Monday, November 12, 2012

Zephyr Cove - home

I finished the Zephyr Cove Shawl in one week's time.

I cast on immediately after the pattern release, because Zephyr Cove is where I live. Zephyr Cove beach is 3 minutes drive away.

I moved around so much first 30 years of my life that living in this area for 10 years is the most stability I ever had. Until Tahoe, I'd always been a city girl. I had to learn to love living in the woods, and now I cannot imagine living without the trees around me. This place means so much to me.

Elann Baby Cashmere in Parchment was used for the main color, then I added in Crystal Place Mini Mochi in Autumn Rainbow from my stash for the stripes. I was planning on continued the entire contrast color section with Mini Mochi, but I decided against that. I ended up using matching color in Elann Baby Silk, again from stash, for a more unified effect.

I love the shawl. It did come out very long. I probably should've used smaller needles. I didn't bother with checking gauge. I'm fine with wearing it as a scarf wrapping around my neck twice. It's very cozy that way.

It felt soothing knitting the endless garter stitches, and that was a complete surprise to me. I always had strong dislike of garter stitches, until now.

Paul and I went to the beach at Zephyr Cove for some photos. He is getting slightly better at being patient with taking photos.

This morning I actually cast on for a second one. As I was knitting, it became obvious why I was making the second Zephyr Cove, I desperately needed something that feels "home," something that anchors me. I'm in no state of mind to do any designing. I just wanted to relax into a pattern that I'm not responsible for. I just wanted to continue something familiar. Zephyr Cove is it.

After receiving some bad news last week, my mind is rather chaotic and at loss. I always snickered at the mention of knitting being comforting or any of that warm and fuzzy talk. Finally, I know what it means to find that repetitive stitches comforting, and much needed.

How I wish I can just curl up and stay home and not dealing with any responsibilities or anyone. Home is good, home is where I find shelter.  Home means so much to me right now.

The non-complicated stitches of this shawl, the easy way of adding color, and the fact that it's called Zephyr Cove, and that it's from the collection named "Home is Where The Heart Is" really cannot be more right for me now. I'm very thankful for this pattern for comforting me with its easy yet beautiful design, and giving me a way to make it into something personal when I don't have the energy of being creative on my own.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Whatever ... Hello Winter

After much frustration writing a pattern for top-down raglan style Midsomer Sunshine, it finally dawned on me that I should write the pattern knitting bottom up instead.  I don't know why it took me months to come to that realization.

Making Midsomer Sunshine was very easy, but writing a multi-sized pattern for top-down raglan style that involved continuously adding new cables of different charts was the most challeging pattern I'd ever attempted.  It was challenging that cable sequence required a lot of instructions for each size individually.  With the current trend of patterns needed to be explained in more details and things needed to be spelled out more specifically, it was something beyond what I could handle.  I did write one that I knew as much as the instruction was clear to me, it was probably not so to at least half of knitters out there. I put that pattern aside, too scared to even have it test knitted.

One day while knitting, I had this brilliant idea of re-knit the sweater from bottom up and write a pattern.  I dug through my stash and got the Quince & Co Lark in color Bird's Egg and started knitting.  I had 2 balls in my stash, after finding the yarn being good for the design and for the color, I ordered 7 more.  The gauge came up just slightly smaller than the original version, so I miscalculated the yardage.  After I finished all the yarn I still needed more. BUT, Qince & Co was out of stock with that color when I tried to re-order.  Fortunately, I convinced a Raveler to destash her 4 skeins to me.  I finished the sweater with 10 skeins of yarn.

I honestly really love this sweater.  I was so comfortable wearing it and walking around the woods and meadow behind our house for photo shoots.  It was no small task to convince Paul to help with photo shoots. The sweater turned out to be exactly the type of thing I love wearing, almost as much as how I love knitting it.  I made it in the style of a short jacket.

Lark was also exactly what I wanted in yarn for this sweater.  I found myself having more and more hesitation lately using very soft merino for sweaters unless it was for a lace or fingering weight sweater that meant to be drapey. For most sweater I prefer it to be slightly more woolly and slightly stiffer than soft merino, especially if it has lots of cables.  Lark was a perfect choice.  While soft enough, it gave great stitch definition which kept the structure of the jacket style, at the same time it was not scratchy at all against skin.

I just sent the patterns out to test knitters. I'm hoping to publish it around early February, almost exactly one year since I knitted Midsomer Sunshine.

I'm calling the pattern Hello Winter because... I don't have a good story for it, truthfully. I finished the sweater just few days after first snow here, but it's now fall weather again. Leaves that turned kinda dull two weeks ago as if we weren't going to have a nice fall, are now in bright yellow again. Next week, the temperature is supposed to be higher, not quite back to summer, but not really moving towards winter either....  If the sweater is really more reflective the season changing this year, it probably should be called "whatever."  Obviously that may not be the best name for a pattern.  By the time the pattern is ready for publishing, it should be solidly winter. I think.