Sunday, May 28, 2006


What's this, you might ask? You might say that this rumpled mess of knitting looks nothinglike Print o' the Wave Stole. You might be right. In a last minute switcheroo, I started knitting Ene's Scarf instead of the Print o' the Wave, which was driving me absolutely batty trying to get gauge. The yarn is so beautiful and it just looked like a mess. I couldn't stand the thought of investing in size 0 needles and having it not work out, and I thought to myself "Ene's Scarf is beautiful and if I size it down from US 6 - called for in the pattern -- to US 3, it should work." I cast on the bazillion stitches it takes, and knit seven rows before I realized that it looks like complete and utter crap. CRAP. (I know it doesn't really in this picture, and after I saw the picture, I thought "Maybe it doesn't look like crap. But then I looked at the real thing again and realized that yep, it's crap). Now what? I have to rip again and start over again? Why is it so hard to find a pattern that works well with this beautiful yarn? Is it my crappy knitting skills? I don't understand!!!

Ok. I guess I'm fairly "vented" now. I'm just so frustrated. I suspect that this yarn will not work well with an "ethereal" pattern like the Print o' the wave -- one that is so light and airy when the yarn is so solid and decadent. There are patterns in Folk Shawls that I love (like the Birds Nest Shawl and the Sample Shawl) but I don't have enough yarn for them (and I can't afford to buy more of this stuff!). I'm thinking I'll just do a Feather and Fan Shawl -- it seems to have the density to make this yarn really shine. But it is so repetative and I was looking for something that would challenge a little more. Sigh. What do you think?

In the meantime, Orangina and I travelled to the Ralph Stanely Hills of Home Memorial Music Festival, which is up the mountain from my house. It was pretty fun, though it poured like the second flood on Friday and the sun shone like we were in the desert yesterday (I have nice pink arms and a cap-sleeve-tan-line to show for it). Here is Orangina with Ralph:

You can't really tell it's her, but trust me, it is. (By the way, for those of you who liked that O Brother Where Art Thou thing, he happens to be singing "O Death" in this photo).

And here is Ralph and the Clinch Mountain Boys singing in the rain. And when I say rain, I mean RAIN, which you can kinda see in this picture.

Overall, I had a great time, though it was really nice to come home last night, take a shower, and drink so good, strong coffee this morning.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Introducing: Team Twinknit!

After many trials, test runs, training races, and a rigorous interview process, I have finally chosen my teammates for the Amazing Lace. I examined the strengths of each, weighing talent against talent, weakness against weakness, until I felt I had found the perfect team, one that balanced beauty with practicality, and comfort of knit with challenge of process. I worked hard to pair the perfect pattern with the perfect yarn. Some yarns refused to work with particular patterns -- dropping stitches, splitting unnecessarily, and generally refusing the make gauge. These yarns were abandoned early in the preliminary trials. In the end, it was the yarn/pattern combos that performed under pressure that made the final team. Each member of the team brings to the table their own skills and their own personality, and hopefully I have chosen a team that can go the distance.

The Teammates:

Orangina (paired with Knit Picks Shine in Turquoise)
Orangina and Shine chose to be displayed doing what they do best -- working hard. Although the garden shovel has not gotten much use -- not much gardening happening chez Twin Knit.

The rock of the team, Orangina is a hard worker. Calm and poised, Orangina has a "slow and steady wins the race" mentality that pulls the entire team together. Orangina and Shine were paired together during the prelimiary trials, and performed so well together that they were never split. Instead, they have slowly been making progress, providing respite when other, more finicky patterns and yarns acted up. Experts predict that they will have an early and successful finish, with a mininmum of frogging or aggravation.

Print o' the Wave Stole (paired with Sundara Somewhat S0lid Silk in Wine with Violet)
Print o' the Wave Stole was having a bad hair day and refused to be photographed. Sundara Yarn, good sport that she is, showed up and posed with some of the beautiful rodedentron that has been blooming, curiously enough, under my porch.

The Print o' the Wave Stole, with teammate Sundara Silk, were the first added to Team Twinknit and were slated to finish first. However, finicky, delicate and a prima donna, the Print o' the Wave Stole is proving to be a questionable choice for the team. When she performs well, she is beautiful -- a magical haze of yarn overs and ssk's. But when she is in a funk (which is often) she becomes a disasterous and emotional mess. Her teammate, Sundara Silk, is smooth and crunchy, but critics are concerned that the heaviness and tension of the yarn will clash with Print o' the Wave. Although the two repeatedly fell apart during the trial period, experts suggest that this was due not to their incompatibility but rather to incorrect equipment (first US 4, then US 3, and now US 2 have failed the gauge test!). A final test run with US 0 will determine whether these two will finish strong.

New England Socks (paired with Knit Picks Essential Sock Yarn in Grass)
Solid and dependable, as socks should be.

A last minute addition to the team, New England Socks and KPESY have had no test runs. However, experience suggests they should form a lasting and secure partnership. (and how could I possibly resist knitting socks?)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Because I post about the Amazing Lace back at my home blog, I thought maybe I should link back to that here, just in case.

I have progress, and I definitely have questions about Print O' the Wave... it looks so holey, even knit down a needle size. I don't know how much of this will block out and how much if it is a gauge problem. I could drop down again to size 2 needles, but then I'd have to get myself a pair and I'm feeling a little impatient. I'll post pictures tomorrow and you all can tell me what you think. I'm starting to suspect maybe this yarn and this lace project are not compatible teammates... maybe silk lace weight yarn needs a lace of more substance... what do you think?

In the meantime, for those of you who posted regarding my "twin" status, read here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

As I've mentioned before, my Amazing Lace project is a gift -- I can say now that it is a gift for my mom - a Mother's Day/Birthday (and possibly Anniversary, depending on how long it takes me to knit it) gift. I've been in a sort of quandry about how to deal with the Amazing Lace, but my inability to post about my project or my progress. My mom reads this blog pretty regularly, and I didn't want to tell her not to read it. But at the same time, I though of how great it would be to watch the surprise on my mom's face when she pulls a delciate lace scarf out of a box, and I knew I couldn't tell her. So this is my solution... Hopefully, she'll "follow the rules" and not read.

So... For the Amazing Lace, I'll be knitting Eunny's "Print O' the Wave" stole. I'm feeling a little ambitious. I've not knit much lace (just a pair of socks here and there, what work I've done on Orangina, and a complete failure of an attempt at a faroese shawl for my mom for Christmas). This particular lace seems complicated... and the yarn I'm using? I went off my rocker. I'm a novice lace knitter, using Sundara Silk. It's like not knowing how to drive and being behind the wheel of a Jaguar. The yarn is so beautiful and, coupled with the fact that my mom is very sensitive to wool, I knew I needed to get it. The sun hasn't been shining, so I don't have a picture that does it justice. But I bought one skein of Somewhat solid silk in Wine with Violet (here is what it looks like on the website):

And here it is last night, in all of its crunchy goodness, after I spent two (count them - TWO) hours winding it into a ball. Have I mentioned how much I need a ball-winder? I did try something new this time, that helped considerably. The kitties are in love with these little foam balls from the grocery store -- you can buy six for a dollar. I started winding the yarn around one of these balls, so that I didn't have to deal with the awkward not-yet-a-ball stage of winding yarn. It helped so much that I think I will buy a bunch of these just for yarn and use it for the rest of the lace weight yarn I've never used because I can't stand the thought of trying to start a ball with it. I just threw on Vertigo last night and wound until the movie was done. Anyway, here she is (with my freedom sock in the background):

(my friend Jonathan points out that that little ball is 10 football fields long. Hmmmm... gives you something to think about, huh?)

There are no words for how gorgeous this yarn is. It's my first time knitting with 100% silk, and I can't get over the decadence of it. It feels so sturdy, and yet so smooth, in my hands. I've never knit with anything like it and I'm completely in love. It's also the scariest knitting experience I've had to date. I know knitting lace is something of a faith-filled endeavor. Because you knit and knit and knit and it looks like crap and then you block it and miracles occur. But... I started a test swatch this morning (and learned the invisible cast on!) to see if I like size 4 needles. So far, it looks like this:

Hmmm. I know it's a crappy pictures (again, no light), but you get the idea. Doesn't look like much. I'm going to test one or two pattern repeats and see how I feel, but I'm thinking that size 3 needles will work better. I like the knit portions to denser... It will give the whole think a little bit more substance, which I think it needs, since it's being made with a substantive yarn. We'll see... I'm just such a lace novice, I'm desperately afraid of making a mistake. I'm trying to have confidence in my "teammate" and plug ahead. I'm so excited about this project...