Saturday, October 30, 2010

Your Reach Should Exceed Your Grasp

Maybe I'm being a bit too ambitious in my goal to clean out some of the projects that have been hanging around forever but I think I actually do better on attaining my goals if I over reach. I am using Ravelry to manage my projects (was there a world without Ravelry at one time and how did we survive?). I took two projects out of hibernation and added seven others. I will include the pictures when I actually start the projects. Not sure I will finish but since I am not knitting any Christmas presents this year I may succeed. I finished the Who? hat for DD#2 but I think I am going to reknit it. For some unknown reason I used size 6 needles. A "What was I thinking" moment. It is really too small. I'll reknit it on a size 8 like all the rest.
I sat down with the purple mock cable sweater and figured out where I was in the pattern. Before I started to knit, I had to also figure out why this was such a slow knit. Now I love working from graphs. I remember vividly the first issue of Knitters magazine that had all the instructions as graphs. I was very intimidated and it took me a few years before I tried them. Now, I would never knit from instructions over graphs. It is very visual and easy (for me) to follow. This pattern is a 16 row repeat of alternating knit and purl stitches that make a very interesting cabled look. I found it extremely difficult and that is the reason it languished for longer than I like to acknowledge.
On thinking it through, I decided to try writing out the pattern repeat on my trusty index card pad. I used one card to write two lines of pattern, since the wrong side row mirrors the right side row. That way I got all 16 rows on 8 cards. By flipping the pages, I am able to remember where I stop and can pick up very easily when I return to my knitting (unless someone moves the pad and accidentally flips the pages). This saves an amazing amount of time. I was also able to indicated the rows that are decreased for the neckline decreases.

I have been working away on this and am finding it so much better than trying to follow the graph. I actually think I can get the second front and the two sleeves done this month. There is no finishing to speak of, just sewing the seams together. So it may very well be possible that I will wear this on Christmas but Thanksgiving would be nice, too.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Finishing Friday?

I love listening to knitting podcasts. I started with the Knit Picks podcast and listened and re-listened to Kelley. Loved her! Sadly, these seem to have come to an end. But there certainly are a ton of others to choose from. My personal favorites are the Knitmore Girls, Cast On, Sticks and String, CraftLit, Fiber Beat and just recently I discovered the KnitWits. One of the, for me, primary criteria for listening (other than content) is a good radio voice and a limit to often repeated irritants, like "uums" and "you guys". They have tons of tips and pattern and yarn recommendations and it's like having a fiber friend in my ear, as I do my daily exercising.

The Knitmore Girls, started Finishing Friday, a day devoted to the sometimes put off parts of knitting, sewing up, putting on buttons, weaving in yarn ends and was thinking of doing the same thing.

But something came to me as I near the completion of the Clapotis II and was thinking about what big project to start next. I have quite a few "hibernating" projects and projects that are filling up a basket in my craft room. I think I am going to spend the rest of the year finishing up these projects and work on some of the hats, gloves and socks that I want for winter. Then in the new year I can really start with a fresh slate!

I have a lovely purple sweater that has the back and an almost completed left front that I would love to get done. That will be my big project. There is an entreloc scarf, the cream bedspread that needs to be put together and the swallowtail shawl. I have three hat, scarf and mitten sets
one in purple, one in white and one in pink that I have been mulling over and a "fake" fair isle hat and a ribbed scarf to go with it from the leftover bits of Boku from my Lizard Ridge afghan.

There are assorted skeins meant for gifts, all small projects that can be finished in a couple of days.

Here's a picture of the finished Clapotis before it gets sent off to its new owner. I enjoyed knitting this so much that I think I'll make one for daughter #3 and one for myself! Can't remember why I didn't like knitting the first one!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

While I was Waiting

Knitting this week was surprising. I have moved my February Ladies sweater to the basket upstairs. The yarn isn't making me happy. This may become slippers or get thrown out. Not sure which. While I was thinking about what to knit next, some yarn jumped out at me and I started another Clapotis. I had the yarn but was not even considering this as a next project, but I already have three of the stitches dropped on the straight section. And it is very soothing knitting. I really didn't enjoy the first one I made and never thought I would make it again, but I must admit I'm enjoying it this time around.

I am still in love with the Flower Basket shawl. I actually threw it over my shoulders this morning because it was definitely chilly in here but not cold enough to turn on the fireplace or furnace. I can't wait to start another lace project but am not sure which one it will be.

The weather is sunny but chilly and because of the frost warnings we picked everything off the plants. This meant teeny tiny eggplant and a few sprigs of broccoli. I wasn't sure what to do with the eggplant, then decided to roast it. I cut it in nice thin slices along with the banana peppers and tossed it all with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper, laid it out in a single layer on cookie sheets then roasted at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. I put this in the freezer and it will be a definite yum this winter.

Grandson #2 is staying over the weekend while his folks are celebrating their anniversary. Having a good time with him. Movie night last night, game night tonight, I'm thinking.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

F is For Flower Basket

I am in love with knitting lace. I started this shawl on October 1st, brought it with me on vacation and finished it October 12th. It is the Evelyn Clark Flower Basket pattern using Knit Picks Gloss Fingering weight yarn in the colorway Dolphin.

About the yarn: Gloss is a merino and silk blend that has a nice, well, gloss to it. The pattern calls for 2 skeins of 400 yards of lace weight yarn, held double. This seems to make a shawlette and I wanted something a bit bigger. Each skein of Gloss is 220 yards and I used 3, knit separately. My intention was to knit until the yarn was gone. The yarn was smooth, so stitch definition showed up beautifully. It really is a lovely yarn at a very reasonable price. The color is a dusky blue which I am very partial to.
The pattern: This is a top-down triangular shawl. It increases two stitches on each end and two stitches on either side of the center stitch every other row. The wrong side is purled.
There is a chart for the first 10 rows and another that is repeated 7 times . I did 14 repeats and my finished shawl before blocking was 23 x 54 inches.

It is a sad, bumpy looking blob, isn't it?

I had 5 grams of yarn left over, certainly not enough to do another pattern repeat.

During blocking, size grew to 39 x 68 inches. It is always amazing what blocking does to lace.

After drying. It is exactly the right size to wear around my shoulders over a coat or dress.
I'm a member of the knitting lace a-z group on Ravelry, hence the name of the shawl. I think I have an I, the Icarus, a D for Diamonds and Pearls for the shawls, M for Montigo Bay scarf and B for Beaded Lace Scarf. I don't count the Clapotis since I really don't think that is lace knitting. I am going to see how many letters of the alphabet I can match with the lace I knit, but I'm not going in order, just making what appeals to me. There may be quite a few B projects, as I have Bitterroot and Brandywine waiting in my projects basket with their yarn.

Monday, October 11, 2010

And We're Back!

We had a wonderful week at Letchworth. It rained Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday which made for a spectacular amount of water going over the three falls and some challenging walking on wet, slippery trails. I had every intention of chronicling our week using my iPhone to do blog updates, but remote hillsides do not have good service, so I journaled the old fashioned way with a pen and paper.
Monday-I knit on a new pair of traveling socks on the 2 hour ride. We were amazed at a line of windmills that had sprung up since our last trip that went on across the hillside as far as the eye could see. They were in farmer's backyards and fields with cows grazing nearby. An incredible sight.
The rain had the Genesee River changed from its usual placid look to a raging torrent. The middle falls at Letchworth was a churning mass.
We walked around the falls for a bit, had dinner at the inn and walked a bit more afterward. It was too cold to stay out on the porch, which is our favorite thing to do , so we went up to the library, which is a large room that has the only TV in the place and lots of seating. It is a gathering place for the guests and all the chairs were filled. Usually there may be one or two couples up there but the rain kept everyone indoors.
Tuesday morning was also rainy and for the first time ever, we couldn't walk our early morning trail, trail #2, which starts at the upper falls and goes for 2 miles through the woods, ending up back at the Inn. We stayed on the roads and walked about a mile and a half. We went to Hammondsport and picked up over three cases of wine at various wineries. Sampled a few new ones, but primarily stuck with the wines we have had before.
Wednesday started out rainy and again, we couldn't walk our trail but we walked around the middle falls before breakfast. We went to Inspiration point and walked trail # 1 until it got too slippery from the rain. Even wearing our waterproof coats we were soaked through! It finally stopped raining and we sat in a pavilion at the lower falls for the afternoon, reading, knitting(me) and snacking.
Thursday was the best of the days, sunny, warm with the crisp fall light and blue, blue sky that make fall so special. We were able to hike our favorite trails and we sat out at Wolf Creek in the sunshine, reading, knitting and snacking (one of our favorite pastimes).
I had my pedometer with me so I could get an idea of how much we walk. It was over 17,000 steps each day. The color was at about 50% and these pictures do not do it justice. I had to use my iPhone camera since my good camera was not holding a charge. I have to replace the battery, I guess. In spite of the rain, we did everything we usually do, including sitting out in the evening on the porch, eating great meals, relaxing and we even got to see a train going across the trestle over the upper falls, DH's favorite thing.

Friday we came back home, got the dog (who had such a good time at the kennel she didn't move all afternoon) and unpacked. Saturday was another gorgeous day with laundry and lawn mowing looming and Sunday was sunny with just a snap of cold that was perfect football weather. We went to #1 grandson's game. Perfect, if only they had won! He got his name announced on the loudspeaker because of a great tackle.
I got some knitting done and I was smart not to bring as much as I usually do. I knit up to the toe on one of my travelling socks and got through the 7 repeats of the Flower Basket shawl the pattern called for. It has me puzzled, because I only used one skein of yarn (220) yards to get there. The pattern calls for 2 skeins (400 yards) of lace weight yarn held double. Hmm, it looks okay and the # of stitches is correct, so I don't think I goofed anything up. I have three skeins because I wanted a larger shawl. I knit through the second skein and I have 14 "flowers" . I think the third skein will take me through 3 more repeats of the pattern before I finish the edging.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lessons Learned

Yesterday was a day to clean the house, start packing and get ready for our week at Letchworth State Park. No, I don't camp. We stay at the Glen Iris Inn in the park. We have been going for over 20 years, always the week before Columbus day, always the same room on the third floor. Once the weather turns a little cooler and the leaves start to fall, a feeling comes over me that is telling me "It's almost time to go to the park". We love it. We hike the trails, check out the beautiful views of the canyon and falls and turning leaves, loaf in the sun reading and napping and eating great food. One of the days, usually a rainy one, we will drive to Hammondsport and stop at a few wineries and pick up a few cases of wine to get us through the winter. We usually eat a late lunch at the restaurant at Bully Hill, stop at Lorraines for home made pie and ice cream.

I usually pack way too much stuff. The restaurants are very casual, the clothes you wear for hiking are perfectly acceptable for dining. So this year I am not taking as much. Same with the books and knitting. I will have my mp3 player which has a ton of books on it. Haven't decided what type I will listen to. I am leaning toward the very light, however. The last few books I've read have been very dark and I need a change. I'm taking a couple of cosy mysteries that I haven't tried yet. I gave up on the Coffeehouse series. Not that they are badly written, I just didn't feel any empathy for the heroine. Not my cup of tea, I guess. The four that I have yet to read will go on Paperback Swap when I get back. Too many good books out there to waste my time on ones that don't hold my interest. I'm still on the lookout for the series that will be as good as Agatha Raisin and Hamish MacBeth.

As for knitting, I am not taking my February Lady Sweater. That is in time out while I decide if I want to continue it. I have gone through about half the yarn and am only about an inch past the garter stitches. The yarn is a gorgeous color but it is very harsh, like knitting with Brillo pads. I loved the sweater that it used to be and wore it quite a bit. Maybe it was just because I didn't know any better yarns at that time. Also, my hands need something soft and easy since they are hurting. The last three projects, the cotton diagonal blanket, the spideyman afghan and the Feb lady gave my fingers and wrists a lot of pain. So I am taking vanilla socks, the Flower basket shawl in beautiful blue Glossand another lace sock which hasn't been started yet. I'll decide whether the lady continues or gets thrown out when I return. Yarn that is of no use is moving on out of here. There is too much good yarn to be knit to waste time on bad yarn.

See, my resolutions are still going strong.