twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

Slogging through the trenches October 18, 2013

“Holy My Gosh,” my dear grandpa used to say whenever things appeared to be rather overwhelming. And at this moment, after a two hundred and ninety-two picot bind-off of Stephen West’s Craving Color Shawl, in my mind, there’s nothing more appropriate to be said.

Just 1/3 of the way through the bind-off...this took nearly two days

Just 1/3 of the way through the bind-off…this took nearly two days

Whoa. What a project.  I mean, what. a. project. It’s different. It’s cool-looking and certainly nothing anyone on this planet has thought of before. But then, Mr. West may not be of this planet. And I mean that in a completely good way. His designs are always innovative, and personally, he’s simply adorable. I’m telling you, take his shawl class on Craftsy, and then try not to tell me that he’s not someone you’d totally want to have mojitos with some night. He’s adorable, and funny as all get out.

But this shawl…

Finished, finally. Ready for the blocking

Finished, finally. Ready for the blocking

This was my first mystery knit-along, and having knit many shawls in the past, I figured this one would be about the same level of commitment (time and concentration both) as the shawls of my past. In fact since it was all garter stitch and the only “lace” in the pattern was represented by long lines of yarnovers, it’d be easy peasy, right? Boy, was I wrong.

The first 20 rows into this pattern I realized I was in deep; I actually considered blowing the whole thing off. Still, I wanted to use up some of the old stashola…moreover, I was intrigued by what the heck this shawl was going to end up looking like.

I must admit it took nearly my entire concentration over the last month to finish, and I seriously considered—more than once—frogging this piece.

However, I didn’t realize was that the thing that would take the most perseverance of all was the freakin’ bind off.  To be fair, there were 3 options for the bind-off: Picot bind-off, I-cord bind-off, and the quick and easy K2tog TBL (knit 2 together through the back loop).  And like any good Raveler, I consulted the designer’s project, as well as all the finished projects to see how the finished bind-offs looked.

So obviously I picked the picot bind-off because not only did I love how it turned out whenever I did it on my Kirsten Kaipur shawls (Cladonia and Hecate), and despite a Raveler’s comment that it took her hours to do on her shawl.

Hours? Mama, this sucker took d-a-y-s. Days, I tell you. Of course, all the usual little interruptions: the litter boxes needed cleaning and the linens needed changing, 26 more picots, then time to start dinner and bring in the mail. You know how it goes.

Air Force One at the Reagan Library!

Air Force One at the Reagan Library!

Oh yes, thank goodness there was a long weekend interruption (huzzah for Columbus Day!) when I could not drag this thing along on our car trip to The Reagan Museum, Santa Barbara, and Solvang (the cute little Danish town that was featured in the movie Sideways).  A much neglected pair of socks joined me for our sunshiney break.

This was a deeelicious Danish liver pate sandwich with crispy bacon, shreds of homemade sweet pickle, and pickled beets. OMG

This was a deeelicious Danish liver pate sandwich with crispy bacon, shreds of homemade sweet pickle, and pickled beets. OMG

Sing it with me: Wonderful, wonderful Solvang...Honestly, it was lots of fun.

Sing it with me: Wonderful, wonderful Solvang…Honestly, it was lots of fun

Then back home to continue to slog through the damn bind-off. The way you do a do a picot bind off is to cast three more stitches onto the first stitch you want to bind off (he said use a cable cast on; I used a knitted cast on), then K2togTBL 6 times, and repeat. Just over two thousand stitches until you can stop.

Here is the designer with his shawl

Here is the designer with his shawl…

Well, I’ll stop kvetching and moaning about it now. After 5 days worth of actual binding off ( I actually fell asleep an hour into day 4’s knitting), it’s finished! And miracle of miracles, I really did end up liking the finished piece, although I haven’t figured out how to wear it yet.

...obviously he hasn't figured out how to wear it yet, either.

…obviously he hasn’t figured out how to wear it yet, either.

But I must say that what I’m most proud of is that I stuck with it. Sometimes, you just have to stick through to the end of  a project.

Now, back to the rest of life and all my other projects.


Left Behind October 4, 2013

As usual, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

I mentioned I’d joined Stephen West’s new Mystery Shawl Knit-a-Long. I’ve knit a few of his designs and find his style and methods quite unique and spirited. His Craftsy class, which I recently treated myself to during one of their big sales, was terrific fun—I mean, how often do you get to see an over 6-foot-tall knitwear designer stand on his head atop his “freshly soaked and wrapped in a towel” shawl just to get the water out for blocking? Anyway, I don’t believe I realized when I signed on to this mystery knit, that in order to keep up with the weekly posting of each new clue, I should (ideally) be keeping in step with the group. Well maybe I realized that, but I guess I didn’t realize how quickly one Friday would arrive on my doorstep following the previous one.

Right. What was I thinking?

The recipe for these Amazing sausages came from CR's grandfather!

The recipe for these Amazing sausages came from CR’s grandfather!

Although I wish I could spend all my time knitting, and to be fair, I do find more time to knit than some of my pals, I still seem to encounter all sorts of distractions. Like what, you may ask? Like how about spending a Saturday helping Captain Romance make 10 pounds of fresh Hungarian sausage?

Oh yes, and there was that delightful surprise of a custom order for a wire-wrapped sterling and turquoise rosary that I had to do. And a couple of 36″ strands of hand-knotted pearls that were also a custom order for someone else.









Top secret knitting!

Top secret knitting!

There also was a bit of stealth knitting I had to finish for a special occasion coming up.

A day spent taking photos of my hand-dyed yarn so I can finish listing them and finally open my etsy shop sapped some time away.

And I nearly forgot about the day I spent cleaning out the garage. Joy.









Sometimes doing errands can be fun. Like when I see a sticker like this...LOL

Sometimes doing errands can be fun. Like when I see a silly sticker like this…LOL Do you suppose this guy gets tired of people taking pictures of his back window?

Like you, I also have that typical daily routine of cleaning, then doing sundry errands like cleaners, groceries, post office, office supply store, pet food…you know, all that exciting stuff.

And let’s not forget the ultimate pain in the tookas, making dinner. I used to love cooking but now it’s become just an interruption that leads to a sinkful of dirty dishes in the end. Except for my delightful Crockpot (with which I’m considering having an affair), dinner just drives me mad. There’s nothing better than popping an inexpensive cut of meat into the crockpot (and oh, have you discovered those wondrous crockpot liners? Makes cleaning up a snap! Fab, I tell you!!) with veggies, some wine, broth, or bbq sauce, first thing in the morning, and after I get to run around, clean, pick up the Bug, and spend a few hours knitting on the couch, there’s dinner! All I have to do is set the table. Love. I thank God weekly for my crockpot. Check out this cookbook: Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker. Genius.

So…no great surprise I’m behind most of the other 2000 other knitters who working on this shawl. Heck, as of this writing, 6 knitters have already finished their shawls. Sigh. So I decided to really put some effort into it yesterday and make some solid progress.







You're not allowed to see all of this. Let's just say it's really different. :)

You’re not allowed to see all of this. Let’s just say it’s really different. 😀

Indeed, early this morning…say, 1 AM, I received Clue #4, just in time for me to begin Clue #3. Now I’m only one week behind.

I guess I need to learn to manage my time better.

What do you do (or not do) to fit some knitting time into your day?


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