Sunday, 22 July 2012

Bloody lovely

Some time ago Helen gave me a skein of pink sweetgeorgia merino silk lace. The colourway was "oxblood", but I think it would have been more appropriately named "candyblood" or something. I don't know what kind of oxen they have in Vancouver, but where I come from their blood ain't pink.

Alright fine, so I've never seen actual ox blood, so technically I don't really know what colour it is, unless the colour is in reference to something other than literally the blood of an ox. Is it a flower or something? If so, then who named the flower?  Any way you spin it, people who come up the colour names have got to be a few stitches short of a sweater.

So, back to the point. This yarn was beautiful, but I couldn't see myself wearing anything made with it. Then my mom saw it and loved it, so of course I knew I had to make her something with it. Thus began the search for the perfect pattern.

I wanted to make a lacy stole that my mom could wear in the summer. There is no end to lacy stole patterns, and narrowing it down was tough.  I didn't want anything too lacy or traditional looking (read: old fashioned) because although my mom may be retired, she's no old lady.  Finally I found one I liked, the Nefertiti wrap. So I bought and downloaded the pattern, opened it up, and balked when I saw the number of pages and lace charts involved.  The pattern is 15 pages long.  There are 18 different lace charts. This was not the lovely and interesting (but relaxing) spring knitting I had envisioned, so that idea was scrapped before I could even muster up a cast on.

Next I found the Seascape Shawl. Pretty and fairly simple compared to the Nefertiti wrap, so I cast on right away.  All was well.

That is, until I spread it out to look at how the pattern was developing.

Do you see it?

Alright fine, since apparently part of my mind never left junior high, I looked at this lovely wrap and all I could see was boobs.  Maybe it was partially the colour, since I didn't notice it in the pattern, and while I'm all for support of breast cancer research, I didn't think I needed to give my mom a giant breast cancer ribbon.  I pointed it out to all of my knitting friends and they agreed with me, so I knew it had to go.  There's a chance that had I kept knitting this, the overwhelming boobage would have disappeared, but once I saw it, I couldn't unsee it.  I didn't even want to finish knitting the pair.

So the boob scarf got frogged and I was back to square one.  Except that fortunately by this point I had a pretty good idea of what was out there and what I didn't want.  So I went even simpler, and decided to knit my mom something that I'd been planning to make for myself but just don't have the right yarn for it yet.  I picked the Clapotis and before I even cast on, I knew this was the right choice.

It was a wonderfully simple, relaxing, rhythmic knit.  Although, I admit, rather time consuming.  700 yards of lace weight takes a long time to knit no matter what the pattern is.  Once it was finished though, I didn't even have to block it since the drape was already amazing.  So I guess that was a time-saver?

I think my mom likes it, although I don't think she's worn it yet, what with the never-ending heat wave. If she doesn't end up wearing it though, maybe I'll take it back.  I can over-dye it or something.


Monday, 9 July 2012

The dream that was almost a nightmare

In my last post I mentioned that I had finally found a pattern that I deemed worthy of my Handmaiden Sea Silk, the Sweet Dreams shawl by Boo Knits.  If you take a look at this yarn, and if you've ever had the pleasure of holding it, you'll know why I was hoarding it, and definitely why I wanted something that I could wear around my neck/shoulders.

It's so shiny and soft!  SO PRETTY...

Ahem.  What I mean is that after my last post I finally managed to get my hands on some appropriate beads, which was easier said than done.  Because as soon as I realized that I wanted this shawl, I wanted it pretty much like yesterday, and even that wasn't soon enough.  I booted up Google and found a few bead stores in the city.  There was no way I was going to order beads online, I couldn't wait that long!  The first store had a ton of beads, and a number of beads in the size that I wanted, but none in the right colour and shape that were actually in stock (and the lady who did the ordering had just left for vacation for two weeks... again I'll say that there was no way I could wait that long).

I'm going to interrupt myself here and say that I am not generally a blingy sort of person.  I appreciate a bit of sparkle, but I didn't want the beads to stand out.  I wanted to just be there and blend in and add a little bit of interest.  After all, this was my first beading project and I didn't want to go overboard.  There are definitely more beads in my future, and I may work up to a bit more bling but for now I was going for understated.  Besides, the yarn is just so gorgeous that I didn't want to distract from it!

Anyhoo, the next two bead stores were underwhelming and still didn't have what I wanted.  So I resigned myself to checking out the selection at Michael's, and sure enough, they had exactly what I was looking for.  Go figure.  Size 6/0 glass matte grey/brown beads with just a touch of sheen that blended in perfectly with the yarn.  I raced home and whipped through the lace part of the shawl so fast that I hardly even remember doing it.  There was some brief hesitation when I was trying to decide if I should try to do a second lace repeat but I decided against it.  I really couldn't think of anything that would be worse (knitting-related, I'm not completely insane) than getting 20 stitches away from the end and running out of yarn.  My one (small) regret is not knitting the medium size from the start.  I would definitely have had enough yarn for it, but that's alright. Knit and learn!

The picot edging bind-off took an insane amount of time.  I'd heard other knitters say that it takes a long time and also takes a lot of yarn, but I thought surely they were exaggerating.  Last Tuesday when I came home from work I had plans to finish up the shawl that evening so I could get it blocking.  I only had 4 rows left of the lace and the edging to do.  I didn't take into consideration the extra beading that was part of the last couple of rows, and by the end of the evening I had finished the lace but only just started the bind off.  Wednesday night I thought for sure I was going to get it done.  I only had the bind off!  How long could it take?  Well by the end of the night I was halfway done and I was pretty sure that I was going to be binding off this shawl until the end of time.

Thursday was crunch time, since I needed to start blocking it Thursday to make sure that it would be wearable to a friend's wedding on Saturday night, and even that amount of time laughing in the face of Helen's 72-hour rule.  It was do or die.

Well, I did, and by 9:30 in the evening I had it pinned out on a towel in the office and it was stunning.  Perfect.  I didn't even mind that it was the small size and I had 30 grams of yarn left that I now had to figure out what to do with.  It looked just right and I loved every single silky soft stitch.  I stood there and admired it for awhile before sighing happily, turning out the light, and closing the door.

I have to block things in the office because it's the only room in the house with a door that I can leave closed.  If I don't confine it to this space, I know for certain that my cats, who love knitting, will lie on it and who knows what else.  This method has worked well for me so far.  I checked on it on Friday morning and it was still dampish.  I checked on it again Friday evening before going to bed and it was pretty much dry but I wanted to make totally sure so I left it alone.

Saturday morning I woke up and walked into the living room and saw that the office door was open.  I immediately (in my head) blamed the Enabler, and I asked him if he'd been in the office this morning, and he said no.  I asked him if he'd been in the office last night, and he said no he hadn't been in there at all.  Okay, so I guess I must have closed the door and not quite latched it and the cats pushed their way in.  It's probably fine, right?  I went in to the office and saw that sure enough, there were pins sticking every which way and the shawl and towel were scrunched over into a pile.  This is when my heart started really racing.  I quickly crouched down and spread it out, picking out the pins as I went, surveying every inch of it to make sure that all the stitches were still in the right place.  Nothing seemed wrong with the lace section, and then I saw it:

Right at the top of the plain stockinette section, a little off to the side, there was a long loop where a stitch used to be, and a couple of inches of teeny tiny stitches on either side of it.  My racing heart stopped, and I almost burst into tears but luckily my rational self reminded my emotional self that I'm pretty handy with a crochet hook.  I can save a dropped stitch, so why can't I pull a line of stitches back into place?  The important thing was that it wasn't ripped.  Thank goodness that silk is STRONG.

A few minutes of fussing with the crochet hook (and yelling at the cats) and I mostly managed to get the stitches back to where they had been (and also feel better).  I didn't take a picture of the "after" because I have decided that it doesn't matter.  I can see where it is, but I don't need to point it out to everyone else.  I still think it's perfect.

Obviously I included this picture to show off the goods.
For a more casual look, wrap it around (carefully) as to look as though you're whimsical and carefree (instead of uptight and controlling)!

Cropped oddly because the Enabler managed to get the composter in the background of the only decent picture of my face.  Good thing he cooks well :)