Monday, July 16, 2007

newly converted

For ages now I've been listening to everyone rave on & on about the Mason-Dixon knitting book. How fantastic it is, how brilliant the two authors are, yet every time I'd open it (while shopping/sipping coffee in Barnes & Noble) I'd flip through some pages, and then put it back, a bit puzzled as to what all the fuss was about. Then the other day, in my shrug-knitting-starting-designing frenzy I went to the public library to snag some Nicky Epstein books (hey, I've never knitted a ruffle before, and I wanted to be sure that I was going to do it right!) and there was M-D Knitting right next to my outstretched I added it to the pile. And over lunch I browsed it and was thoroughly entranced - not only the ball band washcloth but also the log cabin examples (and those mitered squares!) but also the possibilities of calamari knitting. That is when you take very looooong loops (think about cross-sectioning the body of a t-shirt into long loops about 1" wide) and chain them together then roll the whole long thing into a ball and knit up the resultant "yarn" with huge-mongous needles. In such a way you can recycle old t-shirts into lovely things like placemats, cushion covers, bathmats, rag rugs, etc. And you don't have to sew any rag strips together or other such malarkey! As Peggers owns roughly 500 extra t-shirts that he doesn't wear and doesn't like and totally need to be rag-bagged, this is a perfect project for the fall - and as t-shirts all take dye fairly well anything that comes out a blah-ish colour can easily be tweaked to a nicer shade with a packet or two of Rit dye and a spin in the washing machine. What fun! So after a read or two I'm now a Mason-Dixon convert. While I might not buy the book anytime soon, I'll most certainly check it out again from the library - ditto with their next one which is due out next year!

I also spent the weekend working on my shrug with very very very disappointing progress. The shrug that I ultimately fell in LOVE with and am absolutely dying to make is the Belle Shrug by Laura Chau. It's available via Lettuce Knits, yet so far I have yet to hear back from the shop (I contacted them via e-mail.) I know that I can guesstimate how the pattern is put together, but I'd really rather read it for myself. However this is a moot point, as I know that I need about 1,000 yards of yarn for it - and I have only 665 yds of alpaca to work with (either the grey or the brown - take your pick.) Which means that I need to go stash-diving to make up the difference - and here is where I'm TOTALLY stuck.

I sat and stared at various skeins and balls of yarn for two whole days - trying to figure out if one colour or another would work - or trying to figure out if I could dye some yarn a different complimentary shade instead. Above you see the most likely contenders. The chocolate alpaca (currently the winner in my "what yarn for the body of the shrug?" contest) you can see wound into a huge yarn cake, while the other remnants cluster around wishing they could be that big & mighty.

In the photo above you have (clockwise from the alpaca): a ball of blue/white twist wool wrapped together with a strand of what looks to be alpaca in a light blue shade; a lovely ball of pink bamboo/merino Sockpal sockyarn that was hand-dyed for me courtesy of Jessie at Piece of Vermont; next up are two skeins of brown yarn - the one on the right is a skein of Claudia handpainted sockyarn that was a gift from Miriam Felton - on the left is a partial skein of Knitpicks Essential sockyarn in a chocolate-y brown; and at the very top, last but not least is a ball of three-ply alpaca in white/grey/black. I had huge hopes for this, but alas it seems far too thick compared to the chocolate alpaca (which isn't quite laceweight, but is thinner than most sock yarn!)

Checking to see how the brown & pink work together, despite the fact that I am **so not** a pink kind of girl........

Claudia Handpainted above the yarncake of Chocolate Alpaca....

So all of these look.................okay but when you compare it to the original shrug I just don't know if I like any of them well enough. Part of the problem is that this is really a lot to try and visualize - so today I reached the decision that I'm going to have to go ahead and knit what my friend Susan referred to a as a "monstrous colour swatch". I'm going to knit a huge bit of stockingknit - I'm thinking maybe 4"x18" and then along the sides of this swatch I'll pick up with the various colours and will knit the ruffle just like on the real shrug so that I can get a true feel for what it will ultimately look like. At this point I'm planning on knitting a brown ruffle, a pink ruffle, a brown sockyarn ruffle, and a blue maybe-alpaca ruffle. I'd prefer the blue to be darker, so I might dye a test bit first before I knit. But maybe not. First I probably need to skein it so that I can even see if I have enough blue to bother with.

A lot of knitting in preparation, I know, but as I really do just adore this chocolate alpaca and as I've been wanting a kick-ass shrug for quite some time now I really want it to come out nicely - so in the end it probably is all worth it.......

The saddest part of all is that I started both of the cuffs last night thinking that I could knit them at the same time and then Kitchner across the back (to be 100% certain that I didn't run out of yarn!) but now the colour combo that I originally settled on just isn't looking too good to me. But that's probably because I'm impatient and fickle - I figure that knitting a huge gauge/colour swatch will probably calm me down and help me to get some of the ants out of my pants where this pattern is concerned. Plus this way I might - just might - actually get the pattern from Lettuce Knits after I've spent several several several days knitting huge swatches and ruffles!

This is currently what my knitting basket looks like. At the very front is a pair of Snicket Socks. Looooooove that Sundara sockyarn! To the right is more Claudia handpainted. Behind the Claudia handpainted hiding under a yellow tape measure is P's vest waiting for me to knit it's last few crucial inches. To the left of the vest is some leftover bright orange/pink/purple sock yarn that I will be able to *finally* post about once the recipient's package arrives in the mail and they find out the surprise first. And finally, hidden in the lower left corner is some purple bamboo yarn still in raglan form waiting to be frogged. looking at this picture I'm starting to wonder. Should I knit the shrug ruffle in the Sundara sock yarn and the Snicket Socks in the Claudia? I wonder if the Sundara yarn (which is a bit lighter w/ shots of orange & green in it) has a better colour scheme in general to it for this particular project and might work better as the Claudia is currently looking too dark to me.....................?

{sigh. That's me. Fickle.}

1 comment:

Sandy said...

My, but I'm behind on reading blogs! Best of luck with your repainting...hopefully you can squeeze some relaxation/knitting in there somwhere! Keep us posted on the colors you choose. :)