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This week’s Sunday Images are here.

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It’s Monday. Yarn Rascal had a blow out of a weekend. I don’t think he slept 15 minutes in the last 48 hours. The big finale came at 4 am when the heavy thunder storm moved through along with buckets of rain. He was totally out of his little mind.

I can forget about photographing the sweater. The light is as grey as grey can get without becoming night. Instead, I will write-up the pattern and wait for better light.

The sock I am knitting is coming along. At the risk of alerting the knitting gods, I must say it has been an uneventful knit. But never worry, there’s always the second sock that needs to be done, so the knitting gods haven’t yet lost an opportunity to torment me.

The edging for the Rock Island Shawl hit a horrendous small snag when I discovered that the lifeline I was inserting every eighth row wasn’t really inserted every eighth row. I somehow miscounted rows and a good 3″ (8) cm of lace work was no longer following the nice lace pattern. Lifelines are great as long as they are inserted on the right rows and correct row count is maintained.

I made the announcement to the house and all in it that nobody breath, move, or talk until I gave the all clear. I was removing the lifeline (gasp!). Of course Yarn Rascal was the first to bounce joyously into my lap the minute the last bit of lifeline left the naked, quivering stitches unprotected and open to chaos. Then The Skippers small grandchildren decided to surprise us and stop by, during which all becomes mayhem because everyone wants to play with Yarn Rascal, who is only too obliging. Everybody is running from room to room squealing and nothing stands a chance of not being run over or torn apart.

The edging took a hit when Yarn Rascal, in his over enthusiastic glee, tackled the youngest child who in turn grabbed onto the edging in my hand as he fell to the ground. (How terrible is it that my first thought was to save the edging and not the child?) I lost a number of rows, but it wasn’t too bad. I feared never finding out where I was in the knitting, but it forced me to get a slim handle on reading the lace. With lots of effort and the bright beginnings of a migraine I can identify row four of the eight lace rows. The other seven are still a mystery to me. Recognition must be done in a silent room where there is only me, the knitting, and a bright light. The dark royal purple yarn that looks so beautiful when knitted up is hell on the old eyes at night.

So all my quiet but fruitful plans for the weekend went unrealized. Why am I not surprised?

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A new project is on my needles. Rock Island Shawl by Brooklyn Tweed.

rock island shawl brooklyn tweed

I’ve admired it for a long time. My knitting skills are getting a real workout and I am not even beyond the 12 stitch edging. I found Madelinetosh Prairie Yarn in the Medieval colorway and decided to go for it. The shawl is a long-term project. Very long-term.

I cast on about three days ago and I’ve managed to complete only 10 of the 71 repeats of the 8 row pattern. That means I have 488 more rows of edging to knit. One would think 12 stitches per row wouldn’t be difficult to whip off the needles. In fact, when I first looked at the edging chart I thought no problem. Lace making takes place on both sides just remember to reverse the decreases, yadda, yadda, yadda. I forgot the knitting gods don’t like hubris. They really, really, really don’t like it.

To make my arrogance complete, I decided I wouldn’t work with a life line. I mean a life line for 12 stitches? I completely blew past the reality that this was complicated lace making. Thus, dear fellow knitters and crafters, I paid and paid well. How badly did I mess this up? Let’s count the ways.

Forgotten yarn overs.

Forgotten decreases.

Knitting the first stitch of a RS row as if it were a WS row.

Knitting the first stitch of a WS row as if it were a RS row.

Knitting the wrong row.

Knitting the wrong row.

Knitting the wrong row.

Mixing up the decreases. Using k2tog when it called for ssk.

Mixing up the decreases. Using ssk when it called for k2tog.

Talking while knitting a row. The result wasn’t even close to the pattern.

Moving my attention from knitting to Yarn Rascal. A disaster all around.

Suddenly putting down the knitting in the middle of a row for any crises imaginable, picking it back up hours later and knitting the wrong row ending.

Thinking it was possible to tink back a row and get it right working in lace weight yarn.

I could go on, but why torture myself? Suffice it to say, I am now working with a life line. It hasn’t stopped the ripping back, but it has contained it from going all the way back to the start every time I make a mistake. I no longer speak while knitting. I no longer respond to crises. Nothing interrupts me until I get to the end of a row and check that sucker off my little counting sheet. This is why I knit ladies and gentlemen: it’s so darn relaxing.

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I Won

I had a rather interesting weekend, aside from the ice storm. It is the absolute truth when I say I have, until this weekend, never won a thing in my life. So it was on a whim that I entered and won the Shalimar Yarn give away being run in the Shalimar group on Ravelry.

They were giving away 3 skeins of Shalimar Breathless in your choice of colors and 3 lace scarf / stole patterns by the designer Melanie Berg. Her designs are quite wonderful and worth the look.

My choice of yarn colors were Petal, Molly Coddled, and Thistle.

Shalimar Breathless Yarn

I have been dying to try this yarn for a long while. The colorways are gorgeous and quite inspiring to me as a designer. I can see a number of baby sweater designs being created specifically to show off the wonderful palette of colors Shalimar has. But first I really wanted to work with the yarn, see how it behaves before designing with it. This win allows me to do just that.

The three Melanie Berg patterns I won are these beautiful lace designs:

Stole of the Seas.

stole_of_the_seas_melaine berg

Sihaya

sihaya_2_medium2

Grand Bazaar.

grand_bazaar_4_medium2

I can’t wait to get these on my needles. A big thank you to Shalimar Yarns and Melanie Berg. I am one very happy, happy, knitter.

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Latest Finished Objects

knit lace shawl

The small shawl that was part of my easy knitting period after I scrapped Ming Blue is complete. The design is not my own. It comes from the book Traditional Shawls. I hope I’ve got the name right, as I am still house and cat sitting I don’t have the book here to verify the name, but I will get it for you.

knit lace shawl cu

The shawl was made with one skein of MadelineTosh Light in the Happiness colorway. I purchased the yarn from Happy Knits. Love that store and the yarns they carry. Really nice people too.

The other finished object are the socks.

dead simple lace socks knit

My adapted version of “Dead Simple Lace Socks” by Wendy Johnson from her book Socks From the Toe Up (hope I got that name right).

knit lace socks

The yarn is Jill Draper Makes Stuff Splendor Sock Yarn in the Glacier colorway. Unfortunately, Splendor is no longer available and this skein came from my stash and the few precious ones I have left.

Today appears to be cuddle day for Susie, the cat. Not a bad choice since it is snowing. Did I mention that I am terribly allergic to cats? As soon as this latest cuddle fest end its allergy medication time.

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The weekend was wonderful. I completed the work on the swatches. Instead of photographing them, I decided to scan them into the computer using my copier. Now I’m itching to knit a complete lace project. In order to deal with this urge, I ordered some lace yarn. I don’t have a specific project in mind for the yarn, which means I’ll be creating my own.

It took me a bit to get into the lace groove. I made many mistakes both in reading the lace charts, counting, and mixing up which decrease to knit on the wrong side of the work. Actually, in Shetland lace there isn’t a right and wrong side. That’s part of its beauty and the cause of confusion until I get my mind prepared and working. So I did a ton of ripping, an action lace yarn doesn’t like repeated over and over again. Thank the yarn-gods-that-be for putting up lace yarn in the 1000 yards (914) meters skeins.

When I work Shetland patterns, I prefer to use Shetland yarn. But since Shetland yarn is Yarn Rascal’s favorite I didn’t want to be fending off yarn raid attacks every 15 minutes. So I chose to swatch with non-Shetland lace yarn. This decision helped throw my off my lace knitting game too. While I knew it was the wrong yarn and the lace motifs and backgrounds would look different I didn’t expect such a huge distinction. I spent quite a bit of time changing specific stitches so they would agree more with the yarn and give me a better idea of how the different motifs were working together.

On the particular Shetland lace motifs I used, the lace was worked on both right and wrong side rows. When lace is worked this way it is considered to be knitted lace. When a pattern says knitted lace, I know there are no rest stops on the turnpike, so to speak. On the other hand, lace knitting does have rest stops. In lace knitting, the lace is worked only on the right side row. The wrong side rows are purled and considered rest rows. The yarn I used was better suited for lace knitting because it had good stitch definition. Not all Shetland lace motifs are worked as knitted lace. Many are lace knitting. But I was locked into using two motifs that were knitted lace and therefore felt the shawl would look better if all the motifs were worked in the same manner.

My next adventure is an oldie but goodie. Back to the 1960s girl’s sweater. The sleeve is looking a tad forlorn and neglected. It won’t feel that way by the end of the evening.

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I took that walk down by the river that I waxed poetic about in my last post. Half way through the hour long trek MONA (Mother Nature) straightened me right out. A strong wind was blowing down river from the north. If a wind is coming from the north at this time of year chances are it’s cold. Froze my eyeballs at the halfway point in the walk and realized I really wasn’t properly attired for a constant, cold wind. So I turned around with my back towards the wind and continued walking only backwards. There’s a bit of cosmic irony in that, but let’s not plumb the depths. By the time I finished, my hands were frozen, I couldn’t feel my face, and my brain was numb. In short, it worked out well.

Today I am determined to pull together this lace shawl design. I’d like to be knitting swatches in earnest by this evening, photographing them by Saturday night, and sending the pictures out to the company Sunday evening. I get a low throbbing in my left temple each time I run that schedule through my mind. It’s either a blood pressure warning or an impending migraine.

The swatches I’ll be knitting are Shetland Lace designs. All will be in the form of lace knitting in that wrong side rows are not rest rows of purl from one end of the circular needles to the other. No, the wrong side rows are patterned too and one must remember to reverse what is on the charts. Thus it is important to remember whether I am on a right side row and knit the chart as is or a wrong side row and reverse those directional decreases. I can’t have myriad interruptions and work on Shetland Lace at the same time without messing up. In fact, the ideal place for me to knit Shetland Lace is a cloister where the occupants have taken a vow of silence. The least ideal place for this type of knitting is where I am currently living.

I need to have 4 to 5 swatches of 25 to 35 stitches and 20 to 30 rows each. I have searched and for the life of me, can’t find my lace needles; the ones with the extra sharp points. Blunt points don’t work well with this kind of lace. But blunt points is all I can find in the needle cache. It sounds like it is going to be a long, tear filled night, but I am trying to stay positive. It’s still very cold and windy out. The river has whipped itself up into a fine froth and I think I may be coming down with a head cold. But I must stay cheery and positive because I don’t want to take another walk.

Here’s to getting things done. Have a great weekend.

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I have completed the Spring Sweater and I have to say I love it, love it, love it.

spring sweater knit bamtastic

It is all that I was looking for in a sweater and more. From the moment the designer, Jenny Snedeker put out the call for test knitters on Ravelry, I knew I had to make this sweater. I don’t do test knits because I am a process knitter and working on a test knit with a deadline for completion is very stressful to me. The women who do test knitting and sample knitting have my utmost respect. But I had to have this sweater in the same way I have to have air to breathe.

Knitting this sweater changed my life. It’s one of the things I love about knitting, it makes me realize things about life and about me that I would not otherwise see. And this sweater did just that. It changed my way of living and I didn’t even know it needed changing.

It’s been just over a year since my mastectomy. For a year, hospitals, medical tests, surgery, drains, radiation, and doctor appointments ruled my life and the clothes I wore changed.

When I walked into the hospital at 6 am on the day of my surgery I was wearing a feminine lace bra under a shirt that had picot trim and a light overall lace pattern, jeans, my hand knitted lace socks, and clogs. When I walked out of the hospital the next day, I was wearing a man’s XXL long sleeve shirt and beneath it a surgical bra stuffed with cotton gauze pads where my breast used to be and a drain. I didn’t want anyone to look at me and this feeling is why my wardrobe change began. I acquired men’s XXL shirts from The Skipper’s closet. The bigger the shirt, the better I hid inside of it.

In order to have something to wear, The Skipper bought new shirts for himself. It was the beginning of Spring and I was in radiation treatment, still unable to wear a bra and with only one breast his new shirts became my new shirts and into my closet they went with all the other shirts I had appropriated from him. The lacy, feminine clothing I used to wear slowly and in an unnoticeable way began to be pushed to the side of the closet with the other clothes I never wore.

Finally I was given the okay and fitted for a prosthesis and special bras. Nothing changed, I still hid inside the big shirts. I felt comfortable and invisible in them now. No one would be able to tell what happened to me because I disappeared inside all the fabric. The Skipper bought more new shirts and I kept taking them.

It was knitting the sweater that changed all that. I had completed half the back when I realized that I needed to take some measurements of my body to adjust the fit. That’s when one realization followed another like a set of waves rolling into shore. I had to stop hiding inside The Skipper’s clothing. I had to take a rather big step and start wearing the feminine type of clothing I used to love to wear.

The day I completed this sweater and tried it on was filled with emotion. It was the first time in a year that I would put on something feminine and slightly fitted. There would be no place for me to hide in this knit.

spring sweater knit selfie

spring sweater knit sleeve bamtastic

Standing in front of the mirror wearing this sweater I felt pretty, I felt feminine, and I felt wonderful. This is so much more than just a hand knit sweater to me. It’s returned to me all that I allowed cancer to take away. Thank you Jenny for designing this. Thank you Ravelry for existing so I could find this. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Yes, it snowed last night. Blizzard conditions. This morning’s dawn was a gentle rosy hue that softened the all white landscape. Snow artistically swept into graceful forms covered the lower third of the door. After two tries, I finally forced open the frozen door and stepped outside to shovel an area for Yarn Rascal. My eyeballs nearly froze, the temperature was so low. I came back in, found my old ski goggles and resumed preparation for Yarn Rascal.

The sun is full up now and everything outside sparkles like fine crystal. The below zero temperatures (below -17 Celsius) make everything so crystalline. I am almost delusional enough tempted to break out the camera and search out some good shots. Frankly, I don’t know if the camera will even work in below zero temperatures. And the car, which I didn’t quite get around to winterize, won’t turn over. I’ve been so far down in the weeds with my tech editing work and the Shetland Lace Baby Blanket and Yarn Rascal antics that other things have slid beneath my radar.

The Shetland Lace Baby Blanket progresses.

Shetland motif ktb

It’s construction is from the center out, known in Shetland terminology as a Borders Out design. I love this particular motif called Cat’s Paw. I think it will make a sweet center for a baby shawl. I fiddled around and ended up spacing the motifs farther apart than usual. I also decided to begin and end with a full motif top and bottom, while the sides of the center will have half motifs every other motif row. In addition, I substituted k2tbl (knit 2 through the back loops) for sl 1, k1, psso. It doesn’t make a big difference unless you know to look for it. The picture below shows the motif worked with the sl 1, k1, psso.

shetland motif skpo

This is the motif when worked with k2tbl.

shetland motif kbt2

When dressed (blocked) like the sl 1, k1, psso swatch it will be nicer looking in a tidy kind of way. The skpo was a looser stitch that sometimes made the left side yos noticeably larger than the right. Also, it didn’t always form the neat tight bead-like center I wanted. The k2tbl does the opposite. In fact I need to be mindful each time a yo is followed by k2tbl because it has a tendency to make the yo too small if the tension is too tight.

The blue yarn on the bottom is the provisional cast on. Knit 4 rows in waste yarn then join the Shetland Yarn. I tried other provisional cast ons and the results were less than optimal. When it comes time to start the borders I will be cutting the waste yarn thread very carefully and picking up the stitches seen here.

provisional cast on

Of course, what would a picture of Shetland Yarn be without it’s most ardent admirer. Yarn Rascal jumped from the bed into the chair as I was photographing the shawl last night. Caught red handed. He just can’t help himself.

Randi Shetland Yarn Caught

Busted

He is so totally busted.

Have a good weekend.

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‘Tis The Season

At the moment, I am caught up researching Shetland lace motifs. Very late one night while cruising the web, I found 299 wonderfully photographed archival pictures of Shetland lace shawls made in the late 1800s to mid 1900s all on one site and nicely grouped together. The photos contain motifs and design elements that I want to further study and that I may or may not include in the Shetland Baby Shawl I am designing. While I can find the site, I can’t find the 299 pictures. This is the story of my life in microcosm.

Yarn Rascal experienced his first Christmas. Within one hour, every toy had some kind of hole in it, or portions of it gnawed away. I am now looking into toys made specifically for destructive chewers. I am also looking for toys that will keep his mind occupied and present a challenge for him in figuring them out. Much of what I read about destructive chewers is that they need challenges. They also have a lot of energy that needs to be worked out. Yarn Rascal has a bottomless source of energy. Yesterday, The Skipper’s grandkids came over. The kids and Yarn Rascal played all day. 10:30 at night, everyone is gone and Yarn Rascal is still bouncing around.

I went over to see my family yesterday. Mom, Dad, sister, brother-in-law, and 2 nephews. My brother-in-law’s brother brought unexpected guests to dinner. Two were from Peru and spoke almost no English. One was Israeli and seriously kosher—my sister was serving ham, imagine how happy this made her. The last guest was from Moldavia. I don’t know how it all turned out, I left while the appetizers were being served and my sister and her husband were hurriedly discussing where they could get kosher food at 5 pm on Christmas Day. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that once the “kosher” food came into the “unkosher” kitchen, especially one with a ham in its oven, the food is no longer considered “kosher”.

I am hoping for a quiet day today. The Skipper’s family is coming up from Maryland, North Carolina and Georgia tomorrow. I adore his sister and mother and I realize the time I have left to share with them is growing less and less. His mom is well into her 90s and his sister has a rare cancer. His sister has been a model of dignity, grace, and respect throughout deciding to live and embrace life while she can. She is a very special to me. The Skipper built one of his trucks for her. She’s wanted one for two years now. I decorated it to fit her style and personality. We are going to surprise her with it tomorrow.

I know I’m a little early, but have a good weekend.

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