I never post twice in a day, but I had to share this. Many of you have probably seen this, but for those who haven’t: enjoy!
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This Peruvian alpaca is *soft*! It sheds a bit, but am loving it. The colour is so rich and I think I like the fabric I’m getting on size 5s. I don’t know what the pilling situation is, though. Anybody know? If it tends to pill I might move down to size 4.
Remember my Shaped Triangle Shawl? I didn’t take a fresh picture because it is a large black blob right now not unlike the one taken two months ago. I got stuck at where the small
cockroaches beetles that form the base of the pattern morph into more beautiful and complex things, like mountains and flowers and whatnot. (See this complexity in all its glory here. This part of the pattern is charted only half the way; the other half you have to make your own way backwards. Not surprisingly, I was unable to walk back properly by myself. I enlarged the pattern, photocopied it front-and-back and put the two sides back-to-back in a plastic sleeve to make it easier to read both ways (this is a *great* technique, btw, in theory) and even knit about ten rows before I realised that my beetles did not want to shape-shift. Mountains and flowers met the frogpond twice over. It’s to do with the thin black lace; the topography just doesn’t show up as nicely.
So what to do? It would be really nice if I could send the completed shawl to my MiL in a month for a special occasion, so I sat and figured that I’d just beetle it all the way through, and then attach some damned border. All she wanted was triangular black lace, not any particular landscape.
Then, Eureka!!! I saw Alison’s gorgeous Swallowtail shawl and recognized in it my beetles, and a totally lovely border with something called nupps (is nupps just polite for bobbles?). Some
courageous determined arithmetic later, I think it can work. I have 12 beetle repeats to do and the border, and hopefully at the end of it, my Shaped Triangle will have metamorphosed into the Swallowtail Shawl. Fingers crossed.
Thanks for all the compliments on the shawl! Genny, I’m sorry to disappoint you as guinea pig! I still think your formula was correct, but someone more competent with numbers will have to test it.
I miss New Jersey, I miss being close to New York city, and everytime I watch an old episode of Law & Order it makes me very sad. (I’m a L&O junkie and thanks to Netflix, I can now see the good old ones again.) I miss riding the subway to 42nd st. to the public library, waiting at 2 am at the 9th st Path station on a weekend, (I can still hear the announcer in the Path, "the 33rd st elevator is not in operation…"), walking from the West 4th st stop down to Soho to Purl and taking the 1 uptown to see my friends. I miss the coffee shop next to my building and just about everything else, but somehow, most of all I miss connecting with the energy of the city through the subway, however cliched that sounds. (Although, if you talk to me in January, no matter how much it’s raining here in the Bay area, I’ll be thankful I’m here and not back east in the snow; I despise, loathe and detest snow.)
So far I have been determinedly bloodyminded about it, ready to scoff when all the Californians around me go nuts about the fresh produce here. So I went to the farmers’ market yesterday for the first time, determined to be unimpressed. And while I was gawking at some of the prices, I must say I got some real fruit and vegetables that smelt like real fruit and vegetables. Tasty, crisp and fresh. Green beans, okra, peaches, plums, strawberries… yum. It was too clean and quiet and genteel; some loud haggling over the princely sum the coriander was going for would have made me happier. But apparently the Oakland chinatown market is where all the fisticuffs happen over prices: that’s where I’ll go next time.
But California so far is proving to be quite a mix of experiences. My car was stolen right after I got here from outside my flat, but also found a few weeks later sans any damage. That was quite something. Using some gigantic lemons from a tree in my backyard, I made my first ever homemade lemon pickle. I was quite tickled at being able to pick the lemons right from my window. The mix is sitting in the sun this whole month, waiting to be slooow-cooked into a hot, spicy pickle, and I’m very kicked about being able to take some home for my mum in December. I love my students and the library. There’s a lot of Hindustani music happening around here, which is great. For some reason I haven’t been to a single yarn store here as yet. Tomorrow my book manuscript finally goes into production after loads of copyediting: no more frantic changing of footnotes or rechecking of quotes. Next up: anxiety dreams about evil reviewers. (At least I realised in time that I’d forgotten to thank ten people in my acknowledgements, and my editor corrected a million grammatical errors.) I also got possibly the worst haircut of my life yesterday and paid an arm and a leg for it. I need to knit some hats, quickly and not go near the salon in case I throttle that silly woman who did the hatchet job.
Oh, but remember my I-pod getting stolen during my move? I didn’t get it back and all the time spent loading music on to it, but yesterday the moving company sent me a cheque for the amount it cost. Small comfort, but still.
Bringing this ramble to a halt: I swatched for the cartridge rib pullover. Photos up next, after I’ve cast on.
Things I learnt while on this easy, quick (hah!) lace project:
1) Frogging lace sucks, especially if you have to frog the same border rows thrice, the last time when you have only 20 stitches to cast off and you have run out of yarn.
2) I made a good decision after Class X to take Arts instead of Maths and Science, because I am still incapable of elementary arithmetic.
3) It doesn’t matter if you fudge a couple of rows to make it all fit.
4) Simple lace in variegated yarn rocks! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
5) And finally, when your leftover skein of laceweight/jumperweight wills itself to be something you aren’t sure of, do let it. The results can be quite breathtaking, viz. the photo on the left.
Am so happy with how this turned out! It’s folded into a pretty little triangle right now. After wrapping it around myself this evening, I had the twinge of a second thought, but I think I will send it, as I’d planned, to a sister-in-law of mine, to whom I owe a knitting gift for the longest time.
It is just right as a shoulder wrap to wear with a dressy outfit, and soft as hell.
Specs: Leaf Lace Shawl, designed by Evelyn Clark and available from Fibertrends
Size: 60" wide and 30" deep. I did 13 repeats of the main pattern, on a size 6 needle.
Yarn: handpainted laceweight/jumperweight from Laura. Have no idea how much. Genny gave great advice last time about how to figure out how much you have and how far you can go with a skein, but alas, she didn’t take into account that I was beyond the help of even a calculator.
In my defence, I did try. I counted the total number of stitches I had to left to do, measured the yarn I had left by wrapping it around an open drawer and then multiplying the length of the drawer by the number of wraps (into 2, duh, cause it goes around twice!), but I mysteriously ended up with only 34 yards and thousands of stitches, when visually it was plain that I had enough for atleast one more repeat. I went with my eyes instead of my brain, and ultimately, I only had to frog the border twice more, that too once because I messed up the pattern. Eventually I cast off on the 15th row instead of the 16th to finish properly, and I have 2 yards left. Sweet, huh?
This is where I’m at with the Leaf Lace shawl: 12 repeats done, and the shawl is about 4 ft wide unstretched. The blob at the bottom is what I have left. I was nearly done, with half the border completed.
But here’s the problem. I don’t know how much I have left, and as the shawl is growing, I can’t tell how much yarn it will take per repeat. I did 12 repeats, and then thought I’ll play safe and do the border, even if I have some yarn left over. 9 rows of the border in I realise I had enough left for at least one more pattern repeat, if not two.
Now that little voice in the head that was quietly whispering – "are you sure you don’t want to stop the border right here, frog, and do another repeat? Think of what you’ll do with the leftover yarn, which you’ll be able to use neither in a sock nor a hat. It will sit there in the drawer and mock you for your laziness. It would have been simpler to do another repeat or two, and then frog if you didn’t have enough. Now look: all this work, and 10 rows frogged for nothing." – is getting louder and more insistent. Somehow continuing to knit the border in order to ignore it isn’t helping.
So I flung the thing into a corner, made some alu parathas for dinner, and then brought it back out and figured that if not display the completed shawl, at least I could
complain blog about it.
So now qu’est-ce qu’on va faire? I just know it, there’s a sucker deep down somewhere inside me who’s going to force me to frog back to the last repeat, try out another repeat or two, and then do the border. I’m going to love the longer shawl in the end, because it’s already a little short and some more length will look good on it. Of course, if there isn’t enough yarn, I’ll still feel good about having tried.
Arrrrrrgh! When I came so close, too. How the heck does one figure out these yardage per row thingies for triangular shawls? I tried weighing this thing at the post office and it doesn’t mean a thing. It only got me weird looks from people. I wish I could tell how far this blob will go: one more repeat or two?
Ah well. Check back in a few days, hopefully I’ll have finished it, to let you know. I’ll also try to photograph it in the sun, to bring out the colours properly.
But in happier news, do check out Spudsayshi’s glorious Orenburg shawl, finally complete. It is one of the most beautiful lace projects ever. I have been following this project like a good groupie, and now I think I’ll have withdrawal symptoms like a cricket fan after the world cup is over.
Also, talking of gorgeous knitting links, surely all of you know about Brooklyn Tweed? It’s the latest blog I’ve discovered (although I’m sure folks have known about it for months), and some of his stuff, especially the Urban Aran cardigan.
I was making flying progress on the Leaf Lace shawl, actually hoping to have it done to wear to an event I have later next week. Of course, something had to happen to screw that up. My right wrist and thumb hurt like the devil. I’m not sure if it’s because of the knitting or typing and mouse-clicking. I ignored it for a few days but now it’s really getting in the way so I had to put the damn thing away.
So instead, I thought I’d fiddle around with a new project. The husband had asked for a stockinette alpaca turtleneck some time back (what is it with men and stockinette?) but I managed to get him to agree to some kind of ribbed pattern. He wanted a dull dull brown, but instead he’s getting this rich, dark red in Elann’s Peruvian pure alpaca:
It’s in the shade "Oxblood". I haven’t used this yarn before but boy does it feel soft. As usual, they say worsted and five stitches to the inch on size 6s, but I can see myself using 4s. It feels quite fine.
The pullover I was thinking of was this one:
This one is for a child and is a V-neck, but I’m going to adapt it to a turtleneck. I like the saddle-shoulder and the way it shows off the ribbing, and as I imagine it I think it will suit the turtleneck as well. The stitch pattern is called "Cartridge Rib" and it’s from Ann Budd’s Handy book of Sweater Patterns. I’ll probably do the cartridge rib all over and not do the 1×1 at the wrists as shown. It’s a simple 2-row repeat, with knit and slip stitch.
I’m determined not to start this one, even swatch it, until I’m done with one of the shawls or my BPT cardigan, but looks like this week there won’t be much progress on anything. I’m hoping to have this pullover done by December, though.
What better time to catch up on my reading?