Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nicht Mein Tag

I was trying to wade through/delete all the knitting group messages from my overstuffed Yahoo mailbox tonight (blame the distraction of the Olympics) when I came across this message from Birgit Freyer, a German designer of lovely knitted lace shawls:
Oh jeeeh,heute ist nicht mein Tag ;-). Birgit, I couldn't have said it better myself. Loosely translated she said Oh jeez, today is not my day. Me neither Birgit, me neither. My German is pithy poor, but I know enough to be able to translate that line. Some aspects of my body clock/biorhythms are disgustingly predictable. Like every 4th Thursday I will have a migraine, sometimes a little one, sometimes a monster...a migraine that may last until Sunday. Blame hormones. Today's migraine was a real doozy. Not being able to find where mother hid the Excedrin (my most effective weapon) did not help matters. I take more potent pain meds for my fibro, but for some reason Excedrin works as well or better than any prescription migraine med I've ever tried. I've tried lots of them, and at around $15-20/pill those other meds are budget busters. I'll stick with Excedrin and a Diet Coke thankyouverymuch >:-(

And while today was nicht mein Tag,, I did make some more progress on the 3rd design in my series of Tennessee sock patterns. In this design I abandon lace in favor of the more traditional/classic look of the orange and white checkerboard. The checkerboard pattern is a revered symbol at The University of Tennessee. Football fans know the endzones at Neyland Stadium are painted in orange and white checkerboard, but did you know that the checkerboard is an architectural detail on the bell tower of Ayres Hall on the Hill? I was looking at some photos of Ayres Hall the other day and noticed the checkerboard for the very first cool! So inspired I designed this sock with a checkerboard band at on the cuff, and intarsia Power T on the top of the foot, and contrasting orange afterthought heels and toes. It's an ambitious project for me as it's my 2nd ever stranded colorwork project and my 1st experience with intarsia and afterthought heels. This photo is not good as this lighting is way off, but I'll get a better one when the 1st sock is done.

I'm quite thrilled with the results thus far. I'm enjoying the learning process. Even more shocking, I'm loving the break from lace (gasp!). I know, shocking. I may get into this colorwork thing yet ;-) Kick-off is only 4 short days away.... GO VOLS!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Vols Victory Socks

Vols Victory Socks
Originally uploaded by beadntat

The first football game of the season is less than a week away and I'll be ready to cheer on my beloved University of Tennessee Vols in my new Vols Victory Socks! The second in a series of UT themed sock designed by yours truly under the Plaasabilites Design label, the Vols Victory Socks incorporate a simple V patterned lace motif. Not known for my speedy sock knitting, these socks were a quick knit..only 4 days! Not bad for knitting and designing socks for this gal.

The scoop:
Pattern: Vols Victory Socks
Designer: Kristina Plaas
Source: Plaasabilities Designs
Yarn: J. Knits Superwash Me - Go UT!
Needles: US 2 (2.75mm)
Gauge: 8 sts/"
Started: 22Aug08
Finished: 26Aug08

Details: A top-down sock design with Victory Lace pattern, Eye of Partridge heel flap and Star Toe knit in the round using the Magic Loop technique.

Look for the pattern soon at The Yarn Haven in Knoxville, TN and online. Go Vols!!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vols Victory Socks

Vols Victory Socks
Originally uploaded by beadntat

By popular request I am designing sock patterns to complement the J. Knits Superwash Me Go UT! sock yarn sold exclusively at The Yarn Haven in Knoxville, TN. I created another design last year when the yarn first came out, but I had mixed feelings about the pattern so I didn't write it up. To be truthful, my reservations were excessive and not warranted as the finished socks (Volunteer Spirit Socks) look great. But the Volunteer Spirit lace pattern did have some tricky aspects that would be challenging to less experienced knitters so I went back to my sketch book and tried to come up with something that still communicated the spirit of the Vols but would be more accessible to lees-skilled sock knitters.

And so I present the beginnings of the Vols Victory Socks. The V is for Vols is still there, but the lace is simple to knit. I am knitting the socks from the top down with an Eye of Partridge heel flap and, when I get there, a star toe (no grafting!). When I get finished the pattern will be made available for purchase at The Yarn Haven and online. The Volunteer Spirit Socks will also be available for purchase soon. University of Tennessee fans and those who knit for them will soon have their very own handknit socks to help them cheer the Vols on to Victory. Go Vols!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Play the Anthem, Raise the Flag..

Bow to Bobicus Maximus, Wave to the Crowd, and say "Hi Mom!", I finished my Ravelympics Events with honor, and under the time limit. Yes indeedy, I cast-off my Angel Lace Shawl with beads last night. This morning I did the bath and blocking thing. I am done :-)

The scoop:
Pattern: Angel Lace Shawl
Designer: Evelyn Clark
Source: FiberTrends, purchased at my LYS, The Yarn Haven
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Lace - color: lavender, 70grams/613 yards
Needles: Knit Picks Options US 4 (3.5mm)
Beads: 8-0 Ivory Ceylon (Czech) - 415 total
Dimensions: 50" x 23" not stretched; 72" x 33" blocked

Final word: A great design; the only troublespot was my split plied splicing technique failed me at blocking and required repair. I think the Misti Alpaca is too fragile for this technique if a severe blocking is planned. I'll use a different technique with this yarn in the future.
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tag, you're it!

A week or two ago I was tagged by Lovie, my nephew Tyler's mother-in-law, to reveal 5 things I love a lot. I generally dislike being "tagged" - it rates right up there with chain letters and spam for me. I refuse to tag others after me, but because I love your Lovie, I will respond to your request. I love many things, so limiting them to 5 is both a challenge an act of mercy on anyone else who is reading this.

First off I must say that I love my family. We're a small family, so staying in touch and being close isn't too hard. We each have very different tastes and preferences and are all strong-willed, so putting everyone in the same room at the same time and expecting all to be easy task. But we do love each other and look out for one another and that's the important thing.

Next I love the personal relationship I have with my Heavenly Father and my Elder Brother and Savior Jesus Christ. I love being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have a firm testimony of the truthfulness of the church, it's leaders and teachings. 'Nuff said.

I dearly love the beauties of this world. I'm especially passionate about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and all the treasures I find there. But no matter where I am, I find joy in the flowers and trees and birds and everything that is beautiful around me.

The 1st three items on this list were easy. The rest of the list is just one of the many little things that fill my life with joy. I love good music. I played the cello growing up and learned to love classical music. I also love to sing and have a special fondness for sacred and classical music, opera, and good old American favorites from movies and musicals and other traditional sources. I also love the arts of almost every genre. I love going to galleries and museums and arts festivals. I love attending plays and concerts. But, lest one think I'm all artsy-fartsy let me assure you that I love sports too. While I am not gifted athletically, I'm a great fan of my favorite sports: college football, college basketball, figure skating, gymnastics, road cycling & the Tour de France, swimming, etc. And finally, I love being creative and learning new things. Whether it's contemplating nursing theory, discovering history, or mastering a new knitting technique, I'm always learning new things. Each discovery I make adds to my understanding of the world, other people, and myself. Each new thing prods me to think thoughts I've never had before, make things I've never made before, and expands my world. It's a wonderful way to be :-)

Monday, August 18, 2008

What does 08.08.08 mean???

It's supposedly a very lucky number in China. How convenient that it happened to fall on a Friday this year...perfect timing for the Opening Ceremonies of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing, China. I love watching the Olympics - everything from the Opening Ceremonies to most of the competitive events (nix wrestling, boxing, and a couple of others) to the Closing Ceremonies - it's all fascinating to me. Some sports I follow all the time - gymnastics, swimming, cycling are among my favorites. Some sports are novel to me. This year I've learned a little about the team sport handball. And to think I thought handball was a game played by 2 people in a racquetball court!

A more recent "sporting event" added to my "Olympic experience" has been knitting. It all started 2 years ago when Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka The Yarn Harlot got the wild idea to have an international knitting event of challenge and goodwill in association with the Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy in 2006. And thus the Official Knitting Olympics was born. The KO is be held every 4 years in true Olympic tradition associated with the winter games. But the idea caught on in an enormous sort of way, so with the Beijing summer games looming on the horizon a comparable, but distinctly different Olympic event for fiber fanatics seemed inevitable. And what is the biggest thing to come along since The Yarn Harlot and Torino? Why Ravelry, of course! I love Ravelry, or at least most of the time I do, so it was the logical venue for hosting an Olympic-sized event. And so the Ravelympics were born. The knitters and crocheters, representing their unique teams, cast-on for their respective events during the Opening Ceremonies and work feverishly to complete their projects before the Olympic Flame is turned off in Beijing.

I was a beginning lace knitter 2 years ago during the Knitting Olympics. My chosen project was very ambitious - my 1st lace shawl. I knit Kiri in a heavy laceweight/light fingering weight red cashmerino. I finished in time, basked in the glory of my triumph, and forever sealed my addiction to lace knitting. Now, 2 years and many shawls later, I'm still knitting lace and loving it. This time the choice of what to knit was difficult as there were so many awesome patterns to choose from. I signed up for Team G.R.I.T.S. (Girls Raised In The South, one of the Ravelry groups I participate in) and entered the Shawl Relay, Laceweight Long Jump, and Balance Beads. That was the easy part. The rest was hard. I needed to use yarn from The Yarn Haven, my favorite LYS as I am also participating the int shop's Olympic event. That limited my pattern options some. The rest of the decision should have been easy--choose something you like that you know you can do. But could I do that??? No way! No, I desperately wanted to knit Mystic Meadows, an ambitious cables and lace stole that would be hard to complete in the 17 days of the Olympics. I quietly entered 3 shawl projects into the Ravelympics, knowing I would knit only one. Every good gymnast has an alternate plan for each routine, right? Right!

OK, so that's the scoop. Now to the event. I cast-on during the Opening Ceremonies. I started my ambitious project - the Mystic Meadows shawl. I calculated in advance that I needed to knit between 25-30 rows per day in order to finish the "race". It was ambitious, but doable, I thought. But 3 1/2 hours and 13 rows later, with a fair amount of tinking to correct mistakes, I knew I was in over my head. Could I knit this shawl in 17 days? Absolutely. Could I knit the shawl AND watch the Olympics? Nope. No way. Mystic Meadows demands too much concentration. Too much counting. And so I set it aside and cast-on the Angel Lace Shawl, my alternate plan.

The Angel Lace Shawl is another wonderful pattern by one of my favorite designers, Evelyn Clark. Like many of Evelyn's shawl, Angel Lace is a top-down triangle shawl which starts with a few stitches at the neck and increases as the shawl progresses. I'm using a favorite yarn, Misti Alpaca Lace in a pretty pastel lavender, and adding ivory ceylon 8-0 seed beads to the "face" of each angel and along the bottom edge. I started on August 9th knitting the 1st chart and 4 repeats of the 2nd chart. I added 1-2 repeats each day until I completed 16 repeats last night and declared the shawl big enough. Today, the 10th day of Olympic competition, I started knitting the edging so I should be ready cast-on Tuesday or Wedsnesday. The Shawl relay referee decided that blocking was required for the "race" to be complete, so I will be doing that as soon as I finish casting off. I will triumph once again! And best of all...I will have another wonderful shawl to wear with pride and joy! Yea team!