Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Canyon Less Travelled

July brings a great event in my life that I am delighted to share with all of you: I am getting married!
Let me back off a bit... there is more to the story.
My husband and me have been together for about five years. Our families have been jonesing forever to get us to quit living in sin and make our kids legal. At some point, we were getting an average of two phone calls a week asking when the wedding would happen.
A year ago, in the wake of the great economic crisis, he was laid off. We made numbers and decided we could afford for him to stay home to be with the kids. However, in order to get him medical insurance, we got married. We piled the family and a well-meaning friend or two to the courthouse, got the license, even got a jeweller to size a ring in a hurry, and tied the knot. It was a hasty, prosaic ceremony. Not boring though, and we even got to be witnessed in the wedding of a trucker to his girlfriend in a pinch. We were too chicken to tell the family what we had done, since everybody was SO looking forward to a wedding. So, we kept up the pretense of the sinful life, endured the phone calls, and eventually organized the wedding everybody would enjoy.

And so, this July, we are gathering at the Grand Canyon, Arizona's best knows natural wonder, for a rimside, sunset wedding. God puts the church and the special illumination.
If you every visit the Grand Canyon, but you don't like to deal with crowds, consider coming to the North Rim. The less travelled side of the Canyon. North side, in comparison to the South Rim, is wooded with acres of pinyon and ponderosa pines, cottonwoods, and lovely native brush rather than cactus. It is harder to access, and the accommodations are scant, but with the most lovely views ever.
The drive is also quite lovely, but a bit longer from Phoenix. There are some breathtaking views of the Colorado River, the Navajo Bridge and Glenn Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs area:

So, of course, our July Clue has a wedding theme. It is inspired by the wedding sign at the top of the page, and its lovely heart shape. Although I borrowed heavily  from Barbara Walker's Fourth Treasury, it is mostly an original clue, made specially for this KAL. I can tell you, that it has one single, large motif. This is something we have not had yet!

The release date is tomorrow, July First. I will leave the June clue in for a few days still, so make sure you download the correct one. Because of the wedding, I will have to hurry with the August clue as well, but hopefully we will recover our stride after September.

Of course, will all the car time, much knitting happened. A few WIPs were completed, including these:
Vogue's yellow harvest mittens. I started these in 2008. I knit the first one using the gauge suggested in the magazine, and I got an oven mitt. Seriously, it was HUGE! This was the beginning of my love-hate relationship with Vogue Knitting. I then went down to a gauge that seemed reasonable to me, and voila, properly fitting mittens.

The yarn, by the way, is Malabrigo Worsted in Glazed Carrots. The loveliest orange ever.
Those are already in the "Christmas Gifts" bin :)

And the Victorian Lace Today Cap Shawl is done! The edge took over 400 yards of yarn and well over a week to finish. Here it is unblocked, and I am (sort of) looking forward to blocking it.
I am a bit concerned that the variegation in the Knitpicks Shimmer  in Lilac Dream (a discontinued color) will obscure the pattern and make me look like I am wearing a tablecloth, but we will see. This is supposed to be my wedding shawl!

(meanwhile, my wedding dress which my mother bought for me in Spain, is lost in the mail, last sighted in Russia, so I don't have a dress...sigh!)

Designs in progress are moving along.

The Yellow Shawl has a name, the testing process is completed, and is out to Kate the Editor to whip it in shape and weed off my poor English. I expect to release it in one, two weeks tops. And there will be a KAL!

My Child Sweater knitting is mostly done, needing one sleeve and the finishing. I will keep pictures off the blog for now in case I decide to send it for a submission! It is going to be a LOT of fun to knit and wear, as it has a couple of nifty tricks in the construction.

As you may have read, the 6 month pattern is in progress, and I need your photos. There will be a raffle with all the submissions! and a second run of enrollments once it is released.

No yarn pictures this week - I need a yarn diet!. However, I have these ubercute pictures of my new Sunshine Walks Robot Box Bag. Just a great size for a small project, like socks or a shawlette. The inside is lined in red and white polka dot fabric. My son loved it! It will make a lovely travel bag and will come with me to the Grand Canyon.
Stay tuned, for tomorrow's grand release. Happy knitting!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ready for travel

June Clue is released!

I know, old news for most of you but still... I am SO happy that we have hit midpoint on our Kalendar. From now on it is going to be a mad scramble to get things done on time, working around crushing work schedule, summer vacations, and (gasp!) relatives visits. I should apologize in advance if things get a bit derailed, but i assure you I am working as fast as I can.

By the way, have you figured yet the pattern/theme to the beads? think, think...

July clue is already charted, and mod Tammy has offered to work on the written instructions while i try to wrap my head around August. And planning ahead, we started a new thread about borders and edges. There will be more about it in future blogs, just no time today!!!

The big June weigh-in
Don't panic, I am not talking about how much you have to lose to fit into last year's bikini. I am talking about weighing your yarn.
Once your June clue is done, take a few minutes to guesstimate your yard usage. My favorite method is a small, inexpensive postal scale (don't laugh... I used to weigh baby birds with it!). At this time, I have used 1.4 oz of my yarn, and if we use about the same for each half, I will be using 2.8 oz or 840 yd, which leaves me with 360 yds for the edge. That is not going to give me a very large edge but it should be sufficient.

And speaking of edges...
i finally arrived to the edging for my Cap Shawl! 738 stitch rounds were no fun...
A simple, beautiful edge, very easy to fall into the rhythm of knitting...
How about something like this for our Kalendar?
This is a knitted-on edge (knitted sideways and attached to the main shawl body as you go, the same way we did with the Talinay Gloves. This method avoids the bothersome picking up of potentially 1,000 stitches, but it is hard to adjust if you run short of yarn.

I just can't get over how ugly and wrinkly unblocked lace is... Can't wait for the magic to happen!!!
But I still have many days to go with this shawl. Couple of weeks.
But will be done on time to be worn!

Travel Plans
I am looking forward to a cross between an IRS audit and a root canal: 7 hours in the car with my kids. So I am preparing a few fun projects to knit along in the car, meaning brainless stuff I can put down while I break out a fight or a baby meltdown. 
Our car trips usually involve an uncomfortable conversation with a highway patrolman while we try to explain why we are stopped at the side of the road while bloodcurling cries come from the inside of the car. Our baby hates to be strapped to his chair. No child abuse involved.
So along will come my child sweater project, a knit in the round stockinette number good to knit without thinking while the saguaros zip by. Here is a picture of a stripe pattern with my attempt at "jogless stripes" going on.

And, to be the perfectly prepared travelling knitter, I scored this gorgeous bag from Sunshinewalks' Etsy store, the Owlicious bag:
Great craftmanship, beautiful finishing, and boy, FAST shipping!
Look how cute the inside is with matching fabric. This drawstring bag is big enough for a shawl project. As we speak, I am planning to order also one of her box bags, for smaller projects such as socks and mittens. She rocks!

Yellow Shawl is in the testing process. After losing some sleep and some chunks of hair making hundreds of corrections to my flawed written instructions (and even a couple of chart corrections), the fearless test knitters are going at it at great speed. It will be soon ready for Kate, my tech ed, to tear apart.
I was totally baffled by the speed at which the test knit filled up. I hope that means there is a fair amount of people interested in a KAL because I am saving some special raspberry color silk blend to make myself a large size!
And... I have come upon a fitting name for it... more soon!

I hit a fabulous destash a couple of weeks back, and I got to meet a couple of friends that I have always wanted to get, but was too cheap to buy at full prize. Behold, the Crazy Zauberball! I have no idea what I am going to knit with it, but it sure is fun.Maybe a crazy Clapotis?

Another personal favorite: Rowan Kidsilk Haze. The colors are discontinued, I have a couple of balls of each, suitable for, let's say, a neckwarmer or scarflet/shawlette. It is SO incredibly soft and yummy, like a spun cloud. I am giving some serious thought at having the yellow color over-dyed by somebody, maybe in a green?

and the Indie dyer special: Unwind Yarns Bourdeaux Lace, another discontinued colorway. This is almost, almost white with a whisper of pastel pink, lilac and blue. The overall effect is a very pale lilac. I have no clue what to do with this, it would make a perfect heirloom baby wrap but no babies in sight....

Speaking of which... my random picture of the week... My dogs looking scrawny after their summer shave (my old lady Java in foreground, our exchange student in the back), and the wreckage of my backyard. Courtesy of my 4-year old who snagged the camera while I was taking yarn pictures. Aw.

Friday, June 4, 2010

What is up with July?

This week has passed in a flash. My day job suckered most of my time and energy, and I did not even have a chance to hoar any yarn (!). Work in the most pressing knitterly items progressed with a lot of difficulty, and I was forced to knit lace while watching TV. It was so nice to finally have a day off, and be able to relax with a cup of coffee and real daylight to work the lace.

Here is my favorite garden spot. Unfortunately, after 9 am, it is already ungodly hot to sit outside and your hands sweat too much to hold the needles. Welcome to Arizona summer.
The work on the needles is the last stretch of the Cap Shawl, from Jane Sowerby's Victorian Lace Today. This has to be one of my favorite lace knitting books; A lovely combination of coffee table quality pictures, great patterns, a section on the historical aspect of lace knitting in Victorian England, and a final section on constructions, borders and other miscellaneous. Truly outstanding.
I started the shawl during the winter Ravelympics, and really, the first 70 rows or so are good ol' TV knitting. After the lace panels start, you do need to pay more attention. I am at the final rows of the body, a whooping 730-something stitches a round, and officially tedious, droning knitting. After that, a rather large edging to look forward to. I have read elsewhere that this particular book tends to underestimate the yarn needs for a project, so I am obsessively weighing my yarn. With typical lack of foresight, I am using a discontinued color of Knit Picks Shimmer that I bought in closeout, so if I don't have enough, I am in a pickle.
2010 KALendar update

The June clue is coming along very well. It is already in the editing process, and we will be able to release on schedule on the second weekend of June! yay!. I had to confess I had a lot of reservations about this clue. One of the designers turned down my request to use a particular work I had my heart set to, and I had to rework the whole clue from scratch. Which means that from the beginning I felt this clue was going to be second-best. However, as I the more my knitting progresses, the more I like it. It is short, the shortest we have had yet. The chart looks nothing like the final result, and you really have to knit up a good bit to get a feeling of it. And the result is very charming! Many of you guessed right... it has beads!

As a sidebar, a note on copyright. A stitch pattern can NOT be copyrighted unless it is so unique and different it is unlike anything else. The charts, and the words used for a description/explanation however are covered by copyright. That means I can reverse engineer any stitch I want and use it for my own evil purposes. That also means you can use any stitches on this sampler for any future designs you wish... provided you use your OWN charts and your OWN wording - no copying!. Giving credit to your source is not required, but it is a deference to those that inspired and helped your work.  So, I ask permission from designers out of respect, and if they decline, I acknowledge it.

I know this is the question you are itching to ask: What's going on with July???
Well, this summer I  have a packed schedule with several trips out of town, and I wanted to make sure we would stay on schedule. Remember we are going to start *trying* to shorten the time between clues to have our shawls ready for Christmas, and that will be hard if I don't work at least two clues ahead.
And... July is going to be very special. A commemorative clue for great event in my life. It will be largely original with some leg up from Ms Walker. It will be unlike the other clues. I have a rough draft and it will be gorgeous!
Stay posted!

And one more special announcement: We are planning a second round of enrollments for the 2010 Kalendar. I feel physically ill every time I have to turn somebody down, and it happens at least a couple of times a week. So I will be working with my fabulous tech editor Kate, and my dear knitting pal and photoshop/adobe whiz Sherry to put together a half-year pattern  at a reasonable price. We will use this layout to anchor the year-long pattern which will be released at the end of the year.

New projects

New projects are a bit sidelined, I am afraid. I have the charted version of the yellow shawlette written up but I need to decide on written instructions and format overall. I plan to attack it soon however.
Meanwhile, my ADD self has started on another project.

Here is a style/technique/size swatch. With plain good  ol' Cascade worsted and a bit of Lion Brand worsted. Don't say I am a yarn snob and you never see acrylic here. The final product is meant to be a child's item. I have wanted to do this for a long time, but i had stumbled upon a technical problem. The other day, my DH came up with a neat solution. Leave it a man to figure construction issues. Can you guess what it is? maybe the color is a dead giveaway...I think the final product will be done on Cascade Superwash for a number of reasons.

WIP Wrestling

Operation WIP drawer cleaning is coming along at a great pace. Look at the Man Sweater! now with a neat short-row shawl collar, all finished, just about a gazillion lose ends to weave in. You won't see this in a pattern, but the construction is great for the larger sized guys, so I may still use the construction/shape on an easier stitch pattern and larger yarn for a new pattern.

Some yarn porn...

A little eye candy for the week: I did not do any shopping, but our friend Christine from MTCreations sent me this great pile of samples to test out, wowza!!! After i am done petting them, I plan to knit them into swatches and give you a good review of each of them, including approximate retail price
Here is the Zitron Filigran, and the Soft Kid that she is sending out as free samples. Isn't she a doll!!!

And a short appearance from my stash. DIC Groovy, the chunky sister of the DIC family, in Spice Girl colorway. Have you looked at the new Vogue knitting? I really want to make one of these sweaters by Lutz and Patmos using this yarn. I just haven't decided which one would suit my frame.
A big plus: this darned chunky yarn takes so much room, that if I use it up, my stash will look instantly smaller! heehee