22 December 2008

Mended Spider Webs and Hanami Progress

Bad Cat has another little contest: Send in "the most amazing, fiber-related pictures" you find on the web.

I sent a link to this picture:

This artist did a whole series of mended spiderwebs!!! Isn't this amazing?

Progress on the Hanami stole is slow, I'm a little over half-way through the first basketweave repeat, and can now see the pattern emerging:

I am knitting rather slowly, because my needles are very slick and the yarn is sooo thin! Knitting with it has made me realize that I need to take better care of my hands - the tiniest loose piece of dry skin will snag on the yarn!

Oh, and if you are looking for a good movie to watch: I can highly recommend "The Tale of Despereaux" - it's a beautiful movie!

Take care!

20 December 2008


So ... looking over my Ravelry queue and my hardcopy projects-to-be (yeah, it’s a 3-inch binder with printed out patterns), I was zeroing in more and more on the Hanami stole by Melanie Gibbons (you can also find it on Ravelry). About 3 weeks ago I ordered some beads and teeny-tiny crochet hooks from the Beadwrangler – they arrived very quickly; and some Grignasco MerinoSilk from Woolworks, which also arrived promptly in the form of two gigantic hanks. No problem, I thought, I made do without a swift and only a yarn winder for years, so I hung it over the yarn winder to wind it by hand (I didn't have any suitable chair backs, and my husband is not patient enough!). Let me say here also that this is my first lace-weight yarn ever! Winding was slow, but I made reasonable progress – sort of (well, a ball of about 2 inches diameter after winding carefully (!) for over an hour), only the hank started to look more and more like a bird's nest:

With razor-sharp logic I concluded that I had to stop right now, before I made things irreparably un-entanglable, and get a yarn swift. Checking ebay, I found a guy who makes swifts himself; so I ordered one and it arrived from the east coast (I’m in California) in 3 days! In the description of his swifts he says they have the seal of approval from his wife. I heartily concur.

My new favorite gadget - a yarn swift

I was able to save the entangled partial hank.Here are the swift and yarn winder in action (unfortunately, the camera flash blurred the white part of the yarn winder and the white yarn together, but it's there!

Yarn swift and ball winder in action

And this is what I ended up with:

Hank of Grignasco MerinoSilk and the equivalent balls of yarn

The round ball is my own work (approximately 25% of one hank), the smaller, neato ball is the second 25% of the hank, and the large ball represents the other half of the hank. Winding 75% of the yarn using the swift and ball winder together took maybe 15 minutes – versus over an hour for my hand-wound yarn ball! I love my swift already! By the way that yarn is kitten-soft - you touch it and it feels like petting the softest cat you ever had!

So, after finally having the yarn in usable condition, I immediately cast on for the Hanami stole. Boy, the cast-on row must have taken me a good 30 minutes or more – you have to slip a bead onto every other stitch with a tiny crochet hook. After about 20 beads I had the technique down, but I still had to proceed very carefully.

This is the first time I am actually using lace-weight yarn, and I was constantly afraid to either tear it (I’m a tight knitter by nature), or that it would slip off my needles (slick Addis). Those first few rows were downright nerve-wrecking!

Can you see the beads in the cast-on row?

These are the cast-on row and the first 6 garter-stitch rows, with a lifeline after row 5. (The lifeline is the yellow cotton thread just underneath the cable and is thicker than the yarn itself. Ready for the basket-weave pattern.

And some good news: the lace-making retreat organized by the Lacis Museum will take place! You can now sign up for individual days, instead of for the whole retreat.

Take care!

07 December 2008

New Acquisitions

Friday's mail brought 2 great books: Oma’s Strickgeheimnisse (Grandma's Knitting Secrets) by Eichenseer, Grill and Krön, and Poems of Color by Wendy Keele.

My two new books

Poems of Color describes the history of the beautiful, colorful Bohus sweaters, the techniques, and includes some patterns, with colored charts. A great resource and interesting reading.

Oma’s Strickgeheimnisse is a German book of patterns, most of which date back to the years 1815 to 1870. Each pattern is charted only (with German chart symbols, of course – clearly explained in the front of the book), and – this is very helpful – provides separate charts for knitting it in the round and back-and-forth.

This pattern is called Perlmutter-Fächer (Mother-of-Pearl Fan)

The photos are clear, and in some cases variations are shown:

This pattern is called Floras Gaben (= Flora’s Bounty)

The top version was knitted in the round, the bottom version was knit back-and-forth.

The patterns are grouped into Strips, Ladders, Flowers and Leaves, Bugs and Beetles and so on, obviously named after things encountered in everyday life on the farms and in the villages, where most of the patterns evolved.

So far I’ve knitted 4 Orenburg Sample shawls, here is the latest:

This is the Fish Eyes pattern, plus Border 1 from the book

The Gossamer Webs Design Collection by Galina Khmeleva

I also finished my Something Teal cardigan:

Something Dark Teal cardigan

The sleeves are 3/4 sleeves. I might re-do the border again, because it looks rather stretched, but for now I'm declaring it done. The pattern is Something Red by Wendy Barnard. More details are on my Ravelry page (gjabouri).

The bad news is that the Lacis Museum’s “A Week of Lacemaking” Urban Retreat might not take place. Apparently they are still short a few people (some who signed up canceled due to the bad economy) – so if you were thinking about joining (and can still afford it), please sign up.

Take care.

26 October 2008

Orenburg Shawl Samples - the beginning

Yesterday I started knitting my first Orenburg “Sample Shawl”, and finished it today. (The sample shawl pattern is in both the Gossamer Webs Design Collection and in Gossamer Webs - Orenburg Lace Shawls both by Galina Khmeleva). I made some errors, but I got the basics down. I did not bother to correct them since for this first sample I was mainly interested in the border technique.

Orenburg Sample Shawl 1 - plain center

If you look at the picture you can see that up to the yellow line, I kept slipping the first stitch of the inner border. Sometimes I knit 3 stitches from the outside border when I was supposed to only knit 2 and vice versa. If you look at the 2 holes traversed by the yellow line on the left side you will see that in that area the sequence of holes is incorrect. Every now and then I was in a knitting trance and forgot the last YO of the center stitches ... which is why I lost one stitch in the top center row, so I had to fudge the top border.

The grafting technique was new to me: Slip one stitch to the left needle, slip the second stitch on the left needle through the slipped stitch and slip to right needle, then do v.v. for the second stitch on the right needle, and so on, until you only have one stitch left, which you then tie off with a knot. I’m not fond of knots, so will have to ask Galina at the upcoming workshop whether there is an alternative.

On to the next sample - I want to try out as many of the traditional patterns in the book as possible before the workshop.

Till next time.

25 October 2008

Summer Sampler Stole finished !!

A few days ago I finished the Summer Stole Stole by Bad Cat Designs, soaked it for a few hours and then blocked it (took me about one hour), crawling around it on the floor and sticking needles into a blocking board and a towel, and yet another towel. It turned out a bit bigger than I expected, even though I knew it would be larger than a "normal" lace stole, because I used fingering-weight wool and 5 mm needles. It weighs 14 7/8 oz and measures about 27.5" by 8'. Thank you, BadCat, for a lovely design and a great knit-along!

Here it is blocking ...

and here it is afterwards:

I am glad this project is done - now I can start knitting samples in the Orenburg lace style in preparation for the lace-making retreat at the Lacis Museum in February.

On another note: I have started to make my own kefir - it is delicious! I received the kefir-grains from someone living near-by through a kefir-grains-sharing website. I was really surprised how fast the milk turned into kefir - it only takes about 24 hours.

Till next time.

19 October 2008


I mentioned before that we have a feral chicken in the neighborhood, who frequently visits our back yard (probably because of the abundance of our organically grown bugs) ... Well, after returning from our road trip, we saw her once, then she disappeared. We already resigned ourselves to the sad fact that she finally must have become dinner for a hawk that had been eying her for a while, when she showed up again last Thursday. And she brought company:

Nice-looking rooster, eh?

As you can see he’s quite handsome: nice, shiny colors, and, of course, a healthy “cock-a-doodle-doo”. He’s much more scared of us than Henrietta, but like her, ignores the cats. Where this rooster came from, we have no idea – we live in suburbia. I'm wondering whether Henrietta visits a coop in the neighborhood, and breaks out other chickens. We don't know yet what to do with him, because we certainly do not want to breed chickens in our backyard. (Does anyone know any good rooster-catching techniques?) But they do make a good-looking pair:

Henrietta and Henry

Our deck is almost done: the sides still need to be enclosed, but we are already using it. It is much bigger than the old deck, and much sturdier:

New deck

Oh, and our old water heater broke – it started leaking, so we replaced it with a boiler – which is much more efficient. I hadn’t realized how corroded the old one was – now it takes me only a third of the time to fill my bathtub.

And on the knitting front: I hope to finish my Summer Sampler Study Stole today!! During the last two weeks I forced myself to just keep knitting the border and not stop every time I become bored with it (which would happen very quickly). It's fairly big, because I used Alpaca fingering-weight yarn, not lace yarn, so I will have to block it on the carpet. Then I’ll move on to work on Orenburg-style shawl samples to prepare for the workshop at the Lacis Museum in February.

And we just found out that my father-in-law will be visiting us in 10 days ... off to do some cleaning ;-)

Till next time.

28 September 2008

Roadtrip! Part 2 - the way home - wow!

So on Tuesday morning we headed back towards home, but decided to take a more northern and, according to the map, more scenic route, following Hwy 160 West towards Durango. Now the scenery changed from interesting to gorgeous! The first part from Fort Garland to about Monte Vista was still flat country (don't know why this is marked as a scenic route on the map), but the part from Monte Vista to Pagosa Springs is beautiful! That’s the Colorado I remembered from long ago when I lived there! The view from Wolf Creek Pass is fantastic!

View from Wolf Creek Pass

From Cortez we took Hwy 491, because we figured Blanding would be our overnight stop. It was only about 3:30 when we arrived there, so we decided to squeeze in a visit to the Bridges National Monument nearby. This alone would have made the trip worthwhile! Seeing those natural bridges, carved out of the rock by the water is awe-inspiring.

Sipapu Bridge in Bridges National Park

We walked a little bit on the trail to the Kachina bridge and found a quiet spot to just sit and listen to the silence. You could hear nothing except the buzzing of an occasional fly and the swish of some swallows’ wings as they sliced through the air. I could have stayed there for a very long time, just enjoying nature. There was no sound to be heard!

We also happened upon these mysterious rock carvings ...

... actually these are shoeprints in the sand on one of the steps of the Kachina Bridge trail – rotate the image 90 degrees counter-clockwise to see how it actually looks.

Then we drove back to Blanding to find a room for the night. We stayed at a new Super 8 motel, which was very nice, room-wise, but there were dogs barking almost all night (one was in a yard next to the motel). So far we hadn't had much luck with hotels!
The next day (Wednesday) we drove towards Kayenta, which of course passes through Monument Valley.

First view of Monument Valley as you approach it

Ever since I saw these rock formations in old Westerns as a kid, I wanted to see them. They are far more impressive in natura! Absolutely fantastic! We drove the 17-mile loop inside Monument Valley, which gets you close to these formations – the best view being Artists’ Point:

Monument Valley - "The Mittens"

Monument Valley

Monument Valley - Artist's View

The "Artist's View" absolutely deserves its name. You will also see a lot of these:

“Open” ... but what are they selling?

We continued on our northern route towards Page (we deliberately avoided the Grand Canyon, because we want to cover it on a separate trip), passing Lake Powel – a beautiful contrast of the deep blue lake vs. the pale red and whitish cliffs), the Grand Staircase and the Vermilion Cliffs, heading for St. George. In order to get to St. George, however, and staying on Hwy 89 (and then Hwy 9) you have to pass through Zion National Park. We did not even want to go there, but since it would have meant backtracking for quite a bit, we grudgingly paid the hefty $25 entrance fee. It turned out to be the best $25 we spent! Zion National Park is gorgeous. Not only are there fantastic rock/mountain formations, but also lots of trees, so you have wonderful red-green contrasts. This park is absolutely worth a trip for its own sake! I had never heard of Zion National Park before – it is a gem! No pictures, because we were too busy being awed by the beauty of it!

It’s too bad we only had a week for our whole trip. So many areas would have justified staying longer and really exploring them further
Since it was still daylight when we arrived at St. George, we decided to push on to Las Vegas, where we arrived at about 8:00 pm. We originally wanted to stay at the Luxor, but unbelievably, it was booked solid. So we went next door to the Excalibur, where we got a nice room with a view of the Strip. Here we had the best sleep of the entire trip! The room was quiet, and the constant hum of the traffic on the strip lulls you to sleep easily (we were on the 24th floor). We're not gamblers, but like everybody else, we love the buffets – so after sleeping in a bit, we had a hearty breakfast, and then drove the rest of the way home, via Hwy 15 to Barstow, then changing to Hwy 58. After passing Tehachapi and Bakersfield again, we continued on Hwy 58 west to Hwy 101, because we wanted to try a different route.

There is a stretch of about 40 miles on Hwy 58 after McKittrick that is the most desolate country I’ve ever seen. You see occasional pumps, but the whole area looks almost sinister. It changes again for the better the closer you get to Hwy 101. We even saw a Golden Eagle sitting on a tree right next to the road! Once we reached Hwy 101 it was just a matter of rolling off the miles back to the Bay Area.

Overall, this was a very nice trip. We didn’t plan much ahead - our objective was to look at the property. Bridges National Park, Monument Valley, and Zion National Park are each worth a lot more time than we had. There were countless roads leading to other parks, national monuments, Indian ruins, and other sites, which we simply had to pass by.

Till next time!

Roadtrip! Part 1 - the road to Colorado

My husband’s parents have a piece of land in Colorado, and asked us to check it out. So we decided to drive there during the break between my husband’s Animation Mentor semesters. It’s a two-day drive from the San Francisco Bay Area, and we left (very) early on Saturday, Sep 20. The drive south on I5 was rather boring (desert). In the Bakersfield area we switched over to Hwy 58, which became even more boring (either farmland “desert" or real desert) – just flatland driving. The only interesting sight were the windmills around Tehachapi (it is very windy there!). We continued on Hwy 58 to Barstow, where we switched to Hwy 40. We wanted to have a late lunch in Needles, but when we got there (around 1:00 pm), we were wondering whether this was a ghost town – not a soul on the streets, no cars, almost all shops/restaurants closed, and the whole town looked rather delapidated. I think we saw one person outside. It was downright eerie, as if you are in the Twilight Zone. With some difficulty we located an open restaurant and had a rather mediocre lunch.

Onwards on Hwy 40 and into Arizona to Kingman. Almost as soon as we crossed into AZ, the scenery changed for the better - some nice mountain ranges to look at. We arrived in Flagstaff at around 5:30 pm and thought that this would make a good overnight stopping point. Big mistake! Flagstaff is a railroad town. There are trains going through every few minutes, blowing their horns. And all the hotels (at least the ones with a room available, and we did not want to stray too far from Hwy 40) are on Route 66 which is right next to the train tracks! According to the clerk at the reception desk, there is really no point in Flagstaff where you would not hear the trains. We were tired, but this was the worst night of the entire trip (and the most expensive, roomrate-wise!). Every time I dozed off another train would rattle by, blowing its horn. Whatever you do, DO NOT STAY IN FLAGSTAFF, EVER!!!

The next morning we were rather groggy from basically not sleeping, and – blowing a big fat raspberry to Flagstaff – we were off, continuing on Hwy 40 towards New Mexico. Again the drive became very boring, flat desert, brush desert, a few rock formations, and lots of Indian trading posts, selling rugs, jewelry, Kachina dolls, and other assorted trinkets. We passed on the Petrified Forest National Park, planning to visit it on our way back. As soon as we entered NM the scenery changed dramatically for the better. Suddenly there were mesas to look at again. We stopped at the first rest stop in NM, and I have to say that was a superb rest area – they had music playing, the restrooms were modern and clean, they had free brochures – very nice. We immediately liked NM. Curiously, though, we had not seen any accidents so far, but in NM we saw three! What’s up with that? Also, the road sign language is interesting: In NM you have the polite, delicately put “Gusty Winds May Exist”, whereas in CO you see the more gruff “Gusty Winds Likely”.

On to Albuquerque, where we had lunch at a Taco Cabana (very good), and then north to Espanola. On seeing a Yogi Bhajan Memorial road, I remembered that the 3HO – Kundalini Yoga people have a center here. I did Kundalini Yoga for a while, before I realized that it is a little too cult-like for me ... too much Yogi Bhajan adoration. Anyway, Espanola is a nice little town, with a few new-agey touches. We bought a braid of red chilies here (my husband likes them) and hung them from a coat hook in the car. So from now on every time we got into the car, we had a red chili smell greeting us. The scenery also became more and more mountainous as we were driving north towards Colorado on Hwy 68, then 522, through Taos (very new-agey – that’s where they had a Wool and Fiber Festival a few weeks ago), then continuing on Hwy 159 in CO, to Fort Garland, where my parents-in-law’s property is located.

By then it was getting dark, meaning it was too late to locate the land, so we decided to look for a place to stay, by driving towards Walsenburg on Hwy 160, and ended up at the Rio Cucharas Inn. It was cheap, not too bad, but I’ve been in better places. The rooms had an odd smell to them (as if they had recently been disinfected), and had no windows, just a shuttered glass door. It was rather stuffy inside, but at least it was very quiet there. We had to eat dinner at the only place that seemed open in Walsenburg – a Subway sandwich place. We stayed two nights, because we also wanted to check out a restaurant recommended by a colleague of my husband in Pueblo.

So on Monday morning, we used our plat map, and found the property – all the markers had rotted away, but since it was at the end of a road, it was fairly easy to locate. It's a sagebrush-covered piece of land, with lots of anthills (with rather big (1/2 inch long) ants).

The Property

The Neighbors

It also was on a bluff, overlooking railroad tracks (which would not be a problem, since they were far enough downhill). There was a fairly small flat area on which one could build a log cabin to use as quarters when going hunting. The area is apparently favored by hunters (you see “Welcome Hunters” signs everywhere). And it was very windy! So it is not a very suitable area to stay in, as far as we are concerned. A few hardy people live there on scattered ranches, with their propane gas tanks and generators, and what seems the required junk cars in their yards. It’s all rather rustic, let’s say.

Monday afternoon we drove to Pueblo to check out the recommended restaurant there, which of course, was closed on Mondays! Oh well. Back to our inn in Walsenburg. By the way, it’s a myth that Starbucks has penetrated every last corner of America! There are not enough Starbucks! Out in the country you still get the coffeecup-rinsewater coffee, with packets of creamer, and the only choice of cheese you have is American or Swiss. I'm not complaining, really, a "town" of maybe 500 people couldn’t possibly support a Starbucks. It’s just funny that out in the country, where you could reasonably expect fresh milk for example, not to mention organic, all you get is artificial creamer. It truly is a different world from a metropolitan area. But at least I’ve seen several pro-Obama signs in front yards, especially in NM (“ObamaNos!” = Obama Us).

Things improved on the way home! The next post will have more (and nicer) pictures and less talk.

03 September 2008


03 September 2008: Wow! Somebody actually reads my blog!!! And gave me this award:

Thank you, Halfmaennchen!  Since the *rules* state that you have to ...

1. post this award on your blog;
2. add a link to the person who sent you the award;
3. nominate at least 4 other bloggers, and add their links as well;
4. leave a comment at the new recipients' blogs, so they know they got an award ...

My number 1 nominee is Fleegle, one of my knitting heroes. Shortly after joining Ravelry, I stumbled upon some of her project pictures, and they are jaw-dropping! Her blog is very educational ... anything a knitter might want to know is here: from her no-hassle sock pattern, to a one-piece sideways cardigan to tiger-washing instructions. Oh, and what to do if lost aliens land in your backyard.

Taking Fleegle's blog as a starting point I began to explore lace-knitting websites, so far via pictures only, and soon came across BadCatDesigns. At that time her Summer Sampler Stole study was just starting, and on a whim I decided to participate. This KAL has taught me that lifelines are my friend! I'm a control freak and hate having to do something over, so after every pattern repeat in goes a lifeline. BadCat just finished her stole - it will take me a few more weeks to finish the edging (only 143 10-row repeats to go!). Current status of my stole:

For a while before that I was drooling over
Galina Khmeleva's book Gossamer Webs - Orenburg Lace Shawls, so the Summer Sampler Stole KAL was a good test of whether I could actually DO something similar. Once it is finished I plan to knit several small samples according to Galina's instructions in her book, then take her classes at the Lacis Museum Urban Retreat next February, and then to design my own. I already have a few patterns in mind, but still need to figure out the border/edging.

Nominees #3 and 4 are: KnitYoga and Melusine (check out her adorable cat in her post from Sep 2!).

There are many other blogs I like ... sigh. If it weren't for the fact that I need to earn some money for cat food, I would be on the computer, or knitting, or gardening (that's actually a euphemism - it's more a matter of trying to keep down the weeds) and obliging my cats ("Open the door! ... No, wait. ... OK, open the door now ... ummm, I forgot something ... now, open the door! ... Eh, no, I changed my mind ... wait! what is he doing out there? ... LET ME OUT! I MUST KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON OUT THERE!!")

Thank you again, Halfmaennchen, for the award. You've given me quite a few ideas. You are very talented!

Till next time.

23 August 2008

Quickie Headband Project

23 Aug 2008: So I'm working along (for months now) on my Teal Cardigan and Summer Sampler stole projects, and I suddenly realize that I'm craving the "Yeah! - I finished it!!!" feeling. Looking for a quick fix, I received inspiration from Halfmännchen's blog. A cabled headband with shaped cables - a technique I've never done. (I used Dawn Brocco's book Curvaceous Cables Collection.) So I grabbed the nearest half-used ball of yarn and began practicing the pattern a bit last evening. Note: Cables are much easier to work when you use wooden needles - the stitches don't slide off the needles while you work the cable needle! I started the headband this morning and was finished after about 4 hours. A nice quick project!

Here's the headband by itself:

... and on my favorite model:

Till next time!

19 August 2008

Curse broken!

18 Aug 2008: I think I got my groove back - I was able to finish patterns 10 and 11 of the Summer Sampler stole in quick succession. Presently, the stole is about 2 m long (about 2.2 yards) which is rather long, but exactly what I want, because I plan to take it to work to wrap around my shoulders and neck. My cubicle is directly underneath an air register and I always have some kind of cool or cold draft blowing at me. This will be perfect. Can't wait for the last pattern and then the border.

Pattern 11

Pattern 10

And this is the pattern that took over 2 weeks' time, because I kept making stupid mistakes:

Pattern 9

Time flies when you are having fun - not so much when you have to tink back ... has anyone read The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann? It's a most excellent book. One of its main leitmotifs is a variation of the old legend of the magic mountain. You enter it and spend what seems like a short time inside. But once you leave (if you find the way out that is!) you realize that a long time has passed. The perception of time is very elastic. If your days seem short, because they are taken up with a lot of activities (if you are very conscious of what you are doing, iow), and you look back at that general time frame, it will appear long (because so much has happened). Conversely, if your days seem long, because you either do the same things over and over again or have nothing to do (iow if you are bored or don't pay attention), then looking back at that time period, it will seem like a very short time overall. You would be able to sum it up in a few words. It's a fascinating subject.

06 August 2008

Cursed Knitting, The Mummy III

Knitting News:

Have you ever had days when nothing worked? I’ve had over a week of those now. I finished the first repeat of Pattern 9 of the Summer Sampler stole without problems and ever since things go haywire whenever I touch it. I would knit a row - be off one stitch – fix it, knit another row – ok - knit the next row – be off two stitches – tink back to where the mistake was – fix it – knit the row again – be off one stitch again – fix that – finish the row – knit 2 more rows and discover that somehow I shifted the pattern 1 stitch to the left – etc. etc. Weirdly enough I make the mistakes not on the main pattern rows, but on the easy in-betweener rows.

2 days ago, after about 2 hours of this I decided that somehow this pattern as it is now on my needles must be cursed, so I ripped all the way back to my spacer lifeline, so I would have a clean, fresh start for the whole pattern. Wish me luck! I am actually scared to touch it right now!!

Well, at least I still seem to be capable of knitting ribs - my Something Teal cardigan is progressing again - only a few million rows of ribbing to go.

Fleegle is undergoing some serious medical treatment – I hope everything will turn out the way it is hoped.

Movies seen:

The Mummy III – It could have been a lot better, but the story is weak. The Chinese actors were much more convincing than the rest. This time the "lesser Indiana Jones" is trying to prevent the sort-of resurrected Dragon Emperor Han from getting his greedy little fingers on the waters of life in Shangri-La which would make him immortal - and, of course, he then would want to rule the world. I loved Michelle Yeoh in the role of the witch. She is really good! I wish the story were better!

20 July 2008

Summer Sampler Stole, Pattern 8, Lacis Retreat

21 Jul 2008:

Summer Sampler, Pattern 8

So I started eagerly with row 1 of this new pattern, and by the time I get to the end of it, I realize that I am one stitch short. What? I usually double-count after knitting the spacer between patterns, just to be sure that I have the correct number of required stitches for the next pattern. Well ... ok ... guess I miscounted. Hmpf. So I tinked row 1 back, recounted ... now I'm 2 stitches short! What is going on? I take a closer look at my lifeline and see that somehow I must have dropped a stitch while knitting and then another one while tinking back. Whew! Thank God for lifelines! After taking a calming chocolate break, I finished this pattern in one sitting.

WooHoo! -- I sent in my registration for the Urban Retreat at Lacis today - can't wait! I'm really looking forward to meeting
Galina Khmeleva and learning more about Orenburg shawls from her. Besides Lace Knitting, this week-long Lace Making retreat will cover Bobbin Lace, Needle Lace/Lace ID, and Tatting.

14 July 2008

Summer Sampler Stole, Pattern 7

17 Jul 2008: Pattern 7 of the Summer Sampler Stole is done:

Pattern 7 of the Summer Sampler Stole

I couldn't finish it last weekend, because we were busy with yard work, I had some strange pain in my right arm, and - to top it off - I woke up with the worst stiff neck ever!

Anyway, I finished it today ... as you can see I modified the pattern slightly. I thought it wasn't fair for the SSKs to get all the glory, so in pattern repeats 2 and 4 I did K2tog , simply for reasons of symmetry:

Detail of Pattern 7

I had to unravel the button-band and ribbing of my Something Teal Cardigan ... even though I tried it on while knitting, and everything looked to be where it should be, but once I was finished, I thought it would better if the ribbing started a little higher, and I should have placed the button-hole also a bit higher. But even as it is, was, I liked it. So, a few more weeks of boring ribbing to go.

Thanks to halfmaennchen's blog I found this website: Knitting beyond the Hebrides. This is full of very useful information. Go to the Lace Symposium link, then click on Schedule, and then click on the various items in the schedule. Particularly noteworthy is the fabulous pdf you get when you click on the Shetland Lace link. It is a comparison between different lace knitting traditions by Elizabeth Lovick (Shetland, Icelandic, Faeroese, Estonian, Ukrainian, and Orenburg laces), complete with examples, and sample charts. Great info! This will be come in very handy, once I design my own shawl.

Hey, we found another nest of our feral chicken (her name is Henrietta, btw) - this one contained 5 eggs! It was hidden in our mint patch (the eggs did not taste minty, though). It's always such a surprise! More often we find broken eggshells here and there, but every few weeks we discover some intact eggs.

Hellboy II
is a good, fun movie - I had never read the comic and did not see the first movie, but wanted to see this one, because the director was the same one who did Pan's Labyrinth. It was visually stunning, just the opening credits alone are worth seeing. The story itself is a little thin, and felt a little like a mix of Pan's Labyrinth, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Star Wars, but the visuals make up for it. Plus Hellboy likes cats ... which immediately puts him into my "Good Guy" category.

And here is a fun quote I heard a few days ago:

The early bird may get the worm, but it's the second mouse who gets the cheese!

Till next time ...

05 July 2008

Summer Sampler Stole, Pattern 6

Pattern 6 of the Summer Sampler Stole is done:

Pattern 6 of the Summer Sampler Stole

The gracefully arching fronds of this pattern remind me of the Maiglöckchen (= Lily of the Valley) pattern I saw in a book I recently purchased ("Maiglöckchen - Variationen eines traditionellen Strickmusters", ISBN 3-8334-1337-9). Except it does not have the nupps of the traditional Estonian pattern. This old pattern seems to enjoy a renewed popularity at this time - it is also featured in the latest issue (Jul/Aug 2008) of Piecework magazine. The book shows how to apply the pattern to different garments and shawls. Here is a picture from the book (used with permission) showing the pattern:

Maiglöckchen pattern

You can see the contents of the book and more photos here. English instructions for a Möbius scarf are also available here (scroll to STR08).

I just love this pattern - it is very graceful and feminine.

01 July 2008

A little bit of personal History

I learned knitting in grade school … back then, in the sixties in Germany, girls had to take needlework (Handarbeiten) classes which consisted of knitting and crochet instruction, while the boys had shop classes. I would have much rather taken shop than needlework – I was a tomboy. I didn’t do too well either, so I was happy when I changed over to high school where these classes were no longer part of the curriculum. A few years later, probably when I was about 15 or 16 years old, and I no longer remember why, I knitted myself a blouson-type sweater with a wide collar and in 3 colors! It turned out quite nicely, and I actually wore it several times (which was huge for me, because I was very insecure about wearing something I made myself).

I didn’t knit anything else for many years after that (marriage, moving to the US, divorce, 2nd marriage, etc.), until several years ago, I again started to make something out of the blue. This time I knit a dog sweater (I had a Doberman back then, and I felt sorry for her not having thick fur to keep her warm at night), and shortly after that – since I had yarn left over … a pair of crocheted socks, without a pattern, just by trying them on (the socks, not the dog sweater) and adjusting and ripping back and re-doing it. It was hideous acrylic yarn! The first sock turned out ok, wearable, but too loose, but since I didn’t try on the second sock (after all, I would remember how I did the first one, right?), I managed to put the heel on the side of the sock instead of where it should be! I still have these socks!!!

Then, again a hiatus of about 2 years. Then I started a crochet blanket, also acrylic, and finished it in a few months – it was a rather boring all-over pattern, and I did mess up attaching the border to it, but that’s only obvious if you actually count the border pattern repeats on each side. It’s dark red, and now protects a chair from cat-hair:

Of course, sometimes I forget to put it there:

I was quite proud of that blanket, actually. At that time I liked crochet more than knitting, so I crocheted a few doilies as gifts. I still have the sample doily:

And I crocheted a sweater for myself (background to doily above).

This sweater is very heavy, somewhat stiff and w-a-r-m. I still wear it sometimes when it gets really cold. It’s an all-over pattern that mimics knitted cables (but only at a distance of about 10 yards!)

That’s when I decided to turn to knitting, because it’s just … more elegant, and less stiff. Of course, I should have used bigger needles or thinner yarn, but at that time I just used what I had. Don't get me wrong, I think crochet can be beautiful in the form of lace, or decorations, but for garments, I prefer knitting. So I did a few easy knitting projects (scarves, placemat, a few hats, and stuff like that) to warm up. At that time (probably about 2002) I also started to read knitting books, and became more interested in different techniques. I decided to make my husband a sweater with an all-over cable pattern which took me a few months, but turned out quite well. I even seamed it together perfectly (the sweater itself is not perfect, and now I would use a different yarn, a different pattern and a different color! -- OK, a whole different sweater!).

After I asked him why he wasn't wearing it, he finally admitted that he did not like the collar and rolled hems, so I re-did these parts – which was easy, because by then I had read Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books. I love EZ! She taught me so much!

Since then I have been knitting (and buying knitting books) continuously, and have always one to three projects going (usually one sock project, one bigger/more complicated project, and one that’s in a boring phase). That’s pretty much my limit. I can’t understand how people have 20 or 30 WIPs going at the same time. Whenever I pick up a project after working on another one for a while, I have to read the instructions again, double-check where I left off, and just “get into it” again. It’s a mystery to me how someone can just switch between so many projects.

So that’s my knitting history … currently I am expanding my horizon by lace-knitting. After practicing a bit, I plan to design my own shawl. Just following a pattern all the time gets boring real quickly – I love to experiment and do my own thing – it’s the same with cooking … I only follow the recipe once, then I adjust it. (Never mind that this sometimes led to disaster …)

Other things I like: Cats ... and dogs (all animals, actually), reading, gardening, yoga, the TV series “Reaper”, and traveling (I’ve been to Tunisia, Italy, South Africa, France, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Canada).

Till next time.

29 June 2008

Progress with Summer Sampler Stole ...

Pattern 5 in the KAL of BadCat's Summer Sampler Stole caused me some head-scratching. I habitually mark all pattern repeats with a stitch marker, just so I can see at a glance exactly where I am. Well, in the case of this pattern, even though the pattern repeat in the chart looks perfectly lined up for each row, you will have to move the pattern markers 1 stitch to the left whenever the next row has a yarn-over in the left pattern edge. So, for a few rows the pattern shifts 1 stitch to the left. This pattern is really nice, see ...

BadCat calls it the Grand Spider ... I cannot see the spiders :-) ... others say it looks more like people. Either way, it's a beautiful pattern.

In other news ... Germany did not win the European Soccer Championship (sob), let's see how they do in the World Cup in two years.

We saw WALL*E this weekend - a very good movie, with a message and a love story! Pixar always does a short before the main feature film - this one was really funny. It was called Presto (I believe) and is about a hungry magician's rabbit (you know: the ones that get pulled out of a hat) who refuses to play along until he's fed.

24 June 2008

Summer Sampler stole

Currently, my main project is the Summer Sampler stole by Bad Cat Designs (see blog list). I just finished pattern 4:

This is a nice practice for someone like me who knows how to do the basics, but hasn't yet tried lace knitting. Eventually I hope to graduate and try one of the Niebling patterns. But before then I want to design my own Shetland/Orenburg style lace shawl.

Tomorrow are the semi-finals of the European Soccer Championship. Go Germany!!!