Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ethereality Show

I finished up the Ethereal Shawl this weekend.

I'm always seeing lace patterns and thinking "I totally want to knit that," forgetting how much time, attention and patience lace knitting requires. For starters, I'd never made a triangle shawl, where the shoulder edge grows out from the middle of the starting 5 stitches. That would be the center top of the photo on the left. For some reason, I had a hard time wrapping my mind around that. I even took an early photo with the shawl pinned out to get an idea of what I was doing, and only realized later that I'd gotten the dimensions all wrong. So, lots of challenges and a bit of tediousness, but quite worth it, I think.

I diligently put in lifelines every ten rows or so, and maddeningly had to rely on one when I dropped a stitch nine rows above and couldn't quite figure out the fix. But that's what they're for, and it did save me from starting over. The inner sections with the squares were actually more challenging than the outer edge. I didn't do the right style of decrease for most of that section because I read the instructions incorrectly, although the method I did use turned out just fine.

The pattern starts with just five stitches and ends up with 535 on the last row. So the early parts fly by, but the final rows often took close to an hour to complete down and back. I chose to do the initial repeat option five times, which produces eight squares in the center column (72 squares total). The final shawl weighs 61 grams. So it used one 50 gram skein and about a fifth of a second. In weird compounding shawl math, 10 of those grams, or one sixth of the yarn in this shawl, is in the last inch of work. The final piece is roughly 28" down the center and 52" wide.

I made this for a colleague who is retiring in a few weeks. I think she might read this ahead of time, but that's okay. She's always been so supportive of and interested in my knitting.

We have worked together for over 25 years. We shared an office in the early days, and she fearlessly took on mentoring this wet-behind-the-ears librarian from day one. She's always been a professional touchstone for me, and really guided me as I took on more of a role with health sciences librarianship at my college. Her approach to collection development and reference work have always been my model. She reads interesting stuff, tells great stories, remains curious about everything, and is always willing to listen. And over the last few years, we've acted as each other's memories when trying to recall names and events from the past. Work is going to be very different without her, but I wish her a happy and fulfilling retirement. I hope she knows just how much she's meant to me and all of her colleagues at the college.

Best wishes, Donna!

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Vivacious Vividness

This morning, I finished up the first of a series of baby blankets slated for little ones arriving mid-year. They're the perfect things to be working on with all the beautiful springtime blossoms appearing everywhere.

As you may have guessed, bright colors aren't exactly my thing. But I must admit working on this was a real feast for the eyes. As soon as I got used to a color, it was on to the next one. Deciding how to arrange them was fun, too. A few colors fight each other in proximity -- sewing that reddish-orange and teal together actually hurt after a while -- but when you step back, I think it works. As you can see, a certain darker orange color was ditched for a deep red -- almost a maroon. Around here, that switch has serious implications that non-Texans may not fully grasp. Let's just say that I made this change with a mother's loyalties in mind...

I modified the pattern by adding an attached I-cord edging in gray -- a nod to one of my preferred shades. It took a while, but it helped. Despite blocking each square to 8", over time the garter edging reigned some of them back in closer to 7.5". After sewing the squares together, there were subtle pulls and dips, especially around the edges. The I-cord kind of works like a topping on a cheesecake, hiding the little imperfections and smoothing everything out to a nice uniformity, more or less.

Up next, I'm going to make a variation on this -- look for more "me" in this one. And then yet one more baby blanket, but on a totally different theme -- I think making 32 of these panels will be just plenty for one year.

But not too soon. First, I'll be working on a bit of lace. I found some lace-weight yarn in a dark greenish gray (now that's a color!) in my stash right about the time I was thinking of another gift I need to make. I think I got it in a yarn swap with friends several years ago. I forgot how much I love knitting lace. And how much concentration it takes. I'm going to be putting in a lot of lifelines on this one.

Hope everyone's spring (or autumn) is full of beauty and creativity!