Slow and Steady Somethings the Something

My Path of Flowers stole has certainly grown — I’d say it’s about 1/3 of the way done — but after working on it for the lion’s share of our 22-hour drive from Long Beach to Austin, I’m a little annoyed that I haven’t gotten farther. I’m madly in love with this thing, though — I understand why Grumperina was so taken with it. I don’t have any close-up shots of it at the moment, but the yarn and the pattern work so well together that it blows my mind: the subtle shifts in color and shading are lovely. Like Grumperina, I had a rocky start with this pattern: the lace is pretty complicated, particularly in the center panel, and before I fully got my head around it I managed to make a massive error and then not notice it for another evening of working on the thing — so I actually spent the first hour or two of our 22-hour trip painstakingly undoing 10 or so (very long!) rows. But I’ve since made friends with the lace pattern, if not exactly memorized it — it remains complicated enough to keep me interested, but not so difficult that I’ve made any more mistakes that I didn’t catch right away.

I had a similar two-steps-forward, one-step-back experience with my Butternut Scarf, seen here. It was actually the opposite problem: this pattern is so easy and intuitive that it’s very possible to go on autopilot and make a mistake, particularly at the “switch” points where you start working on the motif in the opposite direction. Ask me how I know — argh. I had to spend about an hour and a half unknitting a whole movie’s worth of knitting. Now I know to pay super close attention at those “switch” points, and all is well.

My Stripe Study shawl is getting a little unwieldy for the needle it’s on, but I have faith that I’ll be able to finish it without having to do anything crazy. Actually, since I’m knitting it with my Addi Lace Interchangeables, I could just add some more cord onto the end if I really wanted to! I was worried that it was too big and smunched up to photograph well, but I actually love the way this picture came out! It’s like modern art. These turn out to be perfect colors for Austin, since UT’s color is “burnt orange,” but with all the 100-degree days here, I’m not sure I’m going to be up for shawl modeling when this is done. We’ll see. Maybe in the late afternoon or early morning?

I’ve also got a secret project going that I won’t be able to show you for a few more months. But this is sort of a teaser for it, in that I’m probably going to use a little of this yarn for embellishments on the secret project. This is a skein of “Everlasting,” a sock yarn by Dream in Color, in the colorway “Morning Glory.” I’m trying to cut down on my yarn-buying, so this will probably be my only souvenir skein from Austin. I originally intended to actually knit socks with it, but I’ve been thinking lately that it might be really nice as a large, simple, openwork shawl like Uxbridge or Lombard Street. The moment of truth will probably come when I finish my Stripe Study: stay tuned!

Travelling Light

Pat and I are spending June and July in Austin, TX — so for the last week or so, my knitting time has been dedicated to figuring out what projects to bring with me, and to getting a strong enough start on those projects that I feel confident about my yarn, needles, and pattern choices. Since Austin is very hot and humid, I figured that airy lace was the most realistic plan — I’m not going to want to be knitting huge blankets or sweaters while I’m there. What you see here is Anne Hanson’s Butternut Scarf knit in Sanguine Gryphon Gaia Lace in the “Cornflower” colorway. Last summer, when Sanguine Gryphon announced that it was dissolving into two companies, I snatched up one of the last skeins of Gaia Lace available — and it’s a good thing, too, because neither of the new companies carries it. (Though Cephalopod Yarns’ Nautilace seems to fit a similar profile.) I had initially envisioned using this yarn for Anne Hanson’s Almost Ovals, which was released right around the time I bought this yarn — but after a few days of knitting it earlier this week, I decided that I just didn’t love it. It’s entirely possible that blocking would have cleared up the issues I had with the pattern, but it was looking a little sloppy and the YOs were very asymmetrical (because on one side of the motif they’re between purls and knits, and on the other side they’re between knits and purls). Also the pattern required a little more attention than I’d initially anticipated, and I really wanted this to be a soothing, easy project. Anne’s Butternut Scarf leapt immediately to mind as an alternative — I’d started it twice in the past, and both times I loved knitting it but decided that my yarn choices weren’t right. Now, finally, I think I’ve got the perfect marriage of pattern and yarn, and I’m delighted!

The reason I wanted to make sure the above project was relatively easy is that my main knitting task while in Austin is going to be this:

A huge, intricate stole with lace-knitting rows on both sides. Whee! Chrissy Gardiner’s Path of Flowers Stole, to be exact. I’ve had my eye on this pattern ever since Grumperina sang its praises on her blog a few years ago. Projects this huge and repetitive can be difficult to force myself to finish, but I was inspired by my success with my Autumn Arbor Stole last summer — I deliberately sort of stranded myself on a desert island with it by having it be the only project that I didn’t pack away in a box while Pat and I moved, and I finished it swiftly and uncomplainingly. So I’m optimistic! The yarn is Shimmering from A Verb for Keeping Warm, in the colorway “My Hand and Yours,” picked up at their Oakland shop over spring break a few months ago.

I am also closing in on the end of my Stripe Study shawl, which is also coming with me:

I probably only have enough yarn for one more red wedge after the one I’m working on, but the rows are getting very long and I also don’t work on this very often since it’s my “mindless, knitting-while-intoxicated” project, so it’ll probably be a few more weeks before it’s finished.

If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll remember that I had to knit an emergency baby cardigan a few weeks ago. I did finish it in time, but not without some minor absurdity:

That’s the sweater blocking in the back seat of Pat’s car without any ends woven in, about 12 hours before I had to get on a plane to go meet the baby. But everything was finished by baby o’clock!

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the actual baby, but I think this sweater is probably a little big for him right now anyway. The pattern is the Debbie Bliss Ribbed Baby Jacket, and the yarn is Madelinetosh Vintage in the “Crumble” colorway. After much hemming and hawing, I decided not to put any buttons or other closures on it, in case such things would worry the parents by seeming like choking hazards.

My progress on my own sweater is much slower:

I’d initially hoped to get both sleeves for my Acer Cardigan finished and attached before we went to Austin, figuring that I’d just leave the finishing work (button bands, blocking, etc) until after we return. But after completing one sleeve according to the pattern’s directions, I became deeply worried that it was way too large. So I pinned the sleeve to the body of the sweater as you see here, and lo, it was way too large. My plan is to unravel this sleeve and just do top-down sleeves knit to my own measurements — which I considered doing in the first place, but I decided that it would be “easier” to just do what the pattern told me to do. 😦 😦

I’m not going to do a lick of that until we come back from Austin, though. Not only does working on a sweater in 110-degree heat sound unappealing, but this particular sweater and I need some time apart while I work on addressing my anger issues!