Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Expectations exceeded

Here she is, Charlotte's Web. My first "serious" lace project.

I could not be happier with it! I might be complaining about this week's miserable, cold weather were it not for the fact that it is perfect shawl-weather and I've had a lot of opportunities to wear my Charlotte's Web.

I keep looking at it, thinking, "Did I knit that? Did I really do that?" If you went back in time to Seven Years Ago Me when I'd just started knitting and showed this to me, I never would have believed that I could do this. I have had Knits from a Painter's Palette, the book that contains this pattern, for over 5 years and the yarn for over a year, because it took me that long to believe I could do it enough to attempt it. Well, I did, and...

Gaaaahhhhh! I just love it, and I can't wait to knit more lace. I can't wait to knit this pattern again, and I will have the opportunity to do so soon, because my Mom commissioned one after seeing pictures of mine. I'm so excited to see which colors she chooses!

In case anyone wants to know, here are the colors of Koigu KPPPM that I used:

darkest: P469
second darkest: P810
third darkest: P403
bright, neon: P872
lightest: P524

I started with the darkest color and worked through the above order to the lightest. The pattern calls for fringe, but I hate fringe, so I edged it in one row of single crochet with P403. I am so happy with my minimalist edging!

Now what? I have a bunch of leftover Koigu from this project and from a few baby blankets and other projects that I've made over the years. I have a project planned for the leftovers that I'll start and blog about soon!

For now, I've finished the sun hats I crocheted for my daughters and have crocheted a flower for each hat as an embellishment. The hat pattern is so awesome it deserves its own post, so pics and details about that next post!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Handmade Mother's Day

For Mother's Day, I made something for my Mom from a book I recently reviewed, Seamless Crochet by Kristin Omdahl.

In that review, I mentioned that the Radiance Scarf would make an awesome Mother's Day gift, and from that point forward, I decided that that's what I would make this year.

I couldn't afford a ball of the Tilli Thomas Symphony Lace yarn that's called for in the pattern, which is a beaded yarn, so I used some glorious Misti Alpaca Lace that I had in my stash and beaded it myself!

I am SO happy with the result, and Mom absolutely loves it. She says it makes her feel like royalty. That was the idea, so mission accomplished!

I pre-strung 240 beads (one bead per flower petal of 40 flowers) before I started crocheting and added the beads willy-nilly, however and wherever I felt like it. Now that Mom's is done, I am making a second for myself! The pattern used less than half a ball of Misti Alpaca Lace. It was very easy and a lot of fun to make, so I'm excited to make another!

Before that, though, my kids and I need sun hats, so I'm hard at work on those. I had some nuclear-orange Tahki Cotton Classic in my stash that I got on clearance for $3.50 a hank about two years ago. It's been sitting there waiting for the right project, and while I was looking at it one day, I thought "Sun hats!" So I got on Ravelry, went to the pattern search and restricted the search to be only for patterns that use Tahki Cotton Classic and searched for the words "sun hat." My search produced exactly what I was looking for, Alla Koval's gorgeous, adorable Garden Party Crocheted Hat.

It's one of those impossible-to-put-down patterns. It's very easy, a lot of fun and very addictive! I've finished one, which is blocking, and have started another. Having two girls, ages two and four, I have to give them the exact same of everything to prevent fighting! Hat #2 looks like the sun that it will be keeping off of my kids' heads right now:

So pretty!

As for my Charlotte's Web, I have 8 rows to go! I absolutely love it and hope to finish it sometime this week, though these rows toward the end take about half an hour each to do, so I have to wait till the kids are asleep to work on it. I got them outside in the sun for a playdate today in hopes of tiring them out so I can work on it tonight!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lace knitting builds character!

One of the reasons I never thought I'd knit lace when I started knitting 7 years ago is that I didn't think I had the patience. I also didn't think I had the attention span.

It turns out I do.

I don't think I would have before I had kids. They are only two and four, but they have built my character a LOT already. Two-year-olds in particular are character-building, hoooooweeee.

Lace knitting in and of itself is character-building. A couple times, I have screwed up and have had to tink back half a row, a row, or two rows and tinking back a row full of SK2P's is a bitch. The other day I saw that I had screwed up two rows back and had gotten half the row off by one stitch. Part of me wanted to say "F*** it," but the more mature part of me, the one that thankfully wins most of the time these days, prevailed and said, "This is Koigu. This is turning out so beautifully, and that mistake will be glaring and hideous and will torture you for all your days." So I sat for an hour and tinked back two rows. I didn't even have time to re-knit it that day, that was the real bitch. I had to leave that for the next day. Re-knitting those two rows and moving several rows past my screw-up, now looking beautiful, perfect and screw-up free, felt really good. Yarn Harlot mentioned this week how good that feels, and boy is she right.

I have about 36ish rows to go, and I am enjoying this project so much! I can't wait to wear it. I'm excited to block it and see the lace all opened up.

I highly recommend this shawl as a first "serious" lace project. It's my first "serious" lace, and I've found a couple things about this pattern that are really helping me get it right and enjoy every stitch:

1) The stockinette sections at the beginning and end of each row and on either side of the center "rib" are great checkpoints. There, I can say, "OK, I should have X number of stitches in this section." If that number is off, I know I effed up somewhere and need to tink back and figure it out.

2) There are lots of yo,k1,yo's. Make sure these are lining up and you pretty much know you're on track.

3) It's easy to fudge if you've found that you're missing a stitch or have an extra stitch and can't see the mistake or figure out where it happened. Do an SKP instead of an SK2P if you're missing a stitch or if you have the opposite problem, slip 2 and pass them both over. I know this might sound blasphemous to some people, but there really are no knitting police and if no one can see the mistake, it isn't there. Bwah-hah-hah!

The color in this pattern... oh, the color. It is such a fun way to play with color. One hank of any colorway of Koigu is a good time... 5 hanks is glorious. Watching the colors blend and mix and waiting to see what they'll do next is endlessly entertaining. I love color and really need lots of color right now, because it's spring in the Seattle area, and that means hardly any sunlight. I hate it every year, it drives me batshit every year, and color is what saves me every year. This section in particular is really making me happy:

Total clown barf, but I LOVE clown barf. (Google "clown barf yarn" if you don't know what I'm talking about, you'll be happy you did!) I gravitate towards clown barf. I love rainbows and pink and sparkles and glitter and Hello Kitty, and this colorway conjures up all those things for me. This colorway is wooly sunshine, and that is exactly what I need.