Archive for the “dancing cranes” Category

I’m coming into the home stretch of the Dancing Cranes stole! After a dedicated week of working on it, I am more than halfway through the third and final pattern repeat. This week, too, will be mostly given over to lace knitting (or is that “knitting lace”?) so that I can have the stole bound off, washed, and blocking by the end of the weekend.

The pattern as written says that the finished stole will be around 18″, and I think mine is going to be wider than that – which I’m quite happy with, as I didn’t think 18″ was enough. Originally I’d considered doing extra repeats, and I even bought the extra ball of yarn but now that I’m out of time, however wide it is will be wide enough!

The thought of trying to block this thing with pins was horrifying, so a set of blocking wires from KnitPicks has been ordered and is on its way to me. I can’t wait to see what it looks like once the lace is all opened up! Right now it looks like a fuzzy tangled mess, but I know it will be absolutely gorgeous after blocking.

Dancing Cranes has been an exercise in counting to eleven, over and over and over again. It would have been a much more difficult project without stitch markers every eleven stitches to mark off the pattern. Every return row I counted zero for the knit stitch, then one through ten for the purl stitches, just to make sure I still had the stitch count correct, and I’m glad I paid such close attention because I kept finding little mistakes. Knitting through the stitch below, missing yarnovers, little accidents that were fixable before they’d gotten too far down.

Even so, I wouldn’t say that it was a particularly *difficult* knit, just one that required lots of care and attention. When I concentrate like that, I stick my tongue out like Linus when he’s writing to the Great Pumpkin. And when I do that, it throws my entire jaw off. So, I chew on guitar picks. I’m no good at playing with a pick; I drop them into the guitar half the time, but they’re great to chew on! Between the sticky note marking off the rows and the pick, I kept my place (and my jaw) pretty well indeed.

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On Monday night I sat down with the Dancing Cranes stole to knit my two rows for the day. As I got near the end of the first row, I noticed that I only had ten stitches, rather than eleven, between the markers. (The pattern repeats over eleven stitches, so to make it easy I’ve put a million markers in. I mean, one ever eleven stitches. It helps me notice issues like this.) Well, crap! I stared at it for a little while trying to figure out where I’d gone wrong, and eventually decided that I was simply too tired to try to fix it, so I went to bed.

When I woke up on Tuesday morning I had a vision of the problem in my head, and it was as simple as a missed yarnover. So when I got home from work I did a little flip of two stitches below the row I was working, and voila! A yarnover. Then I knit the second row from Monday, and my two rows for the evening, and felt quite accomplished.

By the end of the week I hope to be well into the third and final repeat. I’ll be glad when this project is done! Not that I’m not enjoying working on it, but I really want to block it, take pictures of it, and wear it to that wedding I’m going to in October.

(Whatever shall I do with an extra ball of the Silken Kydd? I’m sure I’ll come up with something beautiful.)

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I have just two months left to finish the Dancing Cranes stole, and so I snuck away from the cats to a quiet place where I could work on it. I’m starting to feel some anxiety about getting it done in time, so I’m planning to dedicate a portion of every evening to work on it until it’s done. I don’t want to be putting it out to block the night before I’m supposed to wear it!

Halfway through the second pattern repeat, and it’s measuring about nine inches wide when I stretch it out a little. The pattern says that the finished stole should measure fourteen inches relaxed, after blocking, and that seemed a little narrow to me so I’d planned on doing a fourth repeat. But if I can get it to be eighteen inches with three repeats, then I’ll have an extra ball of the yarn to use on another project!

(Not to mention, doing three repeats instead of four seems much more feasible.)

This second picture is huge (2000×1500, about 2.5 MB). I was going to size it down, then thought it would make excellent desktop wallpaper. Here is a direct link for downloading!

(All rights reserved, for personal use only, please do not use this photograph for profit or commercial use, etc.)

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The speed at which I’ve been knitting lately has given me a boost of confidence and renewed my energy for knitting. Two hats in five working days, a pair of armwarmers in less than ten hours? When I first started knitting, I never would have dreamed that I could crank out finished products so quickly. (And now, I’m making excuses like “well, it’s worsted yarn, it’s not like it was a pair of socks or anything.”)

So here I am, considering that it’s eleven weeks to Maryland Sheep and Wool, and wondering how many of my current WIPs I can finish before then so that I can feel no guilt about buying more yarn or fibre. (I’m rather pleased that I’ve used all the yarn I’ve bought so far this year. Three balls of yarn in, three balls of yarn out.)

Currently on the needles, I have the neglected Stripey Striped Socks, the not-yet-forgotten Napramach, my current traveling sock (I’ve just realized I’ve never taken a picture of it, nor of the last pair of socks I finished! Must rectify that.) and the light and airy Dancing Cranes stole.

The stole doesn’t need to be finished until the middle of October, but I know it will take a while, so I want to keep up with adding at least a row every day, and preferably two. With around 60 or 90 rows left to work, depending on whether I choose to do three or four pattern repeats, I don’t want to risk the chance of not finishing it in time. I do like working on it, but it’s a solitary sort of project, and I don’t always want to lock myself away to work on it.

The sock will just travel around with me until it’s finished – I’ve almost completed the first of the pair, and then the second will take up residence in my purse. When I’m done with that one, the second Stripey Striped Sock can become my traveling companion if I haven’t yet finished it at home. It’s not the best sock for the job, but it’ll have to do, because I really want it to be done.

Napramach… I actually don’t know how long it will take for me to finish this thing! It took me six weeks to make the first half of it, and I seem to be knitting much faster now. Maybe three weeks? Then blocking, crocheting the sides together, and sewing in the lining, and it’s done. I’m guessing that my friend has probably forgotten about the bag by now, or if she hasn’t forgotten then she’s given up hope that I’ll ever finish it for her. It will be a nice surprise for her when it’s finished – she only knew that I was making a bag for her, but I never told her what it would look like!

The bonus prize of finishing Napramach will be that I’ll have most of each of six colourways of Rowan Felted Tweed to play with after the bag is done. I’m thinking of designing a colourwork hat with the leftovers; there should be more than enough, and I already know how nicely the colours go with one another. The second bonus prize will be on my yearly tally, because I’ll be able to cross off six balls of yarn from my count! I wonder if I should cross off all six balls, because I bought them specifically for this project? Or do I mark each of them as half-used, since there will be enough to make another project?

The Stripey Striped Socks are close to the heel on the second sock, and I can’t seem to find my notes on how many heel stitches I left unworked in the centre of the short-row heel. I think I scribbled them on a tiny piece of paper, not expecting nearly two years to fly by between sock heels. I’ll count stitches on the first sock and try to get the second sock as close as I can.

I’m going to love each of these projects when they’re done. And I hate having the Stripey Striped Socks and Napramach hanging over my head. I see them and think I ought to put some rows on them, and then I go do something else. It’s time to crack down and get these projects done and off the WIPs list so that I can start new things. At the same time, I don’t want to burn out on knitting again; I know that’s more likely to happen when I’m forcing myself to work on projects that I don’t like as much. I’m just going to work steadily on these four projects until they’re done, and I won’t start anything new until at least both pairs of socks are finished. Then, of course, I’ll need a new traveling sock.

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Progress on the Dancing Cranes stole comes in fits and spurts. I neglected it over the holidays and came back to it with a vengeance in the last few days – this picture is already several rows out of date!

Each 300-stitch row takes me about half an hour, so it feels like a real commitment to make myself sit down and work on it. I don’t like stopping partway through a row. But once I get started, I want to keep going for hours! “Just one more row…” has kept me up past my bedtime more nights than I want to admit. I like the yarn (even if it sheds a bit while I’m working with it) and I’m really enjoying watching the pattern form. It’s not a very complex lace pattern at all, and I’ve gotten it in my head firmly enough now that I can put on music or YouTube videos while I work. When I first started, I wanted total silence and concentration, but now some background noise is fine.

Each 28-row repeat will use up about one ball of the yarn. The pattern calls for three repeats and I have four balls of yarn, but I probably won’t make a decision about doing the fourth repeat until I’m closer to being finished and I can see what size the stole is coming out to be. If I decide to stop at three repeats, I have the thought to pick a lace stitch and an edging from one of the dictionaries and make up a one-skein decorative scarf (a scarflet?) to wear at work.

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There is absolutely no progress to report on the Dancing Cranes stole. I spent Wednesday after work configuring my new computer (yay, new computer!) and so didn’t have time in the evening to knit. Last night when I sat down to put my two rows on I completely misread the chart and knit, then painstakingly unknit, about 80 stitches. Unknitting the SSKs was not particularly enjoyable, but eventually I’d gotten back to my mistake and worked forward again until I realized that my eyes were crossing from tiredness. Since sleepy lace knitting is a recipe for making mistakes in lace knitting, I put the stole down halfway through a row and went to bed.

I’ve been thinking about design again! The weather is getting colder and that makes me want to knit cozy warm things. I had the idea for a double-thick fingerless glove/convertible mitten, with colourwork on the outside mitten. Already I’m sketching out how it would be constructed. Both the inside and outside would be worked in DK weight yarn, possibly using different yarns for each. The outside would use a strong and smooth yarn so the colourwork would show up well, while the inside could be made of a softer luxurious yarn.

Happy Feline Friday! Could these two be any cuter?

Yes, Floyd does have bald spots around his lips. When he was a young kitten he had an allergic reaction that gave him horrible skin crusties in his ears and on his pawpads and lips. Poor little guy! We’re still not sure what caused it, but fortunately the crusties cleared up quickly and have never come back. Usually it’s difficult to notice that the fur doesn’t grow well around his mouth; the camera flash reflecting off his skin makes it seem worse than it really is.

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If I’m only knitting two rows of lace per day, I’m not going to have much progress on the Dancing Cranes stole to blog about in every entry, but here’s the progress so far: four rows of edging, and four rows of first repeat of the lace pattern. On the wrong-side row I discovered a mistake I’d made on the right side, and had a moment of gratefulness that I was able to read my knitting and know how to fix the error, because there would not have been any unknitting of nearly 600 stitches to repair the problem. It was fix it or move on. Fortunately it was a simple fix; I’d missed the second stitch of a SSK and all I had to do was pass that stitch over. Whew, problem solved.

The yarn is so light and airy; when I pull a new length from the ball it floats back to the table like down instead of just falling. It’s also, as I mentioned, almost completely unforgiving. I keep noticing as I knit how the mohair fuzzles work their way in and around each stitch, which is why unknitting more than a few stitches is all but impossible. On the plus side, the yarn-ends from where I change skeins are unlikely to work themselves out after the stole is washed and blocked! It does shed a little bit, but I’m hoping all those pieces fall out while I’m knitting and not while I’m wearing the finished piece. I guess the shedding could always be blamed on a cat, if I need to place blame.

More procrastinating with math: If I decide to work four pattern repeats of this shawl, then every six rows is another 5% completed. If I can knit four rows tonight instead of two, the project will be at 10% completion already! Not bad progress, eh? For someone who claims to dislike math and numbers, I sure do a lot of figuring out stitch counts and percentages complete…

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I had planned to cast on for the Dancing Cranes stole on Friday night, but the discovery that my size 7 needles were regular blunt-tipped circs and not Addi Lace needles gave me pause. The last time I tried knitting lace with blunt needles I nearly gave up on lace altogether, and I have no desire to repeat that experience. Saturday was a day for hunting down needles! I went first to Knit and Stitch = Bliss in Bethesda, but they didn’t have the Lace circs in size 7. Apparently they’re going to stop carrying the Lace needles; they aren’t selling well enough to justify stocking them anymore. They did offer me the Addi Click Lace set, but that’s unfortunately at $185 that’s out of my budget right now. Maybe in the future I’ll sell off all the Addis I have to fund the Click set, but for now… no. Later in the day I stopped by Needles in the Haymarket and was lucky that they were still open, even though it was half an hour after closing time. I bought the very last size 7 Lace needle they had in any length, and it was even the 32″ I needed. Whew! I guess I could have made do with a shorter cable, but I’m sure I’ll be glad to have the length. If not for this project, then for something in the future.

On Sunday afternoon I got out the yarn and my new Lace needle and contemplated casting on three hundred stitches with the yarn held double. I’d never done a cable cast on before, so I had to look up instructions for that before getting started. It seemed easy enough… I cast on the first three stitches three times but the yarn refused to slide free for a fourth attempt, so I cut off those few inches and began again. This time instead of trying to use the right needle to bring the new stitch through, I used my smallest crochet hook. It worked like a charm! After a while I had gotten into the routine motion of pulling new stitches through, and all three hundred stitches were on the needle, with stitch markers at each ten stitches, which were counted three times each just to be sure. The Silken Kydd is really unforgiving of mistakes, which is typical for fuzzy mohair. I shall simply have to refrain from making any mistakes over the next 35,700 stitches or so.

It was some time before I could bring myself to actually get started on the first stitch. I procrastinated by re-doing the math: the stole has a 28 row repeat and calls for three repeats; I bought enough yarn for four just in case. If I work one row per day, that’s one repeat per month, which means even if I decide to do the fourth repeat the stole will be done in mid-March, well before the end of May deadline.

Before bedtime I’d purled the four-row edging and went off to dreamland feeling quite pleased with my progress. The yarn is actually quite nice to knit with, less slippery than I’d guessed it would be and a *lot* more fuzzy. Tonight I’ll find out if I can concentrate on knitting lace while watching Monday Night Football – it’s the Vikings at the Packers, and it should be a good game.

Do cranes really dance, anyway?

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The fourth washcloth has been giving me no end of troubles. I must have started it seven or eight times, with four different patterns, just trying to get it right. Each time something went wrong – I missed a stitch, I chained the wrong number of stitches, the colours were playing out in the ugliest blotches. Finally I gave up and decided to do another Woven Stitch cloth, since the last one came out so well, and I had much better luck. I didn’t get another argyle, but I did get some nice zig-zags. So much better than splotchy blotches! (But man, I really need to get a better camera, or wait ’til daylight to take pictures.)

I ordered the Silken Kydd yarn from Elann for the Dancing Cranes stole, and I’m totally impressed with their shipping time. I placed the order on Sunday night and got the yarn on Wednesday morning! The pattern calls for three balls of yarn and three pattern repeats to make a 14.5″ by 80″ stole. I ordered a fourth ball in case I’m crazy enough to want to do an extra 8400 stitches of a fourth pattern repeat for a slightly wider stole, or just in case three isn’t quite enough. Since I want it finished for cousin Dianna’s wedding in May, I’m going to have to get started right away. Even if I only knit one row a day, it will be done in time. I’ll cast on this weekend and see how far I can get.

Floyd and Kipling are the best laundry helpers I could have wished for. They’re also a great incentive to put the laundry away as soon as it’s out of the dryer. Otherwise they will shed on it, use it for a jungle gym or as a hiding spot for guerrilla warfare or as a perfect napping hammock.

Cats are great, aren’t they? Happy Feline Friday!

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Like most of the women in my family, I run on the cold side. I’ve even been known to shiver in 75-degree (24 C) weather if there’s a breeze. The other night I stubbornly refused to turn the heat on, though it was 66 degrees (19 C) in the house. I’m told that some people are comfortable at this temperature, but not me! Instead of cranking the thermostat I put on a sweatshirt, my warm wool slippers, and enticed the cats to sit with me. It wasn’t just me, at least; Kipling’s ears and paws were cold too, and once he realized that I was making a warm spot on the cold leather couch, he was happy enough to curl up beside me. (We do this a lot, as evidenced by the picture.) Maybe I should knit a cat sweater for him? I bet he’d absolutely hate that. I’ll get his reaction on video, if I try to get a sweater on him. It’s sure to be amusing to everyone who isn’t him!

My co-workers seem to think that 68 degrees is a good temperature for our office, so I’m often cold at work too. I have a company-issued blue fleece blanket to wrap around myself, and a forbidden space header hiding under my desk which sometimes gets turned on even when it’s incredibly hot outside, because that’s when they crank the air conditioning to make it too cold inside.

People make fun of me for being cold all the time. But as they say, “Cold hands, warm heart!”

Where is this going, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you: in the next year I have two weddings to attend, and the sort of dress that one wears to a wedding is also the sort of dress that doesn’t cover much, so unless I do something about this problem I will be shivering my way through two wedding ceremonies and receptions. Or I will look silly wearing a man’s suit jacket over my dress. I’d rather not be covered in goosebumps or look silly, so I’ve come up with a solution: I am going to knit a stole.

This stole, in fact. (Picture is from Elann’s website.) It is the Dancing Cranes stole from Elann.com, knit in Silken Kydd, which is Elann’s version of Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze for less than half the price. Conveniently, the pattern is free! I’m undecided between “Pewter” and “Winter White”, but I think I’m leaning towards white as it would go with everything. “Forest Mist” and “Baked Apple” are pretty colours as well, but probably not as versatile. It seems to me that light coloured stoles show off best over a dark dress. What do you think?

The runner-up in my pattern search for a fancy lacy thing to wear at a wedding is this half-circle shawl inspired by Elizabeth Zimmermann, in honour of what would have been her 100th birthday. If you don’t have a Ravelry account you can see the designer’s picture of the shawl on Flickr.

It was a very close second; I like half-circle shawls and I think this one is quite pretty, although I’d probably choose a different edging for it. Maybe I will knit this pattern as my second shawl and use it for office-wear, using a dark colourway of one of the yarns with silver content for sparkle-appeal. I never thought of myself as someone who would wear a shawl, but between being cold and hanging out with knitters, I’m starting to see the appeal of a warm and pretty lace-thing to wrap around myself.

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