and friends). The pyramid was inverted to show the precarious and uncertain nature of being in the NICU. I needed to find a way to draw this image so I could present it to my committee and include it in the final written reports. I'm not very experienced at this sort of thing--like not at all. I'm good with scissors, tape and cardstock but not with computer graphics. So I'm worrying about what to do Friday night when I get the impression that I should email my knitting pal from the EZasPI group and proprietess of a photography and graphics publishing business, Diana Cooper. So I sent her a short email explaining what I needed and asked for suggestions on what to do. The next morning I boot up my computer and boom! There on my computer was an email from Diana with the perfect graphic enclosed. See how nifty it is! I almost cried I was so thrilled/shocked/delirious with joy.

People are good. I've found the folks online in the knitting and tatting communities to be especially kind, thoughtful, and generous with their time, talents, and resources. Now I'm a woman of deep religious convictions and I'd like to think that I would share whatever I could with others in need (and there are lots of kinds of needs out there that can be met without money). Diana's generous gift to me was yet another reminder of the importance of asking for help when you need it (and sometimes when you don't think you need it but you do). I have learned that there are lot of people in my life who are eager to show their kindness to me. All I have to do is present the opportunity, invite it, and then graciously receive. I can't help but think of a favorite passage of scripture from the New Testament:

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
"For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." Matthew 7:7-8 KJV

Thanks Diana! You are one in a million--a million little miracles that have blessed my life in recent years. It's because of folks like you that I'm going to graduate in a few short weeks and go on to mentor the nurse of tomorrow. Your goodness will never be forgotton. You're the best :-)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

March Madness

It was a remarkably warm, remarkably sunny, and remarkably nice spring day. I was rudely awakened by my lawn service guy, Mr. Jim, who decided to show up at 9AM to mow the lawn and reseed the lawn where the plumbing guys dug a big ditch last December to fix an old rusted out pipe. I am looking forward to the red mud not coming back into the house every time I let the dog out. Even still, I wasn't prepared for Jim's earlier than usual arrival.

Having spent yesterday's allotment of energy figuring out the revised thematic structure of my study (it's an inverted 3-sided pyramid!) today was the day to trek to the Bursar's Office one last time. This time it was to pay the $75Graduation Fee. Yup, you gotta pay them to stay in school and you gotta pay 'em again to be let out! But it's the last check I hope to ever write to the Bursar's Office so that's good. The next stop was the Registrar's Office. You have to file official forms to be allowed to schedule your defense of dissertation too. It's not like the University's gonna hang a big sign from the Torchbearer's arm announcing the event to the world, but you can't do it without the paperwork just the same. But I walked past the mighty Torchbearer on my way to the College of Nursing after I finished the formalities at the "tower" to chat one more time with my chair. I ran my inverted pyramid scheme past her and by george, she liked it! So with a big sigh of relief and a smile I trotted out into the warm sunshine secure in teh knowledge that all I have to do is write it, rewrite it, rewrite it again, duplicate it, and distribute the big D to my committee by this time next week. Yikes!

To cope with the thought of it all I stopped in at McKay's Used books on my way home to see if there were any new knitting treasures on the shelves. Nope, nada, nothing good. With is probably a good thing since I bought an issue of Anna (with a Niebling doily no less) off ebay yesterday (American seller who didn't know that the valuable content was the lace knitting, thus a cheap buy it now price--yippee for me) and 3 balls of white Zephyr from the Knitter for a summer lace project-TBD. Yup, it's a good thing I struck out at McKay's. To console myself once I got home I headed out to the garden with Miss Emme and the camera to capture the glow of daffodils in the setting sun. "A host of golden daffodils"--nothing can cheer the soul like a bunch of daffodils. Thye make me glad I crawled in the dirt last October and planted 50 more of the little treasures. Next Fall I'll add 50-100 more.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

FO Pictures

I did the washing, blocking, and writing last night but I had to wait until this morning for the light of day to snap decent pictures of the Hidcote Shawl stretched out in all her glory. Can you believe how black and mucky the wash water was? You couldn't even tell there was lots of liquid soap in the water because there were no bubbles to be seen. I've always believed that blocking lace is a magical process and this shawl was no exception. and while the lace was beautiful last night, when I went into the family room this morning and looked again in the daylight it was as if it was a different shawl. The light absolutely danced across the texture of the upper section of the shawl. I hope you can see just a bit of that effect in the pictures, although my camera can't do justice to it at all. The plain stockinette of the diamond motifs seemed almost bland in comparison to the top and bottom sections where the yarn swirls and ripples with life. It truly was a magical moment for me.

Hidcote Garden is a large shawl--large enough to wrap around my not-so-small-being and cover everything that benefits from being covered if you know what I mean. I can't sing the praises of the design enough. It was a joy to knit! And while it's not a first lace shawl project, Hidcote Garden is definitely attainable for the ambitious advanced beginner or intermediate lace knitter. And one more thing, the ColourMart cashmere that I used was an ideal choice for this shawl. I would absolutely recommend Richard's 2/28 laceweight or 4 ply cashmere for this project. You'll never wrap up in anything else more lovely or more luxurious than this!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Back Breaking Blocking

I had an extremely long, stressful day. the focus was presenting my preliminary thematic structure of my hope study to my research group for input and discussion. I wasn't happy with the themes and I got lots of feedback, but no clear answers. I think that's because there really aren't any clear answers. Hope is enigmatic so I guess it would be unrealistic to expect to come up with a nice neat package in the end. This is not nice for someone who likes nice neat packages!

So, to celebrate the exhaustion/frustration/panic what did I do? Of course, I washed, fluffed, and blocked the Hidcote shawl. It was a very yucky, mucky job washing all the machine oils out of the cashmere. It tooks 3 washes in very hot water plus 2 rinses until I felt confident I had all the grime out. Boy did the color brighten up after that!I started out the fluff process by tumble drying on the air setting for about 6-7 minutes. But the air only didn't bring out the bloom in the yarn adequately, so I followed that with 4-5 minutes on delicate. That worked.

It took 3 wires across the top and 2 on each side to accommodate the shawl. When everything was stretched and looking good my final dimensions proved to be spot on with the designer's at 44x90" Unblocked, the shawl was larger so I guess that's the difference a good fluff job can make on cashmere. I did have one catastrophe though when I didn't capture enough strands under the wires at one point on the shawl's side and the single strand snapped. Cashmere is more delicate than merino and will not take the same severe stretching. I protected the point with several other pins so it won't ravel and I'll mend it once the shawl is dry. It shouldn't be too big a deal so I'm not all that concerned.

Monday, March 05, 2007


For those of you not well-versed in knitting statistics, let me interpret the data for you (wink, wink): When you add Stress and Fatigue and then divide your limited attention by knitting, the end result is tinking. Tink, tink, tink! I was knitting row 21 and was more than halfway across the row when my stitches just weren't lining up the way I thought they were supposed to. I tinked and reknit the same 20-25 sts several times but still just couldn't seem to see where the problem was. But there was one thing I was certain of and that was that something wasn't right.

Let's face it, when knitting a very distinct lace pattern such as the basketweave section of the Hanami Stole, if you make a mistake it will be screamingly obvious down the road. So I applied the lesson I learned well as a neonatal nurse--when in doubt, yank it out. Of course in nursing the rule applied to IV's and endotracheal tubes which, when improperly placed or dislodged, can result in harm to the patient--something no nurse would ever want to inflict on a tiny newborn. It's a good rule and I applied it to my knitting as I painstakingly tinked back 2.5 rows and reknit them. I didn't really find the error in my previous knitting, but I know it's right this time and that's what matters most. I'm now 86 rows into the stole. My new KnitPicks Options circular needle was tremendously handy in picking out all those central double decreases--a nightmare to tink. I must admit those sharp tips are mighty handy and are allowing me to knit faster than I could with my rounder tipped Addi-turbos. Yup, I'm sold on these babies!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Moving on to the next lace project

Well I'm moving on to my next lace project, the Hanami Stole by Melanie Gibbons at Pink Lemon Twist. I loved knitting her Scheherazade Stole as a part of the Mystery Stole 2 KAL last summer so it wasn't a difficult decision to purchase Melanie's newest design when it was announced a couple of weeks ago. I love her very clear charts and detailed directions, making Pink Lemon Twist designs wonderful even for newbie lace knitters.

I took this picture a couple of days ago when I had knit the 1st 32 row repeat of the initial basketweave section. I'm halfway through the 3rd of 7 repeats thus far and am quite happy with how the stole is coming along. I am using 2 strands of 2/28 laceweight silk yarn, color-Melissa, from Richard at ColourMart for this project and 3.25mm (US 3) needles. This is my project using 100% silk yarn and I must say it is so soft and well, silky! It can also be quite slippery so I have to be sure to keep my tension consistent, but that hasn't really proved to be much of an issue.

I cast-on using a pair of Bates Silvalume straight needles, thinking it would be easier than using Addi-turbos since I was also adding beads as called for in the pattern (more about the beads in a minute). But after I had a few rows knit and had successfully shed all the stitch markers, I quickly moved over to my turbos for faster knitting and more space to spread out my work to inspect and admir it :-) Then my goodie box from KnitPicks came in the mail yesterday, so I switched over to the new Options circular needle to give it a test drive. I quickly learned to not push the needles around with my fingertips on the points of the needles as I apparently always did with my Addis. But once I conquered that move, it's been smooth sailing. The cable join is very smooth, the cable is so flexible & forgiving, and the pointy tips are totally awesome! I'm glad I bought the size 2 & 3 circs in 2 lengths. I will definitely be getting the interchangeables when the budget permits.

The one thing I'm not all that thrilled with in the Hanami design is the beaded cast-on. I normally use a knitted cast-on so following that direction was no problem. But stopping to grab a tiny crochet hook and pick up and place a bead on a loop, then slip that loop on the needle every other stitch x 95 stitches, well.... what a PITA! It took me over an hour just to cast-on. That might not have beem so bad but I'm not all that thrilled with the final look of the beaded edge. The size 8-0 Toho clear silverlined beads that I used were the same beads Melanie used in her pink version (Mill Hill beads are manufactured by Toho), but they are barely visible on my pale celery green silk. The effect doesn't seem to be worth the effort, at least in this case. I don't know, maybe if I had use a bead with more contrast, such as a gilt-lined opal frost bead, perhaps I would have been happier. In any case, the only 8-0 beads that will work using Melanie's technique are Tohos or Delicas--all the others don't have a big enough hole. I recommend folks get 6-0 or "E" beads for this project as they will all work no matter who the manufacturer is. Besides, 6-0 beads are much more readily available in craft stores, for those who don't visit specialty bead shops (or have a big bead stash like I do).

Also in the goodie package from KnitPicks were the blocking wires I ordered. One of these days when I get a breather from my research project I'll wash and block the Hidcote Garden Stole, but I doubt it will be anytime in the next few days. I have *so* much work to do and time is terrifyingly short. My dissertation defense is schedule for March 26th so I'll be working like a mad dog to make it in time. But I'll still need time to do a little knitting to keep sane ;-)