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Archive for September, 2008

Laminaria

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This is the Laminaria shawl, published in the Spring 2008 edition of Knitty.

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It was done using one skein of Baruffa Cashwool on US size 4 needles.

Baruffa is one of my favorite yarns for knit lace. It is in the cobweb-weight range, and I usually work it on size 3 needles, although I upped to size 4s for this project in order to open up the dense lace pattern in the upper third of the shawl. The yarn has some bounce and loft without being overly springy, so it accepts decreases well yet is still easy enough to “read” my knitting and find mistakes. (I’ve found that very springy lace yarns will close up on themselves once knit and obscure the pattern, making it difficult to DSCN0270see what I have done.) It takes a block well and does not bounce back excessively. It comes in solid colors that I like (no small consideration!) and at $14 for a 1400 yard skein, the price can’t be beat! The only thing that I don’t like about it is that the finished skeins are not tied off very well, which makes winding tricky. I spend about 45 minutes oh-so-slowly winding the yarn for this project, and that was WITH a swift and ball winder!

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What attracted me to this pattern was the unusual lace stitches. The pattern notes that these are of Estonian origin, and they certainly are different from all of the Shetland lace I’ve been doing! The flower motif in the photo at left uses a 3-into-9 stitch. I had never seen a stitch like this before and, had I seen it without the instructions, I would have said that you would need a crochet hook to do such a thing. Granted, they were a bit of a pain to deal with on the purl side, but the finished product does look very neat.DSCN0277

Another element of Estonian origin is the bindoff, which uses a double strand of the yarn. I was a bit leery of creating any sort of bulk along the hem, but the designer included some links with the pattern which discussed Estonian lace and how this traditional bindoff keeps the all-stockinette lace from rolling. The edging does indeed lay very flat, and I like the dramatic points.

Regular readers have probably noticed at this point that I have some “stock” shawl photos. I received many positive comments regarding a photograph of the Hidcote Garden Shawl I finished a few weeks ago – thanks, everyone! Learning to photograph lace was an unexpected challenge. I would love to know if I’m showing what people want to see. I always try to get in at least one photo showing the overall shape and construction, and another with some stitch detail. Would anything else be helpful?

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This weekend, I didn’t knit a stitch.

My husband and I have been thinking and talking for a long time about getting a pet. I’m severely allergic to cats and dogs. I did keep a hamster for a while, and had some fish for quite a long time (including a big angelfish that my husband swore was going to hop out of the tank and eat him one day) but neither felt quite right for us.

We started to talk about hedgehogs back in June… and then talking some more…DSCN02411 and reading about them on the Internet… then we bought a book on hedgehogs… I went to visit some at the exotic pet store… and then we decided that, if we still wanted a hedgehog when we got back from our August trip to the Midwest, then we would start talking to breeders.

The closest reputable breeder we could find was in eastern Kansas. Do you know how far Kansas is from Austin, Texas? Saturday, I drove 640 miles one-way to the breeder’s house. I stopped to check in at my hotel, inhale some pizza (whenever I escape Texas, I make an effort to find good pizza as soon as possible; you just can’t get it here) and then showed up for my appointment at the breeder’s house.

Fifteen minutes later, I was walking out to the curb with our new pet.

He was very active and friendly at the breeder’s; not so much at the hotel. In fact, when I took him out of his carrier at the hotel, he looked like this:

Yep, a little ball of quills. A little hissing ball of quills! He didn’t take too kindly to being suddenly removed from everything he had ever known. However, he is a friendly, curious little fellow, so after a moment, he poked his nose out, and started exploring:

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At this point, I found that it is very difficult to get an in-focus photo of his nose, because it is always twitching! Hedgehogs don’t have very good eyesight, but they have a keen sense of smell.

After we explored each other a bit, and he tried to eat the corner of a pillow, I plopped him in the bathroom with his wheel, some water, a bit of food and an old towel for snuggling, and then went to take advantage of the hotel hot tub. Eleven hours is a long way to drive by one’s self.

The next morning, we set out for Austin. After getting turned around in Wichita, going down the wrong entrance ramp after lunch south of Norman (and consequently going through a slow construction zone three times!) and dealing with traffic in Ft. Worth, the trip home took 13 hours, including a few stops to rest, eat, and shake off that dazed-staring-at-the-highway-for-too-long feeling. My whole body hurt by the time I pulled into the garage. Little Ned, however, had it worse. He puked twice in the morning, once again in the afternoon, and pretty much spent the trip curled into a miserable little ball. The big push to get home, however, was justified by how happy my husband was to see us both.

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Ned’s settling in nicely now. He likes to play with a toilet paper tube, crawl in the dark corners, and snooze in our laps. We’re very happy to have him here.

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Forgot to add…

I can’t believe that I forgot to post the kitten photo! One of my mother-in-law’s cats had kittens recently. We got to play with the 5 week old kittens while visiting. There’s nothing quite like a kitten!

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Shades of tan

0829081708I’m back from my trip! My husband and I had a very nice trip up to the Midwest last week to visit our parents in Wisconsin and Ohio. We also managed to  sneak in some hiking, good food, a trip to the Air Force Museum, a stroll through the Chicago Jazz Festival, and a sampling of Stitches Midwest along the way.

From a few conversations I had with friends and family during the trip, I get the impression that they think that all I do these days is knit!  I’m sure that this is from reading my knitting blog. I’d like to take a moment and clarify that this is indeed my *knitting* blog – I do have a life outside of crafting; I just don’t talk about it much here.

Now, for the knitting:

I’m not quite sure how both of my travel knitting projects turned out to be tan, but they are. I didn’t plan it this way. I intended to work on a natural-colored shawl and a dark gray sock. The sock yarn, however, decided not to cooperate with the pattern.

I’ve been wanting to do another Cookie A. sock pattern for a while now. I did her Hedera pattern back in 2006 and learned a lot from it; some of the little refinements she used in that pattern have become part of my “standard sock” and I now use those things for every sock I knit. So I purchased the Ornette pattern, printed it out, and stuck it in my suitcase along with two skeins of light charcoal-colored Louet Gems fingering weight yarn.DSCN0192

Well, the Louet yarn didn’t go so well with the pattern. When I purchased the  yarn, I somehow assumed that it would be the same as Louet’s sport-weight merino yarn, which is cable-spun, has excellent stitch definition and is fabulous for intricate socks. However, the fingering-weight merino is in fact a 2-ply yarn and not so hot on the stitch definition. So, during the trip, I ran up to Yarnique in Fairborn, Ohio, and picked up some Cascade Heritage sock yarn. The Cascade looks much, much better – the pattern pops and the yarn is much less splitty on the cables.

My other travel project, the Laminaria shawl, has practically been knitting itself. I cast this on a few days before we left for the trip. I didn’t work on it particularly hard before the trip, and didn’t seem to get that much knitting done on the trip, but somehow after being home for 2 days I am all the way out to the edging! All of my large shawls seem to reach an “amorphous blob” state at some point, at which I wonder why I bother taking a photo. Maybe next week I’ll reach into the archives to compare shawl blob photos…

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Stitches Midwest was fun to visit. I had neither the time nor inclination to take any classes (which also happen to be fabulously expensive) so my husband dropped me off for just a few hours Saturday afternoon and I bought a ticket at the door to the vendor market. It was great to wander around touching all of the yarns that I’ve only read about on the Internet and talking to some of the vendors. I bought two skeins of laceweight yarns. Yarn Place makes a number DSCN0195of laceweight yarns, only one of which I have worked with (and strongly disliked). I’ve heard other lace knitters rave about their other lace yarns,  however, so I was very happy to see their booth at the convention. I came away with a skein of “Heaven,” a merino-tencel blend. The skein has a fairly amazing 3100 yards – 2 miles of yarn, right there in one skein! I also got a creamy white skein of JoJoLand cashmere laceweight that should make for a nice little scarf this winter.

A note to my Austin friends: I’m planning to do some cotton dyeing soon. I’ll be doing mostly cotton flannel cloth, but could be persuaded to sneak in some yarn or do some wool with acid dye. Anyone want to get together and make a mess in my kitchen?

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