My current work in progress:

1. Segel, designed by Lea Viktoria, knit from Miss Babs Yummy 2-Ply Toes in the "Draco" gradient set on a 3.5 mm (U.S. size 4) needle.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Knitting

Where was I?

Thanks for all your very kind comments about the Leaf Lace Shawl. Gotta say, I am embarrassed at how completely craptacular my photos of the shawl are. But it was sort of dark and rainy yesterday, so I couldn’t get a good natural light photo. Flash photos did not work out at all. I’ll try to get some better shots. But not today. After being nice and sunny most of the day, it clouded up and the sky got dark and ominous before I got home. so no good natural light photos today.

In the interests of full disclosure, I did not take the time to block this by wetting it and pinning it out — I simply went over it with a steam iron. That worked very well. Because of the high silk content, I didn’t want to attempt to stretch it. Also, because it’s a heavier yarn, I didn’t think I needed a full wet block — the weight of it keeps it stretched out to a certain extent. I think it turned out just fine as is.

So there you have it.

Why a Shawl?

There was a comment today asking what I do with my shawls.

I always keep a couple of shawls at the office — my office is underheated in the winter and over air-conditioned in the summer, but other parts of the office are far warmer. Shawls are great to throw over my shoulders when I’m at my desk. When I get up to go to a warmer part of the office, I can easily toss said shawl over the back of my chair.

I sometimes use a shawl as a big scarf over my winter coat. And some of my shawls are given as gifts to other people.

And some of them are process knitting — I knit them for the pleasure of knitting lace with nary a thought as to their final disposition.

Sock In Progress!

I have resumed commuter knitting on the sock I started last week. Here it is, in all its sockie splendour:

sock051606 We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Knitting

Look! A lace pattern that is NOT feather and fan around the leg. Alert the media!

sock051606a We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Knitting

This is a simple lace rib, done over multiples of 6 stitches thusly:

Row 1: (k2, yo, sl1, k2tog, psso, yo, k1) around.
Rows 2 – 4: knit

Easy as pie. And far more entertaining than plain stockinette.

Sweater in Progress!

I also resumed knitting on Deirdre and am at the point where I can start the armhole decreases on the front.

deirdre051606 We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Knitting

It’s funny — last week I got so sick of knitting this I could barely stand it. This week I happily picked it up and have been thoroughly entertained. Clearly, I am odd.

I guess a little cheating on the work-in-progress spices things up.

Be forewarned . . . there is more cheating-on-works-in-progress planned in the near future.

yarn051606 We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Knitting

Lucy is appalled.

lucy051606 We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Knitting

Rhapsody in Silk

Yeah, whaddya gonna do? You’ve got ArtYarns Silk Rhapsody lying around, along with a pattern that will showcase it nicely.

Silk Rhapsody. It’s available for sale in lots of places — I see that Purl has it for sale online here.

A couple of you asked about the itch factor because of the mohair content. Please note that I am not overly sensitive to itchiness in yarn, so your mileage may vary. But I find it very non-itchy. There’s more silk than mohair in the yarn, and the silk makes it very soft. And very, very pleasurable to knit.

How pleasurable? I finished the shawl.

shawl051506 Rhapsody in Silk

Not really an amazing feat, because it is worsted weight and I knit it on 5mm needles. It’s not a large shawl, either. And apart from a bit of sock knitting on Saturday, I abandoned all other knitting to work on it. It even went to the office with me today, so I could knit it on the train and at lunch.

Of course, I had the problem of trying to decide how many repeats I could knit before starting the edging. I had 520 yards of yarn and I, of course, wanted to use as much as possible. The shawl gets 4 stitches wider on each right side row, and there are 15 edging rows before you bind off.

shawl051506a Rhapsody in Silk

As it happens, I had to knock 4 rows off the edging in order to have enough yarn to finish.

yarn051506 Rhapsody in Silk

Rosewood Circulars

Anne asked:
With Holz & Stein nearly impossible to find here, have you tried Colonial circulars?

I’ve not yet tried the Colonial circulars, but no doubt I will soon. Last Friday, my Needle Enabler (the one who enabled me into Holz & Stein needles in the first place) emailed me to tell me how wonderful the Colonial circulars are. So really, it’s just a matter of time.

Lucy Sez

lucy051506 Rhapsody in Silk

This shawl ain’t half bad.

I Blame the Naproxen

There I was. A knitter with two works in progress: socks and a sweater. And muscle spasms in the back.

On Friday I was standing around, waiting for the naproxen to kick in (in these situations, sitting is not an option). My swift and ballwinder were already set up, and two skeins of Artyarns Silk Rhapsody just happened to be lying around.

artyarns051406 I Blame the Naproxen

Before I knew it, they were wound into balls. Before I knew it, I had something that looked like this.

shawl051406 I Blame the Naproxen

It’s not my fault, honest. Muscle relaxants can make you do crazy things. I swear.

shawl051406a I Blame the Naproxen

This is Evelyn A. Clark’s Leaf Lace Shawl. The yarn, Artyarns Silk Rhapsody, is a handpainted yarn made up of two strands. One strand is 70% kid mohair and 30% silk. The other strand is 100% silk. I’m using color #105.

yarn051406 I Blame the Naproxen

Knitting with this yarn is like eating a hot fudge sundae — it’s pure indulgence!

Barbados Sheep!

sheep051406 I Blame the Naproxen

This is a photo my dad (Happy Birthday, Dad!) sent me of some Barbados sheep — they look like goats, don’t they? I was intrigued, so I did a Google search and discovered that they are Barbados Blackbelly Sheep. Go figure!

Lucy Sez

lucy051406 I Blame the Naproxen

Happy Mother’s Day. Now let me sleep.

For Debi

Debi, sweetheart, I broke out the macro lens. These pix are for you!

yarn051106 For Debi

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That’s my Lisa Souza sock yarn.

Thank you all for the affirmations for my use of Paintshop Pro. I feel validated.

A couple of days ago someone asked in the comments what yarn to use for the crochet chain for a provisional cast-on. (Yes, I know I could have gone back and looked to see who it was, but I didn’t.)

What You Should Use: use a smooth yarn (like cotton) in approximately the same weight as your working yarn.

What I Use: Any old thing.

I usually use dribs and drabs of other sock yarn, left over from previous sock projects. It is true that you shouldn’t use something with a high fuzz-factor — it’s much easier to pick up stitches on a smooth chain than a fuzzy chain. Same goes for splitty yarn — Avoid! Avoid! Danger, Will Robinson!

Here’s the chain for my newest sock in progress:

chain051106 For Debi

That’s Lorna’s Laces in the “Gold Hill” colorway. I generally try to use a color for the crochet chain that contrasts well against the color of the working yarn. I didn’t do so hot this time. Well, part of it contrasted.

chain051106a For Debi

I started a sock with some of my Spirit-Trail sock yarn purchased last weekend.

sock051106 For Debi

This yarn is 100% superwash merino and the colors just called out to me. It’s slightly heavier than what I’ve been using — I’m getting 7.5 st/inch on a size 0, instead of my usual 8. So I went down a few stitches in size.

sock051106a For Debi

And I’m still working on Deirdre.

deirdre051106 For Debi

Lucy just wants me to shut up so she can sleep.

lucy051106 For Debi

I’m Ready For My Close-up, Mr. DeMille

Katrina commented:
You always take such wonderful pictures of your projects. Do you have any tips? I can never quite get all the detail I want in mine. Maybe I just need to upgrade my camera.

Well thank-you! When it comes to photos, I am certainly no Cara. I ain’t no Bonne Marie, either. But I am mighty pleased that you think my photos are any good.

Anyhow, most of the photos in my blog are taken with my Canon Digital Rebel EOS SLR camera that I purchased in December 2003 — so it’s now obsolete. But it is still a great camera, even if it is only 5 megapixels.

Some photos are taken with a Canon Powershot SD400 — that’s the small camera I keep in my purse. All my Maryland Sheep and Wool photos were taken with that camera.

While I am by no means anything approaching a “real” photographer, I do love taking pictures. So I take a ton of them. Then I pick the best ones to post on the blog.

Whenever I can, I try to take photos without the flash, in natural light, so the colors of my knitting are as true as possible. When photographing Lucy, I almost always use the flash because she doesn’t hold still, of course, for the slower shutter speed of the natural light photos.

I use Paintshop Pro to crop and resize photos. I wish I knew how to use Photoshop — no doubt taking a class in it would be the right way to go. But I’ve been using Paintshop Pro for eons, so I do actually know how to use most of the features, so I’ll stick with that.

I crop, resize, and compress photos in Paintshop Pro. The only other editing I do is to sometimes sharpen an image slightly, and adjust contrast and/or brightness. That’s pretty much all I know how to do in image editing.

The other thing — I try to use backgrounds that don’t fight with or obsure the object I’m photographing. Sometimes I’m lazy and will drape my sock-in-progress across the keyboard of my laptop, or photograph work-in-progress on my knee — I did both of these things yesterday.

So that’s my story. I did a brief Google search, looking for tips for good blog photos, but didn’t really find anything definitive. If anyone knows of good sites for blog photographers, please do mention them in the comments.

In Knitting News . . .

Mahogany sock number two is done.

socks051006 Im Ready For My Close up, Mr. DeMille

Ooh! Ooh! Excitement!

socks051006a Im Ready For My Close up, Mr. DeMille

Erin comments:
I love the idea of using the picot edging for the top of the sock instead of the traditional ribbed cuff.
I was wondering if the sock slouches at all without the ribbing, or does the double thickness from the fold-over provide enough “grab” to keep it in place?

My picot edge socks don’t slouch — they stay up nicely. That could be, of course, because I have fat shapely legs.

In Stash News . . .

My latest stash enhancements, courtesy of Lisa Souza:

yarn051006 Im Ready For My Close up, Mr. DeMille

The colors are denim, pink, sky drama, and jonquil. And the roving is Blue Faced Leicester.

New York/New Jersey Book Gig

We’re making the final arrangements for my book tour trip to New York and New Jersey May 19-21. Please note that the time of the event at Knitty City on Sunday May 21 has been changed to accomodate the travel schedule — it will start at 12:30pm instead of 2:00pm as originally scheduled.

Also note that to attend the Friday evening event at The Point, you need to RSVP — please see their events page for details.

Pandemic Flu

In his post yesterday, the KOARC mentioned pandemic flu and the movie about it that was on the ABC network last night. I only watched about half the movie, but decided to switch to some mindless cable nonsense after an hour.

But it reminded me of an incident at work last month. All our regional directors came into the national office for a three-day powwow, and one of the (many) presentations was on pandemic flu and what the government is doing to prepare for the likelihood of an outbreak, and what we can do to protect ourselves in an outbreak. Someone in our agency arranged for a specialist from OSHA to come and give his half-hour presentation. OSHA guy comes and gives his presentation (which was actually pretty interesting). One of the things he stressed was attempting to minimize spread of the virus by limiting contact between people. He talked about having people work from home, and also talked about making an effort to avoid physical contact — like shaking hands.

So, at the end of the presentation, after a q&a period, the guy in our agency who invited him got up, thanked him, and the two shook hands vigorously. Heh.

Well Lookie Here

Considering I had nothing of value to say today, I certainly did ramble on. How ’bout that?

Lucy seems unimpressed.

lucy051006 Im Ready For My Close up, Mr. DeMille