Monday, March 30, 2009

Civil War Shawl Redux

Redux is my word of the day. ("Like a Phoenix from the ashes" sounded a little overly dramatic.)
I am now on pattern repeat thirteen and a half. Took a long time to get all of the dropped stitches back on the needles in proper order. I doubt it's perfect. My sister is not a knitter, though (except for idiot cloths, which she learned to knit so her hands would be authentically occupied), so I doubt she'll notice.

This does not look like 15 pattern repeats plus edging will be big enough...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

As God Is My Witness, I'll Never Frog Lace Again!

The Civil War Shawl went down with the South last night.

I do have excuses...

My first alma mater is Michigan State. They got to the Sweet Sixteen and were up against the University of Kansas. The Jayhawks were kicking Spartan butt, so I was knitting away, not paying too much attention. (I'm not a big fan of pain or humiliation.) Then the tide turned and the feathers started flying. It was neck and neck down the final stretch. Michigan State won by 5 at the buzzer!

And the crowd went wild!

The TV went to the UNC, Gonzaga game, which, since I'd lived in Chapel Hill for several years, could have been interesting, except for that UNC was blowing Gonzaga out by more than 20 points, so I looked down at my knitting and realized that instead of knitting pattern rows seven and eight, I'd knit rows one and two.

Evil Language!

No cure for it but to frog the two offending rows.

Now I'm sure you're all are thinking, "She's a thinking woman's knitter, so I'm sure she had a life line." And it's true that just last Sunday Susan had demonstrated life lines in the shawl knitting class. But my excuses are: I didn't have any crochet weight cotton to make a life line with, and, besides, it's a simple lace pattern, easy to tell where you are, and I check every half row, making sure I come out even and I count stitches on all of the purls rows.

Here's where you find out why I'm the Clueless Crafter...

I decided tinking back two 200+ stitch rows was just too time consuming, so I pulled my circular needle out and started unraveling. When I was almost to the end, there was a sudden explosion of cat on my lap.

"Ohai Mom! Whatcha doin? Can I halp? Ooh, yarn!"

It's amazing how much damage can be done in under two seconds.

Three quarters of the shawl is back on the needle in passably good shape. The last quarter, however... excuse me while I shed some tears... is not a pretty sight.

But I swear, however long it takes, the South shall rise again!

And when I'm out at the grocery store this afternoon, I'm going to buy some cotton crochet thread.

The Civil War Shawl

Among the things I truly enjoy are taking and teaching classes. When I saw that my LYS, Blazing Needles, was offering a lace shawl class, I jumped on it like a duck on a junebug. The instructor is a local knitting designer (and all 'round nice person), Susan Lawrence. She has a pattern in this season's Interweave Knits magazine, the Fountain Pen Shawl.

Ooh, ahh, ain't it purty!

And I had just the yarn for it, dark red Skacel Merino Lace I'd bought with the thought of eventually making an evening wrap for Twin'sWife. True, Susan was planning to use her Forest Canopy shawl as the teaching example, but she's good natured and willing to customize her instruction.

So I got out my size six KnitPicks Harmony Wood circular needles and cast on for a swatch.

One little problem.

I couldn't see the yarn against the needles.

Dang, my eyes have gotten bad.

I chickened out on the Fountain Pen Shawl and dug through my stash for something I had enough of for the Forest Canopy.

Hmmm... Elsebeth Lavold, dark gray silk, cotton and wool blend, DK weight. Not exactly razzle dazzle, but BabySister is a Civil War reenactor and she and Mom are going to a big reenactment in April. How's about I knit it for her.

Started knitting, analyzing the pattern as I knit.

I think I'm finally starting to comprehend this. The structure makes sense. I don't have to tote the pattern around with me because I know what I'm supposed to do.

Of course knowing and doing are two different things. I am the Queen of Frogging and Tinking. I've become quite adept at finding and fixing my mistakes. Good thing since I make plenty of them. Or maybe not since it means I have lots of practice. (Hmm... I think this is turning into a circular argument.)

Knit, knit, knit, purl, purl, purl. Ooh, ooh, I'm starting to see the pattern!

Knit, knit, knit, purl, purl, purl. Geeze, Susan says she can knit one of these in a couple of days, wonder how she manages it.

Knit, knit, knit, purl, purl, purl. It's turning in to a lumpy gray bag looking thing. Doesn't look like it's ever going to be big enough to be an actual shawl, but they say it will grow when it's blocked.

Susan brought a mini version to the last class to show us how to block it.

How smart, I'll knit me a mini version, measure it, block it, and measure it again. Then I can do the math and see how much I actually have to knit to make a respectable shawl.

So I knit a cute little mini shawl (gotta get me a dolly to model these samples.) I measured it. I soaked it, blocked it and measured it. Then I took the shawl swatch off the pins and measured it again after it had relaxed.

I did the math and figured I needed a to do 15 pattern repeats to get it as long as I want it. Or, if you want quick and dirty, I also measured the length of a leaf, about two inches before blocking, I want the shawl 30 inches long before blocking, so I need to knit 15 repeats. How nice when the math agrees with the quick and dirty.

Now to do a bit more math to see how much I have to go.

************** Stunned Silence **************

Right now I have eleven pattern repeats done, say 8,360 stitches. If I want to do fifteen pattern repeats, that would make 15,240 (fifteen thousand!) stitches.

I'm only half way done.

I need to sit down.

P.S. Thanks to Susan for letting me use her Fountain Pen and Forest Canopy Shawl photos.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Knitting a Hug

I think one of the reasons I've been so silent of late is that my Mother-in-law-in-law was diagnosed with an uncommon and lethal form of leukemia. It is quite far advanced, so they are not going to try to treat her. A month and a half ago, they gave her around four months to live.

She is one of those people who is so good and kind that it shines out of her with a gentle, glowing light.

I don't want her to go. More than anything right now, I would like to put my arms around her and tell her how well loved she is. She does not want visitors, though, and has asked that people, please, not come. So I've spent the last two weeks knitting her a hug. I think she will understand what I'm trying to say.

In her honor, the pattern for "Ember's Embrace" is downloadable here. It was designed with love and I hope it will be knit again, with love.

(Thanks to KC for modeling.)