28 January 2008

Starting Clapotis Again

For the third time I've finished the increase section of Clapotis. The yarn is holding up well, better than I am. I'm not very happy with the edges on this, but I keep telling myself no one will notice. For once, I think that's an accurate assessment. Usually it's just trying to avoid pulling the whole thing back and starting over.

Here's the first photo, of the set-up and increase sections. No dropped stitches yet (the first one will be in six rows). I've got twelve pattern repeats, instead of the called-for sixteen. The version I just pulled back had all sixteen but it was going to be too wide for the amount of yarn I have.

Here's a close-up photo showing the twisted stitches on each side of the soon-to-be dropped stitches. These twisted stitches (knit through the back loop) are a little firmer than the regular knit stitch and will help the piece hold its shape.

And here's a photo of what happened when I unpinned the tip of the triangle. It's stockinette stitch and it promptly rolled itself up. Dropping the stitches reduces the rolling quite a bit, though.

23 January 2008

Rain, Rain, Hang Around

It's been raining all evening, a slow, steady rain. I hope this is what they're getting in the burned off areas, as it's not heavy enough to get the hillsides moving. I think Los Angeles has had about an inch of rain and we've had a quarter or a third of an inch.

It's been snowing heavily at the Grapevine since 1100, according to the TV reporters, and I-5 is quite firmly closed in both directions. The CHP was running escorts for a while, but as the snowfall got heavier and the day wore on they gave that up and shut the whole thing down. Those big heavy tractor-trailers that fill half the road were slipping and sliding and who knows what the people in SUVs were doing.

The Grapevine is at about 4200' and the snow level is somewhat below that. We're at 2356' and it's 40°F here and dropping. This is the kind of night when you go to sleep to the pitter-patter of rain on the roof and wake up to a very quiet neighborhood, with every sound hushed by the snow on the ground. I used to like snow days when I worked, but not any more. I ran all my errands early this week, partly in the hope that doing so would stave off the snow. It's sort of like washing the car to get it to rain, I guess, only backward.

I've finished all the setup and increase rows on Clapotis and actually dropped the first stitch, which is a little short ladder. As soon as I get enough stitches dropped to make it interesting, I'll put up a photo. Right now it just looks like a variegated triangle in stockinette stitch. I have great hopes for it, but I have to admit it's a little unimpressive so far.

21 January 2008

Rain and Snow and Knitting

The weather predictors are really confused about what's going to happen here the next week or so. First they were predicting rain today and tomorrow, with snow maybe down as low as 2000 ft on Thursday (Lancaster is at 2360 or so), then they made that prediction kind of blurry because it looked like a cut-off low (occluded front being the other name for the phenomenon). Now they're saying something about part of it spinning off and coming here, with the rest to follow more slowly. I hardly know what to expect.

However, I can say that it's chilly and cloudy and windy here today. I went out and brought three loads of firewood around from the far side of the house onto the patio, so that I won't have to go out into the rain for it. I also checked the rain gauge to be sure it was clean and empty.

I'm ready. Let water fall out of the sky, I'll be sitting in front of a nice fire, knitting, reading Usenet, and surfing blogs. This is the SoCal version of real winter weather, like the rest of the country has been having.

Edited to add : If you've got markers on your knitting, you'll spend a lot less time getting up to retrieve the bouncy little rascals if you slip them purlwise instead of knitwise. I'm fond of the markers shaped like little rubber o-rings and it's amazing how far they can bounce after an energetic launch. I'm re-knitting my Clapotis, from scarf size to wrap size, meaning I have seventeen markers, one every six stitches.

16 January 2008


Here's the latest picture of my Angel Lace Shawl. I've added one more pattern motif repeat (ten rows) since I snapped this. Just for orientation, the center top of the shawl is at the center top of the photo. In this photo I had about a quarter of the first ball of yarn left, meaning I was about 3/8ths done.

Another photo of the shawl, from slightly further back. In this photo the center of the top of the shawl is slightly left of the bottom of the photo. The tip of the triangle is at the upper right of the photo. I need a longer cable on my circular needle to lay the shawl out in its proper shape.

Now it may seem that I haven't made much progress on my shawl since I last reported and I really haven't. I had something else to do. My dear niece, The Best Niece In The World or TBNITW (not that I'm biased or anything), sent me some beautiful hand-painted rayon chenille yarn. This part of it hadn't traveled well and I hadn't treated it carefully enough when I took it out of the box and looked at it. Chenille has so much twist in it that this yarn had really snarled itself up, with only a little help. So I found an end and untangled. And untangled. And untangled.

Isn't this beautiful hand-painted yarn? The colors remind me very much of turquoise and amethyst. I have no idea what I'm going to knit from it, except that it needs to be knit fairly firmly in a pattern stitch to prevent worming. Here's a closer look.

And here it is, untangled and wound into a nice firm ball slightly bigger than a baseball.

TBNITW sent more than just one kind of hand-painted chenille, so I'll share more photos as soon as I take them. She has wonderful taste, but what else would you expect from TBNITW?

11 January 2008

So Quiet!

You wouldn't believe how long it takes to accumulate enough dirty dishes to run the new dishwasher with a clear conscience when there's only two people and Stouffer's meals are not uncommon. I finally managed to gather together six bowls, three plates, a bunch of flat ware, and the glass carousel from my microwave, plus the two Stouffer's trays, and call it a light load.

Well, the new dishwasher is a real success. It's so quiet, which is really important because our family room, where we actually live, and our kitchen are really just one big room. Running the previous dishwasher meant turning up the TV and speaking more loudly. Not so with the new one. It's rated at 47 db and they mean it. When it was being installed, I could see all the soundproofing wrapping around the tub. Impressive.

The dishes got nice and clean, including the microwave carousel that had baked-on macaroni and cheese (yes, Stouffer's). The dishwasher also has all kinds of fancy gadgets to hold stuff and "power scour" dirty pans, but I haven't tried them out yet. I guess I need to do some real cooking to test out all the features.

If anyone wonders, it's a Whirlpool GU2700, in black, from Lowe's. I have a similar dishwasher from GE in my Palm Desert house, installed by the builder. It's not the Profile, but the next best. I like it, too. I just like Whirlpool better.

I'm still knitting away on my Angel Lace Shawl. I've gotten beyond the point I'd reached on the US 5 needles. I'd pop in a photo but it doesn't look any different, really. Maybe a bit bigger, but that's about all.

10 January 2008

Great Knitting Site

I was looking around the web for how to do the Portuguese purl, which I'd seen mentioned a while ago on someone's blog, and I found a great knitting site. It's KnittingHelp.com and it has an incredible number of instructional knitting videos. There are well over a hundred knitting videos, ranging from casting on to short rows and turning heels. There are also free patterns for a variety of projects. The knitter who created this site, Amy Finlay, also has a DVD that has all the site videos on it.

I found the Portuguese purl stitch on YouTube and it's not something I intend to switch to. I'm perfectly happy being a right-handed yarn thrower, so the Portuguese purl doesn't offer me any advantage.

07 January 2008

A Finished Lace Shawl, A Re-Started Lace Shawl

I finished my Flower Lace Shawl two days ago. That is to say, I finished knitting it. I haven't woven in the ends yet. Once I do, I'll wash and block it. I'm thinking of taking it down to Palm Desert to block because I have a big, out of the way casita bedroom that's just perfect for blocking. It has a ceiling fan to speed drying, too.

Here's a close-up of the rolling border. The points, which will be pinned out flat in the blocking, are quite visible. Since the bind off is completely rolled up and invisible, I'll just say that I did a very even, uniform bind off that I'm very proud of. I did it all in one sitting, beginning to end, which contributed to the evenness. The bind off I use on almost everything (not scarves in bulky yarn, though) is the Flexible Bind Off that Cat Bordhi and Evelyn Clark recommend. It's very easy (k1, *k1, slip the left needle into the front of the two stitches and knit together, repeat from * to the end of the row). It's flexible, as the name promises, and attractive.

And here's a close-up showing the Flower Motif.

This is the Angel Lace Shawl. I'd started it on US4 needles (the first version was the subject of a posting here, with photos). However, I felt that the fabric was just too tight at that gauge, so I switched to US 6 needles. Here's where I've gotten back to. The stitch marker shows where the body motifs start. These triangular shawls are typically knit with the pattern set-up, multiple repeats of the body motifs, and an edging. In this pattern, the first twenty rows are the set-up, the body motifs are ten stitches by ten rows, and the edging is sixteen rows deep.

Here's a close-up, showing the angel with wings. The head is just left of center.

When I picked this yarn out, I didn't realize that it had quite so much chartreuse or that the chartreuse was so vivid. It looks quite different in the skein. I've gotten used to it now and I like it, but when I was knitting the first version I was a little worried about it.

Edited to add that my new dishwasher gets installed tomorrow morning (Tuesday, 9 Jan). I'm ready for it to be here. Amazing how nice it is to put dirty dishes into the machine and get clean dishes out.

04 January 2008

Rejoice, For That Which Was Lost Is Found

My lace shawl book was shipped from Elann, so the inevitable happened. I found my copy.

This came at a good time, as I decided that my Angel Wings Shawl needs to be frogged and re-knit on larger needles. Right now I'm used US 4s, but I think I'll try 5s or 6s. I'll finish up the Floral Lace Shawl and then start over on the Angel Wings Shawl.

01 January 2008

In The Absence Of The Pattern

Since I can't finish my Floral Lace Shawl until the new copy of the pattern arrives, I decided to start another. I know I've got other projects I should be working on, but lace shawls are just plain addictive.

Here it is, Evelyn Clark's Angel Lace Shawl, knit in Knit Picks Gossamer in Caribbean, from my stash. It's the first time I've used this 100% merino lace weight yarn. I like it much more than I liked the KP Shimmer, probably because it's about twice the diameter. The Shimmer makes a beautiful sheer shawl but drives me crazy. The Gossamer is a lot easier for me to knit with.

In this photo I've finished the first chart (center back, twenty rows) and four repeats of the second chart (body pattern, ten rows). It may be that the colors in this yarn are a little too contrasty for lace, but I like them.

Here's a closer photo, where you may be able to see the angels' heads and wings:

This shawl is a lot solider than most of the other lace shawls I've knitted. I assume that it'll be warmer as a result, but I'm not sure it's going to stretch as much when blocked. I have a mile of this color lot, but I will probably only use two skeins, half a mile, 880 yd. The pattern calls for 550 yd, but the resulting shawl is only 28" by 56". That seems a little skosh to me, so I'll probably use both skeins and have my shawl come out a little larger.

As soon as the replacement pattern arrives I'll finish the Floral Lace Shawl. This time I'm going to measure both before and after blocking.