Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One More Shawl

I was in the mood for another shawl.

The first time I saw Diana's Fly Me To The Moon I wanted to knit one too.  I've been waiting for the release of the pattern ever since.  I was finally able to get to it after finishing the sweater last week.  The pattern of this shawl is called Fly me To the Moon, designed by Diana Rozenshteyn (aka deenulya on Ravelry.)

The name of the shawl was just so perfect for the time.  It was Chinese Moon Festival last Monday.  The day to celebrate Autumn.  The most famous myth that associated  with this day was long ago everything was peaceful and abundant in the kingdom of middle earth. There lived a famous archer Hou Yi and his wife Chang Er. One day, instead of a single sun, 10 suns rose up to the sky. The rivers soon dried up, all the vegetation died from the sweltering heat, and  people lost their harvest.  Hou Yi brought out his bows and arrow and began to shoot down each of the suns.  After he shot down 9 suns and was aiming at the 10th one, Chang Er stopped him and said, "We still need one sun for things to grow, and for lives to go on."  Therefore, one sun remained in the sky. Because of his act that saved the people, he soon became the ruler of the kingdom.  However, over time he turned into a tyrant ruling with supreme power.  Chang Er was so disappointed at what her husband had become that she was terrified at the thought of her Hou Yi taking the elixir of immortality he had in his possession and continue on as a tyrant for eternity.  One day she decided to steal the elixir. She then took the elixir herself to prevent her husband from ever able to snatch it back.  Suddenly she found her body lighter and lighter and she began to float away.  She ended up flying up to the moon and had resided there ever since.  Every full moon you can see the shadow of her in the moon.  "Flying to The Moon" was just the perfect shawl to knit to celebrate the holiday.

I looked through my stash and found nothing that was suitable.  Well, I do have some Malabrigo Silky Merino, the yarn that Diana used, in stash , but I did not have enough skeins to make the shawl.  Knowing that even with ordering more I for sure would end up with yarn of complete different dye lot, I decided to dye up some yarn myself. I could tell that silk/merino blend was truly the right yarn choice for this pattern as it was called for in the pattern, so I ordered Silk and Ivory from Dharma Trading CO (I believe you can also find the same yarn at Catnip Yarns under Carrera) and dyed it with logwood purple that I had gotten from Botanical Colors last year.  I wanted a very pale lavender color for the shawl, and the yarn turned out just that. 

I thoroughly enjoyed knitting the shawl.  I love the design.  It was very addicting for me to knit the cable stitches.  I knitted without using a cable needle, so it went very fast.  I didn't even slip stitches off the needle to hold in hand like some instructions for cable needle-less method.  I just slipped the stitches back and forth from one needle to another.   The instruction of the pattern was very clear and easy to follow.  The built up of the pattern was very intuitive.    The cable stitches turned outere just gorgeous with the silky yarn.   I loved knitting the shawl with this yarn.  I couldn't stop knitting at all.   This morning I showed it to Paul, he immediately said, "wow, that is very ethereal  and those stitches look like little wings."  Considering it was not a lace pattern but rather, a cable pattern, it was amazing that the word ethereal would be associated with cables.  What a great design.

Because my gauge was different, the yarn was listed as fingering, but it actually was closer to sport weight, I knitted two extra repeat of the main stitches, and 2 extra rows of the border stitches.  Still, the shawl came out smaller than the pattern, it's only 60" wide, but I was running out of yarn so...   It was knitted with US #4 needles and BO using US #6 needles. I love, love, love it.  It truly was an enjoyable knit with a wonderful result.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Midnight in the Garden of Roses and Butterflies

I love doing stranded work.  But, I've noticed how it takes a toll on my body.  My posture has never been good, but when I knit, it's extra bad.  Hunching over and paying close attention to changing colors is something I'm beginning to avoid doing a lot.  I'm currently taking a Pilate class, and totally love it. At our local community college it's about $36 for 12 weeks class (twice a week,) it will be a crime not to take it.  I'm just bummed that this semester my schedule only allows me to go in once a week.  It helps me not only get some exercises but it also helps my posture a little.

 Yarn: Elann Peruvian Baby Cashmere
single strand for motif panel and the sleeve mittens, 
and double strands for the body. 
(20 balls total in color pewter, and 1.5 in parchment for the tunic, 
and another 3.5 balls for the fingerless mitts)
Needles: US #2, US #5

I love the elegance of simple stockinette stitches.  I love the fact that I can watch movies when I knit. But every year when fall approaches, I get antsy about doing stranded work.  So I've decided to do a sweater that includes stranded work but more as adding flavor than to using it all over as fabric, just enough to satisfy my craving, but not too exhausting on my neck and shoulder.

The stitch design was actually made months ago for another sweater that I ended up letting go of the idea. With the vertical panel of this tunic I wasn't sure about the motifs lining up one on top of another (instead of diagonally), but I went with it anyway just to see if it does work.

The stranded work panel was knitted first in smaller needles (US #2) from top down.  I actually knitted back and forth in flat.  It wasn't really more difficult than in round.  I made myself a cheat-cheat of stitch numbers of alternating color of each row, so I just read out the numbers rather than reading the chart and it went fairly quickly. Then the body was knitted with yarn doubled (to match the thickness of the motif panel) and used larger needles (US #5). It was knitted flat in one piece with set-in sleeves knitted at the same time just to further test my formula.  Then the sleeves were finished from the stitches left on waste yarn at underarm area.  The motif panel was then sewn onto the body with pleats added in by the buttons and loops.  I wanted this sweater to be just black and white, but because the light color was actually more of a warm natural  than white, I paired it with a deep charcoal gray as the contrast color instead.

I  could not get enough of knitting tunic/dress, so another one here.  Going for short sleeves because I liked that proportion but I thought with the thickness of the yarn and its alpaca content it would be too warm to wear a long-sleeve tee underneath it. However, to keep the bare arms warm, I decided that long fingerless mittens could function as long sleeves and paired off with the tunic.  The fingerless mittens were knitted single strand using smaller needles (US #2.)  The Yarn was was also  Elann Peruvian Baby Cashmere, same as the tunic. I'd used this yarn for two other sweaters.  I loved it.  It was soft, and lovely, and great for colorwork too.   I actually had this yarn in mind when I made the design and I was pleased how it worked out.

Now I have few extra balls left of this yarn.  I may consider making more mittens with them, just shorter versions.