Sunday, September 18, 2011

Clue 12: Are we there yet???

My Mr. Fogg Square Shawl with a partial clue 12
Right about now, most of you are feeling like little kids on a really long car trip: Are we there yet? Tired of laboring long (and if you make the square shawl, obscenely long) rounds of repetitive knitting, you wish for the excitement and the challenge of our grand finale border. And we won't disappoint you! With the weather starting to cool off, we can finally sit down with our shawl in our lap, and "git'er done" in time to show off during the holidays.

 Unfortunately, I have been lagging a little bit with my square shawl, and I only have a partial clue to show, but you get the idea. I can't say enough of this Hedgehog Fibers cashmere lace, with its beautiful stitch definition and the soft halo, and a softness that it is to die for. You will have to pry this shawl from my cold dead fingers!
Why doesn't my camera get along with the blues?
Unfortunately, my Muga silk cobweb shawl does not photograph well at all - the color here looks like a muddy brown, while it is a deep blue. I added an extra repeat of the USA clue for size, so I thought I would show you. The beads are size 8 gold colored beads.

Border Details, the Big Reveal

This year, the border is intrinsic to the shawl - meaning, knit with the shawl and not separately and attached or knit-on later. It is a couple of rows shy of 50, and you may be able to expand it or shrink it only by a couple of rows at the end. There is no bailing out halfway, so make sure you have enough yarn.
For yarn guesstimation purposes, you should have at least as much yarn as  you used for USA2 plus a couple of hundred yards for security. I would say, about 600 yards.
The border will add between 5-7 inches per side, once blocked, but this varies a lot with your gauge and yarn.
The method of choice to turn corners is a separate motif that will be worked in the corner (thus there will be charts for the straight sides and a different chart for the corner). You will have to toggle between charts, so make sure you have a good supply of chart markers - maybe a large cookie sheet and a collection of magnetic strips or a highlighter.

There shall be opportunities for beads, nupps, and all of the above. In fact, there are multiple options for those elements, which the test knitters have lovingly nicknamed:
  • Plain vainilla border. Don't worry, the border is very ornate so if you do not like beads or nupps, it will still look spectacular.
  • Nupp groupings. Plenty of nupps,but not overwhelmingly so, it is an elegant option. You can also work these as beads
  • Sprinkle of beads. Just a few beads scattered on the lacier parts for a bit of sparkle without weight. These beads are marked differently and can not be converted to nupps.
  • Superbead option. Indulge the glam within you, make all the nupps as beads and add the "sprinkles" as well. This option may give you a heavy border, and it will use a whooping 1,000 beads for the square, but it is a head-turner.
  • Baroque option. Work the nupps as nupps and add the bead sprinkle as well. Who says you can't have it all???
Once you realize that you can also combine with the different options in the corners (eg a "superbead" corner with a more simple straight side), your head may start spinning. Another problem is that you will have to commit to a format from the beginning, and trust me, you don't want to rip. So find your zen place, and make a decision, and order your beads. I should be able to give you a bead count soon.

The book ends with a bang - our heroes race the Atlantic burning their boat as they go, Fogg is thrown in prison, they think they have lost the race, only to find that the won when they gained one day by travelling with the sun. And the romantic touch. It is one of the  most exciting book endings in classic literature. We will be matching this hellish fast pace with our own. The border will be revealed in 4 shortish clues (8-14 rows), spaced 2 weeks apart. Work permitting, here are the tentative release dates:
  1. Sept 30th (so hurry up and finish your USA 2!)
  2. Oct 14
  3. Oct 28
  4. Nov 11 (how COOL is this? our last clue is 11/11/11
That gives us plenty of time to finish in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, swap yarn leftovers, make a couple of Ellys for Christmas giving, and start gabbing about what we want to do in 2012.
Excited? I really hope you are

Where in the world is Carmen Neverfrog?
You probably have noticed that I have been conspicuously absent from the boards lately. There has not been any tsunami-like event in my life. And unfortunately, I have not been involved into any super sikrit project I hope to show off soon. I have just been having a big, fat helping of Supermom Syndrome. You know, that illness all women have where they feel they need to prove they can do it all and do it well. 
First, there is this day job thing. Need it for food, shelter, health insurance and all that minutia. My job site is having a major expansion which means a lot of extra paperwork, update classes, computer crap, and people generally running around with their hair on fire. Good for business, bad for stress. 
Then there is this mom thing. My eldest just started Kindergarten, which means all of the sudden he is released in the middle of the afternoon, and there is a "short day" in the middle of the week, and I had to scramble to find other activities to keep him from driving us batty at home. Thus Mom becomes She Who Drives Kids Around.And the youngest is in the middle of UberTerrible Twos, and Potty Training Bootcamp.
Since I really, really needed another job, there is still this home remodel project we are doing in our rental unit. Trust me, it is a LOT more fun when you see it in HGTV, where edgy designers and hunky carpenters and electricians put together a lovely home update in three days and show it to the delighted owners. Spending your time off unglueing ancient flooring, painting the trim, cleaning prehistoric dust from the ceiling fans and touring really hot stone and tile warehouses, not so much fun. But somehow, Roach Inn is slowly inching its way to becoming a lovely modern and efficient little home with high-end finishes. We will share pictures, and you won't believe the transformation.
Which leaves us with this knitting business. Forget about socializing on the net, working on new designs, submitting to magazines. I am just keeping my head above water, putting all I have into getting this border put together. Definitely, my head has not been on the game as it should and my latest charts have had some major boo-boos. Thankfully, the talented test knitter pool has saved my butt a few times pointing out major errors and modifications that needed to be made and goading me towards and overall better design. A big thanks to them for sticking it out this long!!! Deborah, Tasha, Susan, Karen, you are the best.
Hopefully, as the dust settles and I fall into a new rhythm, I will be back to my usual self. God knows I have a notebook full of sketches and ideas waiting to be developed.

Some FOs 
I have finished a couple of projects due for my sister and mom's birthdays, only two months late. Yay.

My sister will be receiving this Fitted Top from Vogue Summer 2011. Instead of expensive silk yarn, I used Cascade Ultra Pima cotton, in a bright turquoise color. Really cheap project, I needed only 3 hanks, and very showy. It was quick and fun to knit though it looked very awkward while being knitted. The finishing, however, it was another story. LOTS of sewing, and LOOOOTS of ends to weave. the result is pretty cool, though I have left a bit of it unsewn in the back so my sis can adjust the fit. I think it is a great top to wear over your swimsuit with a pair of shorts or a sarong, you can go straight from the beach to have a few drinks.

  The Mission Cardigan from IK Summer 2011 is for my mother. I hated making it. The yarn is Louet Euroflax (100% linen), a sport weight linen worked on really thick needles. There is no end to what I disliked about it. The yarn is stiff and splitty even with blunt needles. The pattern was all written and I had to make my own little charts. Getting gauge was hell.  There was enough similarity between all the portions and enough differences that I kept making mistakes the moment I clicked into mindless knitting and man, it is hard to read the knitting with this yarn. Blocking to size was a pain because unlike wool, the linen does not stretch well. Sewing this net-like fabric was a pain. Weaving in ends is hard. However, the results are 100% lovely, the cardi knits up relatively fast and it is a very wearable and fun garment. Almost worth all the trouble. Almost. One quick tip, if you attempt this, use a lace cast-on for the bottom edge. It will look extremely messy on the needles but once you get to blocking, it will give you a cleaner edge that won't pucker the bottom of the garment. I was tempted to bind the neckband with k2tog, but it looked bulky and messy so I just went up 2 needle sizes. 

In the middle of the 800-stitch-per-row and complicated lacy stuff pattern, I needed to find a little solace on something simple and small, so I started a pair of Paul Atwell Socks for my father. I had this gorgeous skein of SG Little Traveller in an one-off colorway. I have loved this socks since I first saw them in the Yarn Harlot blog. They are simple, manly socks that show off variegated yarn well, so they are fun to knit and discreet enough that a man won't object. In fact, I love the stitch pattern so much I am pondering making something with some derivations of it. 

We will see each other soon... Knit fast to finish your Clue 12 and join in the mad rush to the finish!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hello, Elly!

whisper-thin Elly in cobweb weight Muga silk with glass beads
Finally, Elly is ready to be released! I had a wonderful set of test-knitters, that made me rework the final written pattern to make it really user friendly and clear. The pattern contains a lot of links to the more unusual techniques for those that are just getting their feet wet into the great river of beyond-beginner lace.
Here is Elly's Ravelry project page

Elly has proven to be an incredibly versatile pattern. It managed to look good in every possible yarn weight, other than bulky. In variegated, bicolor, and solid options. With or without beads. Regular or "lazy" (all purled WS).
Above you can see a cobweb yarn option (the scrumptious Indigo Moon Muga Silk, in purple cochineal dye), with glass beads, that rendered a lighter-than-air neckerchief to dress up any plain top. See it here again:

A lovely picture show of all the FO's from the talented tester pool, in many versions and weights
Bcrobb shawl in Tencel lace from Valley yarns

Blessedspeedy in Adorn Sock

BusyMind in Cascade Vero DK. Larger weights knit at relatively tighter gauge, for a cozier shawl with a lot of great texture.

FiaKnit used cone lace yarn with beads

GoodNurse version in St-Denis Nordique (sport) finished with picot cast off to avoid edge rolling

NadiaZ60 used mohair lace for a deliciously fluffy shawl

Malabrigo Silky Merino looks just huggable in Panfila's shawl version. she used an i-cord cast off.

Quilterx made this in KnitPicks Shadow bare, which she plans to overdye

Subtly marbled Plymouth Happy Feet sock yarn for Starfish15, lovely color!

after seeing VintageRedHead worsted weight version, I plan to buy some Malabrigo to make me one...

Another St-Denis Nordique sport weight shawl by xstmj

Elly looks well also in heavy variegated yarn with texture in Yarn-Dar's version
After viewing the pictures, I bet you already have in mind some stashed yarn you can use for an Elly. It uses less then 400 yards for smaller versions, and 400-450 for the DK-worsted weight. And if you can't decide, make a couple of them. It is a quick knit, that you can finish in a week or less. The cast on and first couple of rows are a bit painful, since the shawl is started in the long (lace) edge, but once the lace is stablished, it sort of flies of the needles, and the final short row part is just a cinch. So it actually gets faster and easier as you finish!

And at the whooping price of zippo, zilch, nada... free! What excuse do you have not to make one?