Thursday, September 09, 2010

I'm a Big Girl Now

Well, a Big Girl Lace Knitter that is! You know you are all growed up when you can grab yarn and needles and successfully knit a semi-complicated project that you couldn't couldn't do before. For me that project is Evelyn Clark's wonderful Trellis Lace Scarf, first published in Interweave Knits, Spring 2006. Excited after completing my first lace project, an Old Shale scarf, before Christmas 2005 I had just finished knitting my 1st lace shawl, Kiri, for the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Olympics (which coincided with the Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy in February, 2006). Those two projects sealed my fate -- an addiction to lace knitting. I was ready to take on the lace world...or so I thought.

I fell in love with the Trellis Lace Scarf immediately. My first order of lace yarn from Knit Picks had arrived and I was ready to conquer anything lace. But pointy-tipped lace needles were not readily available in 2006 as they are now and I was using Addi-Turbos. The 7-into-5 cluster stitches which are the hallmark of Clark's design had me befuddled. I just couldn't get my needles to gather up 7 sts once, let alone 3 times to form the 5 sts needed for the lace patterning. After multiple attempts I finally gave up and repurposed the yarn for another shawl. I was not ready for fancy stitches just yet. You can't run a marathon if you are still mastering the art of walking.

After finishing my Echo Flowers shawl, I had an odd ball+ of yarn left over -- just the right amount for a lace scarf. I love my shawls, but scarves are so much easier to wear day in and day out and I could use a few more in my wardrobe. A quick survey of my pattern options and I came across an old working copy of Trellis. Perfect! It's amazing how readily I can purl super loosey-goosey sts on the row before the cluster sts, then scoop up all 7 sts and come up with 5 nowadays. It's almost like magic, but I know it has everything to do with all the nupps I've knit over the last year or so.

I'm adding a few 8-0 seed beads just to the edging. I like the little touch of bling and the beads add just a tad of extra weight which really helps a lace scarf or shawl drape nicely when worn. I'll probably knit a few more repeats of the 16 row lace pattern so I'll have the option of wearing the scarf doubled as is the current rage. I have lots of yarn so the only question will be do I have enough patience to stick it out when I'm sick to death of knitting the same thing over and over again (the problem with scarves). We shall see!

Friday, September 03, 2010

A few photos

I finally managed to haul out my camera and snap a few photos of what I've been knitting on. Tonight I'll just post my latest FO -- the Echo Flowers Shawl. This shawl has been all the rage among lace & small shawl knitters on Ravelry. The orignal design called for 100g of sock yarn, which really ups the popularity factor for many knitters. Me? I still prefer knitting with lace weight yarns, so of course I grabbed a couple of skeins of my favorite go-fiber, baby alpaca, for this little beauty. Throw in just a few seed beads for a touch of sparkle in the border, and this shaped triangle shawl is pretty darn close to perfection, as far as lace shawl designs go.

I am quite enamored by the intricate motifs in Estonian lace knitting, and these 9-stitch flower clusters are no exceptions. Now that I have mastered the tricks of knitting perfect nupps, I no longer feel the need to shy away from complex Estonian lace patterns. The wide nupp (and bead) border really distinguishes Echo Flowers from some of the other popular Estonian-inspired triangle shawls that are popular right now. The border is what people really see so ending a shawl with a flourish is really important.

The scoop for this project is:
Pattern: Echo Flowers Shawl
Designer: Jenny Johnson
Source: or Ravelry
Yarn: Cascade Alpaca Lace - col#1408 (yellow heather), 2 skeins (437 yds/50g; 82g used)
Needles: US 5/3.75mm
Beads: Matsuno 8-0 SL Champagne Pink
Cast-on: 18 July 2010 Bind-off: 26 Aug 2010
Size: 42" across shoulders at back neck X 28" neck to point after blocking
Details: I knit the flower clusters as mirror images, knitting the right side as sssk and the left as k3tog for the flower bases. I did 14 repeats of the Flower Chart

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Footvol - Swiperboy ( EXCLUSIVE NEW MUSIC 2010

So Long Summer...Hello Fall

September has finally arrived and I can thankfully say so long to the summer of 2010. With a few wonderful exceptions, like my trip to the Rustic Tarts & Old Farts Knitting Gathering back in June, the rest of this summer has pretty much been lousy. I've been working with my health care team to make drastic changes in the medications I take to manage my fibromyalgia. The end result will be very positive, but the journey has been anything but. I've been sick as a dog pretty much all summer. Add to that the excessive heat and humidity we've had here in Smoky Mountain Country and, well, I'm ready for Fall to get here and for life to get better. Much better.

When I haven't been sleeping --or not-- I've been watching sports on TV and reading novels that have been collecting dust on my bookshelf for years. My knitting output, especially in August, has been minimal. I spent July watching Braves baseball, Wimbledon Tennis, and the Tour de France. My TDF KAL project was an amazing Estonian-inspired lace shawl called Aurantium Blossom, which I knit in a delicate pink baby alpaca laceweight yarn. The lace patterning is comprised of two different Estonian flower motifs, accented by a simple leaf motif edging. Never one to leave things as is, I chose to gild the lily just a wee bit by adding pale pink silver-lined AB 8-0 seed beads to the edging. When the light hits the beads just right they look like raindrops. Beautiful!!! AB is one of the prettiest shawls I've knit to date.

Inspired by the stunning outcome of AB, I cast-on another shaped Estonian Lace shawl, Echo Flowers, the last week of the TDF. Having mastered the 3-into-9 stitch flower cluster I figured I could whip out EF in no time at all. Yeah, right. NOT! I was so sick I hardly touched my knitting for 2+ weeks. I barely managed to finish EF before the start of the La Vuelta in Spain(another 3 week road cycling Grand Tour Race, another KAL hosted on Ravelry). A shawl that I could normally knit at my leisure in maybe 3 weeks took closer to 6 weeks to finish. SIGH!!! The good news is that EF is perhaps even more stunning than AB because of the wide nupp and flower border that finishes the bottom edge. Once again I used baby alpaca lace yarn, this time in a butter yellow with rosy pink heathered highlights, and added a touch of bling with a few champagne pink SL 8-0 seed beads. The shawl is blocked, but I have yet to take FO photos. Stay tuned!

In the meantime I have several knitting projects I'm working on in fits and starts. The Atlanta Braves are in the NL East pennant race and playing better. Tennis has moved on to the US Open in NYC, the Schleck brothers are cycling in the sweltering heat of Andalucia, and beginning this Saturday it's FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE! GO VOLS!!!