The Strutting Will Happen Later

Peacock Feathers Stole in-progress, knit by Cara Brooke (That Crafty Cara)
It’s interesting how much my mood changes based upon whether or not I’m sticking to the schedule I’ve laid out for myself in regards to making progress on creative projects.  Falling behind equals feeling gloomy, and checking every step off on the day they’re supposed to be checked off equals a little bit of swagger.  “Oh yeah, I am owning this spreadsheet!”

I’ve struggled to stay on track with the Peacock Stole since we’ve returned home, so I decided to slow down on its creation, opting to shoot for twelve rows a week instead of twenty.  Perhaps it will stay at this rate until it’s done; or maybe I’ll find a little bit of internal kindling in the future to step up the progress to its former level.

Close-up of Peacock Feathers Stole, knit by Cara Brooke @ www.thatcraftycara.com

I’m recovering from a new bout  of back pain which has me laid out on the couch for large portions of the day.  It’s been three weeks since it started up again, and I probably have three to nine more weeks of taking it easy and letting the discs heal.  It’s very frustrating, but I am thankful that I have projects that can move ahead  while I’m stuck on my back.

So, while I can’t literally strut over the progress I’m making on the Peacock Stole, I’m feeling rather proud of how well I’m doing in moving ahead on it.  Progress is inhibited by the necessity of taking some medications that make it hard to concentrate on reading and executing lace knitting, but I’ve been playing it safe and not knitting when I’m taking those medicines.  (Good news: Haven’t taken any medicines in that category in over a week.)  There was an evening where I was thinking I could probably handle knitting “under the influence,” but then I walked into a wall and thought that maybe I’d just play it safe instead.  Patience, patience.

Peacock Feathers Stole, Chart #6, knit by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

To date:  Row #100 on the second half.  At the new rate of 12 rows per week, I’m expecting a completion date in July.

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Climbing Out of Winter

The view from my kitchen counter offers a glimpse of green fields and mountains with less and less snow each day.  (You’d be able to see it out that brightly shining back door if the sun wasn’t shining so brightly!)  The temperature rises as the weeks go along, and this weekend we’re waiting to see if the weatherman had correctly predicted the 70 degree (F) weather we would so very appreciate.
 
My back is climbing out of its little funk.  All the bed rest has mandated much knitting, so as to keep my wits about me.  I churned out the Chudnovsky Pi Shawl at the beginning of my prison sentence, and then took a moment to whine on one of my favorite message boards on Ravelry when I ran out of the yarn.
 
One of the results of that little whine session, besides the outpouring of encouragement and commiseration from my fellow online knitting chums, was that a British knitter wrote to me and offered me yarn money to help ease the burden of being stuck on my back and inwardly raging over my predicament.  I trolled about online yarn shops, my gifted yarn funds burning in my pocket, and came across this brownish-gray color and, despite not really ever having noticed a single thing in that color EVER, I took a liking to its solid drabness.
 
I searched through my patterns on-hand and came across Juneberry Triangle, which had been gifted to me two Christmases ago by my dear knitting friend, Kit.  Gifted yarn, gifted pattern…I liked how it all went together so nicely.
 
Most of the knitting has been accomplished on my back, on the couch, while I watch old episodes of Frasier.  (Goodness, I loved that show while I was growing up!)  Any time I pick this up, I start remembering Frasier funnies, which is entirely awesome to me.
 
I started knitting with the fifth, and final, skein of yarn today.  I have about six more repeats of the edging to go and then this will be ready for a soak and a block.  My back has improved to allow for less couch-lounging and more standing, so my knitting has relocated to the kitchen counter.  The counter is higher than any of the tables in the house, so it makes for a good surface to rest my knitting–I don’t have to stoop down to pick it up, and I don’t have to support the weight of the project while knitting because it rests on the counter.
 
 
So I stand, knitting away while gazing out on the blue sky and the fresh green of the fields, knowing that spring is on her way.  The washed-out brown color of this yarn reminds me of tree bark at the beginning of spring–weathered and muted from months of cold and drizzly weather, while new life throbs within, waiting to burst forth in flowers and fruit.  My back is building up strength, and I’m looking forward to a fresh spring, full of possibilities and made better with the love and service from family and friends, just as this shawl is the more dear to me due to both the pattern and the yarn being gifted from knitters who care.
 
It’s funny how a little brownish-gray shawl can hold so much symbolism to its creator.  But not really, when you think of what lies within each of us, and how the gentle coaxing of a Creator’s hand can cause beauty to bloom, even in our most humbled and weathered states.

Purple and Pink

It’s all I see right now:

Lavender Baby Hat–finished and gifted away.

Junebug’s Cardigan–pretty near completion, just waiting for me to locate my 16-inch circulars
so I can decrease the neck.
Then it’ll be a quick steek and some button bands, and we’ll be done.

Echo Flower Shawl for ME–This grows here a little, there a little.

Hat for Bluebird–Because I wanted to make a cabled hat.
Waiting for me to purchase 10.5 DPNs so I can finish decreasing.

Fingerless Mittens for Denise–Because she asked, and she had already bought the yarn,
originally intending it to be a beret.
However, the beret pattern and I did not get along.
It’s looking like the fingerless mitt pattern and I do not get along either.
Somewhat ironic, considering I get along with Denise better than almost anyone else in the world.

You know how you just get tired of every single one of your projects en masse?  I am totally there.  Everything is either waiting for new needles or I just kind of don’t want to look at them anymore. 

What’s the opposite of pink and purpleGreenYellowYellow-green?  🙂

I have some yellow-green yarn…but need the aforementioned 10.5 DPNs in order to finish the project I have planned for the yarn.  🙂

Sigh.

Rock Island Shawl

Pattern:  Rock Island Shawl by Jared Flood
Yarn:  KnitPick’s Shadow Kettle-Dyed in “Jay” colorway  (a birthday gift from the lovely Kirstin)
Needles:  US 6–29″ circular

This week in Utah we celebrated Pioneer Day, a state-wide holiday that commemorates the anniversary of Brigham Young and the first wagonload of Latter-day Saints entering the Salt Lake Valley after their long journey across the American Plains.  We didn’t have any school that day in observance of the holiday, and I figured that it was probably going to be my only chance at getting this shawl blocked.  After getting all the munchkins fed and dressed and starting up the ravenous washing machine, I soaked this puppy up and pinned the life out of it on my mattress.

This is a rather new pattern, only coming out this spring.  I saw it within the first few days of its release and I could not stop talking about it afterwards.  I had to have it.  However, I was heavily-entrenched in the creation of The Wedding Honeymoon Shawl, and could not squeeze this fabulous make into my queue.  Fortune smiled her loving gaze upon me and inspired the folks at Blazing Needles to offer a class on this very pattern, for which Kit and I signed up to attend.

I’m quite pleased with it!  Jared Flood loves knitters, the design of this is just lovely!  This was the first time I’ve ever attached an edging and it was super simple, given the YO edges on the entire length of the edging.  And it’s all done in garter stitch, no purling whatsoever!  AND it’s worked from the bottom up–that’s right, it gets smaller as you go!

The parts that were not my favorites:

  1. Edgings are nice and all, but this one took forever to make.  Since I had to have the edging done within two weeks before the start of my next class, it was very stressful for me to knit like a maniac for that entire two weeks.  Had I done this at my own pace, I don’t think the edging would have bothered me as much.  (But, hey, I finished the edging in two weeks!  Who can hold a grudge against that?)
  2. Garter stitch is easy, but also pretty boring.  There’s a lot of garter stitch at the end and it drove me a little bonkers, but it blocked out prettily and I’m over the negativity now.

This shawl was originally “ordered” in white.  It was supposed to be the replacement Wedding Shawl for Carly after she picked out a new wedding dress.  However, I couldn’t find any white lace-weight locally (and still haven’t found any since!) and so I went ahead and made this in its originally-intended color.

When and where am I going to wear this?  I dunno.  I’m sure I’ll think of something.  It would be criminal to just let this beauty sit around in my closet!

Finished: The Wedding Shawl

PatternEcho Flower Shawl, by Jenny Johnson Johnen

Yarn:  JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18, less than one skein

Needles: AddiTurbo Lace US 4 (3.5 mm) 24″

Oh, the magic of blocking.  In the previous post I showed how teeny tiny this was when it came off the needles…it barely covered Bluebird’s shoulders.  But, after blocking, it easily covers her armspan.  Lace is so weird that way.

So now I will wrap this little beauty up and send it on its merry way up north to the bride-to-be.  (This seems rather anti-climatic, given the amount of energy and thought that has been wrapped up in this project over the past few months!)

I’m so badly bitten by the lace bug.  Nothing else seems remotely interesting besides lace!  I like knitting nupps (the little balls) a lot…I think they’re rather pretty in the design.

I’m very happy with how this turned out!  I hope Carly is pleased with it as well and that, should the weather require its use, it looks beautiful with her wedding dress.  It makes me so happy to have rendered this little bit of knitting service to my future sister-in-law!  Wear it often, wear it boldly!

There were requests for a post about blocking…I don’t know when I’ll have time for that, so here’s a post from the Yarn Harlot that covers blocking in-depth.  (She used string for the straight edge, I used blocking wires.)

"The Wedding Shawl" Part Two: Choosing the Yarn

After days of mulling over which pattern to choose, Carly finally decided to go with the Echo Flowers Shawl.  I enjoyed the moment of decision but briefly, as I was now face with a new matter to decide:  Which yarn?

Now, to all you non-knitters out there, your choice in yarn dramatically affects how your project will turn out.  It’s more than just choosing a color, it’s also choosing what type of fiber is in your yarn.  After asking Carly a few questions about how she wanted the finished product to look and feel (she wanted glossy and smooth), I made the decision to go with a blend of wool and silk–wool for warmth, silk for shine and smooth strength.

I briefly flirted with the idea of going full-out luxurious with a blend of cashmere and silk (ooh la la), but the $65 price tag per skein doused that fire very quickly.  (Sorry Carls, but my babies have got to eat.)

It wasn’t hard to decide on Jaggerspun’s Zephyr Wool-Silk, a lovely yarn that contains 50% merino wool and 50% tussah silk.  I had bought some a couple of years ago to use in my granny’s Peacock Feathers Stole and absolutely loved knitting with it.  (And no, the Peacock Stole is not finished…or even technically started.)

Alright, you ready for the drama?  (‘Cuz there’s drama!)

Carly made her pattern decision on Saturday morning, and I quickly headed off to the closest yarn shop to me, Heindselman’s, to go looking for the yarn.  Not surprisingly, Heindselman’s did not have it, because they rarely carry any kind of yarn that I want.  (I was, however, surprised that their lace-weight selection has increased since my last visit.  Yay!  But I was not looking for mohair, so it was of no help at this time.)

I went to the internet on Monday.  Zephyr is available in a lot of places in the $11-14 range, but I stumbled across a site that was offering it for only $9.25 per skein with free shipping.  I was out of money until Thursday, but when Thursday rolled around and my new allotment of cash was automatically deposited into my account I fired up the ol’ computer and click, click, ordered!  Woo hoo!  It was going to take a week to arrive, but I figured it was worth it for the awesome price of only $18.50.

As luck would have it, I fulfilled a weight loss goal that rewarded me with a trip to my favorite yarn store, Blazing Needles, up in Salt Lake City that Saturday.  I oohed and aahed at all the lovely yarn offerings, and stopped in my tracks when I came face-to-face with shelves of Zephyr for $11.75 per skein.  AUGH!  I resisted the urge to just buy what I needed then because I had already ordered the yarn from the online store.  I departed with some other yarn for a different project and a lovely book of mitten patterns.

The suspense was killing me.  I raided my yarn stash for some lace-weight yarn and cast on for a Percy Shawl in order to satisfy my urge to knit lace.  Whenever I’d start getting worked up over how long it was taking for the Zephyr to arrive, I’d pull out my Pink Percy and start knitting.  It helped immensely.

That Tuesday, I received an email after the children went to bed.  It informed me that the online store was out of stock of the black Zephyr and that it would take two weeks for them to receive it and then another two weeks for them to ship it to me.  Yeah, count that, it would take a whole month until I’d receive my yarn.

I phoned Michael and vented all my frustrations over this yarn and asked him for a logical, rational decision as how to pursue because I knew I was starting to become a little nutty over this whole yarn situation.  He suggested that I call the shop, cancel the order and then phone my beloved Blazing Needles and ask if they could ship some of their Zephyr to me.  So I followed his advice and happily found out that, for only $5 in shipping, Blazing Needles could indeed ship yarn to me.  With tax and shipping, their yarn ended up costing around $30.  Ouch. 

The pain was significantly lessened when the yarn arrived just two days later on Thursday.  I was all smiles as I walked back to my house, and some neighbors who were taking a walk noticed my happy demeanor and asked why I was so cheerful, to which I responded with, “I’VE GOT YARN!”  I don’t think they understood the significance of my declaration, due to the puzzled looks they displayed.  I didn’t care; I just skipped up the sidewalk to my front door and enthusiasticaly exclaimed, “IT’S HERE!” when I walked into my house.  Husband and children came running to view my glee.

I updated my Facebook status with “They yarn has finally arrived!” and then hurriedly re-posted with “Too excited, can’t type correctly. THE yarn has finally arrived! Cost twice as much this way, but totally worth it!

It was suggested that I bring the coveted skeins to Knitting Night that night, but after taking so much effort to get it into my house, I was literally afraid to take it outside of my house.  So the yarn stayed home, patiently waiting for me start working with it.

Twenty four hours later my Facebook status read “A moment of silence, please. I’m about to cast on for Carly’s Wedding Shawl.

Stay tuned for Part Three of “The Wedding Shawl”: Knitting Chart #1.

"The Wedding Shawl": A new drama series Part One: Picking the Pattern

So, my brother got engaged to his girlfriend, Carly.

And I was very happy for the two of them.

But a little sad.

Because I am a bit selfish and wished I could help with the wedding, but I can’t because I don’t live in New Zealand or Canada.  (Boo.)

So I had the brilliant idea of how to weasle my way into the wedding…I would knit.

See, Carly’s planning on wearing a strapless dress, and the knitter in me automatically screamed, “Cold shoulders!”  True, it will be summer, but summer evenings can get a little chilly.  Sometimes.

So I talked to Carly and pathetically grovelled for the honor set forth my intention to knit a shawl for her wedding day.  (I stifled the urge to skip about the room when she enthusiastically accepted my offer.)

I spent a few hours looking up shawl after shawl, and compiled a list of eight different patterns that I thought she’d maybe like:

  1. Swallowtail: http://yulianknits.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/why-a-bunch-of-beads-looks-pretty-but-is-essentially-unuseful-at-least-for-me/
  2. Luna Moth Shawl: http://marinoie.blogspot.com/2010/01/luna-moth-shawl.html
  3. Birch: http://susancrowe.co.uk/2010/04/16/it-made-me-the-ksh-junkie-i-am-today/
  4. Echo Flower Shawl: http://www.pepperknit.com/2010/11/echo-flower-shawl/
  5. Queen Silvia Shawl: http://rogue-knits.blogspot.com/2009/06/queen-silvia.html
  6. Summer Shawl: http://osbornfiber.com/2011/01/07/a-joy-forever/ (detail shots)
    http://deserthomemaker.blogspot.com/2009/06/im-so-excited.html (shape) 
  7. Forest Path Stole: http://thingssoolikes.blogspot.com/2008/02/end-of-path.html
  8. Myrtle Leaf Shawl: http://segasummasuvila.blogspot.com/2008/07/must-ilma-punaseta.html

Then I emailed another two choices a day or two later because they were too pretty to leave off of the list:

  1. Purityhttp://dagi35.blox.pl/2009/06/Plan-wykonany.html
  2. Citron: http://j-essaieonverrabien.over-blog.com/article-citron-au-coeur-d-artichaud-64202817.html

Carly narrowed it down to two designs (Purity and Forest Path Stole), but was having trouble deciding on which one to go with.  Being the inpatient knitter that I can be, I gave her 37 hours to make up her mind.  (Yeah, I really did!  But only after she told me that she was terribly indecisive and needed a “cutt-throat” deadline.)

Thirty seven hours passed…and no email from Carly.

I posted a mocking Facebook status update: “Dost my eyes deceive me? No lace decision? Oh, now I’m sad.”  (Reading that now makes me think I should have used “mine” instead of “my.”)
 
She replied, two hours later, with: “I”M SORRY!!!!!! (If you are talking about me lol) Decision being made NOW!

I had an email within that hour to tell me that her choice was something completely different from what she had previously narrowed her choices down to.  I laughed out loud.

Michael asked why I was laughing and I told him that Carly chose a pattern that wasn’t one of the two she was previously considering.  Michael laughed too.

The pattern that Carly ended up choosing, drum roll please….is the Echo Flowers Shawl!

Tune in next week for Part Two: “The Yarn” of the Brooketopian drama “The Wedding Shawl.”

Bluebird’s Winter Hat: Molly Beret

PatternMolly Beret from Never Not Knitting

Yarn:  Knit One Crochet Too “Crock-O-Dye” in Tomato colorway (#250) & Dale of Norway Baby Ull in Light Peach (#3403)

Needles:  US 1 & US 3

Size:  20″/Small Adult

I buy our winterwear during the summer when it’s 80% off, which limits the colors we can purchase.  This year, Bluebird had to choose between white/gray, grass/lime or a peach/coral winter coat.  (She was not happy about this because she wanted pink or purple, but alas, those are the colors that sell out and usually aren’t available on clearance.) 

However, the Brooke family is well-known for its love of the color orange and she went with the orange-hued parka.  Upon receipt of said coat I began to wonder how in the world I was going to match any sort of accessory to its non-traditional color palette.

Bluebird accompanied me on my Yarn Quest shortly following, and she spied the Tomato Crock-O-Dye yarn while we were investigating The Black Sheep Wool Company.  She brought it over to me and announced that she had found the perfect yarn to match her coat.  I agreed that it did match, and complimented her on her good eye for color.

Bluebird browsed through the Ravelry pattern database with me and chose the Molly Beret pattern, which just tickled me to no end.  (I think little girls in berets are just one of the cutest things ever!)  I paired up the Crock-O-Dye with some leftover peach Baby Ull from the Peach Yoked Cardigan and was quite pleased at how well the two yarns matched her crazy technicolor winter coat.

All in all, I really like the finished product.  I made it a touch too large, but her head measured 20″ in circumference, which was the small adult size.  However, upon further reflection, one wants a hat to fit snugly and should therefore knit a cap one size smaller to assure a secure fit.  It still looks cute despite its super slouchy appearance.  She receives compliments on her beret every time she wears it and her little face just lights up with pleasure whenever someone notices her hat.  I have more than enough yarn leftover to knit mittens or a scarf, but I have other projects that need my attention first.  (And I’m already in the midst of a scarf knit with fingering weight yarn and I don’t think my sanity could handle casting on another scarf in skinny yarn.)
A friend laughed at me when I told her about my predicament in trying to find a yarn that would match Bluebird’s coat and quipped that not everyone frets about matching their children’s accessories.  And I guess it’s just not an issue to a lot of people, but I garner great satisfaction out of attiring my family nicely and I experience pleasure in knowing that I created those items myself.  It’s such a fun process to pick out the yarn and pattern together and then watch your child’s eyes light up while they watch you create something just for them. 
However, the other children become very vociferous with their requests for handmade items when a sibling’s project is on my needles.  Next up is a scarf for Penguin.  But knit in a very bulky-weight yarn.  I can handle that.

Finished: Vine and Leaf Beret

Seven days of knitting frenzy equals one lavender beret. I got it into my head that I wanted to finish this before the end of the year, so there’s been a whole lotta clicking needles this past week.

Pattern: Vine and Leaf Beret (#11) from Vogue Knitting Fall 2009
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, Color #340033 (Lavender), 1.25 skeins
Needles: US #3 16″ Circular & #3 DPNs

This was easy, especially after wallowing through the charts for the Japanese Butterfly Lace Beret. You just do four repeats of a simple pattern and then switch into a pretty simple decrease modification of the same pattern. It was a nice “pick up and knit a few stitches when you have a moment” project.

Here’s a shot of it, fresh off the needles and before its wet block last night–very beanie-ish.

The yarn–oooh, smooshy, smooshy. Love it, even though it will split like crazy should you happen to make a mistake and frog and then re-knit it. If you’ve ever been in my house, you’d know that I love this particular shade of purple (it’s what we painted our great room). I was torn between the lavender and a beautiful light aqua color…perhaps I’ll just buy the aqua as well on the next trip up to my favorite yarn store, Black Sheep Wool Company in SLC.

I would totally make this beret again; it’s easy, a pretty quick knit and the yarn was really nice to work with. (I may actually be making a toddler version, as Renaissance stood by me for quite some time yesterday, asking if it was for her…guess she took a liking to it.) The brim is pretty darn loose though–I’ll probably knit it on smaller needles next time for a better fit.

Japanese Butterfly Lace Beret Delivered

I did it. I parted with that beautiful hat. It was the plan all along, but it was a test of personal accountability to actually follow through with my original intentions.

It was worth it. She phoned me twenty minutes later in a very happy mood and said that her gift was “exquisite.”

Good. 🙂