Monday, February 2, 2015

Tread Softly

3.5 years.
Technically, 3 years and 5 months.
That is how long it took me to finish knitting my Tread Softly shawl.
I designed Tread Softly [design link] in 2011 and hosted a mystery Knit-A-Long (MKAL) starting in September.  The lovely Lindsay of (former) Waterloo Wools custom dyed my favourite yarn base (Montague - a merino-silk lace) in a 'forest green' colourway for me.  I was excited to knit this circular shawl. 
I loved the design, not simply because it's mine and has many of my favourite stitch patterns in it, but because there are no eyelet increase rows! That's the one thing I dislike about pi-shaping increases in most designs. All the necessary increases in Tread Softly are hidden in the design.

The MKAL ran from Sept-Dec 2011.  I was able to keep ahead of the other knitters to double-check the pattern (I'd finished designing and charting in advance), but only barely.  Normally it would have been simple for me, but I developed a terrible, horrible, pregnancy-side-effect. Yes, in September 2011 I became pregnant. With twins. I experienced bad implantation pains - which I only know the cause of after the fact. At the time I was being tested and scanned for other possible problems - all of which came back negative. But that wasn't my knitting problem. I experienced an aversion to knitting. It made me feel physically ill.  WORST AVERSION EVER! (for a knitter).  This was a time I should have been cranking out baby stuff. Or, at the very least, Yule gifts. Instead it was all I could do to force myself to knit this shawl.  Fortunately, the yarn and design made me happy and that mostly balanced out feeling ick while knitting.
When it came time to knit on the lace edging - which is about 30% of the shawl in yardage - I was done.  I tested to make sure it was all going to work out for my MKALers, but I did not knit on my edging.
Instead I watched as many other amazing knitters finished my design and shared their beautiful photos.
Then we started planning our move back to Winnipeg before the twins were born.
Then we moved. Soon after the twins were born.
At some point I slowly started knitting on the edging.
Put it down.
Knit some more.
In January 2015 I was thinking of all the UFOs I want to finish for this year's Stashdown and I didn't look at the shawl. Nope. The edging just seemed to never end and because I had worked the final rounds of the penultimate chart in a larger needle, I was having to use a second set of needles to work the edging. It was cumbersome to me.
At the end of January I wanted to start a new project in lace.
I wanted the needles I was using for the Tread Softly edging.  Nice short 3.25mm wood needles on a short cable. I wanted them for knitting on my trip to Cuba.

I sat down and I started knitting again. If I could knit an entire cabled jacket in a couple weeks for the January Stashdown challenge, I could finish this edging!  Once I was able to squish all the remaining stitches on my shorter cable, the knitting went smoother and it wasn't long until I could see the end in sight - even though that end was many lace rows away. It was there, on my needles.

And now, it is off my needles and carefully grafted together using the method I learned from Knit Like a Pirate.
before blocking

ready to wear
 At some point - perhaps in Cuba - I will get some nicer photographs. Ones that do not involve the self-timer on my PnS.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Stashdown - January

Stashdown 2015 is my focus this year.
All projects must comply - including my spinning.

January's challenge, as decreed by the UPTOSDOWN dictators, was to knit with one of your oldest yarns.  At long last, I knit the Briggs & Little Anniversary Twist (aran) wool that has been in my stash since around the time that Cloth and Clay in Waterloo, ON closed.  That is, right around when I started knitting.

According to my Ravelry stash notes I had 6 skeins of this.  So I started knitting the Drops Chocolate Passion jacket expecting to have enough and, well, if I ran a little short I could stripe in some dark brown Philosopher's Wool that I picked up years ago at their home/shop.

 Everything was going well until I realized I couldn't find 3 skeins. They've disappeared. It seems I only have the 3 and a bit skeins that I had frogged years ago.
But I was not to be deterred from my goal of knitting this project and using up the Anniversary Twist.  Instead, I frogged the entire cabled back piece so that I could use that yarn to finish the other front and I reknit the back using the brown yarn.

 One skein of brown was not enough, however, with 3 skeins missing, so I started striping the sleeves in leftover Briggs & Little in a darker blue.
I do like the result.

Unfortunately, I feel that the shoulders are too wide for me.
Fortunately, I know some deserving folks who average out to my size with wider shoulders. I can't name names yet.

While this may have been my largest knit, it was most certainly not my only project for January.

First, I finished knitting this beautiful design by Kate Atherly - Wavedeck from the most recent Knitty.   I used some handspun BFL yarn I purchased that has been waiting for an appropriate project. When I saw this design I knew it was meant to be.
I started it as soon as the pattern was released - in December.  I had to refrain from knitting the final rows and binding off until January 1 to include it in the stashdown.  It is my Tequila Sunrise shawl.

To keep me from finishing this shawl in December, I knit up this Trafalgar True [rav link] vest using my own handspun - making it up as I went and inspired by the story of Trafalgar True and the sunstone.

I did bind it off before January - under pressure from hubby who insisted it was cheating to start so many projects just before the Stashdown and finish them on Jan1.  This is my pre-stashdown / last of 2014 knits project.

Returning to January, hubby suggested I make my dad a good warm scarf because he overheard my dad, taking the kids outside, saying how he now appreciates why some folks have warm scarves. He's only lived in Winterpeg... for many, many, many years.

It's simply a squishy double basket stitch.

And mom had asked me to knit a shawl for her friend. Mom paid for the baby llama yarn. I'll be asking her to 'pay me' for my work by helping clean fleeces. Seems fair, non?

 This Earthy Lights shawl started as a Chandelier Shawl designed by Anna Dalvi, but my needles were smaller and it wasn't coming out as big as I'd hoped, so I made up my own edging (in the dark yarn).  Mom already wanted a two-toned shawl like this.  The Eco-Llama yarn is FABULOUSLY soft.

There was one more FO at the end of January, but it is deserving of its own post. It has the longest history so far.