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.

Chudnovsky Pi Shawl

 
All the forced rest of the last two months has seen a lot of knitting happening.  I finished up a few random projects, and then finally allowed myself the indulgence of knitting up this little Pi-inspired shawl, which I saw being knit in a yarn shop in Calgary two summers ago.  Penguin, whose favorite color is green right now, made an immediate claim of ownership during the first hour of knitting.  She has watched, anxiously, ever since, and inquired diligently as to when “her” green shawl would be finished.  I finished this a while ago, but it took forever to get weather fine enough to allow pictures.
 

 
PatternChudnovsky Pi, by Kourtney Robinson

YarnCascade Yarns Heritage Paints in colorway #9882 (1 skein), Schulana Kid-Seta in colorway #45 (2 skeins), Knit Picks Stroll in Forest Heather (~ 0.2 skeins)

Needles:  US 10 (6.0 mm)

Modifications:  None, except some creative license with the edging, color-wise, when my original yarns ran out.

Look at that deliciously fuzzy halo!

This shawl is super soft.  Ridiculously soft, like a baby unicorn belly.  Bluebird wants a “mohair shawl” for herself now, too–so much that she gave me the last of her birthday money to purchase enough fingering-weight and mohair laceweight to make another one of these for her, but in blue.

A handful of knitters who have knit this up have complained that the yardage listed “is just plain wrong.”  Seeing how I ran out of both of my yarns, I’m going to have to agree.  I substituted in some Knit Picks Stroll in a dark green when I ran out of the Cascade sock yarn…it worked pretty well until the mohair ran out as well, leaving me with a stark strip of dark green, previously softened by the bright green of the mohair.  When I knit up Bluebird’s “blue mohair” shawl, I’m going to go down a needle size and see if that helps–the printed pattern listed a US 10 needle, whereas the Ravelry pattern page lists a US 9 needle.  I’ve contacted the designer about this discrepancy and she has responded saying that she looks forward to seeing if the needle size-down helps the problem.

I was still in the first skein of mohair when I started the ruffle.  I ran out of the second skein before the ruffle ended.  The ruffle is a yarn-inhaler!  Regardless, I loved the no-brainer aspect of the ruffle.  I’m actually looking forward to knitting the ruffle on Bluebird’s shawl.  Mindless, mindless, mindless.

It’s a good scooter shawl, don’t ya think?  Penguin loves it and wears it with pride, lovingly folding it and placing it back in her drawer with the shawl pin placed amongst its folds.  The shawl is technically mine, but I’m OK with “lending” it to her for safe keeping.  (Let’s be honest, I’ll probably never get to wear it.  Ever.)

Conclusion:  Easy knit, oh-so-soft, watch your yardage, yarn-eating ruffle.
(And please ignore the wonky formatting–I don’t know what is going on with Blogger today!)

 

Three Finished Shawls

I decided to wear my Rock Island Shawl to church this last Sunday, and when the girls saw me wearing it they clamored to wear their shawls as well.

When we returned home from church and I watched them prance through the front yard in all their finery, I realized that I never posted “Finished Project” posts here on the blog about their shawls, so I ran inside to grab the camera and what follows is the result of our impromptu modelling session:

Junebug’s Shawl
PatternSezession II, by Rodger Murry
Yarn:  Odds & Ends from the stash
Hook:  5.0 mm (H)
Modifications:  I added a crochet shell border, the name of which escapes me at the moment.
Oi.  There are a lot of colors in this shawl.  Junebug wanted a purple shawl like her purple blankie, which is a granny square afghan, so when I saw this pattern I knew we had a winner.  I let her pick whatever yarns she felt like choosing to go in it, and when I’d get to a point when I wanted to change colors, I’d have her decide which color was next.  Her favorite color is yellow, which is why it’s edged in such a happy shade.

Penguin’s Shawl
PatternCitron, by Hillary Smith Callis
Yarn:  Noro Sekku, colorway 1 (discontinued)
Needles:  3.75 mm (US 5)
Modifications:  None
This shawl originally started out as a shawl for me, but I bumped the needle size down and ended up with a pretty small garment.  Penguin had admired it from the beginning, so I randomly gifted it to her after she walked by for the hundredth time with it on her shoulders.
This is a great beginner pattern, not hard at all.  Penguin tells me that it reminds her of candy corn and Halloween.
Bluebird’s Shawl
(Also known as “Fantastically Rainbow-y Shawl for Bluebird“)

PatternFan Pattern Shawl
Yarn:  Knit Picks’ Chroma Fingering, “Lollipop” colorway
Hook:  3.5 mm (E)
Modifications:  None.

This shawl is so Bluebird.  It’s bright and colorful, just like her personality.  She picked out the pattern after I offered to make her a shawl, and she chose the yarn out of my stash.  (The yarn was originally intended for making her some mittens, but the yarn didn’t want to be mittens.)

The pattern is pretty easy, just a simple repeat over and over again.  I like to just look at it when it’s hanging from the hook next to Bluebird’s bed.  She’s inordinately fond of this shawl, which makes me smile.


So there they are, three cute shawls for three cute girls!  (Penguin insists that I still owe her a shawl “made especially for her” because “her” shawl was actually meant for me in the beginning.  We’ll see how that pans out.)

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.”