A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Monday, April 10, 2006

A Finished Object and Some Lace

I was pleased to find that a finished object finally managed to surface this weekend:

This is a shawlette I had been making as a thank-you gift for my dear friend Lee, who provided us with so much emotional and technical support as we went through our "hostile takeover" the past three months; I can truly say that the worst is over, the day-to-day stress has lightened tremendously in the past two weeks, but I never would have made it without her support. She handled many of the really unpleasant communications and was just enough removed, being on our Board of Directors rather than being a displaced child care worker, to remain calm and objective.

Back in early February, I found a shawlette kit at one of my LYS, and thought the colors would be perfect for Lee. She works in an office, and I decided that this would be a perfect "drape over your chair" piece, that would go with any outfit and add a bit of shine, as she is a unique, non-traditional person in an institutional setting.

Here's a close up showing the stitch detail: cream Berroco Softwist and gold Berroco Metallic FX. I actually loved the two materials together, and wrote a Product Review on Softwist back last month, but really did not enjoy the pattern or the large needles. This was a case where the process was a struggle, but the finished product worth it in the end. The two yarns together made a springy, compact fabric. Even though, as you can see above, the knit is dense, the shawl is light, and has a tendency to drape and stretch downward and cling to the shoulders. The pattern should have been easy, it is a variation of one the Versatile Scarf patterns I made earlier this winter; I had trouble keeping track of my holes then and did a better job on this one, but will definitely move on.

Speaking of moving on, a bit of frog hopping took place over the weekend as well. I had come to the conclusion that I had to drop down a couple of needles sizes to get the kind of stitch definition a beautiful pattern such as Mountain Peaks deserves. As a reminder, here is where I was with my Alpaca Cloud laceweight and my size five bamboos, when we last discussed this matter a week ago:

I dug around and found a size 3 circular, Susan Bates Silvalumes, and cast on, only to discover in my somewhat dim, antiquated living room, that the needle color and the yarn color were so close that it was driving me to distraction trying to find the stitches (there is also a chance that I need my eyes checked, but I don't really want to discuss that with taxes due this week, so we will save that conversation for another time). Then, I remembered that I had bought several sets of needles to sample my Bohus sweater (which I haven't gotten to, out of my love for my other ongoing lace project, Mountain Stream). I pulled out a sixteen inch size three Quicksilver, and the pattern just flew through my fingers yesterday afternoon, a sure sign to me that I was heading in the right direction. When I stopped at the end of the top chart, and pinned out my work to "admire", I was much happier with the results:

Now we're talking lace!

The earlier version on the larger needles is history, having been ripped and rewound. Many thanks are due to Sallee, who added her lace-wise eyes to the problem, consulting the Mountain Lace blog and my photo, and pointing out, sweetly, that I was using an alpaca laceweight that was working up quite a bit differently than some of the other yarns. She encouraged me to be brave and try again to see if I could get the results I wanted.

So, with all due apologies to felted vests for husbands and Bohus sweaters in favorite shades of green, I am infatuated with lace for the moment and will have to squeeze you in where I can, at least until Mountain Stream is completed. I am pleased to say that I have finished nine repeats of the pattern, so am definitely on the downhill side. The shawl will still be a slow-growing project with room for some other knitting in between, but at least I am back in love with this project and making progress.


Blogger Ruinwen said...

Love the shawlette! That is a beautiful design. It must be a great feeling to finish it!

Your Mountain Shawl is gorgeous! I'm glad between you and Sallee you figured it all out! Can't wait to see it completed.


2:35 AM  
Blogger margene said...

The shawlette is a lovely gift and she'll enjoy wearing it when there is a chill. The beginning of MP look great. I've had such a time with MS. I should be on size 9 needles and have a tiny little thing with small holes but now I'm 20" into it I just can't start over. Next one will be better. You would never guess how many times I've frogged!

5:02 AM  
Blogger KnitNana said...

You're too kind...I'm not THAT accomplished a lace knitter (((hugs)))

Now...that second try is nicer, I agree. More definition. But will you stay with the 16 inch circs?

7:28 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Lee's shawlette is really wonderful. Look at you go on the lace! I am overwhelmed just looking at it. I am so impressed. Tell me it is not that far out of my reach. I just envision myself with a little ball of tangles instead of a shawl if I try something so delicate!

7:08 PM  

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