Aaaand, I’m back

It would seem I’ve not blogged in a couple of years. Years! Not that I haven’t been doing things, because I have. I just lost my blog-voice for a while. Still not sure if I want it back or not.

I started blogging back in 2006, and although life has moved on a lot since then, I can’t quite bring myself to delete those early posts with their craptastic writing and even worse photos. Not that much has changed there. Blame it on the sentimentality of nostalgia, but every now and then I’ll go right back and fondly remember my first attempt at spinning, or that crazy year of heavy metal, tattoos and stadium rock concerts (none of which I regret). Even before I started blogging on my own domain, I was an early adopter on Blogger and made a lot of blogpals under the name of Wired JAFA, wherein I regularly vented my spleen about Auckland traffic (still venting) and the tragi-comedy of having to deal with stupid people (oh so stupid). Blogging was new, fun, exciting and you made real friends, some IRL!

In the last 2 years, I’ve traveled to Turkey, poked my nose outside of Auckland (briefly), seen my nieces and nephews grow like weeds, spent far too much money on my hobbies (I so freakin don’t care), survived putting together Creative Fibre’s National Festival, changed my hair colour numerous times (still going), made lovely new friends, and even though the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, my nearest and dearest are still here.

I may stick around and blog about stuff. Or not. It may be inconsequential fluff, or serious stuff from the heart. What I know is that, once again I feel the urge to write. Quality TBA.

Crochet Mitred Square Throw

MitreThrow

This throw was a serious exercise in destashing. I really wanted to get rid of my over-abundance of reds and purples. The natural white background contrast is handspun RomneyX. I should really never attempt to do my own carding – the result is always less than spectacular, but the finished yarn is good enough for a throw. This project took me two winters to complete, mainly because I’d lose interest for so long that I kept forgetting how to do crochet mitred squares. Then I’d lose the printed instructions. Then I’d lose the link to the website with said instructions. Hopeless, I know. But all things can be overcome with some committed Googling!

Finally all the squares were done. And yes, it took several more weeks to decide on how to arrange them – from ‘arty diamonds’ (oh so wrong), to random rows (hideous), and finally to just joining four points to make large squares. Even joining the squares took a couple of attempts – using double crochet (sc for the Americans) resulted in too bulky a seam, so I took it down to slip stitch. I came across a post at the gorgeous Once Upon a Pink Moon for a bobble edge and that has really put a fun finishing edge on the whole thing. It’s turned out to be a rather sturdy, snuggly, comfy throw and I’m really happy with it. Now I’m waiting just a little bit impatiently for cool weather…

If you’d like the pattern for crochet mitred squares, drop me a comment and I’ll have a hunt for them. They’re around here somewhere…

Dreambird Shawl

Dreambird1

This summer I began working on the Dreambird Shawl. If you’re going to tackle this pattern, I would strongly suggest you work off the row-by-row instructions. Up to the now-infamous Row 28, the long-form instructions are reasonably easy to follow, but after that it all goes pear-shaped as the designer tries to be extremely helpful, and ends up confusing most of those who have stumbled over this row’s instructions. Switch to the row-by-row instructions.

I made a small change on rows 15 and 16 too, to ensure the background yarn wrapped right around the tip of the feather:
Row 15: k 44
Row 16: k2 p 42

Other than that, it’s a really interesting and beautiful pattern. I’ve only got a few more feathers to work (or I’ll run out of yarn!) and then will knit a couple of rows of garter along the neck edge (not included in the pattern) to tidy it up. Seems like that’s what quite a few others have done.

Color Affection Shawl

ColorAffection

This is the Color Affection shawl, designed by Veera Välimäki. It’s a marvel of stripes and short rows and was a fairly easy knit. I was kind of horrified upon completion though, because the neck edge of all those striped rows was so puckered, despite my best efforts to leave lots of slack when bringing in the row yarns. However, wet blocking worked its miracles again – it’s knitting alchemy! After a good soak in a bit of wool wash, I laid it out flat and lightly pinned it in place. In the process, all the puckering magically disappeared, resulting in a perfectly flat crescent shawl that looks great. Can’t wait to wear it come winter.

Les Sillons Shawl

I purchased this pretty and unusual shawl pattern on Ravelry, but quickly became disenchanted with it. Mainly because there was a lack of instruction concerning stitch counts at the end of each section, so you had to make a guess as to when to end your short rows. No matter how hard I tried, the beginning of each new section never seemed to match up to what I had from the previous section. In the end I decided it didn’t matter, because in the process of much knit-frog-knit, I’d mastered the principles of short rows. So much so that I extended some sections, shortened others, and added extra. The end result is a shawl that drapes beautifully, is super-light, and hasn’t even been blocked yet. Probably won’t block it though, as it’d be rather large!

Verity Shawl

VerityShawl

This is the Verity Shawl from Interweave Knits (Spring 2013), made from Canopy Fingering (The Fibre Company) in Orchid. It’s a sock yarn of 50% baby alpaca, 30% merino wool + 20% viscose from bamboo. Most luscious.

Being a super-slow, oft-distracted knitter, it took a couple of months to get this finished. Finally got around to blocking it this weekend. Am studiously ignoring the row where I didn’t twist the cable. Only on one half of the shawl, mind you. Where was my head? Where?!

As with most lacy knits, some sturdy blocking stretched this piece from just making it round my shoulders, to a more comfortable 178cm (70″), up from pattern’s 62″ as I did another repeat. This magical transformation never ceases to amaze me.

I’d love to wear it right now, but the weather’s getting decidedly warm and muggy, but it will be the perfect snuggly wrap come winter.

Torchon Bobbin Lace

I seem to have become a tad enamoured of bobbin lace. This weekend I hosted Creative Fibre’s first Bobbin Lace for Beginners class – strictly in a support capacity, although I doubt I’ll get away with that for long. Especially as we had 3 keen new students! In fact, everyone was so keen, we decided to start a new club – the Auckland Lacemakers Club. This isn’t in competition with Bridge Lacemakers, but rather augments those people who have an interest in preserving heritage crafts like this.

Once these skills are allowed to die out, that’s it. However, it seems that’s a loooong way off happening. Bobbins are doing a brisk trade, books are still being published, and there are lacemakers all over the world, working away at this exacting craft.

I say exacting, because after this weekend’s efforts, I’m clearly going to have to pace myself and take more stretchy breaks – my neck and shoulders kinda seized up from bending over the board for hours and hours on end. But look what I made! Looky-look!

(Torchon lace ground bookmark; No.8 mercerized cottons)

Tackling Bobbin Lace

Due to a bad case of tennis elbow (or perhaps more appropriately – knitter’s elbow!), I’m having to take a break from knitting and crocheting. Even spinning is curtailed to short bursts. Fortunately, I went along to the recently held Creative Fibre Auckland Area Retreat and seem to have picked up a possible new craft – bobbin lace.

BobbinLace1a

At first glance it seems impossibly fiddly (it is) and the domain of the mad and OCD-afflicted (it is). Yet somehow I find the exacting nature of the work quite relaxing. Plus, it doesn’t exacerbate the elbow injury. The bobbins themselves are also ridiculously cute, and I like cute. Especially cute with bling!

BobbinLace2a

On the last day of the Retreat, I was admiring someone else tackling a very fiddly bit of lace, when somehow I found myself beginning work on a practice piece… and agreeing to go along to the lacemaker’s guild. Not sure how this has happened, not sure how long it will last, but I guess we’ll see how mad I am… or not, as the case may be…

Darjeeling Shawl

ShetlandLaceShawl1

A few months ago, I completed the Darjeeling Shawl (Joan Forgione, Interweave Knits Spring 2013) in my sportweight handspun, Passions corriedale/alpaca from Spunky Eclectic. At last! The perfect small project for it!

The Triangle Body and Lace Panel came together easily enough, but things fell apart when it came to the Lace Edging. For the life of me, I could not figure out how to work the chart. Somehow, it seemed perfectly logical that the chart should be worked across the 193 st of the shawl body, but the math just didn’t work out, and the instructions subsequently became incomprehensible. After pondering the problem for 2 days, including searching the Interweave Knits Forum for clues, the penny finally dropped – the 15 st, 6 row repeat needed to be worked at right-angles to the shawl body.

*sigh*

Why do these things always seem so obvious – AFTER you’ve figured it out?!

Net result – one perfectly constructed Darjeeling Shawl that turned out to be a sweet knit after all.