Archive for the 'Handsome is as handsome does' Category

Handsome is, indeed, as handsome does

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

I finished the Handsome Triangle shawl late last week, and stayed up late on Friday night blocking her.

Handsome Triangle blocking 

I stretched this baby mercilessly–to a total of 104 inches across the top, without the ruffle.  It’s a good thing my apartment has carpet, that’s all I can say.  And that I really don’t have that much furniture residing on that carpet.

Handsome Triangle blocking

(If you’re wondering why this second shot looks so different color-wise, it’s because I sometimes turn my camera to the “nighttime” setting in lowish light situations.  Actually, Handsome’s true color is nearer to the first picture.)

Here I am wearing her.  (Photo courtesy of my dear boy, Harvey.)

Handsome Triangle shawl 

And wrapped up in ruffly femininity.

Handsome Triangle shawl

I wore her to church on Sunday morning and garnered several compliments, some of which I admittedly fished for a bit.  But someone did say that they couldn’t believe I had made this myself.

That’s what a knitter likes to hear! 

And what complicated, gorgeous project did I start next?  Why, a dishcloth, of course.  Made of hemp yarn from Elann.  Somewhere I read that hemp is supposed to have natural anti-bacterial properties.  Seems like a match made in heaven for a dishcloth, doncha think?

The never-ending bindoff begins

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Well.  I am, at length, finished with the seemingly endless last rows of the bell ruffle which completes my Handsome Triangle shawl.

Here they are all bunched up on my circular needle.

Handsome Triangle 4-25-07 

Now begins the seemingly even-more-endless bindoff the of the bell ruffle which will truly complete my Handsome Triangle shawl!

I have finished binding off exactly 12 repeats of the ruffle, which means I have bound off a total of 360 stitches.  Only 2225 more to go!

Handsome Triangle 4-25-07

Let the games begin!  Er, continue.

The Dead Sea Shawl

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

On Saturday I went with a group from church down to Kansas City’s beautifully restored Union Station

KC Union Station 

to see an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls that is currently on display there.

KC Union Station

For obvious reasons, we were not allowed to take pictures in the exhibit or even carry in our cameras, so here on the blog we will have to content ourselves with photos of the wonderful facade of Union Station itself, plus a few indoor photos such as this,

KC Union Station 

which I admittedly took more for the novelty value of having a son named Harvey myself than for any more erudite or aesthetic reason.

I also took a couple photos of this rather cheesy little intro display, because that was about the only thing Dead Sea Scrolls-related that we were allowed to photograph.

Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit

In that little cave were a few fake-looking scroll jars.

Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit

I guess you’ll just have to use your imagination about the rest of the exhibit.  Take my word for it, though, if you’re anywhere within striking distance of Kansas City, it’s definitely worth the trip. 

I took the Handsome Triangle shawl on the bus to work on.

Handsome Triangle shawl 

I’m really, really close to the end of this thing.  It’s now taking about an hour (more or less) to get across one row.  At this point, I have one row left, plus the bindoff.  However, depending on how much yarn I have left,

Handsome Triangle shawl

(and you can see here that my cone of yarn is getting muy smaller) I may go ahead and do two more rows of the ruffle, making the final total of stitches (drum roll, please) 2580.  I don’t know, though.  I have a nightmarish vision of getting to within, oh, maybe about 30 stitches of the end of the last row and running out of yarn, necessitating tinking back over nearly two rows of 2500 stitches each. 

That would be bad.

Bell Ruffle

Monday, April 16th, 2007

I started the ruffle on the Handsome Triangle shawl yesterday, and got just a few rows accomplished.

Handsome Triangle shawl 

Here’s a little detail:

bell ruffle detail

The specs: 

A total of 86 x 6 = 516 + 5 = 520 stitches around the bottom edge. 

Then, as with all ruffles, you increase like a demon over the next 24 rows, ending with a grand total of 86 x 28 = 2408 + 5 = 2413 stitches.

Excuse me while I go lie down a little while.

Almost done

Monday, February 19th, 2007

The faithful and astute among you, dear readers, have no doubt noticed my absence, once again, from the blog for a week.  Once again I left my dear sister holding the blog bag.  Thanks, Ellen, for holding down the fort.  Time Out of Mind is looking magnificent indeed.

I will not bore you all with the details of my family travails and crises.  Suffice it to say that it has been a hard, hard winter, capping off a hard year.  Let us hope that spring will bring us all fresh promise and happiness.

And, moving on, my progress on the Handsome Triangle shawl.

Handsome Triangle 2-19-07

I really am almost done with it!  I have only one full pattern repeat to finish, and then the somewhat daunting task of knitting the ruffle, involving as it does an exponential rate of increase and ever-lengthening rows.  But not that many rows!  There is light at the end of this particular lacy tunnel.

Handsome Triangle detail                                          A detail.

Of course, these photos, like the shawl itself at this point, reveal only a hint of the shawl’s true personality–just a promise of what is to come.  That will only be achieved by a proper and ruthless blocking.  Hard, but necessary.  Sort of the knitting equivalent of tough love. 

I think there’s a metaphor there somewhere:  about living along, following the pattern as best you can, and having faith that someday, at some time, you’ll be able to do the hard but necessary work of unfurling your life.  Stretching it ruthlessly out to reveal its true beauty.  Trusting that what you’ve been working at, at times so laboriously and with little joy, will pay off in the end.  Hoping that the people who love and support you will be moved to remark upon its loveliness–hoping that you yourself will be able to wear it with pride and say, “I made it myself.”

I can’t wait.


Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Since writing about the Handsome Triangle shawl last week, I’ve been inspired to actually pull it out and work on it.  Progress is being made, although it may be difficult to see in these photos.

Handsome Triangle 2-1-07                             A whole-shawl shot, with cat butt on the right.  (Boots enjoys sitting on the back of the couch like this–just lurking in a totally cat-like way.)

Handsome Triangle detail                                         A detail of the lace pattern.

Handsome Triangle detail                                 Another detail–showing how the lace flows out of the increases along the side.

I’m really enjoying working on this shawl.  It’s one of those patterns that looks a lot more complex than it really is.  It’s actually just four pattern rows, and they’re pretty easy to memorize, so although the charts look a bit daunting, the knitting itself is simple.  Minimal effort with maximum payoff.

Hugo 2-1-07                                 “Speaking of minimal effort, can’t you take me out for another walk?  Maybe if I look really, really sad?”

Hugo 2-1-07                                      “No?  Well, then I’m outta here, human.  Triangulate that.”


Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

Although I haven’t been actively working on the Handsome Triangle shawl for a week or so, I have been thinking about it a good deal.  Especially thinking about how much fun it will be to wear it and how flirty, coy, and feminine that ruffled edging will be. 

Handsome Triangle with ruffle 

Actually, I don’t think that many people who know me well would describe me as flirty or coy or even that feminine in the traditional sense.  Yet I find myself drawn to these ultra-feminine shawls–in fact, I also own the pattern for the “Flirty Ruffles Shawl” from Fiddlesticks Knitting and a large cone of Zephyr wool/silk with which to make it.

Flirty Ruffles shawl and Zephyr yarn

Who among us hasn’t fallen in love with a project that just doesn’t really fit the public image we’ve created for ourselves?  It’s part of the magic of knitting–the ability to create a new persona for myself with yarn, skill, and my own two hands.  To create the persona while creating the cloth–to craft a new self and be able to literally try it on for size.  To give myself the gift of living, for a little while, a different kind of life as a different kind of woman:  the kind of woman who wears ruffles, who flirts outrageously, who is unabashedly selfish, who can make strange men fall in love with her on sight.

It’s a lot to expect from a ruffled shawl, I know.  Some day, when the shawl is done, I’ll let you know how that woman is doing. 

Shawl we? The sequel

Monday, January 8th, 2007

I am zipping along (well, relatively speaking) on the Handsome Triangle shawl, despite having had a stunningly bad day on Saturday and spending most of the day in tears.  If I sound like I am making a shameless play for sympathy–well, I guess I am.  Nevertheless, I knitted through my tears and made some real strides.

handsome triangle 1-8-07 

I think this will be really beautiful when it’s all done and blocked.  I am planning to put the ruffled edging on it, like the Handsome Triangle shawl pictured in the very back of the book.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the shawls I have knitted, what I like about them, and when and how I wear them.  One of the ones I have worn most is the Kimono shawl (I think that’s what it’s called) out of Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Shawls.  (This is a terrific book, by the way, that I recommend to anyone who is interested in knitting shawls.  She includes a great range of projects, and they are all gorgeous.)  Anyway, I made this shawl out of a laceweight cotton/silk that I bought from Elann many moons ago.  I just kept knitting on the durned thing until it was tremendously long, but as it turns out, that’s one of the things I like about it.  It’s long enough to wrap around you more than once, and the cotton/silk yarn is also fine and drapey enough to be wound around your neck like a giant scarf.

Kimono shawl 

A detail of the lace pattern:

Kimono shawl detail 

Another long rectangular stole that I own was not knitted by me, but was made by and given to me by my own dear sister.  This is from a Knitty pattern, and the yarn is 100% silk.  This stole is much heavier than the one above, and it has a wonderful drape and flow when worn.  (Of course, it goes without saying that the workmanship is superb, as well.) 

silk stole 

Diane asked if I had a shawl pin that I wear with my shawls, and I do, indeed.  It is a turquoise pin from Designs by Romi, and it is truly beautiful.  I get compliments on it whenever I wear it.  In this photo, you can see it adorning the front of my Nicola cardigan. 

shawl pin on Nicola 

I usually do wear a pin with the burgundy silk stole, because I find that it really helps it stay in place.  The nice thing about the Designs by Romi pins is that they are sharp enough to be pinned through the shawl to the clothing or even a bra strap beneath.

But what I like most about wearing my shawls?  The romantic heroine/glamourpuss feeling I get when I wrap up in one of them.  At these times, I feel confident that I really can be the star of my own life.

Shawl we?

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

I’ve been working diligently away on the Handsome Triangle shawl.  However, like Icarus before her, she really doesn’t show that much progress in photos.  That didn’t stop me from taking one, though.

Handsome Triangle 1-4-07 

Also, like all lace, she looks quite unpromising unblocked–all shrivelled up.

When I started knitting again as an adult, and by that I mean really knitting–always having more than one project going, thinking about knitting when I wasn’t actively knitting, and most of all, stashing–I got back into it with the purchase of Shawls and Scarves: The Best of Knitter’s Magazine.  I spent many happy hours looking at and reading that book, and dreaming of the beautiful lace shawls that I would make.  I’m a bit embarrassed to say that in actuality I only knit one scarf out of the book.  It served me as more of a “gateway” book, really.

I did knit this variation of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Pi shawl, though.  (Instructions for the basic Pi shawl can be found in Shawls and Scarves.)

Pi shawl 

A detail:

Pi shawl detail 

I made this shawl out of handspun which I purchased on Ebay, before I knew anything about handspun.  It’s not bad yarn, by any means, but it’s alpaca which has a lot of guard hair in it, which makes it pretty rough to the touch.  It’s very warm, though.

Now I own many more lace knitting books, and about a year ago I finished this Faroese shawl out of Stahman’s Shawls and Scarves. 

Faroese shawl 

An edging detail:

Faroese shawl detail 

I highly recommend this book if you have any interest in shawl-making at all.  This is the shawl that I wear most, because it’s so warm and substantial, and because it stays on the shoulders better than most shawls.  (A design feature of Faroese shawls.)  The circular shawl above, for instance, tends to slide right off your shoulders if you move at all, which, let’s face it, is pretty hard not to do in everyday life.

Next week:  A discussion of rectangular shawls (or stoles, depending on which word you like better).