Hello, My name is Bethany and I'm a Yarn Addict. I've struggled with/enjoyed my addiction for 20 + years. I'm on about the 12th step of my pattern and I have no intention of kicking the habit. I have a large stash (of yarn) and I've been known to share (knitting) needles. My Fiber of choice is lace. Yes, I am a yarn addict, and this is my story...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Do Ye Do With A Drunken Knitter?

Erlye in the mornin'?  Yeah, the whole pirate-y theme really isn't really going anywhere cool, just trying (and failing) to find a clever way to talk about my newly completed 'Shipwreck' Shawl.  I know, I know.....fail.  I'll stop now.....arrrrrr.

Anyways...Tah dah!  My Shipwreck is done!!!

I had wanted to make this shawl for quite a while, and don't really know why I had put it off for so long. It's a great pattern, my first Pi shawl , too!  It has each and every element in a knitting pattern that I adore: lacework, thin yarn and beads!  Yay!

I bought some of my favorite yarn for this, the suggested fingering weight in a soft muted purple by Berroco Ultra Fine Alpaca.  Now the pattern actually suggests buying undyed yarn and dyeing it yourself with a vinegar solution to create a kind of mottled ocean-ey appearance...yeah, not really my thing in this case so I decided to go with a shade that I like, pre-fabricated.

They also suggested buying 5,000 or more size 8 seed beads to put along the "fishnet" outer lace, which I did in a rich amethyst color to match my yarn, but I'll get to that later...

So, I cast on my initial nine stitches on my size 4 DPNs, excited to start this new endeavor.  I tried to put out of my mind the many comments I had read on Ravelry about this pattern being tedious, taking months to finish, having been put on hiatus for an indiscriminate time, blah blah blah....not me...oh no, I wouldn't get weary, I would have this done in no time, those knitters were just whiners.  There was no way I would get bored with this pattern!  Those nine stitches were just too easy!  And the following lacework to create the inner medallion was a cinch....and so exciting, too!

Then I got to knitting the outer lace.

Actually, let me go back and preface my rant with my tale of those 5,000 beads.  I DID buy them,  and fully intended to use them...but of course I'm picky about beading my work.  The pattern says to pre-string your beads, as they are being used in yarn overs (YO) in the pattern.  This makes perfect sense, adding visual interest to what could have been dull fishnet lace.  Well, I pre-strung those suckers....all 5,000 of them.  And began knitting with them.  And realized that in a border of about 80 rows of continuous YO K2Tog, I would have to move 5,000 beads up my yarn about every 6 stitches, which on fingering weight yarn is no easy feat.  AND, to add insult to injury after attempting this for 2 rounds I realized my amethyst beads did not even really show up on my Plum colored yarn.  Sigh.  I decided to cut off the string with all of my beads and continue on after re-connecting my now beadless skein.  Oh well.

Then came the monotony.  The inner lace medallion only led me into a false sense of security in thinking that I would not tire of this pattern.  The consecutive 79 rows of yarn over, knit tow together, yarn over, knit two together, ad infinitum, ad nauseum quickly quelled that.  It wasn't that it was difficult.  In fact, it was mindless...tedious...brain-numbing, one might say.  increasing each round ending with about 1700 stitches.  All of which had to be bound off after finishing what I had thought was a cathartic task.  Gah.

  But in the end it WAS admittedly a lovely shawl.  HUGE, but lovely.  So huge in fat that blocking it was a bit of a pain.  I had to use two whole repeats of the alphabet toddler mats that I utilize to block my projects (and that I utilize to confuse my non-knitting friends who wonder where my baby is, considering my child is now 10).

Here it is blocking:

 It ended up taking 3 weeks to complete, I finished blocking it day before my birthday, and not having to do any more of that border was the best present EVER!

 It did turn out lovely.  It hangs nearly to my ankles, which is a bit large for me but very dramatic, which suits me just fine!  I think next time I will make it again only in a lace weight to suit the small bead size and make it easier to slide up the thread (or possibly add beads at the K2Tog's with the crochet hook method, which I prefer exponentially), and I will probably decrease my needle sizes, both to suit the size of the yarn and the size of the shawl's wearer, as I am only 5'2"!  Oh, and I will NOT wear the second one I make to work, where I snagged it's predecessor a record breaking 5 times on sticky-outey-pointy things in the shop.  For those of you who knit, you know that a snag on a newly completed project produces low guttural cursing, accompanied by trying to pull the snag back into shape, accompanied by much gnashing of teeth.  It's not pretty.

At least the shawl is!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Something to Wear While Defeating My 7 Evil Exes!

Just a quick little blog post to mention one of my quick little projects!

Found this pattern on Ravelry for the costume concept of Michael Cera's hat in the movie "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Loved the hat ( of course changing the colors to a girlie version in dark brown and antique rose) and quickly knit it up in a cashmere and merino version...It turned out as something like an odd marriage of piratey stocking cap, slouch hat and snood.  A whatchamacallit.  Perfection.

Just in time to wear while defeating my 7 evil exes!  Yea!

An Old Dog Learns New Tricks

A few months back I became pretty intrigued by the concept of convertible clothing:  If a garment could be worn two ways, wasn't that just twice as cool?  Lucky enough for me one of my various knitting books had a pattern for a convertible shrug that could SUPPOSEDLY also be worn as a shawl, scarf, cowl or hood.  I began my attempt at the Shape Shifter Shrug from Vampire Knits.

I decided to use one of my favorite yarns, Plymouth Select Worsted Merino Wool, to make this pretty little sweater....then, as I am known to do, the pattern modifications began.

The pattern recommended to put 10 buttons/buttonholes up each arm.  A good suggestion, and I'm sure it had a reason, but as I scrutinized the instructions I realized that if I were to wear the finished product as a shrug I would have buttons around my neck hems, tangling in my hair.  I decided to make only 6 up each arm, only enough to button up as long as would need the sleeve to be.  I also lengthened the sleeve dimensions, thinking that if I did happen to wear this as a scarf or shawl I would prefer more coverage.

And then, of course, came the "I know best when it comes to knitting my own clothes" flub.  The pattern suggested knitting the garment in 2 halves, beginning at the lace portion, working some rows in stockinette, then grafting both halves together with Kitchner Stitch, a method of grafting two ends of live stitches done in stockinette together seamlessly.  Well, knowing best, of course, I continued on thinking "Kitchner Stitch my butt......I'll just work the lace pattern backwards when I get to it....I'm just that cool."

Yeah.  Lesson is, I am NOT that cool.  This lace and it's varying row end count is not one to be done in reverse.  So after some frogging, picking up stitches and, I will not lie, mild cursing I attempted Kitchner stitch.  Lucky for me I have some fabulous co-workers to talk me through it.  Even taught me this handy little ditty to chant along while I wove the pieces together:

Yarn on Back Needle
Set up: 
FN: Purl, Stay
BN: Knit,Stay
FN: Knit, Slip, Purl,Stay
BN: Purl, Slip, Knit, Stay
FN: Knit, Slip
BN: Purl, Slip

Yes, I know it may sound like gibberish, but if you sing this along with grafting you're less likely to forget where you are....Like I typically do....
Anyways, here's the finished result.  And, the seam is barely visible except for one BIG hole where I stopped singing and got lost, then had to sew up later.  Still not bad for a beginner!

 Problem is, even though I know it's convertible, I've only worn it as a shrug and have only seen demos of it being worn as a shrug.  Oh well.

I was also able to try a new product that I had my eye on for quite some time: Bone Knitting Needles.
These things are lovely.  Like, seriously lovely.   They have this glossy smooth amazingly cool feel in your hands, they glide through your stitches, and they have this amazing ability to make you feel like you've stepped back in time.  Despite the fact that they are horribly heavy....and not suggested to be bought other than in person due to the fact that a matched set is rare being as they are crafted individually with natural material.  I learned this after testing out a pairs of size 4 and size 6 "set" where one was nearly an entire size off from the other. Test for conformity with a sizer, and if you can find a set that matches you're set!

So pretty.........

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Love Poems For Knitters...

While recently flipping through a copy of Knitting Traditions magazine from Interweave Knits I came across a beautiful passage written by Jane Galer...Just thought I'd share for my knitting friends.

The Fisher Man's Lover

She is there every morning he is not. 
Nearly materializing with the misty dawn,
Leaning carelessly against the sea wall.
Gulls overhead 
describe their dinner order
until they see she has no means 
and other intentions.

She knits while she waits.
In her head a pattern combines today's heartbeat
ith the yesterdays of her ancient sisters.
They also stood at this wall
knitting charms into sweaters for dangerous work.

Celtic cross, ridge and furrow, 
berries, ropes, raising ladders.
Then more seriously,
marriage lines, tree of life.
She counts the stitches,
the pattern appears.

She never looks at her work.
Her fingers glide, she is a graceful conductor.
She looks to the sea
as if in a moment her lover will appear,
a small chalice the ocean bears
carrying her fisher man to shore.
The mermaid cautions:
"Drink, for soon he'll be away again"
(the mermaid's hand draws too near to his face)

The girl pauses at her task.
Her eyes mingle tears, salt and wind.
Her heart fills with the importance of being loved.
Her hands return to her work as if this is necessary,
as if these threads are the keepers of her lover's fate.