Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Donegal Swatch

Alas Christmas has passed and my mother sent me the Knitpicks Palette yarn to make Alice Starmore's Donegal sweater. The colors on the left are the background colors: red, purple, blue, green, and ash. The colors on the right are the pattern colors: petal, blush, cream, sky, and mist. Thirty colors seems like a lot to choose from but compared with other fair isle yarn manufacturers these colors are slim pickings. I had a hard time substituting colors but I figured that swatching them would tell me if this would work. So I have immediately swatched these yarns. This is the result:

I am happy with the pattern colors but am not sure what to say about the background colors. I wish the dark colors were not so bright. I was thinking about scrapping the red and green and perhaps substituting something more in the brown range. Maybe bark and wood. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

As for those of you who have read the post about last years Christmas gifts from my hubby, you will not be disappointed. Here is a picture of me holding my shiny new dust pan. (I think this will become a Christmas tradition.) The good news is that I also received gold earrings and a yarn store gift certificate from hubby.

I also received a pound cone of Zephyr in ice blue that I picked out for myself. I guess that I can't really complain this Christmas.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Yarn Sale!

Yarn Sale. Do any words make your heart beat faster? This morning my LYS had a progressive yarn sale with 50% off all of your yarn for the first hour this morning. I had to restrain myself a bit but this is what I came out with.

1. 2 balls of Kidsilk Haze in Heavenly. I think that I will make a lace scarf from this.

2. 2 balls of lace weight yarn in cream. This was a leap of faith since the ball band is written in Chinese. Each balls is 62.5 g. I will make some type of shawl from this.

3. 2 100 g balls of Regia Cotton sock yarn in Navy & Blues and Pale Blue/Tan.

4. 2 balls of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn in Black Watch. I had been wanting to try this for awhile and am finally getting a chance.

5. 6 balls of Cashsoft Baby DK in crocus to make Soleil from Knitty.

6. And finally 2 balls of Rowan Polar in silver lining for a quick scarf.

This should keep me in yarn through the summer.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Library Books

I love to check out knitting books from the library. One of my newest acquisitions is Aran Knitting by Alice Starmore. I generally check out the books just to have a look through the patterns. I have been enthralled by the introduction materials, however, which discuss the probable origins of Aran knitting. The author comes to the conclusion that Aran knitting probably evolved from the Scottish Gansey in the 1930's from the inspiration of one person. From there on the Aran people experimented with it in an attempt to make it marketable. The research that she did is fascinating. The patterns are also great. I would love to make Fulmar that is on the front cover. I have some other sweaters that need to be finished first though. The other shocking this was that this book is available through Amazon for the low price of $229. Thank goodness for libraries.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Leaves In Relief - First Sleeve

I have finished the first sleeve on my Leaves In Relief sweater from Knitty.com. The nice thing about doing a sleeve in the round is that you can actually try it on to make sure it fits and I am happy to say that it does. The bad thing about this pattern though is that the sleeve will only come out the right length if your row gauge is correct. I don't know about you but it is hard enough for me to get my stitch gauge correct without also having to worry about rows. I think that my sleeve is a bit long but it still works well so I'm not going to worry about it.

I thought that there might be an error in the pattern but I contacted the designer, Ariel Barton, and she promptly clarified things for me. I am making a large sweater. At the end of the sleeve you end on a row 16 which has 16 pattern stitches per each of 3 needles. The pattern also says to increase 27 stitches along the way which adds 9 stitches to each needle. The pattern, however, says that you should have 78 stitches on your needles by this point. This stitch count only adds up to 75 though. Ms. Barton said that I also need to add in the initial increase row (3 stitches total). So by this point each needle should include 16 pattern stitches plus 1 initial increase plus 9 increases. A bit confusing but it all worked out in the end.

I think that the one thing that makes this pattern hard is the designers attempt to write the pattern for so many different sizes. The variety of sizes makes reading the pattern somewhat confusing but it is wonderful to see a pattern that includes plus sizes.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Ghost of Christmas Past

This is a picture of me last Christmas. Yes, I have lost a lot of weight since last year but that is because I am 8 months pregnant in this picture. Yes, I am also holding a squeegee and a toilet brush. These are both gifts from my loving husband.

Now I love Christmas and it has nothing to do with the getting. I love picking out the perfect presents for people, making things for people I love, singing Christmas carols, drinking egg nog, baking cookies, decorating the tree, everything. None-the-less last years Christmas presents were . . . well . . . what can I say. I got a toilet brush.

This year I decided to things into my own hands. I have ordered myself some lovely new yarn and have told my husband that he needs to wrap it for me. Now everyone is happy because he doesn't need to figure out what to buy me either and I get, well, yarn. So stay tuned for the pictures of the new yarn after Christmas . . .

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Starting Leaves In Relief

Now that the Peacock Feathers Shawl is behind me, I have launched into starting other big projects and finishing up other small projects. The one project that I am starting is the Leaves In Relief from the Fall 2005 issue of Knitty.com. I had been hoping to have some company in knitting this but I cannot find anyone on the Internet that has started this sweater or who seems like they are actually planning to knit it. It is such a beautiful sweater but I think that all of the charts are scaring some people away. My life, on the other hand, is filled with wiping bums and cleaning up baby spit-up so I am finding that unless it includes complex charts I am not interested. I think I need something to keep my brain moving.

Anyhow I have started that first sleeve in silver sage Nature Spun that I purchased from the LYS. I have just been plowing through chart B and have found it quite easy and engaging after I got going. A lot of people have commented that they don't like the sleeve on this sweater. That was my initial reaction but I like the way the leaves compliment the twin trees. Now that I am actually knitting the leaves, I love them. I have been trying to think of a way to adapt the stitch pattern to a hat maybe.

So far I am loving this pattern. My only reservation is that it seems very fitted and I am not sure how it will look on me. I have been thinking that maybe a few sit-ups and 10 less pounds will compliment the sweater better. Maybe it will motivate me.

By the way, thank you to everyone who commented on my Peacock Feathers Shawl. I have been rushing to my computer each day to see what people have to say. It is such a feeling of accomplishment to finish such a complex piece. Thank you!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Unveiling the Peacock Feathers Shawl

My Peacock Feathers Shawl is finally finished. I feel so empty without it to work on. This was my first lace project and I am thrilled with it. It took me 4 months of fairly steady knitting to complete. Then again I have a 3 1/2 year old and a 11 month old to impede my progress. My baby loved to pull on the shawl while I was knitting it resulting in stitches falling off the needles.

I used about 1000 yards of Alpaca Cloud in Iris from Knitpicks and size 4 Addi Turbo needles. The finished size was 86 inches by 45 inches, almost the same as estimated in the pattern. The pattern is, of course, the Peacock Feathers Shawl from Fiddlesticks Knitting. I found life lines and stitch markers to be invaluable. I had a lot of fun knitting this pattern in spite of my numerous frogging incidents.

Related links:
A Peacock Birthday
Chart 1
Chart 2
Chart 3
Chart 4
Chart 5
Chart 6
Chart 7
Before Blocking

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Peacock In Progress - Blocking

As I write my Peacock Feathers Shawl is blocking under the ceiling fan in my son's room. The transformation is amazing. I could have fiddled with the pins all day but I finally just let it go and am trying not to visit it while it dries.

I used the Yarn Harlot's method of blocking except I blocked it on the floor with towels. Blocked it measures 88 inches across.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Peacock In Progress - Before Blocking

I have finally finished my Peacock Feathers Shawl! Hurray! Unfortunately my family's response was underwhelming. My husband said that it was good that I finished because now I could start to knit something useful. My daughter was more interested in my tape measure. Oh, well (sigh).
The shawl is 65 inches by 32 inches unblocked. It is bigger than I thought it looked on the needles. The crochet cast-off was also harder than I thought. I have been an avid crocheter for a long time. I found it hard to crochet cast-off while trying to keep the remaining stitches from falling off the knitting needles, however. Plus the cast-off required 1320 chain stitches. That is a lot of crochet but off-course by then I was inspired.

I am hoping to be able to block my shawl tomorrow if I can convince my husband to pen the kids up somewhere so that I can do it. Meanwhile my house is in shambles, my family is malnourished, and all of our clothes are dirty in my obsession to finish this shawl.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Selecting Fair Isle Yarn

Question from the comment section:

How do you select yarn from Knit Picks Palette to substitute in a fair isle pattern?

Well, I just looked at the yarns and used my natural artistic talents. Actually, not. In reality it took me three days of obsessing until I gave up and decided that I would order the yarn, swatch it and at $1.79 per skein if I need to change some colors so be it. I was also beginning to feel like a bad mommy because color combinations was all I thought about.

First I took some graph paper and colored in the pattern to try to get an idea of how the colors interacted with the pattern. Then I looked on the Internet for pictures of other peoples Donegal sweaters. Not a single picture used the same colors as the pattern book. It was rather interesting to look at what people had selected. I chose which color variations I like best and tried to see if I could come up with a similar combination out of the Palette yarns. Although the Donegal pattern calls for 11 colors I ended up altering the pattern to use only 10 since I couldn't find 11 that worked well for me.

As for the Palette line from Knitpicks, I am grateful for it since it seems like the only fair isle yarn out there comes from England. On the other hand, there are only 30 colors to chose from which seems like a lot but is not compared to the 161 colors from Jamieson & Smith. The Palette colors seem quite bright also. I don't know why they don't make colors in the darker range such as Burgundy and forest green. I figure that I will give it a go. Check back after Christmas when I knit up a swatch to find out whether this is a failed experiment.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Upcoming Goals

As I am winding down on my Peacock Feathers Shawl and as the New Year approaches I have some knitting goals.

1. I have ordered Nature Spun yarn in silver sage to knit Leaves In Relief from the fall 2005 Knitty. I have set up a group on yahoo in hopes that someone would like to knit with me. I love the intertwining trees on this sweater. I have used charts for Fair Isle and lace but I do not ever remember using them for aran knits so this should be a learning experience.

2. For Christmas I requested some of Knitpicks Palette to make Donegal from Alice Starmore's The Celtic Collection. I probably have had this book for 8 years and have been looking longingly at the sweater for that long. I have not done Fair Isle with fingering weight yarn before plus I am planning on using the two-handed method for this sweater which is also new for me. I'm really looking forward to it.

3. My last goal for 2006 is to make a lace project using cobweb weight yarn. I am currently thinking about how I should work up to that. I also would love to do the Wedding Ring Shawl but I don't think I have the ability to concentrate on it the way I would like at this point in my life. Either my 3 year old and 10 month old are pulling at my yarn or it is late at night and I am tired. There is no other knitting option. I will have to ponder this goal a bit more.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Peacock In Progress - Chart 7 (Finally!)

I have finally finished Chart 7 of my Peacock Feathers Shawl. That means I only have the edging and crochet cast-off to finish. My goal is to have it finished and all blocked by Christmas. Now that the end is in sight I am much more motivated though. Of course, I would have been done with chart 7 awhile ago if I had not had that unfortunate tinking incident that resulting in my frogging 12 rows. I figure that I frogged about 4000 stitches. What did I learn? Never get too confident to put in life lines.

Each row is 450 stitches now. I'm happy to get 2 rows done per day. When I stretch the shawl it looks so nice. I can envision how it will look blocked. Right now it does not look that impressive though.

I have also put my one mistake in the shawl. Somehow I ended up with one extra yarn over. I tried to fix it but I ended up with a lot of extra yarn where the extra yo was so it wasn't really fixable. As a result there is an extra hole in the shawl but I think that I would be hard pressed to find it at this point.