Monday, November 30, 2015

and now for something completely different

My latest shawl project has been progressing quite steadily this month. Somewhere along the way I've found myself in the midst of my third cake of yarn. How many stitches must that be? It boggles the mind to consider. One day I may calculate such a number on a work in progress, but for now I'll take the growing fabric as a sign that incremental progress, stitch by stitch, can add up to quite a significant whole given time. There's a life lesson in there somewhere.

In the long rows near the end of the body I did hit a point where the doldrums set in. Stitches went by without seeming to add to the whole, and gosh I was getting kind of tired of the wrong-side rows. Then the right-side rows. Then all at once, I was done. One of the things I read about this pattern before deciding to purchase it was that it was like knitting three projects in one, with each section so different from the last that it keeps the maker engaged. I'll second that. I'm now well into the second section, a long weighty cable that drapes across the edge of the center crescent, and I'm back to the thrill of a newly cast-on project, just like that.

Technically, of course, this new project happens to be attached to my last one.... in such an intriguing way. I wasn't quite sure how the whole thing would go, but the pattern is written so well, and the attachment and set up for the following section devised so cleverly that once I got through the first few rows I just had to laugh and think 'of course'. I really appreciate the ingenuity of the folks that take the time to design these lovely things! I'm looking forward to working up some more of this designer's patterns and having similar epiphany moments. But, there's the rest of this to finish first.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

hexagonally inclined

All that cutting at the beginning of the month meant that I've had plenty to keep me busy at the sewing machine. I worked on Samara's quilt in fits and starts, and I'm pretty pleased with where I am right now. I've a ways to go before it is ready to be under the tree, but worry not -- it shall be done! Kepler is totally helping. See his little paws there? He's trying his best. 

Mom and I made a few more blocks, but turns out I was wrong about the number needed to make this layout into a hexagon. As it stood, it was an oblong hexagon - fine, but not what I was going for. Still not sure how I made that mistake, but c'est la vie. I fiddled around a little bit and figured out that I could alternate hexagons and 'blank' spaces around the edge. Those blanks will be filled with diamonds of fabric in a solid, likely neutral linen making the whole a very large hexagonal piece. In the end I wouldn't have come up with this idea without thinking incorrectly first, so I'll call it serendipity. 

I spent the better part of an afternoon adding the interstitial triangles. I put everything out on the floor how it was meant to be and managed to figure out how to assemble everything with no y-seams by staring at it for a few minutes. I just have to add the solid diamond pieces to the last three hexagon blocks and sew those 'rows' onto the edges. 

Are my points perfect? No. I think I forgot to trim the new blocks down to size before I started assembling, otherwise I'm sure I'd have had them down pat. Do I mind? No. The quilt is 'crazy' enough that I'm not sure even I'll notice in the grand scheme of things when it's finished. Kepler at least seems ok with it. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

an ode to my new rotary cutter

Another treat from my mom's visit in September -- this little guy has been hanging around in my desk unopened while I finished up a bunch of knitting. Tonight I cut a few things for my three quilts I'm aiming to finish soon, and I LOVE IT. It's an Ergo Control 45 mm from Fiskars. 

My original Fiskars rotary cutter has seen lots of action and just doesn't keep the blade out anymore. It pops back in at even the slightest pressure. This version has a new action to lock the blade out that seems like it's quite an improvement. The blade is super sharp and cuts through multiple layers like butter. It's even way better than having a replacement blade in the old one. Don't know why, but there it is. 

Tonight I cut filler triangles for Samara's quilt and all the pieces for my grandfather's quilt and my hand hasn't even thought about hurting. Thanks mom!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

bumpity bump

I've been working my way through the center section of a Kir Royale for the last couple of weeks and loving it. It was my companion during playoff baseball until I realized I was knitting VERY TIGHTLY because the poor Cubs were playing so poorly.   

Check out the texture on this! While it looks complicated, it's really just a clever use of slipped stitches and garter stitch. I'm enjoying not having to purl yet, though once I get to the cables it's all over. Still, that will be a while because this has been somewhat slow going as the rows continue to increase in size. As an aside, this is the first time I've done a garter tab cast on and while it seemed overly complex and silly at first compared to just casting on a number of stitches, I have to say the resulting straightness across the edge is worth the few extra steps.

This yarn is the lovely Madeline Tosh Merino DK I bought this summer at Fengari. The color is alizarin, such a nice mix of warm tones! I'm looking forward to seeing how it looks as progress continues.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Fomhar, finished

This stole got finished on the last day of October along with Samhainn. October is the end of Autumn and harvest (fomhar) in the Gaelic calendar so while unplanned, it was appropriate that I finished my Fomhar as well. I started this piece last November and worked on it occasionally over the course of the year aiming to have it finished by this fall. I completed the stitching in mid-September and finally found some time and space to sit down and block.

I'll be honest, I have no idea what the best way to block a lace shawl like this is. As usual, I looked up the finished measurements in the pattern and, once I determined that I used a similar amount of yarn, started from those numbers. While pinning I added some extra stretch where I had the give for it, which made my piece slightly wider. The thing that stumped me was how to deal with all the detail along the scalloped edges. I tried several ways of pinning out the chain loops and shells but in the end I did what I will dub 'the lazy man's block' and just spread the points out evenly along the wires. I'm sure there is a more correct approach of pinning out each of the motifs, but I didn't find a shape I liked.

I should have measured it before I blocked because for sure it grew. And as one might expect, the lace panels in the middle look totally different and super fancy with all the fans and clusters spread out. 

My favorite thing about this piece is the color. The coppers, golds, and greens swirl around and mix quite pleasantly. To be somewhat poetic, it reminds me of a forest floor in fall. I'm happy to have a bit of this yarn left for another project. 

I scratched several crafty itches with this project: do some crochet for a change, use yarn from the stash, and make a project out of one of my books/magazines (this was from an Interweave Crochet magazine). I really enjoyed the change of pace from knitting and, while I'm not very sure how one wears a stole with panache, I'm sure I'll figure something out. I just hope I can find something to show off the wonderful colors!

Pattern: Inspiration Stole by Lisa Naskrent (my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Madeline Tosh Prairie in 'Filigree'
Hook: G (4 mm)
Dimensions: 64" x 20"