Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wavelength Shawl from Holley's Yarn Shoppe - Day 4

For. Ev. Rrrr....

Forever.  That’s what it felt like to get these last two repeats of the pattern done.  The yarn-overs still refused to play nice with the stitch markers—please, someone invent a solution for this! 

And the Curse of the Top Down Shawl?  It’s still following me like a black wool cloud. No matter how generously I plan, no matter how much of a head start I give myself, the final segment of some all top down shawls always feels like an endless sludge to the finish line.  Sore shoulders.  Cramping fingers.  Backaches.  Posts that are three and four days late.  Ugh.

Previous times, I have episodes of knit-worthy TV shows like Outlander and Smash to binge on while knitting excruciatingly long (400 stitches!) rows.  This time, it was just me and the conniving Underwoods pounding our way through season two of House of Cards.  When I hit that final stitch last night at 11pm, it was as if the storm finally passed.  I actually look forward to knitting again.

Which is good, because I’m not completely done. I’ve got the edging pattern to do now, but for some reason that doesn’t feel quite so bad.  More like the home stretch.

I hope. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Wavelength Shawl from Holley's Yarn Shoppe - Day 3

What is it with yarn-overs and stitch markers? Why can’t they get along?

It seems I’m always working with a pattern that places a yarn-over next to a stitch-marker.  I can see why it happens—sections of lace design are often separated by lines of yarn-overs—but it’s so frustrating when the stitch marker sneaks under the yarn over to mess up my stitch count.  I suppose I could try using larger stitch markers, but I hate how they feel in my hands, sticking up off the needles to poke at my fingers and palms.  Knitting is a highly tactile experience for me.  I don’t like anything that interferes with the pleasure of the yarn and needles in my hands.

I’ll admit, it’s been a problem in this section of the pattern.  It helps that I can line up certain design elements to see if I’m in the right place (an excellent reason to use charts for lacework).  The best solution I have found is to go back over the needle before I begin a wrong-side row and make sure the marker is where it is supposed to be. That means either after the yarn-over in rows 22 and 30 or before the yarn-over in rows 26 and 34.  Complicated, but necessary.

Things don’t line up in neat rows on this pattern.  The lacework columns of yarn-overs wiggle a little bit as they run up the center section.  I’m sure it will block out nicely—lacework never looks good in the knitting, but acquires its true beauty after a bath—but it’s troublesome right now.  I never know if I’ve truly messed up.  Luckily, I’ve never been off by more than one stitch, and that feels like a small enough error that if it is a mistake, it won’t be noticeable.

The rows are getting longer...I can feel it.  Can I escape the Curse of the Top Down Shawl?  Only the next posting will tell.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July Readers Who Knit: Nicole Stine

It's time to make our monthly introduction to a Reader Who Knits. DestiKNITters, meet Nicole Stine.

Nicole, whats on your needles right now?
A cotton dishcloth, I’m a beginner!

What feels like your favorite/greatest knitting accomplishment?
Teaching myself to knit.

What feels like the worst knitting mistake/foible/wrong choice youve ever made?
Attempting a project that was way too advanced for me…twice!

Straight or circular needles?

Metal or wood needles?

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

Coffee or tea?
Both, but they must be decaf!

Whats your favorite Allie novel?
The Perfect Blend--I read it at least once a year!

What are you reading now?
Bad Heiress Day, by Allie Pleiter.

Do you have a favorite knitting character from a book, movie, or television show (Allie books not included)?
Becca Snyder from the Dropped Stitches Series by Janet Tronstad.  Becca is very black-and-white and is a stickler for the rules.  I can relate!

Give a shout out to your favorite local yarn store:
Would you believe that there isn’t a yarn store within a couple of hours from me?  However, I did visit a lovely yarn store when I was on vacation last month in Scottsdale, AZ:  

Jessica Knits…and Crochets
8660 E. Shea Blvd., Suite # 170
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Thanks to Cascade Yarns, Nicole not only wins a copy of my novel Masked by Moonlight for her and a friend, but ten hanks of Cascade 220 in luscious Purple Hyacinth and a Cascade tote bag!  If you'd like to be featured as a Reader Who Knits, email me at for an application.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Wavelength Shawl from Holley's Yarn Shoppe - Day 2


One of the things I’m most looking forward to in this project is the size.  I’m not a small woman, so shawlettes don’t have a lot of versatility for me.  A full shawl, however, can be worn as a shawl, a cowl, or a scarf.  So I’m delighted to be working on a full shawl, even in a summer weight like this.  It always feels that much better to be wearing a full shawl.

Speaking of feeling, everyone keeps asking to touch it. It’s the linen quality, I think—they want to know if it's soft.  It’s not yet, I explain, but it will be.  It will hold its shape well, but still be light enough for summer wear.  There’s a reason linen has always been the go-to summer fabric.

I admit to a bit of hesitation about the lacework panel.  Given the soft color, the design doesn’t stand out very much yet.  There’s a few photos of the shawl in a more vibrant color on Ravelry, and I really like them.  In the beige tones, however, it doesn’t seem to pop.  Yet. You can’t judge lace before it is blocked.  I absolutely must reserve judgement until the end on this one.

The good news is that I’m early in the project and I already know I have mastered all the necessary stitch patterns.  Knitting is a place where “more of the same” is a comforting thing.  My job now?  Keep going and don’t mess it up.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Wavelength Shawl from Holley's Yarn Shoppe - Day 1

Just the right Wavelength...

This is a perfect summer project.  The fiber, Classic Elite Bella Lino linen/viscose/cotton blend is light and airy.  I have a good, cozy neutral beige winter shawl, but I need one for warmer weather.  The gentle undulation of warm colors—browns, tans, grays, and creams—gives texture and just a bit of interest to the knitting.  For now, working with only one 50 gram ball, my project is highly portable even with its long circular needle.

The yarn is a bit stiff—it is, after all, 58% linen—but I know that will soften once this baby gets its first bath.  The ball is like a squirmy toddler; it wants to unwind.  I find I need to keep it under close control so that it doesn’t unravel and tangle.

Yes, this is another top-down shawl.  I know, I just know it’ll be grueling at the end.  I’ll be slogging through the long final rows, whining to you about how many stitches there are.  To help in that challenge, the designer places panels of mercifully quick-and-easy garter stitch on either side of the lacework center.  I’m hoping this will keep me from pulling my hair out in my inevitable final dash to the bind-off.

The lacework pattern—with its expanding repeat in rows 21-34, takes a few readings to grasp. Read the note and the pattern a couple of times until it becomes clear. Essentially, each set of row repeats adds 14 stitches to the section; enough to host an additional stitch repeat. So you don’t repeat the first “repeat”—you just execute it.  It’s complicated, but once you catch the idea, it’s whack-your-forehead simple.  Stitch markers, which get shifted at the end of each set of 14 rows, will help ensure you’re exactly where you need to be.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Blurred Lines Bandana Style Shawlette from Yarn & Stitches--Done!

Pink and purple perfect...

Before blocking
So, a funny thing happened on the way to the bind-off.  It’s a perfect depiction of everything I love about knitting.

I was finishing this project on the road.  I was staying with a colleague attending the conference I talked about in my last post.  It was a lovely little house, and I was sleeping in the granddaughter’s room—a delightful girl named Savannah.

Like most girls her age, Savannah is big into horses.  She even has one and rides it regularly.  Also like most girls her age, Savannah’s room is a festival of pink.  With a little purple thrown in for good measure.  You can see where this is going.  Funny that I couldn’t.

After blocking
The morning after I wrote the last post, I woke up feeling like a neon sign had fallen on my head:  I didn’t need to look or wait to see who should own the bandana, the perfect recipient was right under my nose.  Sure, Florida may not be the first place one thinks of to wear a woolen knitted bandana, but it gets chilly there too—especially when out in the pasture with your horse.  The moment the idea came to me, it was undeniable.  There was no point in even considering taking the piece home to block—it needed to stay right where I was.  No one would get more joy out of this pink and purple wonder than the little girl who had lent me her bedroom!

The happy recipient!
A quick conversation with Mom and Grandmom okay’ed the offer, produced a iron and board to steam-block the piece, and made the gifting complete.  The small size and little girl colors couldn’t have been a better fit.  I left with a huge smile on my face, and it seems like Savannah enjoyed her gift.

That’s the thing I love most about knitting—there is always, always the right person for whatever you’re making.

Thank you, Yarn & Stitches, for making this wonderful moment possible.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Blurred Lines Bandana Style Shawlette from Yarn & Stitches--Day 5

For Whom?

It’s not hard to see where this is going.  The sections are repeating themselves.  In many ways, that’s good—familiar territory makes for stress free knitting.  I’m at a conference, absorbing new material, pausing here and there to write down important notes and ideas, and I like an easy knitting task for this situation.  I like that everyone knows I’ll be knitting—nay, expects me to be knitting—in a lecture setting.  I break out my old lines: 

Knitting is socially acceptable fidgeting.”

I’m not knitting because you are boring me—I’m knitting so I can pay better attention to you.

Everyone here gets it.  Still, I am a speaker/author by profession, and I take extra care to let the person at the podium know I’m connecting with him or her.  Smiles, nods, taking notes—all these things are how a well-mannered knitter lets her teacher know attention is indeed being paid.

I like the pattern.  It’s just the right balance between intriguing new stitches and repetition—engaging, but not overwhelming; simple, but not boring.  I can see there’s a brand new stitch coming at the end, and I’m looking forward to it as a gratifying finale.  The yarn has a nice spring and a pleasant texture.

But I’ll be perfectly honest:  I can’t get past the colorway.  Not many things in life feel “too young” for me, but this project will likely find its way to a little girl in my life.  I like pink, but I definitely skew toward the lighter, more pastel pinks.  And I do like rich, vibrant purples.  I just can’t get myself to embrace the combination here.

Thats the thing about knitting, however--I don’t have to.  My knitting never has to be all about me.  I can enjoy the process even if the product doesn't turn out to be my cup of tea.  

Sure, this may never grace my neck (although, to be fair, I refuse to pass judgement until this is blocked), I have NO doubt whatsoever that life will shortly introduce me to someone for whom it is absolutely perfect.  It happened with my whimsical cow bag.  It’s happened numerous times.

So for now, I just keep stitching in happy anticipation of discovering who that someone will be.