Sunday, 21 September 2008

Spring-ing Back

Oddly, almost as soon as I had decided that the Spring Shawl was 'on a break' and likely to end up a permanent unfinished object I found myself knitting on the edging. I was never convinced I was going to finish it, but I couldn't find the motivation to start another project so I found myself filling spare 10 minutes with the little 12 row repeat of the edging.

All of those little bursts of knitting started to add up and yesterday I realised I was more than 3/4 of the way around the shawl. That inspired me to give it some real attention and today I finished the edging. A quick soak and the usual blocking shenanigans - and ta da!

Some of you might remember that a couple of weeks ago I had a nightmarish moment when the shawl snagged on something while I was knitting it and the yarn in the body of the shawl snapped. I somehow lost where the snag occured and wasn't able to find it again until today.

Well, I sort of found it.

I know that what I'm about to tell you isn't possible but I swear it is true. I eventually found one end of the yarn where the snap happened -- BUT NOT THE OTHER. I carefull poked and prodded in the area but no other end showed itself. Even after blocking the other end hasn't appeared. How Twilight Zone is that?

The finished shawl is HUGE. 94 inches across the top and a 54 inch drop.

The pattern is the Spring Shawl from Heirloom Knitting, and I knit it on 2.75mm needles.

I used a Colourmart cashmere/merino blend in Cardinal - about 120 gms (1850ish metres) of a 150 gm cone. I found the yarn oddly fragile on occasion. Whether it was the yarn or me I don't know -- it might be that I'm not used to a laceweight without the strength of silk (a quick review of my most recent project and all are wool/silk blends). Colourmart certainly has a great reputation generally and I will use them again.

Like all the best love stories I'm hoping this one ends happily ever after......but that Twilight Zone missing yarn end might have other ideas!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Deja Vu blue! This is the second Glint shrug I've knit. Same yarn (Rowan Summer Tweed), different colour (blue).

As with the first shrug, I only used 4 of the 5 skeins called for in the pattern. In both instances I had enough of the 4th skein left for finishing and some to keep for any future repairs.

While I was seaming the shrug I found myself contemplating the threads that pop up regularly in Ravelry and other knitting forums from people who hate finishing sweaters. And the general consensus from responses is that - yep - seaming sucks.

While I confess I don't like seaming as much as knitting -- I don't hate it. I do get a little (sad) thrill when I pull the yarn up on an invisible seam as the two pieces come together like magic. And I feel a frisson of pride when tackling a trickier seam (rows to stitches, curved edges or something that requires 'easing') successfully.

I pondered the finishing hate a little more and I think that largely it comes down to the TIME it takes to do it properly. I think it's ironic that although most of us have the patience to spend tens of hours on a project, we balk at spending a small fraction of that time getting it all together.

But seaming can't be rushed. I do a lot of checking and double checking while seaming, and will immediately undo a seam that doesn't look quite right. Sometimes I have to try two or three different stitching techniques before I find the one that works perfectly in the situation.

Finishing this little shrug took just over 3 hours. The side seams are mattress stitch, the shoulder seams are fake knit seams, and I used slip stitch to crochet the sleeve seams. When I picked up the stitches around the neck to knit the edging, there were a couple of loose stitches which I tidied up with a few duplicate stitches.

So what's my point? Who knows? I guess it's to accept that if you are making a project that requires seams - you have to embrace that part of the process. Take a bit of time to learn and practise the different techniques -- it will make all the difference between a sweater you wear all the time, and one you shove in the back of the closet because it never looked quite right.

Or - just make shawls!

Spring Break
For those of you who have been following my rollercoaster relationship with the Spring Shawl I have to report that we are currently 'on a break'. I don't know where we'll go from here, but following the drunken abuse and snappish behaviour I think we both need time to consider what we want out of this relationship.

Thursday, 11 September 2008



I corrected the drunken mistake.

I repaired the spot where the yarn snapped in the row two below the one I was working on. (FYI - I didn't tink back, with 600 stitch rows that just seemed too much work. Instead I dropped (carefully) about 10 stitches either side of the snap, back to the affected row. I joined a new length of yarn and reknit the stitches on the damaged row using that. I reknit the next row with the dropped stitches.)

Last night I bravely picked up the needles again. I knit along without calamity until I got an annoying work email. I put my knitting down to read the annoying email - and as I picked up the shawl again it snagged on something (I still don't know what) and the yarn snapped again!


More annoying -- this break was deep in the body of the shawl and I somehow lost it!! Because the shawl is now so large, I can't spread it out on the needles, and of course the knitting itself looks like wet noodles -- all of which makes searching for a snapped thread like looking for a needle in a haystack. I can't find the break - but I know it's in there. Waiting to cause havoc.


So, I carefully put the shawl down.

And I think I'll wait for a sign from the knitting gods before I pick it up again.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Now What?

Many thanks for your support -- I was able to recover from the great drunken knitting fiasco without too much pain. It took a while - but it was a pretty straightforward repair.

So, this morning, ready to face the world I picked up the shawl to knit for an hour or so. I knit about a quarter of a row and then, FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER, the yarn in a row BELOW snapped. Yep. I was pulling a stitch to knit two together - with what I swear was no more than normal force (ie very very little) and poof. Five loose stitches and two loose ends of yarn.


I have some plans for repairing the damage which I'll try tomorrow as I think I should stay away from knitting needles today! I'll report back soon.

Despite my drunken and damaged knitting Fleegle and the Lace Maven have both very kindly nominated me for a Blue Ribbon Blog award. Both Fleegle and Lace Maven are really talented lace knitters/designers and that they've selected my blog is particularly encouraging after these recent Spring Shawl disasters.

I am now required to nominate 4 other blogs for the award, but because I could never narrow my favourite knit blogs down to 4 I've decided to go a little off piste here and I'm going to nominate 1 knit-zine site, and 3 cake blogs!!

So first I'll nominate The Inside Loop. The Inside Loop is a new knitting online magazine focusing on UK designers. It's edited by Diane and Kate, both talented young designers, and fibre enthusiasts. Although the patterns are globally appealing - the benefit for UK readers is that the yarns and other supplies are all readily available this side of the pond!!

Having a friend like the Caked Crusader I've learned a lot more about cake and the world of cake blogging than you can imagine. Three cake blogs (other than the Caked Crusader's of course) I particularly like are:
Cakespy - Cakespy devotes itself to finding the best in cake around the US, great photos and sweet cake comics
Cake Wrecks - when good cake goes wrong (a very funny collection of professionally decorated cakes)
52 Cupcakes - way more than 52 amazing cupcake recipes! I confess I've only tried Billy's vanilla cupcakes - but for that recipe alone the blog is worth a visit

Friday, 5 September 2008

Note to Self

Dear Self.

For future reference: when you've spent the evening sampling mojitos and putting the world right with your best friend do NOT (I can't be too emphatic on the NOT) (so I'll repeat it) do NOT decide the right way to unwind before bed is a 'quick row' on the Spring Shawl.

Next time, surf the net. Write a babbling email. Put random numbers into a sudoku puzzle. Stare vacantly at a magazine. Anything really.

Just DON'T knit.

I have just picked up the Spring Shawl and it's not clear from the rather random scattering of YO's, k2tog, SSK's what row from the pattern you thought you were doing.

The first 5 stitches match the pattern (and perhaps I should be grateful for that small miracle) but after that you seem to have gone off in some sort of jazz inspired knitting improvisation.

Drinking and knitting. It's not clever.

(But the mojitos were lovely!)