Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sunday in the park with Chris and the Fish

We had a gloriously beautiful Memorial Day Weekend. The past few years we've had rain so this was a great change. Sunday I had planed to go to the movies. I rethought that idea and packed my knitting, a blanket, a chair and all the other necessities and went to a local park.

I found myself a spot of shade, laid out my blanket, fired up my MP3 player and people watched for a while. Then I took out my knitting...

What is that? That looks nothing like the lace Fish shawl you should be working on! You just cast that onto those needles. What are you doing????

Oh look - pretty! Buttercups!

Well, at least the fish shawl made the trip with me. It is in the special bag I bought to tote it around. But see, I went to a sale and I got this really great deal on Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed and it was just calling out to be made into a French Market Bag, so I started on it because you can't have enough bags - ever - in my book.

This is the progress as of yesterday. I'm making it much deeper than the pattern calls for and thought a jaunty stripe pattern would be nice. Besides black and pink scream FRENCH. Just 2 more inches in black and then onto the handles.

I'm happy with the bag on the whole, but I'm praying that the handles won't end up as rough as the wool is after felting. It is the most coarse, itchy yarn and sheds little tiny fibers all over. Thank goodness I took it to the park (and been knitting it on my deck in the evenings) because my carpet would have a layer of little black ick all over it. I even had little fiberetts stuck in my contact one night. I can't imagine knitting anything that one would wear out of this yarn. It's the yarn that wool haters mean when they say it's itchy and scratchy.

Summer Reading Challange 2006

I've not been reading as much as I should. I fall asleep a paragraph or two into the books I've been reading at bedtime. So I decided to join in on the Summer Reading Challange of 2006. I used to read at least a book a week, sometimes even more and to tell the truth, I miss it. I feel like there are so many books out there that I haven't read that everyone else has. Instead of hitting the recent popular books, I've decided to go my book shelf (and bedside table) and list all the books I've started and put down, or are new and I'm dying to read. Here is my list. I'll post my progess in the side bar as I finish a book. I won't be reading them in this order, but I hope I'll have them all finished by the end of summer.

Specials - Scott Westerfield
A Feast for Crows - G.R.R. Martin
The Firey Cross - Diana Gabaldon
Lord John and the Private Matter - Diana Gabaldon
Sense and Sensability - Jane Austen
The Ghost Brigades - John Scalzi
The Bonesetters Daughter - Amy Tan
The Wolves of Calla - Stephen King

Thursday, May 25, 2006

MD KAL Update

I fell down the rabbit hole!

I've been such a warshrag ho lately. Look at this stack. I have plenty of yarn to keep on going too. They are way too pretty to use on dirty disgusting dishes so I plan on using them on - me (see how I convinced myself how bad the dish idea was). I kept envisioning a stack of freshly clean and pretty washcloths sitting on the 1/2 wall that is the end of my vanity. So I've decided that I want a stack of MD Washcloths and have been working toward that goal.

Sad Blankie has two new blocks. Its been very warm here and having it on my lap is downright uncomfortable. So I've put Saddie to the side for now. When air conditioning weather comes I'll want to have a blanket on my legs in the evening. It's the curse of cathedral ceilings, comfortable in half the house and freezing in the other half. So for a couple of weeks it's waiting in the wings. I do love how it's coming out and will most definitely finish it before the cold weather comes.

Since Saddie has been put to the side for the time being look what I started! I am insane, but I love love love love love the mitered squares.

When Saddie is finished I think I may have to start on the curtains after all. I've seen the ones that have been posted here and they make me feel all - well - jealous really. I want them too! I don't remember who posted that they used size 3 crochet cotton, but that was a stroke of genius and I'll be copying that when the time comes.

I'm enjoying all the work y'all've been posting. Your FOs are inspiring me to new heights of insanity... ahhh... creativity.

Cross posted to MDKAL Blog

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Amazing Lace - Challenge 1

The Amazing Lace Team Introduction

Hi! We're Team Fishtail Shawl. Or, Chris and the Fish.

Our relationship has started off rather rocky. This is the first time I'm going to use a lace weight yarn. I purchased KnitPicks Shimmer in Grape Hyacinth a while back because I loved the color and I thought I should have lace weight yarn in my stash. When this call went out for the race, I already had the yarn.

When I tried to wind it into a ball with my winder this weekend, I had the first indication that things weren't going to go smoothly. Look at how this ball came out.

It took an hour to get that. I don't have a swift or a lampshade wide enough and had to try and work the whole process holding the hank in one hand and operating the ball winder with the other. By the time I finished untangeling and winding I had a very loose ball. I decided to re-wind it. Half way through the re-winding, the ball-in-process flew off the winder. Talk about loose! I started over, but it was coming out very loose again. I kept smashing the yarn down onto the winder so it wouldn't fly off again and I came out with this "bun" instead of the nice "cake" shape you usually get off the winder. Needless to say - the other two hanks are in time out.

I spent the better part of two days surfing the internet and browsing through all my books to decide which shawl to make. I found some really beautiful ones, but decided in the end to create my own. I sat down with paper and pencil and my two stitch dictionaries and started calculating edging pattern plus main pattern total stitch count. It gave me a headache. So I decided that it was perfectly acceptable to have a garter stitch edge. No sense in getting in over my head is there?

My next problem was which needles I wanted to use. I tried my good Lantern Moon needles. The points aren't sharp enough for my taste, but I thought they would grab the lace weight yarn nicely. I cast on and started a gauge swatch. I know how wide I want my shawl, but had no idea how many stitches per inch I'd get. They did hold onto the yarn nicely but the pointy-ness of the needles was an issue.

I liked the laciness I got with size 9 US. The shawl I was modeling the size after was knit on size 10US, so I was in the ballpark. Therefore, I'll be using Boye size 8 US needles. They are pointy and colorful and I didn't have 9s that were pointy enough. Makes sense right?

The last member of my team - stitch markers. I make my own beaded stitch markers. I was thinking how much fun it would be to have them on my team. I fell asleep dreaming of the different beads dangling from my needle between each pattern repeat and then I awoke with a start. The yarn is 2 ply. The wires on beaded stitch markers will catch the yarn constantly. Better I stick with the plain smooth plastic markers to avoid any meltdowns on my part down the road. You can see them in the team photo below...

So this is my team. Me, Shimmer, pattern, needles, markers, our "travel journal" and this cool new bag I got at Old Navy this weekend just for Fish.

I'm hoping all our pre-race trials will mean a smooth sailing summer.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Get ready to start your engines!

OK – so maybe not the engines, but the Addie Turbos at least.

In a convoluted effort to jump start my knitting (since nothing is inspiring me except stuff from M-D Knitting), I joined
The Amazing Lace KAL. It’s not that I don’t have a “next to knit” list a mile long. And let’s not mention the beautiful bamboo for Bombshell, or the KnitPicks Shine for Blaze, or Cinxia waiting patiently for me to continue on to sleeve two (and Ella, the Viking costumes and yeah I’ll admit it, a ton of yarn for “warshrags”).

The difference is that I’m accountable to a group of other knitters to report my progress. And there’re challenges to help flex my creative muscles as the weeks go along. I think it will be good for me; or a total disaster. Time will tell.

I have to pick a project now. I have 3 hanks of KnitPicks Shimmer and would love to use something from my stash. But it’s a variegated colorway and so anything too fussy won’t show the lace detail. I’ve been looking through all my books (which is a feat in itself) and have finally come to the conclusion that I’ll make up my own pattern.

This is HUGE. Make. Up. My. Own. Pattern.

I blame this on the
Yarn Harlot. I’ve been reading Knitting Rules and decided that it can’t really be all that hard to make a lace shawl with the dimensions I want. Knitty has this pattern. I love the look of the black part, and I love the size, so I was thinking that I would just make the whole thing like the black part. But that’s a lot of stockinette stitch. A freeking LOT of stockinette, which is defeating the whole lace shawl thing. And starting to sound a lot like the Sad Blankie and all its garter stitch.

So that lead me to the Lace Curtains in M-D Knitting. Sure – why not? 2 KALs for the price of one. Only I don’t have any windows of a small stature that I can cover. It would have to be a big honking curtain. So… and I’m just thinking this now… what?!? Look at that damn shawl! It's B-I-G! Why NOT make Big Honking Curtains to go in my bedroom????

Because that’s insane, that’s why.

One gi-normous project at a time is crazy, much less 2 lace curtains to fit my almost floor to ceiling windows.

I’m still looking in the stitch dictionaries I have and doing the math. I will have made my own shawl pattern by the end of the weekend.

Or I’ll
make this!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hi'ya! I'm Here!

I'm not quite entirely covered in Sad Blankie...

It's a little bit of a different shot than the one I posted on the Mason-Dixon KAL page. Must have many different photos of the blankie.

I've noticed something interesting as I've been knitting along on it. I'm not quite so sad. It seems to have worked it mojo on me. I'm working out all of my sad. OK - I know that time heals all wounds, but I love Saddy. I don't miss having a cat on my lap so much since it's got so heavy.

Most of my knitting time has been devoted to the blanket. I have worked on a sock while waiting for my nephew's baseball games to start. I won't knit during the game because they will think I'm not watching them. Not to mention the inevitable quesions about the viking outfits. GOD! I'm a horrible aunt.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

In response... what Andrea said on her blog over here: Unhinged. Since I didn't want to be a comment hog, I decided to comment in my space. Go read what she said or my comments won't make any sense.

I did finally see The Passion of the Christ. I told my self that I didn't want to see it because knowing how Christ was tortured and suffered was enough. Telling myself that was one thing, seeing it took it to a whole different level. I'm glad I watched it. I couldn't imagine what I saw on screen.

Which brings me to United 93. I live 30 miles from Ground Zero. My life hasn't been the same since 9/11. It's small things that have changed. I know the phone number to alert the authorities about suspicious activities by heart. It's hard not to memorize something you see several times a day. I stop dead in my tracks when I hear a low flying plane. What's worse than hearing a low flying plane (I live in one of the flight paths for the NY/NJ area) is NOT hearing planes, or trains.

Being able to imagine it, knowing what happened and how I felt about it, is so very different than not really knowing particulars, as in The Passion.

I won't see United 93. I know I'll sob throught the whole thing, like I did when I watched the towers fall, the Pentagon burn, and the crash site in PA. I still pray for those who died, and admire those who took action especially on United 93. I am blessed that none of my friends and family who worked in and around the World Trade Center were physically wounded and got home safe.

Maybe I'll be ready to watch the movie some day. Right now, the feelings are still way to fresh.