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. ūüôā 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. ūüôā

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!!

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.

 

Stash. Yarn. Shawl.

I am finishing up the Hitchhiker that I have been working on for the last two weeks, and then that is it. My needles will be¬†bare.¬†As soon as I have knitted the last three teeth on this baby it is over. To make things worse I also just finished reading a series of books, and haven’t found a new one to settle into. I am going through a serious slump.¬†I’ve been listlessly wandering the house when I haven’t been out shoveling snow. I’m even considering vacuuming and cooking vats of comfort food. I’m making the cats nervous.¬†I need new projects!!

Hitchhiker
Here’s my Hitchhiker back at the beginning. It’s almost done; I should finish it tonight.

Notice that I didn’t say I needed more yarn. The truth is, I always want more yarn. It’s an endless need with me. To try to nip a trip out to the yarn store in the bud I went online to check¬†patterns on¬†Ravelry and then started digging in the yarn stash. I think that I want to make some shawls now. Lace and beads!!

Well, here are the two big contenders on Ravelry. The first one is Edith’s Secret by Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich. I was aware of the Downton Abbey MKAL that was happening using Lorna’s Laces yarn (hosted by Jimmy Beans Wool). I kind of wanted to make a shawl with them, but there were 5 choices of yarn colors, and without knowing what the final product would look like I kept procrastinating and never did join in. The shawls are now done, however, and gee… they look really nice.. The different color combinations are up on Ravelry, and I have a better idea of what I like. The shawls¬†have lace and beads… I think that I really need to make one of these.

The other shawl that I think that I’ll make is Sidere by Hilary Smith Callis. It calls for a heavy lace-weight yarn, but I’m thinking that I can get away with a light fingering and throw some beads in too. Anyway, the plan is to make an Edith’s Secret first, and then to knit a Sidere.

Into the stash! I need two contrasting colors of yarn for Edith’s Secret. One should be variegated, and the other just a monochromatic painted yarn. I have got to have some of that! I need at least 420 yards of each color, and it should be fingering.

Yarn
Wow, this is cool. I love these colors. There may not be enough yardage as each of these is only about 385 yards. Several people on Ravelry said they almost ran out.
Yarns
These yarns have enough yardage, and people will certainly see me coming. It could be that these two will be a little more color saturation than I can pull off in a shawl. Time to go look at more neutral yarns.
Yarns
I love this variegated yarn. The pink is laceweight, and will need to be doubled to use. It’s do-able, but seriously, I’m a grandmother. Do I want to wear this shade of pink?
Yarns
This is it! ¬†This is the same variegated yarn as the picture right above, but I guess the snow and the grey tone it down in the picture. I’m going to make the lace details in the grey yarn and then use beads that accent the rose colors in the variegated yarn.

Well, that was easy. Seriously, I was loosing sleep over this yarn selection process. Today I wound all of the yarn that I thought was excessively yummy (even if I wasn’t sure what I would knit with them right now) and loaded my project bag with the cakes of yarn. I am happy! I have projects lined up again, and I am ready to cast on!

Oh, by the way, it’s almost March. Here’s a preview of the March New Year’s resolution sock.

Yarn and book
One of the yarns that didn’t get chosen for the Edith’s Secret shawl will become the March sock!