Friday, June 29, 2012

Ravellenic training, part 1.

I've decided that before the Ravellenic Games start, I'm going to have to train. To chart a course. To plan. I'll have to take a deep breath and look over the patterns I've coveted over the years, and evaluate what would be difficult and what would make me want to put my eyes out with DPNs. Then I'll have to take a considerably deeper breath and perhaps some sedatives, and look through my stash. (I swear my yarn fit into a single little plastic drawer just a few months ago. Now it lives in three households. I repeat, three households.)

It'll be a process that's just as inspiring as it is challenging. It'll nudge me to put some serious effort into stashbusting and actively seeking to expand my skills. It'll force me to seriously evaluate what I can accomplish in a short, intense period of time. It'll probably give me the excuse to blow a couple hundred dollars on enough hand-painted silk laceweight for a Glorious Circular Shawl of Epic Proportions.

This is not what I'm doing today.

Today I'm just going to start out by looking at what's already on the needles.

With me at the moment

Ice Queen - S. Charles Collezione Luna, size 8 DPNs

This is my third attempt at an elegant handmade birthday present for Luna. This is also the second Ice Queen I've knitted, and let me tell you, it's so much easier to bead it when one has beading wire. My initial method... let's just say it was messy, and if I tried it again Luna might never wear it.

I work on this in fits and spurts. It's lacy and worked on big needles, and I've knit it before, so I know that if I ever just sat down with it and concentrated, I could probably get it finished in an evening or two. But I haven't done this yet. It defaulted to travel knitting for a while bcause it was compact enough, but it's a bit too fiddly for real travel knitting, especially given the beads. Really it's best for conversation knitting, when you're hanging out with a bunch of people who don't mind if you have to stop and concentrate every fourth row.

Luna's birthday is in mid-August, so I can finish this up before the Ravellenic Games or not, as it suits me.

Fern Lace Arm Warmers - Crystal Palace Yarns Panda Silk Print, size 2 DPNs

This is my latest travel knitting. I fly quite a bit, and knitting is just so very useful to have, to occupy my hands and mind during all the waiting. Waiting on the bus, waiting at the gate, waiting to take off... I used to resort to carrying a big fat novel around with me in order to keep from devolving into a cranky, complaining mess. Now I can carry a glove. Much lighter than a thousand-pager. Even if all my knitting paraphernalia, strictly speaking, takes up more space.

Anyway, I like this pattern. It's elegant, easily customizable, and simple enough to memorize without being mind-numbingly boring. I knit about seven or eight inches of cuff over the course of one day of travel, and felt quite proud of my progress. I'd just finished the thumb gusset when I disembarked. (The next day? Eight rows. That's all I managed.) I haven't quite finished one glove yet - there's still the thumb finishing, and ends to weave in. But I'll be traveling again soon, and I'm fairly sure the second glove is going to zip right along.

(Yes, that strand of yarn in the picture is still attached to the ball. I took the picture immediately after binding off. Then I went to look for scissors.)

At Bandit's place

Traveling Man Sweater - Henry's Attic Prime Alpaca, size 4 circs/DPNs

I have an extremely loving and supportive enabler boyfriend. I'll be referring to him as Bandit here, for privacy reasons, and also because that's what I (and all our friends) actually call him.

Bandit is the embodiment of the perfect knitter's partner. He brings me to yarn stores, pets the yarn, helps me decide on colors and materials, and even offers to pay for my haul. He doesn't bat an eye when I end up spending a hundred dollars on yarn I openly admit I don't need just to try to fill up the LYS frequent shopper's card. He patiently endures my excited impromptu lectures on different types of swifts or why Noro is controversial. He has never once questioned the purpose of all the yarn sitting around his place that I'm not going to be knitting for months, or what I'm going to do with all my finished projects, or the wisdom of slowly turning our friend Amy into a budding knitaholic. He even agreed to drive us on the "yarn crawl" that constituted the latest part of my efforts to introduce Amy to higher-end yarns. (The yarn for the Fern Lace arm warmers? Purchased on the yarn crawl. Many, many more details about the crawl later.)

This is why I'm defying the sweater curse and knitting Bandit a sweater.

The above picture is several months old. Since then it has grown several inches of body, one finished sleeve and part of a second, and is too bulky to carry around with me. It lives in a drawer of its own at his place, and I work on it a little at a time - a few rounds of ribbing while watching a movie, or while providing commentary on his video games, or just before bedtime. It doesn't go very quickly, but he doesn't mind that at all. Nor does he mind my constant requests for him to try on the sleeve. Just one more time. Just in case.

I'll probably still be working on this sweater well after the Ravellenic Games are over. Maybe it'll be done in time for winter. Maybe.

At my apartment

Frozen Leaves - Pagewood Farm U-Knitted Nations Artesana, size 2 circs

This is a previous contender for Luna's birthday present. The yarn was a birthday gift from Pickle and his sister (to whom I'd gifted my first Ice Queen) and was absolutely lovely in the skein. Knitted up though? Well... I'm not sure this is the correct pattern for this yarn. I mean, there's nothing wrong with it... but it's not really grabbing my heart. This half-finished shawl has been hibernating at my apartment since February. I'll bring it out for WIPs Wrestling and see if it sparks my interest.

Commelina - Handmaiden Sea Silk, size 2 DPNs

Ugh. I got my mother to buy me this yarn a year and a half ago, with the promise that I would knit her something with it. The yarn was lovely, this pattern was lovely... and I quickly realized that this didn't mean that the two would automatically come together into a vision of shining perfection. The colors pooled and distracted the eye from the lacework, the pattern went on and on and on... I think I "accidentally" left it behind at my parents' place when I flew back to campus that year. My mother doesn't forget as easily as I do, though, and she periodically asked me when I was ever going to finish her present. (I think her tolerance for shiny gaudy things is somewhat higher than mine.)

Finally, I asked her to rescue it and dust it off and bring it with her when she visited me. It's now making friends with the Frozen Leaves shawl. I've already decided to put this on the frogging trampoline. Then I'll knit something that will just showcase the colors - maybe a Clapotis?

In conclusion

Lace. Lace is the ticket. I need to be at least moderately challenged in each of my projects, and lace keeps me nicely mentally involved. (The exception is Bandit's 2x2 rib sweater, because as patient and tolerant as the man is, I suspect he still wouldn't wear a lacework sweater.) I know from previous projects that cables can do the same, but I'm less likely to wear cabled knits, especially overcabled ones. Colorwork seems to be something worth looking into as well.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Ravellenic pre-game training!

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