Saturday, July 31, 2010

I've been weaving! And knitting! And crocheting!

I finally finished my Not Yo' Mama's Doily Shawl. It only took a couple of weeks, but it felt longer. I do like the result, even though it's so light and ephemeral that I can't really imagine when I'll wear it. The stitch pattern is sooooooo pretty, though, don't you think?

No sooner had I gotten this off the needles than I started...yes, you guessed it, another shawl: a Citron in green Zauberball. I know, I know, green is not my color. But this green just called to me. And miracle of miracles, it looks good against my skin. Hooray for blue undertones! No photos yet, but if I can get through the last rows of 400+ stitches any time soon, there will be.

Not to let my weaving fall by the side of the road, I also finished my Dorothy sampler.

It was fun, and I did learn a lot. Of course, since I'm product- as well as process-oriented, I immediately warped the loom up for a set of dishtowels. Yes, I know that Debbie Chandler recommends doing a shitton of samplers. I, however, want to sample with something I can use. I'm saving the wool for when I'm ready to make a nice scarf, but I figure kitchen cotton is cheap and I can always use more towels in the kitchen. I think I'm going to combine straight twill and point twill threadings according to a sample shown in the Chandler book, and then I'll pick one treadling to stick with for each of the four towels to see what I get. At least the warping seems to be going faster this time around than the first. We'll see how the rest of it goes.

The only other thing on my plate right now is Small Shawl Wars, and believe me, that's enough. I really want my target to like her shawl, so I'm thinking a lot about what yarn to use. Can't say any more just yet except that I can't wait for this to start.

Oh, and I hope I can at least finish my target's shawl and send it off before I get killed myself. Here's hoping....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Killers Among Us

Can I tell you how much fun it is to weave on a 4-harness loom?

Pretty damn fun, that's for sure.

Here's what I've been working on:

It's my sampler, taken straight from Learning to Weave, by Debbie Chandler. Tonight, I finished my 9 inches of plain weave (3 inches each in balanced weave, weft-predominant weave and warp-predominant weave) and started on my 2-2 twill. It's tough for me to get a balanced weave in the twill; I feel like I'm hardly beating at all and I'm still getting a clearly weft-predominant weave. I'm also annoyed that my right-hand selvedge looks like crap (but the left-hand selvedge isn't too bad, so that's a plus) and for some strange reason the entire right-hand side of my fabric is slightly canted up and out, although it doesn't seem visible in this photo.

Still, the variations on the different weaves are fun, and once I'm done with this twill I'll "play around" as Debbie suggests. What I'd really like to do is find a draft that I really like and make a whole scarf using two other skeins of the yarn I'm working with now, Araucania Ranco. I've set aside a bright fuschia and an olive green, which I think will play off one another nicely and cause some cool op-art effects if only I can find the right design to weave. We'll see how that turns out.

Meanwhile, I'm feeling a bit "stuck" with my latest crocheting project, a shawl in laceweight tencel. I love the look and feel of the fabric, and it's an easy two-row repeat that was simple enough to memorize and execute, but I think I'm feeling the need for a worsted-weight project in my near future. Something less fiddly than lace and quicker than the couple of weeks it's taking me to pull this shawl together. Not quite sure what it will be, but I know I need a break before Small Shawl Wars starts and I'm going to be knitting shawls nonstop...until someone takes me out, that is.

You know, the last (and first and only) time I ever participated in any kind of "war" was in college. It was my freshman year, and my dorm played "Assassin" (or was it called "Killer"? or something equally uninspired?). We each were assigned a target and given a ping-pong ball. There were rules about when and where you could kill someone, and of course, you killed a person by hitting them with the ping-pong ball. I think I lasted all of two days -- didn't even kill my own target, I'm sure -- before my killer took me out with what I thought was a fairly clever ruse. To earn spending money, I typed papers. A dollar a page, and this was pre-computer, so I was working on a Brother electronic typewriter with the little white-out tape that could go back a whole line to correct errors...but beyond that, you were screwed. Anyway, my killer contacted me through my ad for typing services, then enlisted someone else in the dorm to walk with me to our appointed meeting place (supposedly for me to pick up the paper to be typed), and when we were in just the right place under just the right conditions (per the rules, not within a certain distance of certain buildings, other people, etc), my "escort" took off running and my assassin beaned me with a ping-pong ball. Ah, college...good times.

At least this time around, I'll get a shawl out of the deal. Much better than taking a ping-pong ball to the shoulder.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And the Winner Is....

Me! Can you believe it?

First, I won two books: Cat Bordhi's Treasury of Magical Knitting and Knit Fix: Problem Solving for Knitters. Frankly, I'm surprised as heck. I hardly ever win lottery-type things (and, in truth, mine was the second name picked; I won only because the first-place winner didn't respond in time). I do love Cat Bordhi, and I don't have either of her Magical books, so I'm pretty excited.

Second, I definitely won the swap game...or this round of it, at least. I swapped two skeins of Wollmeise in Maus Jung, a variegated grey ranging from very light to medium-gunmetal, for two skeins of the same in an unpronounceable colorway that is the most amazing shade of deep blue-purple (aka blurple). See for yourself:

This is the closest I could get to a true representation of the color, and even this falls far, far short. Someday somebody will be prying these two skeins of yarn out of my cold, dead hands, it is truly that beautiful.

I also started yet another shawl, this one out of a laceweight tencel in a colorway called Pick Me. Working with the tencel is interesting. It reminds me of crochet thread, but slicker. I love how the lace pattern is coming out:

The shape is forming nicely into a U, which I prefer over just about any other shawl shape for the way it stays easily on my shoulders. Again, the colors didn't come out quite right -- in real life, this piece is less contrasty, more harmonious, with lots of purples to help blend the pink into the blue. If this is as quick a crochet as it seems, I'll be wearing it within the week.

And finally, Dorothy got some love tonight:

I finished threading the heddles at last, and now all I need to do (I think!) is tie the warp onto the back beam and I'll be ready to start throwing the shuttle.

Now if only I could find a few extra hours in the day....

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Really Most Sincerely Done

Blocked and beautiful, Heaven d'Or has been christened.

Here she is, right before DH and I heard a sickening crash at the bottom of our driveway. Certain that someone needed an ambulance, the three of us -- DH, me and the shawl -- went flying down to the road only to find some drunken yahoo had peeled half the side of his car off along the rock embankment and come to rest, tires shredded, car parts strewn willy-nilly, in the middle of our driveway. Before anyone panics, he was fine.

The upside is that Heaven was the perfect wrap to wear to a car accident. Large enough to clutch snugly around myself, warm enough to ward off the slight chill from the lake that Drunk Dude was lucky not to have plunged into, and with a solid, weighty feeling that comes from having a slightly heavy viscose/silk/linen blend edging on a downy light camel/wool body. I am totally and completely in love with this shawl.

I am, however, not looking forward to picking car parts out of my shrubs in the morning.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Little Bit of Heaven

You know that feeling when you're not at all sure that the choice you've made is the right one? That feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get every time you look at a project at just the right angle and think, "Holy crap, what was I thinking?"

Well, I'd been having that feeling.

It started when I ran out of yarn for my 198 Yds of Heaven shawlette. I'd had these three skeins of Bouton d'Or Ksar in my stash for a looooong time -- had gotten them in a mystery swap and just hadn't known what to do with them, but wanted to use them for something nommy because of the camel down content -- and I finally thought I'd found just the right project. Trouble was, I had also just started posting FOs for the 10 in 2010 KAL/CAL on rav, and in order for my latest project to count, it needed to use a minmum of 250 meters.

The three balls of Ksar topped out at a nail-biting, head-scratching 249.6 meters.

So, I decided to extend the pattern. I worked another full pattern repeat of the body, and then I thought I would just pick a contrasting yarn for the edging.

Easier said than done.

The Ksar is a breathtakingly soft and lofty, plied camel/wool blend in a dark chocolate brown. I had nothing in my stash to match it for structure, look and feel.


And so, I punted. I pulled out all the stops and went in a completely different direction. For the edging, I used a viscose/silk/linen blend -- RY Natural Silk Aran -- in a slightly tweedy bone color. This yarn knitted up nothing at all like the Ksar. For starters, it was rustic looking, to say the least. Where the Ksar was soft and inviting, the Silk Aran was crisp and stiff. The flecks of blue and red running through the slubby, 2-ply Silk Aran seemed somewhat out of place against the classic, smooth three-ply Ksar. And every time I looked at my shawl, I got that sinking feeling that this just wasn't going to come together.

So, I did what any other sane, logical knitter would have done.

I kept right on knitting.

Here's the result:

Isn't she luuuuuuuurvely???

I'm so pleased, I truly am. I can't wait for it to be cool enough to wear this. I love the way the two colors and textures work together, and the hard blocking really brought out the best in the lace pattern. At first I was regretting not having had enough of the Ksar to simply do a one-color shawl, but now I'm really glad that I had to make do like this. I got a much more interesting result and a much more attractive shawl than I would have otherwise.

Now the question is, what shawl do I cast on for next?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Holy Heat, Batman!

Where has the past week and a half gone? Work, mostly, and melting into an icky puddle in this absolutely insane heat we've been having.

But the upside is I've gotten a ton of stuff done! Funny how that happens when you fail to post in 12 days.

First up, my Marigold Wrap. Ta-da!

Please to excuse the crappy under-the-fluorescent-bathroom-lights-taken-in-the-mirror photo. It was the best I could do in the middle of the night, and I just couldn't wait to post my pic on rav and call my cute little shawl finished.

I love how this turned out! It's got a nice weight and drape -- heavier than many of the shawls I've recently made, but not overly hot-feeling. The petals make it cute and I can wear it all wrapped around my neck, boa-style, like in the photo, or spread out over my shoulders for a sweet little ruffly shawlette.

I'm already onto my next shawl: Heaven d'Or, based on the 198 Yds of Heaven shawl pattern. I'd had this beautiful cashmere/wool blend yarn hanging out in my stash for well over a year, and I kept wondering what to do with it. When I saw this pattern, and saw that it called for worsted or aran weight luxury yarn, I knew I'd found what I'd been looking for.

The shawl is coming out thick and heavy despite the allover lace pattern. I love the feel and drape of the cashmere blend, and I'm making it larger than the pattern calls for because it just reads as a snuggly winter wrap to me. Plus, I have 250 meters of this delightful stuff and I don't want a bit of it to go to waste. Photos to come.

There's more, much more, but it's late and I'm sweating and in desperate need of a cold shower and about eight hours of sleep, though I'll only get six at the most. More, then, later....