Thursday, October 28, 2010

Frogputer down!

You know what they say, life is what happens while you are busy making plans.
I was working this morning merrily away in my notebook, making good progress, December all written up, edge coming along beautifully, when suddenly my screen turned really dim, and then black.
An emergency visit to the Geek Squad turned out some bad news/good news: my hard drive is in good shape, however my monitor backlight is kaput. That means the computer would have to take a long drive to the repair shop, and $300 and a couple of weeks later, I would have it back in working shape.
Now, that hardly makes any sense. My computer is a dinosaur that was top of the line when I bought it seven years ago, but now my cell phone has already more memory and capability. Would I pay half the price of a new computer to have it back? hell, no.
You know, some people have green thumbs. I have a sort of an electronic thumbs. My small electronics thrive and survive forever. My cell phone was three years old and in great working order when I finally succumbed to the delights of the Android smart phone. My notebook was going to be 8 this Christmas. It had never been to the computer doctor. Never had a virus. It was missing some keys after my sons peeled them, but I managed to work around them. It has moved house three times. I have had the computer longer than the husband. I had been saving for a while to buy me a new computer for Christmas. And today suddenly I found myself having to make a hasty, joyless purchase and spend all my self-Christmas money. I harassed the poor Best Buy guy with many dumb questions, just because I had not had time to research, I gave my husband three emergency phone calls while staring at computers (he is not a very electronic-savvy person, and therefore he is capable of making a more common sense decision without getting bedazzled by the toys), and finally I wasted a whole morning milling around the store, filling out service papers and trying to extricate myself from the myriad service offers and warranties and such they try to slap on you every time you buy an electronic.
In the end, I came home a lot poorer and still without a computer. They have to transfer all my data to a backup disk, and make a recovery disk for my new puter (I was appalled when I found out they don't give you these any more). When I get them, I will have to spend a miserable couple of days re-installing all the software.
While I do have backup copies of most of my stuff, the charting program may or may not be recoverable, which means I would have to buy a new one. And I am broke. And it is expensive. But I will manage.
All this puts me hopelessly behind in my pattern writing, and with a couple of deadlines looming dangerously ahead. So I better get caught with the knitting instead!
Did I mention, yarn diet till next year???

Anyway, I would like to finish on a happy note. The minipattern is looking good.
Here is a little laugh. If you are not one of the thousands that has seen this YouTube bit, I hope you will laugh as hard as I did. Good, clean fun!

Grover vs Old Spice

Thursday, October 21, 2010

By the Edge of November

A real frost flower
November is here! you voted! and it is Frost Flowers. With the help of ever-precise Kate the pattern has just cleared the first round of edits, and with just a few minor touches left, it will be released on October, 22 (tomorrow!).
December will be here sooner than you think, as I have started to churn through the knit sample. I have learned the hard way not to release a clue i have not knit myself thoroughly!

And guess who else is making good progress?

Finally, our Edge!
The edge has three separate elements: the narrow peaked Aspen Leaf edge, the center portion or Point d'Esprit, and two sections of Ric-a-Rac faggoting. The Aspen Leaf alone plus a faggoting section can be used for a narrow edge. In the above shown KnitPicks Shadow lace yarn, it measures about 1.5 inches blocked. The edge as displayed here has the former, and one repeat of Point D' plus another R-R. It would be considered a medium-wide edge, and it would add to about 3.5 inches.
You can widen the border further by adding more repeats of the Point D', as shown here, where 2 repeats were done

Each repeat adds and extra inch (never mind the irregular third tooth, I was testing out stuff...). BTW, this is the WRONG side, which comes to show the edge looks equally good in either side, and you may prefer one to the other. Very handy if you get a little befuddled about how to start the edge, just to realize a few repeats later, that the WS of the edge is showing in the RS of the shawl...ouch. No such trouble here. It is reversible.
the final touches to the pattern, meaning the hard math part, is almost concluded, and with minimal adjustments to the December pattern, everything is going to fit just perfectly if you knitted the shawl as per original instructions. For everybody else... you will have to do the worksheet!

Mini Pattern Update
It seems that there is a lot of interest in a tutorial mini-pattern, and therefore, I will start working on it alongside December. 
No big surprise here, it will be basically a square center where we will apply the edge. I will include the worksheet and explanations about turning the corners and calculating repeats and such for either narrow or wide edge options. So you could end up with a standard washcloth with a little aspen leaf edge, or a more sumptuous and large lace piece to use as a table center (under a flower vase or a mini tree), or whatever else you want. I plan to turn mine into a bread basket liner. 
But of course at this point it is all just wishful thinking. At least, I did go stash-diving and came up with this bargain-bin beauty:

 Jaeger Trinity, a somewhat weird blend of cotton, silk and acrylic, a little knobbly in texture but with a lovely color. I bought them at a stash swap organized by my LYS, for a couple of bucks, and though i love the color, the gritty and rough texture did not call my name right away - but it sure would look nice for a bread basket liner or a tea towel.
I will come up with yarn requirements pretty soon! I think it is going to be a fun project to use up some partial cotton balls :)

Ready for tomorrow?Sharpen your needles!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Beaded Madeira Diamond for October
By now, thanks to the likes of speedy knitters like MarciaViola, you have all had a peek at the October clue all knitted up. Here is my version with beads. Many of you are probably cursing the p3tog, but keep your eyes on the prize! It is such a lovely pattern.

The jury is still out on November. I figured out that many of you may not know the specific name of the patterns that are being suggested, so I have been fishing for some photos:
Frost Flowers
 Frost Flowers is a perennial favorite. The stitch count may be a bit large, and it is a two-sided pattern with purl decreases on the WS. Really gorgeous though!

Print O' the Wave, Eunny Jang's pattern
Print O' The Wave(also known as Grapevine Trellis, and other names) is also a really gorgeous pattern, though not difficult at all, and only patterned on RS. Though it is made famous by Eunny Jang's stole (which is a free download!), it is an old, traditional stitch.

Lily of the Valley Estonian Scarf
Lily of the Valley is arguably the best known of the Estonian stitches - it has nupps, and nupps are not really optional because the pattern does not happen without them. But it is worth the effort!
My very own Ishbel!

Ishbel uses the Trellis Shell pattern, which is quite basic but still very beautiful.

Rose Leaf Pattern
 Rose Leaf, and the closely related Elm Leaf, are two very classic patterns. Neither one is hard to work. This one on the picture has some nupps added, but they are not part of the pattern itself.
Cat's paw pattern
 Cat's Paw is a basic element of the Orenburg patterns and others. Very basic. We probably won't be using it for November because, erm, there is a bit of it in December!

December  is progressing at a good clip. Here is a view of my table, strewn with swatches, sketches, charts, books and bits of yarn:

The edge is practically knitting itself. I had selected a few background stitches, linking combos and edgings, but at the very first try, I liked the result so much I decided that was "it". Sometimes, it is best not to over think a design! Now, we just have to teach it to turn corners...

Speaking of which, since this is going to be an educational experience for a few of you, how would you feel about a tutorial mini-pattern? I am thinking a little swatch with border attached all around. It could be used as a very fancy washcloth, or my favorite, with a bit of cloth for backing, as a potpourri bag that can be a Christmas present. It would give you a chance to practice attaching borders and turning corners before you tackle the big, bad shawl border.

Meanwhile... chaos ensues
Remember that little leak in my shower? well, it is turning rapidly into a major bathroom remodel. Something like the Sixtine Chapel of the bathroom remodels. We spent most of yesterday removing the salmon-and-sage wallpaper that came with the house. It must have been superglued to the wall, I swear!. Underneath, the wall is heavily textured, which means sanding and spackling until the cows come home. The tiles were made on Mexican time, which is to say a month later than promised. But they arrived yesterday! And painfully, the project progresses. 
And while waiting for tiles, DH grew restless and started to remodel baby's future bedroom (he is almost two years old, so he needs to get out of our bedroom... now!). Also disassembled the guest's bedroom bed, shuffled some other furniture and moved the computer around... so now more of the house is in disarray.
"look, mom, a wet bar!"
The toilet is temporarily relocated to the backyard so we can work on the wall behind, which gave the dogs some high hopes. They figured out quickly they could not drink out of it, though.

All of this has put a serious crimp on my knitting time. Sylvar is progressing slowly due to major modifications made to the pattern. First, I had to go a size up to a large, and trust me, I am petite. It is not so much a fault of the pattern but of the yarn, which is classified as worsted but seems to knit more like a DK. I have heard this before from Madeline Tosh yarns, so buyer beware. I also decided to do away with the 6-inch garter border, because it is unflattering to my Mediterranean hips, and instead carried the pattern all the way to the bottom with a narrower garter and a few increases to make it more fitted. I am starting on the sleeves, and I am worried I may have to add short row sleeve caps to avoid bunching at the armpits, but I will knit a few inches and try them on. The sweater made a trip to the Tuesday's knitting group and got groped a lot :)
MadTosh Worsted in Tannenhill for this Sylvar sweater

Cliffrose is pretty slow going, but I can't be happier with the choice of yarn. Soft, buttery, and with lovely stitch definition. My fear/hope is that I won't have enough yarn to finish and I may have to buy more in a contrasting or harmonizing color for the edging. waaah.
Cliffrose in SG Gaia Lace

Friday, October 1, 2010

November and December theme announcement

You know what happens when you go on vacation... you get to pay when you come back. This month has been a little crazy and I have fallen behind with the updates. So finally, here it is... the rest of the year!


(For those that don't remember or have never heard the song: My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music)
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad
 In USA, November is Thanksgiving month. The kids make crafts with pilgrims and cutout turkeys, and we eat one huge meal while watching football, to remember the meal the Pilgrims and Natives ate together in that first Harvest together a long time ago. Giving thanks for good things is a great habit. Psychologist say that thinking about our favorite things, the things we are thankful for, help put our minds get in the positive attitude that helps us overcome difficulties. So, indeed, when things are bad, simply remember your favorite things...
So, if you are stuck in a difficult lace pattern or having the finishing blahs (you know, when that project gets stuck in the "black hole phase", when you knit and knit and don't seem to get anywhere), think of your favorite lace pattern. That pattern that you just love to make, because it is beautiful and it is just joyful to knit.
I am looking for a classic, well known, wonderful pattern that just epitomizes lace knitting for you. The pattern you think a sampler should have.
So what is it going to be? Frostflowers? Lily of the Valley? Horseshoe? Feather and Fan? Arrowhead? Print o' the Wave?

December: A Perfect Snowflake

This is a perfect flake, preserved in 1974 in a drop of superglue!

 This is another obvious clue. I wanted the December theme to connect with January, which was Winter Wonderland. As it corresponds to an edge, it will be a little larger than the other month's clues, and we will try to preserve direction.

And then there is the Border...
I have been working long and hard to find a good border, and I think I have a good candidate. Sideways construction, check. Relatively easy, check. Expandable, check. Optional beads, check. Now I just have to do a whole lotta swatching, and the most difficult bit, get it to move around the corners. And fudging instructions, because i am willing to bet not two people in the group have the same row count!
Do you think you may be running short of yarn? Because I do. I like my edges wide. By the time I am done with December, I will have about 400 yards left which is probably enough for a narrower edge, but I don't want to work so hard to find out I am short in the edge. So I have asked Kate from Dragonfly fibers to dye for me another whole skein of Dragonlace in Cayenne. I plan to do my edge with the new skein, so even if there is color variation, it will be an accent to the center. So start planning ahead!

October still at the editors, waiting for corrections. As soon as it is done, it will be updated, so stay tuned.

Good Bye Old Friend!
  My unfinished shawl cache finally reached critical mass, and I had to get this one off the needles.It is the Frostflower Shawl from Vogue Knitting Shawls two: on the go!. It had a "difficult" rating, although except for grafting 100+ stitches at the end, it was easy, boring knitting. This was my travelling piece, always with me in the car, knitting one bit here and another there in short drives and flights. It has been to Tucson, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, Zion State Park in Utah, Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, and everywhere in Phoenix. Now I am really going to need another travelling piece!. Done in Malabrigo Lace in Sealing Wax color (I have a whole skein left, if somebody is drooling over it - open to trades). Whisper thin and oh so soft and warm. I am sure I will wear it a lot this winter.

And Hello new one!
Yes, my yarn diet is more like no-yarn gorges rule. I snagged this beauty on a destash:
Socks that Rock Mediumweight in Rooster Rock

  This is my first STR skein... and it is SO lovely I know I have STR fever now. The colors are just like a rooster tail, the definition of the color is lovely, the ply very uniform. Now I just have to find THE pattern to compliment this yarn.

Design is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration... but sometimes it is 50% serendipity. You may remember when i was designing Cliffrose, I lost my initial set of charts and had to start anew, ended up with a totally different shawl. Well... I found them. Fallen behind a drawer. And all of the sudden, they are ready to become yet a totally different shawl!. If only the day had 48 hours...