Brokedown and Beautiful

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I finished my Aeolian shawl, as you can see. I had to stay up until three in the morning the night before we left on our trip up to northern California for the wedding, but I finished it. This shot was taken at the Pacific Star Winery, where our friends’ wedding was held, and it was absolutely gorgeous. I also finished my dissertation chapter, for those of you playing along at home — so, missions accomplished.

The shawl turned out great. The size 11 beads were perfect; they didn’t weigh down the cobweb-weight yarn, but they added some lovely sparkle. And all my worrying that the shawl was going to turn out too big was for naught; the skinniness of the yarn balanced out the extra repeats of the yucca chart that I had to do due to my failure to count to eight, and it came out just about right. This was my first adventure in beading, and while it’s not my favorite technique ever, I became proficient enough at it that I was able to do it on the airplane coming back from the east coast. This involved keeping my little tupperware from spilling during turbulence and holding my crochet hook and my right knitting needle in the same hand, all while while simultaneously watching a brain-rotting romantic comedy, which I think qualifies me for minor knitting-deityhood.

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I finished the bindoff at about one in the morning the night before our trip up north for the wedding, and faced the question of whether to block it then and there, or to pull the classic blocking-in-the-hotel-room stunt that so many lace knitters before me have had to do. I opted for the former, because as much as depriving myself of sleep right before a seven-hour drive sucks, trying to block in a hotel room and realizing that I’d left some crucial blocking supplies at home would suck more. When the piece was soaking, I asked Pat if he had any old sheets lying around that I could use (since the shawl came out significantly larger than my blocking board), and he produced this checkered sheet that is clearly going to be my blocking-surface-of-choice from now on. (As many of you know, it’s very helpful if your blocking surface has a grid pattern on it because that helps you shape your piece evenly.) Despite my joy at KnitPicks cheap modular blocking boards, it’s become clear to me that a sheet pinned to the carpet works just as well, if not better.

Here’s a shot where you can actually see the beads. Note also my ghettotastic use of safety pins, because this thing far outstripped my supply of proper rust-proof T-pins:

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You can also see the subtle variations in the color of the yarn in this shot; it’s really quite lovely. Despite my love of lace, I’m reluctant to knit in true solid colors, because there are just so many interesting hand-dyed yarns out there. A nearly-solid color yarn with subtle variations like this offers the best of both worlds; it has some visual interest without competing with the lace pattern. The yarn, to remind you, is Stitch Jones Nirvana Lace in the “French Blue” colorway. It’s 70% baby Alpaca, 20% silk, and 10% cashmere, which makes it 100% delicious, let me tell you. But it’s not for the faint of heart — it’s cobweb weight, and I had to work this shawl on US 1s to get the density I wanted. That link will take you to Knitty Noddy, where I ordered the yarn, and which I again recommend highly for their excellent customer service.

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On our way up to the wedding, we spent a few days in Berkeley, where I got to visit the Verb for Keeping Warm studio. Shortly before my trip, I ordered a skein of yarn from them that turned out to be not quite the color I was expecting, so I sent them an email asking if I could come exchange it in person, to which they happily obliged. It’s a lovely little shop set up in what are essentially two adjacent garage spaces — one is where they do the dying, and the other is where they sell the yarn. Kristine was very helpful, explaining the dying techniques involved as I fondled her yarns. I chose this, because I was trying to not end up with another blue/green/gray scarf or shawl — lord knows I have plenty:

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It’s their “Wishing” laceweight yarn in the Persimmon colorway. It’s 65% wool and 35% tussah silk, which is exciting. And the dyes are all natural! I’m thinking that Anne Hanson’s Hillflowers scarf/shawl might be just the thing to show off its texture and colors.

That was going to be it for my fiber adventures — I wasn’t even going to force Pat to go to Imagiknit again, which required considerable self-restraint! — but at the wedding-rehearsal barbecue I spotted a girl in what was clearly a Noro sweater, and when I sidled up to her to talk knitting she informed me that the Mendocino yarn shop, which she loved and had not been able to find a replacement for in all of Chicago, was having a 20 – 50%-off sale because they were moving. So the next morning I teamed up with my friend Julie, who is also a knitter, and we dragged several of our non-knitting friends to the shop. And this was my haul:

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So yeah, I didn’t exactly succeed in my goal of avoiding blue-greens. But this Terra yarn from The Fibre Company just had such a compelling texture that I couldn’t resist. It’s 60% merino, 20% baby alpaca, and 20% silk. I think the blue chunks are the silk, actually. I bought 300 yards of it figuring I’d make a scarf, even though I wouldn’t wear a scarf that heavy very often in southern California, but when I got home a stumbled across what just might be the perfect pattern for it, which I’ve already cast on — I’ll show you next time. The tan-colored yarn is Louet Mooi, another interesting fiber blend that I’ve been lusting after for several months and was happy to snap up on sale — it’s 15% bison, 15% cashmere, and 70% bamboo.

But all was not sweetness and light. After the wedding, we discovered that I’d left my headlights on, and when one of the bride’s friends generously offered to give us a jump, he connected the wires incorrectly and fried some circuits in my car’s wiring. We called triple-A, who were unable to help us, and furthermore informed us that since it was Labor Day weekend in a tiny isolated town, we were unlikely to find an open mechanic until Tuesday. We had only booked our hotel through Saturday night and had planned to drive back on Sunday & thereby miss some Labor Day traffic, so we were in a tight spot. We managed to extend our stay at our hotel, and the bride & groom were sticking around Mendocino through Labor Day, so we had people to hang out with, but it was still a harrowing couple of days. The triple-A guy had said some terrifying things such as “your car’s computer-brain might be fried, which will cost lots of money to repair and will require you to be towed a hundred miles to Santa Rosa where the nearest Hyundai dealership is,” and faced with that possibility I realized just how precarious my financial situation is — I can take care of all my normal expenses just fine, and I can occasionally go on vacations, and I can occasionally splurge on yarn, but I just don’t have a spare couple of thousand dollars lying around for emergencies like this. I also realized how weirdly much I love my car. I paid for it my damn self, over the course of about four years via a loan from the bank — in that time I never missed or was late on a payment, and I was incredibly proud when I finally paid it all off. The idea of losing it after all of that was pretty awful, no matter how hard I tried to think about it like a Buddhist.

Fortunately, it turned out about as well as it possibly could have. On Sunday, we called every mechanic in both Mendocino and Ft. Bragg, and they were all closed, so Pat and I decided to go on an adventure on foot through Ft. Bragg to Glass Beach on the north side of town.

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And on our way back, we followed signs to a Labor Day craft fair where I bought this to use as a shawl-closure:

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The guy who made it was asking $18, but he said “it’s the end of the day, so make me an offer” and I offered him $10, which he took. So, yay. Sunday evening we had a lovely time partying with the bride and groom and some of their other friends who were still on town, and then on Monday morning we called every mechanic in town again, and the one who answered the phone happened to be the groom’s family’s trusted mechanic of many years. So though we had to pay triple-A $40 to tow us to Mendocino from Ft. Bragg, we figured it was worth it to both know what the damage was sooner and to go to a guy we knew wouldn’t rip us off. He turned out to be able to fix the car in a single afternoon and for much less than we had steeled ourselves for, so we were mobile again by Monday night. Here I am knitting on my Hamsa scarf to pass time time on the Mendocino headlands while we wait for word from the mechanic:

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All in all, not a bad place to be stuck!

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One thought on “Brokedown and Beautiful

  1. Pingback: Abrazo « doublepointed

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