Sunday, July 20, 2014

Metalouse Shawl from Knit Nirvana - Day 1

Clever, colorful, cuddly...

Stephen West is a big name in knitting these days.  A larger than life character to be sure, he’s earned his reputation with some of the most ingenious designs to be found anywhere.  In a sea of needlework, you can almost always pick out a West design for it’s modern style and graphic punch.  I’ve been hankering to make one of his shawls and not gotten the chance...until now.

Thanks to the fine folks at Knit Nirvana, I’ll get my chance with the Metalouse Shawl.  Packed with the famous West eye for stunning graphics, this shawl makes good use of Noro’s exceptional colorways by stacking ridges of color in a triangle form.

The shawl is begun at the top center (I know, I know, another project where the rows only get longer….) with a tricky bit of casting on and turning.  No worries, though, West points us to a nice, clear photo tutorial to get us up and running with ease. 

The best part of this shawl so far?  I finally get my hands on a SOFT Noro yarn!  While I’ve always been a huge fan of their luscious colors, I have never liked the texture…until now.  This Shiraito cashmere/angora/wool blend is a soft as you’d think given the fiber content.  A Noro that’s the best of both worlds—gorgeous color and ahh-soft feel.  I couldn’t ask for a better knitting experience.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July Authors Who Knit: Marsha A. Moore

It's time to meet this month's author who knits. DestiKNITters, say hello to Marsha A. Moore!

Marsha, what’s on your needles right now? 
I’m currently finishing up a small shawl, Jig by Annie Claire, with a pretty scalloped shape. I have a large shawl, the November Ruffle Wrap I’m doing in Madeline Tosh pashmina, waiting patiently for me from a few months ago. Also, I have the last humongous ruffle border rows to finish on a lovely Milk Run Shawl. That will be so welcome this fall. And I’m about to start a Gaia shrug that I need to go with a few dresses I’ll wear on vacation in late August.

I used to do one project at a time until I started publishing. Now, I find having numerous projects of different difficulties or sizes is better to meet whatever free time opens up. I’ve always had at least one active project going during the last thirty years, no matter what else life brings.

What feels like your favorite/greatest knitting accomplishment? 
When we lived in NW Ohio, I made many sweaters with intricate cables. They aren’t of much use here in Tampa other than for an occasional cold night, but I can’t part with them and keep them stored safely in two cedar chests.

What feels like the worst knitting mistake/foible/wrong choice you’ve ever made? 
I made a shrug that was double-stranded with mohair and viscose yarns. The viscose yarn snagged and misbehaved so much that I thought I’d never get the project finished. I did survive. But never again.

Straight or circular needles? 
Both. I like 14-inch straights because I can prop one needle against my thigh and work faster. Lately I’ve made a series of shawls and become quite attached to working with Addi-Turbo long lace tips circulars.

Metal or wood needles? 

White chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate? 
Dark chocolate.

Coffee or tea? 
Definitely tea. I have at least fifty varieties.

Have you written a knitting character? 
No, but I have a character who knits planned for my new series called Coon Hollow Coven Tales. The first book, The Witch’s Moonstone Locket, will release in late autumn.

What’s the last thing anyone would suspect about your most recent book? 

That a book about yoga could be scary.

Give a shout out to your favorite local yarn store: 
I’m sad to say that my favorite local yarn store, Knit n’ Knibble, in Tampa, is closing this month. I have yet to find a new favorite.

If you're on Ravelry, you can connect with Marsha at MarshaAMoore.  To learn more about Marsha and her books, visit her website.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Leftie Shawl from Knot Just Knits - Done at Last!

I made it to the last leaf!

I finally finished!  It’s wonderful.  I do love all the clever little parts; the colorful leaves, the way the final stripe makes up one edge, the way the leading edge of each leaf curls up just the tiniest bit, all of it.  One of my favorite things is how different this shawl is from so many others I own--and I own so many.  I expect I’ll be grinning every time I wear this for some time.

Will I get as many comments and questions when I wear it as when I was knitting it?  I’ll have to let you know.

Thanks to those of you who wrote to express concern regarding my last post.  I’m glad to report I’ve discontinued that pesky prescription and all those side effects have disappeared.  Now I’ll be looking into some alternative options to keep my migraines away.  That’s knitters for you—always showing care to other knitters!

Up next, I try the striking Metalouse shawl design by the popular Stephen West!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Leftie Shawl from Knot Just Knits - Slight Detour

 You may have noticed an obvious lack of Allie during the past week or so.  Now, there is no dangerous crisis, but I thought I owed you an explanation.  I do try to be diligent about this blog business.

I have suffered from migraines most of my adult life.  Up until late last year, they had been very effectively controled.  Then this nifty little process called menaupause sent everything into biological havoc.  Things got crazy enough that in late June I was placed on a preventative drug, since no one--me included--thought four migraines a month was a good track record to keep up.

The migraines stayed away, but in their place came some really annoying side effects that have made my standard life schedule pretty much impossible.  Many lovely things had to be set aside, especially since my friendly editors in New York gifted me with two additional deadlines.  Working has been like driving down the highway in first gear, but we're getting through it until an alternative can be crafted.

I am four " leafs" away from the end of my Leftie shawl, so you should be hearing from me soon.  It just might not be as soon as I'd like.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Leftie Shawl from Knot Just Knits - Day 5

It always takes longer...

Sigh.  This is going to take a while.  I thought I had it plotted out into six equal segments, but I didn't take into consideration that these last rows are three times as long as my first rows--and as such take three times as long to complete.  I'm working hard here.

I don't know what it is about these short row "leaf" trims, but I only get them right about half time.  I know enough about short rows to make them all look reasonably similar, but I have to say it really bugs me that I can't  manage a 14-row repeat accurately.  I should be able to handle this, you know? I like to think of myself as having a decent level of competency.

One thing is for sure:  this is a show-stopper.

 I'm asked about it every time I pull it out of my knitting bag in public, and I've run across several people who have either made one or have one on their needles.  Invariably, the comments run to, "Oh, I could do that in _____ [insert yarn here]."  

It's true.  I've dreamed up half a dozen yarn combinations myself from stuff I own just in the time I was knitting.  With the Color Affection shawl, I kept seeing yarn I wanted to buy to make another.  Somehow--maybe it's just the subliminal suggestion of the name (leftie, leftovers, etc)--I keep thinking of yarn I already own to make another Leftie.  

Intentional?  Who knows.  Welcome?  You bet.  Anything that eats into my massive stash is a positive project!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Leftie Shawl from Knot Just Knits - Day 4

Delayed gratification...

It’s happening again.

The rows just keep getting longer.

On a logical level, I know this to be a good thing.  I know I will enjoy this shawl when it is done, and that I will wear it often with all these lovely colors.  If I love the act of knitting, then knitting more is a good thing, right?

I figured out yesterday that while I can completely and happily immerse myself in the process of knitting, I also am energized and gratified by the accomplishment of knitting.  I’m a “to-do list” kind of gal—I get jazzed by progress.  So as the rows get longer, my gratification gets more and more delayed.

I rot at delayed gratification.  I’ve got the waistline and the impulse purchases and the unthawed-yet-eaten frozen cookie dough to prove it.  Plus, the more time it takes to finish the row progress I plan for each episode of this blog, the more my “deadline stress” goes up.  I don’t want to keep you all waiting while I find time to finish the longer-and-longer rows it takes to get to my next installment.

Still, I don’t think you could do this one backwards—long end to short. I thought about it last night, and either I’m just not that smart, or it’s not possible to predict the correct length and width on the outset.  If any of you could figure it out, by all means let me know.

Because I don’t have time to work on such a problem.  I have a lot of knitting to do….

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June Authors Who Knit: Diane J. Reed

Today we'll meet another of the authors who will be joining me for "Get Crafty With an Author" at Denver's ROMCON later this week.  DestiKNITters, meet Diane J. Reed.
Diane, what’s on your needles right now? 
Big chunky scarves in fun and silly colors! I love adding a little extra flair to my sweaters in the winter with charming scarves, and I really enjoy soft textures around my neck. Plus with two young kids, short projects like scarves are something I can actually finish in between writing, school volunteering and heading up Boy Scout outings :D

What feels like your favorite/greatest knitting accomplishment? 
Without a doubt, my greatest knitting accomplishment was a green Aran sweater with complex cabling called the "St. Brigid" design by Alice Starmore, which I knitted for my beloved twin sister for our birthday. Lord have mercy, that one took quite a while, but what a beautiful sweater it is! She wears it on foggy days when she rides her horses, and it always makes me proud. I also love an ivory sweater that I knitted from wool I brought straight from a farming woman in New Hampshire who sheared and spun wool from her own Romney sheep. It was really fun to meet the sheep that the wool came from! 

What feels like the worst knitting mistake/foible/wrong choice you’ve ever made? 
I have one word for you: Acrylic. I'm not a big fan of acrylic fibers because after all the work you put into knitting, it tends to ball up on you and make you feel like you're wearing a plastic bag. It simply doesn't breathe well. So even though it costs less to buy, for me it's always been a mistake to go cheap and knit with acrylic. I love the feel, durability, and breathability of natural fibers like wool, cotton and linen.

Straight or circular needles?
Circular! That way my projects don't fall off my needles as easily.

Metal or wood needles? 
I love metal because those points slip through fiber so easily and you can knit really fast. I just like their sleek feel.

White chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate? 
Dark! I could eat unsweetened chocolate bars, especially if they're made by Callibaut, and I often buy 85% chocolate by Lindt or Ghirardelli.

Coffee or tea? 
Both! I still have tea parties with my imaginary friends ; )

Have you written a knitting character? 
You know, I never have, but a lot of my characters have hand quilted. I can't help but put some form of homespun art into my novels! For me, they represent beautiful pieces of soul, and the quilts often have hidden, spiritual meanings.

What’s the last thing anyone would suspect about your most recent book? 
Stone of Thieves appears on the surface to be a sexy, new adult romance that's a thrill ride in terms of action. But underneath, it's a piercingly soulful book about a young woman discovering who she really is through learning from an older gypsy how to truly become a woman and rely on her intuition. Of course, it doesn't hurt that her hot boyfriend is there every step of the way to keep readers interested! 

If you'd like to learn more about Diane and her books, visit her website.  Just to be clear: Diane's books cover mature themes and are not suitable for younger or more sensitive readers.