The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home

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Taming the Silk Lace

My shrug is knitted!  We had an hour to kill before seeing Star Trek in IMAX, yesterday & I got in a few repeats of the ‘little fountain’ lace pattern.  The movie was fierce IMHO.  Spock, Spock and Spock!  Scotty showed good sense with lovely knits too.

Here’s the (rechristened) shrug – pinned into submission:

Tender is the Night, wet & pinned

Tender is the Night, wet & pinned

The other name was too literal & I’ve strayed a long way from the original “Reading in Bed” pattern.  I blocked her wet but it was only a quick dip in a little water, and pressing in 2 big towels.  She’s taken every last pin in the house.  The openwork yarn-overs are fairly uniform and I won’t mind if they aren’t all gridded out.  See my 3 naked pin cushions?  They are huddling for warmth.

I concentrated on making the edges & back border even:

Same shrug with zoom

Same shrug with zoom

As I read online, the lace grew alarmingly in blocking.  I’ll have to fit her before seaming.  Speaking of fitting… I am not exactly sure how one gets an inelastic silk shrug on & off.  Please tell me this is not all for naught!!

This took less than half of the hank, so I can make something else with this beauty.  Nothing immediate in the works since I want to get back to the baby gift(s).  I am thinking of using the new lime Sirdar Snuggly Bamboo for a hat & bootie set.  The cardi was probably much too much… I’m not that tight with the parents.  I know of a still-secret baby who I can fawn over!  Nooooo – NOT OURS!

Happy Mother’s Day if applicable!  My Momma is happy by the beach, and MIL is also taking it easy but in town.

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Knitting to distraction

My shrug has grown a bit, and needs one last repeat of the Lily of the Valley motif to finish off the back body.  To be honest, I have been preoccupied this week.  Housework; fretting about the future; sleeping off a virus; and spending a lot of time on Ravelry.

I typed out a whole analogy between Ravelry fora and case law.  Then deleted it as rubbish!  The general point was that I’ve taken to searching for answers to my burning questions instead of sticking to the current thread-stream.  For example, I wanted to know more about blocking this silk yarn.  Old threads say it’s fine to block but be careful because silk keeps its shape once pulled.  I also got invited to a pub knitting group in the area, which is cool.  I’ve never been exactly shy but this is a group that regularly meets, and I am the newbie who will be needing to fast for a blood test!  Better to go this month when I am free than to procrastinate…  I’m also planning on going back to visit Spun today.  During their business hours…  Some of the pub people also seem to do Spun’s Friday Sit ‘n Knit.  I’m thinking of going this week.  Assumption being I am more social when blood sugar is at normal levels!

On another random note… Hubby got sent home yesterday for coughing at work.  He’s working at home.  I sure hope it’s not Swine H1N1 Flu.  I also had a trace of a cough earlier this week, and felt exhausted.  It hasn’t developed into flulike symptoms at all but I have stayed in this week.

The other day, I wrote about my friend harshing my orchid-keeping mel.  Two blooming in April are joy worthy.  Hell, two blooming anytime are joy worthy…

April blooming Phalenopsis Orchids

April blooming Phalenopsis Orchid

These Phals are living up to their reputation as the easist orchids to grow at home.  They are in our kitchen window & have been going strong since December.  Gotta love that!  Hubby gave me a red Oncidium that’s in the left corner of the window.  Her name is Pippi, and she’s alive & well.

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Surprise and Shrug Roadblock

I knew I had a Babylon Falling “Owner’s Choice” set on the way but the contents blew me away!  Sean made artful picks & here’s what I have to chew on:

BF Owners Choice picnic!

BF Owner's Choice picnic!

Here the lovelies are on my bookcase:

BFs in pride of place

BFs in pride of place

I feel smarter already!  Big thanks to both the benefactor & the facilitator of this care package.  Good push forward for month-end blues.

The Wedding  Guest Shrug hit a wall.  The double-stranding was a pain in the ass.  I was bound to drop one half every stitch & mindless knitting was well nigh impossible.  Also, the colours weren’t flowing.  The silk was falling flat on the lace pattern too.  I knew to call it a day when Hubby saw only a few holes.  So I thought – time to frog.  A few deep breaths later, I had the warring balls of silk separated.  Here’s what I’ve come up with as a solution for these issues – back to basics.  Keeping it at lace weight, and going with a simpler motif.

This means more work – teeny tiny needles.  Ergo more time.  But who am I to blow against the wind?  I’ve also ditched the 1 x 1 ribbing for my preferred 2 x2.  Here’s where it’s at:

Wedding Guest Shrug take 2

Wedding Guest Shrug take 2

The new motif is called ‘little fountain.’  It looked cute on my swatch & only has a 4 row repeat.  Even if I have more stitches, the pattern is easy to remember, so I may make the deadline yet! [Yeah, if I knit every moment available, and manage to ignore the new book stash…]

I honestly cannot fault the yarn for all of this.  It was a gamble going with lace-weight.  The Hand Maiden is holding up very well, and is still a star.  It’s taking the innovation like a pro!

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Perchance a Shrug

After much ado, I finally casted on for the Wedding Guest Shrug.

Step 1 was to find a fishing line counter to accurately split my hank of Handmaiden Lace Silk in two.  I started off on the wrong foot, or as my father would say – with one of my trademark egregrious errors.  I was very certain that the local Hiker’s Haven would have a Shakespeare line counter for sure.  People must fish once they have hiked, right?  Wrong!  I was hunting for Shakespeare thanks to advice from a fellow Raveler, Feather Song.  The good folks at Hiker’s Haven pointed me in the general direction of the big box stores.  I ended up with a Rapala counter.

Step 2 was rigging it to the ball winder (formerly a dining chair support).  At this point, Hubby was highly amused.  It is attached with plastic cinch ties.

Step 3 was counting/ winding.  It is gorgeous yarn with a mind to tangle on itself.  Took most of Saturday but I managed to best that hank.

After all that, I find that even with the yarn knit double it’s a much lower gauge than the Reading in Bed Shrug pattern’s.  Will take longer to make for sure.  I’ve settled on using my 4 mm needles.  That gives me a stitch gauge of around 23 for 4″.  The yarn is making up for all this trouble with every step though.  I simply love it!

Wedding Guest Shrug started at last

Wedding Guest Shrug started at last

On Saturday afternoon we got out & enjoyed the summery weather.  It was blazing!  Hubby’s been dying to walk over to a bridge.  It’s a fair distance but we did cut through a playing field.  Toby couldn’t have been happier, even on the main road.  The bridge is over a golf course valley, and creek.  They have some benches along the side, and the view was really worth the walk.

Yesterday, I headed into Toronto for my cousin’s poetry reading.  I meant to take the train but missed it by a hair.  I did make it in by car but had to wend through & around parade-goers.  The annual Sikh New Year parade was on in the downtown core.  Although 30 mins late, I did catch the readings.  My cousin isn’t decided about having an internet profile, so I’ll keep mum about the details.  I am so proud of her though!  A great way to put the icky week behind me.

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Friday, at last

This was one long, emotional week.  I’m glad to see the back of it.

My great-aunt Gloria passed away, Monday morning.  I tried writing about her but it felt hollow.  Even talking felt the same.  I haven’t known her in my working or married life but she was a God-send in the months before I sat A’Levels.  I forget how it came to pass but she flew to Jamaica, and stayed with us several weeks to tutor me English.

She had taught A’Level English many years.  So long that she tutored my Mother (favourite neice status), and by a twist of fate even taught my Father for a few months while their teacher Father HoLung traveled to China unexpectedly in the term.  In his day she was fierce – all 5 feet some inches of her.  The story is that Gloria arrived, wrote her name on the chalkboard, turned around and imperiously asked the class of Henry VII, “And what does Bradley have to say about this?”  A.C. Bradley was not a known entity to the boys, and Gloria went to each one with a withering cross-examination.  As an aside:  Father HoLung left teaching and in 1981 he founded Missionaries of the Poor in downtown Kingston, Jamaica.

It will feel empty to write more.  She was an amazing woman, and my Mother’s role model for pursuing a working life.  She also wrote beautifully.

In all of the emotion, I have decided to put the baby cardigan down for now.  I was forcing myself to finish it now.  That’s not the spirit in which it was started, so I clearly need a break.  The Baby Bamboo set nicely when blocked, by the way.  I’m finding it’s not a bad choice for this pattern after all.  It only has 20%  wool but that must be what did well with the blocking.  I soaked each piece in water, rolled each in a towel, and blocked out on our guest bed.  I have plenty more to switch into, and besides – the child isn’t even due yet.

That decision taken, I am moving into the silk shrug idea.  This will be my most complex yarn improv to date.  The plan is to use this lace-weight doubled.  The low-tech way would be to use my ruler and measure out even yardage.  As much as I love winding balls by hand, and such, I figure that counting off 300 yards of thin silk yarn could drive me up the wall (so to speak).  I’ve sat with my copy of Knitting Rules by the Yarn Harlot, and have shifted the plan.  Instead of a digital scale, I am out to get a yarn meter.  Fingers are crossed that LYS carries those… I have a vague idea about heading to Toronto if that fails…  My thinking is that a meter will be very useful in terms of using my leftover yarns.

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Harshing my mellow

Philip Street’s Fisher comic in today’s Globe & Mail is hilarious, and ends with, “Oh, Man.  You’re harshing my mellow.”  Yesterday, out of the blue, a friend harshed mine.  She called me an old woman.  As in, “You are such an old woman.  First knitting, and now orchids,” with maximum snarkiness.  Yea.  Who knows – maybe she plans on returning the handknit fingerless gloves?

Here’s where things stand in my knitting bag.  Massive new Lady B bag is edging me onto more projects.  Still under austerity measures, so no large projects in the works.

On the Needles – We have a 2nd sock that’s growing at the leg.  Pretty mundane, so moving along… We still have the baby cardigan (grits her teeth).  Thought I was blocked and ready to piece it all together.  Hit a snag with the sleeves.  Turns out, I made a dumb mistake, and must re-do said sleeves.  My LYSO figured it out – the sleeves don’t fit the armhole because only one side of each had the increases.  I managed to do this because I knit them both at the same time.  It looked fine with them side-by-side on the needles but they were lop-sided.  Good thing I started well before the baby is due…

In the Pipeline – A shrug for my cousin’s wedding next month.  After hours of searching, I settled on Pam Allen’s Reading in Bed Shrug.  This Hand Maiden lace silk will match the dress to a T (we hope):

Hand Maiden Lace Silk for Shrug

Hand Maiden Lace Silk for Shrug

The yarn is totally lace-weight.  I am going to double the yarn, and swatch like crazy…  I’m not generally a shrug girl, so fingers crossed.  Not sure how I’ll maintain the colourway with doubling – need to give that a think.

I am also experimenting with resizing.  The Sarah Tank Top by Christine Buhagiar (Knitting for Boozehags).  She only gave it in medium, so I am going down to my size – small.  I want to try to use my Estelle 100% silk (grey), and see if it makes for a good tank.  Means adjusting for this new gauge…  Gotta bust that stash!