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Two Giants Shawls, So Little Time

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Two Giants Shawls, So Little Time

—–> March 2014 <——-

I realized the other night that all of my current knitting projects are insane.

I have the Event Horizon Pi Shawl, which was supposed to be finished last Friday on Pi day (3/14), however I was only up to the second ball of yarn on Friday, and it only measured 1 1/2 feet at that point, to the target of 6 feet.

Over the weekend I worked on it exclusively and added the third ball of yarn, making a total of 800 yards of knitting completed. As of last night I added ball number four, completing 1,200 yards of knitting, which is officially at the half way mark.

When you think about this, that means I have been working on this since January, I have 576 stitches on the needles for this shawl and there are still 1,200 yards of yarn left to go.

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For perspective:

  • 1,200 yards is 1.097 kilometers
  • 1,200 yards is 3 laps around a standard track
  • the 1000 yard shot used to be the exclusive mark of a military sniper or top competitive shooter, now it is 1600 yards

I’m still working on the second ball of yarn for the VIajiante shawl, that one is going to take even longer than the pi shawl to make.

—–> Zoom to today <——-

Pi Day has come and gone, and I have done a lot of work on the shawl. Last week I finished it!

I didn't use all of the black yarn for the border, which is nice because now I have almost a full ball to use for some other project. In total, I knitted a whopping 2200 yards!

It still needs to be blocked, which I have to figure out how to do. My knitting group thinks that I should block it out on my bed, and sleep on the couch for a couple days while it dries.

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It doesn’t look very lacey right now but the blocking really stretches out the lace and makes it look more airy and light.

I’m not exactly thrilled with the color transitions, but my knitting group said it was gobstopping gorgeous so I am going to go with their feelings on it and perhaps it will grow on me in time.

Until it’s blocked it is living on the back of my settee and perhaps someday I will find a nice little black dress to wear it with.

It feels really good to have this project done, it’s the largest piece of knitting that I have ever made and the most intricate.

I have been combing through the book Stories in Stitches 2 to see if there were other lace project that I might attempt, thinking perhaps a doily might be fun. I need to get some cotton perl yarn! Perhaps yarn in a color?

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Startitis: The Viajante and The Mohair Bias Loop

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Knitters know of the curse of “startitis”, the irresistible impulse to start many projects all at the same time.

I most definitely have a healthy case of this, the moment I came home from Stitches West I started these:

I have in progress:

All I want to do at lunchtime is work on the Viajante and, when I get home, knit on the Mohair Bias Loop! It is like an irresistible compulsion.

But the Viajantes is so wonderful and simple, I am making it out of the dreamiest Malabrigo Silkpaca, a silk-alpaca lace yarn that is soft and airy, it’s going to be gorgeous to wear.

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It is a fun design and I have wonderful support from the LSG group on Ravelry. LSG stands for Lazy, Stupid and Godless, and I just love these ladies.

The Mohair Bias Loop is the simplest pattern that I found at the Claudia Handpaints booth at Stitches West. Years ago I made a pretty spiral scarf out of Alchemy Haiku, and it had a tragic end. I made another and it’s pretty but I missed the airy loft of the silk mohair thread of the Haiku yarn.

At the booth I saw this gorgeous, glowing fluff of the Haiku knitted up into a pretty, simple cowl shape. I have cones and cones of silk mohair yarn from Artfibers, but I coveted a skein lying next to the sample Bias Loop that glowed like cranberries roasted on butter at Thanksgiving. They were meant to be mine.

I started it last night after I finished my embroidery and thought about it all day.

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After a few hours I was more than halfway done.

Mohair bias loop

It did not take long to finish it and I wore it to the book reading by Stephanie Pearl McPhee, the “Yarn Harlot”. She complimented me on it, which thrilled me down to my toes. She’s a tiny lady and I crouched down as far as I could so spare her from yet another “Mutt and Jeff” photo.

Me & @yarnharlot - such a fun night.

Despite all my projects lurking in the wings I am really tempted to pull our the cone of palest lavender or the cone of vibrant burnt orange and make this according to the pattern, which fits around the shoulders like a shrug. The gorgeous Haiku skein did not have enough yardage . I think I might have to cast on one immediately!

The 6′ Shawl – Event Horizon Pi Shawl

I must be crazy but I joined a Knit-a-Long for Donna Druchunas’ Event Horizon Pi Shawl, a gorgeous creation in lace from her newest book Stories in Stitches 2. The shawl is circular and starts with a light center and ends in the deepest black. It is also an incredible 6 feet in diameter.

Photo courtesy of String Theory Hand Dyed Yarns

Photo courtesy of String Theory Hand Dyed Yarns

A great yarn dyer that Donna knows made up kits for the shawl project in hues of teal to black, red to black, purple to black and grey to black. Living in Fogland as I do, I decided I needed to make what I call the “Foggy Grey Matter” Event Horizon Pi Shawl. The yarn is simply gorgeous, it’s so extremely soft for sock yarn. If you can get your hands on some String Theory Caper sock yarn I would highly encourage you to do so. I can’t stop fondling the lace that comes off my needles.

Right now it’s the shape of a Rastafarian beanie and at 560 stitches growing larger by the day. I am almost done with the second of six skeins of yarn so I have a long ways to go.   I am knitting the larger shawl, at 6 feet in diameter, and the owners of String Theory did me a huge favor and sold me one of their test skeins of yarn so that I could have enough to knit the larger size.  They’re my heroes!  I feel quite honored to be able to make a unique shawl even more unique because of their kindness.

Foggy Grey Matter Pi Shawl

and a closeup:

Foggy Grey Matter Pi Shawl

This Friday through Sunday is Stitches West and I have a shopping list which includes buying up all the stitch markers in the joint, because the handful I have will be quite inadequate once I go up to the next chart in this project.  If you want stitch markers better get to the Market on Friday before me!  If you are going, let me know, we will be doing meet ups for tea and snacks whenever my ankle gives up, which will be several times during the day!

If you want to buy a kit to make yourself a shawl, go here.  It’s not too late to join the KAL on Ravelry!  I have a feeling I will not be finished by Pi day.

Camino Bubbles and The Small Things

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Last year I came across a shawl pattern that made me smile, I think it was the colored yarn and the pretty photograph that really did it for me. It just looked so happy and happy was what I craved right then.  I was healing from surgery, a broken heart and the loss of my beloved Pogo.

Camino Bubbles by Kieran Foley

Camino Bubbles by Kieran Foley

(doesn’t this make you smile too?)

Now that my body is healing I wondered if my heart has, and realize, no, it has not. A friend offered me a kitten and I just could barely finish the conversation before dissolving into tears.   This simple and kind offer brought up all kinds of things lurking under the surface that I have been holding down and out of sight.   I miss my cat.  I miss being loved.   I miss my late boyfriend and the other one before him that just didn’t work out.  I miss being happy.

Trying to define what makes me happy is part of my healing exercises.  Positive thinking and planning for the future is part of this too, so is playing with pretty, soft yarn and being creative.   I realized the other day that we can’t do anything about the big hard things that happen in our lives: death, illness, loss, pain.  We can, however, actively seek out and build up on the small things that bring happiness.  Seeing a beautiful planting in a flower bed and pausing for a moment to enjoy it; standing in a sunny spot instead of rushing to cross the street; having a cup of really good coffee out of a pretty cup; reading a note from a friend send by the post; sharing a meal with someone you love – these are all small things that make me feel good.  They are not life altering moments, often they are quite brief but I am making a conscious choice to seek them out and create them for myself.   My hope is that by having enough Small Things happen will sort of offset or cushion the awfulness of the Big Things of which I have not control.  Isn’t there a saying such as “Many small steps make a mountain” or something like that?

I love this....  Trees are poetry...
(Small Things like this, found while walking home are worth noticing)

With this new mindset, I took stock on the Small Things that make me happy and of course making things with my hands and my heart were high on the list.  I already have dozens of scarves and shawls and lots of socks but the point of it is that I made them, they are healing activities and bring me happiness during the process.

That night I decided to purchase the Camino Bubbles shawl by Kieran Foley and make it for myself.  It will be ready by summer when our delightful fogbank descends.    So, I cracked open a bottle of wine from my little adventure this weekend, and got started.

The yarn I am using is called Poems Sock by Wisdom Yarns in the subtle Ivy Trail colorway.  It is pretty, with soft greens and creams and bark hues that flow from one color to the next.  This yarn is fun to use because it is a single ply, sometimes is thick and sometimes it is thin, it has a bit of a shimmer to it in the sunshine and feels good to work with in my hands. I made my mom an adorable tea cozy for her baby Brown Betty with this yarn in an autumnal color one year and I still have that yarn in my stash which is destined for a sweater someday, perhaps someday soon.

I turned on an old time radio program on a podcast that my dear sis recommended, Case Closed by Relic Radio.  They feature murder and detective mystery stories from the 40’s and 50’s and sometimes the shows were set in San Francisco.  It’s wonderful to knit by, although sometimes it got so exciting I forgot where I was in the pattern and had to go backwards a bit.

A glass of wine, an hour or two of knitting and the aromas of my pot roast slowly simmering in the oven finally made me feel a bit better.

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(Camino bubbles in progress – Chart A halfway done)

At lunch yesterday I knit while in the sun in a little garden area in FiDi.  As I was knitting I realized there were tiny shadows bouncing over my knitting.  I looked up to see that they were from the honeybees zooming around the flowers, how delightful is that.  They didn’t mind sharing for a moment for a quick picture.  I also noticed a large swathe of star jasmine which are starting to set buds. I will be keeping an eye on them and will be sure to return when they are in bloom.

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I will be happy again, and while I find my happiness through Small Things I will have lots of “Heather-love” in knitting form to keep me cozy.

Finished Objects – Heavenly Spiral

I was on a roll over Thanksgiving and finished the beautiful Spiral Lace scarf using KnitWhits Freia lace yarn in Purpleheart.   Two finished objects in one weekend, can you believe it!

In truth I completed quite a lot of this scarf while on the train up to the country, and during lunch breaks during the work week, knitting frantically outside in the chill at a coffee shop.
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I am so pleased how well it came out!

Overall one skein of yarn in this pattern and size 6 needles produced a 14′ scarf, which I have been wearing with absolutely everything.  All twirled up into a flat disk, you can really admire the effect of the color transitions.

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The shading of the colors is so very subtle, from rose to grey then cream then steely blue and mauve and the faintest of a purple at the end.   I tried it on by tripling the length for a standard fill for a blazer opening around the neck, or quadrupled and tucked around my collar like an Elizabethan frill.  Against my bright red winter coat the Heavenly Spiral is particularly fetching.

 

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This shows the scarf doubled and hanging over the closet knob with my sis’s cat inspecting it. He approved.  He was quite excited about yarn in general and tried to “help” me quite a lot with this project.    Such a giver, hah.

 

I have been enjoying this scarf so much that I cannot bear to put it away, so it has been lounging along the back of my antique rocking chair, relaxed into lacey swirls twining against itself.

 

This yarn was fun to use and I still have another full skein left to play with.  Any suggestions?

 

Heavenly Spiral

This weekend I started the entrancing Spiral Scarf using the Purpleheart Freia Flux lace yarn.

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(do you see its purple heart?)

I can’t stop working on this scarf!  The yarn has a pleasant scrunchy texture, springy and yet holds the stitch definition well.

One of the yarn’s features is the subtle and graceful way it transitions colors. So far I have knitted three feet (!) of the scarf and the colors have shifted from a rich cocoa brown to a soft rose to a pale mauve and now to a dove grey.

I cannot wait to see how the yarn colors will change next.

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The short row pattern is soothingly repetitive, perfect for my somewhat jangled nerves. For once I have a portable project, as long as I can complete the 16 row pattern repeat without interruption. Happily each row is only 12 stitches so a repeat just flies by.

More pictures soon!

Fiber vs Food

Last night we had a blast at the Interweave Knits Lab’s Knitter’s Market in San Mateo.  Imagine a mini Stitches West with room to move and breathe and *chat* with the dyers, spinners and sellers.

The first thing we did was to say hello to dear @lahondaknitter who was helping out at the Nine Rubies booth.   It was lovely to see Paula again and we positively drooled over the gorgeous alpaca yarns they had and the beautiful frilled scarf with the beaded and sequined cotton yarn.  I am kicking myself for not getting some but happily they are located in San Mateo and we are planning a field trip soon.

After cruising around the stalls for a first pass we narrowed in on a few coveted items.

Our first purchases were at the Knitted Wit booth.  Our eyes were drawn a small display of superwash fingering weight skeins that sparkled in the light.  Drawing closer we realized the yarn has 20% real silver spun into it!  Lorajean told us that this was the last of the Bling yarn as they are going to remake it with some sort of plastic “silver”.  Well, that did it, we had to buy some.  I picked  “smooth as butter”, a silky, glittery butter color for my upcoming Clapoutis.  E___ picked the delicious peridot green for a lace shawl.   Such an easy purchase to make too as Lorajean uses the Square with her iPhone.  Technology is fantastic!


(photo from Knitted Wits.com)

We had a great time at the Conjoined Creations booth.  Super fun Mary Arnold showed us the Flat Feet sock yarn, which I had never seen before.  Always late to the party I was blown away!  The yarn is not in a skein or a ball, it’s in a flat piece of fabric which is then hand dyed and painted.  They are amazing, you unravel one end and knit directly from the fabric.  I chose a hand painted “blanket” in turquoise and spring green dappled with purple. E___ scored the amazing tiger-stripe “blanket” which will no doubt knit up to perfectly coordinate with her SF Giants gear.

Mary also treated us to a set of HiyaHiya double pointed knitting needles so we could start *tonight*! Thank you Mary!  She kept running into us in the market where she would laugh and ask, “Have you started yet?” or “Are you wearing your new socks yet?” Hilarious! I’m dying (haha) to try some of their raw silk. Gorgeous! I have decided that with my new Flat Feet yarn I will make the Wedge socks in cookie a’s book “knit. sock. love”.


(photo from ConjoinedCreations.com)

After flirting heavily with the gorgeous felted silk and wool shawls at Alchemy and examining their Haiku mohair lace yarn, I decided to take my replacement spiral scarf into a new direction.  Why recreate it exactly and be reminded that it is a replacement to a beloved lost/damaged piece?  Instead I decided to try a new yarn and truly start fresh.

At Freia Handpaint Fibers, aka KnitWhits, Tina Whitmore was so gracious in discussing at length her beautiful new Freia Flux Lace yarn and we agreed it would make an incredible spiral scarf.  I scored 2 skeins of Flux Lace in Purpleheart and put it in my handbag to play with the rest of the night.  Tina is great fun, her yarn is named after her dog and the name Freia is a perfect match with her dog’s personality and the etymology  of Freia, the goddess of love and war.

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I admired her cute Lanesplitter skirt in her aqua sport weight yarn and she showed us her other Lanesplitter in shades of lavender and purple. She created the pattern, oh DUH!  We had great fun talking about the Lanesplitter craze and how she met “Patient Zero” who kicked off the craze in their local yarn store.   Tina checked put my figure and encouraged me to make a Lanesplitter in sportweight, and soon!  She asked that I post pictures on my spiral scarf in progress on her KnitWhits FB page and I will!!

It was such a delight to see the gorgeous Kira K again.  She was debuting new kits with her designs for small projects with rare and hard to find yarns.  Her hat and scarf designs were adorable and the yarns were so luscious but I had ran out of money by then. Yesterday I reviewed my queue on Ravelry and was reminded that I purchased the pattern for her fabulous Bell Curve skirt and it was fantastic to see it in person.     I did not find any suitable yarn at this particular event but I will find some to knit that up very soon.  This is another skirt pattern that is fantastic for ladies with (ahem) fluffy posteriors and long stems, like me.   I also have a jacket pattern of hers queued up and ready to go as soon as I finish the hundreds of other projects I want to make *tomorrow*.  Oh start-itis, how you vex me so.

It was Kira’s encouragement that got me started in knitting, to learn to read charts, and how to knit lace. My frantic visits to Artfibers during lunch breaks to get consultations and calming by Kira were crucial to my knitting infancy and her confidence in me was so appreciated. So, thank you, Kira, for everything!

I was very tempted by a Turkish drop spindle, it looked like a objet d’art in beautiful exotic woods, but at $60 I decided to hold off to get one until SOAR’s retreat next year.  I can’t wait for that!  I have a beautiful roving in fall colors in baby camel and silk that I would love to spin but don’t know how.  Yet.

Wallets sadly empty we bid Paula adieu and headed laden down to the car and out in the drizzle.  Our next stop was dinner – Ramen Club!   I hope anyone who is at the Interweave Knits lab takes a time out to visit Ramen Club, it truly is the best ramen I have ever had.  All the yarn and fun we had at the Knitter’s Market and this massive bowl of ramen made my sacrifice of fiber over food on Wednesday night completely worth it.

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