31 December 2013

A-Spire to Finnish - joining the KAL ~ guest blogger Andrea

Well, I've really been chomping at the bit to start the KAL.  2013 knitting was dominated by  the Rimes The Reason sweater - a project heavy on cables and big yarn.  I'm really needing some lace knitting.  Santa (aka hubby) did my shopping for me by purchasing more than enough madeline tosh merino light for this project.  Hmmm......how did he know? (thanks Sarah).  Anyway, I'm ready.

My yarn color is colorway Wicked and my inspiration is a needlepoint picture of  the church in Kristinestad, Finland where my paternal grandfather was baptized, c. 1896.  My grandparents brought this picture back from Finland for me when I was very young.  A family member did the stitching and I treasure it dearly.  I wonder if there was a subconscious draw because of the name Wicked!  Ha!

I'm hoping to join in with friends and fellow knitters that I do not know yet.  Kelli and Melissa always keep things interesting.  Kelli, did you notice I photographed MY yarn on a silver plate too?  It's tarnished, but silver, nonetheless!  Happy New Year to you all!

Oops, I did it again... and again... by guest blogger Jeff

So, remember way back when we decided to knit the Shetland Triangle Lace Shawl? And I decided I wanted to knit it in 3 different yarns? Well the first one - and primary yarn - was in Habu Tsumugi Silk. That one only took me something like 6 months to finish. This was during a very busy and stressful time a work and knitting fell by the wayside, plus whenever I picked it up and knit some, I inevitably had to rip back more than I knit. It wasn't until December that the pattern finally clicked and I finally finished!

Habu Tsumugi Silk
Since then I've knit TWO more! Can you believe it? The second I knit out of Elemental Affects Natural Shetland Rustic Lace that I had picked up at Churchmouse when I was out in Seattle a few year's ago (Hi! Seattle peeps! I wish I had known you all when I was out there!). Since I had almost twice as much yardage of the Shetland, this turned out to be a much bigger shawl than the Habu. It was lovely to work with, by the way. I highly recommend it.

Elemental Affects Shetland Lace
And the last one I knit in an aran-weight yarn - a discontinued yarn by Queensland Collection - Kathmandu (85% Merino, 10% Silk, and 5% Cashmere) that my aunt passed onto me when she decided to give knitting a pass. I've decided to gift this shawl to her - hope she likes it! I did have a slight yardage problem on this one... having to rip back what I thought was going to be my last repeat... then again during the border, which I cut short a few rows. And while binding off, I completely ran out! Had to rip the bind off back and use a different yarn (from Will's stash). I think it came of nicely!

Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran
I wish you all an amazing 2014! Happy New Year! And Happy Spire KAL! I look forward to seeing everyone's progress!

29 December 2013

Wrapping up the Knitalongs, with a bow on top! ~ From guest blogger Kelly Lightbeam

My, oh my.  I've been very busy knitting lately!  I wanted to wrap up all my unfinished KAL projects before we kicked off 2014 with Spire.

First there was this gem, which was a complete joy to knit.  It was easy to pick up for "bite-sized" knitting sessions, where I might only have 15 minutes, but I wanted to have a project in my hands.  It wasn't tricky, fussy, or persnickety, just straight up lovely-to-knit lace.

Rachel's shawl, KAL Fall 2013

Nest up is the biggest, most intricate, fabulous piece of knitting that I have accomplished in my time:  Leaves of Grass.  I look at it and think "heirloom" knitting, because this is art.  I bow down to Jared Flood, who is a true genius of fiber and space between stitches.  I am pleased to be the final participant to finish the LoG, and to have so much inspiration to draw from, seeing all my fellow KALers on this blog.

Leaves of Grass, New Year's Day KAL 2013

Prairie, KAL Summer 2013
The last Knit-A-long project was a looooong time coming!  I don't know why, but I just couldn't wrap my mind about picking up a strange number of stitches for the border.  So it lingered, and stared at me from the corner.  Eighteen whole months, it sat as a silent reminder that I was NOT keeping up my end of the KAL bargain, but I just couldn't bring myself to do anything about it.  A few weeks before Ho-Ho-Ho day, it emerged from the corner and my little girl said that she wanted me to finish it for her for Christmas.  While I am usually loathe to set gift deadlines, sometimes it's the only way that something gets finished around here!  Lo and behold, it's exactly what I needed to tackle that border.  It still needs blocking, but hey, nobody's perfect :)

The color still needs some tweaking as well.  I took some pink lace and overdyed it with a packet of Kool-Aid.  I think the color looks good from a distance, but when you look at it closely, there are undyed bits that are not so pleasing.  Now that it's finished, I think another dip with some Kool-Aid would take care of the problem areas and leave me happy.

Sempervivum, Summer 2013
Last, but certainly not least is this Mother of a lace project.  Sempervivum.  It was an impromptu KAL between me and Melissa.  While it might have sucked some of the life force out of  me,  I've never been so happy to have something finished.  With God as my witness, I'll never rip another row out of this shawl.  You know how they say hindsight is 20/20?  Well, now that I've knit enough of this pattern to make two shawls, I am a firm believer in placing markers for every pattern repeat.  Just saying.  The yarn is my first foray into MCN (Merino, cashmere, nylon) and I had been saving it for something really fantastic.  This luscious yarn saved the project countless times, because I refused to throw it away, rip it out completely, or cut it up into pieces...The yarn was simply too special.   Now that it's done, I wear it often and lovingly, knowing that a piece of my soul is somehow captured within it. 

Whew!  I think I 'm all caught up with my KAL progress, and I hope to stay a little more current with Spire!  See you all on New Year's Day!


K A L ~ 2014 ~ L A C E !!! a post from Kelli

Ringing in the new year 2014, is there a better way?
I'm anxiously waiting to cast on.

ELM is the color name.  The hues are tea stained colors. 
Not sure what size needle to use on the light fingering yarn...
time and testing will tell.

I've never knitted the fiber combination, merino wool,
kid mohair & mulberry silk...excited to see how it
knits up. 
Sounds good ~  

~ H A P P Y   N E W  Y E A R ~


~ Melissa look what I learned...hmm, hopefully I'll remember how I did that in '14 ? ;)

22 December 2013

closed for the season ~ posted by Melissa

the stockings hats were hung on the coat rack with care
the mittens were as well

bags are ready for stuffing

faraway gifts have been posted
a few other things need wrapping
twenty gifts in two months
I'm tired :)
my husband declared this morning "Santa's Sweatshop is officially closed"
Vixen and I are ready to savor the rest of the holiday season
are you ready?
I hope so ~ it's time to enjoy family and friends and celebrate!
Don't forget about our New Year's Knitalong !  There's still plenty of time to gather the pattern and yarn before our cast on party January 1st!
Happy holidays, blog friends near and far.
I enjoy our time here together immensely and look forward to 2014 and all it brings!
Ho ho ho :)

13 December 2013

Finally Finished . . . posted by guest blogger Jeff

I've finally finished the Shetland Triangle Lace Shawl! Pretty pics follow:

I've already started Shetland Triangle Lace Shawl number 2!
As far as the next knit-a-long, I think I'm going to sit this one out seeing as how:

I've already knit one. :)
Maybe I'll pick up my Niebling again!

11 December 2013

New Years Knitalong with Girls in Sheep Clothing ~ posted by Melissa

It's hard to believe we're coming up on our Sixth Annual New Year's knitalong on our blog.  I'm excited to reconnect with old friends and hopefully meet some new!  We always have so much fun (here's a snippet of some of what we accomplished last year ~ it will take your breathe away!).

For 2014 we've chosen Spire as our way of ringing in the new year and celebrating the friendships that our knitalongs have brought us.  Spire is a center start, square lace shawl designed by Leila Raabe for Brooklyn Tweed ~ Allison at BT was kind enough to give me permission to use Jared Flood's photos in this blog post.  Completely drool-inducing...the shawl and the photos, don't you agree?

Our official cast on date is January 1st so you have plenty of time to gather your materials (and probably change your mind about your yarn choice at least a dozen times).  As usual, our knitalongs are stress free ~ no deadlines (we still have one person finishing up Leaves of Grass!) & blogging along is encouraged but not required.  If you'd like to join us, leave a comment below ~ if you've knitted with us before, you know the routine.  If this will be your first time, there's a tutorial on how to be a guest blogger (thanks again, Kelly!) once I've sent you your official invitation to participate.

I'm so glad that this annual tradition has continued and grown and look forward to knitting with you all after the stress of the holiday season has subsided.  Please join us this year ~ we'd love to have you!  Here's to knitting and friendship in 2014!   ~ Melissa

(all copyrighted photos by Jared Flood used with permission from Brooklyn Tweed ~ please do not reproduce without their permission!)

10 December 2013

Rose Garden, at last! ...by guest blogger Melissa B.

Greetings, lords and ladies! I don't think I have EVER waited this long to get pictures of a FO after completing it!! I finished shortly before Thanksgiving, and then work got busy, and then I got sick over Thanksgiving and am STILL sick, and it has been cloudy outside...blah.  At any rate, I'm caught up and ready to show you my hand dyed Rachel's Shawl project.

Rose Garden Scarf

Red is really hard to photograph well, you guys. I'm so in love with this rosy scarlet, though.  (I'm also REALLY terrible at photographing myself)

 Rose Garden Scarf

The yarn I used was 100% (non-superwash) wool, so it doesn't drape the same as the silk in the original project, as you can see...but that's ok, because I intended this to be used more as a scarf than as a shawl. I am glad I didn't go past the recommended number of repeats in the end, since it blocked out to the perfect size, and since I had just enough yarn left over to make a sweater swatch. :)

I think my mom is going to enjoy it, especially as cold as it tends to get in Indiana!

Thanks again to Melissa for hosting this KAL and for such a fabulous pattern. :)  Hope everyone is enjoying all this deliciously cold December weather (we even got some! In Houston!!!).  :)

07 December 2013

A Candy Cane post by Kelli

Literally a candy cane post~
 Yarn bombed.  I was talked into knitting the red stripe.  The yarn was hideous and shouldn't be for sale, the yarn was not from our shop, and the yarn may last forever and should hold up nicely during the winter season.
 Don't forget ole Clive...sporting his Santa cap.
Stay warm and calm~  Kelli