Friday, December 18, 2009

Getting the Picture

I am still reeling from The Serendipity Effect around here. Sounds almost like a Robert Ludlum novel, doesn't it?

So a little after dawn this morning (& with help from the flash on my camera), I managed to snap a particularly good picture of the Gracie's Lace Cranberry Crush with the Dark Topaz AB beads, i.e. one that really shows off all the delicious colors. Rather than re-editing the previous post to include this new photo, I thought I would just publish a supplement.

This is one you will definitely want to view full-size. Just click and enjoy...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Serendipity Strikes

I was sitting here yesterday, working on one knitting project and quietly musing to myself in the back of my mind about several more that are waiting in the wings. This has always been a favorite imaginative pass-time for me, because I am fascinated by the endless permutations of patterns and textures and colors. Who wouldn't be, right? And the addition of beads into my world this past summer has brought a whole new element of sparkle into the already heady mix.

Well... One thought led to another, and before long I found myself casting about on Ravelry for triangle shawl patterns and on Earthfaire for possible bead pairings to go with my luscious Gracie's Lace Cranberry Crush. It was just a casual search at first, really more of a fact-finding mission than anything else. (Click on this photo and/or the one above to get a closer look, especially if you did not see my earlier post about this delicious blend of70% extra fine merino wool, 15% silk, and 15% cashmere.)

And then it happened. Twice!!

First I rediscovered Sivia Harding's magnificent Harbour Lights Shawl. It's *exactly* the sort of thing that I had in mind. I wanted something triangular for ease of wear, as well as the possibility of experimenting with a faroese-style design. I think that Sivia's choice of lace patterns — evocative of candlelight or a glowing fireplace — will really show off the yummy warm tones of the yarn to best advantage. The original calls for about 800 yards of a fingering-weight yarn, so I will have to fiddle with the number of pattern repeats for my finer gauge, but with a little TLC & careful calculations, my 965 yards should be plenty. I am 99% sure that this is The One. So exciting!!

Then came the question of beads. Sivia Harding's designs almost always include at least a few beads (she explains why in this often-cited Knitty Editorial), and Harbour Lights is no exception. I was not sure at first that I even wanted to add beads to the multi-colored yarn. It's so hard to find just the right match and balance of hues...

But when I first purchased the yarn, just as a speculative exercise I asked Ellen at Earthfaire for some recommendations, and she sent me several bead choices in the 8/0 size, ranging from transparent topaz to olive green to a raspberry pink-lavender. Yesterday I went back to those options and started looking around again. Harbour Lights calls for 6/0 beads (albeit with a heavier yarn), and I was reasonably sure that I wanted the larger size even with the lace-weight. I was seriously considering a possible purchase -- plain silver-lined dark topaz -- and comparing various items already in my bead stash to the images in my head, when all of a sudden I happened to place one of my existing containers of silver-lined dark topaz AB next to the Cranberry Crush.

>> SHAZZAM!!! <<

It was a PERFECT match. Every color in the yarn is in these beads and vice versa.

This is 100% counter-intuitive. With a multi-colored yarn, normally the best approach would be to pick *one* of the colors for the beads, because what are the odds of finding just the right blend? All of Ellen's recommendations followed this pattern. So I was completely blown away. Was, am, and will be... I strongly suggest that you click on the image below, to get a closer look at the genuine DEPTH of this match. I deliberately took the picture in relatively low-light conditions, so that the colors in the beads (rather than their sparkle) would dominate.

To appreciate the full impact of this stunning revelation, you have to understand two things: (a) that I bought these beads quite a while ago, on spec, simply because I thought they were interesting, and (b) that I had been in a bit of a quandary ever since, not knowing what color yarn to choose to go with them. The beads were purchased completely independently of the yarn, in other words, and have been sorely in need of just the right match!! I sincerely doubted that I would find something anytime soon, either, because of the range of colors reflected in their shiny surface.

So to run across such a perfect blend more or less at random like this is *SERENDIPITY* in the truest and most astonishing sense. I am still waiting for the reality to sink in, and I have to wonder how long it will be before I cave in and do a test swatch or two so that I can pick my needles and really get started — although I would like to finish my Parisian Ostritch stole first. Less than 2 pattern repeats (& some intense beadwork) to go on that before the end...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Comments Policy: Everything in (or rather *with*) Moderation

Having readers all over the world is what makes keeping up a blog like this worthwhile, and I *love* it when they leave friendly comments about my knitting projects or whatever. Wanting to leave the door open to that sort of interaction, I had not placed any serious restrictions on comments up to now.

But then the day before yesterday a comment suddenly appeared here in Chinese. Unable to decipher it myself, I asked a Chinese student from one of my classes to translate it for me, and when she did, I learned to my dismay that it was a generic request to post a link to certain pornographic websites on my blog. Apparently there are automated "bots" that roam the web looking for potential places where such links can be inserted, and many of them originate in China.

What an UNWELCOME and DISTRESSING development!!

Although it is theoretically possible simply to delete an unwanted comment, I did not manage to locate the little trashcan icon at the time. So as an expedient, I ended up redoing the entire post, by copying its HTML code to a new entry and then deleting the original, comment and all. That is why my most recent post (from Monday, November 30th) now carries yesterday's date.

As a result of this incident and in order to prevent something similar from happening again, I have now turned *ON* the Comment Moderation function in Blogger. From now on, if/when you try to leave a comment on this blog, your remarks will not appear immediately. Instead, the server will prompt you to authenticate yourself via word verification and then notify me that someone would like to post a comment. I will then have to log in to my Blogger account and give permission in order for your comment to appear.

I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or irritation that the new comments policy might cause my genuine readers, but I hope everyone will understand why I felt it necessary to take these steps. Please don't let the potential delay discourage you from making a comment if you have something relevant and/or constructive to say!!


Friday, December 11, 2009

"I can resist anything but temptation."

I have acquired a new treasure. Happy dance!!

It was a limited edition lace-weight offering from Earthfaire, and despite the famous quip from Oscar Wilde in the subject heading above, it will probably prove to be my last significant yarn purchase of the year: Fiesta Yarns Gracie's Lace (70% extra-fine merino, 15% silk, 15% cashmere) in a luscious colorway called "Cranberry Crush" that was specifically designed and hand-painted for the 2009 holiday season.

Of course, my attention was first grabbed by the striking combination of rich, yummy colors (rosy cranberry, golden cinnamon/russet, dusky violet, and cypress green), as well as the reference to mulled cider in Ellen's typically evocative description on the website. I am always a sucker for food-talk over the holidays!! But honestly, it was the cashmere content that persuaded me not to let this one go, because I knew I would live to regret it. And of course there are 965 irresistible yards in a single 100 g skein.

I placed my order last Tuesday (i.e. two days before Thanksgiving). There were only a handful of skeins to begin with. I believe I was the first to grab one, and I am very glad to have acted when I did, because the others are already gone. The package was shipped on Friday, and to my great pleasure it arrived in *today's* mail. What a wonderful surprise on a cold & blustery Monday!!

After taking some pictures of the unwound hank, I got out the swift and wound it right away, just to see how the colors would blend. Here are the results.

Click on any of these images to take a closer look. This is a real *stunner*, n'est-ce pas? :-)

The next step, naturally, will be to choose the perfect lace pattern. I don't have anything specific in mind just yet, but I will definitely be on the lookout. Whatever I choose, the garment will have to be something versatile, because this is one I will want to WEAR. Often.