Monday, October 27, 2014

Edie's Shoulder Wrap from The Knit Shop - Done...sort of

Feather and Fan and Frustration...

I’m guessing you knew how that was going to end up.

Restored--no, I won't let you't see the botched version
Yep, turned out I had to rip all the feather and fan out and start over. 

Good thing I wasn’t alone. My friend (and April 2012 Author Who Knits featureCamy Tang was there at the writers conference where I was.  Not only is Camy a talented writer, but she is also ninja-level knitter and a master of the feather and fan.  If anyone could save this shawl, it’s Camy.  Conversely, if anyone knew it was beyond saving, it was Camy.  

The verdict was pronounced, and Camy and I began to rip.  And rip.  And rip.

We were sitting in the hotel lobby, and you could divide those who walked by into two distinct groups:  non knitters who wondered what the heck we were doing with all that tangled yarn, and knitters who stood in sad solidarity as we pulled irredeemable tangled mohair from its place.

To add to the pain, I didn’t have anywhere near the right number of stitches I should have had to start the feather and fan portion.  Again, Camy to the rescue!  That dear friend sat there and recalculated/rewrote the pattern for me so I could move ahead with the stitches I had.  Because that’s what a knitter does for a knitter in need.  When a fellow knitter comes to you heartbroken, moaning “fix this!,” you dig in your heels (and your needles) and lend a hand.

It’s not done.  It’s close, but I can’t bear to make you watch further.  Just trust that I made it out of the pit alive and am clawing my way toward the finish line.  

For everyone’s mental health, we’ve moving along to Austin for our next episode.  Don’t worry Edie, I promise I’ll stick it out until the end and post a photo one of these days!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Edie's Shoulder Wrap from The Knit Shop - Day 6

Doubt and faith...

I’ve installed a lovely system of black stitch markers for the pattern repeats and colored ones for the “corners” between panels.

Only I’m not so sure it’s working.

I'm just a bit worried I've made some kind of colossal error.  I have knit feather and fan before; I know what it is supposed to look like.  I'm pretty sure the yarn overs should be stacked on top of each other, and right now they seem to be leaning to one side like a drunken sailor.  Considering that I went to all this trouble to mark the repeats, it should be hard for me to mess up.  Should.  You've all had a front row seat to my ability to mess up things that should be easy.

Here's the grace in all this.  I could actually have messed it up, and I still might like the results.  This is lace--you can never really call it finished until its blocked.  The garments essential shape is there, it's jus the lace pattern that seems to be off kilter.  And, it bears saying that I don't really know it's off kilter--it just looks like it right now.  Here is one of those places where I set my fiber faith in the saying "Everything will be all right in the end. And if it is not all right, well, then it is not the end."

Worst case scenario (and I am not at all saying we've achieved this), if I don't care for the finished product, I can always find someone who loves it, and loves that it has been handmade.  Knitting is like hope:  it is never wasted.

Even if I end up ripping the whole lace pattern out (and no, I won’t make you watch—you get one more episode on this and then I let you move on to my fabulous trip to Austin TX), I still have a nice shawlette that just needs the last part to be redone a third time.  

And third time’s always the charm, yes?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Edie's Shoulder Wrap from The Knit Shop - Day 5

History is bound to frog itself...

Well, phooey. 

“Onward” didn’t happen.

Well, it did, only it was swiftly followed by “backward.” As in rip it out, you fool, this won’t work.

For whatever reason, my knitting lesson in life this year seems to be “some things you just can’t fudge.”

I thought I could just plow forward through the feather and fan portion of this project even though my accent stripes were a bit off.  Turns out I could do that, but I ended up with wider green stripes—two rows of garter stitch gives you a single ridge, but two rows of stockinette give you two full rows, which look thicker.

The fixed version--after much gnashing of teeth
At first, I told myself I liked it that way.  You know those little kitting lies you tell yourself to try and convince yourself you won’t have to rip out three days worth of work?  You can get away with it for about twenty minutes, and then the truth hunts you like a hound.  Some errors you can live with, others you know will bother you for the life of the garment.

So what did I spend yesterday doing?  Ripping out three days worth of stitching to start the feather and fan section all over again.  

Lucky for me, I have a bunch of air travel ahead of me this week.  I’m going to need all that time to catch up.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October Authors Who Knit: Elizabeth Boyle

It's the third Wednesday of the month, which means it's time to meet an author who knits!  This month we meet Elizabeth Boyle.

Elizabeth, what’s on your needles right now? 
A pair of thick and cozy slipper socks. The pattern is a free one from Lion Brand that I’ve knit over and over again for myself and as a quick gift. I usually knit it with two strands of Homespun held together because it makes a good thick fabric. 

What feels like your favorite/greatest knitting accomplishment? 
Any time I master a new skill—be it a mobius cast-on, or recently an i-cord cast on, I love that more than the project itself. Thank goodness for knitting books and YouTube, the two places I head when I see a pattern call for something beyond my skill set.

What feels like the worst knitting mistake/foible/wrong choice you’ve ever made? 
It is always is a color or yarn choice. Once it was a variegated yarn that I made into entrelac mittens. Egads, it looked like my hands were covered in clown barf. LOL. That got immediately frogged

Straight or circular needles? 
Pretty much always use circs, but I do knit dishcloths on straights. 

Metal or wood needles? 
Both. Each has its place, depending on the pattern and yarn. With a plain stockinette, I love metal because then the stitches just fly off, but if a pattern has lots of cables or I am doing fair isle, then I prefer wood. 

White chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate? 
Dark. There is such a wonderful depth to dark chocolate that the others are missing. 

Coffee or tea? 
Coffee. But I do love a periodic cup of Earl Gray.

Have you written a knitting character? 
Yes. Felicity Langley from Love Letters from a Duke, knits her own socks. Red ones that the hero finds amusing. Felicity is one of the most practical characters I’ve ever written and so it just seemed natural that she would knit. Since I write in the Regency era, I’ve always been fascinated with the small purses, known as Sovereign purses, that young ladies often knit and gave as gifts—I even designed a pattern based on one that a friend of mine, Candice Hern, had collected. The pattern, A Bag for Jane, can be found on Ravelry. 

What’s the last thing anyone would suspect about your most recent book? 
That I had a heck of a time writing it. I was having trouble with carpal tunnel, so I had to balance my knitting and writing to keep my wrists from flaring up. The knitting is essential to writing because that is my meditative time and of course the writing is essential to getting the pages done. Both feeds the other. It became a very delicate balancing act. What I recommend is finding a good hand therapist to help, and then massage therapy. It has worked wonders for me.

Your Raverly name: Elizbo. I love finding new friends on Ravelry. The Friends Activity page is my first stop in the morning—I can’t get enough of seeing what others are stashing, favoriting and casting on. 

Your favorite local yarn store:
Seattle Yarn
5633 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98136

If you'd like to know more about Elizabeth and her books, visit her website here

Monday, October 13, 2014

Edie's Shoulder Wrap from The Knit Shop - Day 4

The feather-and-fan finish line...

One head cold, one migraine, one wedding, one baby shower (and associated hat and bootie knitting), one car trip, two minor crises, and a writing deadline later….I finally make it to the end of the garter stitch portion of this shawl.  Heavens, but that took a long time!  By now you all have become achingly familiar with my impatience for high-volume stitch top-down shawls.  You know what they say…you are doomed to repeat the lesson you haven’t yet learned.

Not that this is any kind of punishment.  It’s pleasant knitting—just time-consuming.  And given the crazy (and cranky) nature of my week, it’s been just the type of knitting I needed.  Even on the car trip requiring lots of navigation participation from me, I was able to knit while keeping an eye on travel directions.  The fiber is soft and fluffy, comfortable and comforting between my fingers.  Yes, this requires a very long circular needle—and those tend to go all loopy on me at times—but it wasn’t unwieldy.

The biggest challenge with this pattern so far?  The counting.  349 stitches and 57 ridges is a lot of counting.  The 57 ridges aren’t so bad, especially with the stripes every twelve rows, but it takes a fair amount of focus to count 349 stitches.  I found myself wishing I’d placed stitch markers every 50 stitches.

No worries there, because I’ll be whipping out plenty of stitch markers to note repeats as we move into the feather and fan lace section of this shawl.  Onward!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Edie's Shoulder Wrap from The Knit Shop - Day 3

Going viral…and not in the good way

I am a cheerful, optimistic care-giver—and I’ve had a lot of practice at that skill.

Having said that, I recognize that I am a grumpy, whiny patient—and I’ve had a lot of practice at that recently, too.

Like most people who travel frequently, I live in constant fear of bringing home the latest bug.  Considering that I’ve been traveling twice a month recently, I think coming down with only two colds a year is a pretty good success rate.  That is, unless you ask my opinion while in the grip of aforementioned cold.

Here’s the thing:  Any other sidelining injury—broken leg, sprained ankle, chicken pox quarrantine, sore throat—would have me home and happily knitting.  It’s what makes me such a cheerful care-giver—you can knit while you tend your love one.  You can knit bedside, in the waiting room, in the ER, and all the places that require so much patience that they make most people cranky.

But when I feel too poorly to knit?  When a cold slams me so hard all I can do is slump on the couch with my Nyquil and tea watching bad television lamenting that I haven’t indulged in Netflix yet?  I’m a world-class grump.  I don’t sit still well, and knitting helps me cope with that.  Take that capacity away, and well, let’s just say the whole world should be extra nice to my husband this week.  “Too sick to knit” is bad news at my house, for sure.

I hope—for his sake and mine—that I’m back on track soon.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Edie’s Shoulder Wrap from The Knit Shop - Day 2

Adding in the accent…

Now, a few rows into the pattern, the shape begins to really show itself.  It’s fun to watch—rather like when you turn a sock heel, and the straight line of knitting begins to take on a new dimension.  

There is a definite switch in texture from sock weight wool to lace weight mohair.  I’ve always found Kidsilk Haze to be a bit on the tricky side thanks to the “fuzz factor” and the non-elastic nature of the fiber.  At first I was worried that the accent would be too subtle, but I found I rather like the way these colors interact.  The light green adds a bit of interest without the full-scale sparkle Edie showed me in her sample.  

And isn’t that the sort of “I think I’d like it better this way” customization that gives knitting its endless appeal?  Provided you’ve got the skill (or can learn it) and the fiber suits the pattern, you can have anything exactly how you want it.

At the moment, this project is marvelously portable, fitting in the smallest of my knitting bags stashed in a corner of my handbag.  I’m not sure it will stay that way, but right now it’s perfect.  A small project with an easy stitch that still brings beautiful results.