The Saga of the Silkpaca Fingerless Gloves (or Why I am Such an Idiot Sometimes)

How hard could it possibly be to knit a pair of lacy fingerless gloves for a Knit Along? Surely not hard at all, considering that I have knit both fingerless gloves and lace many times in the past. I consider myself a competent knitter, able to follow a pattern, but somehow my knitting skills alluded me in the most unusual of ways. That is to say, when I mess up, I do it with creative panache.

Firstly, because I had already read through the pattern days before, I cast on with size 0’s without even consulting the pattern.  I should have seen the red flag right off the bat because 45 stitches in lace weight yarn on size 0’s is freakishly tiny. I’m ashamed to admit it took me many rows of knitting before my brain kicked and and said, “this doesn’t look right. Are we making mitts for an American Girl doll, ya moron?!?”

So, I consulted the pattern which very clearly states that I was supposed to be using size 2’s. Hmm. I could have sworn it was 0, but I can admit my error. I have a lot of things on my plate. It isn’t inconcievable that I would remember the needle size wrong. Odd, to be sure, but not impossible.

Frog. Cast back on. Knit another insanely long time before that voice in my head was back. “This is still way small. Sure it could fit The Blessing, but do you really want to knit lacy fingerless gloves in expensive yarn for your two year old?” Nope.

But what was wrong? I followed the pattern this time. I was careful to make sure to do it right.

That’s when I looked to Ravelry to see if this was a common problem with this pattern (when in doubt, blame the pattern, right?).

And that’s when I realized I was using the wrong pattern. I had set out to knit Alpaca Warmers and had instead started knitting top down alpaca mitts!

But it was worse than that…

I wasn’t even in the right book!!!

I have all the 101 One Skien Wonders books. The pattern I needed is in the “designers” one and I had pulled the “luxury” one off the shelf.

Gigantic sigh. And total (well mostly) redemption of my sanity (which I was really beginning to question!). It is size 0 needles. I just needed more stitches, 72 in all. And that looked much better. I think.

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Only now it was looking a bit too big!

As I resisted the urge to fling it into the back yard and run away screaming, I tried to come up with a new plan for them. If they are too big for my 11 year old’s birthday present (with her birthday coming up fast, I had hoped to have a pretty lacy thing for her), why finish them at all? Lacy mitts for me? Back up gift? Think of someone who’d like them? Hope they fit my daughter after all? Or maybe she won’t care that they are loose?

Of course, I kept knitting, all the while thinking these things, getting deeper into a project that I have serious doubts about. Because there is nothing like frogging some great work of art after knitting most of it knowing it was going to be frogged in the end.

But I persevered and was glad I did. The first glove turned out pretty good and fit me just snuggly enough to make me think that they could still be a good gift for The Dancing Queen.

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At this point I was in love with everything about this project – the yummy yarn, the tiny needles, the pretty lace all making me so happy. But my favorite thing about it was that with only 50 grams of lace weight yarn, 6” DPNs, and minimal notions, the entire thing fits in this little pouch.

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Call me crazy, but I just love that!

Things were trucking along smoothly enough, but I didn’t finish the second mitt without a few mishaps.

The two year old pulled the needles out and I had to rip out all the lace and start at the ribbing.

The same two year old dumped The Man’s glass of wine all over my book.

And then the pattern for the second glove wasn’t the same as the first and I didn’t catch it in time, so there is a little shaping that is off. I left this as it was. At that point I couldn’t bear another frogging.

Drama, drama, drama.

But then I did it. I finished the second one. And it was all worth it.

IMG_4100-resized_medium Alpaca Warmers in malabrigo silkpaca. SO Scrumptious! 

These are seriously gorgeous. And warm despite being lacy and thin, because of the alpaca content (which is crazy warm even in tiny amounts!).

After all the uncertainty, I am going to give them to The Dancing Queen for her birthday. She has been eyeing them and fretting when I told her they were for me. I have played that card before, so she is probably suspicious. If she loves them and wears them then I can get over her lack of surprise.

I did say that I liked adventurous knitting, didn’t I? Well, I do. And after the monotony of recent knitting projects, the thrills and chills of this latest knitting was just what the doctor ordered. So happy ending to my knitting saga. And a few lessons learned along the way – lessons like,
Make sure you are in the right book.
Don’t leave the knitting within reach of the 2 year old,
and 
Sometimes the doubts in your head are totally wrong and there is an awesome finished project waiting for you at the end of the tunnel if you’ll just press on. 
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Frivolity

It feels good to have some lace on the needles again.

Sure, I always have a lace project in progress (or two…. or three). Alas, the time that is required to concentrate on such complicated frivolities has been quite limited as of late. As in, I’d rather spin. Ha! The lace has been taking up needle space and collecting dust for a few months, now. Untouched, unloved.

Actually, the three lace projects that I currently have on the go have been collecting dust because my knitting has been more utilitarian. I need to make a baby gift for so-and-so. I must finish this sweater for a customer. I should get that test knit finished. And while I would love to while away my time on complicated lace shawls that have no purpose in my life whatsoever, there just aren’t enough hours in my day.

That is why I jumped at the chance to test knit a lace shawl for Cosy. At last, a lacy knit that has a deadline and a reason and a sense of urgency that my other lace projects utterly lack. Besides, look at this shawl that I am testing. Beautiful, right?

And another look:

Mary Louise Shawl in Cosymakes Snapdragon Light Fingering, Red (Raveled here, and Cosy’s finished shawl here)

It feels so good to be working on lace again. And not just because it is so stimulating and interesting. Not only for its delicate beauty or the gorgeous yarn. Not merely for the charm of turning a chart into art. All of that is true, to be sure. But at this moment right now, I am taken with the way an entire large shawl project still fits inside my new knitting bowl. (From Blue Room Pottery on Etsy. A “Happy Nothing Day” gift from the Mother-In-Law from Heaven)

Oh, sweet frivolity!

It’s a Mystery

A mystery knit-a-long, that is. However the real mystery is if I will be able to wrap my post-pregnancy-milk-making-half-starved-totally-fatigued brain around the complicated lace that is being doled out! (Did I say half starved? Make that perpetually eating yet never satisfied…. Pass the chips, please.)

As for the actual knitting I am averaging about two rows a night on this bottom up shawl (the rows started out in the hundreds but get progressively shorter as you go). I am using this yarn from my stash and some beads that I got in a recent swap.

Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Lace 

This is my first beaded knitting project, so I am super thrilled. Also, it is a Kitman Figueroa design (remember the Jaali shawl?) which pleases me as well. Her lace is exquisite, challenging, and, well, totally awesome.

I will keep you posted on my progress. Oh, and I have one more finished project to show you tomorrow and then you will be caught up on the camera-free knitting that happened this summer… I think.

Now, back to “solving” that mystery.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

What Ever Happened to That Lace?

Rest assured, the lace obsession rages on, but several things have been slowing me down.

Hinderance #1 – Pregnancy Brain Lingers On. Despite being five weeks post-partum, I still can’t manage to remember a simple lace pattern – even when it is repeated eight hundred times! Sleep deprivation deserves some of the blame as well (see Hinderance #2), but I should be able to wrap my brain around a few yarn overs. This isn’t that hard (for lace) and I have mastered much more complicated patterns in my knitting life.

Hinderance #2 – Sleep Deprivation Causes Narcoleptic Attacks. If I am knitting on the (super-secret-christmas-gift) stockinette stitch project, I most definitely will fall asleep. It has happened…. twice. If I am knitting on something more complicated, say, this lace for example, well… see Hinderance #1. Fortunately, I am a tea snob and have the caffeine it takes to carry on.

Hinderance #3 – Silk (while gorgeous and fabulous and wonderful and awesome) Is Very Slippy and Hard To Work With. To fix this problem, I moved my knitting off of my slick nickle plated needle to my Harmony Wood needle. It helped, but I still have dropped more stitches than I care to count (can you say “tink”) and have to watch carefully even on the easy purl rows. The stitches dance around all over the place and the yarnovers like to rearrange themselves on the needle.

Hinderance #4 – 

Need I say more?

Hinderance #5 – Let’s be honest. The biggest reason that I have neglected my lace is this:

Can you blame me?

 

Of Dropped Stitches, Procrastination, and Treasonous Lifelines

It started last September. It was coming along so beautifully.

The Rona Lace Shawl in Knit Picks Shadow Vineyard

Then, I took a break. I thought it was safe and secure in it’s cute little bag. Alas, when I picked it back up in December, I found that the needle had pulled out of a few stitches and they had dropped. Kicking myself for leaving my lifeline 40 rows back, I put it back in the bag and decided to I would frog it back to the lifeline… later.

Today, I picked it up again (my current knitting project is boring me to tears, and I thought I could use a challenge). I started to pull the needles out and rip back to my thin, green safety net.

I noticed too late that my lifeline had abandoned me, as well.

Almost half of the circle was not protected by my treasonous lifeline. Why I didn’t tie the ends together is beyond me, but then again, I was presumptuous enough to leave it so far behind, I guess I thought I wouldn’t need it.

Such a talented knitter as myself! HA! I scoff at lifelines!

And look where it got me. I was almost finished knitting that first ball, too:

And now, I am back to square one.

This is a must knit shawl, so I am going to cast it back on and complete it… later.

For now, I am thinking that my teal skien of Claudia Handpainted Silk Lace needs to be a Peacock Shawlette.

A Collection of Unrelated Thoughts

1. I have a difficult choice to make. Last night I finished the center square of the baby blanket. It is gorgeous. I love it.

This is an Estonian lace pattern in DK weight yarn on size 6 needles. (Ravelry project page link) It is supposed to have a lace border. I cast on for the lace border last night…. and then realized I was using the wrong needles. So, I pulled it out and then that little evil voice inside my head started whispering. “Who needs a lace border?” it said. And, it is right. This is a perfect size even without the border. But, I want to do it completely and I think I will be happier if I knit that border…. maybe later. I do have until June, you know.

2. I have created a Linus… somehow. New Baby hasn’t even gotten here, yet, but the Munchkin is already showing some signs of insecurity. Maybe it is because she made the switch from crib to big girl bed. Maybe it is because I have been so sick and tired and crabby (read: not a very good mom). Maybe it is just her age. Whatever the reason, she has taken to carrying her wool fleece (which she has slept on since birth) and sucking her thumb all day.

Oh, and also chanting, “Weeweee! Weeweee!” in sheer delight. (That is “wooly” for those of you who don’t speak Munchkin) I had to cut a piece off the wooly so that she could have a portable wooly during the day – we call it the “Wooly-Bit”. I am not worried about it. I just didn’t expect this until after the New Baby came along.

3. I finished the lace shawl for the Bookworm’s birthday ahead of schedule.

It is a shawlette, and will fit her little shoulders perfectly. I made a terrible mistake at my first go, and didn’t realize it till I got the the border! So, I had to frog it all the way back and re-knit. For that reason, it took me twice as long as it should have. This is an excellent pattern for a last minute gift – I think I could make it again in a solid day. (Ravelry Project Page Link) I will do a post on it after her birthday when I can have her model it. For now, it is going from the blocking board to a little hiding spot. I am so excited to give this to her – she is going to flip. 🙂

4. I have three gifts to make today (on top of school, laundry and cleaning…. sigh). I am thinking about making some of these pouches. I have tons of cute fabric that gets left out of all the fun that my yarn experiences every day. Time for the fabric to get some attention. I may even make one for me. Yippee!

5. I passed my six month mark last week and didn’t say a word. Oops. I am happy about it, really, I am. I just feel lousy because of a sneak attack from a sinus infection. But, pregnancy-wise I am doing excellent. Baby is growing steadily and moving a lot. All my vitals are excellent. I would give you a belly shot, but I am still in my jammies and I am not ready to get dressed, yet. (Must finish the first cup of coffee…) Only 16 weeks left… (wow, that almost sounds too soon!)

6. I cast on another project. But that isn’t really news, is it? I have not made much progress, so I will keep you in suspense until there is something to show for it. (ooh, I am so eeevil!)

Now I am off to get something done. Maybe I will even get dressed and make my bed…

Feel the Burn

Before I learned to knit, I did crossword puzzles. Difficult crossword puzzles. And sudoku. Lots of sudoku. You see, I had this theory. I spent most of my time with little people. I said the words “potty” and “ni’ night” and “peek-a-boo” several times a day. I thought my brain might deteriorate into a pile of jello if it didn’t get some exercise (just as my body wasn’t exactly made of steel after having reading as my main hobby… But that is another story). So I exercised my brain by doing difficult puzzles, trying to retain some intellegence for later, when the kids are grown….

So, maybe that is why I approach my knitting the way that I do. I am still surrounded by (wonderful, fabulous, adorable) children. And while some people knit to relax, (and I get that. It is good to have a project on the needles that involves little more than knit, knit, knit…. especially when one is entrenched in season eight of Smallville…. but I digress), and some people knit to have a product (I do that too. I almost always have a “product project” on the needles, not for the pleasure of knitting, but just for the end result (this “product” is still usually diaper covers)), I knit for exercise. (okay, that may be the wildest paragraph, ever. See? My brain is practically mush!)

I do all those things, too, but I mostly knit for the challenge. I knit to learn, to exercise my brain, just like I did crossword puzzles before I learned to knit. I look at a potential project and decide if it is challenging enough. I choose projects that will force me to learn a new technique, or stretch my ability in some way. I knit the “hard stuff” on purpose. I am not intimidated by a difficult project, but rather excited!

That explains this:

If you have been visiting my blog for awhile, you will remember the lace that I couldn’t put down? (Yeah, that baby was  a challenge!) Meet the new lace that I can’t put down. I spend all day looking for a moment quiet enough to pick it up again. (Unfortunately, in this house, that moment doesn’t come till about 8:00pm, but whatever.) And when I can’t find that moment, I content myself with blocking the bits that I have already knit, from this:

to this:

to this:

Ooooh, feel the burn!

Celandine in Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Silk Lace Rubies Playing

Icarus’ Ressurection

Okay, so the story goes like this: Icarus’ father, Daedalus, attempted to escape from his exile in the place of Crete, where he and his son were imprisoned. Daedalus fashioned two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers for himself and his son. Before they took off from the island, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun. Icarus soared through the sky, got a little cocky,and flew too close to the sun, which caused the wax to melt and the feathers to fall off. And so, Icarus fell into the sea and died.

My version goes a little more like this: A bold and daring knitter attempted to knit the Icarus Shawl out of Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud, using the lovely pattern written by Miriam L. Felton. And so she cast on and began knitting her first lace shawl. Before she cast on, she warned herself to pay close attention to the charts and directions. As she and Icarus soared through about 25 rows, she got a little cocky, and started trying to talk while she knit, which caused her to drop stitches and loose her place. And so, Icarus fell into the stash and died.

Until today. After my amazing success with Gold, I have the confidence, yea, the courage to pull Icarus from the depths of the stash and breath life into his tangled strands. This is the stuff legend is made of. This is true adventure. Behold! Icarus!

Painting “The Fall of Icarus” by Peter Paul Rubens

Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Boo

Late last night, as I blocked my newly completed lace shawl, I had a little song running through my head, inspired by the magical way I was turning a gnarly mass of loopy wool into a delicate work of art. I know most of you either have children or were children, so you know this song. Sing with me.

Sala-gadoola-menchicka-boo-la
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo


Put ’em together and what
have you got
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

Sala-gadoola-menchicka-boo-la
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
It’ll do magic believe it or not
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

Now sala-gadoola means
Menchicka booleroo
But the thing-a-ma-bob that
does the job
Is bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

Sala-gadoola-menchicka-boo-la
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
Put ’em together and what
have you got
Bibbidi-bobbidi
Bibbidi-bobbidi
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

I am totally infatuated with this thing.

I keep draping it over anything that can be draped over.

This is the most beautiful thing I have ever made with my hands.

It was the most challenging knitting project I have ever undertaken.

Now, what am I going to do with it?

Victorious

So, last night, I knew I was going to finish Gold, my first lace shawl. Before I begin this heroic account of those last four rows, I want to sidetrack. (A sidetrack in the first line? Gotta be some kind of record!) I am a project knitter. I knit because I want a sweater or a diaper cover or a gift for a loved one. I enjoy knitting, but I don’t knit for the pure pleasure. I want the end result. This was different. I did not knit this shawl because I decided, “Gee, I really want a lace shawl”. This baby was all about the process. And what a process it was. But back to the main story.

So, last night, I am trucking along. Four rows left. Now three. Now two. Last row, and it is all purl. Purl, purl, purl. Five hundred and twenty five purls. Easy. The finish line was in sight. I could see it, and as my hands took over their mindless task, I started to daydream. I mentally blocked it. I started composing my blog in my head. I could hear the Chariots of Fire playing in the background. Then, about thirty stitches from the end, an odd sense of foreboding hit me. The victorious music faded, and I think I heard the Jaws soundtrack. I ignored it for a few more stitches, then stopped. Wait a minute. Wasn’t I purling? NOPE. Knitting. My hands switched to knitting way back when my brain started fantasizing about lacy pictures and victorious blog speeches. My lifeline was, arogantly, 15 rows back. So, I started tinking. Tink, tink, tink.

I wish that was the end of the saga. Once my hands learned their lesson and purled the whole row, I commenced to binding off. No problem, right? I have bound off a hundred times. I could do it in my sleep. (Which was a lovely idea. It was getting late and I was tired.) Problem. I have never bound off lace, and this new procedure was a bit baffling. With two strands held together, purl 2, slip back to the left needle and purl them together. I know that sounds simple, now. But, at 10:30 at night with the euphoria of victory building in my breast, and my husband going to bed without me, my hands, once again took over. Now, I was composing this post, in which I documented the horror of that last row, but the victory of binding off in the end. Then, it happened again. My hands, thinking that they knew better than I, had started to bind off as if we were making some ordinary sweater way back along the line. Tink, tink, tink.

For those of you who are wondering, I do have a shawl this morning. A glorious, hand made, lace shawl. I blocked it last night after working on the last four rows for three hours. I crawled into bed, exhausted and happy. Victorious.

It doesn’t look like much now, but wait till tomorrows episode when we work the magic of blocking….