June 30, 2007

And How Have YOU Been?

Hiya! Sorry for the long blog silence.

Well, let's dive right into getting (more or less) caught up. I've been silent lately because I had a while of very busy work. Thankfully, everything went smoothly and pleasantly. It was just very, very busy, leaving no time for blogging. Immediately after that, Chris and I went on a five day trip to San Francisco. (More on that later.) I don't own a laptop so I couldn't blog on vacation. Even if I wanted to. We got back from San Fransisco and the next day my Mom came to town to stay with us for a month long visit. I've spent the last few days hanging out with my Mom and not on the computer. She did bring her shawl, wears it often and looks fabulous doing so.

So anyway, San Francisco. We left on June 21st, the first day of summer, therefore also the first day of Summer of Socks 2007.

It only made sense to cast on a pair of of socks (Loksins!) at the gate in the Airport. I'm using Fearless Fibers in Chocolate Pink Cherry colorway.

Departing LAX.

It was a gorgeous weekend with perfect weather the whole time. We had a complete blast.

We stayed in the Union Square area.

Sock in Union Square

I totally didn't realize that Artfibers has a lovely store right near Union Square. I was wandering around the walking distance area from our hotel when I saw this:

What a delightful surprise! You know I went in. I met Kira, who was very friendly and welcoming. I told her how just the day before we left, I had received my order of Ming yarn. (I'm going to have to save my Ming yarn show and tell for another post, okay?) She put on a very good show of being not at all appalled that I had recently spent so much money with her online without even knowing where she was located or realizing I would be staying right around the corner from said location so soon. She's very sweet like that.

I hope you'll enjoy some sock as tourist pictures because ready or not, here they come.

We rode the cable cars.

We went to China town.

In China town, I saw this funny frog. He was nice enough to hold my sock for me.

You know my theory that if the knitting is allowed to be exposed to more literal frogs, the other kind of frog will be kept at bay.

We went to Lombard Street. I probably should have been working on this sock there.

I then walked down the hill to Ghirardelli Square.

Because it was so clear and beautiful, I had a great view of Alcatraz.

Here's a final, parting shot with a very important message.

Knit no evil.

June 11, 2007

Presto Starto

I started one of Valerie's Presto Changos.

I was having so much fun, I started another one.

The lace panel on the left is Blue Sky Organic Cotton in Nut. The panel on the right is Blue Sky Dyed Cotton but I don't know which color because Sadie ate the ball band.

I am loving this pattern. The Blue Sky Cotton is as wonderful as it always is. This is such a fun, satisfying knit that I can envision myself making lots of them just so I have them ready whenever I need a baby gift.

I've got a crazy week ahead. If I'm lucky there will be some knitting time. But I doubt there will be too much blogging time.

Who knows, maybe next time I check in I'll have two finished Presto Changos.

June 9, 2007

FO: Diamond Fantasy Shawl

The Diamond Fantasy Shawl for my Mom is finished.

See the beads on the tip of the shawl?

Here's a better look.

I wanted just a tiny, little touch of something extra. I'm shooting for the four beads to echo the diamond motif.

Before I forget, Margaret requested blocking pictures. And, well, I aim to please.

This next picture is for Christene, the charming, goof-enabler at SheepsPyjamas.

Pattern: Diamond Fantasy Shawl
Designer: Sivia Harding

Yarn: Sirdar Just Bamboo in Oriental Blue
Needles: US 8 Bamboo 36" Circular
(I got a little kick out of using bamboo needles and bamboo yarn. I'm easily amused like that.)
Gauge: Roughly 3.5 - 4 stitches per inch (in pattern). The lace pattern in the bamboo yarn had fantastic drape and lots of stretch in all directions, making an exact gauge nearly impossible to identify.
Yarn consumption: Approx. 750yds

I didn't get precise finished measurements (couldn't find the long tape measure), but judging from how much space it took up on the futon while blocking, I'd say it's 70-72" long across the top, which was exactly what I wanted. After pre-blocking, I calculated that 8 repeats would be just shy of the length I wanted. Therefore, I figured I'd do 9 repeats because I'd rather have it too big than too small. Then I had a light bulb moment and realized I could finish off the shawl at 8.5 repeats and get precisely the size I wanted. Which is what I did. Good thing that worked, too, because I'm pretty sure I would have run out of yarn if I'd gone for 9 repeats.

This was my first time knitting with 100% Bamboo. I learned a lot about this fiber. Like it's very slippery. If I dropped a stitch, it wanted to run away faster than a vegetarian fleeing a bacon convention. After learning the less than fun way, I worked really hard not to drop stitches.

I also learned that bamboo behaves differently than many other fibers in the blocking department. Contact with water caused it to stiffen and contract. But as it dried it expanded and became softer. I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable, scientific explanation for this. But I'm just glad to have learned through experience. After blocking, the yarn lost a fair amount of the crispness and luster it had initially. If you were especially fond of the crispness and luster (which would be perfectly understandable), you might be disappointed to loose it. For the purposes of this shawl, I didn't mind that change.

A lace shawl knit with bamboo yarn makes for a soft, cool, summertime wrap with a delicate touch of sheen.

June 5, 2007


Mom's shawl is off the needles and blocking. It should be dry in time to overnight for a punctual arrival. Woo Hoo!

Thanks for all the encouragement and cheering! It really helped. Eight and a half repeats was the final score.

Whatevs shall I cast on now? This Koigu (color P508, I think) seems quite tempting. I think it wants to be the Spiral Boot Socks from Summer '07 IK. 'Course, I gotta wind it first.

June 3, 2007

Shawl Update

Dudes. This shawl is messing with my head.

On Friday, I finished the seventh pattern repeat and was feeling confident that eight repeats would give me a healthy size. But, thought I, what if blocking the shawl makes it grow more than I anticipate? Maybe, just maybe, I'll get lucky and seven repeats will be enough.

So, before proceeding to the top finishing, I slipped it off the needles and onto some waste yarn to block it in that condition and see what would happen. Before its bath, I measured it. I was disquieted to find it smaller than I thought it would be. I tried not to get too bummed out, because this whole exercise was balancing on the potential for shawl expansion due to blocking.

Into the bath it went. And can I just tell you? As soon as it hit the water, I felt it stiffen and constrict to a near-alarming degree. Maybe it just needs to get really good and soaked, I hoped. So I left in in the tub for a good long time to think about what it had done.

Oh, the dismay I felt when I took it out and it looked even smaller yet! I stretched and tugged and pinned it out then measured again. It was one inch shorter than pre-soaking. Ugh.

Much fretting ensued. At this rate, I would need at least 9, but probably 10 repeats to get to an acceptable size. I don't know if I have that kind of time. Each repeat gets longer and progress is not terribly fast. The combination of the slippery bamboo yarn and involved pattern compels me to knit slowly and deliberately to avoid dropping stitches or making egregious errors. Fixing those problems substantially gobbles time.

Maybe I don't need to sleep and can gain knitting time that way? Maybe I don't block it again at the end, just mail it? Maybe I confess the whole deal to Mom and beg understanding? Maybe I look into a store bought birthday gift and this will make a lovely Christmas present?

But now for the mind-bending part. Last night, after it had been pinned out for a little more than 24 hours, I unpinned it. It was still slightly damp and I wanted to flip it over and move it to a dryer section of towel so it would hopefully be all dry this morning. So I unpin it and flap it a bit and then drape it over my shoulders and what the...?? It's bigger now. By about five inches. It's not big enough to finish it off. I still need to add the eighth repeat (and maybe ninth if I can), but I certainly don't need to do 10 repeats.


But still. I'm not crazy, right? That is weird, yes? I mean any time I've seen something grow from blocking, I've seen the extra size during pinning, if not as soon as it comes out of the water. I've never stretched and tugged and pinned an item down only to have it get bigger when I unpin it.

It's still going to be a big push to get through nine repeats. If you don't hear from me for a few days, don't worry. I'll be knitting.

June 1, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

I'm craving red.

I adore how sunlight on a Japanese Maple illuminates the underside of the leaves so they shine bright red.

Ahhh...now I can go back to the blue shawl.
(I'm feeling optimistic about finishing on time, btw.)

Have a great weekend everyone!