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Archive for April, 2008

I suppose that when every other thing I’ve knitted this year has been on fingering or laceweight yarn, anything I make on size 7 needles and Aran weight yarn is going to go fast. So all at once, here it is!

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This is the Lite Lopi Pullover, from The Best of Interweave Knits. Except that I subbed out the yarn, to Araucania Nature Wool, and changed the colors. And the neckline. And the cuffs. And the colorwork patterns. And the hems. And the shaping. Ok, so the pattern DSCN1171was really a point of departure. Sometimes, the pattern serves more as inspiration than a stitch-by-stitch guide to crafting a garment. Patterns are nice that way.

I’m planning a bit more tinkering, still. I’m not totally happy with the neckline and I want to add facings to the hems. However, you see my smiling face? That’s because the sweater is wearable, and I’ll be wearing it this weekend, because…

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Yep, it’s our anniversary! So we’re taking off tomorrow for a little romantic getaway, in sure-to-be-chilly Boston, where a nice wool sweater will be handy.

It’s been a good three years. See you next week!

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It seems like a long time since I finished my last shawl. Usually I knock one off every five weeks or so, but this one was an unusually slow knit, and has had a few issues as well.DSCN1167

Still, it is lovely.

It is also, as you can see, quite large! It measures 34″ from neck to point, and 80″ from tip to tip. I knit it in Jaggerspun Zephyr, on US size 4 needles. The pattern calls for a cobweb weight yarn. Zephyr is on the thicker side of laceweight, which explains the 20″ difference between the pattern measurement and what I got!

The color of Zephyr I used is called “blueberry.” It is a lovely, smoky blue color. I might have to get some more and make something else in this color. This is my third shawl using Zephyr. It really is everything that it’s cracked up to be. DSCN1161 Easy to knit with, enough bounce to handle crazy lace stitches, a nice sheen from the silk content, and enough silk to make it block and stay blocked really well while still having enough wool to still handle like a good wool yarn should. Yes, there’s more Zephyr in my future!

One of the reasons I chose this shawl pattern was so that I could ease my way DSCN1157into two-way lace knitting, where there are lace stitches on every row. All of my previous lace projects have used lace stitches on every other row, with a plain “rest” row in between. One of my long-term goals has been to knit a traditional Shetland shawl, which will mean a lot of two-way lace. After I finish the shawl I just cast on, the Shetland is next!

LMP is destined for a friend in Nashville. I wore it a little last week, but last night I folded it, wrapped it up in a box and addressed it, and today I’ll go to the post office and say goodbye. However, it is going to a great home, so it’s not too hard to send it away.

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I did a little bit of re-organization last week on this blog. While I was going through some old posts, it struck me that I’ve been getting lazy about taking good photos. So, of course, we then had dark, cloudy skies for several days in a row, with a little rain here and there. This morning, however, I spotted a ray of sunshine! So I broke out the tripod, dusted off the lightbox, and headed out to the backyard to take some photos.DSCN1167

You would know, the sun went back behind a cloud.

However, it wasn’t quite so gray and dismal, and too much bright sunlight is just as bad as not enough, so I persevered and had fun experimenting with different flash settings.

Lightweight Mountain Peaks is done! It does look quite nice. More photos in the next post, and then it goes in the mail.

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I’ve cast on my next shawl, Shetland Garden Faroese shawl, designed by Silvia Harding. I noticed right away that the pattern uses only K2tog decreases; in other words, no directional decreases. I am using a yarn made by Habu, a bamboo “silk” in cobweb weight. When I swatched for this shawl, I experimented with different types of directional and non-directional decreases. I’m glad that I did, as I suspect that the bamboo is less forgiving than a wool yarn DSCN1148 would be. The lace patterns look radically different depending on the decreases used. So, I broke out the stitch dictionary and lightly edited the lace charts on the shawl pattern, adding SSK, P2tog and P2togtbl decreases where appropriate.

My current sock is nothing noteworthy: after ripping back three different lace patterns, I decided that the yarn really didn’t look good with any kind of pattern, so I’m now making a nice plain ribbed sock.

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What is noteworthy about the sock is that I’ve finally started using the DPN tubes that a friend gave me as a Christmas gift. This is a great little contraption! You slide the smaller tube around the top of the work and the DPNs…

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…and then slide the larger tube around the smaller one. No more reaching into my purse to grab the sock and coming out with one needle too few!

I had looked around locally a few months ago to try and find a set of tubes without success. I think that my friend got these from Knitpicks.

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I’m still plugging away at Lightweight Mountain Peaks. Just 17 more border repeats to go…

In the meanwhile, I’ve been working on the Lite Lopi Pullover, from The Best of Interweave Knits. This is a yoke sweater, worked in aran-weight yarn. I’m using some Araucania Yarns Nature Wool. The ball band stated that the yarn would yield a gauge of 14 st/4 in., but since I can’t get anything less than 18 st/4 in. without creating an unacceptably loose fabric, I did a little math and figured that all should be well if I knit two pattern sizes up. I’m doing the body on US 7s and probably will do the colorwork for the yoke on size 9s. Yes, it’s true: I do own needles larger then US size 4!

DSCN1133I swatched in the round with the colors I chose one way, swapped two colors and swatched again, and decided that I liked the first combo better. This is “Bohus-inspired” sweater, which means that the colorwork uses both knit and purl stitches to create different textures. It had been challenging (I’ve never needed to purl with my right hand before!) and tends to pull in a bit, which is why I’m bumping up the the US 9s for the colorwork. I’ve also added a bit of color to the cuffs, to help keep me from going insane with all of the straight stockinette-in-the-round, also also because I might cut it close on the main color of yarn. DSCN1132

I’m making a few other modifications, lengthening the sleeves, of course, and also adding linings to the hems of the body and cuffs, and to the neck a la Elizabeth Zimmermann. So far, I’ve got the body and one sleeve done (did the sleeve + swatching in 1 day!) and I’m halfway up the 2nd sleeve. I’ll join the sleeves to the body tonight and hopefully be working on the yoke this weekend.

In other news, I’m still having a blast zooming all around town on my new bike! I estimate that I’ve saved about two tanks of gasoline already. They were a bit surprised (well, snotty might be a better word) at the salon when I showed up at the front desk asking if I could bring it in to park it (nowhere out front to lock it up!) but everyone else has been really positive and encouraging. My gynecologist was particularly enthusiastic today, even after I showed up for my DSCN1136appointment slightly sweaty, wearing bike shorts, with post-exercise elevated blood pressure. I suppose that doctors will forgive just about anything if it means you’re getting plenty of exercise. Life on the bike has been much happier since I got a new saddle with a cut-out. In my opinion it looks a bit funny, but after 20 miles I don’t care what it looks like, so long as it doesn’t hurt!

I’ve also got a summer project all set to go. Last week while socializing at the yarn store, I asked Sue Ann a question about clipless pedals, and she offered me her old bike, clipless pedals and all! It’s a small Trek with a carbon frame and a few other goodies, neglected for several years. I’m planning to learn some maintenance skills this summer, so having a bike around to overhaul should be fun. First up: figuring out how the Presta valve converter on my hand pump works!

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Many thanks to the kind folks who have commented, emailed, and given me in person some good bike routes around town! I’ve been having lots of fun, zipping around without being stuck in traffic, and exploring new routes. Now, if I could only figure out how to reduce and balance the 40 lbs of stuff I haul around to 5 different schools every week…

On the knitting front, the border on the Lightweight Mountain Peaks shawl is progressing.DSCN1119 It has reached the stage where it looks a bit like a strange sea creature. I have other things in progress, of course; socks and another sweater are both well underway. However, they are not so photogenic.

There is a reason why all of my knitting is progressing so slowly this week. The reason is that last weekend, out of the clear blue sky, a spinning wheel fell on me.

DSCN1120 Ok, not really, although it feels like it. Here’s the story:

Last fall, I learned how to spin, using a drop spindle. Since then, I’ve been slowly spinning away as the mood struck. Spindling can be a very peaceful way to spend a morning while camping, or a nice activity to keep myself occupied while something cooks on the stove. I have two very nice spindles, and a very funny plying set-up that involves my dining room chandelier.

Then, last week, an email popped up in my inbox, from a knitting friend who had a question for me. Could I use a spinning wheel? she wanted to know. She had a wheel on loan from a very nice friend of hers, but no longer had need of it, so it was decided that she would pass the wheel on to another spinner – lucky me! So, instead of dutifully knitting away on my projects, I’ve been having fun on the new spinning wheel.

And now, more fun with DPNs. Since I’ve gotten the knack of anchoring a bun DSCN1131 with a size 9 bamboo DPN, I’ve been having fun trying out new hairstyles that use hairsticks. This one is an “orchid” bun. I’ve also heard it called a “cervix” bun, but I don’t see it. Anyway, it is another type of bun that really stays put – I wore it this way for about 12 hours the other day, and if barely shifted the whole day.

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