Posts Tagged ‘siviaharding’

TINK-erbell’s candles

April 29, 2013


Happy blogiversary to me … four years that we have visited here in this virtual owl box.  Seems a lot longer, then I look at my extremely erratic posting over the past eight months and drop my head in some shame.  But life happens, and it’s happened to me in spades.  And while many of my blogging brethren have no problem sitting down and dashing out a post, I spend time thinking about I want to say and how I want it represented, visually and otherwise.

The upshot is a rather absent(minded) Owl of late. I can’t promise I will do better over the next year with the mayhem I expect on the horizon at Owl Manor, but I will try.

‘Course, just blocking a half dozen pieces would help (cough, cough).

That said, I will be honest and tell you today about a new experience in my knitting world:  I blew a deadline.  I didn’t want to or mean to, but ultimately, we agreed it was the best outcome for everyone.

04-12-13 SunnaSurprise

Sunna in Fig with 8/0 Miyuki Delica Hex beads

The project is a lovely little shawl from my friend, Sivia Harding.  Nothing complex, just some beads and my favorite fingering weight yarn, Spirit Train Fiberworks Sunna.  It was supposed to be done for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival later this week.

First, I ran out of beads.  They were from my little bead stash, which is pretty well-organized, so it took very little time to order and receive more, but it did delay me a few days when I really needed to  have those days back.

Everything was going great guns until I had one of those head-slapping, I-should-have-had-a-V-8 moments around 4 in the morning.  You see, even though Sivia clearly told me how to do the increases, I still manipulated them to look like yarn-overs.  After all, this was lace.  Of course increases should be decorative.

What hit me in that predawn haze was the notion that a shawl knit side to side increases halfway, then decreases back again.  So all those increases would be decreases imminently.  Decreases that would NOT need a yarn-over to highlight them.  Ummm.


See the lovely dropped stitch at the top just waiting to be picked back up?

See the lovely dropped stitch at the top just waiting to be picked back up?

I am pretty game at fixing mistakes.  I mean, I just had to drop the stitches to each increase, pick it up the right way, and then run the stitch back up to the needles again and Bob’s your uncle.  Yeah, sure.  Tinking down 70 or more rows to reach some of those offending increases.  Then discovering a few times that maybe I didn’t catch every single stitch I needed to on the way back up again …

Am I an 11-year-old who can’t read a pattern, for the love of Mike? Apparently so.

Bottom line:

04-26-13 ready to rip

Ready to rip!

The shawl was about 45% complete.

I ripped it all out and started over again.

You’ll see it at Rhinebeck.

I will have some sanity in the interim.

But blowing a deadline, that’s going to bug me for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for coming by to visit today and every time I post.  I appreciate you taking the time. Now let’s eat some cake, or at least find ice cream.

Everything is a little better with ice cream.



November 14, 2012

In the afterglow of the Knitter’s Review Retreat, I sometimes find it difficult to write; never more so than this year.  I’ve said that this four-day respite is my Christmas.  To stretch the metaphor farther, this time I felt mostly like George Bailey, simply overwhelmed by the tidal wave of kindness that swept me through the weekend.  It seemed every time I was alone for a moment, another friend sat down beside me with a thoughtful memento or hug to say that Nutmeg Owl would never really be flying alone.

The shawl-clad snowy owl – he hoots, for real!

From stitch markers to fancy soaps; handmade bags to mittens for Darling Bebe, you showered me until I was nearly speechless and certainly misty-eyed.  It’s no wonder that wherever this group convenes, when it is together, I am home.

Whoooo needs hexi-puffs?

And, for the record, the trendy “hexi-puffs” have NOTHING on these little guys ~ who are part of a complete ju-ju kit for Owl Manor.  (It would have taken me longer to sew on the eyes than to knit them ALL.)

But on to the weekend …

Ann Budd and a magic formula

The teaching draw featured the best battery of instructors we have every had in tandem at KRR:  Ann Budd, who always has a trick to share; Sivia Harding, patroness of lace and beading; Amy Herzog, who helped every person there see the value of the right cut for the right body, and Mary Scott Huff, who left us

Sivia Harding demystifies lace design

laughing so hard we gasped for air and wiped away tears (and I was incapable of taking a single picture without shaking violently).  Whichever teachers you had, you wished you’d had them all.  And every one was generous with her time in and out of the classroom.  This is not a gathering where teachers hide out at special tables away from the plebes.  We are all knitters; we mix and mingle throughout the weekend.

It seemed that the 361 days since we were last together have brought sad times for so many ~ the loss of mothers, spouses and

How many knitters does it take … ?

other close family members.  Perhaps that is what made for the most cohesive gathering anyone can remember.  Time crept rather than sped as we reconnected, updated and helped each other through entanglement.

And helped each other treat ourselves to a bit (or more) of fiber luxury at our

All the pretties …

on-site marketplace with Spirit Trail Fiberworks, Briar Rose, String Theory and newcomers Three Bags Full and longtime Retreat-goer turned vendor PeaceLoveYarn.  The line in the hallway outside looked a lot like Black Friday at midnight ~ or whatever they are now going to call it since the holiday season must now start the day after Halloween, but I digress.

2012 swag bag

I have not even mentioned the swag bag for 2012, including one of the sweetest of children’s books, Extra Yarn, the very useful color grid (that I will use at Owl Manor more than for knitting) and yarn, stitch markers and more.  I do use my KRR coffee mugs judiciously, when I want a special reminder of being with people I love who share something special.

Somehow, in the midst of her constant personal reinvention and multiple projects, Clara Parkes manages to put the right people together, sprinkle yarn-fairy dust and make magic.  Never more so than in 2012.  I am endlessly grateful that she and the others who help behind the scenes do so, and allow me to be a guest at the party.

I am strengthened and humbled and ready to face the next chapter, whatever it might bring.


May 11, 2011

Sorry to have virtually “checked out” on you for so long.  I’m dreadfully behind in posting, but this shall be rectified in the days ahead.  Thanks to all of you for your good wishes on the blogaversary.  Prize announcements forthcoming.

The last you heard about actual knitting from me was my desperate frantic owl-hours effort to turn 1200 yards of bunched-up beautiful Nona in Seaweed into a finished shawl, Phoenix Rising by the brilliant Sivia Harding.  Since I get a lot of questions about blocking, I figured I’d take you through the last steps that got me to my knitting destination: the Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth at Maryland Sheep & Wool.

A massive blocking job

A good blocking job takes time.  Serious time.  It is not a process to be embarked on in a hurry.  In fact, for a large piece of lace, I budget at least 90 minutes just to pin out.  There are a few tricks I’ve incorporated that make a big difference to the end product.  It matters not whether you use wires or thread – I have both and mix them to achieve the structure I need.

The yarn-overs mark this for me

Mark what matters in advance:  I use locking stitch markers to mark a piece up – key places where curves start or center stitches so I can find them easily when the piece is wet.  Wet lace is like wet tissue to handle.  You’ll be glad you did it.   If my shawl has “points” of any kind, before immersion, I take my trusty ball of crochet cotton thread and run a lifeline strand through every point, leaving a couple of yards of slack at each end.  (Keep reading to find out why.)

Following a warm Eucalan bath of at least an hour, and blotting excess moisture in a towel, my routine follows the same path.

The "T" intersection

Start with the T:  For anything triangular, I begin with the straight top edge.  I weave my wires through every other stitch to prevent pulling on longer distances.  I smooth the piece out with my hands starting at the midline and working outwards to maximize stretch and to keep things even.  It’s akin to sculpture.  Once I’ve pinned about six inches in both directions from the midline, I insert wire through the center spine.  Creating a 90-degree T helps me keep things straight and balance the stretch along width and depth.

See lifeline connecting points

Lifelines:    Once I have pinned the base of the T, where the center point hits the bottom of the shawl, I then smooth and stretch the thread to the place where it meets the top edge of the shawl and I pin it securely.  Repeat with other side.  This allows me to have the points “connected” in a relative sense, so that as I pin out each point, they continue to have a relationship to each other ~ one doesn’t stick out farther than the others.  The actual depth of the point can be measured with a yardstick off the center spine.  As you move these around, they stay connected, preventing any unwanted strange angles.

Every pin was moved at least once

Pins move:  Pinning out is a process ~ and nothing is irrevocable.  I try to go back and forth from side to side of a piece, rather than pinning one whole side first, which significantly helps keep things even.  Say there are 13 points on each side of the center spine.  I will pin out the 4th point on each side, then the 7th and the 10th, and so on, filling in the others as I go.  This allows for easy adjustment along the way and keeps things even.

It’s not dry ’til it’s dry:  48 hours, minimum.  Longer if it is humid or sticky outside.

Off the wires, in daylight

Now to the gratuitous photos, none of which adequately captures how this came out.  It was a hard colorway to photograph and neither light nor location was cooperating.  I used 2 full skeins of Nona with 41 g remaining, and one tube of 8/0 foil-lined beads.

Unblocked:  60″ wide by 22″ deep

Blocked:  80″ wide by 35″ deep

There are the beads!

Pattern modifications:  I used the Russian Lace bind-off rather than the simple knitted bind-off recommended.  I like the edge it gives, which is both stretchy and sturdy enough to handle a severe blocking.

Yarn observations:  The Nona (50% merino/25% cashmere/25% bombyx silk) was pleasantly fluffy while knitting. At times, the plies wanted to split when placing the beads.  I worked around this on  the few problem stitches by running a short piece of crochet thread through the stitch to be beaded, then using the crochet hook to drop bead onto the thread (and then sliding onto the stitch).  No separating then.

In blocking, quite a bit of fuzz followed my hands off the piece as I smoothed and stretched.  When finished, the fluff factor was gone; what remained was a cohesive soft and draping fabric.

On display - courtesy Bullwinkle

Project marriage score:  9.5

Bottom line:  Jennifer liked it!

Bonus:  Sivia liked it!


April 5, 2011

When the going gets tough, the tough knit lace.

Lots of lace.

Fortunately, there is much lace to be knitted chez Owl.

The knitting is finished on Elektra in Spirit Trail Fiberworks Paivatar, a merino/cashmere/nylon sport/DK.  I did make some simple pattern

Elektra - unblocked

modifications I’ll detail when I have blocked it within a millimeter of its life and photographed it for posterity.  The colorway, lilac, is exactly that ~ the color of heirloom lilacs that are indigenous here.  The pattern, one of Romi Hill’s 7 Small Shawls to Knit, was easy to the nth degree.

With April upon us, so too comes some forced but pleasant monogamy.  I call it Rising Tide, from Sivia Harding’s pattern,

Phoenix Rising in Nona

Phoenix Rising.  The yarn is Spirit Trail Fiberworks Nona, a new laceweight 50-25-25 blend of merino, cashmere and bombyx silk, in the colorway Seaweed.  It will be on display at the Spirit Trail booth at Maryland Sheep and Wool.  No, thine eyes are not playing tricks:  it has beads.  Fortunately, the pattern is wickedly easy and perfectly charted.  So much so that I’ve completed another pattern repeat since snapping this.

Spirit Trail Fiberworks Nona - Seaweed

Since I am frequently asked, yes, I am alternating skeins with the change taking place at the 3-stitch garter border at the end of the RS row.  Here you can see the variation between the two skeins, which I want to prevent from pooling, which is to say, inadvertently creating puddles of one color.

First, I bring up the waiting strand, carrying it into the back of the 3rd knit stitch from the end as one would wrap a float in fair isle knitting.  Then I bring the new yarn under the old (and drop the old) to knit the last 2 stitches of the row with the new strand.  Change complete.  Whenever I work with more than one skein, I like to cake the yarn and drop it onto a CD spindle.  This keeps everything tidy as I draw the yarn from the outside, and I can put the cover over the top when necessary.  Untwisting the two strands is a quick flick of the wrist.

I shall be spending a lot of time with this in the days ahead, filling much empty waiting (and worrying) time.

My feathered friend returned Saturday night for another visit.  This time, I had binoculars at the ready when he took up his perch on the maple tree in the center of my yard.  He gave me a long gaze over his shoulder, as if to say, “Your eyes are not playing tricks on you.  Of course I’m an owl, you dolt.” I could hear his mate making her distinctive call from a few yards away.  He floated down to a flower bed, then swooped off toward the sound of his mate.

The best weekend visit, however, came from KnittingKittens, a one-woman bring-your-own-party.  Armed with homemade red

Flock of nutmeg owls

velvet cupcakes, my favorite Starbucks treat and birthday presents, she took over and declared it party time.  Inside the gift bag, a copy of Brave New Knits (because clever Kittens had stalked my ravelry account to see what patterns I needed), an endlessly useful Starbucks gift card ~ and best of all, a whole flock of nutmeg owl stitch markers she made.

For a little while, everything was okay.  And when, in the days ahead, it’s not, well, I have this to go back to.

Things may be rather quiet in this corner of the Internet for a bit.  I appreciate deeply that you’re all there hooting for my team.

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