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Posts Tagged ‘shawl’

Spring Resolutions

I can’t be the only one who feels far more inspired to make changes in my life in the spring than in dreary January!  The return of the sun coupled with Nature’s effusion of energy always fill my mind with grand ideas, wild plans, and fresh hopes.  Also I have a smartphone now!  I have been loving the convenience of always having a camera in my pocket, not to mention the ease of being able to upload photos straight to the internet.  And I have been knitting some seriously awesome stuff, if I do say so myself!  For example, I participated in the recent Follow Your Arrow mystery KAL and hoo boy do I love my FO!

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It’s still a bit cool here but many afternoons have been warm enough for shirtsleeves and a magnificent shawl!  And this one is so dramatic, it’s equally cool with jeans and a tshirt or a fancy dress.  I modified the edging a little to add the slowly widening stripes…because I was running out of yarn!  I had way more than the required yardage to start, so I worked an extra repeat of the lace, which meant making adjustments to the knitted on edging which meant by the end I was cutting every spare inch off my colour changes to try and finish the last pink row (thinking of following in my footsteps? More details on my mods on my project page).

Follow Your Arrow was also my first MKAL. It was a large one, and one with a vibrant community. I know some people felt disappointed with the pattern, but I really think one has to be prepared for the unknown when embarking on a mystery KAL. Mystery, dudes. It’s right there in the title. I loved the experience – I got exactly what I was looking for: a shawl construction that I might never have chosen, but that I now get to experiment with, not just on the needles but in my wardrobe. The unique “kite” start surpassed my expectations and I am totally excited to knit another with a few different clue choices down the road (probably in a single colour, possibly in handspun)! All in all, I don’t know that I’m going to do a lot of MKALs, and for example you couldn’t pay me to do a sweater MKAL, but I had so much fun with this one I hereby resolve to do more in the future…as well as more blog posts!

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My Forest Floor Legwarmers are finished!  And the stranded colourwork turned out pretty well, if not as perfect as I hope to get by the end of 2013 (The Year Of Stranded Colourwork, as I have decreed it!).  In the end, I had plenty of yarn for full-length, slouchy legwarmers.  In fact, despite having carefully weighed and weighed again, after working the 19 stripes on each leg that I’d calculated I had yarn for, I was left with so much yarn that I carried on to 23 stripes, unpicking the ribbing at the bottom of the first legwarmer to add more length.  Why 23?  I don’t know, I was at knit night and it just felt right.  And apparently I estimated well – I have several yards of light brown left, but only about 8 inches of the dark brown.  Perfect!  There’s two skeins out of my stash and onto my (now warmer, cozier) legs!

I’m feeling pretty proud of myself right now.  I set myself a goal in January to have three skeins of yarn out for every two I bring in (including handspun).  So far the proportions have been pretty even, but just yesterday I was able to destash 14 full and part-skeins of yarn – mostly cotton that I was given as gifts, and it’s nice enough but I far prefer wool – as well as finishing the legwarmers and a pair of seed-stitch bathroom-cleaning rags for 3 more skeins knit out.  This puts me so far ahead in the stashing down that I feel like I should celebrate.  By going to the yarn store.  But I won’t, because…well, I made no such resolution about my fibre stash.

In fact, dear readers, I wanted to talk to you about that.  I signed up for a couple of clubs – Dyet Yarns’ Fairy and Folklore club, running January-March, and Fat Cat Knits’ Fairytale club, running March-June.  Yeah, I’m a sucker for folklore.  And I’m going to blog my club fibres, but on the off-chance that someone reading this hasn’t got theirs yet, they’ll be under the jump.

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At a family dinner last night, I was reminded that I never updated about my Bundle-Up Bear Brigade post Christmas!  Shocking!

By the time I finally put away my bear bag (yes, I had a bag I carried around all month containing every relevant scrap I could collect as well as the pertinent needles & notions), I had knit 8 bears.  Sadly, since 6 of them went to other homes over the festive season, I don’t have a photo of them all together, but I think I’ve got pictures of all but the very last one (who I just discovered at the bottom of a project bag, finished except for her blank little face).  First up, here’s a picture comparing the regular and mini sizes (regular size bear went home with a friend’s toddler because babies deserve bears; yellow Noro suit belongs to the unfinished last bear).  I might be biased, but I rather prefer the teeny ones!

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Now I want you to notice in the following pictures the amazing crispness, clarity, and colour.  One of the awesome things about giving away the bears to various family members was that my mother-in-law was usually around, with her DSLR camera, and she was kind enough to let me use it.  I have hemmed and hawed for a long time about getting a DSLR – I know that part of the appeal is that I imagine I can make up for my artistic shortcomings with a fancier machine, and as such I’ve pushed myself to be content with my point-and-shoot and improve my skills instead.  But the pictures are just so much better.  So after I purchase the sweater quantity of Everything Old yarn I’m currently saving for, I’ll be starting a new camera fund, because – look!

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*Wistful sigh* …and now back to your regularly scheduled point-and-shoot update, under the jump.

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Now that I’ve got my computer back up and running, and the Universal Toque pattern tested and posted, it’s time to revisit my FOs, WIPs, and wistfully, the frog pond as they’ve been in the last six weeks.

First up, here’s my current love affair: Stephen West’s Spectra, knit from Little Red Bicycle worsted (grey; purchased at Knit City, and sadly I think in-person sales are currently the only way to buy this awesome yarn) and my early handspun, in Hydrangea BFL/silk gradient-dyed fibre from Everything Old!

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More (pics, projects, pontification) under the jump.

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Angelus at last!

Finally!!!  Today I can share with you the project that bumped Dearli off the needles last month (not literally, though it almost did as they are written for the same size…)!  I present…

The Angelus Shawl, by Emma Galati of Everything Old Fibre!!!

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Oh yeah, it’s awesome!  More pics and prattle under the jump!

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New Year WIP round up!

Phew, the holiday madness is behind us!  But I still have some knitting lingering from December that I’m enjoying getting on with now that my Christmas knitting is but a memory.

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Okay, strictly speaking those socks in the manly Regia jacquard yarn (Spring Cable socks, the cable is there somewhere, I promise) are a Christmas leftover.  With Mr. Salamander home from mid-November nursing a back injury, it proved impossible to complete a surprise pair of socks in time for Christmas, so I wrapped up the WIP, needles and all, and resumed working on it around Boxing Day.  But I don’t really count them as a Christmas failure since when I planned the project I was still 2 weeks out from starting my new job and anticipated having plenty of time while Mr. Salamander was at work to finish them.  Fortunately his back just needed a few weeks of babying, and he’s back up and at ’em starting this week.

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See?  There’s totally a cable hidden in there.

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The sherbet coloured socks are for me, of course, Anastasia socks by MintyFresh.  They have been ideal companions this winter, amusing me at choral concerts and big social gatherings, and now that I’m back at work (daytime childcare), I have been working on them at nap time as I alternate reading chapters from The Scarlet Letter and The Hunger Games on my Kindle app for iTouch.

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And the shawl!  Remember a month ago when I was laughing at the hubris of thinking I would actually start a shawl in the car on a road trip?  Well, I did!  The first chart on the Percy Scarf is decidedly simple enough for knitting in company, although the Frost Flower chart (with patterned rows on both right and wrong sides) had to wait until I got home.  I’ve finished the first repeat; planning to do 2.5 instead of 1.5 as in the original.  I had actually planned to do this the first time I knit this pattern, but was worried I’d run out of yarn.  I’m happy to be working on it again with a more generous skein, since the Frost Flower pattern is one of my favourite lace stitches, and I’m gratified to find things are going fairly quickly this time since I’m a little more familiar with the pattern.

As usual I have big plans coming up.  Just moments ago, I wound my Kattikloo sock yarn from this past summer’s Fibrations Festival in preparation for casting on the Ms. Prynne cowl (hence my decision to read The Scarlet Letter).  I am very close to finishing work on the Ur-Bun coat pattern, too, and thinking about a series of hat patterns for BJD starting with a free toque for all sizes…if I can squeeze in enough time for design in between my plans for another shawl and still more socks!

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Voting is over, the winners have been announced (no, I was not among them, not even close), and I’m finally at liberty to post what I’ve been crafting this month, that’s been taking all my energy!  I’m really proud of all the things I made, even though they obviously didn’t please the crowd as much as they pleased me (I was tied for about 34th place out of 37 or 38 different scores, with I think 54 entrants who completed all three challenges…yeah…congrats to everyone who made top 25 anyway!).  I foresee them making plenty of further appearances in my doll photography.

The Wicked Sweet Triathlon had three events.  The first, Risqué Business, was to make an outfit for a doll out of nothing but 2 pairs of women’s underwear.  I think this was the challenge in which my (lack of) photography skills hurt me the most – there were some entries where the garments looked less interestingly designed (okay, I’m biased) and less well-executed (and that’s a little more objective position) than mine that still got quite a few more votes, presumably in part because the photos were better.  I have improved a lot, even compared to looking back at my photography from Japan (2008-9), but under pressure I still have trouble.  But then that’s part of why I started this blog, to learn and grow.

My outfit was made from a couple of pairs of drapey hipster undies (hipster cut, not hipster type person) with light, nearly see-through material that I thought would drape really well on Suzuha.  Turns out even very light material gets a bit stiff on 1/6 scale bodies…but I think you can still get the flowy sort of style I was trying for.  The outfit was inspired by Mori Girl fashion, although the colours are very bright for a Mori outfit, which should strictly speaking be made up of neutrals, faded pastels, and low-saturation darker tones.  But I was working with what I had…unfortunately, Mori Girl Panties are not the sort of thing one can pick up on the cheap at Zellers, heh.

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Originally, I was going to crochet a sun hat to go with this outfit, but it wasn’t working and it wasn’t working and I was running out of time…but crocheting flowers worked just dandy, hence the sakura-inspired headdress.

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Every part of the outfit features some sort of braid.  This was sadly the best picture I had of the trousers…see what I mean by my photography being a major handicap?

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The dress is designed to be worn with her wings, although I didn’t end up bringing them out for the photoshoot.  I am very into this kind of “racerback” style of dress right now – I have been wearing the one I own all summer!  Braided fabric is really interesting.  For this outfit I also learned how to do a four-strand braid, which was pretty interesting.

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Then came part 2: Shadowcasters!  The challenge was to make a doll-scale light source and photograph it both in action generally and then with your doll casting a shadow using your light source’s light.  I wanted to make one of those shadow lamps that kids have, with aquariums and stuff on them…somehow a carousel seemed like the right thing for Rada.  I basically built a lantern out of vellum paper and cardstock to go around a dollar store emergency puck light, decorated it with some glitter glue, and dropped it on top of a couple of tea tins posing as a bedside table.  On the whole, I think it turned out awesome…but that’s just when I look at the photos, and not when I think about how much time I spent fighting with the damn lid, which is completely unsecured and loved to pop off just as I was about to snap a picture.  ARGH.

I had a tonne of fun setting up this photo shoot!  I got to bring out all of Rada’s toys (and there are getting to be a lot of them…!) and I set up the corner shelf which formerly supported our Christmas tree to look a little like a child’s bedroom.  I imagined that Rada was home sick with the ‘flu, and Vasya had bought Yukata!Bunny to make her feel better.  Rada, feeling a little less tired today, is introducing Yukata!Bunny to her other toys, but she’s still got the chills, which is why she’s wrapped up in a snuggly blanket (knit from SophiaRowan’s handspun that I won back in the days of the ResinCast podcast).

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Later (and for the shadowcasting shot), she’s staying up past bedtime drawing by the light of her merry-go-round.

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In these photos, you might also notice how upright Rada is able to get and stay…just want to give a shout out to the lovely Linzabeth, who recently sueded and wired my bratty baby (that’s her in the “wiring the legs” photo!  I feel famous!).  Rada now stands like a fucking rock and can hold some awesome poses…the only thing I didn’t anticipate is that since she’s been wired she’s a lot harder to dress, since I can’t bonelessly fold her arms in on themselves as I used to.  Who knew?  So happy with Linzabeth’s services, though, and she’s so sweet that she even fixed the chip in Rada’s eye makeup and fixed/improved my terrible blushing job (not that anyone but me will ever see it, regardless).

The third and final event of the triathlon was my favourite, both in terms of my own entry and in terms of what everyone came up with.  The challenge of The Doppelgänger was to create a “double” of your doll and photograph them together.  Any material.  Any craft.  If you are a member of DoA I highly recommend wandering over to the Anniversary subforum to have a look at the entries; they are amazing.

I actually set out to make an amigurumi doppelganger.  I was going to needle-felt ball joints along the lines of the plushies Tally makes, but I didn’t have time to consult her on how her joints work and as I started stuffing the limbs I realised that I’d been using too big a crochet hook for the yarn meaning that the fabric was gappy and showed the stuffing.  I’m also just not very good at stuffing things evenly, and what with the needle-felted balls and then the unevenly applied stuffing everything looked horribly lumpy and misshapen.  So I said “the heck with this!” tossed it in the bottom of my craft basket, and started on a totally new tack: needle felting the whole thing!  I made the joints with jewelry findings as I was finding that thread was just too flexible and let the limbs fall out of their joints a little.

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I need you to know that I broke all two of my felting needles right at the end of the project, at a time when there was absolutely no way I could get to the store and pick up more before the deadline to submit photos.  You can imagine me sitting there with the 1.25cm broken-off point of one needle trying my hardest to get the doppelgänger’s hair attached to his head with pretty mediocre results…in the end, I got out to take photos and his hair started flying away and I had to stick it on with the sticky-tack I’d brought out to help Posy stand up!  But hair notwithstanding, I’m super proud of how he turned out.  My concept was that he’s a skinwalker type creature, hence the red-white outside that’s meant to be reminiscent of raw meat or anatomical drawings of musculature.  Here’s the photo I submitted for the contest, with text.  He actually does stand on his own if you get him balanced just right, but there was a tiny breeze the day I was taking pictures so I had to improvise with the landscape.

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And if you want to see a larger version you can click through on the original photo here.

So that’s what I’ve been up to all August.  I had a lot of fun, but it’s been great to get back to my regular knitting projects as well.  My test knit of Ur-Bun is hopping along, and I’m hoping to be able to release the pattern sometime this month or next.  Also, isn’t it time for a Rhodion update?  My water lilies are now 8 repeats long (out of a total of 26 repeats of the main pattern, 13 for each side, and then the border).  Nearly a quarter of the way through!  And I’ve amazingly managed to complete two of those repeats THIS WEEKEND!

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Doesn’t look like that much, does it? 8 repeats? This little crumpled thing?

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But it’s going to be unbelievable when it’s done!

Phew.  Well that was an update and a half!  No more secret projects for a while; they’re too challenging to catch up on!

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