Wednesday 30 March 2011

Cries and Whispers

Shawl in progress
Originally uploaded by Asplund
One "wing" done, so the shape is clearer now. This shawl is actually very much like what I had in mind, which hardly ever happens. There's usually quite a big difference between project-in-mind and project-in-reality, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

An example of the latter is this cardigan I made for my sister some ten years ago. The two colours looked great when I held the skeins together, but knitted they ate each other up, and you can barely see the pattern. Stripes would have worked, but not this kind of pattern.

What irritates me most about it is that I saw what was happening and still refused to see it, hoping (as far as I can remember) that blocking would make a difference. Not very realistic... Still, I'm happy with that cardigan because my sister likes it. Recipients' reactions can make quite a difference!

Edited to add: the photo of the white shawl against the red background suddenly made me think of a beautiful but deeply unnerving Ingmar Bergman movie that has haunted me since I first saw it quite a few years ago. Perhaps I should rename the shawl "Viskningar och rop"? (English title: Cries and Whispers.)

Sunday 27 March 2011

Caught blue-handed

Caught blue-handed
Originally uploaded by Asplund
I'm helping a colleague adding sleeves to the cardigan she is knitting. Not only my hands are proof of surplus dye: you can also see the difference between the sleeve cap I have made and the body, which she made and washed before handing the project to me.

I like sleeve caps but I also like knitted-on sleeves, so I'm experimenting with different ways to combine the two using short rows. There's a detailed description in this post.

Friday 25 March 2011

Breaking promises

Shawl progress
Originally uploaded by Asplund
The shawl is a true joy to knit, so I'm making fast  progress! About 2/3 done so far.

A few weeks ago I went through my stash and discovered there was far more than I thought - even though I tried to exaggerate! A familiar phenomenon, anyone? This made me decide to try (note "try"!) not to buy any more yarn this year. Complete failure. Not unexpected, but it happened sooner than I thought.

First, I discovered Sannstick's sale: Lucca Fino Tweed from BC, yarn that I've used once before and really liked - and which won't be made anymore. What could I do but get enough yarn for two sweaters, blue and yellow?

Then I had a great evening with Born to knit a couple of days ago. Her knitting library is incredible, rare Alice Starmore books, lots of vintage books and magazines... She also showed me some of her sweaters, and I was particularly impressed with her Starmore design Henry VIII; it is certainly a sweater I'm going to make some day, but I felt it was high time to give in to my ca-ten-year-old desire to get my top favourite Starmore design Alba. So I did. Anticipation...

Some things are so easily done!

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Spring feelings

Airing sweaters
Originally uploaded by Asplund
Spring may be here at long last: does an instant urge to air sweaters count as a kind of spring feeling?

Today I'm going to write seven things about myself as promised in my previous post. First, two things I look forward to this week:

Seeing fellow knitter and blogger Born to knit tonight. We first met live about a year and a half ago after getting acquainted thanks to the internet.

A concert on Sunday with Dee Dee Bridgewater, a favourite singer I'm going to get to enjoy live for the fourth time. I love her gorgeous, rich voice (she can sound like anything from a caress to a grater), her way with lyrics, athletic scat singing, interaction with musicians and her sense of humour - all of which plus some present in this version of  "Love for Sale". (It takes about 1½ minute before she actually starts singing.)

Through her albums, Dee Dee's singing is knitted into many of the things I've made since I first heard her some ten years ago.

Last, five favourite tastes, simply because I can't think of anything better to write about: lemon, ginger, garlic, cinnamon and pomegranate.

Friday 18 March 2011

Shawl shape

Shawl in progress
Originally uploaded by Asplund
Today I thought I'd share my ideas for the shape of my current shawl project. I want a V shape made up of three equally big sections: the middle/bottom one filled with stars, and the wings with grids similar to the centre of the previous Estonian shawl I made.

You can see a tiny sketch of the shape in the centre of the photo, and in the upper right corner is the start of the grid pattern. The shawl will be framed with a knitted-on border, but I haven't made up my mind about what kind of pattern to use. No need to decide yet, though...

Christine has passed on an award to me, a Stylish award, which is very flattering. Thank you! I'm supposed to write seven things about myself. That will require some thinking, so I'm saving that for next post. In the meantime, I suggest you check out her blog and the other bloggers she nominated

Last, I'm going to answer a couple of questions in comments on a previous post:

Ron asked about the yarn. It's "Viva" from Wetterhoff in Finland, easily my favourite yarn for knitting lace. It's a glorious wool-silk blend (70-30%) and 100 grams is enough for a big shawl. It drapes beautifully thanks to the silk, and it has a sheen that enhances lace patterns. I just counted my "Viva" projects on Ravelry: this is my tenth since I first discovered more or less exactly two years ago. For most of them I've used 4 mm needles (US 6), but after some swatching I decided 3½ mm (US 4) worked best to make Estonian nupp patterns.

Ann asked about the edge. I simply slip the first stitch, as if to knit on the right side and as if to purl on the wrong side. I find this makes it easy to pick up stitches for a knitted-on border, and at the same time it looks nice enough in case I don't have enough yarn for a border and the shawl has to be naked. (Shock horror!)

Ron also asked about the green shawl I mentinoned in a previous post. It hasn't found an owner yet, but I have a friend's friend in mind. I understand she'd be interested in having one, and I believe it would be a great colour for her.

Edited to add: I just learnt a new word I could relate to instantly, namely shawlcoholic! Liisa's pun sjalkoholist is even better in Swedish, but I think it works in English too.

Monday 14 March 2011

To rip or not to rip

Shawl in progress
Originally uploaded by Asplund
My intention was to write a post about whether I should rip 2½ rows to add a nupp I forgot to make, but it's too late now. Instead, I'm going to write about why I did :)

1. I never liked mistakes in my knitting, and even though I've grown more tolerant over the years I don't want to keep major flaws. A nupp missing makes a mutilated star.

2. For a while I toyed with the idea of making a "nupp prosthesis" - it could be a good challenge trying to make one afterwards and get it to blend in with the others. On the other hand it might not work, and I was too eager to make progress to start nupp swatching.

3. An hour or so spent ripping out and reknitting a few rows (even if they're rather long) is far less time than years or possibly a lifetime source of irritation I didn't correct a mistake I discovered fairly quickly. I know myself: one of my sweaters has an ugly flaw that I told myself might disappear during blocking... Instead it stood out even more clearly!

4. I tried telling myself a nupp missing is a scandalously ridiculous thing to think about considering the recent disasters in Japan and New Zealand, what's happening in Libya and other countries etc etc... Still, it's as if I just can't help following my knitting instincts.

Ann and Ron: I will get back with answers to your questions!

Friday 11 March 2011

Crown Prince shawl no 2

Crown Prince shawl no 2
Originally uploaded by Asplund
Since I finished my first Estonian shawl I have been thinking about different ways to use the patterns in a different shawl shape. Well, I started thinking about it while knitting the first one. I'm usually most excited about my next project, which I surely have in common with many if not most knitters.

I'm very happy with how the first shawl turned out, but the almost square shape doesn't seem very practical to me: to wear it comfortably you'd have to fold it to make a triangle and then the pattern will disappear.

This time my plan is to combine the star pattern from Nancy Bush's book (which I love, both to knit and to look at) with small groups of nupps in a V-shaped shawl, a shape I tested knitting last year.

My "Jaws" sweater is resting for a while. I've knitted the sleeves but haven't decided how to knit the cuffs. I will probably repeat the coloured triangles from the body but am not quite sure exactly how.