shawl


Can I use Reverse Psychology to convince myself that I don’t want to start this new shawl immediately?

I’m not usually one for Family Guy references, but this seemed pretty on point for how I feel right now..

I am apparently insane. I currently have three big projects on the go: Fellowship of the Shawl, Sock Yarn Blanket, and Stripes Gone Crazy sweater. They are the three biggest projects I have EVER taken on and not a single one has even made it to the halfway point. Why? Because, like I said, I am buckets of crazy and started THREE HUGE PROJECTS AT THE SAME TIME! I mean, really, what was I thinking!! No sane person would do this.

The fact is that really like all three of these projects, like working on them, like how they’re looking (though I’m still not happy with my shoulder in my sweater…), and am excited to see them all done (if I ever finish them). Having these three big projects on the go and switching between them means that they each are going to take a small age to actually finish since I never really dedicate enough time to one to finish it in a timely fashion. This has always been something I have struggled with, ever since I started knitting.Always lots of projects on the go, all of which I’m excited about, but never quite focused enough to just sit down and FINISH ONE. And despite knowing I have too much on the go already I am always on the lookout for the next project.  Hell, I have this problem with EVERYTHING in my life, not just knitting.

I never lack in enthusiasm, but focus? Yeah, not so mu– Ooo! Shiny dinosaur sticker!!

Yeah, well, this brand of insanity persists because I have already started looking at new shawl patterns I want to make. I keep saying to myself that I won’t start a new shawl until AFTER I am done my Fellowship shawl, but man…. temptation. This is temptation. But for now, lets all assume I have at least a bit of common sense and that this project won’t be started until after I finish what I’m currently working on. (ha…..)

The pattern I’m lusting over is Reverse Psychology. I think it is a pretty cool pattern and very appealing for a shawl pattern for a number of reasons.

  1. it is reversible. I love that there isn’t a right side or wrong side.
  2. it is more wearable and interesting than your average triangle or half-pi shawl. Asymmetrical = interest!
  3. it can be made with or without beading (something I am sort of interested in trying)
  4. it is pretty simple to make (or so I’m told)
  5. it is specifically made to work using Wolle’s Color Changing Cotton!

Yes, this pattern was made with that specific yarn in mind, made to really work with and accentuate the colour gradient of the yarn. And you can see from the projects people have made using this yarn, the pattern really does work great with the yarn.

As I have posted previously, I really like Wolle’s yarn. I used it in my Mizzle and loved the result. I am currently using it in my Fellowship of the Shawl and am loving the result. The gradients her yarn makes are really striking and beautiful. I get that the yarn isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I frankly really love working with it. And hey, 100% cotton works great if I’m looking to make something for someone with a wool allergy. 🙂

Wolle's Color Changing Cotton 100g - Truffle 2

Wolle’s Color Changing Cotton 100g – Truffle 2

Right now I have a 100g skein of Wolle’s in the Truffle 2 colourway (chocolate brown – camel/tan – turquoise) that is just crying out to be made into something awesome. Unlike my Sand and Snow skeins I don’t have any extra of the end colour, so any project I make with this has to be able to be finished with just the one ball. Reverse Psychology seems like just that pattern!

I really love this colour way, I love the blend of browns and the turquoise, and I think it will look really great knit up into this project. The colorway I am using for my Fellowship shawl is more subtle or subdued, and therefore works well when the knit itself has a lot of interest (in my case, lacework). This one, though, has a lot of impact all on its own, so I think it will work better on a project that lets the color change be more of the focus, if you know what I mean. If I do use beads (and I have not decided if I am going to or not) I’d have to do some proper pondering over the colour of the beads. It would need to be something that worked well across the three colours of the yarn, which could be hard to nail down. Clear beads maybe? No idea.

So basically, I’m thinking this shawl in this yarn is next on the docket, but man… I really gotta finish SOMETHING before I start this… right?


Gimli, I vanquish thee!  2

I AM VICTORIOUS!!!!! Good GOD that was a pain in the ass. After much belly-aching and whining and way too much time I finally managed to get the Gimli section of my shawl done. Honest to god, those were the most annoying 14 rows ever. I’m both extremely glad that I have successfully finished this section (and put a super secure lifeline in place to ensure I never have to do it again!), but I am also pretty irritated with myself because I have a pretty good idea of what was going on that caused this section to be a painful basket of hellfire:

Hammer and tongs! I am so torn between rage and joy, that if I do not burst, it will be a marvel!” – Gimli, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 

  1. I was stupid and didn’t correctly interpret the pattern. At the end of Legolas it indicated a stitch count of 87, and then at the end of the first row of Gimli it indicated a stitch count of 89. I did NOT register the change in the stitch count, nor did I really register that there was an increase happening. I just kept thinking I was supposed to start Gimli with 89, and I kept thinking I had the wrong number of stitches. This was NOT the pattern’s fault. It was correctly written. I was just being pretty daft.
  2. I wasn’t using enough stitch markers, nor was I really using them correctly. Again, the problem comes from Row 1 in Gimli where there was that sneaky 2 stitch increase.  When I put the markers in at Row 1 they got all out of place after the two stitch increase that happens in that row, and that kept making me think that I screwed up when I hadn’t. This didn’t start to work until I waited until the second lace row to put my markers in.
  3. I am fairly sure that I wasn’t paying enough attention during my first couple attempts. I am sure I missed YOs, missed some K2Tog/SSKs, and extra super likely is that I didn’t notice some times when stitches were sort of hiding under other stitches, so when I knit them I ended up doing accidental decreases. I started to be super careful and meticulous (especially with the stitches hiding under other stitches thing).
2015-04-22_08.30.24

Gimli is done!! (Apologies for the crappy picture. I snapped it last night before I went to bed.)

 

When I posted about my struggles on Ravelry I got a ton of great suggestions, all of which helped me to finally triumph over this section, but one poster suggested I stop using my Wolle’s Colour Change Cotton, suggesting that the yarn was contributing to my difficulties. That was the one bit of advice that I did not take. I don’t doubt that using a high twist wool/wool blend would help some, but this yarn is driver for this project. Part of the reason I bought this Fellowship! The Shawl pattern was specifically for my Wolle’s yarn, to show off the long colour transition. Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot by stubbornly sticking with this yarn, but I don’t think so. The end result will be so amazing in this yarn…

Anyway, its done and I’m really happy with it. It FINALLY looks like it is supposed to so now when I do Gandalf (the next section) it will build upon it perfectly. HURRAY!

 


I have a lot in common with Wile E. Coyote, only lacework is my Roadrunner

© Warner Brothers

… and then some jerk roadrunner beat the ever loving crap out of him and foiled all of his plans. Roadrunners suck.

I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person. In terms of academics, I’ve always done well in school – I graduated high school bilingual, I got my degree in Psychology and English, and I got honors in college when I studied computer programming. I also have proven myself adept at problem solving and picking up new skills. Take my first car, for instance. My first car was a manual transmission car, and when I got it I had never driven a manual transmission car. My father actually had to drive it home from the dealership. A day and a half later I  had learned how to drive stick after just a couple lessons from my dad, and I drove home to a city filled with very steep hills. Granted, I had a sign in my back window that read “WARNING! I just learned how to drive a manual transmission! Do not stop to close!” for the first month or two (which, holy crap other drivers respected, ha ha ha) but I’d still stay I picked that up pretty damned quickly.

Knitting is one skill I have picked up very quickly and it has been a pretty big source of pride for me. Whenever people ask me how long I have been knitting they are always very surprised when I say it has only been just over a year. For only having learned to knit 14 months ago I have managed to nail down a lot of techniques and skills, and I have completed projects that are a lot more complex that I ever would have thought I could have done so soon after learning. Cables, stranded knitting, double knitting, knitting Continental as well as English, chart reading,… it all came to me pretty easily. Basically, knitting has come to me pretty naturally, and this has led me to feel a bit invincible in my knitting ability. It all smacked of Wile E. Coyote, thinking he was a genius and always being so overly confident that he could triumph over rabbits and roadrunners, feeling it was laughable that they could ever survive his attempts. I definitely was channeling his cockiness, basically expecting every knitting skill to just hop into my cooking pot because it was inevitable that I was going to capture them anyway so why not just save us all the hassle.

Then I set my sights on lacework…

Behold my personal Roadrunner.

Oh, how humbling lacework is. I feel like an Olympic diver drowning in a kiddie pool. All this time I have been feeling so brilliant and naturally oh so fantastic at knitting, “Nothing is hard to me!”, I’d think to myself, but now I feel like part of my brain must be missing. I can NOT get this stupid lacework to work, and it is making me feel incredibly humbled and stupid. Mostly stupid.

The source of my angst is my Fellowship of the Shawl. This thing is KILLING me. It hasn’t been all terrible, it actually started out well enough. The first couple of sections (The One Ring, Boromir, and Legolas) were a snap and worked out perfectly. This, unfortunately, made me even more prideful. Then I started Gimli. For the love of mercy, this section is MURDERING ME! I have frogged it I think seven times now if I include all the times I frogged this section when I attempted this shawl back last May. I follow that stupid pattern SO CAREFULLY and every time something screws up. I either end up with too many stitches or not enough. Thank god for lifelines or else this would have been a total frog a few times over by now.

I just don’t understand why I seem to be utterly incapable of correctly completing this section. I knit this section yet again yesterday only to find it was effed up yet again. A big part of me wants to just keep the incorrectly knit Gimli section and move on to Gandalf, but I know I’ll regret it, especially since Gandalf builds upon Gimli’s pattern. So I guess I have to frog this yet again and start it over again. I swear I have this stupid section’s chart memorized after having had to do it so many effing times.

For real, though, I am absolutely hell bent on successfully completing this stupid shawl. Lacework is the single biggest gap in my knitting skills repertoire and I am NOT going to let this beat me. I am going to finish this stupid lacework, I am going to have it be PERFECT, and I am going to be an awesome lace knitter.

Hell or high water, my friends. Hell or high water.


Fringe! (but sadly not the kind that involves Joshua Jackson)

Sonny and Cher sure liked wearing fringe...

Sonny and Cher sure liked wearing fringe…

Is it possible to wear an item with fringe and still look fashionable? To be completely honest I am not positive that it can be done. For most people when you say fringe they think of hippes and buckskin jackets. And really, no matter how you cut it, fringe is quite a statement. I don’t mean a bit of a fringed edge to a scarf, I’m talking a shawl with a long fringe along the bottom, or a fringed shirt, or a fringed purse… You know. Dramatic fringe. Statement-making fringe.

I began my quest for fringed knitted shawl patterns that looked nice and still had a level of modernity to it.

Why shawls? Mostly because they are fun to knit and are the most likely to be able to incorporate fringe without it looking out of place.

The first one that I found and liked was with regret. Well, not regret exactly, but more surprise. I first need to explain that in general I dislike (or maybe just don’t understand) Stephen West’s designs. He does have a couple that are nice, and I do think the guy has a lot of skill and creativity, but I also think a lot of his designs frankly look insane, and I have wonder if he isn’t trolling everyone, making the most unappealing unattractive designs just to see if people will buy and make them. (For example, this, this, this, and this all just look insane to me and would be unflattering on everyone.) I appreciate that my opinion on him is not the norm and that for some people uttering any word against Stephen West is blasphemous. And hey, to each his own! Anyway, despite my general dislike of his patterns I did come across his Fringed pattern (paid pattern). I love this pattern. I think it is interesting and stylish, and finds a way to make fringe look modern. I especially like the block of other-coloured fringe at the end, just for extra interest. Stephen West hasn’t fully won me over, but this pattern really is gorgeous as far as I am concerned and I’d even consider paying the money for it.

The next pattern I came across that I really liked was the Sonoma Stole by Carol Sunday (Paid pattern). For being a shawl with so many colours and lines, you’d think the fringe would make it too busy or tacky, but actually I think the fringe works really well with this pattern. It is like the fringe softens the otherwise pretty sharp lines in the stripes in the shawl.

RittenhouseTown Wrap by Jocelyn Tunney (free pattern) is different from the first two insofar as it is all one colour. The interest comes from the pattern and texture in the body of the shawl and in the fringe. To me it looks snuggly and warm, more Autumn Cottage instead of 1970’s Love In.

Going at fringe from a different direction, there is Beautiful Spring Scarf by Purl Soho (free pattern). It is a very very simple scarf but with brightly coloured fringe on the ends. Where fringe is very often an accent, here the fringe is the focus.

Amalthea by Tori Gurbisz (paid pattern) does the best job of being modern and fashionable in a timeless way. It is a nice long shawl with a bit of detailing and texture along the bottom half of it, and is finished with a simple not-too-heavy fringe. It is classy. And feminine, without being shouty about it. I don’t know, I just think it is properly lovely and of all the shawl designs I have here I think this is the one that would be the most wearable.

Finally, I have two pairs of socks that incorporate fringe that I really like. The first is Cat’s Zebra Socks by Cat Bordhi (paid pattern). Basically, they are black and white stripes socks with a fringe down the back that mimics the mane of the zebra. Pretty creative and fun. The second pair of socks has fringe, but in a more hilarious creative way. In Fringe Socks by Stephannie Tallent (paid pattern) the fringe is a knitted design, not actual fringe hanging off the socks. I’m sorry, but this absolutely cracks me up. I don’t know why but I think this is hilarious and creative.

 

So there are some knitting patterns that use fringe but aren’t excessively retro or dated. I think it can be a thin line to walk, using fringe while staying modern looking, but I think this proves it can be done.

 

I am always open to suggestions so please leave in the comments any other patterns or ideas!

 

Links to all the patterns mentioned in this post:


The love-hate relationship with my shawl

Sonar Shawl

I blocked it to look like bat wings. 🙂

This is my Sonar Shawl.
This shawl took me a small age to finish and I whined like a baby the entire time. Why? Because the closer I got to the end the longer each row was, the longer it took to knit across, the more repetitive it got. Plus, near the end the colour changes (the one thing that kept things interesting during the project) became even less frequent, so I didn’t even have that to break the monotony. Basically, the last 20 or so rows were torture to me because they were just endless rows of stockinette and damn if that doesn’t get intensely boring after a while.

It also took forever to show any sort of progress, which for me is the nail in the coffin for any project. The odd thing was that I genuinely liked how the shawl was knitting up. I liked how it looked, I liked the weight and I was really looking forward to finishing it because I anticipated wearing it a fair bit. You’d think that would make the finishing less painful but… no. It was just miles and miles of super boring stockinette.

In the end I rage finished it. I got so sick of seeing it in my project bag that I finally got so angry that I refused to sleep until I was done the damned thing. I went a bit nuts in the process and I should confess that I cheated a bit and didn’t do the last couple rows of black. I couldn’t take it anymore and just bound off. Once the project was bound off and off the needles I of course loved the end result. It is unquestionably a lovely shawl and a good pattern. Still, it was such a colossal pain in the ass to finish that I still harbour angry resentful feelings towards it.

Then today a co-worker stopped me and asked me if I made my shawl. WELL! There are few things as enjoyable as having someone notice and comment on something I’ve knitted, so I was all “Oh, this? Oh, well, yes, I made it.” trying to be a bit modest. My co-worker who is apparently just learning to knit said that she thought it was beautiful.

I still sort of resent this shawl for being such a pain in the ass to knit, but anything that gets me praised can’t be all bad, can it?