Sunday, March 30, 2008

Travel Knitting

I'm just back from a trip to the east coast to visit my brother, my partner's brother, and their families. We have two almost-5-year-old nephews (one for each brother) who we do not see nearly enough, and it was a lovely trip.

I decided not to bring my laptop with me so I could be on vacation, really on vacation. So my days were filled with reading, photography, hanging out with family, playing with kids, and knitting. For the trip, I decided to go back to a pattern I tried last summer with a different yarn.

3 repeats in, 3/21/2008

Pattern: Tuscany Shawl by Amy R. Singer
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss in Burgundy
Needles: US size 5

Yep, this is the same yarn I used on my Kimono Shawl. I had 4 skeins left over, plenty for a shawl. This one is destined to be a gift, and I liked using the yarn, so it was a good travel project.

5 repeats in, 3/23/2008 (taken on the southern Outer Banks, North Carolina)

I've finished 2 & 1/2 lace shawls since I first tried this shawl, and I can really tell that I'm a more accomplished lace knitter now. I'm able to "read" my knitting, which made it very easy to memorized the pattern. I'm being daring and am knitting without a lifeline! The only problem I've encountered is that that pattern has big patches of stockinette stitch, and I don't count the stitches during those sections - I just knit till I reach the part of the pattern that indicates it's time for a yarnover or a decrease - only to discover eight rows later that I made a mistake. I must confess I've mostly been correcting them without going backwards - knitting two or four instead of three together, for example. Amazingly, my perfectionism has mostly been okay with this.

8 repeats in, 3/29/2008 (taken at the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington DC)

I actually brought two new lace shawl projects with me, and found myself trying to push through the knitting on Tuscany so that I could start the second shawl. But I remembered that I was on vacation, having fun, and wanted to savor the knitting. So I let the pace be slow. I'm currently at 8 repeats out of 11, and enjoying my way through the shawl.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Falling Leaves

I'm about halfway through the Falling Leaves Shawl.

Pattern: Falling Leaves Shawl by Katy Wight
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Oceanic Heather
Needles: US 7 / 4.5 mm Knit Picks Options

I did end up frogging (link to story about why) and starting over so that I could cast on the correct number of stitches. Third times' a charm, because it's going just dandy now.

I've finished 18 repeats, which is halfway through the pattern. However, I've only used about 40% of the yarn. I love this yarn too, the wool adds a nice structure to the alpaca and the worsted weight knits up quickly. My original intent was to use all of the yarn I purchased, but maybe I have enough for a shawl and a hat too. I'm just going to keep enjoying my knitting and figure that out when I'm further along.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


I know it's been several weeks since Madrona, so this post is a bit overdue. My excuse is that I ended up getting sick right afterwards. And then I had final projects due for the classes of the photography program I'm in, plus a photo show to hang. The final class and the show hanging were both yesterday, so I'm finally able to give a report.

I took the class "Designing Lace Triangles" from Evelyn Clark. We used her book Knitting Lace Triangles as a textbook, and you could pick up most of what she taught from the book, but seeing things demonstrated was certainly worth it. Evelyn also brought an impressive store of shawls that she had designed and knit with her, and they were passed around the room, much to our delight. Her Hyacinth Lace Shawl, Dancing Leaves Shawl, Seafoam Lace Scarf, and the truly amazing Labryinth Lace Shawl are all on my to-knit list now.

And I spent a bit of time (and money) in the market. The rule I set for myself was no buying anything I could get at one of my LYSes. I was on the lookout for something special and unique. From Crown Mountain Farms, a Washington-based company, I bought a collection of leftover handspun Sock Hop sock yarn:

Crown Mountain usually sells their sock yarn in pairs, but the skeins I picked up were orphans and most were less than the standard yardage, so I called them leftovers. The colors look amazing together. (I took lots and lots of pictures of this yarn. More on my Flickr.)

I'm thinking they'll eventually make a wonderful shawl, perhaps the Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl or the Feather and Fan Triangle Shawl (both Ravelry links), although I don't have enough yarn for either. A few more orphaned skeins of handspun in complementary colors would nicely round out a shawl, and looking for a few more skeins is a task I'm happy to take on. ;-)

Heady with the first purchase, I went looking for more handspun. I bought one hank from Tactile Fiber Arts, a two-person studio up from California. The skein I bought was a naturally- and hand-dyed mix of Blue Faced Leicester wool, Tussah silk, Merino wool, carbonized bamboo, and alpaca. I think it would make a lovely hat or neckwarmer.

And there was another shop that I kept going into every time I did a circuit around the market: Butternut Woolens. A one-woman studio from Oregon specializing in angora yarn and naturally hand-dyed yarn and fiber, her yarn was incredibly beautiful. I kept waffling between a blue-green silk/wool blend and a purple-blue-green superwash sock yarn, because I wanted them both. But I don't like purchasing yarn without a project in mind, and I couldn't figure out what the project for either would be. Then I remembered Jeanie and I purchased three skeins of the lovely Indigo-Dyed superwash sock yarn.

Unfortunately, the pattern calls for 1350 yards and my three skeins bring me to 975 yards. So I'll either need another skein or another project.

I really enjoyed Madrona, and hope next year to be able to go for longer and take more classes. The classes fill up pretty quickly, so I missed out on the Weaving for Knitters with Syne Mitchell or the Yarn Harlot's offerings, but hopefully next year...