Wednesday Update: Shawl, Sock, and a Rant

What a beautiful morning! My backyard filled with birdsong early and the cats began clamoring to be let out, so I got up, made a latte, and joined everyone in the early sunshine. It’s too soon for flowers (except dandelions which are now in full bloom!), but the promise of summer is there for the taking. My trees are blooming and there are little buds where the leaves are getting ready to burst out. It’s hard to not get a little excited.

I took advantage of the light to get knitting pictures. I finished a shawl over the weekend. Here it is:

Shawl.
I made a simple garter stitch and eyelet shawl from a skein of wildly painted yarn. You can visit my Ravelry project page for more info on the shawl here.
Close up of shawl.
Here’s a close-up of the tip. There was a lot of color in the yarn!
Shawl on denim.
Here’s the shawl on denim. The colors look great combined with several things in my wardrobe. Yeah!!
Amazing yarn.
The original skein of yarn. It was a little intimidating with that “becoming art” label, but I’m happy with the product.

Now that I have one of the two shawls that I am working on finished I felt that it was OK to cast on the April 2015 sock. Here she is!

Sock
I am so happy with the way the grey is calming down the extreme wildness of the hot pink painted yarn. The pattern is great for television knitting, too, so I made a lot of progress last night.

It was a really great week for me knitting-wise. I even coated myself with the best sunscreen on the market (SPF 60!!) and went out and planted my new roses. There were a lot of positives for the week except for… my scleroderma decided to kick my butt. My leg muscles now hurt, my knees have become swollen, red and warm to the touch, and I’m dizzy in the mornings. I have edema in my arms and legs. What is up with that!! My rheumatologist gave me some drug information to read (I get to pick which drug I prefer of two possibilities. This sounds pretty good, but during the week I realized that these are chemo drugs that I will be taking at a lower dose than cancer patients get. Bummer!) Still, I was having a happy week and being positive until one of my neighbors stopped by to talk to me while I was planting the roses, and he mentioned that if I would get out more often to exercise and get sunshine I would “get well”.

He meant to be encouraging. He’s really not all that bright; he doesn’t get “chronic”. I was polite, but once I got back into the house I was ready to rant. Don’t tell chronically ill people that they can “get well” if they just change their diet, get more exercise, meditate, get off gluten, take vitamins, or whatever else occurs to you. It’s almost like suggesting that it is their fault that they are sick. I know that while it is human nature to want people to “get well”; it is insensitive to suggest that this is within the power of the person who is dealing with a disabling, progressive and incurable disease.

On the other hand, I need to pick a drug. Once I calmed down I e-mailed the doctor to let him know that CellCept sounded pretty good. Some scleroderma patients in forums are claiming to be in remission. That sounds pretty good to me. The downside? No more sunshine for me until I’m off again.

Midnight gardening? I can do it!!

 

Wednesday Update: Shawls!

I am definitely in a shawl knitting phase. I just finished Edith’s Secret, and now I am cranking out two more shawls using bright yarns. This is fun! Here is what I’m working on:

Amazing yarn.
This overly bright yarn decided that it wanted to be a simple garter stitch shawl, so that is what is happening to it. After a week of knitting I have used about half of the skein.
Shawl
There sure is a lot of color here, isn’t there! The shawl looks nice with several of my winter tops, so it is all good. This pattern is 3S Shawl by Amy Meade, and the yarn is Becoming Art Cielo Fingering in the colorway Midnight Mountain. Here’s my project notes on Ravelry. I’m going to put a picot edge on this if I don’t find a simple garter lace edge that I like.
Shawl
I’m also working on a larger asymmetric shawl called Sidere by Hilary Smith Callis. This one is demanding more attention so I am only knitting on it in small spurts. The shawl has short rows, which is why the pattern of bumps is more spaced apart to the right of the picture. The yarn is Knitted Wit’s Single Fingering in the colorway Madge. Here’s the project notes on Ravelry.

That’s it. There has been a lot of midnight knitting going on with these babies. 🙂 I need to get them out of the way so that I can get going on the next sock of the month (since it is April 1st and all…) I’m really having trouble deciding on one sock as I found a lot of cool yarn when I went stash diving earlier this week. Then there were the patterns in one of my sock books. How to pick just one?

Isn’t it great to have a stash!!

 

FO: Edith’s Secret done at last!

I have been knitting all week on my Edith’s Secret shawl by Kristin Ashbaugh-Helmreich. Finally, at 2am on Wednesday night (I’m the Midnight Knitter, remember…) I was approaching the end of the bind-off when I paused to look back at all of my fabulous knitting and saw <gasp!> a double picot where there should only be one. NNNOOOOOOO!!! That was that. I stuffed Edith into her project bag and went to bed.

Cat on shawl.
Once again my cat MacKenzie closely supervised all of my work. Here he is on the wet shawl while I was blocking it. I had to cover it with a towel overnight to keep it safe: MacKenzie slept on the towel on the floor all night.

Yesterday in the sunshine I frogged back through the binding, reknitted it with the correct number of picots (one at the tip of each leaf detail in the final lace section) and cut the yarn at last. Blocking happened overnight (with my cat MacKenzie sleeping on top of the towel-covered shawl all night…) and here Edith is in all her glory.

Shawl in tree.
Edith on the arms of my usual shawl model: the ash tree. The tree is starting to develop leaf buds so I will have to leave it alone soon. These models are so fussy…
Lace on shawl.
Here’s a close-up of the lace sections with the beads. My hands got a little sore pulling all the beads onto the yarn with the crochet hook, but the final effect is nice. See the little picot detail at the tip of the leaves?  I messed up by putting two on one leaf. 
Here it is on a chair which shows the drape a little better then the tree did.  A little dark, but you get the idea. :-)
Here she is on a chair which shows the drape a little better then the tree did. A little dark, but you get the idea. 🙂

Here’s my project notes on Ravelry in case you would like more details.

I am so glad that Edith is done, but now I am in a slump for sure. I even did my taxes today as I wasn’t quite sure what project to start knitting next.

Cat on desk.
This is my cat Morgan helping me get my income tax filing in order. He’s not really into knitting supervision, but put a piece of paper on a table, boot up the computer, and there he is. I hope that my tax lady likes cat fur…

I’ve placed the likely yarn candidates on the dining room table, and each time I head upstairs I kind of pat different skeins of yarn and consider the projects that they might be used for. So hard to make these decisions… Such beautiful color, and half of the skeins contain cashmere and silk too. I may have to start several projects all at once.

Amazing yarn.
Look at this! This yarn wants to become art: it even says so on the label. What should happen to it? Socks, mitts, little shawl? I’m tending towards the shawl (garter stitch, picots, eyelets, but no other lace.) Maybe a little Hitchhiker? Help!

Happy knitting everyone and have a good weekend.

Bead Story

I have been knitting the Edith’s Secret shawl (without any side trips into other projects!!!) all week. I am through the stripes and the totally new to me Diamond Tweed stitch, and finally the time has come for lace. Lace means beads. Yeah, beads!!! I have been looking forward to this since I got the shawl started. I went to the bead store Tuesday to pick up a nice selection of beads to play with as I wasn’t sure what I would want when I got down that far on the shawl.

Cat
As usual my cat MacKenzie has moved in to supervise my knitting (and to deposit some more cat hair just in case there wasn’t enough in the knitting…) Doesn’t he look irritated with me? I had just admonished him to leave that ball of yarn alone!

After asking around I narrowed the bead contenders down to a purple matte finish bead and a shiny light amethyst bead. Gee, everyone at my knitting group felt that the darker purple bead would be best, but I wasn’t sure if I would like that much contrast. Also, I kind of like the pink in the yarn and would like to highlight it if I can. To further complicate things the shawl pattern directions include a chart of the lace with the sweet note that “beads are appropriate in this section” with no notation of where to put them. Yep, a little knitted sampler was in order.

That’s how I ended up knitting at the table with MacKenzie. This lace is English Mesh, and the pattern is pretty simple. It is little tear-drops surrounded by yarn-overs and it seemed to me that it would be good to put the bead at the top of the double decrease in the pattern, or perhaps in the middle of two yarn-overs.

Lace with beads.
Here’s the sampler with the purple beads placed in a couple of different places: at the bottom of the swatch the beads are right above the double decrease, and in the middle they are between the yarn-overs. The amethyst beads (the lighter ones at the top of the swatch) are placed just above the double decrease.

This is what the beads look like next to the shawl.

Purple beads and lace.
Purple beads with lace next to the shawl. They don’t stand out as much as I thought they would. The strip of knitting right above the needle is the infamous Diamond Tweed stitch which I had to frog twice while knitting. It is pretty, isn’t it. Worth every “ribbit”.
Beads and Lace.
Amethyst beads with the lace against the shawl. See how the pink in the yarn is more noticeable?

Well, after all of that it was easy for me to make my decision. If I am going to do all of the work to put these beads into the lace I will be using the beads that have a little flash to them: the amethyst beads win! I have also decided to place the beads right above the double decrease (sl 1, k2tog, psso) in the lace pattern. That means that the bead is placed onto the stitch in question on the following purl row using a little crochet hook right before I purl that stitch. Here’s a video tutorial showing how to do that if you’ve never tried it before.

Yeah! Time to start knitting this on the actual shawl. Edith, here I come!!

WIP Wednesday: Edith’s Secret Update

Sunday my current shawl project failed a reality check big time, got frogged and then I rebooted the entire project with new yarn. One of the factors in the first effort’s meltdown was the extreme attentiveness (and shedding) of the cats, and between one things and another I was almost 30 stitches off the stitch count. Since Sunday the weather has been great, the cats are outside most of the day and then sleep in the afternoons when they come back in. Prime knitting weather!!

Sleeping Cats
Here they are all tuckered out after spending the morning on a bug hunt outdoors. Guess who is the problem child leaving his fur all over the house?

I’m still working on Edith’s Secret by Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich, and have now knitted through the first three clues and I am still exactly on the correct stitch count!!! Yeah! I have made a little chart for myself to track the colors and increases, and have been counting stitches every 4th row, and it has paid off big time.

Shawl
Here is the shawl the way it was Sunday at the end of Clue #1. 
Stripes
I am now at the end of Clue #3. You can see that right now it is all stripes that become more narrow as you go down the shawl. This is the end of the stripes; tomorrow I start knitting something called “diamond tweed” and then it is on to lace. Gosh, I love lace.
Stripes and Beads
Lace means beads. What do you guys think about these beads? I’m thinking of mixing the two colors together and then putting them into the lace (which will be the grey yarn) randomly color-wise.

Edith’s Secret is a shawl in 7 parts (clues). Tomorrow I’m going to my favorite yarn shop for knitting group and I hope to get another section of the shawl done. Woo-hoo! I just love it when a knitting project comes together.

 

 

 

 

Sunday Morning: cat hair, finished mitts and a shawl reboot

I started a lot of projects last week and then went out and bought a tons of yarn. What a week I had. The weather is finally warming up, birds have come back to Colorado, the first green shoots have appeared in my garden, and the cats and I are spending afternoons outside.

Buff Cat
Doesn’t he look innocent? Morgan is a rescue cat of mixed heritage. He has a pot-belly, a bob-tail and Maine Coon fur. This cat also seems to produce his entire body weight in shed fur every spring.

My long-haired cat Morgan, bought to be a companion to my over-active and complex cat MacKenzie, has decided he now wants to be a lap cat. He is also shedding like there is no tomorrow. Everything I am knitting is getting covered with blond hair and some of it is now knit into the fabric. Of course this is interfering with my knitting zen, but the weather is so nice and Morgan is so sweet I’m just kind of dealing with it and am knitting a midst the cloud of cat down.

Mitts
I made some changes to my easy mitt pattern so they would hug my hand better. I love how the simple stockinette shows off the yarn. Here are my project notes on Ravelry.

I finished my fingerless mitts on Friday, and that evening I got through the first clue of the shawl that I am knitting. This shawl, called Edith’s Secret, was originally a MKAL meant to be knitted during Downton Abbey this season. Because it was a MKAL the pattern is organized into seven clues. With a thrill of accomplishment at the end of a fabulous Friday night knitting marathon I picked off as much cat hair as I could from the shawl,  and counted my stitches to make sure everything was on track.

Shawl
Looks good, but seriously off the pattern. Yikes!!

Oh,  no!!!  Almost 30 stitches off from where I should be. Morgan was dumped off my lap, I laid out all the pages of the pattern (yep, another battle with the cat and the pages of paper on the floor…) and started making a diagram with little boxes and stitch counts to figure out what had happened. Seriously, how was it possible to mess up this seriously? I blame the cat, of course!!

Everything was frogged. Both cats thought this was a new game. I calmly reminded myself that ripping out my own hair wouldn’t improve matters, and finally got everything back into two balls.

Here's the frogged yarn. See all the cat hair in it?
Here’s the frogged yarn. See all the cat hair in it?

Hey, that grey ball doesn’t look big enough. Maybe I should check the label again… Are you kidding me? The yardage is 50 yards too short!

Suddenly the cat is back in my good graces again. Wow. If I hadn’t made soooo many mistakes that I ended up frogging this shawl I would have had a crisis down the road when I ran out of that yarn. And besides, there is a silver lining to all of this: I get to go back to the yarn store!!

Back to the yarn store I went Saturday afternoon. I took several yarn candidates with me with the hopes of making a good match with a contrasting yarn that would work for the shawl. It was a great visit, I found the perfect yarn, connected with an old friend while I was there, and bought even more fabulous yarn!! I got the new shawl yarn wound at the store, came home, bribed Morgan with kitty treats, and cast on again.

Yarn for the shawl
This purple/pink handpaint yarn was one of the original contenders for the shawl. I was able to match it with this light grey colored yarn.
Shawl
Here is the shawl this morning at the end of Clue #1. I think that I will like this even better than the first effort.

Wow, what a difference. I’m really happy with how this looks, I’m positive that I have enough yarn, and Morgan and Mackenzie have been running around outside so I’ve been able to concentrate on the pattern while I was knitting. What a great ending to a frogged project. I definitely need to give Morgan some more kitty treats!

Oh, the color of the grey yarn that I bought to go with the purple handpaint from my stash?

It’s called Silver Lining.