Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Summer's Shadow Shawl from Hemstitched Heirlooms - Day 6


Still. Not. Done. 

And I’ve had one of those smack-my-forehead moments as to why.

Bella, asking "Why aren't you done?"
I was calculating a border row for each of the 342 garter section row stitches.  So I was figuring it would take me 342 rows of border stitches to work my way across the shawl, and set myself a corresponding daily row quota.

Only, I don’t “consume” (for lack of a better word) one garter section row per border row.  The slip-knit-pass-slipped-stitch-over that “attaches” the border row to the garter section only occurs on odd numbered rows.  Which means it takes two border row stitches to “consume” one garter row stitch.  Which means I have nearly 700 border rows to work my way through.

No wonder I feel like I have miles to go before I sleep—I really do!

I’m not going to make you slog through all of this.  I’m kinder than that.  I have one more knitting-filled weekend (long drive, car races, long meeting—all great knitting opportunities) ahead of me.  I’ll post a final installment wherever I land on Monday.  If I have to come back and show you how it all turned out at a later date, so be it.  I’ve got a new Texas installment waiting for you, and as everyone knows, you don’t mess with Texas.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Summer's Shadow Shawl from Hemstitched Heirlooms - Day 5

Happy accidents...

I’ve put in a lot of hours on the border of this shawl and I’m only a bit over one-third done.  This project will go to seven posts, I’m sure of it.

One interesting thing I’ve noted: to me, the garter stitch section of this shawl gives off a slightly more green hue while the border gives off a slightly more blue hue.  At first I thought it was a trick of the eye, but when I realized I switched skeins just about the same time I moved on to the border section, it made sense.  

So, if you’re knitting this with a hand-dyed or otherwise variable colorway yarn, you might want to make sure you are deliberate in when you switch from one skein to another.  For me, it was just a happy accident—one of the lovely surprises knitting offers up.

I have become comfortable enough to take this out in public, and I have a meeting tonight and a member-of-the-audience thing tomorrow, so I anticipate lots of useful knitting time.  I’ll need it—this thing is a sizable undertaking!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Summer's Shadow Shawl from Hemstitched Heirlooms - Day 4

Life is like a row of lacework...

The nice thing about short rows of lacework is that you don’t really have to worry about getting lost.  This panel, as it flows along the lower edge of all that garter stitch, is definitely knitter-friendly.  Sets of P2s separate the three designs, giving you little milestones in each row.  Hit the P2s when you’re supposed to?  Good—you haven’t dropped a stitch, missed a yarn-over, or messed up some other way.  It’s as if each row has several built-in pats on the back to let you know you’re doing okay.  Not enough of life works like that, in my opinion.

I still can’t decide if the vibrancy of the color is going to overwhelm the clarity of the lacework.  Sometimes, you can have too much going on in a piece.  A textured yarn, for example, will often overpower cables or lacework. Long or subtle variegations generally work okay, but a crowd of color changes rarely allows for the negative space needed to let lacework shine.  Sure, the design will display if I hold this up to the light, or maybe if I wear it against a white blouse, but I usually want my lacework to be really visible.  I want all that hard work to be seen and admired.

That’s not to say it won’t happen with this piece.  You simply can’t tell until it’s blocked—it’s too bunched up right now to show its true character.  I always say it: lacework is like a lot of things in life—parenting, writing, gardening, baking—you never really know what you’ve got until you’re all the way to the finish line.

Forest Gumpian philosophy aside, I am enjoying the progress of this lace as I work my way across the shawl.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Summer's Shadow Shawl from Hemstitched Heirlooms - Day 3

Celebrating freedom--in more ways than one...

Finally, I'm free to turn that magical corner and begin the lace section! 

It’s so energizing to switch to 30-stitch rows, even though I realize I’ll have 342 of them.  The refreshment of something with a bit more substance than all that garter stitch is huge.

I’ll admit to a bit of worry that the business of all these colors—lush and lovely as they are—will hide the lace pattern.  Of course, it’s way too early to give in to such a concern.  This is lacework, after all—you can’t judge it until it’s blocked, much less two repeats in.

One downside is that this project just went up several notches in the concentration requirement department.  Row counters will take care of some of it, but if I lose my way mid-row (which, at 32 stitches per row is easily preventable but not impossible), I’m sunk. That may make the Summer's Shadow shawl a poor choice for public or meeting knitting.  I’ll need to get more familiar with the 12-row repeat before I feel confident venturing out of the house with this.

Lucky for me, it’s a holiday weekend and I have lots of relaxing, uninterrupted knitting time at my disposal. Happy Independence Day, those of you in the U.S.!

PS: I realized I've been using the wrong name for this shawl: it's Summer's Shadow, not Summer Shadow.  My apologies to designer Angelea McGarrah.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Summer Shadow Shawl from Hemstitched Heirlooms - Day 2

A whack-my-forehead moment...

Longer rows take longer.  

You’d think that’s a “duh,” whack-your-forehead sort of moment, but I am continually amazed how I can blind myself to that fact.  

Here I was, all proud of myself that I’d figured out how many rows it would take to get myself to the 342-stitch-row that marks the end of the stockinette portion.  Using the fact that each stockinette “ridge” (1 row up and back) added 6 stitches, I calculated that it would take about 55 ridges to get me through the stockinette section. 

Two blog posts for this section (yes, I do plan out the benchmarks in order to keep things moving and entertaining for you), which meant 25 ridges per post.  Easy peasy.

Well, yes, for the first post.  I made the 25 ridges with ease.  Because they were shorter.

And now they just keep getting longer (oh, longer rows, you are my personal nemesis…).  Remember, I started out with 12-stitch rows, and by the end of this I need 342-stitch rows. Holy garter stitch, Batman, it’s taking me 15-minutes per row right now!  

This endless stockinette was soothing when I started.  Now, it’s grinding.  “Knitting is fun,” I chant to myself.  “Knitting is peaceful and creative.”

Have you been here?  Of course you have.  Knitters love to bite off more than they can stitch.  It’s just another version of the massive stash mentality.  

Ah, if we all could only live long enough to do all the knitting we planned…

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Summer Shadow Shawl from Hemstitched Heirlooms - Day 1

Summer lovin'...

While I own many triangle shawls, crescent shawls are always my favorite.  Especially ones with pretty borders like this one.  It’s the perfect mix of basic stockinette adorned by an artful border.  It would be pretty in just about any fiber, but the deep, rich colors of this Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 merio/cashmere/nylon blend will make this a favorite, I’m sure.

I had the pattern for the stockinette portion down to memory within a dozen rows of starting. That’s useful, because not having to look down at instructions always makes for faster work.  

I find the double yarn-over to be a clever way to solve the too-tight edge problem many crescent shawls have. It feels easier than the add-a-stitch, drop-it-next-row tactic that so many patterns use.

This yarn, with its striking colors, soft spring, and slight halo of color, reminds me of madelinetosh.  The halo of color seems to add so much depth to the stitches in simple stockinette.  I’m looking forward to how they enhance the lacework border when I get there.

And I will get there.  But for right now, I’ve got a lot of stockinette to get through.  Onward!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Age of Brass & Steam Kerchief from The Wool Cabin—Done!

The never-ending wow...

For the first years of my knitting career, I never blocked anything.  Some of that might have been because as a novice, I mostly stuck to inexpensive, acrylic fibers.  Not that workhorse yarns don’t have their place, but once you experience the beauty of a quality fiber, it’s hard to go back.  There is something in an exquisite natural fiber—how it feels and how it behaves—that can’t be synthesized with chemistry.

When I open a brand new box of my books, the magic of that first moment never fades no matter how many years I’ve been writing.  It’s always a wow moment.  The same is true for me when I block a knitted piece. When I’m done knitting, it feels like the fiber is ready, eager to become whatever it’s supposed to be.  It’s always a brand new creation when I pull it from the blocking wires.  As if the piece steps into its intended identity. Heady words, I know, but the wonder of blocking is never lost on me. The fibers relax—literally—and settle themselves into the shape and drape we’ve both been working to achieve.

This is a beautiful kerchief.  Just the right weight to take off the air-conditioning chill while enjoying a summer dinner.  Easy enough to be pleasant knitting, beautiful enough to be a satisfying result of knitting efforts.  Well done, Orange Flower Yarn and The Wool Cabin!  If I haven’t yet convinced you, try this free pattern out for yourself.

Next up, I cast on the more complex Summer Shadow shawl from Hemstitched Heirlooms.