Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Aloha-hai, until we meet again

View from the hotel just before sunrise - Kohala coast

Photo Album at the Big Island of Hawaii

Coconuts on our way to Hilo

Koi pond at the hotel
Yay! Glorious Kona coffee cherries
Even chickens like good coffee
Akaka falls plunge 400 ft in a lush tropical garden
Falls in the even lusher World Botanical Gardens
Giant Heliconia plants and their alienspawn flower
What's Shakin' has the best smoothies from homegrown fruit
 Kilalua Volcano in Volcano National Park. Ollie was disappointed with the lack of fireballs
The real Tiki room - at the National Refuge
Honu (the protected Hawaiian green turtle) were a frequent sight

A few photos of the fabulous orchids and exotic flowers. I probably brought back over 50 pictures of orchids, all different!

Cliffrose KAL kickoff!!!
Just like that, the Cliffrose KAL is upon us! After being inspired by the Hawaiian orchids and lush gardens, I fully expected to come up with a glorious pink or purple for my choice of shawl. However, once I was ankle-deep on lace stash, I had a change of heart. I thought I would make a shawl as a Christmas gift to my mother. With practical eye, I picked up two lace samples on the brown range, which should go great with the Autumn and Winter favorite color this year, the Camel, and I made up for the lack of color with drop-dead softness.
 Rowan's Kidsilk Haze in Goldenrod should give a nice punch of color to a camel sweater or coat.
I am also quite partial to this Gaia Lace DK from Sanguine Gryphon. It is a one-off color, a taupe with highlights of green, which is supremely soft and has a lovely, silky sheen.I believe SG does not carry DK any more, but the lace weight is available.
The Kidsilk however was the winner of the Husband Petting Test, so I will probably start with this one. However, time permitting, I would like to use up the Gaia as well, and make two shawlettes. Pretty ambitious, considering that my FO drawer overflows with unfinished stuff again.

I feel like a dolt. After packing my knitting bag carefully for the trip, I forgot the needles for one project and the other project needed needles two sizes smaller. So I ended up working exclusively on the Cuban Cockroach Bugga! wrestling it into socks. I was hooked. Grab the basic stitch of the Talinay gloves, mix in some of the September clue, and give it a twist, and out came the most gorgeous sock. I was so obsessed I had to knit it all the way to the tip even though it was too big, just because I HAD to see how the pattern unfolded. Then, (anathema!) frogged back to the heel and fixed the size, refined the flow of the pattern... I am an inch from the toes, and I MUST finish it, because I have it in my head I need to have this entered for a submission. I am even going to buy me a sock blocker for the occasion!
So between the sock, and giving my just-finished secret project the last finishing and packing, the poor KAL is a bit abandoned. But - an idea has already caught fire, coming from one of your suggestions. As soon as the sock-bsession is over, I vow to commit myself to getting this clue out on time.

And just a parting thought... just when I thought I had more projects I could manage, along comes this fabulous Blue Moon Fiber Arts Traveling Sweater. Just the most interesting construction and it would show off a variegated yarn so beautifully. I bought the pattern immediately, but darn it, I don't have just the right yarn... there goes the yarn diet again!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September Leaves

Embossed Leaves

Maple Leaves

September clue is out! We made it through another month. We are arriving to the final stretch of our shawl. How exciting it is to see it grow month to month! I feel such pride when I look at the intricate, delicate openwork, and such joy to know I am sharing it with so many people.
For this month, I challenge you to walk in my shoes: put together the clue using a few elements. When you think how many combinations and permutations you can create out of just two patterns and a few filler stitches, it is mind-boggling. It feels a bit like a Sudoku game, trying to make all the math fit together. I really hope you all have loads of fun with it.
You may recognize one of the patterns - the Maple Leaf is based on Maple Leaf Socks by Heartstrings, a pattern proposed by Raveler Lizavietta. I am sure our Canadian neighbours will be amused!. The Embossed Leaf is a classic Barbara Walker pattern, which shares commonalities with many embossed patterns. It seemed to fit well in size and nature with the maple leaves. Both have a textural, tridimensional quality. Also, each leaf runs in a different direction, which makes the pattern non-directional - no upside or downside. Once I had the patterns, I found I could combine them in so many ways I could not make my mind up. I remembered how much fun you all had combining the "hard" and "soft" love features, and I decided to let you all play with the patterns again.
And reading all your suggestions for October has been enlightening - I think I have a definite direction on the clue for next month. However, keep the suggestions coming, since I can just as easily change my mind!

Heartache from Vogue Knitting
I did promise to tell you about a little designer fit I had reviewing the last VK issue. I usually love reading VK, though some of the last issues have been disappointing. I look at it as an aspirational magazine. The garments are usually not practical or wearable by most regular people, and they can be fussy and hard to knit. Not to mention you'd spent a small fortune knitting some of them - lush, expensive yarns. The styling is very haute-couture-ish, which is nice but does not always show the garment to its best advantage (good thing they have the 360 feature!). However, it often has a few daring, cleverly constructed, inspirational garments. This issue is full of such - things I would NOT wear but I just love how they are constructed. 
Unfortunately, one of the sweaters is almost a distillation of a design idea I was actually working on - I mean, bought yarn, worked on swatches, made charts. So close, I could see there is no way to use my original idea without it looking like a ripoff. I almost cried, specially because it is the one idea my sister had been very sold on, even to the point of working the charts with me. WAAAAAHHHH!
(A good illustration of the evolutionary law called the Red Queen Effect (for Alice in Wonderland) - sometimes, you have to keep running faster just to stay on the same place, as everybody around you evolves and gets better). 
At least I can tell my sis her idea was good enough for Vogue. It is a consolation. 
And once I get over it, I can probably use the kernel of the idea for something different.
Go ahead and browse VK. I loved the article on Project Runway winner Irina Shabayeva ("Head of the Class"). I just love her concept of movement and texture. 

Travel Companions
Already busy packing for Hawaii!!! And before I even pack my clothes, I pack my knitting bag. I have assembled a few kits for small items, and for the first time I am actually bringing design work with me. I can totally see myself feeling inspired by the beautiful nature around the island and working away in the lanai with the sound of waves crashing. Reality check, there will be two children staging Lego robot fights in the background.
Taking my sunglasses...

This project is so much fun I could not wait to get started. I was immediately in cute overload. I love colorwork! . KP Palette is a great yarn for that, but is a wee bit rough to the touch, which worries me because it will be a baby item. Hopefully it softens with wash. Expect some calls for test knitting soon!

A cockroach that I actually like
After the whole pink-monster-cockroach incident, I decided to put a positive spin on cockroaches. This Cuban Cockroach Bugga! skein is going to become a sock version of the Talinay gloves. Lush greenness, perfect for island knitting.
This here is Dragonflyfibers Dragon Sock in Dark Star colorway. I dug it out of my stash a while ago when the husband suggested he would like some manly fingerless gloves. Of course he shot straight for the darkest yarn he could find. I have a good idea of how to take the best advantage of the flashes of color in the yarn, and I really would like a very architectural quality for the gloves, but otherwise this one is still pretty much up in the air.
Naturally, some Dumb Knitting and UFO that Never Dies will go into the bag as well.

And to keep track of it all - Barnes and Noble recycled version of the Moleskine notebook. I have a full sized version with graph paper pages, where all my design babble goes, but I got this small sized one for the travel bag. Bright enough I won't overlook it!. I would die if I lose that notebook, seriously!
Test knitters wanted!
My submission project is moving along at an amazingly fast pace. Due to a sudden and uncharacteristic attack of neatness, my pattern is almost fully written. The release schedule probably won't let me enough time for full test knitting, but there is a small portion that I really feel i need tested just to make sure it makes sense. It is this:
  Confused? don't worry, it will all become clear. Here is the deal: you work two small pieces that look approximately like this (you need just scraps of worsted weight yarn, it takes an hour or two to make) and i will send you the full copy of the pattern pre-release, which you can choose to test or not. I can tell you it is a fun garment for boys age 3-8. 
I really just need a couple of people, so email me at if you are interested and I can give you more information, including an approximate picture of the finished garment. You will have to be sworn to secrecy, LOL!

Now... get those needles clicking for September