Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The best laid plans...

I was going to start another part of the Concerto right away, but I wanted to finish part one of Sidonia first. "This will be easy" says I. "It is fast going and I'm still at the short part of the shawl." Well, I kept getting interrupted with one thing and another, and it took me several days to finish what I thought would take one. So I ended up starting part 3 of Concerto yesterday, at some silly time in the morning when the rest of the world is asleep.

Turns out though, it was a really short section. At least, it looked and felt really short, although it turned out to be in length same as the other two. I measured. I'm not sure why it felt so much shorter. Maybe it's because Sidonia is getting longer with each row, whereas Concerto stays the same, or because the design is less intricate and so the number of types of stitches (SSK, etc.) were fewer - although it looks just as stunning as the last two have, if not more so.I'm really quite proud of my work on it.

I have fewer things on the needles now. I've finished the armwarmers, so it's just the snood, which I work on here and there, and the two big projects, which I'm kind of juggling. I think I'll probably do part 4 of Concerto, since I'm far behind with where I wanted to be with that, and then do part 2 of Sidonia. I want to have one finished by my birthday on the 19th, so I'd better get cracking really.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Concerto: The Next Step

I've finished Part 2 of Concerto! The new needles are excellent, and helped me finish it off in no time flat. Tomorrow I start part 3, provided I can get my printer to print off the charts and row-by-row instructions. I'm still not fully comfortable with charts, although I'm doing my best to get used to them by checking my progress on them. If you look carefully in this picture, you can see the black thread that I'm using as a lifeline stretching across the borderland between Parts 1 and 2. A picture of it complete to date is below.

After two posts of no pictures, I'm going to be putting a lot in this one. I realised that I haven't actually posted a picture of the complete armwarmer I finished last week. While I'm still working on the second one, I figure that since I've actually started wearing the first, I might as well put it up to share with the world. The other one will look (hopefully) identical, since it doesn't have fingers and therefore doesn't need to be picky about which side the thumb gusset goes on. The only problem I face is the fact that it's fingering thread on small needles and ended up being 19" long, so it's a ton of knitting. Most of it is simple garter stitch with decreases, but it's still going to take awhile to do.

Thursday, 14 January 2010


The silk is breaking. I had 2 breakages after it had been knitted into the main body of the piece, and at row 71 out of over 400, didn't want to risk anymore. I hated to frogg it, but after checking, I noticed I didn't even have enough yardage to make the whole shawl! Note to self: must check that before starting things. That blew my idea of doubling the silk to make it stronger, since that would have made an even shorter shawl, so I did some checking online and got enough of the other laceweight I have in stock, some lilac tweed, to make it. It meant ordering another 7 skeins and buying out her stock, but it's going to make a lovely shawl. The tweed is slightly heavier than the silk, so the pattern stands out more without blocking. For me, a large part of the pleasure of knitting is seeing the pattern form as I knit row after row. It's what has gotten me addicted to lace in the first place. Not to mention the fact that it's purple, so I've broken my blue streak and started a shawl I love in my favourite colour.

I also sold a ball of yarn today that I didn't want, so I took some of the money and used it to buy a 5 mm circular needle. This can replace the set of 5 mm straight needles I have working on Concerto right now, so if it is the needles which are holding me up, then I will very soon be back on track with that. I'll have more knitting than I can handle! It's a nice stress reliever though, and with my life being as problematic as it is, knitting is nice to have around.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Lace knitting with raw silk

I was getting bored of the knitting I had on the needles. It was all blue. My bag was full of blue yarn. The Concerto is on needles I hate, and the armwarmers are made from wool, which I hate knitting with for long stretches at a time. I wanted something pretty and soft which I could knit. So I thought, I've got this soft yarn, tons of it in my stash, I'll just find something. Turns out, I don't have as much of it as I thought - not as soft and lovely as I wanted, anyway. I had some angora merino though which just fit the bill. I was going to make a shawl with it, but decided the shawl was a little more advanced than I wanted to try, the yarn wasn't right for it, and guess what? The yarn was blue. But I was set on a shawl, and I have a lot in my queue, so I went through them. I settled on Sidonia, because it was easy, because I had the right needles, and enough laceweight yarn to make it. And then I realised that the laceweight yarn I had in quantity is, you guessed it, blue. But it's raw silk, and a different texture to what I'm working on otherwise, and I had my heart set on the Sidonia by this point. So I've started a new project, and done 53 rows on it already. (Well, the first row was one stitch.)

The yarn is... tricky. I've put it on a plastic circular needle, which works pretty well. People say that silk slides off needles, and that it doesn't have much give. I've not found the former (maybe because it's raw and has different thicknesses and stuff?) but the latter is certainly true. I even broke it trying to cast on the first time (I started with a different shawl, but decided against it.) It seems very fragile, and I'm afraid it's going to be one of those things where I hang it on a hanger in a display case and never let anyone wear it for fear it will fall apart.It's already broken once in the knitted part, and I'm hoping it's not noticeable or will enlarge. I don't know how to fix something like that.

Still, I'll see how it goes and hope for the best. I have three balls of the stuff, and really don't know what I'd do with it all if it's too fragile to knit with. It does make a lovely lace though.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Recent projects

Christmas didn't bring me much in the way of knitting presents, but that's probably because the family isn't used to me being a hardcore knitter yet. I shall have to educate them in the types of yarn to get, steer them in the way of interesting books and magazine subscriptions, and show them where to get gift vouchers for the shops online and offline that I use. I did get a pattern for 4 different types of hats, along with 200 grams of acrylic yarn from my sister-in-law and her family. The yarn comes in 2 100 skein balls of magenta and dark blue, so I can't really fault the colour. I just wish I wasn't such a yarn snob. I like working with expensive yarn and acrylic is frankly not inspiring.

I'm definitely beginning to develop tastes for knitting. Give me cottons, silks, alpacas - I've got some sugar cane fiber I can't wait to use - but there are some yarns I'm not terribly fond of. I'm currently working with a wool-acrylic mix, which isn't too bad, but isn't top notch either. I bought it because it was soft, and then when I started working with it realised it was wool. Checked the label, and it was mostly wool. Freaked, because I'm using it to make armwarmers for myself and wool usually makes me itch something rotten. Rubbed it on my skin, and am hoping the acrylic might actually help prevent the itchniess.

Armwarmers aren't the only things I've been working on. I finished Adrian's fingerless gloves, getting the left one done with far fewer holes and much quicker. While certainly not my finest work, I'm very pleased with the results, and my husband is happy with warmer hands.

After the gloves, I made a hat for myself. I had some yarn left over from making a scarf, and wanted to make a matching hat (more or less.) The pattern was easy enough, even if the row ended up being 143 stitches long on DPNs. I put them on 5 instead of 4 and made do pretty well. It turned out nice.

Still delaying on the Concerto. I think I have a mental block against it - me and long projects don't seem to work very well. I'm hoping that will change, as there's a lot of big things I want to make.