Thursday, August 23, 2007

No housework here, folks

None at all. Just work and sitting and knitting and reading and stuff. I'm sure I'll get around to cleaning again sometime, but fibre is just so much more... exciting :-)
If I had a picture of my Wing o' the Moth shawl I could show you a picture, but the first attempt (6-ish repeats) was frogged earlier this week. I have learned another lesson: USE A ROW COUNTER or ALWAYS STOP IN THE SAME PLACE. I put it down thinking I'd have no trouble remembering where I'd stopped; two days later I'd completely forgotten. Let's assume that's due to having more interesting things to think about rather than old age, shall we?

What else is happening? It's raining.

I'm marching slowly through the garter stitch section of the Wool Peddler's Shawl, wondering why I started with my best, most even handspun when I'll want it for the stockinette lace-ish bit at the end. And cursing the guard hairs. I now understand why so many people say alpaca is prickly. Most of the Tuesday spinners have adjourned to afternoon garden-spinning parties for the summer break; I and one or two others who work during the day have started to spend an occasional evening of beer and fibre at the pub. Try to imagine the faces of the regulars at the bar when I marched in with two bags of books and yarn and fibre, bought a half of Broadside and settled down to drop spindling while waiting for Lyn. Such fun! I hadn't realised that she has alpacas, real live ones, and I learned a lot about judging alpaca roving that evening. All of mine has some guard hairs, and the silk blend I love has more than most. As I knit the handspun the ends of the hairs are forced up, out of the fabric, and they are incredibly prickly. I've started pulling them out with tweezers as I knit: I want this to be soft and comforting, not a penance. I was going to be incredibly witty here and post a picture of the Cyclamen cilicium currently flowering in the garden, but the camera would not co-operate. Now I'm wondering why such a lovely flower was named for a hairshirt. Perhaps it's some other root entirely. Haha!

It's still raining.
It's cold enough that the heating came on last night with the room 'stat set to 16C (the normal winter setting). I formulated a cunning plan earlier in the year: I will not buy another sweatshirt. Instead I will knit sweaters. Ha. Anyone else here on Ravelry? Have you noticed how few people, relatively speaking, knit garments? When I search for projects others have made with my stash yarn I find scarves. Hats. Gloves, mittens, socks. Shawls galore. But very few sweaters/cardigans. My own project file is full of socks and shawls. This. Must. Change. I have yarn bought to become sweaters and it WILL become sweaters. Soon, or I'm going to be cold.

But procrastination is the mother of invention. I have started knitting an Alpaca Thing. I have this medium grey Blue Sky Sport Weight Alpaca (11 skeins) intended to become an over-large cabled vest-ish sort of thing. 3" into the project I knew it was a mistake: the fabric was too textured to show the interesting stitch patterns, too soft to pop cables, too drapey to hold a shape and the garment wasn't a flattering shape at the best of times. I'd been thinking about knitting one of these anyway:

At least now I know what to expect when I see a picture of myself. This blogging thing is good for honesty :-)
That vest. Thing. It's rather better In Real Life than it looks here: M told me it looked good on, and she doesn't lie. Maybe the camo pants let it down?

It's a rectangle of fine nylon mesh to which bits of fine wool have been 'Artistically' sewn/felted. There's a close-up at left for felters capable of artistry. Top is at bottom (where my foot is); bottom at top, where a bit more mesh is visible and the really stringy bits are loose for a tasteful, slightly ethereal effect. The nylon gives it a bit of rigidity, so it tends not to hug the person wearing it. My alpaca version will undoubtedly hug and hang, but my theory is that if the folds are sufficiently generous and the fabric feels and looks good, the end resilt will be a different kind of elegant.
Here's a plan view for the intrigued. I'm doing a 7-stitch moss pattern border all round; the fabric itself is Pinnacle Chevron (from Barbara Walker's First Treasury), a reversible pattern that almost acts like ribbing to encourage folds but the chevrons look slightly cabled, and I really do think it's working with the alpaca instead of against it. And it's an easy knit, which is important: I'm working from the bottom up, which is something over 300st and every row takes ages. Each 110m skein yields a tad over 2", which means 11 skeins isn't enough. Luckily the shop has some left: another 3 skeins are on their way. I haven't decided what to do about the armholes yet. They're 9" high, centred in the fabric. I was just going to leave longer (10-11" slits), but I'm toying with the idea of picking up stitches and knitting sleevish things. Or making proper holes like what the original has. And I have to decide whether or not to edge the holes with moss stitch as well. More finished look, but possibly too finished.

I've got lots of time to decide... lots and lots of time. About 2 more skeins. I think I need some lace now, or socks. Just to cheer me up. Oh, look. A chocolate bar!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Thank you

All those who emailed to ask how things were going. I'm a bit stunned, really: I hadn't realised I had acquired so many friends in far away places. If I could, I'd host a party for us all. (Does anyone else script the music for things like that? I've even made notes about what those attending my funeral should be forced to listen to enjoy :-)

Yes, it's OK. My in-laws left for Canada on Friday; father-in-law looking worlds better. Our house is now very, very clean: I have verified that, when stressed, I find stuff to do and do it to excess. The first thing I did whenever I was alone in the house for the last three weeks was clean something. Anything. Scrub the living daylights out of it. Talk about displacement activity!
No murders were committed, I did not bang my head against a wall publicly or privately. I did, however, hide in the bathroom with a book, I chewed my cuticles until they bled (sorry if that's TMI), and I bought quite a lot of yarn...

Some of it rather expensive :-( That's 1500m of Cherry Tree Hill 'Orenburg Lace' yarn in natural. I've wasted? spent? enjoyed? quite a lot of time trying to decide on a pattern that will do justice to it. I haven't made a final decision but perhaps Three-cornered and Long Shawls will be helpful (is 'helpful' the right word?).

Lace is good. That's the Swallowtail Shawl in Das Schneeshaf's Marisilk, 'Golden Bamboo'.
I even enjoyed the nupps. The colour is very nearly right on my monitor: it's a subtle grey/gold that almost exactly matches bits of my hair. Complicated lace is very good indeed as a distraction from whatever ails you AND (even better) it scares everyone else so they don't talk to you. Or perhaps that was the fierce frown (of concentration) on my face? As soon as I'd finished that I cast on for Wing o' the Moth but, as I waved farewell on Friday, the desperate drive to lace ebbed away. Summer's over. There's an autumnal edge to the wind, which smells of burning leaves and freshly ploughed soil. I must bite the bullet and knit some real clothing soon, things that will keep me warm. First, after a weekend spent listening to loud-ish music and eating our meals on the couch in front of the TV, I must do some work to pay for all the yarn. There is more, you know. It just hasn't arrived yet!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Holding pattern

In many ways. My in-laws were to have left today, but my father-in-law was poorly when they arrived and was hospitalised in a frantic rush that lasted 12 hours on Thursday. These were the travelling socks that day; I've put them aside to wait for happier times. I want to enjoy wearing them, not be reminded of hours spent sitting in Emergency Assessment. He's improving, out of Intensive Care this morning, but I'd guess they won't be flying home on Friday. I feel a growing need to lose myself in complex lace, a pattern that demands concentration. How about a Swallowtail Shoulder Shawl? I've never done nupps.

It's true: yarn is sometimes better than chocolate. This is Marisilk, a sea silk from Das Schneeshaf (access the shop via the button at top left). I lack words to tell you how utterly beautiful some of Andrea's colours are. This is NOT grey: it's a pale bronze/gold-grey and I love it. It's air-brushed! It's gorgeous. I have another skein, a mixture of true greys as well. And some sock yarns. I was her first international customer and I wish I had a louder voice because her yarns deserve to be better-known. Or maybe not. Maybe I shouldn't tell anyone. Let's keep this a secret known to the favoured few, shall we?

When I need mindless knitting I can work on this:
Yes, that's my handspun alpaca/silk. It's going to be the Wool Peddler's Shawl from Folk Shawls, started in part because I needed to show my mother-in-law how four yarnovers/row force the shaping of a triangular shawl. Why? Because she's never knitted lace before. I gave her 1500 yds of Wollmeise superwash lace yarn in Rosenrot (dark). I'd meant it to be a gift to take home but, with her own copy of Seraphim and an Addi lace circular, it's become a welcome distraction.

Medicinal yarn: apply as needed.