twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

Drama Queen September 5, 2014

This colorway is "Artichoke" and is a lovely mossy leaf green. Photos just don't do it justice.

This colorway is “Artichoke” and is a lovely mossy leaf green. Photos just don’t do it justice.

Meet my latest finished object: the Haruni Shawl, a lovely top down triangle shawl by Emily Ross. Evidently “haruni” is the word for “grandmother” in Quenya, Tolkien’s elven language.

Hence, I named the project “Sweet Caroline” on my Ravelry projects page because my darling maternal grandmother’s name was “Caroline.” Now that the project is finished, however, I’m seriously considering renaming it “Drama Queen.”

Don’t get me wrong—this is a lovely pattern—free, no less! I’m thrilled with the finished piece. But I (re?)learned some valuable lessons about shawl/lace knitting and free patterns, heck, any knitting patterns. Let’s examine the harrowing evidence…



Exhibit A:

Use Ravelry for the wonderful tool it is: check and double check the “helpful” project listings, as well as sample yarn yardage requirements and needle size used. And take a good sampling–not just one or two project listings. In my case, I used the required yardage estimate from the free pattern, as well as checked the listings for the yarn I used, the wonderful Handmaiden Sea Sock, and even though there were 6 or 7 projects that needed less than one skein, I still didn’t have enough yarn. This lead to a bit of a harrowing moment when I realized at row 17 of the second set of charts that there was no way on God’s green earth I was going to have yarn enough to finish. Luckily the Yarn Angels were smiling upon me as the LYS where I purchased the first skein months ago, still had another on the shelf. Whoosh.

I’m not certain what happened—I don’t believe the skein was short. I’m guessing it had something to do with the needle size I used. I love the soft, fluid fabric I got with the size 4 needles, however, that must’ve been the reason the shawl gobbled up so much yarn. Ah well.

Yes, I unravelled this on purpose.

Yes, I unravelled this on purpose.

Exhibit B1:

Don’t get cocky! So, at row 21 of the second set of charts, I noticed I shifted the eyelet patterns several rows below where I was working and even though the stitch count matched up, the pattern repeats didn’t. I should know by now that when there are lots of yarnovers in a row in a pattern, I should use stitch markers between the repeats or I am toast. Period.

Exhibit B2:

I repeat, don’t get cocky! And what do I do when I find this screw up? Well, since I don’t like “lifelines” in my lace (I know, I know, but they actually screw me up every time I try to use them), and there was no way I was going to tink back some 1200 stitches, I decided I’d just drop down the 7 stitches to the mistake and fix it the way I did here. Now technically, this should’ve been no problem, however I was in a not-so-ideal light situation, and had finished a glass of wine just minutes earlier. Well…needless to say, trouble was a stitch or two away.

I finally realized I had to stick all the live dropped stitches on stitch holders, take two Tylenol, and wait until morning.

And when I finally got to work on it, I spent a good 3 or 4 hours knitting and unknitting that sucker until I finally decided to be happy with a wee bit of imperfection. You know, I’m told that Persian rug makers always put an imperfection in the rug because it helps keep the Devil out. Well, that old Mr. Devil isn’t going anywhere near this shawl.

Cats and straight pins do not mix well.

Cats and straight pins do not mix well.

Exhibit C:

Always close the guest room door to keep the cats out when you are blocking anything. Especially when the thing you are blocking requires the use of around 130 straight pins. Enough said.

Anyway, lessons learned for this project. On to my next challenge.

What are you guys working on? I’d love to hear about it!


Ah, Progress! July 21, 2013

Hello, dear friends!

I am so happy to say I’ve been chugging along, finishing projects, while starting and finishing a few others. What a great feeling of accomplishment. Oh yes…I am happy of myself.

Here’s just a little of what I’ve been working on finishing recently…

The Punkinhead Thief (The Orchid Thief) Shawl. Finally. Finished. After all the drama, I honestly don’t know if I’d do another. Even so I love it; I can’t wait for it to get chilly here. The HandMaiden Swiss Cashmere and Silk is to.die.for. OMG.

I wish this was a better turned out so pretty.

I wish this was a better shot…it turned out so pretty.


Bug’s Apocalyptic Drop-stitch Sweater…I have to say I’m pretty proud of this one.

She's gonna fight the bad guys in this one!

She’s gonna fight the bad guys in this one!

Its genesis was a super cool sweater on Etsy that Bug found and fell in love with last sumer, and that I was just not going pay over $150 to buy. Come on. Looking at it I could see it was super simple. I just did some math and  figured it out. Then I shopped from the old stash-ola. TaDa!

Oh how I adore this pattern!

Oh how I adore this pattern!


My 2nd Cladonia Shawl for the Through The Loops Summer Shawl KAL (Knit-a-long).

Love this pattern. LOVE IT. It’s fairly mindless, and ends up with some totally kick dupa lace. Start to finish: 5 days of working (caveat: the knitted picot bind-off took a whole day to do, but was totally worth it; yes, I know some do crocheted picot bind offs, but I really like the big loops you get from the knitted version.

I used 2 of my favorite Madelinetosh colors: Cousteau and Filigree

I used 2 of my favorite Madelinetosh colors: Cousteau and Filigree's a secret. (Sorry for the crappy iphone pic!)

…it’s a secret.
(Sorry for the crappy iphone pic!)

A super secret design entry…here’s a peek at the work in progress, but I’ll have to fill you in on the details a little later when it’s finally finished…I’m still playing around with a few details.

There’s a 2nd design entry on the needles, but I don’t know if I’ll get it finished in time. More on both of those projects later.

Oh yes, and lookie here:

I won, I won!

I won, I won!

I won some YARN! Yep, I won some yarn from one of my favorite online yarn shops, Eat.Sleep.Knit in Smyrna, GA.

Hey, didya know that if you move the “a” in “Smyrna,” you get “Sm-yarn” LOL 😉

Well, I’d better keep moving. I feel like I’m on a roll here, for a change.



Mischief managed. July 3, 2013

Sometimes, you just gotta rip...

Sometimes, you just gotta rip…

Well, the lovely Orchid Thief Shawl has at last been finished, to my delight. Of course not before some harrowing Drama five rows before the end which involved 6 missing stitches four rows earlier, and my purposely dropping 30 live stitches. Yes, purposely. Surely many of you have seen this trick, even done it. Even so I must confess, this kind of fix is usually done with a cable pattern, not a lace pattern.

First though, let me say, Chart 4 of this project is about as buggery as I’ve ever seen; even the errata has errata. Sheesh. There are several ladies on Ravelry, like Mitchypoo, and ibecks, who’ve  brilliantly figured out how to tackle the problems, and then, bless them, were kind enough to post the fixes. Ysolda is a kickass designer, but the charts for this gorgeous design is just ass. But I digress.

So once I made it through the “dreaded row 86” and boogied my way through that last chart, every finished row came with a deep breath and a little celebration. And then I hit row 110.

You know how it happens: you’re toodling along on your chart and suddenly your pattern is off. You unknit back to where it’s obviously fine and then try again. In my case, no good; it just wasn’t going to happen. So I spread out the shawl, looked at another section to see what the pattern should look like, and realized, to my horror that I didn’t add four yarnovers and 2 twisted knitted stitches four rows back.

Oy. It must’ve been where I paused to take dinner out of the oven. That’s what I get for violating one of the cardinal rules of knitting: never stop in the middle of the row. Well, I took a deep breath, decided my plan of attack, and dropped a whole bunch of stitches. Then I slid two slightly smaller needles in their place and knit what should’ve been there, one row at a time using the long loops of yarn left hanging from when I dropped those stitches.

After a bunch of fiddling, I finally ended up with what I should’ve had in the first place.

Ooo, scary. But not as scary if you use another set of needle tips and the back loops.

Ooo, scary. But not as scary if you use another set of needle tips and the back loops.

What about a lifeline, you may ask? Lifelines are for sissies.;) Seriously, I’m just actually rather foolhardy. Or perhaps, just foolish.

I think she might've melted. Old houses in NoCal don't usually have AC. Doh!

I think she might’ve melted. Old houses in NoCal don’t usually have AC. Doh!

And if it ever gets reasonably cool enough here, I’ll have some lovely pics of the finished shawl. It’s been between 85 and 101 the last few days. Don’t believe me? Ask Lucy…but I think she might of melted.

Since then, I also finished a really fun drop stitch sweater for the Bug. I started last summer after the Bug came across a great sweater on Etsy, but at $118 bucks, I don’t think so. It was easy to figure out what each row needed to be. But I forgot about it. So now it’s finished. With any luck, the sweater’ll be dry in the next day or so, and the temperature will cooperate so that I can take some “modeled” shots. It’s supposed to be cooler, but then, who knows…

Blocking. Soon modeling.

Blocking. Soon modeling.

These will be the colors of my new Cladonia!

These will be the colors of my new Cladonia!

Meanwhile, I’m going to do a Shawl KAL with Kirsten Kapur…I want another Cladonia…care to join me?

Anyway, have a great Independence Day, dear friends. Eat, drink (in moderation, of course), and knit!!

God bless our country.


Reconnecting With Lost Loves June 24, 2013

Where have you been hiding...?

Where have you been hiding…?

That’s right…the lost loves I’m talking about are all UFOs. UnFinished Objects, for those few non-knitters who are reading this blog.

For the last few days, I’ve felt this overwhelming urge to get in touch with some of my previous fibery liaisons.

Sometimes I start a project and because the yarn, the styling, or the pattern stitch aren’t working, I grit my teeth and rip it out. Well honestly, sometimes I have to have a cooling off period before I frog stuff so I can come to terms with ripping out (throwing away) all those hours of work.

But a UFO?

In this case, I can’t imagine what happened to make me abandon these knitted affaire de coeurs. When I first started each of these projects, I was deeply in love. Whether it was the pattern, the yarn, or what I call a match made in heaven—being in love with both—I was inspired to start and get a good bit into the piece. These weren’t intended to be mere flings. What made me love them and leave them?

Looking back over the projects I’ve listed on Ravelry, I have to conclude that more often than not, I’m side-tracked by making presents. I do love to make and give handknit gifts. Especially for the 2 guys in my life: Captain Romance and Pops. They’re tough to buy gifts for—they usually just go and buy the stuff they want—and they actually appreciate and use what I make for them. Bliss for a knitter.

So after I finished those 2 Purl Soho Bandana Cowls and the Windschief Hat, I went through my WIP (Work In Progress) basket and looked through my individual project bags. It was kinda like Christmas with yarn. Lookie what I found:

This "Orchid Thief Shawl" by Ysolda is such a gorgeous shawl!

This “Orchid Thief Shawl” by Ysolda is such a gorgeous shawl!

It’s my “Punkinhead Thief Shawl.” It features the most delectable yarn I’ve ever slid between my fingers: Handmaiden Swiss Mountain Cashmere and Silk. Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to describe this amazing yarn. How can I have started it nearly, ahem, 2 years ago, and just set it aside half finished? I know there were some errata issues with the charts, but I got those worked out. Touching this yarn, I can’t imagine. Again, it appears that a variety of gifts, and then that really interesting Swirl Cardigan pushed my heart in another direction. Oh yeah, and then there was that “Global Cable Coat.”

I must tell you I smiled when I pulled the little project bag from the WIP basket and took a peek inside. That did it. I rescued it this past Thursday, and at this moment, I have just about 24 more rows to go. Thats about 4000 to 6500 stitches left before I can block and wear this gorgeous shawl. 🙂

With any luck, I’ll be on a roll to reconnect with the rest of my lost loves, and bring each love story to a happy ending.


Those hazy crazy days of summer… August 22, 2011

I know, I know! It’s been an age since I posted anything—a whole month, in fact. My face is Red. I don’t think I’ve ever let that much time go by before. But I promise, it’s only ’cause I’ve been so busy, that every time I tried to sit down and write, something else came up that needed my attention.

That, of course, is because I’ve just spent the last 3 weeks in Illinois! My most favorite place (besides England) in the world, packed full of family, friends, fun, and drama. My neighbor across the street always harangues me about going to Chicago in the summer, it being all hot and humid. And it was exactly that this time. Really hot and humid. But that’s where I wanna be most, with my family. Besides, everyone there I know has AC. It gets hot here in Northern CA, too, and we don’t have AC.

At any rate…

So, where to start? I suppose, first, after an ungodly early morning flight out, we arrived and went (almost) straight to a graduation party for one of our nephews. Why I have no photos of this, I cannot say. Must’ve had something to do with the effects of the Dramamine on my sleep-deprived brain. It was great though…lots of laughs with family, beer, delicious food…the works. What was strange to CR and me was that as the evening progressed, the 4 or 5 teenagers watching TV in the family room quietly multiplied to somewhere in the neighborhood of 37 by the time we left. I suppose you out there with teens understand how this phenom occurs, but it was surprising to us.

Next, CR and I took the Bug on the train to Wiggly Field—I mean Wrigley Field—to see the Cubbies trounce the Reds. Was so great—haven’t been to WF in at least 23 years or so, and that in itself brought back great memories.

Ah, the ivy-covered walls...

We had decent covered seats, and there was a lovely breeze coming in from the lake. I, of course took the opportunity to “Stitch and Pitch”—a term which totally cracked up CR—while enjoying a beer. Chose to work on my “Orchid Thief” shawl because any spilled beer or wayward mustard blob wouldn’t be so noticeable. Luckily didn’t have to worry about that since I was very careful not to jump around during the exciting bits.

The 2 must-haves for watching a game: knitting and a beer.

Best of all, the final score was Cubs 4, Reds 2. We even got to see a home run made off a line drive. Amazing. Once-in-a-lifetime, according to Captain Romance. And we did the whole commuter thing: the train, the el, walking, walking, walking (that’s my kind of hike). The Bug loved it. I love the City.

Cocktails in the Rose Garden of the Baker Hotel...reminded me a bit of Hampton Court---the castle, not the motel!

The very next day was the delightful wedding of my Darlin’Cuz’s beautiful daughter to her adorable husband. My camera was acting up, so I don’t have the greatest pictures, but here are a few of my gorgeous sis, her equally gorgeous kiddos (those at the end of this post), and my personal favorite, Bug dancing with her dad. Aww. The venue, the historic Baker Hotel, was gorgeousgorgeous! The food was delish, the dancing a riot, and frankly it was a fabulous time!

Still more knitting…was supposed to make Talamh as a KAL with my Darling Cuz, so I cast on to get a jump. That girl knits faaast! You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve seen her cast on a couple hundred stitches or so, and do 2 full inches of knitting, all in a couple of hours of hanging at Starbucks. Anyway, I cast on just so I could keep up with her, and have slogged through this pattern nearly to the point of putting the sleeves on stitch holders.

At this point, it just looks like a pile of yarn the cat spat up, but it's actually pretty.

It’s a top down pattern. The “waffle-stitch” pattern is pretty, but kinda endless. I think the only thing getting me through this is that I desperately need the sweater. Hope I like it!

There seemed to be lots more visiting this year than others: dinner with my bro and sis-in-law, off to see my Aunt Wheezy, a road trip in a thunderstorm with Darling Cuz to my favorite yarn shop ever, The Fold in Marengo, Illinois, a way, way-too-short visit with my Anam Cara Meggie (oooh, you’d better check her blog, Somewhere In Between—makes my mouth water every time I read it!), and finally, an insanely special meet-up with an amazing woman who was my very best friend in grammar school and junior high. It was tough to believe we were together again after 37 years…

Can't even put into words how much I missed her!

That’s right…the gorgeous and talented, amazing Peach Carr. Yes, Peach of Project Runway, season 8 (oh yes, you have to check out her Project Runway blog, too!). More on that wonderful reunion another time. 🙂

Thank you, FaceBook.

All this was sprinkled with shopping, and cooking, and thunderstorms, and eating, and sleep-overs, and watching the beginning of The House of Elliot while knitting with Momma. Not to mention my daily coffee with Momma where we try to solve the problems of the world as we wake up. Anyway, it was sad to leave, but oh the fun we’ll have planning our next trip.

Sledding, anyone?

A few wedding pics below, in case you’re at all curious…

So many cuties!


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