Monday, October 29, 2012

Strange Road opening!

I had a most excellent extended weekend, which included going to the opening of The Strange Road, Funbeard's latest exhibition. Wonderful paintings...
070 b
great company, a fun band (loud!)

and afterwards, my best customer was at it again. It's a good thing I still love making pears.

The exhibition is on until 8 November at the Collingwood Gallery, 292 Smith Street, Collingwood.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Slight anxiety transfer

I forgot about one funny part of the Semele story. I had been talking with a friend, who is not a knitter but was also invited to the wedding, about my plans to make a shawl to go with my dress and the fact I had bought special yarn. A week later she asked me how it was going and I confessed my concerns about the size, and that I was thinking about ripping it all out and starting again. (I was still mostly comfortable about getting it done in time, though). A few days later she told me about a dream she had. I had finished the shawl for the wedding but it was really tiny, just a wee hilarious little triangle at the back of my neck. But the best part was that the fabric had come out with a newsprint effect. Not like it had been smudged with newsprint, but as if it was printed with a newsprint design.

I know Opal and other sock yarns come in some amazing patterns, but now I really really want to see the self-patterning yarn that does that!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

To your door at daylight

So, I recently had an invitation to a spring wedding, I already had a dress that I was happy to wear, but would need to have a cardigan or jacket to throw over it. I have an old black blazer that has done duty at many weddings and formal events, but a shawl or wrap seemed like a nice change. So I came up with a plan, involving  two slightly unusual-for-me things: working to a deadline (this usually only seems to happen for presents for others), and buying luxury yarn. I had silk in mind, and definitely wanted very dark blue. I ended up with Artyarns Ensemble Light in 'Inky Blues' - hands down the most expensive single skein/ball I've ever purchased.
The Ensemble yarn is one strand of cashmere and one of silk, both delicate fibres, and they don't really seem to be plied together, so it has to be handled with care to avoid splitting stitches. I was lucky to only have to go back once or twice to fix splits. That was probably due to knitting lace rather than a plainer pattern - I had to watch what I was doing anyway. It really is lovely stuff (especially to wear), but I would only recommend it if you know and accept what you're in for. It's also marked dry-clean only, but I was convinced that it had to be possible to very gently hand wash it - given that I could see that plenty of other people had used it for patterns that would need to be wet-blocked.
The pattern, Semele by ├ůsa Tricosa is great, well written and easy to make to any size and allows you to use up all your wool quite precisely - you just start decreasing when you've used about half. It wouldn't be hard to customise the shape too, to make it widen more or stay narrow and scarf-like. I actually knit quite a lot of it once before deciding to rip it out and start over with bigger needles (going from 4mm to 4.5mm). I was worried it might end up a bit too small, and given the price, I wasn't about to casually grab another skein to make it bigger, even if there had been time.   
In the end I think the knitting took about a week. I'm not a super fast knitter, but I was happy with that. I finished it one night early and stayed up a bit too late to block it. I was pretty tired at work the next day but it was worth it to know it was done and would definitely be fully dry and ready to wear.
It's still a small shawl, a knitting trend that I know some people despise, but I love them and find them extremely wearable. I think I'll wear this a lot as a scarf, possibly in between seasons. It was quite a warm day and it was actually really nice draped around my shoulders in the morning - I think the silk-cashmere combo might be a bit cooler than wool.