Monthly Archives: March 2011

Almost Spring Eye Candy Friday

My front garden, two days ago.

I can’t even begin to tell you how welcome this sight is, this winter.

Still Winter….

…despite Daylight Savings Time starting this morning.  (Ack.)  Well, a little more time to wear my newly completed handknits, right?

My Big Herringbone Cowl, made out of dreamily soft and lustrous single ply 50% silk/50% merino Catnip yarn from Twisted Fiber Art, in the Intriguing colorway (sorry, a club colorway), dyed Evolution-style.

This cowl is a long circular loop that can be worn like a long scarf that can’t slip off, or can be worn doubled around the neck as above.  It took a while to make, but was fairly straightforward once the stitch was mastered. (Though a warning:  If there is a way to drop a stitch down and fix, I can’t figure it out. I had to painstakingly and carefully undo the pattern stitch one at a time, which was not necessarily easy, to undo any mistakes.  There are a couple wonky stitches in there which remain, to teach me humility.)

At the link above to the pattern is a great photo tutorial about how to do the Herringbone Stitch in the round.  This stitch (also found in Barbara Walker’s Stitch Treasury volume 2, I believe) works up very densely, so that it needs to be done on large needles to have drape.  For this worsted weight yarn, I used US size 17 needles (12.75 mm), just as called for in the pattern!  And the fabric is perfect, to my way of thinking; drapey, but with a bit of structure, as you can see, I think.

The needles were a bit of a challenge. My Addi Turbos seemed so dull for the maneuvering called for in the pattern stitch, especially with slippery silk being knit on huge needles.  So I dug out a Susan Bates circular needle, bought some time ago and never used.

The tips were hollow plastic (light-weight is good, with huge needles!) and nicely pointy and smooth.  But the cable! (The part between the tips.)  Initially SO curly! A double curl, and stiff!  I foresaw fighting the memory in the cable the whole project.

However, I bethought myself of a trick I’d read about and never really had to use (being spoiled by Addis and KnitPicks cables, which are more flexible).  I boiled some water and carefully dipped just the cable part into the very hot water.

The cable went limp just like cooked spaghetti.  MAGIC!

I dangled it straight while it cooled, and the needles and their cable behaved themselves for the rest of the project.  Amazing.  Wonderful!

Other notes about this project: the Herringbone stitch has horizontal elements of what look almost like stockinette columns turned sideways on the ‘wrong’ side, as seen on the ‘on the needles’ photo just above. The wrong side thus also looks good, which is definitely hugely desirable in a scarf/cowl like this.  This is especially beneficial because the cowl does tend to curl.  Granted, I didn’t take the time to block it….but being essentially stockinette based (the pattern stitch is based on knit 2 together or knit 2 together through the back loop, on every row), it will curl up at the top and bottom edge a bit no matter what,, I believe, even with blocking.

Another note: the instructions say to cast off in pattern.  I found that when I did this on the project needles, the bind off was outrageously loose, floppy and sloppy.  So I switched to the approximate size needles (US size 8s, 5 mm) that the yarn would normally be knit on, for the bind off, with good results visually.

Still wants to roll, though.  The roll looks fine, so I let it.   It flips like a little turtleneck.

So:

an amazing yarn and dyeing tour de force (as always from Meg of Twisted Fiber Art), a cool and unique stitch pattern which works well with the color-changing Evolution colorway, and a great pattern combine to create a practical yet pretty winter accessory that goes with my winter-pale skin and my black winter coat.  What’s not to love?

That certainly seems to be the RockStar’s opinion too.  She asked if she could borrow this a week ago. I haven’t seen it since….

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em

Yes, I’ve been razzle-dazzled. It’s been another show choir weekend! As have been most weekends. With the RockStar’s show choir (that is, the parent organization; that is, including me) putting on a show choir invitational smack in the middle of February. Which would be the reason posting was scarce in February….

The Gothlet is done with her middle school show choir after tomorrow night’s performance. She’s done great.

So much progress, and she’s had a good time.  Even though 8th grade girls tend to tower over their partners, in their heels… (well, that’ll change, soon enough).

She’s supposed to be looking pained in this sequence, by the way.  They’re being ‘awkward’ in ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’.

Not awkward in the ballad (not that she usually is awkward, anyway.  My brand new teenager):

However, middle school show choir is for fun and for practice for high school (at least here) and the time involvement is like most other after-school activities.

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It’s high school show choir that takes up all the time, however, as this is a competitive and intensive endeavour which is treated as a two-season sport.  The rehearsals, workshops, performances and travel to such take up a LOT of the kids’ time, and a reasonably good chunk of time for the parents, too!

So, yesterday, this sunset is almost all I saw of the Saturday Sky, for example:

Given work in the morning, show choir in the afternoon, back home briefly, and back to show choir finals in the evening! Then waiting till the awards ceremony (the RockStar’s school didn’t win, but they’ve made finals in every competition, so a very solid season).

I guess I never did show you the RockStar in all her show choir glory, as I’ve been too busy living it.

You saw “City Lights”: here’s another photo from that piece.

Then the tearaway dress is torn away…and it’s “Havana”.

Followed closely by a dance solo for her in “Never Dance”.

The costumes are pretty striking, all together.  The final pose:

The ballad slows it down.  A Disney medley of “Part of Your World” and “A Whole New World”.

Then the boys do a version with added humor of the Beach Boys’ “California Girls”, followed by the girls doing Katy Perry’s “California Gurls”.

Time for a beach party!  The boys join the girls for a medley of “Beach Blanket Bingo”, “Surfin’ Safari”, and “Surfin’ USA”.  The RockStar returns to front and center.

Last, fairly recently added, a new ‘closer’:  “All Night Long”, the Buckcherry version (YouTube link).

RockStar isn’t in the front for that one, so no good pictures of her: here’s the best.

Here are several of her good friends, though, burning down the house.

Isn’t it exhausting just looking at the pictures?  (But aren’t the kids great?  You should see them in person!)

We’re all tired, though.  And the RockStar took one for the team yesterday, with a jaw injury incurred when her partner did a quick turn at the wrong time, and his shoulder hit the angle of her jaw.  She couldn’t quite close her mouth all the way for the rest of the show…luckily, choir involves opening your mouth wide rather than clenching your teeth, and ice, rest, ibuprofen and time have taken care of the swelling, so all is working again.

Sprained ankles (which we’ve had), I expect in dance, but I admit that I didn’t anticipate having to ice my dancer’s face last night!  Ah, well, we watched part of “Fiddler on the Roof” while she iced.  And things are much better this morning.

All this spectating time has led to some knitting progress, though the mittens are not conducive to knitting during other activities nor to knitting in the dark.  So they are showing slow (though definite) progress.  My goal is to have them done before the calendar says it’s spring.

This blog post is quite long enough, though, so knitting progress will have to await another post!  Hopefully all the razzle dazzle will make you completely forget about the fact that this is a knitting blog which has only had one knitting-related post in over a month.  To aid in forgetting:  More razzle dazzle!

Flakey Eye Candy Friday

Yes, i’m thoroughly disenchanted with snow.

snowflake detail

But it still can be awfully beautiful sometimes. Even if it is now March.

snowflake close-up

(Snowflakes on my coat last weekend.)