Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Ze Shawl!

So.... remember waaaaay back. Waaaaaay back at the beginning of the Olympics? I was doing something called the 'Ravlympics' and I cast on for Meg's bridesmaid shawl?
How I was suppose to finish before the end of the Olympics?
How I was going to faithfully knit every day for hours in order to finish?

I finished it yesterday!!!

A couple of lessons learned:

1. Lace thread and a large needle do not a happy union make. I had to grip the needles not overly hard, but harder than usual, because of the slippery factor. It only takes the needle shooting off of the stitches once to learn that lesson. This became a major issue when I was sick and couldn't depend on my grip enough to actually knit on this. Once I was healthy it wasn't that big of a deal, just made my knitting slower.

2. Stitch markers, while necessary, are not our friends. I misplaced enough of my cute little rubber ring stitch markers that I had to use the metal hoop ones, sans the beads. I found out I had to take off the beads when this happened.

It's hard to tell but the stitch marker has somehow snagged a lower loop of yarn. For the life of me I couldn't figure out how the get the yarn back out so I pulled out my pliers and very nervously cut the stitch marker loop.

3. Silk thread will snag on anything. Air even. I swear to Sweet Baby Jebus. I one time picked it up from a smooth table surface and walked to the couch and there was a HUGE loop pulled. It took me about half an hour to set the stitches right. I'm careful when I walk with it even so it didn't snag on me. DAMN AIR!!!

4. Silk is just the smooshiest bestest thing ever. I will knit with it again and again and again. And it took the block beautifully (see below).

5. Knitting with a kitten is very very challenging. When I first got Lala it was actually impossible. She would throw herself at me and mine with a fierce kitten vengeance. But in April, when I started knitting on this shawl Seriously again, she was more tame, and more use to knitting. Didn't stop her from calculating schemes however.

Here I documented her process.

Start out with a fixated stare. The yarn needs to know your presence. Occasionally reach out a paw but retract when your Mom smacks it. Maintain eye contact with the yarn. Settle in. Create a false sense of security. Even nap for a bit. But never lose sight of the goal.
Snuggle down a little closer. It's natural. It's all right. Just be affectionate. Ooze yourself towards the yummy yummy yarn.
Snuggle out a little closer. Reach out a paw and when it's about to be smacked act all normal, like you are just stretching. Make the yarn believe you don't care about it anymore. You're just trying to have a kitten nap.
Smoosh yourself further between the pillow and the leg in order to get closer to the yarn without drawing attention. Smooooosh.
Having thoroughly lodged yourself between leg and pillow, ponder next move while dozing. Keep one paw out to let the yarn know you are still on top of things. Nap for an hour or so there.
Be incredibly incredibly cute.

She did that all herself. I didn't move that entire time.

6. Unblocked lace is pretty non-pretty. Now would not be a good time to panic, but if you are anything like me. PANIC. Break out into a sweat. Freak out. You just spend a whole lotta time on something that looks like seaweed that's gone through a rinse cycle.
Really, really panic.
7. Lala really likes this yarn. No matter how it looks. One paw always extended. Always.

Oh ze yarn.

Side note: my oddball collection of stitches really slants. Don't know why. But it really does.
8. Knitting isn't the hard part. Finishing is. Not only did removing the lifelines suck (don't even get me started on lifelines~ wait, this should be a thing I learned...) Okay, number eight is actually to warn about the hazards of lifelines. Don't use regular floss, use a satin floss. Make sure the smooth satin floss doesn't somehow snag, oh, four stitches and pull them under and through the next four stitches. You'll spend a stupid amount of time fixing that. And also, remember when adding lifelines to not put them through the stitch markers. Seems like common sense, but I did it twice!

9. Knitting isn't the hard part. Finishing is. Dropping the stitches was freaky scary.
Eek! And then it took an entire Buffy episode to painstakingly make the ladders. The silk thread loved to snag onto itself and keep stitches. I finished the first row and realized I had only been dropping four stitches instead of the six and found them waaaaay at the top.

And that whole thing about unblocked lace being less than pretty? The full on OMG-I-Made-The-Ugliest-Shawl-Ever set in complete here.

10. Blocking, if you can finish it before taking your own life, will cure what ails you. Ah... blocking. How I love you. Sure, you took up more than an episode of Buffy, but hey, you can do no wrong in my eyes now.
But still, I wanted to know... how would this look?

Lesson 11: The most important lesson of all....

Silk Thread + Time = Awesomeness. Thank you Meg for giving me this opportunity! I could have never done it without your forthcoming nuptials!
Thanks model!!! I ordered her around for some poses so I let her decide on a few of them. That one there is of her own making.
It's airy and light, like cotton candy, and oh so delicate.

The twisted stitches are keeping the ladders in line.
And the lace inserts worked out great. Ahhh...... I'm so happy with it. I think after the stress and the full on panic when I got it off the needles made it all the more sweet. It's a beautiful shawl. I wish it was mine; however, the fact that it is going towards a very happy wedding makes me even happier.

A couple of people have asked about the pattern, so I wrote it down, though I should stress that it isn't my pattern, it's just an assortment of stitch patterns thrown together. I am planning on using it again though, in a thicker yarn, so hopefully you'll see another one soon!

Thanks for reading if you got this far, a little ranty but this post is *long* overdue. Congrats Meg!!!

The "Pattern"

I generously use stitch markers but it's up to you.

Cast on 77 stitches using double loop method.

Row 1: K7, kbl1, k6, kbl1, k8, (yo k2tog) 6 times, k7, (yo k2tog) 6 times, k8, kbl1, k6, kbl1, k7

Row 2: K7, purl to last seven, k7

Repeat till you want to cry, end on wrong side row

RS: BO 8, cut yarn, drop 6, reattach yarn BO 49, cut yarn, drop 6, attach yarn again, BO 8

You are dropping the 6 stitches between the twisted stitches, just let them fall and when you re done, you can go through with a crochet hook or your fingers to form the ladders.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Unexpected Awesomeness

Sunday Morning, May 2nd, 2010. I wake up at 6:30. I had kinda convinced myself the night before that I wasn't going to get up, I would roll over, text my dear friend, and go back to bed. But I did get up. It was fine.

I was headed to a craft fair with P'cess. There were swag bags for the first 30 people and the doors opened at 10am. I remembered when I first read this thinking I would head over at 9:30. I was back and forth about going because I'm pretty broke right now, so I knew I couldn't buy anything, but I figured if I got a swag bag, it would even out the not buying anything.

Saturday morning however, as I was spending a lovely morning with P'cess, she mentioned wanting to go early for the swag bags as well. Though, she mentioned being there a tad bit earlier than I had planned. A whole two hours earlier. 7:30am. Two and a half hours before the doors opened. Crrrrrraaaazy. I think I told her that. Several times. That being said, despite my misgivings, she convinced me. It would be fun, she said, hanging out and knitting, and the swag bag would be neat.

Saturday night I really started to doubt going though. I couldn't, in my own mind, justify getting up and going that early. And let's be clear, I'm not judging those who did, I'm saying for me. I love P'cess and lots of other knitters who were there just as early, it's just not my priority per say. I think the deciding factor was that I do love all these other knitters and hey, hanging out and knitting is always fun. So after some last second texts, P'cess talked me back into it.

Anyhoo, got up, was a little hyper because I didn't sleep so I did that thing were instead of being tired you are just kinda insane and bused over to P'cess' place, then we drove down to the craft fair. We arrived at 7:45.

We were too late.

Yup, people started getting there around 6am. My friends who got there just after seven were 25th and 26th.

Now, not saying I wouldn't have enjoyed myself if I had stayed, or dissing those that did, or trying to justify my morning because I didn't get a swag bag, but it turned out to be really okay. Both P'cess and I were disappointed sure, but it was still fine. We hung out for about fifteen minutes chatting to some lovelies, got us the best coffee in Vancouver (or the world), and then went out for an awesome breakfast where we got a lot of knitting done and I got to make lots of faces at a very cute beeb sitting behind us.

I didn't go to the craft fair and P'cess drove me home. It meant that I was home around 10am, having hung out with friends, gone to a new place for breakfast, and had great coffee. It was a really nice way to start the day. It energized me for the day and I was super productive. I can't show you what I'm working on because they are all gifts but I can show you some awesome fabric I bought before I realized how broke I was.