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!

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