30 September 2007

More About the Bigfoot Shawl

The body is a modified feather and fan, as is the yoke, as Stephanie noticed. Instead of just one row with all the yarn overs and decreases, followed by three plain rows, this version of the pattern has one row with all the yarn overs and half of the decreases and another row with the other half of the decreases, with two plain rows.

I've got to warn you about the book, maybe. If you don't want to knit top-down circular shawls, don't buy the book. That's all it has. I love them. Stoles usually take a certain effort to keep in place, like bent arms, a knot, or a pin, but circular shawls stay in place naturally. It's a lot the same as Faroe shawls.

I also really like the yarn. It's very soft and has extremely good stitch definition. It's not at all splitty, which is important when knitting lace with pointy needles. Of course I haven't blocked it yet.

Me make a gauge swatch and actually block it? Surely you jest. The closest I ever get to that for things like shawls and scarves is to pin out a section, still on the needles, after I'm a fair way through. (I'm not nearly so casual when knitting something that has to fit, though.)

I finally got around to really looking at the box of books from Zooba and discovered that they'd made a small error. I originally thought I had one cookbook and nine mysteries, which didn't seem quite right, but when I looked more closely I had one cookbook, eight mysteries, and a novel about Munchausen by proxy. This was a bit of a surprise, because that's not something I'm particularly interested in. It turns out that I had ordered two cookbooks and eight mysteries.

I've bought quite a few books from Zooba and this is the first error they've made. I wish I could say as much about some of the other on-line merchants I deal with. I fired off a quick e-mail and they mailed the cookbook yesterday (Saturday) and are giving me the novel (I think this translates as "it's easier and cheaper to write off the book than to go through the hassle of getting it back"). I'll probably give the novel to the Friends of the Library.

29 September 2007

Bigfoot Shawl

Bigfoot Shawl
Originally uploaded by Mary The Digital Knitter

OK, I admit it, I started another shawl yesterday. This is the Bigfoot Shawl, from Wrapped In Comfort: Knitted Lace Shawls. It's so much fun! It's knitted in Knit Picks Gloss (70/30 merino and silk fingering weight) in black. I have two more rows of the yoke to knit. I'm knitting it with US 8 needles, the new Options Harmony needles from Knit Picks, which are really good for lace.

It's intended to be a practical little shawl for my cousin, who finds many restaurants to be so over-air-conditioned as to be intolerable when dressed for a night on the town. That's why it's black and silky. She's like me (and a lot of other women), she doesn't need a big arrow, which a triangular shawl is, pointing at her bottom. This shawl is circular and won't be doing any vulgar pointing.

Yes, I will finish the Forest Canopy Shawl in the exasperating lace weight yarn. I don't have to have it done until Christmas, though, so I'm going to sneak this quick little shawl in now.

27 September 2007

Breezy Scarf

Breezy Scarf
Originally uploaded by Mary The Digital Knitter

This scarf is finished. It's 9 in. wide and well over 6 ft long (I haven't measured it). I don't know whether I'm going to wait to send it to Iowa until I have several more scarves to go with it or just send it on now. It's really too warm for such a heavy scarf, so I'll probably wait.

I've got yellow yarn, just like this, for another similar scarf, as well as superfine (baby) alpaca in both purple and rose and alpaca, cashmere, silk, merino blend in both blue and black, for winter scarves. Working with such luxurious yarns is a real delight, and making just a scarf avoids bankruptcy.

Today was a real reading jackpot between USPS and UPS. The letter carrier brought me a carton of ten books (one crockpot cookbook and nine mysteries) from Zooba and UPS brought me one book (1634: The Bavarian Crisis, an alternate history book and the newest in a series) from Amazon. I'd been waiting impatiently for the 1634 book and I'm really happy it's here.

Speaking of reading and of knitting, I've figured out a good way to read while knitting. Baen Books offers a wide variety of free books for download, many by authors I really like. It's easy to download one and read it on my laptop as I knit. Of course, this only works for simple knitting.

21 September 2007

Fat-Yarn Scarf Time!

Breeze Scarf
Originally uploaded by Mary The Digital Knitter

I mentioned earlier that I'd ordered some chunky and bulky yarn for scarves and I was going to abandon the lace-weight yarn and US 5 needles of the Forest Canopy Shawl II for scarves when the orders arrived.

Well, the first order, from Elann, arrived yesterday at about 1130. It was opened and the yarn, Lang Breeze Color, in Orchid, was being petted at roughly 1131. By 1145 I'd dug the never-before-used 8-mm (US 11) Brittany birch 10" needles out of the bottom of my knitting equipment crate, gotten a new Diet Coke, snagged something to eat, and settled down to knit.

I started with a triangular tip in stockinette, with garter-stitch border, but decided I really didn't want to spend my time knitting all that stockinette, so I carefully frogged that and just cast on 28 stitches. That's 1 stitch on each side for the chain selvedge (see it in the photo? looks nice, doesn't it?), 1 stitch for garter stitch on each side, and 24 stitches for the 3-1 traveling rib. This is a variation on a scarf I made for my goddaughter, which had a 5-1 traveling rib. Well, it may not be an actual traveling rib because the stitches don't cross, but I've always heard it called a traveling rib.

I should have used 2 stitches on each side for garter stitch, as the edges are rolling slightly, but it's not too bad and I'm not going to frog over a foot of scarf to fix it. Roving yarns don't hold up well to a lot of frogging and re-knitting, in my experience. This one might, but I'd rather not risk it.

Anyway, by about 1600 all the first ball of yarn was knitted up and I started taking photos for the blog and Ravelry. In addition, I photographed all the yarn in the order (five colors of Elann Baby Silk and Baby Cashmere, for the circular shawls in a new book, Wrapped In Comfort: Knitted Lace Shawls) and the yarn from three stash bins. Then I spent hours putting titles and descriptions on the photos at Flickr and then filling in the data for Ravelry.

As I rummaged through the bins of yarn, it occurred to me that rather than knitting tops from sport-weight cotton yarn, with small needles, I could knit lace, with larger needles. Or knit with two strands, as worsted weight. So now I'm looking at my stash quite differently. Particularly at the Classic Elite Avignon, which is tussah silk and Pima cotton and a lovely yarn. And looking through my shawl patterns, particularly the ones that accommodate various yarn sizes.

I should get this scarf finished about when the Knit Picks orders arrive. The first order is mostly the new Harmony wooden needle tips and the second is fat yarn. They've both been shipped and will probably show up early next week, a couple of days apart. I might even have some time to work on the shawl, which is now over half done, before I throw myself back into the scarf jungle.

19 September 2007

Half Done

I'm half done on the Forest Canopy Shawl II. I just started the second ball of yarn. It does go slowly, with fine yarn on US 5 needles. The photo is a close-up in which I hope you can see the leaf pattern

I'm expecting an order of bulky alpaca and cashmere blend yarns from Knit Picks in the next few days. I plan to put this shawl aside and knit some soft, luscious scarves for my friends and family members in South Dakota, Iowa, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

You'd think I'd learn my lesson one of these days and stop buying lace yarn, wouldn't you? I haven't. Not yet, anyway. Although I have noticed that some lace weight yarns are thicker than others. I've got some Knit Picks Gossamer, which is quite a bit heavier than the Knit Picks Shimmer I'm using for this shawl, and I expect to like it a lot more.

16 September 2007

Forest Canopy Shawl II

Forest Canopy Shawl II
Originally uploaded by Mary The Digital Knitter

This is my second Forest Canopy Shawl. I really like this pattern. It's very easy to knit and the results are very pretty..

This version is knitted with turquoise lace-weight alpaca/silk (75%/25%) yarn, instead of the fingering weight yarn I used for the first one. I find the lace-weight yarn to be exasperating, but pretty and so very soft. I'm using US 5 needles and I've used about 80% of the first of two balls. Needless to say, it's going a lot slower than the first one did.

I've got a bunch of chunky luxury yarns on order for winter scarves and when that arrives I'm probably going to put the shawl aside and knit a few scarves. They go so quickly it's just amazing. I've ordered alpaca and cashmere blends from Knit Picks, so the scarves will be pretty thrifty. That's one of the reasons I'm so fond of knitting scarves, that I can use the most luxurious yarns around without bankrupting myself. Add in the good prices at Knit Picks and Elann and it's even better.

13 September 2007

I Have An LYS!

Late Saturday afternoon I discovered that there's an actual, local yarn shop in Lancaster. It's really new, not even a month old. I went by on Sunday (it was closed, of course) and peered in the windows; they had Sirdar and Noro patterns in their display, which was a good sign. Then I actually went by on Monday, after finishing for the day at my mom’s house and dropping fourteen boxes of stuff off at the thrift store she volunteered at. We're getting close to being done clearing out the house, which is fortunate because I sold the house last week (before we listed it or otherwise put it on the market; this is the second house I've done that with). The buyers are taking some of the furniture and may buy even more.

It was even better than I thought it might be. Misti Baby Alpaca, Blue Heron rayon, Rio De La Plata kettle-dyed merino, Noro, Cascade, Sirdar, Gedifra, and so on. Not a lot of the really high-end stuff, but this is Lancaster and, as the owners said, expensive yarn is not what anyone would expect to move well. They can special-order, of course. They had every Clover bamboo needle made and some lovely wooden needles.

I didn’t buy a single thing. I was mightily tempted, but I just couldn’t decide on anything. Too much choice, I guess. I think I’m going to get a couple of skeins of purple Baby Alpaca for a scarf for my sister-in-law. Just touching that yarn made me long to own it, I tell you. I can hardly bear to send the baby alpaca scarves on to their owners, I love it so much.

My good friend Pat’s daughter, in South Dakota, is going to have a baby in the spring and I got four skeins (a mile of yarn) of Knit Picks white fingering-weight merino wool to knit a lace christening shawl (traditionally this gets used for the christening and then gets put away until the kid’s wedding, when the bride wears it). Right now I’m knitting a Forest Canopy lace shawl in lace-weight alpaca and silk yarn, on US 5 needles. Lovely, but slow, slow, slow. I'll be so glad to be knitting fingering weight on US 7s or so.

Speaking of Knit Picks and needles, their new wooden needles are really nifty. They're laminated from layers of dyed birch and then turned; this is a very common way to make fancy pens and other doodads. These needles have the same sharp tip and long taper that the metal ones do. They're quite reasonably priced, just a bit more than the metal version, and I've got the interchangeable points sitting in my shopping cart, but I can't quite bring myself to order them yet. You know, Knit Picks may have very reasonable prices for their yarns, but they sure seem to get a lot of money from me. I'm such a sucker for pretty bright-colored yarn and accessories.

Part of the reason I'm hesitating on the needle order is that I just got a Cuisinart panini and sandwich grill. Cooks Illustrated rated this as the best panini grill a couple of years ago. I got it from Amazon and I just love it. I haven't made anything much more exciting than ham and cheese sandwiches but I have great plans. Let me share one of my few household hints, which I rarely do. When you make a grilled cheese sandwich, put a very thin layer of French's bright yellow mustard on one of the slices of bread. This should be as thin a layer as you can manage. The sandwich won't taste mustardy, but it'll have a little extra tang that will really pick up the flavor.