Good morning, sun!

‘Tis a beautiful sunny morning, time for a photo shoot.  My Chic Knits Basic Hoodie has been waiting for the rain to go away. 

I used 5.5 skeins of Plymouth Galway Highland Heather, color 728, on size 6 needles.  My variation, as you will recall, is that I forgot to knit the lace pattern on the sleeves.  I did continue the lace panels up the hoodie.

I must admit I didn’t  save the sweater’s premiere for the photo shoot, but wore it yesterday afternoon to go to Office Depot.  They are a marvelous resource for knitting projects.  How, you ask?  I took them the charts for Knit Pick’s Ladie’s Jacquard Sweater Vest and they both enlarged the charts and deepened the contrast for me.   It took a $3.36 investment, but my, what a difference it will make in the knitting!

Today’s knitting will be trying to finish a clue chart of a mystery shawl that has been languishing on my magnetic board.  I knit about eight rows last night, and found that I still enjoy it.  However, I do want to use the board for the Jacquard Sweater Vest’s charts, so my compromise is to finish this installment of the shawl before I put it to nap (not hibernate).

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Weekend of Progress

It’s been a weekend of progress.  (Those of you who are Disney fans may have toured the Carousel of Progress.  I know we have, many times!  I feel like we should be singing the theme song as we “move on” to the next vignette. “There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow, waiting at the end of every day.”)

First on the list was progress on the Secret of the Stole III. I’ve been over a week behind, ever since DH’s surgery and hurricane Gustov arrived the same week.  Saturday I finished clue 4, colored the graph for clue 5, and actually knit the first 8 rows of 5.

After I finished the Paprika Bells & Whistles Socks and the Crystals, Combs, and Cables Socks (hold the crystals), it was time to –say it all together now, boys and girls — cast on more socks.  This summer I had searched high and low across the net for a skein of Fleece Artist Merino in Rose Garden.  Last year I knit a Caravan Robe in Rose Garden from Fiddlesticks Knits, and here was a sock colorway to match! Now I don’t recall my original pattern plans, but it looked awful in the yarn.  Rose Garden went back to the end of the line, but kept calling to me from that distant vantage point.  Now was its time, and Spring Forward Socks turned out to be an excellent vehicle for the yarn.  Here I’ve made it to the gusset decreases on the first sock.  I need to finish this pair in September, before the October brown sock KAL begins in the Solid Sock group on Ravelry.

As I was editing my pictures, I heard a drawer open. Caught you, Casper!  Breaking and entering!

Casper denies all charges! I ask you, is that an innocent face? ‘Course not!

Geeky knitter’s upgrade

There have been some changes made since I posted Victory over Lace Knitting 101.  Then, I was using a large cookie sheet propped on my music stand. My two-year-old grandson was staying with us after Hurricane Gustov while his parents waited for the return of electricity to their apartment.  He came strolling into my studio, and with great puzzlement pointed and said “Pan?”

That started my quest for a better solution.  Someone had posted on Secret of the Stole III that they used a magnetic dry-erase board.  I couldn’t resist cruising through office supplies when I made groceries at Wal-Mart.  There was nothing large enough for an extended shawl chart.  Today DH humored me with a stop at Office Depot.  They had this beauty, 24″ x 18″.

I also bought a roll of 1″ wide, sticky-backed magnetic tape because that was what I could get for long magnets.  I wasn’t really sure I wanted that, but it was only $4.99, so how wrong could I be.  When I got home, I cut a 10″ length, then divided it to 1/2″ wide strips. Inspiration arrived, and I stuck the strips down on a stained-glass scrap of fabric.  I used my rolling cutter to trim the fabric to the magnet, then slathered each edge with Fray-check to prevent raveling.

All in all, I’m very pleased with myself.  The dry-erase board is pretty light, so there is no problem with such a large board resting on the music rack.  I was going to say that I’ll never use the dry-erase function, but you know—you could write in big red letters “Remember to K the first and last 3 stitches of each purl row” or whatever caution you need.

Strangely plain

Today’s post is strangely plain. The rose garden looks like something planted for Disney’s Haunted Mansion…all dead blooms. The ducks are well out of photo range, their location only betrayed by their escort, the white goose. New semi-solid sock yarn (Araucania Ranco Solid) in 4 colors arrived, but it’s a grey, rainy day. So no photos for you today.

Knitting has happened, but nothing flashy. Let’s see: I put a dental floss lifeline in my Secret of the Stole-III to finish off Clue 1. The cuff and heel of the second Afrika sock was knit today, and I’m half-way done racing for the toe. That’s only slightly more exciting than plain stockinette (3 x 1 rib).

Mid-day the knitting was put aside for a music rehearsal.  DD and another lady are to sing for a function in September.  My role is accompanist, artistic arranger, and sometimes-back-up singer.  It went well for a first run-through.

Once again, the most excitement in the house was a toss-up between Victoria chasing Casper up and over the sofa where I was knitting, and the Olympics.  Life is good!

Enjoying my life

Yesterday I went to the kitchen to get a cold drink, and glanced out the window toward the lake. It was mid-afternoon, a warm, lazy Louisiana day. There, under the birch tree, was part of the Mallard flock, observing nap time. I couldn’t resist: must get closer picture! I quietly stepped out the back door, moving just a few feet, then stopping. Good, ducks still in place. A few more feet advanced, a few ducks awake, but nobody left. I was feeling bolder; this was good. Maybe just a few more feet for a good picture. Human alert!

Everybody in the lake! I hated to disturb their nap, but at least I did get some decent ducky pics for you.

Knitting has been happening here at the lake, mostly accompanied by Olympic watching. As you will recall, I was certain that my Online Supersock Afrika would have to be fraternal twins, due to the extremely long repeat on the colors. It turns out that I was being unduly pessimistic. (New picture was taken inside on a rainy afternoon, so color isn’t true.) As you can see, I was able to start again with the plain white that goes into the plain gray (what I think of as the “elephant” in the Afrika sock). I’ll be taking this one along tonight to a Homeowner’s Association Meeting, so more knitterly progress should happen.

I also have been knitting along on the Secret of the Stole-III (SOTS-III). Today I finished clue 1, and posted my picture as required to play along. This picture, too, suffered from afternoon rain. It shows the right half of the shawl. The directions for putting the individual beads on a stitch recommended a size 14 crochet hook. I have one, but it was splitting the yarn. These 6/0 beads have generous holes, so I experimented with #13, then #12, and finally settled on a #11 crochet hook. It easily slips through the bead, and grabs the yarn without fiddling or splitting. I’m happy!

The yarn is Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud in Horizon, a discontinued color.

Victory over Lace Knitting, 101

Gather round, my friends, and I will tell my lace knitting secrets. Since I have discovered these things, lace knitting has been a lot more fun and a lot less stress.

“Ah, ” they murmur, “words of wisdom from a knitting sage.”

“Not!” say I. Yes, my knitting has matured. But it’s the changes in the preparation that have made all the difference. Let me show you my set-up for lace knitting.

First, the hardware. I have a large cookie sheet/jelly roll pan upside down under the chart. It provides the steel surface for the magnet line markers. The cookie sheet is sitting on my music stand, adjusted to eye level for my chair. (Yes, I know you aren’t all performing musicians with a music stand handy.) I have been through several other ways to display the cookie sheet: on my kitchen bar, with me sitting at the counter; on a TV tray, with a notebook underneath to tip the top of the chart up. This is my favorite.

Now, the “software”, the chart itself. Take a look: first, I sat down with my

colored pencils and colored in each symbol. (Here, I’ve used blue for K2Tog, green for SSK, etc.)

Then I counted all the runs of just plain knitting, and wrote the number in the first knit square I come to. The designer was kind enough to print the number for any stretch of knitting greater than 10 stitches. I found myself repeatedly pausing in my knitting to count. It’s more satisfying to get all that counting done ahead of time, and let the knitting flow. You’re gonna do it anyway!

This picture shows the center of the chart. It came printed as two pages, and the designer has been kind enough to highlight in pale orange both the center stitch and the bottom of the chart. The bottom line has already been knit on the preceding chart; it is shown here as a starting point, not to be knit again. Likewise, the center stitch is shown on both the left and right chart, as a reference point. I have elected to trim off the left margin on the right chart and overlap these two orange stitches, scotch-taping the two pieces into one large chart.

“Can we knit yet? Are we there yet?”

Yes, my knitting friends, we are ready to knit! This is one of the charts from Secret of the stole-ii. The first clue of Secret of the Stole-iii comes out August 15th! Sharpen your pencils, there’s much to do!