Rock Island Glamour Shots

Two weeks ago I showed you pre- and mid-blocking shots of my Rock Island shawl but it hadn’t dried so I didn’t get to show you any “glamour shots.” Now its off the blocking mats and looking gorgeous.

Rock Island

 

This Jared Flood pattern was first released in April 2011 and I first cast it on in May 2011. Yes, that’s right, it was on the needles for 3 years and 8 months… It’s not that slow it knit, I promise. You knit the lace edge first as a long strip then pick up stitches along a long edge and knit the body of the shawl up to the center back incorporating decreases up the center “spine” and at the edges to form the triangle.

Rock Island

It’s 72 repeats of the edging before you get to pick up the body of the shawl. I knit about 20 and then the shawl sat for quite a while. I finally picked it up and decided to finish November of 2014. It didn’t get continuous attention because it’s intricate lace (patterned on both right and wrong sides) and needed lots of focused attention until getting to the garter stitch body.

Obligatory shawl-on-bush shot

Once I got through the lace and into the garter stitch, this turned into my commuting project and took about 3 weeks of train rides to wrap up. On Ravelry I’ve titled my project “El Diablo” which is what some of the other knitters started lovingly half-lovingly referring to this pattern as. With the lace patterning being executed on both sides a dropped stitch is basically a sanity killer. I used lifelines for every 10 repeats on the edging and had to use them more than once. I used them every 4 rows on the body lace because the rows were so long. Luckily I never had to use one of those.

Rock Island

This is definitely in the running for most difficult pattern I’ve ever completed. This aran sweater might be the only other thing that comes close. I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m trying to whittle down my old languishing projects. Putting this one to bed leaves 7 more projects that were cast on pre-2014. Hopefully I can keep up the momentum. Don’t ask about the crochet blanket.

The lace debate

I tend to think of myself as a process knitter. I generally pick projects that I want to make, not necessarily projects that I want to have in the end. The one weird exception to this is lace. I covet finish lace objects. Love the intricate feather-light airiness. I just don’t love knitting it. I know exactly why. Lace looks like this before you block it.

Rock Island

 

That border is very intricate lace. There are no “rest” rows there are yarn overs and decreases on every row. Drop a stitch in that, and you’re screwed. And yet, it looks incredibly unimpressive. There’s just nothing fun about unblocked lace.

Rock Island

 

I love to stop mid-kint and take a look at what I’ve produced every so often, and with lace, it just never looks like you’re producing something worth all the effort you’ve put in. It’s not until you are completely finished and get a chance to aggressively block your project that you finally see the fruit of your work.

Rock Island

 

I don’t like waiting that long to finally see what I’m getting. I mean, blocking improves everything, but lace doesn’t look like anything before it’s blocked. I need more encouragement than that. And yet, I still find myself casting on lace projects. It generally leads to extremely enthusiastic beginnings when I’m all excited by gorgeous pattern pictures and a freshly wound ball of buttery lace yarn. I also get pretty enthusiastic about the end because I can taste the lovely lace I’m about to see bloom into life with a good block. The middle, frankly, is a slog. Every time I think about a new lace project I go through the same internal debate–do I want to start a project I know will feel like a toil through the long middle? Is the FO worth it, when the process is really what I love about knitting. The answer is generally yes. Life is a mystery. But seriously, look at the blocking photo!

Rock Island

 

How’s the progress on the crochet blanket you ask? Shut up.

Bad pictures of a simple hat

Last fall, Bob asked me if I could knit a hat. I tried really hard not to get all ego-y, and I wanted to say “yes” but I may have scoffed a little and said that “hats are super easy.” I’m like that. So Bob asked for a hat “with a band that folds.”

I found some yarn in a suitable guy color (Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Graphite) and cast on for Jared Flood’s Turn a Square. Except I sort of made my own version of the pattern. I did not do the tubular cast on, because that’s a lot of work for what I feel like is a very minimal effect.  Also, I didn’t do the stripes, because Bob wanted solid. Finally, I made the ribbing longer (4 inches) so that the brim could be flipped up.I don’t have any good pictures of this hat, but I have some bad ones. Here is a picture that does not show either the hat or the color to its best advantage.


Here is another bad picture where you can barely see the hat. It does prove that the hat has been worn out in the wild.

Overall, there wasn’t a lot that went into this hat in terms of skill or complexity, but Bob seems to like it, so we’ll call it a win. Sorry for the crummy pictures.

 

Knit-a-long

May marks the beginning of the second year of the monthly knit-a-longs at my LYS For Yarn’s Sake.  Each month the shop picks a project and hosts some time once a week to work on it, get help, trade advice and modifications–it’s lovely.  I haven’t participated in all of them but have done quite a few.

Last May it was Jared Flood’s Rock Island.  It’s extremely intricate double-sided lace.  I got about 12 repeats into the border–you need 71… I’m planning to go back to it now that school is over and I can focus on things like double sided lace.  Here’s what I have:

IMG_0313
Pathetic, I know.

June was not a month I participated.  The project was the Radian Yoke sweater by Wendy Barnard.  I love this cute summer tee and plan to make it eventually, I just didn’t have the time or (if you can believe it) the right yarn.
July and August were devoted to the same project.  The Lissajous Socks by Cookie A.   I’m still actively working on these.  Actually, “actively” might be a bit strong.  “Reluctantly” is more accurate.  Now that the knit-a-long is well over I’ve only been working on them for an hour a week at sock hour at the yarn shop.  I have one complete and I’m almost through the big chart for the second one.
IMG_0400
Turns out, slow and steady does NOT win the race.
 

September was also a month I participated.  And also a project I have yet to finish.  I’m also still working on my Dahlia Cardigan by Heather Zoppetti.  This one is so close to being done I can taste it.  All I have left is the left front of the cardigan.  I don’t have a photo since finishing the right front, but I did snap one after I had finished the back and sleeves.  Hopefully I will be showing this off as an FO soon.
IMG_0473

October was another intense lace project–the True Love Stole by Wendy Johnson.  This was a project that a lot of the knitters had a hard time getting into (the chart is a 45-row repeat!) and I doubt I’ll ever really sit down to make this one.  I do think it’s lovely though–just too fiddly for me currently.  Maybe someday I’ll want something really fiddly and I’ll come back to this one.
November and December were devoted to the Larch Cardigan by Amy Christoffers.  I didn’t get in on this project either because finals were just heating up for fall term and I didn’t have the time.
January was scheduled as a “catch-up” month and I spent some extra quality time with Dahlia–after you finish the lace back it’s a never ending sea of stockinette.
February was the first project that I actually finished (don’t judge!) and only because it was a hat.  The Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos was a nice quick knit and allowed me to use up some silk-alpaca handspun I was itching to find a project for.
IMG_0466
Yeah for small victories!
 

March and April was another two-month project with a twist.  We got to choose to either make the Gnarled Oak Cardigan or the Wildflower Cardigan both also by Alana Dakos.  Some crazy women decided to knit both since we had two months.  In two months I didn’t even manage to finish the back piece of the Wildflower.  I don’t have a picture of my progress yet since right now it’s just a big slab of stockinette.  All of the fun is on the front of this one.  When I get something more interesting than a rectangle of stockinette I’ll show it off.
Now, year two is kicking off with a beautiful little shawlette from Ysolda Teague–the Pear Drop.  Do you think I will be able to finish within the month?