Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Excuses, Excuses

I finished Clue 2 for Mystery Stole 4 last Thursday, and then had a bad attack of the busies before I had a chance to blog the silly thing. I swear it’s like somebody set my ponytail on fire just to see how fast I could run. I think I’ve got things nearly under control, and if I’m really lucky it won’t take me three days to get this written.

At any rate, this is what the stole looked like six days ago:

If you click that, you’ll get a larger image.

Georgina is doing some interesting things here, moving from diamonds to scrolls, and using lots of double decreases.

Here’s another, slightly more successful, shot of the beads:

Again, click to see it bigger.

Can you spot the place where I dropped the stitches? To tell the truth, neither can I.

The yarn is a denimy blue, and the beads are emerald green with silver lining. I’m still absolutely stymied about getting good photos of this piece. Any suggestions? I’m thinking maybe a darker background, or trying to shoot outside… maybe both?

I’ve realized that I’m just going to be behind many of my mates on this piece. There are people zipping through clues in an evening, but I’m just not moving that quickly. I’m about halfway through Clue 3, with Clue 4 yet to be printed and number 5 due on Friday. Oh well, it’s not a race, right?

We’re turning towards fall here. Some of the leaves are showing their colors, and there are pumpkins and apples at the local farms. I need to bake myself an apple pie… perhaps I’ll even share it with my husband.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Of Fear and Revelation

So there I was, knitting along on Mystery Stole 4, when I dropped a stitch. I didn’t know that I’d dropped it; I just kept merrily cruising along, counting under my breath and placing beads, happy as could be.

Then, when I shifted my work along my right needle to give myself some more room, the dropped stitch ran down 6 rows of knitting, right along a column of stitches that has a bead every other row.

I heard the beads plink down onto the table, and I kid you not, my heart really did skip a beat. Dropped stitch, dropped beads… I got kind of dizzy.

And then something happened which I didn’t expect. I got very calm. I picked the dropped beads with my 1 mm crochet hook, positioned my work so that the dropped stitch was between my needles, and very carefully hooked the stitch back up, putting the beads back where they belonged.

It was amazing; I felt as though I had finished my first marathon, or written “The End” after 1000 pages.

It seems like such a small thing, a skill that every knitter should have, but I’d never done it quite like that before. No hissing and cursing, just a calm marshaling of tools and knowledge.

Ever since then, it’s gotten easier for me. I finally understand what lace knitters are talking about when they tell me to read my knitting. I can see the pattern emerging and intuit where it’s heading. The yarn doesn’t seem so terrifyingly thin and fragile; the beads don’t seem to be waiting to slide off the floss.

All of a sudden, I don’t feel so guilty about all the lace-weight in my stash. I feel like I’ll be able to make things with it that I’ll be proud of.

And all because I dropped a stitch.

So, have you had moments of fear and revelation with your knitting? I’d love to hear about them!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mystery Stole 4: Beads, Beads and More Beads

First of all, I must humbly thank you all for your kind comments on the Candle Flame Stole. Your response was most gratifying. Thank you all so much!

No sooner had I finished with the Candle Flame, than it was nearly time to cast on for Mystery Stole 4, hosted by Pink Lemon Twist. Unfortunately, it took me so long to get this post written that sign-ups for the Yahoo group have closed, so I can’t invite you to join me in the fun.

I’ll do better the next time, I promise.

The design calls for approximately 1100 yards of lace-weight yarn and 1000 size 8 beads. It’s to be knit in two pieces from the ends and will be grafted in the middle. I decided to work both ends at the same time, in an effort to avoid SSS (in this case, Second Section Syndrome).

I’ve never knit with beads before, and I must admit I was a bit concerned about having to string that many beads onto my yarn. Thankfully the designer, Georgina Bow, was quite emphatic about not stringing the beads onto the yarn. The beads are attacked as you knit, using either a crochet hook or a strand of Super Floss.

So, there I was on 6 September, with my skein of Baruffa Cashwool in Denim, my silver-lined green Toho beads, and my size US 6 (4mm) needles, casting on 113 stitches… twice.

It only took me three tries, which I think is pretty good, all things taken into account. Then I worked the first row using a US 2.5 (3mm) needle. The reason I used such a large needle for the cast-on was to ensure a nice stretchy edge, so that I’ll be able to get the most horizontal stretch out of the yarn when this project is done.

I worked the first row with no problem, and then I took a deep breath and started the second row. The one which has a bead placed on every other stitch.

Oh my.

Tedium and tension, all at the same time. It took me well over an hour to get through that row, what with taking a stitch off the needle, sliding a bead onto it, and then trying to get the stitch back into place without twisting it.

Georgina my love, I’m sorry for all the nasty words I may have muttered… they weren’t really directed at you. They were directed at my fingers, which developed a bad case of the fumbles.

Eventually, after about 10 rows, I settled into a decent rhythm of decreases, yarn-overs and bead placements. I put in a couple of marathon stretches on Saturday and Sunday, and finished Clue 1 a mere two days after Clue 2 came out.


Really, I must apologize for these photos. I’m having a very hard time getting the light and my camera to cooperate about showing the details.


My only comfort comes from seeing that many of my fellow KAL-ers are having the same difficulty with their photos.


Clue 1 seems to be all about the diamonds. There are two lace diamonds and three bead diamonds.


I must say, doing a mystery project like this is quite an exercise in trust for a control freak such as myself. I find myself having to quell my instincts for tinkering and fussing about whether an edge stitch should be slipped, or if a decrease should lean right or lean left.

Perhaps I’m learning patience?

Mom? … Mom? … Mom! Stop laughing for heavens sake; it’s not that funny!