Monday, January 14, 2008

Busy Weekend

I’m feeling quite tired and still not well today, even though I finished up my antibiotics on Friday. My throat is still funny and I’m coughing more to clear it. Probably should go back to the doctor but gee, this is getting old! Plus it’s dumping rain bigtime today. I’m not going anywhere.

On Saturday my Spectrum Study Group descended upon one of our number who had a recent hip replacement (the second on that side) which didn’t go as well as the doctors could have wished. She has been stuck in hospital since 4 days before Christmas and will not be home for maybe another week. She can’t put weight on her hip for 3 months so she’ll either be in a wheelchair or a walker until then. They can’t even do physiotherapy until it heals well enough first. Complicating the whole thing is her other leg has a fused knee from an old car accident so that it doesn’t bend. Makes it rather more difficult to get around than it might be otherwise. She’s very chipper and upbeat though and has lots of handwork that she can do in the meanwhile. Though no weaving because her studio is downstairs. Her poor husband meanwhile is attempting to put a wheelchair ramp up their front stairs and having all kinds of trouble with it. These two are both in their 70’s but doing their best to deal with a difficult situation. We gave her a copy of Andy Goldsworthy’s lovely coffee table art book to keep her occupied for a short while at least. She was sure surprised when 8 of us showed up in her room at once!

Then we repaired back to another member’s house for an afternoon of cutting, pasting, folding, braiding and drawing on our Miao sewing cases. Mine is finished but I can’t get a good picture until it brightens up outside. I’ll blog it another time. At dinner time we had our spouses show up (including the hubby of the one in hospital) and had a potluck dinner party to say goodbye to our member who is leaving for Japan. We presented her with her own copy of the same Goldsworthy book and she was thrilled. (It was her suggestion in the first place!) and we had a lovely visit with everyone. The husbands found lots to chat about (they mostly know each other anyway) over drinks and the food was even better than our usual spectacular presentation. It always amazes me that we never plan, just bring what we want and it always works out to be a very complete and delicious meal. We got home well after our usual 9pm bedtime.

Yesterday I went with my neighbour and fellow Ravelry member to meet up at Home Craft Imports. They were quite happy to have 6 knitters at once who were busy enabling each other into purchases! I even bought 2 more 100g balls of sock yarn and another set of Clover Takumi 5” 2mm. Now I can either use all 4 sets for 2 pairs at a time or switch over to the new ones. I already recently bought one set and started eliminating the most worn out ones. I have one old and one new set going at once on the rust socks and they are likely permanently dyed orange! I think I can no longer tell which ones are which anyhow. Might as well use them until the tips start catching the yarn. That’s how I can tell they need replacing.

Right after I got home from Raveling my birth mom and sister came over for a quick visit. This is the sister who lives in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) and she has headed over to Victoria today for a work-related seminar. It was nice to see her even if it was only for an hour or so. Got caught up on family doings and talked about her “other” job as the SPCA for QCI. She has been investigating the places down here in the Lower Mainland where her excess kitties are sent when they can’t find homes for them on the islands. She wanted to make sure they were properly housed and taken care of and she was happy to find in the affirmative. My sister manages three different careers: she and her husband run a B&B (though he is mostly in charge of that part), she works for Parks Canada and runs the only SPCA in QCI. All that along with a pre-teen son who has been partly home-schooled. Whew! And she still manages to look healthy and laid-back. Gotta love ‘er. It was making me feel like going back to visit Haida Gwaii sometime in the near future. It is such an amazingly beautiful place: moss and muskeg, cedar and spruce, ocean waves and sea shells, mist and tiny island deer.

Switching the subject to things a bit more crafty, I got several books in the mail that I ordered so I guess I should do some reviewing. I’ll start with the small book from Evelyn A. Clark on Knitting Lace Triangles published by Fiber Trends.

At 70 small pages spiral-bound with a separate heavy cardstock cover, it’s really a booklet rather than a book. However there is a lot going on inside. Evelyn has an elegant method for creating triangle shawls. I’m not sure if this is a traditional method from somewhere or whether she came up with it herself. I learned how to do it while making the Swallowtail Shawl: it starts in the middle of the hypotenuse (long edge) with a tiny strip of garter stitch and then stitches are picked up on the ends and one side of this piece. The rest of the triangle is worked outwards from there with a line of increases down the centre. The final border is worked straight outward from the sides so there is no picking up or attaching stitches. The beauty of this method is that you can work as many repeats of the lace as necessary before working the border and it will still automatically work out correctly. The whole thing is in one piece from beginning to end. The drawback is that there are really only a few border variations that will give you nice lacey peaks and you must be sure to bind of loosely enough. The results though are quite lovely and are deceptively easy to work once you understand how to get that tricky beginning started.

This booklet takes 4 relatively simple lace patterns with the same repeat number (flower, leaf, medallion and ripple) plus one edging and puts the individual pieces together in different ways to create seven different shawls in either stockinette or garter stitch and in different weights of yarn. The author even supplies a 2-page chart to help you determine how large your shawl will be with the different-sized yarns and how much you will need to knit it plus the number of beads if you decide to add them to the edging. For those who like words or charts best, both are included, though there would be much flipping of pages needed to follow any of the patterns since information is kind of scattered around. The best use of this booklet in my opinion is to think of it as a workbook to help you plan a shawl the way Evelyn does. In which case a good charting program or experience with something like Excel would be invaluable. You could definitely expand the knowledge gained and combine it with a stitch dictionary or two to come up with your own beautiful shawl variations.

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