May 30, 2006
Amazing Lace Challenge 1: Introducing AuntyNin & Accomplices
10:32 am edt
This Amazing Lace
team consists of one knitter, five patterns, six yarns and a roomful of needles. It's nearly time to throw out
the first yarnover, so let's introduce the starting lineup:
Our Designated Knitter is AuntyNin, a somewhat eccentric lady of "a certain age" who has been wielding
the needles for far more years than she cares to contemplate. She's an experienced knitter of sweaters and socks who
has only recently ventured into the lace arena. When irritated, she is capable of severely unladylike language, to such
an extent that one of her neighbors (a former Marine Drill Sergeant) has thanked her for teaching him new expletives.
"They're not new!" she exclaims, "They're over 400 years old!" She also hates being photographed, so we'll have to make
do with the following:
At the Pattern position we have "Peacock Feather Shawl" from Fiddlesticks Knitting on the magnet board.
Available for substitution later are a number of possibilities, including "Print O the Wave" by Eunny Jang, "Creatures of
the Reef" and "Paisley Long Shawl" from Fiddlesticks Knitting and "Pacific Northwest Shawl" from Fiber Trends. In the
clubhouse training room we find Meg Swanson's Gathering of Lace, two of the Barbara Walker stitch treasuries, and a fifty-year
accumulation of pattern books and leaflets.
The starting Yarn, a shimmery jade acrylic, is a solid utility player, smooth in delivery. Perhaps it lacks
the elegance and flash of teammate Karabella Gossamer, but it is much more receptive to tinking and frogging than Karabella
Gossamer's mohair and glitter. Other yarns available for pinch-hitting inlcude Jaggerspun Zephyr, Rowan KidSilk Haze,
KnitPicks' Alpaca Cloud and Crystal Palace Kid Merino.
Finally, the Needles, without which the team couldn't get very far. At present, it's looking like a US size
4 circular needle will be in the starting lineup, but until Spring Swatching is done, Coach Olga is unwilling to make any
promises. There are two huge cases of possible substitutions, consisting of the Designated Knitter's lifetime accumulation,
supplemented by the enormous supply inherited from her mother.
Back in the clubhouse with the supporting patterns and needle stash we also have on hand: a magnet board for controlling
pattern charts, boxes of stitch markers, point protectors (can't have those stitches sliding off the needles in the middle
of the night, now can we?), scissors, graph paper, highlighters, tapestry needles, an Ott Lite, hand cream and generous supplies
of coffee and chocolate.
This team is about as thoroughly prepared as it can be. Bring on your challenges!
May 24, 2006
The Amazing Lace, or, "Masochism Tango"
1:22 pm edt
"Bash in my brain,
And make me scream in pain,
Then kick me once again,
And say we'll never
You know too well
I'm underneath your spell."
--- Tom Lehrer, "Masochism Tango"
That just about sums up my relationship with lace knitting. I love the results, but the process can be ... well
... painful. So will someone please explain to me just why it is that I'm seriously considering participating in "The Amazing Lace"
this summer? Not just that, but I've purchased ridiculous amounts of laceweight yarn and patterns. Have I completely
lost touch with reality? (Splinters, hushup! Don't answer that!) It seems I haven't learned my lesson, even
after making myself crazy with the Knitting Olympics back in February.
Lace seems to have sneakily infiltrated itself into my life recently. I blame Mmario for this one, as it was
the incredible lace shawl he designed and knit for his mother that seems to have started my obsession with knitting lace.
It doesn't help any that there are a lot of enablers out there, publishing incredible patterns, selling exquisite
yarns, blogging about their achievements, and so on.
Still, I will need something to knit during the summer, and sweaters and baby blankets are just too big and warm and
clunky for summer knitting. This is probably why, having finished Ene's Scarf from Scarf Style, I've cast on
a simple lace scarf in Karabella Gossamer. Nothing intricate, a diamond pattern that I've done before, destined
to be a holiday gift for my hairdresser. And, of course, next week's "vacation" trip to visit family will require
copious amounts of knitting to keep my nerves more or less under control. Still, there's a huge mound of sock yarn lurking
in the stash, not to mention a bunch of other projects whimpering for attention, so why lace?
More to the point, since knitting is supposed to be relaxing, why am I putting deadlines and requirements on myself yet
Because it sounded like a good idea at the time. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.
May 23, 2006
11:00 am edt
Mother Nature has a truly perverted sense of humor. Sunday's weather proved that beyond question: rain, thunder,
lightning, hail and sunshine all at the same time! Fascinating to watch, but purest misery
from the arthritis. There were frost warnings issued for last night. The extended forecast shows temperatures
in the 80s predicted for the weekend. What season is this, again?
Knitting happened, in spite of it all, and Ene's scarf is done. Of course, as soon as I went looking for the T-pins
to block it, the gremlins hid them. So, for the moment, it's draped over the sofa waiting for me to find or purchase
some blocking pins. By some odd coincidence, KnitPicks
' latest catalog has lots and lots of products related to lace. One of the corollaries to Murphy's Law says that
the minute you buy a replacement, the original will appear in plain sight. Since I just ordered more blocking pins,
I'm expecting to see the old box of them smirking at me when I next go into the back bedroom.
Okay, Ene's Scarf is done. Another project finished. Whatever shall I start next? Spoilt for choice,
I am. There's a ton of sock yarn in the back room, along with laceweight that wants to become scarves and stoles.
Next week I'll need a traveling project, when I venture forth into the nest of vipers, er, a family gathering.
Not something I'm really looking forward to, but I made a promise. One of these days I'll learn not to make
May 15, 2006
Ups and downs
10:49 am edt
There's something about a gray and gloomy weekend that just leads me to my knitting needles. This weekend was no
exception, and a lot of Ene's Scarf has slithered its way over the needles. You can actually see the shaping now:
This yarn is a dream to work with, and the colors just make me smile. Given the way it looked when I laid it out
to take the picture, it ought to be done fairly soon. That's the magic of bottom-up: each rightside row is shorter than
the one before. The only downside to this, if downside it be, is that it's giving me too many ideas for variations on
a theme. So many ideas, so little available time...
The weekend was fairly quiet, as my lungs were trying to have their annual bout of allergy-induced bronchitis.
Lots of herbal tea and a dash of comfort food kept me going, with knitting to soothe my nerves.
The whole Mother's Day thing got to me more than expected; it was my first since The Mom passed away. So I tried
hard to ignore it, making it "just another weekend" in my home. Yeah. Right. Try to ignore it when every
other commercial on the tube is all about flowers and chocolates and "What are you doing for Mom?" hype. Ah well,
it's over now. Life goes on and knitting preserves what few shreds of sanity I have left.
May 10, 2006
10:51 am edt
It has happened again. A project has reached out, grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, and bellowed, "You will
work on me
and nothing else until I'm done!" It all began Friday, with the arrival of two seemingly-innocent
parcels in the mail. The first of them didn't cause any upheaval, but was a useful tool - a ball winder. The second
package, though, was the instigator of this obsession. It contained 800 yards of lace weight merino, purchased from
Cabin Cove Mercantile, a.k.a. Dave Daniels
. Here's what it looked like after meeting the swift and ball winder:
Eight hundred yards of yarny wonderfulness that Dave named "Meadow Grass." To me it looks a lot like the colors
of the trees in early spring. Yummy!
This yarn was purchased with a specific project in mind, "Ene's Scarf" from Scarf Style. Aside from my usual
tendency to misread instructions, it's actually knitting up quite nicely, see?
The biggest problem here is that I'd really prefer to stay home from the office and keep knitting. Yep, this one
has really gotten a grip on me and it will not let go. All the other WIPs are seriously jealous.
They'll get over it.
May 2, 2006
11:34 am edt
It's May, and finally the landscape matches the Project Spectrum color of the month - green. The trees have suddenly erupted
with leaves in every shade, from the darkest pines to the brilliant yellow-green of the willows. Later this week,
after The Infernal DigiCam's batteries have been recharged, there may be some photos to post.
Rummaging in the stash, I find (not at all surprisingly) that I have lots of greens. There's a lovely Opal handpaint
that will likely be the next pair of socks onto needles, and a soft sage sportweight whose ultimate fate is as yet undecided.
Three shades of olive are partly knit up into a Shadow Knit pullover, a pale green and yellow tweedy Bernat Baby Coordinates
is partway to becoming a blankie for a child who's due to arrive in October. A huge cone of a bright teal is awaiting
inspiration, and an even huger cone of hunter worsted flecked with burgundy will one day become ... something. I'm sure
there is yet more greenness lurking in the back corners of the stash closet, but I just haven't had the energy to drag
it all out.
The "Two Row Rule" has been invoked more and more often in the past few weeks, in a (probably futile) effort to combat
the urge to start about a hundred new projects. Because of that, the Misty Garden scarf in a brown/green worsted has
been completed, the STR socks for my aunt are progressing down the foot of the first sock, and the v-neck summer top has gotten
partway down its second sleeve. A much-neglected alpaca/silk lace scarf has been unearthed from the knitting stand,
and grows by a few rows each evening, as does the baby blanket for a friend's newest grandchild.
Along with May greening, there are the flowering trees. I have an intense love / hate relationship with flowering
trees. I love the fact that they are a beautiful and unmistakable indication of spring, but I hate what they do to my
nose. Just call me Sneezy, okay? Some days I'd like to burn down every single flowering tree and bush in the county
- especially the two that flank the door to the building where I work. Fortunately, this situation only lasts from the
first flowering of the forsythia bushes to the dropping of the last tulip-tree blossom; in this area, that's about 3 weeks.
So I have a choice: sneeze my head off or be zoned out on antihistamines. Some choice. For now, the meds