Shawl Madness in April

IMG_2743
Even though the date on the calendar indicates spring has arrived for most in the United States, we still have snow showers in the Rockies.  I’ve wanted to do nothing more than knit lace lately.  I suppose it is my sub-concious longing for warmer weather.

April was a busy shawl knitting month for me as I had signed up for two mystery shawl knitalongs with new clues released each week.

April 29th is the International Day of Dance and in celebration here is Danse Macabre, a MKAL that started on 1st April.IMG_8382

The name of this shawl comes from the music written in 1874 by the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. Danse Macabre immediately lets your imagination wander to dancing skeletons in graveyards; what better yarn to pair it with than Dye for Yarn Tussah Silk Lace, many perfectly named for such a shawl!

IMG_8393

I can’t even begin to express how much I love this shawl.  This photo was taken with my phone and doesn’t begin to show it’s beauty.  Danse Macabre was my first BooKnits design and will not be my last.  The yarn is DyeForYou Tussah Silk in the color way ‘Bloodthirsty’ and it shimmers in the light.  There were close to 1000 garnet silver-lined beads placed throughout the design but most heavily on the border.  They also shimmer in the light, simply beautiful.

Romi’s Mystery Shawl 2016 used two colors of fingering weight yarn so it is a heavier shawl.  I used Shalimar’s Breathless which is 75% Merino, 15% Cashmere, 10% Silk.  It was a lovely yarn and obviously very soft.
IMG_2724

The design feature I most liked in this shawl was the twisted stitch border in the lighter color yarn.  It was slow and somewhat tedious to knit but oh-so-worth-the-effort!
IMG_2722

This triangular shawl is simply a stunning design but I’m not surprised because the designer is brilliant. IMG_2725

Oh yes, the lace bug has definitely bitten me.  I have just cast on MORTICIA by BooKnits and I am anxiously awaiting June 1 so I can cast on her ETERNITY pattern with others in the BooKnits group on Ravelry.  Come join us!  Summer is almost here, or so they tell me.

Posted in Knitalongs, Shawls, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Friday Fiber and a New Gadget

I’ve missed the last two Friday Fiber events so I was excited to get back together with friends for a bit of spinning and fiber talk.
Friday Fiber 1

One of our members is opening up an eclectic bakery/cafe/art studio/class place in Guffy, a mountain town near me,  and wanted us to be her guinea pigs and we willingly complied.
IMG_2715

She made us some delicious scones and Danish pastries – baking is not an easy accomplishment in high elevations but she nailed it.  I neglected to take pictures so you will just have to take my word for it, they were pretty to look at as well as yummy in the tummy.
Friday Fiber

The grand opening is a week or two away.  The logs are still ‘green’ and my friend did not want to wait two years for them to be ‘seasoned’ so they are light colored now but will darken as they age.  The chinking in-between the logs will widen as much as an inch in that time.
Friday Fiber 2

Only one person was knitting today, the rest of us had brought either spinning wheels or spindles.
Friday Fiber 5
IMG_2707

It has been months since I have spun so it was nice to feel fiber sliding through my fingers again.  I so enjoy the beauty of all these wheels whirling around while hands gently draft fibers and mouths chatter away.

Friday Fiber 3

When it was my turn during show-and-tell I shared my newest gadget.
IMG_2669

This gadget is used for troubadour embroidery but I use it for placing beads in knitted shawls.  It came with three different crochet needle tips so I will be able to use it for cobweb lace, regular lace weight and fingering weight yarns.  What I especially like about it is the location of the screw which serves as a lever when I put my thumb underneath it. This helps me to pivot the tip easier when I slip the bead over the yarn.
IMG_2724
I also shared the Mystery Shawl …… more about that in the next post.

It was a happy day.

Posted in Friday Fiber | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Yarn Along ~ Counting to One Thousand

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny and her knitting bookworms this morning on a Yarn Along……………

I’ve always seemed to look at the glass half empty instead of half full.

In recent years my tendency to look at that half empty glass has started changing.  It all began with Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts.  After reading it I began a personal challenge to live fully right where I am, each and every day.  I joined the Joy Dare and began counting things to be thankful for until I got to 1000.  It has been an amazing journey.

Ingratitude seems to be something that dwells deep within our makeup.  When Jesus healed the ten lepers only one returned to thank him yet all ten lives would be dramatically changed for the good from that point onward.  That is pretty much says it – 90% ungrateful and only 10% giving thanks!

On top of my journal is the beaded beauty I have been working on, Danse Macabre.  Have I mentioned to you in another post that it has 1000 beads in it?  Yep, 1000…… I only remind you because I have shared with you ONE THOUSAND GIFTS on this Yarn Along today.  If you struggle with the ‘half empty’ as I do, this is a book for you.

 

Posted in Coram Deo, One Thousand Gifts, Shawls | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Yarn Along ~ Revisiting the Eliot Family

Several books have been read since I last joined Ginny and her peeps on a Yarn Along.  After reading Kate Atkinson’s two books about the Todd family, A God in Ruins and Life After Life I thought needed something a little more uplifting – not that Atkinson’s books were downers because they weren’t, they were very well written and I enjoyed them.  I just needed something familiar, a family that I have revisited more than once, the Eliots of Damerosehay.  This is a beloved trilogy that captured my heart and my imagination along with countless others who are fans of the bestselling author Elizabeth Goudge. Brilliant author!

IMG_2589

Every family has its particular bright stars, and David and Grandmother were the particular stars of the Eliot family, people in whose presence life was more worth living, people who warmed you, like the sun and lit the whole world to a richer glory.

In my knitting world I am working on two shawls, both mystery knit alongs.  One has gone in time out because I goofed three rows down and it was alarming enough for me to set it aside before gathering fortitude to tink back.
Movement
The second shawl is stunning and I am thoroughly smitten with the beautiful twisted stitches, tedious but well worth the effort.   I feel like a tortoise working on the border but my Ravelry friends assure me they are in the same race going at the same speed.  The border itself uses almost a whole skein of yarn so I need to keep reminding myself of that.

What about you?  Have you read any books lately that I might like to add to my list?

Posted in Yarn Along | 5 Comments

Fragile

 

Did you know that the fragile land above the treeline, called the Alpine Life Zone, begins at eleven thousand feet above the sea?

lz_subalpine1_800p

Have you ever stood where trees are unable to grow?

This fragile land, where the tundra meadows are a colorful mass of wildflowers, only has a growing season of six to eight weeks.  There are some 250 specie more than one occasion I have stood shivering in the middle of summer clad in jacket and woolens – wind whipping around me – to ask myself,  “How can anything possibly survive this harsh environment?”
BrtoothC2
The flora hugs the ground in dense mats to mitigate the severe mountain climate.  Close to the ground they were designed to survive harsh conditions including winds up to 200 mph, dry air, low soil moisture and fierce sunlight.  Incredibly, their rate of respiration and photosynthesis is much faster than a plant at lower elevation.  Even their colors are vibrant because pollination and growth need to happen quickly because their growing span is so short.  Each of these specific characteristics speak to me of intelligent design, a Creator.
Stay_on_Trail_sign,_Forest_Canyon_Overlook,_Trail_Ridge_Road,_Rocky_Mountain_National_Park
In Rocky Mountain National Park you find signs posted in this alpine zone warning one to stay on the trails in order to protect the alpine tundra.  The reason isn’t because these flowers are so very delicate that they are easily killed for they obviously can withstand the harsh climate far better than myself.  Signs are posted because of the heavy, concentrated foot travel the the Park sees every season and that concentration can harm them.

I am thankful for the lessons of the fragile land above the trees teaching me that hard things make one strong.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that word FRAGILE.

I’m feeling rather fragile these days.

My husband and I have decided the time has come to put our mountain home up for sale. For three weeks I have had a heavy, concentrated time of decluttering.  Anything that is heavy and concentrated  may run the risk of causing harm.

Contents of boxes that have not been opened in seventeen years have been sorted through.  Decisions have been made on what to keep, what to give away, what to toss.  I’m weary.  The rushing, the racing, the trying to get things done by a self-imposed deadline has done nothing other than cause brain-numbness.

Shouldn’t this sorting process of belongings that once defined my life be an enjoyable process?

I was in a hurry when I reached for a box in the storage room that caused another box  to come crashing down.  Five fragile angel figurines given to my daughter by her grandmother on every birthday for sixteen years instantly broke into small pieces the second they hit the cement floor, china pieces scattering in multitudes of directions.

IMG_2515

I sat on the floor and with tears in my eyes and remembered another time, twenty-six years earlier when in haste, while moving furniture the bed had knocked a shelf where my other daughter’s birthday figurines sat and they too were smashed.

This hurrying, this not being patient – have I not learned this lesson yet?

My patient husband carefully glued back together these fragile figurines after I handed the pieces to him in a box lid all jumbled together like a jigsaw puzzle and sadly asked, ‘Can you fix these?’

Can I only hear my life sing when I am still?  

Why am I in such a hurry?

I am thankful for the lesson of these fragile figurines,  broken because I was in a hurry acting like my life was an emergency.

Have you ever seen a fine, filmy cobweb on grass or bushes or floating in the air in calm weather  – gossamer?

Lace shawls are like gossamer.  They are very light, thin and delicate  giving the appearance of being very fragile.  I am knitting one right now with silk as fine as gossamer thread right now.

The knitting is slow, each stitch is very gingerly executed and with great care the beads are placed with a very tiny hook.  There are 900 beads in this shawl pattern. The silk yarn is as narrow as an embroidery floss.  My state of mind is much different knitting lace than it is when I knit other things.  I’m very, very careful.

Gossamer

As fragile and delicate as lace appears there is something about it that may surprise you. Lace does not resemble lace as you know it until the very end when, after soaking to open up the fibers it is then stretched and pinned beyond what seems like the breaking point.  Only then, as it dries, does it open up and becomes beautiful gossamer ‘floating on air’.   Although the delicate thread looks like stretching would damage or destroy it, instead it creates a thing of beauty.

I am thankful for fragile hand knit lace shawls because I am learning as I stretch them beyond what I think they can bear so is adversity in my life.  It produces beauty in me if I turn toward it to see there is a purpose.

Adversity is the ‘pruning’ process by my God to cut away the things in my life that don’t produce fruit.  If I resist this pruning I become hard and bitter and consequently miss the fruit He is trying to develop in me.

What is fruit?  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

 

Posted in Coram Deo, Eucharistic Living, Lace, One Thousand Gifts | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Indeciveness

There is a mystery shawl knit along about to start that I will be participating in and I am in a state of indecision.  Anyone who knows me, knows I vacillate when it comes to choosing colors – should I pick this one? that one? no, no, the other one?

I asked the ladies in the Romi’s Studio discussion group on Ravelry their opinion and it was a almost a virtual tie so now I come to you and ask, “Which combo do you like?”  This will be a mystery knit along with clues released weekly so I can’t give you any particulars except that it will be a triangular shawl knit in two colors.

Option 1 – Tart and Whiskey:
IMG_2272

 

Option 2 – Whiskey and Well Water:
IMG_2287

 

Option 3 – Whiskey and Rainwater:
IMG_2258

 

Posted in Knitalongs, Shawls | Tagged | 10 Comments

Yarn Along and Shetland Dialect

My reading today for the YARN ALONG is more along the historical research lines.  I’ve not knit any serious fair isle for a while and got caught up reading Ann Feitelson’s classic The Art of Fair Isle Knitting while looking for a pattern I wanted to knit.  Every time I delve into this book I come away with some new bit of information for the gray matter.  There certainly is a reason it is a cherished classic!

First off, I found the pattern I wanted and gathered up the hanks (skeins) of Shetland wool for the slipover (vest) I will be knitting for the hubby.  He will look quite handsome in his Hillhead Slipover when I makkin’ off (bind off).

If I have any clews (small balls of leftover yarn) I plan to make some dags (fingerless mittens) for myself.  I am using Jamieson’s Spindrift, a traditional Shetland Yarn.  The surname ‘Jamieson’ is as common in Shetland as our ‘Jones’ is in America.

Hillhead Slipover

This afternoon I will use the thumb method to lay up 300 stitches on the wire (needle) because I learned that in Shetland, casting on is almost always done with this method.  They claim it is quick to do and the path of the yarn and the results are almost identical to the widely known American method, the long tail cast on.

I will be “Takkin’ my makkin’ “ , bringing my work with me, in the car this afternoon.  I will be certain to finish the sweerie geng (the first row) before I get out of the car because there is a superstitious saying in Shetland, “You shouldn’t get up until you’ve completed the entire sweerie geng – otherwise the garment will never be finished.”

This time through The Art of Fair Isle Knitting I discovered a glossary of Shetland Knitting terms and thought I would have a little fun with you.

Joining Ginny today on a Yarn Along around the world…………….

 

 

Posted in Fair Isle, Yarn Along | Tagged , | 2 Comments

UFO Thursday ~ Twinings

Twinings has not been touched since June and I thought I would pull her out of the UFO pile to work on today.  If you recall, I have a little bit of accountability from my Saturday knitting group to stick to my UFO list I made at the beginning of the year.  Being altogether faithful to this list?  Well, let’s just say I’m trying……. there is a shawl I really do want to cast on and it is using stash yarn, mostly.

 

Twinings

Twinings appears to be approaching the halfway point.  It is knit in two parts and then grafted together in the middle.  I know, right?  It has been a very long time since I cast this on, maybe a couple years, it doesn’t even have a cast-on date on it’s Ravelry project page.  The laceweight yarn I am using is Fyberspates Scrumptious in the ‘Water’ colorway.  I made one of these for a friend to wear to her son’s wedding and I did it in record time.  Maybe that is why I am prolonging this project out. No doubt my shoulder has some lurching memory of how it ached throughout the speed knitting.

The shawl I am longing to start is Romi’s Simee Dimeh.  I thought it would be a perfect stash busting project!

 

IMG_2233

Simee Dimeh has a very interesting stitch design.  TEXTURE seems to be the current trend in knitting this year and Simee Dimeh definitely fits into that category.  I can’t wait to see how this design is constructed.  I usually learn something new every time I knit one of Romi’s shawls.
IMG_2230

This is the first round of colors I have pulled from my stash for Simee Dimeh (I think if I say that name enough in this post I might remember it).  What do you think?  Before I start it I will throw out some options again for some advice.

I was blown away this week by the Yarn Harlot’s blog post on fixing a section of knitting where a mistake has been made a few rows back. The unhappy solution is usually to rip out those rows and re-knit them. But what if your project has over 350 sts per row? Ikes!

(Yarn Harlot’s Shawl)
sirensongfix2-2016-01-29

Enter this genius method, where only the incorrect section needs to be ripped and re-knit.  It’s best explained in pictures, so pop on over to to Stephanie’s site, and be amazed!

Posted in Knitting Tips, Lace, Shawls, UFO Thursday | Leave a comment

Yarn Along on a Productive Day

Piping up and tagging along with Ginny this afternoon on a YARN ALONG….and reading what her peeps have to say about books and knitting.
IMG_2228

It has been a productive day for me as I juggle household chores, working on a third Clayoquot Togue hat for the new grand baby and finishing up My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Frederik Backman.

With the opening chapters of this book, I wondered whether it would be one I could stick with to the end.  The language was a little too ‘colorful’ for me, the child a bit too precocious and the make-believe world of Marabous a stretch out of reality and seemingly pointless.   And then there was a sudden death……

“People in the real world always say, when something terrible happens, that the sadness and loss and aching pain of the heart will “lessen as time passes,” but it isn’t true. Sorrow and loss are constant, but if we all had to go through our whole lives carrying them the whole time, we wouldn’t be able to stand it. The sadness would paralyze us. So in the end we just pack it into bags and find somewhere to leave it.”

The story appears to be an intricately woven fairy tale designed to help a precocious granddaughter cope with being ‘different’.  But about half-way through the book you realize the people living in this granddaughter’s house are actually the characters in the make-believe world of Marabous.  It was a fabulously written story of a grandmother’s influence on her grandchild and upon others.  The grandmother is not what she appears to be…… but…… I share no more so that you can discover for yourself.

“Death’s greatest power is not that it can make people die, but that it can make people want to stop living.”

“Because not all monsters were monsters in the beginning. Some are monsters born of sorrow.”

“Having a grandmother is like having an army. This is a grandchild’s ultimate privilege: knowing that someone is on your side, always, whatever the details. Even when you are wrong. Especially then, in fact. A grandmother is both a sword and a shield.”

“Because if a sufficient number of people are different, no one has to be normal.”

Have you read a good book lately?  If you are curious about what others are reading and knitting then join us on a Yarn Along!

Posted in Book Review, Yarn Along | 2 Comments

Two Sock Tuesday ~ Fish Lips Experiment

Nine ladies.  Nine ladies will be coming to my house Friday to learn the infamous FISH LIPS KISS HEEL.  We planned this sock adventure at our last Friday Fiber event when someone asked me, ‘Have you ever tried the Fish Lips Kiss Heel?’  I had not, but it was a heel technique I had planned to learn sometime this year.

Many people have raved about this heel and many people have told me I needed to give it a try even though the Eye of Partridge flap heel is my favorite heel.  I am skeptical the FLK heel will replace my favorite but I am all about learning new things so will enjoy this little sock adventure.  Somehow, it fell into my lap to learn and teach it so today I am getting ready for Friday.
IMG_2213
Having an accurate tracing of your foot is part of the Fish Lips Kiss Heel and knowing exactly where your ankle bone is another component.
IMG_2214

Twin stitch knits and twin stitch purls — interesting…..

IMG_2216

Boomerang ….very interesting…

Two Sock Tuesday ~

I have finished the first sock for this month’s  SOCKS FROM STASH challenge.  We were to find the oldest yarn in our stash and knit some socks with it.  I am finding that I adore this yarn.  Funny how that is because it would have taken me years to consider knitting a pair of socks with it just because… well, it was crumpled up in a bag with the original misshapen sock and was at the back of a well filled drawer.  This is why it is good to join groups that challenge you outside of your comfort zone (remind me of that when we have to pick the ugliest yarn in our stash.)

IMG_2218

Posted in Knitalongs, Knitting Techniques, Two Sock Tuesday | Tagged | 1 Comment