Tuesday, February 26, 2008


are Number ONE!!!! Yessiree it was quite the game. It truly lived up to all the hype as 2 very evenly matched basketball teams hit the hardwood in Memphis last Saturday night. But the Vols beat the Memphis Tigers in a close game to earn their way to the top ranking in both the AP and the USA Today/ESPN polls. I screamed so loud at the end of the game I hurt my voice and I was so stoked I couldn't sleep for hours afterwards. And on Sunday I was totally crashed out with a fibroflare. What a surprise! (not)

So I spent Sunday and frankly, most of Monday recovering...and knitting of course! I'm more than halfway through with the 2nd side of the Vision of Delight scarf. I want to get it done before the weekend when the Orkney Pi Shawl KAL begins. I don't know how much progress I'll make tonight as it's basketball time once again. It's another big game for Bruce's Boys as the Vols have to go to Nashville and play my other alma mater Vanderbilt. Vandy is always tough to beat at home and they have a couple of very strong players that will have to be contained if Chris Lofton and Co. are to escape with another win on the road. If they can beat Vandy tonight then the Vols really deserve to be #1 in the nation. Tip-off is in an hour so i guess it's another night for me and ESPN. GO VOLS!!!!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It's a Big Orange Night

It's only a little more than an hour away....the Big Event I've been anticipating for months now. It's almost tip-off time for the University of Tennessee Men's basketball team to play cross-state rival Memphis. Last year the game was in Knoxville and Memphis suffered a stunning 18 point loss to the up-and-coming Vols under still-new coach Bruce Pearl. Pearl is now a well-established icon at Tennessee. This year the game is in Memphis. The rest of the college basketball world cares because Memphis is ranked #1 in the nation, the Vols are #2---a ranking they've never experienced in Men's B-Ball before. The scalpers are asking 4-figure sums for tickets on Beale St. this afternoon and the pre-game festivities look more like a Saturday afternoon in October...not February. How cool is that???? I'm so stoked !!!

I'm so excited about the game that I knew concentrating on other tasks might be difficult tonight. So I'm getting things done. I've knit 20 rows on my Vision of Delight Scarf already...no guilty feelings for not making progress there today :-) But before I tell you about the scarf, I have to acknowledge that cute little blue box of sunshine. More than a week ago I was offered this big burst of sunshine from my friend Kat. I was having a crummy day. I'm terribly late with this, but gee THANKS!!! I will do as is intended and pass it forward, but give me a day or two to think about it first. I'm a bit distracted at the moment. The ESPN guys just said a pair of game tix sold on ebay for $10,000! That's insane! Of course Memphis is unbeaten thus far this season, so the hype is over the top. I hope Chris Lofton & the guys can change that statistic just a wee bit :-)

So here's the weekly knitting update. I've spent too much time surfing Ravelry and the net and not enough time with the needles clacking so progress on my Vision of Delight Scarf is slower than it should be. I finished the 1st half on Thursday and am almost done with the 1st chart on the 2nd side as I write. I was disappointed to discover that my scarf wasn't working out to be a wide as the designer's measurements. There isn't anything I can do to change that, but I was concerned about the scarf being too short, too. I could do something there. The easy answer was to add one repeat the length of the little curlicue motif along the side border. Nice, but that would add 36 rows of stockinette to the middle...BORING!

I studied Birgit's design and decided the perfect answer was to replicate the tulip motif she had repeated twice at each end border. I added a 3rd one in the center with an extended stem anchoring it to the border. It was the perfect solution to my problem and frankly, I think it takes an already good design and makes it better. When I had the 1st side completed I discovered one more thing I would change if I were to knit this scarf again. On the end, the "tulip"motifs or curly things had a diamond centered at the end...something not found on the center motif. I would add that little diamond to both ends of the center as well.

Also on the knitting front, I've been hunting and gathering in anticipation of future projects. I picked up a couple of balls of Cebelia 20 in white to knit a larger doily/table mat out of. I knocked out most of yesterday afternoon searching and researching doily patterns online. I was surprised at what I learned and just how much really is available. To top it all off, my postwoman dropped off a box from KnitPicks late this afternoon. My yarn is here for the Orkney Pi KAL that Liz Lovick is leading on EZasPi starting next Friday. I'm stoked!!! I really wanted to order a cone of Shetland Supreme Lace yarn from Jamieson & Smith for this shawl as many others are doing, but frugality is more important right now so KnitPicks Bare it is. For the same amount of money essentially, I got all the yarn I need plus 3 circular needles and 4 sets of dpns...all in small sizes so I can really be ready to knit more socks and lace. It was a wise choice for me and my Orkney shawl will still be amazing despite being knit out of Peruvian wool. Life is tough.

Well, that's about it for this week. the pre-game shows are on. I have enough time to add a few more rows to my scarf before tip-off. I'm thinking I may be able to wind one or two hanks of Bare into balls while I watch the game as it requires much less concentration to wind than it does to knit. GO VOLS!!!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Visions of Delight

OK, so I don't post a word for almost 2 weeks and then I jump in and post twice in a day? What's up? Well, I just had too much to say for only one post. In other words, I was too chicken to trust that the computer would hiccup and loose it all if I put it into one long post. I'm no fool...I know what computers are capable of doing to meassages that push the limits :-)

So here are a couple of pictures of my newest project, the Vision of Delight Scarf. This scarf is another in a series of amazing lace designs by a German knitter, designer, and yarn shop owner named Birgit Freyer. Birgit markets her designs under the label Knitting-Delight through her online shop Die-wollust.com. Last fall she decided to organize a Yahoo Group aimed primarily at the German-speaking/European market to teach lace knitting techniques. I found the group in January just as they were about to start on a KAL to knit this large scarf/small lace stole. My timing was perfect!

When I finish a really big project like Mystic Waters, I do like to knit a smaller project. I need the boost that comes from increasing my FO list :-) Vision of Delight was just the right size and provided me the opportunity to try out a popular lace yarn that I had not used yet. I headed over the The Yarn Haven and picked out a beautiful deep turquoise blue shade of Malabrigo Lace yarn. Malabrigo yarns are a single-ply loosely spun, very soft yarn from Uruguay. There is a very large, very vocal fan base for this yarn. Knitters get gushy about how soft and yummy this yarn is and I knew I needed to try it out. It's not an inexpensive yarn at ~$11 for a 50g (470yd) skein, so knitting a large project isn't the most feasible thing for me (although I would save up for one if sufficiently motivated). I bought 2 skeins and brought them home to test out on my still-new swift. I was very glad I had a swift as this yarn tends to stick to itself and it would have been a royal PiTA to wind otherwise.

The VoD pattern calls for laceweight yarn and US 6 or 7 needles to knit a scarf measuring ~17" x 71" I decided to swatch using US 5 needles, knowing that a 6 would be too loose. I was afraid I would need to drop down to a 4, but the 5 looked fine so I proceeded with that. The scarf starts at the center with a provisional cast-on and each of 3 charts is knit out from the center to the each end. It's one of my favorite ways to knit a scarf or stole--and much better than knitting 2 halves from the end to the center, then grafting the 2 sides together. The charts are in large-print and very easy to follow and the techniques required are simple as well. Once I reached the 100 row mark this morning I stopped to take a few pictures. I also learned a few things:

First, what I thought was US 5 (3.75mm needle) ended up being a US 6 (4.0mm) needle after all. that's what I get for storing both needles in the same basket without their packages. The good news is, I like how the fabric looks, so I'm OK. The next discovery was not unexpected--my scarf is much smaller than the published dimensions. At 100 rows completed, mine measures 13" x 13" when gently stretched and pinned (as shown in the photos). I suspected the designer's original and others I've seen knit by other KAL members were knit using fingering wt. yarn rather than a true lacewt. yarn, so I was not surprised to find my scarf was smaller. It doesn't matter so much in the width, but I do like my scarves to be nice and long. I have sketched out a minor modification to the design to add extra length while still keeping true to teh designer's intention. Sp stay tuned to see what emerges...it should be pretty cool!

Saturday Summary

It's been more than a week since I managed to gather my wits and post an update about the goings on here at beadntat. There have been distractions...things like illness, visiting relatives, Ravelry, and yes, even knitting! But the week-long migraine and related temperamental tummy have chilled out, the visitors have gone home, and I'm starting to return to life. Give me a couple more weeks, a little more daylight and warm, sunny spring days, and I should emerge from my winter cave happier than a groundhog :-)

When last I posted, I had gleefully announced the completion of my Mystic Waters Shawl (MWS). Of course no lace shawl is truly completed until it has been properly blocked. That big event happened last Wednesday night. The operative word here is BIG as my MWS ended up being very big. Note in the first picture that the top edge of the shawl was wider than the length of the full-sized sheet I used as my blocking surface. The final measurements were 106" across the top and 51" from top to tip. This was my first experience with cash/cotton yarn and I found it left a fine purple lint on the white sheet. I assume this is due to the cotton content. That same cotton also makes this shawl especially cuddly next to the skin. This was well-tested as I wore the shawl over my PJs around the house the week I was sick. I predict this one will see much use!

I wore the MWS over my sweatshirt to the Friday Night Knitting Club at The Yarn Haven last night. It was a big hit!!! Sandy even took pictures :-) I confess it's pretty cool to see folks who know knitting really appreciate the beauty and complexity of my lacework. It's my kind of endorphin rush :-)

So, with a huge project finished I've spent a ridiculous amount of time debating what my next move should be. The problem is there are too many great projects to choose from and I want to knit them all. But recent heated discussions about Herbert Niebling and his unique designs published mostly in Germany in the late 20th century really stimulated my interest in knitting doilies and other table laces. I've been collecting patterns, but didn't feel quite ready to break into my stash of tatting threads and give it a go. But, with a migraine coming and going last week I figured I'd try out a sweet little doily designed by one of the gals on Ravelry & Lace Knitters. Called Little Flowers, this doily was just the right size for a first doily project and it was charted and the instructions were in English. Call it 3 stars! I cast-on late one night and had it finished the next night. Sweet!

I knit Little Flowers using some very nice Opera 10 from my stash and 2.5mm dpns. I didn't have a 16" or 24" circular, so I ended up using 8 needles. It was logical for the 8 point motif, but that's a lot of needles to worry about falling out. In the end, I felt the doily looked a little dense to my eye. In the future I will use a 2.75-3.0mm needle for size 10 crochet cotton, or better yet--go down to a finer thread. I don't care for size 10 thread in tatting...I think I will ultimately feel the same way for knitted lace as well.

Energized by the success of the Little Flower doily, I had to jump right in a knit a second doily. I decided to thumb through my vintage pattern booklets and see what I could find. I hit a tattered gold mine in a book called Sparkling White Doilies, a book containing patterns for crocheted, hairpin lace, tatted, and knit doilies. while most were crocheted, there were 2 knitted doilies in the book. There was a small problem though--I had complete patterns but no pictures because the back cover was missing. This extra challenge added to the intrigue so I decided to knit a "Surprise" doily. I did use a finer thread this time, Cebelia 20, and the same 2.5mm needles--a perfect combination! I found a 32" circular needle and "magic looped" this doily after I had the first several rows knit on dpns. This combination worked perfectly and I ended up with a very pleasant surprise. I'm totally hooked on knitting doilies..there will be more in the future :-)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

WooHoo! Super Success!

Eli Manning ROCKS!!! Yes, the little Manning that could chugged his way to victory in today's Super Bowl. It was a major defensive match and an even bigger upset victory. I'm a huge fan of the Manning family so I couldn't be more pleased that both Peyton and Eli now have Super Bowl rings and MVP trophys. Awesome!

And as if that wasn't enough, I had my own super accomplishment of the day by casting off the last stitch on the Mystic Waters Shawl. It's one honking big shawl! It also beautiful. I didn't have the courage to get in the floor to block it tonight so final pictures and measurements will have to wait. It did weigh in at 172g making this the heaviest shawl I've ever knit.

I suppose I should include one little errata while I'm at it. Never trust the media when it comes to silly details about holidays. I managed to hear two different verdicts attributed to yesterday's Groundhog predictions. Apparently the poor critter did not see his shadow after all and Spring is supposedly right around the corner. I hope that prediction is correct, but then here in Tennessee winter isn't that big a deal anyway. I was reminded of that this weekend watching all the TV footage of Pres. Hinckley's funeral in Salt Lake City. There was plenty of new snow covering everything and it was clearly cold at the graveside service at City Cemetery. I do not miss those Utah winters one bit. We had a mild weekend here and my spring bulbs are shooting up slowly. Watch out groundhog....the daffodils are coming!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Groundhog Day

It's a rather strange holiday if you ask me... Groundhog Day? The sole purpose is for an excessively pampered pet Groundhog to emerge in the early morning hours in Punxatawny, PA and the pompous men in top hats then declare whether or not the groundhog sees his shadow...or not. A shadow is not good news, as it means 6 more weeks of winter weather. And so the celebratory folks gathered in the cold morning hours this morning, declared a shadow was not seen, and theoretically spring is just around the corner. Yeah, right. It all sounds quite silly, but as a kid it was something fun to cheer up an otherwise dreary winter day. That turns silly stuff into a good thing in my eyes since I am plagued by seasonal depression.

I'm continuing to work on the edging on the Mystic Waters Shawl, but I did grant myself permission to take a couple of days off as the work on the shawl was beginning to get to me. But the top is fairly mindless knitting at this point, so it was good company as I watched President Hinckley's funeral on BYU-TV today. The services were lovely and I maintained my composure surprisingly well for a woman with a mushy heart. I didn't start crying until the end of the graveside service when a lone bagpiper emerged from behind an enormous 100+ yr old pine tree in the Salt Lake City Cemetery playing first Danny Boy, then Amazing Grace. Pres. Hinckley so loved Danny Boy! There's something about the plaintive, rather mournful sound of bagpipes that just can't be duplicated. It was a fitting tribute to the man who's ancestors hailed from the UK, a place he loved so much.

I finished the 1st Volunteer Spirit Sock very late Thursday night and have cast on for the 2nd sock. While their are still some aspects of the design that are a little rough in my eyes, overall I'm quite pleased with how they are turning out. I have a new appreciation for the challenges of creating a lace pattern from scratch. I looked for an existed pattern that would communicate the Volunteer V, but found none suitable for a top=down sock. That left a sketch book and pencil and swatching.

I wanted the eyelets to be the important feature of the V lace pattern, rather than the lines formed by a series of decreases. This idea has it's strengths, but I'm not certain it lends itself to self-striping yarn as well as it does to a solid color. The half-pattern offset gives a diamond appearance to the fabric from a distance. I like this look, but it adds significantly to the difficulty of the knitting by placing YOs at the beginning and end of each needle. I may write an alternate version of the pattern which eliminates the offset and goes with just the simple V lace pattern--a better choice for beginning sock knitters or those not experience in lace knitting techniques.

I would have preferred to knit the cuff with a larger needle, but the yarn demanded that it be knit on sz 2.25mm dpns. I'm not all that impressed with the J Knits Superwash Me sock yarn. The yarn is skinny, a light fingering weight similar to Schaefer Anne, but without the body and cohesiveness of Anne. I found it to be surprisingly splitty and easily snagged, even when using nickel-plated needles. At $25/100g skein I expected a better performing yarn. Even still, the true test of durability will come with wear and washing so I'll reserve final judgment until I see how well they hold up. I may look for another mostly orange yarn for a second test-knit of the pattern. I saw one on The Loopy Ewe that looks promising.