Sunday, July 27, 2008

Slow Bee finished on time (more or less)

I love this shawl!!! It is a beautiful design, large enough to wrap up in (even for zaftig person), in a wonderful color, shimmering with little silver beads.
Pattern: Slow-Bee Mystery Shawl by Monika Eckert
Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18, teal
Needles: KnitPicks Harmony #US3
Beads: Silver-lined crystal beads (8/0) - approx. 75 gm from Emelia Beadelia
Modifications: Used Version 2; omitted beads in last two rows before the end

The shawl was a delight to knit. I blew up the charts a bit to make them easier to see, but they were well done. I used an itty bitty crochet hook to add the beads, and it wasn't difficult but it really slowed things down on rows that had a lot of beads. By the end of the shawl, there were over 800 stitches per row, so even the simplest rows took a lot of time. No matter, though – it was fun watching the pattern evolve, and the icy-greenish-blue color along with the shimmery silver beads were perfect for summer knitting.

Mystery KAL organizers always emphasize that it isn't important to keep up with the schedule of clue releases, but it does impose a kind of internal deadline. There were a couple of weeks that I didn't quite make it for one reason or another, but did manage to catch up during the next week. I really wanted to finish it in time to take it on our summer vacation, and just managed to do it with a day or two to spare.

Blocking a shawl this large was something of a challenge. Thank goodness for interlocking foam pads! I didn't much like having to get down on my hands and knees to lay it out, and probably didn't do an optimum job as a result, but the shawl is lovely in spite of a mediocre blocking job. At one point I accidentally stepped on an edge of the shawl, complete with little glass beads... I won't be doing that again any time soon!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Welcome, Mother Earth

Today I am happy to introduce Mother Earth, a.k.a. Spring Shawl Surprise:
Pattern: Mother Earth by Lul (Lene Unmack Larson)
Yarn: ColourMart Cashmere 3/28NM Heavy Lace Weight, approx. 300 gm
Needles: KnitPicks Harmony US#5
Size: 24" x 96" blocked

The yarn is heavier than recommended, so I was concerned that it would be too large, but it is absolutely perfect. Like other Colourmart cashmere, it metamorphosed into something soft and warm and scrumptious after the Tough Love treatment (wash in very hot water with Dawn, subject to the dryer on low for about 15 minutes before blocking). One of the true pleasures of knitting lace is the very last step... seeing it change from an amorphous blob to a beautiful objet d'art. That effect is magnified when the yarn is Colourmart cashmere, which doesn't look or feel like anything special on the cone, but becomes transformed once the spinning oil is washed out and it is fluffed up in the dryer.

According to Lul, her main thought about the design was "to bring out circles and curves (which I pretty soon realized isn’t easy in lace knitting). Circles to represent how almost everything in life is repeating itself again and again, the changing of the seasons, being born –growing up-getting old-dying and a new human born again, sunrise-daytime-sun set and night. It all moves in circles and we are all just part of a bigger event 'Life' , let it be human or nature. Curves to represent the curves of a woman –the main image of the stole being a rather modernistic shape of a pregnant woman. She is standing on the bigger circle that represents the Earth, with the tree of life in the center to remind us that we are all part of the world and we all live important lifes. We may look differently, but we are all the same –man or woman."

Note on photo: Because of the length of the shawl, it was difficult to get a good photo of the whole thing. I finally took a series of shots and let Photoshop do its magic with photomerge. Despite the odd perspective and lighting effects, the shawl really is rectangular and a uniform color.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Trouble is waiting...

Where, o where, is Ma Bell? We have been without phone service for two days, and the Verizon Trouble Report Status page says only that "Trouble is waiting to be dispatched to a technician." Waiting, and waiting, and waiting. I can only imagine a knitter, impatiently tapping her foot as she knits, waiting to be dispatched. This cartoon from A Good Yarn portrays it pretty well.

In the "olden days," the phone line almost never went dead. One the rare occasions that it did, the phone company repaired it the same day. Yet this is the third time in the last three or four months we have lost our phone service, and each time it took two days before it was repaired. (Once we were away, and it was out for over two weeks.) At least this time they didn't insist that we wait at home for their repairman to show up.