Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas is Coming . . .

I wish I had more time to spend with my books!!! After several lost auctions I finally won an auction for Knitting Lace by Susanne E. Lewis. It is a workshop comparable to Elizabeth Zimmermann's many workshops and Jacqueline Fee's Sweater Workshop. In a word EXCELLENT. I am so excited to have this book. I keep it on the nightstand and read it as often as I can, but really - having to rise at 4:45 am every day does not leave much time for reading. I miss my reading time dearly. Since the time change I don't even get to read on the vanpool because it is dark in the morning and in the evening when we are on the road. We have little personal overhead lights, but for mature-bifocal wearing eyes it is not sufficient or advisable. Anywho, I also bought some knitting handbooks published in the 80's and they are great. Non-commercial, no yarn advertisment or needle pushing. Just plain talking how-to knitting instructions. I got them mainly to complete the TKGA Courses. They are my reference materials for the written portions of the course. My Knit Picks Bare yarn also arrived, so I can get started on my swatches. Thank goodness I am a Gemini and there are two of me, so I can get all this stuff done ;~}

I am re-reading Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy in heightened anticipation of the upcoming film release. Love love love this series. I have bought this book set so many times and gifted it to so many people that I was not sure I still had a set of my own. But alas, I found them. Nice set too, I did not remember these covers. :>] My daemon is kind of shy and refuses to appear in the sidebar, but his name is Scheane. The reincarnation of my Sister's Midnight to be sure.

I finished another pair of socks for Christmas. I have now completed all three pairs of my Hill Country Yarn socks. I will be slipping and a sliding around the house Christmas weekend :) in all my green, red and white glory. We are Kris Kringling again this year, so besides Mom, Sis, Brother, and dog Babies I only have to shop for one person. My Cousin in Little Rock has requested more socks, in orange and red. I guess the Fawkes Socks in Firebird will be flying off to a new home.

HCY Holly Socks 2HCY Holly Socks 1

I cast on my Ebony Elite Secret Pal's Scarf last night. Two problems. The yarn is not the color it appeared online and the feel of it is scratchier than I expected. I wanted soft and thick and luxurious and this is kind of stiff the way crocheted worsted weight can be. I am extremely disappointed because I ordered and waited for this yarn specifically for this project. I could have been making the scarf out of stash or some other yarn weeks ago. I am going to give it a few more inches of my precious knitting time and hope with length the drape and texture improves. But at the same time I am going to look for a backup yarn. I really like the pattern so I want this to be a nice finished project.

I cast on some Socks That Rock socks, trying to get my sock mojo back. I should have at least three pairs going right now. But considering I have two Mystic Water Shawls on the needles, what can I say. We are starting to get swatch instructions on the KALs that start in Jan and Feb, but I am still waiting on yarn information. I really like the Zephyr and it looks like I will need a cone of it for one of the KALs - the shawl requires 1700 + yards of lace weight yarn. I ordered some more Wollmeise Lace Garn, but there are color gradations that may not work for the upcoming projects. Most of the hints say a solid, non-variegated would be best because of the complexity of the pattern. I will wait until the end of December to decide. I need to play with my collection this weekend and find some inspiring sock yarn to get some more pairs on the needles. I have several I have not tried yet, Louet, Duet, Jojoland, Fearless Fibers, Wollmeise, Shibui, Dharmafey's Cosmic Fibers, Koigu, Lisa Souza, Risata, Felice. Maybe I will just cast on all of the balls that are already wound - I have enough sock needles :}

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mystic Waters Duet

I am determined not to be outdone. I restarted the Mystic Waters Shawl in the Zephyr and I figured out how to take good photos of the Anne Rain Clouds Shawl too - it requires FLASH.

Go figure. I am so used to taking pictures without the flash that I was surprised at how much better the shawl came out with the flash. A small bit of stash enhancement this week. Ordered some Baruffa Cashwoool for my 2008 lace knit alongs and I received some really nice sock yarn as a gift from my HSS Angel.

I finished another pair of socks - 30 out of 52.
Plain white stockinette socks in Winter White DK weight. They worked up so fast on size 4 needles and they are so thick and soft. I am definitely making some more of these.

Chinese Fireball Post

My Sock Swap Angel had a Chinese Fireball deliver my Hogwarts Sock Swap II goodies, just a bit too much for an owl post :) Look at my gorgeous socks, and the yummy Maple Syrup, Green Tea and Blood Pops. The squishiest yarn ever - Jojoland Kaleidoscope. Lovely replenishing lotion. Tons of thanks to Anne and Dolores Dumbledore, they ROCK.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Knitting Along in 2008

I am joining every Lace/Mystery Shawl/Stole Knit Along I can find. They are such an adventure in knitting. The finished patterns are all so beautiful and the support is wonderful. I am new to lace knitting so being able to read comments of experienced lace knitters as I work through the clues is great. I am in my first Lace KAL, the Mystic Waters Shawl. It is beyond my current skill level - which means I am learning a lot. Every new clue I gain some insight or skill. I read the forum/posts/e-mail threads for all hints and tips. I am not worried about being a couple of clues behind because I am learning so much. I am happy with my shawl so far. The yarn is really a pleasure to work with and I love the colors; Schaefer Anne in Rain Clouds. Unfortunately I don't have a proper backdrop to take a photo. I will have to pull out a white sheet next time I take pictures. I can see the seahorses - Yay!!

For 2008 I have joined several Lace Knit Alongs, I am not joining any more Sock Knit Alongs until I finish the 52 Pair Plunge. I have 3 pairs of socks on the needles right now, which I hope to finish over the Thanksgiving weekend. No more toeless socks!!!

Yahoo Groups 2008 Lace KALs:
1. Secret of Bad Nauheim begins Jan 2008

2. Secret of the Stole II - not sure of the start date; sign ups just began

3. Spring Shawl Suprice - begins Jan 2008

4. Dem-Fischer-Sin-Fru - begins Jan 2008

Currently Working on KALs:
1] Mystic Waters KAL - we are on clue 5 of 8 this week; last clue 12/12/2007

2] Arctic Lace KAL - ongoing KAL, I am knitting the North Star Scarf

Best Hints/Tips:
a. Use the charts

b. Use post-it tape to highlight the current pattern line

c. Count the knit stitches between the lace stitches ahead of time and write the numbers on the chart.

d. Use safety pin type stitchmarkers that can be opened and moved as the number of stitches per row increase (every 20 stitches works for me)

e. Mark every 20th stitch with a red line on the chart. As a plastic canvas and cross-stitcher I am used to grids being set out in patterns by use of a heavier/bold line or a colored line. So this makes keeping track a more familiar process for me.

f. I have discovered that I do not like using lifelines with lace weight yarns. I invariably mis-knit the lace pattern row following the lifeline. The lifeline distorts my stitches and causes me problems. I am not using any more in the Mystic Waters shawl. I was knitting along not missing a beat and then I put in a lifeline at row 151 and it has screwed me up, now I have to tink back to that row to fix the problem. I had knit more than 20 rows prior to that without a single problem.

I have lots of lace yarn in my stash and I just ordered some more Cashwool and Raven Collection yarns.

Going to the Cousins in Daly City for Thanksgiving, I can't wait to get home and get back to my shawl. I am taking a sock project with me . . . an ugly one, so nobody begs it off me for a Christmas present :} just kidding, there is no ugly sock yarn in my collection. I will take the plain white socks I am making for me. ;)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Working It

Socks That Rock colorway Lucy In The Sky
Size Large Women's Socks
Size 3/3.25 mm Harmony Needles
1 Skein

It is getting harder to fit sock knitting in between lace projects so I will be sticking with stockinette socks for awhile. In beautiful colored yarns. I am 4 pairs behind in the 52 Pair Plunge. Well at least there is a four day weekend coming up. Maybe some progress can be made then.

Loving the lace. I have been making some progress on Clue 2 of the Mystic Waters Shawl. It is very difficult to photograph. I have added 20 rows to the Dimple Shale Scarf and the Andean Treasures Stole. I have to order some yarn and a pattern for my Ebony Elite Scarf Swap Pal project. I have set aside my Arctic Lace North Star Scarf until I am caught up on clues in the Mystic Waters KAL. All that knitting I had to frog on this KAL was a lot of wasted knitting time - que sera sera.

On we go.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I Lied

I lied. I said I was going to devote November to sock knitting so I could catch up in the 52 Pair Plunge. I lied, I have not completed a single pair of socks. I have been working diligently on my Mystic Waters Mystery Shawl. I tried to use Zephyr 2/18 Wool Silk yarn in Admiral Blue - OMG it was gorgeous. But every time I made a mistake I had to frog it - the whole piece. It could not be tinked. Lifelines were almost impossible to insert because of the super fine yarn. I was using Addi Turbo Lace needles so lifelines had to be inserted manually. The color was too dark to work on in the evenings, I could only knit it during the weekends. After frogging it for the millionth time I decided to give up on the Zephyr and Addi's. Maybe a bit too ambitious for just my second lace shawl project.

I am now knitting the shawl on Knit Picks Harmony Needles, using the cable hole to run lifelines. I perused my lovely yarn collection and finally decided on Schaefer Anne in Rain Clouds. It is a fingering weight yarn in a light turquoise with sea green making occasional appearances. Gorgeousness. I am using the safety pin style stitch markers that can be opened and slipped around the lifelines. I am almost finished with Chart B - YAY!!!! I was determined to get enough done so that I could see the Seahorses!! When I was a kid (yes about the time that sand was still a rock) my Mom would have to buy me a packet of dehydrated seahorses and the little plastic castle every time we went to the Aquarium in Golden Gate Park. Yes - every time, because of course they were all always dead by the time we went again :/

So this shawl is really something I want to make and have as a memory keepsake, of those times when Mom, my Sister and I would walk up through the panhandle to the "big playground" and go to the DeYoung Museum, Japanese Tea Garden, Aquarium and listen to the Orchestra in Golden Gate Park. I am hoping it gets easier and will be a pattern I will want to repeat because I would love to make one for my Mom and my Sister.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Knitting not Computing

I found it impossible to balance blogging, Ravelry and knitting so I took several days off from blogging. This week I am going to try to stay out of Ravelry as much as possible. There are only so many hours in a day. I have designated weekends for lace knitting when I have natural light to help read the stitches. Week nights for everything else. I was able to make progress on three of my lace projects while doing laundry Saturday. It was fantastic, the inches I added are really noticeable. But as soon as I went upstairs and turned on the laptop, the project I was working on suffered. I cast on and ripped out the Mystic Waters shawl 4 or 5 times - honestly I lost count. I was reading forum posts and scrolling through my stash. And I would set the work down for a few seconds and be lost when I picked it back up. Or I would notice a mistake a few rows back when I picked it up and stretched it. What's up with that? Is it semi-alzheimers? Of course I did not jot a note or anything since I was just putting the piece down to quickly reply to a post or a message. How could it slip my mind that quickly what I had done last?

Of course, most of the problem lays in being a perfectionist. When I knit a sweater or vest I will fudge, add a stitch if I lose one - or K2TOG if I have one stitch too many. But not with lace. I don't want a stitch out of place. The Zephyr 2/18 wool silk I am using does not tink well, so frogging was required. Luckily I was not far enough into the shawl that it was a huge number of rows. Which is also why there was not a lifeline, the piece wasn't big enough. I really enjoy knitting this shawl, I did not even mind knitting it over and over and over again. It is so pretty, I want mine to be perfect. So I will start it again this weekend. Granted we will have the 3rd clue by then and I will be a couple of hundred rows behind in the knit along. But I don't really care about that. This shawl is going to be beautiful so I want mine to be perfect.

I have my yarn now for the swatches for the TKGA Basics Basics Basic course. I will be starting on that this week between sock knitting. I have one pair of socks almost finished and two first socks almost finished. So I should be completing 3 pairs of socks this week. We are having company this weekend which is going to rob me of several precious knitting hours. :(

Exciting - I received the name of my Ebony Elite Scarf Swap pal. We like the same color yarns, but not the same manufacturer. Her favorite yarn is one of the ones I have never liked and don't have any in my stash. I don't have much info on her yet either, so I will have to send her an e-mail and see what non-knitting things she likes. My spoiler e-mailed me yesterday and I need to answer her. I was frogging my shawl for the 3rd or 4th time and decided it was time to log off the computer, so I did not send a reply last night.

I am working on staff evaluations today, most of them will be easy and pleasant. But I have one person on probation and two I have been receiving many complaints about. Those won't be so simple to write.

I'd rather be knitting !!!!!