Friday, November 25, 2011

The final stretch!!!

Close-up of a border swatch at the corner with the dreaded crochet cast off
At last, the final-final-final instructions are in. For those of you that do not crochet, it may seem like an uphill battle, to juggle needles and hooks and mix both skills. However, once you are done with it, you will have learned a new, useful skill. Many classic lace pieces are finished in this way because of the elasticity and the dainty look - including just about any Herbert Niebling and Marianne Kinsel piece, so if you want to tackle one, you have at least that one out of the way.

To the block!
Once you get through that hurdle, you still have to block this large piece. Clear a room, and put a blocking surface on the floor. I use El Cheapo interlocking floor puzzle pieces for kid playrooms, about $20 for a set at any Wal-Mart.
I always use blocking wires with large pieces like this. I pass the blocking wires through the center loops of each flower spray,  and through the straight edge. First I stretch to dimension, and put some pins in the edges and the center of the straight edge (for a triangle)
Here is a close-up detail of the blocking wires. In this case, I run them through the corner motif, but it is usually best to let it free if it has a rounded shape, and block it all by hand.
Now I put anchor T-pins where the wires hold the shawl, and meanwhile work in stretching it to the max while keeping the symmetry. There is a lot of bending over. stepping back, frowning upon and back to the beginning. It usually involves lots of coffee or tea, (since beer or wine would lead to a lopsided edge, most likely - but it is not for the lack of wanting).
Now is where you use about four boxes of T-pins pinning each of the little crocheted loops into a point. The spray flowers are given a rounded shape by adjusting the pins - there is just no good way to explain it!
Here is a detail of the corner, and the many pins it takes to give the border its shape. It is quite a pain but definitely worth the time, in order to have a well-finished shawl.
And here it is, my spectacular gossamer silk triangle, made in natural dyed cobweb weight Muga silk. and it is being held by none other than Cat Bordhi! Cat was in town to teach at our LYS, and she was quite a lot of fun.
And here again is my shawl, Cat and yours truly in a break at the class.
The class was about how to take your creativity in unexpected directions, and that it did. It was a lot of fun, and very enlightening. I definitely would like to use some of these exercises to take some of you in a creative trip - More details below!
At this point, I know that the struggle with the shawl is far from over. But I can tell you one thing: this is one shawl that will make even non-knitters look at you with admiration. A brag-a-licious shawl!

And I also got to meet Lorri, who made me feel like a rock star! she reads the blog so it was a lot of fun to meet. And of course, this is why I hardly ever take pictures of myself - I can't help making goofy faces!By the way, Lorri designed the cowl she was wearing (while I was walking Ms Elly).

And speaking of Elly... I have some great pictures of the shawls that the sampler makers sent me which I will show you in the next update. They all did such a great job!

Startitis attack
Once I was done with the final instructions in the shawl, it was as if the floodgates of knitting were open. I just had waaaaay too many project that had been postponed, so naturally I suffered an attack of startitis. To wit:
Gridiron Sweater for my youngest, in Iowa State Cyclones colors.I only have to knit the number, and lots of weaving ends, and it will be done.
Of course DH demanded his own football hat. And when it was done to his exacting instructions, he demanded a pom-pom. I may add blond braids while I am at it and turn it into a Helga Hat. Go Vikings! Even if they are lurching more than going, this year.
The Paul Atwell socks are half way there. Meaning I have one sock done, one to go. I may have it for Christmas! And did you notice my cool new yarn bowl? I found it at my local second-hand bookstore, which also has a lot of funky and artsy stuff. If you come to Phoenix and love books, make sure to stop at Changing Hands Bookstore and you will definitely find something. They even have a great coffee shop next door.
This wee test sock, knit for my 5-year old long and skinny feet, was my attempt at testing some of Cat Bordhi's sock techniques. You actually start by cutting a footprint of your own foot and use it to make a template (see Personal Footprints for Insouciant Knitters
That also means I have to make two new vanilla socks to make my son happy. He actually chose that yarn from my stash.

And my eternal struggle to kill the acrylic continues; I actually have enough log cabin squares for a small blanket, but I plan to add one more row. Then, it is all the fun stuff: sewing, picking up an edge, lots and LOTS of weaving ends! Well... I actually used a cool technique to hide most of the ends while knitting so it won't be so bad.
But the acrylic is still alive!!!! YIKES!!! Maybe I will make Christmas balls next? for next year?

The Afterfrog
I have such fun at the Cat Bordhi seminar, I am actually thinking of using some of the exercises to do a small design seminar I am thinking of calling the AfterFrog (like the aftershock of the 2011 KAL, LOL). I know many of you are thinking of, considering, or in the verge of designing your own stuff. This would be a creative exercise designed to take you from the inception of a design idea to the completion of a pattern - mixing a little bit the creative and fun parts with the actual roll-your-sleeves process of making it happen. It is a bit of the blind leading the blind since I am not a very experienced designer, but this is not about imparting vast knowledge but rather about making the jump from idea to practice. I would like to hear if there are some interesting people out there, since I don't think I can handle a group of more than 10. And yes, since it is an experiment, it is free. So drop me a line at Ravelry if you want to partake, and if I can find enough interested people (at least 5), we will hash out the details.