And so it has begun

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So, I stopped playing around with the yarn and settled for a pattern that I like and cast on. They are a bit tight with five “arcs” but luckily they aren’t for me but for someone with slightly thinner wrists. If I make a pair for myself (there are plenty of Vacillate leftovers after my four shawls) I will do six arcs. Despite this pair being on the tight side I like them a lot. Two repeats will be more than enough and since things are happening all the time, it’s a quick knit. They are a bit finicky though, much more so than the shawl itself. Now, knit on, knit more!

Rainy day leisure

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Yesterday it rained all day. Perfect knitting weather and, since I have dubbed this summer the summer of knitting and working out, it went along well with my plans so I didn’t stick my nose out the door all day long (except a few minutes on the balcony to see how the dahlias were doing). First I finished up some loose ends (literally), blocked a shawl, and so on. Then I wasn’t in the mood to continue on the ribbon yarn sweater (don’t worry, it will get finished, one of these day) so instead I played around a bit. Me and Agnieszka have been talking about making wristwarmers of the Vacillate leftovers and yesterday I started looking into that. It’s a little tricky to convert a back-and-forth pattern into one in-the-round and also making everything a little smaller. My first try, the blue one, turned out well but will only allow me to use two contrastin colors unless want the wristwarmers to be more like arm warmers (and that requires a whole lot of increasing and such and I’m not particularly interested in getting into that right now) but the second one, the orange, is a bit boring. Or, at least, more boring thant he blue one. We’ll see what I decide on in the end but it was a quite fun way to spend a rainy day.

Sea shell lace

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My green shawl is finished and blocking. Blocking never ceases to amaze me. When this shawl was just off the needles, it was a green little pile of curling knitted fabric and look at it now! There was something else as well.

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Before pinning out all the little points, I pinned out a few of them evenly around the shawl edge. It made the lace edge look much more different, even in a way. Not necessarily bad, more soft I’d say, than when all the points are pinned out.

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When all the points are pinned out it reminds me of a sea shell, the way it curves. I think it’s so cool that the knitter herself can actually change that much in the final look of the garment depending on how you block it. Not to mention, again, how different lace looks when it’s blocked and how much you can pull at it. Also, a pointy edge makes it easier to block than a straight line in a crescent shaped shawl if you don’t use blocking wires. At least in my opinion.

 

The summer night light

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This time of the year I’m constantly worried I will miss things. That I will have too much to do to notice bird cherries and lilacs and, worst of all, the light evenings around summer solstice. (Every year I forget that it will be just as light in mid-July but I keep arguing that one has to make sure to enjoy the summer night before summer solstice when it turns dark again.) There is something incredibly romantic about the light summer night. Everything can happen and it’s a bit magical. (Except that reality is rarely as spectacular as the idea of something, but you know, a girl can dream.) So far this summer I hadn’t be able to take fully advantage of the light evenings but I had come close. Last weekend we were at a party that we didn’t leave until very early in the morning when the sun was up and the birds were singing. That is one thing you have to make sure to do this time of the year, go home in the early morning hours while listening to the birds singing. But that’s the morning, what about the evenings? As summer solstice comes closer and closer I’ve been worrying about the evenings so when Jenny invited me over to her place for a knit night I jumped to the chance to ride my bike to her place. She lives a little outside of town, about half an hour from me, and the road is a winding one through fields and meadows. I had a lovely ride there (if we overlook the fact that I ended up in the wrong place twice because of road construction and the first time resulted in me getting an angry look from an older man and the second time ended up with me having to lift my bike, Pauline, over a small fence, and that my map had said to follow the road straight till I came to a T-junction and then take a right and I did that only to realized that I had taken that turn too early and was now well on my way to a totally different place) and we had dinner and tea and knitting and the evening went way too quick and all of a sudden it was time to get going. I got an offer to get a lift into town and despite the fact that it was drizzling a bit I declined. I had my summer evening road in front of me and I was happy to take it. It was great, the rain stopped shortly thereafter and I could just ride my bike and enjoy the trip, the light, the greenery, the fields and trees, the small hills and the little houses here and there. It’s wasn’t as dark as in the picture and I could actually see the clock on the church wall. Now I’m back home and it’s time for bed. I’m glad I got this opportunity to revel in my light summer night. I’m already looking forward to the next time.

The dahlia conundrum

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My dahlias seem to thrive so far. They are beautiful and I love them. The weather has been warm but not too warm and today has been rainy. I’ve noticed that dahlias are a bit of a gamble. When we first got dahlias for the balcony two years ago, the label said they wanted semi-shade. I thought our balcony would be perfect for that, it’s sunny till about 2 pm and then in the shade. That summer was the warmest summer in forever and all of July was amazing and we could sit out on the balcony all night long without being cold. While we were enjoying our balcony and the weather, the dahlias slowly wilted. The buds died before even developing into flowers. I realized it was too hot for dahlias. A wise person would have gone for something else the next year but I happen to really like dahlias so I got some more. Last summer was all rainy and cloudy and the dahlias loved it. My flower boxes exuberated with dahlias, up until August, that is, when the summer turned very warm. We’ll see how this summer turns out. So far it’s all good and sure, I want a warm summer, but when it rains I can always think of how much the dahlias like it.

Shaped like a sweater

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Have you ever watched a cartoon or animated movie where someone is knitting? Usually you can see exactly what they are making, a scarf or a sweater, because the item is scarf or sweater shaped. That rarely happens in real knitting life. I often have to explain what I’m making and sometimes assure the concerned party that yes, I know I’m making the right size and yes, I know I’m doing it right. All this because you can almost never see what a knitted item will become until you have actually finished it. My sweater though is now deliciously sweater shaped. It’s really cool but will soon be over since I’ve reached the top of the shoulders and will now continue down the back. I will enjoy it while it lasts.

Breaking the fourth wall

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I’m still thinking about patterns. There is a lot to consider and sometimes it’s even a bit of a catch 22. You want your pattern to be clear and detailed but you also don’t want it too long. One of the longest patterns I’ve ever followed was more than 85 pages. That’s not manageable at all. At the same time I understand that designers want to put both written directions and charts in their patterns because people might like either or both.

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The pattern for the pink shawl did not have any charts. It just wasn’t possible. (By the way, I strongly advice against storing shawls the way I arranged it on the picture above.) There was just too much going on and not really any pattern repeats so a chart wouldn’t have been helpful at all.

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I think this is one of the most complicated patterns I’ve ever knit (Princess shawl not included of course). Not that the different elements were particularly difficult on their own (except the bind off, I know I messed things up somewhere) but I had to constantly keep attention to the pattern. This of course kept it all interesting all the time, which was very nice, but it also required focus.

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I like how different the shawl is, in fact, I pretty much love all of it, both the yarn, the color and the pattern itself, and I’m particularly in love with the leaves that, so to speak, come out of the shawl. In theatre and movies they talk about the fourth wall and that you shouldn’t break it and make contact with the audience but if you have an artistic approach and you do anyway, under the right circumstances, it can create a really cool effect. That’s how I look upon these leaves, they are breaking the fourth wall of knitting (or maybe third wall, since this is a triangular shawl). It’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen in knitting and one of the reasons I really wanted to make this shawl.

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There are other cool effects as well and I really do wonder what inspired the designer. How do you come up with something like this? And, how come you can still keep the balance between cool and unsual without getting weird and messy into it? As someone who would like to try my wings and design more, I’m really impressed with this and I’m just happy someone designed this so that I could knit it.

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It even made bobbles look cool and I usually think bobbles look like nipples or a cow’s udder. But not these, no, these just looks cool. This is truly a very, very mighty design.

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Pattern: Knitangle by Andrea Halasi. Yarn: Super Sport from Stunning String Studio, color Cherry Blossom.

What is a good pattern?

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In late April I gave it a try to design a pattern. It went fairly well but then I never had time to finish knitting the cowl I was designing. Now I have found a book, Kate Atherley’s The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns, that is a guide to  writing knitting patterns and I hope that it will help me. It has giving me a lot of insights so far, and I’ve only just started looking through it. It has also given me food for thought and some things I actually don’t agree on, which came as a surprise. It also got me thinking – what does make a pattern good? We’ve all knit from bad patterns (or stopped knitting because the pattern was bad) but why do we like a certain kind of pattern? And, for me, I find that really well written patterns are spoiling me and then I have a hard time adjusting to other patterns that are not as well written. I like what I like, it’s as simple as that, but I can totally understand that other people might like something different. There is obviously more to write up a pattern than I realized and I need to think some more about this. I will also pay closer attention to the patterns I knit from here on. There is like a whole new aspect to knitting that I never thought about. Oh my, this is all making me dizzy!

It’s close now

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After a major knitting effort this week I’m halfway through the bottom lace of my shawl. It’s a fairly quick repeat except for the beads and I expect it to be finished in the next few days. It’s very pretty. I want to go make another repeat now.

An MKAL reflection

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I’ve been trying to finish up an old MKAL from last summer lately and that has got me thinking about MKAL’s. What do I really think about them? Do I even like them? Well, on some level I must like them since I’ve made so many of them and I also usually finish them. (The only one I haven’t even started was a red silk scarf from May 2015. It was 2015, I was knitting Great Lace and it was red in May, everything was wrong and I doubt I will ever make that one.) I wear at least half of them on a semi-regular basis. So yeah, I think I like them.

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Now that I’ve been finshing up this shawl though, I’ve realized what I don’t like. I don’t like that they take so freaking long time to finish. I rarely spend more than a few weeks on a project and if I don’t finish in that time I get bored with it. An MKAL usually takes about eight weeks to finish, one clue each Friday for eight weeks. That’s a long time and that’s probably why I never seem to count the current MKAL as an on-going project. I spend a few ours on Friday night and Saturday finishing up the clue and then I move on. It the clue requires more time I get annoyed.

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I had only made it to the second clue on the shawl and this past week I’ve had my own little MKAL. I haven’t really looked at other’s finished projects and I haven’t looked ahead in the pattern so it’s been a mystery even though the whole pattern was published almost a year ago. This has also given me a chance to really concentrate on this project, to treat it like an on-going project and not something that’s in between other projects. The other day I finished two clues in one evening and I could scroll down to the next clue in the pattern without having to wait several days.

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It also showed me that the pattern is actually a pretty quick knit (I suspect the finished shawl will not be a big one, despite me moving up a needle size), something that I find tricky to estimate when the project is dragged out for eight weeks and I think this might stop me from knitting these patterns again.

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Being able to knit several clues at once was also something I appreciated while finishing up Paris in the Springtime and the Vampire shawl. I think I might actually make another one of the shawl’s I’m currently knitting, now that I know it’s both pretty and fairly quick.

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I doubt my thoughts here will lead to any changes, I will keep knitting MKAL’s and also continuing making one clue each week, but at least I know that if I miss out on an MKAL it’s not so bad to pick it up later, it might actually be quite nice.

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Pattern: Arranmore by Cindy Garland. Yarn: Plump from Stunning String Studio, color Clover Field. Mods: I repeated rows 132-135 twice.