22 December 2008
I sent a link to this picture:
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!
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
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.
07 December 2008
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.
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.
The photos are clear, and in some cases variations are shown:
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
The Gossamer Webs Design Collection by Galina Khmeleva
I also finished my Something 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
26 October 2008
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
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:
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
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.
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 ...
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.
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:
The "Artist's View" absolutely deserves its name. You will also see a lot of these:
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!
My husband’s parents have a piece of land in
Onwards on Hwy 40 and into
The next morning we were rather groggy from basically not sleeping, and – blowing a big fat raspberry to
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
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).
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
Things improved on the way home! The next post will have more (and nicer) pictures and less talk.
03 September 2008
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!
23 August 2008
Here's the headband by itself:
... and on my favorite model:
Till next time!
19 August 2008
And this is the pattern that took over 2 weeks' time, because I kept making stupid mistakes:
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
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.
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
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
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:
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:
Till next time ...
05 July 2008
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:
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
I didn’t knit anything else for many years after that (marriage, moving to the
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:
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
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
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!!!