Sunday, November 29, 2009

Magic Carpet Ride!!!!

The Magic Carpet Ride is here!! I successfully blocked it yesterday evening, as promised. This was a great chance to break in my new blocking cloth, which allowed me to get nice straight edges without wires. But then I ended up having to wait most of the day today for the AA batteries to charge for the digital camera, so that I could get some pictures of the blocking process before removing the pins.

The finished dimensions of the stole are 13" wide by 83" long (i.e. a bit wider and almost 2 feet longer than the original 12" x 60"). My modifications to enhance the length really paid off, for this is a lavish and luxurious thing to wear, very Bohemian in its look & feel. I love, love, L-O-V-E the softness and sheen of the KnitPicks Shimmer with those dreamy, rich hand-dyed colors (although unfortunately the "Galaxy" colorway is now no longer available).

Here is the inevitable photo gallery. In the first four of these pictures you can clearly see the red gridlines of the blocking cloth peeking through underneath the lace. In the interests of full disclosure, I have included a closeup of the center seam, which was made by a 3-needle bind-off with a 3.25 mm (US size 3) circular needle, as opposed to the 2.5 mm (US size 1+) that was used for the rest of the knitting. The remaining pictures were taken after all the pins had been removed and the fabric could drape freely. Note the closeups of the intricate beadwork at the lower edge. As always, click on any one of the images to take a closer look...

It is a wonderful feeling to have this project complete at last. I look forward to adding this stole to my wardrobe, for one thing, and it should really help clear some space in my knitting bag!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Packing my bags for a Magic Carpet Ride...

Quick update: the knitting on my Magic Carpet Ride stole is now done!!

I've still got a bunch of ends to weave in, and I'll have to block the BEJESUS out of it, which may take some doing because it appears to have a good deal of bejesus *in* it. But there should be a happy gallery of photos to post here shortly... :-)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Update

It's Thanksgiving time here in the US: food, family, friends, fellowship. And being mindful (what a marvelous word!!) of the most important things in life. Before going any further, then, let me first THANK MY READERS from around the world. You have stuck with me, and your continued support makes this whole enterprise worthwhile. :-)

Wow. Nearly a month between blog posts. *Again*. Sorry about that folks! I guess it's not all THAT surprising, though, given how Fall Term classes generally tend to work: slog, slog, slog to the finish line... I inevitably find my time & energy to be severely limited at this time of year, so I haven't had much of either left over for knitting lately, much less taking pictures & writing about it.

We can blame Facebook too. I resisted joining FB for a long time, mainly out of fear of what might happen if my students gained access to my personal page (Oh, horrors!!). But on November 11th I took the plunge & joined after all, in connection with an upcoming high school reunion (class of 1985: you do the math). Now that I've gone & done it, I have to say that it was a really good decision. Not only have the students behaved well so far, albeit under stern warnings, but I have also had loads of fun getting back in touch with people from various of my past lives. I've already amassed 99 FB friends, and that's twice as many as I have on Ravelry!! But my goodness, what a tremendous time-sink it can become. The reality is that when I come home from work at the end of a long day & feel really tired, I can either get some knitting done or spend some time on FB before I collapse, but probably not both.

So I haven't had much time to knit. Yet despite the need to keep the blog alive, I've been waiting to reach some project goals before taking pictures and working up a post. Progress has been slow, but fortunately, in the last week or so (and especially the last couple of days, because of Thanksgiving Break), I have finally begun to see some real results...

First, I now have less than 100 rows left on the 2nd half of my Magic Carpet Ride stole. HOORAY!!

I am excited to see what it will look like when blocked, because of the intricate pattern and luscious colors. I am using a colorway of KnitPicks Shimmer (70% baby alpaca, 30% silk) called "Galaxy" — a mixture of rich burgundy and several shades of purple — that has since been discontinued. The beads are 8/0 extra dark smoky amethyst AB and match the yarn to perfection. Despite being knitted in two halves, the pattern has managed never to become boring, because the combination of motifs changes and evolves as you go along. The original design is 12" wide by 60" long. In order to make mine somewhat longer, I have added a number of repeats to several of the panels (keeping both halves identical, of course).

For this series of pictures, I pinned out different sections of the second half of the scarf to show off the various patterns as well as the beadwork.The first two photos show the lower portion of the scarf, just above the bottom edge, and the subsequent ones (reading from left to right and top to bottom) gradually work their way up toward the mid-point, where the two identical halves will be grafted together, or (perhaps more likely) joined with a 3-needle bind-off. As always, click on any of the images to take a closer look.

The other big news of late has to do with the second beaded lace project that I started at the end of the summer, i.e. the one I've dubbed "L'Autruche Parisienne" ("The Parisian Ostrich") as a combined hommage to the magnificent hand-painted yarn (Twisted Sisters Impressionist Zazu in the colorway named "Paris Rain" after the the 1877 painting "Paris Street; Rainy Day" by Gustave Caillebotte) and the exquisite lace pattern ("Ostrich Plumes Stole" by Anne Hanson of KnitSpot).

I ran out of beads in mid-September, after less than 5 pattern repeats, and the project went fallow while I was waiting to order more & got distracted by other, more pressing things. In fact only yesterday (November 25th) did I finally revive it. But I am on vacation in the latter part of this week — and knitting goes fast on size 7 needles — so all of a sudden I have finished the first skein and started the second. I am now through nearly 7 out of 11 (or maybe 12) pattern repeats. Oddly enough, the skeins seem to be going a bit further than expected, so I anticipate having to place a 3rd bead order in order to complete the pattern as established.

I had quite frankly forgotten how buttery soft the 100% merino wool truly is. It feels fabulous in the hand, and I think the lace fabric after blocking will be a dream to wear.

The biggest problem has been trying to get a photo that will show the colors accurately. The yarn is a mixture of khaki and several shades of green and teal, verging on navy blue in places. It can look very different, depending on the light, and most photos come out either too olive or too blue. I pinned out the lace twice yesterday under different lighting conditions and took a series of pictures. Here are the best of the lot, showing a representative range of hues and tones. Again, click on any one to take a closer look.

My two ongoing sweater projects (i.e. Stornoway and Peggy Tudor) are mostly on hold right now, as I work to get these lace pieces finished ASAP. It may take a while, with the end-of-semester crunch on the horizon. But even so I promise that there will be more to post here very, very soon, once my most recent Earthfaire order arrives. Yummies...