Sunday, August 26, 2007

Flower Basket Shawl

Here's what I've been doing during the precious time the baby naps while we're out and about. I pull over in a shady spot for some time to myself:

It's the Flower Basket Shawl originally from Interweave Knits Fall 2004. I started it on August 2nd, and finished knitting on the 24th.

A few things about this project:
  • I wanted to do a "real" lace project. I did a swap with the talented and prolific Z's Momma through the Knitty Coffeeshop and got this beautiful navy cashmere yarn as well as Lace Style, which I read intently
  • I picked this pattern (available to purchase, if you can't track down the magazine) because I love the way it looks; it didn't seem too difficult; and many knitters with blogs have done it in the past, so I was able to get a lot of advice
  • But I did want a challenge, and knew this would be because I hadn't followed a chart like this before, and the yarn is thin and held double
  • I'm planning on making Birch and also swapped and got the Kid Silk Haze. This shawl was intended to be a confidence-builder for that project
  • I did a swatch and ended up using 9's to match the gauge. I knit rather loosely so this surprised me, and in the end, even without doing the last repeat, it blocked to almost the suggested 57 x 27"
Well, I cannot tell you how great a learning experience this project was. I made so many mistakes. Some I was able to fix, some not. Yes, a lot of errors are visible, but I decided that's okay, which was not easy for this perfectionist. I got good a feeling for the pattern, finally, and realized the main mistake I was making was not slipping the stitch over on the sl/k2tog/psso.

I also went on faith that it would turn out. This is lace advice that I came across again and again, not to look back at what you have done, because it never resembles the final product. I couldn't even visualize how I was starting at the neck but not casting on "enough" stitches. I knew my shawl wouldn't look like the magazine because I was substituting yarn, and wanted a more "airy" look. Here's how it looked before washing and blocking:

I took advice from the Yarn Harlot on blocking. Weaving yarn through the top edge was a great idea. It just fit on my blocking board.

The best thing about this practice shawl? I love it! I just wish I could get a photo that does it justice. I wanted something to dress up the jeans and t-shirts I seem to wear all the time. And since it isn't perfect I don't feel like it is a precious heirloom I don't dare wear to the playground.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Class of 1987

Welcome to any Lowellites stopping by! (My 20th high school reunion is in October.)

Hope to see you at the reunion. Here is a brief history of what I have been doing the past twenty years:

Phase One - On My Own
After graduation I moved into my own Sunset in-law apartment and started working full-time for Banana Republic. I wasn't sure what I wanted to major in so I took some GE night classes at City College.

Phase Two - Married Too Young
I got married at 20 to someone I met at church who wanted to be a minister. We were poor. He finally got into seminary in Berkeley, but it didn't work out. That was my one year of not living in San Francisco. During this time I worked for a couple different retail companies and took night classes off and on.

Phase Three - She's Single Again
I got divorced and moved back to San Francisco. I got into cycling. I decided I needed to go to school full time and finally get my degree, so I quit my job and went to CCSF and then S.F. State.

Phase Four - Party Time
You know that partying you all did in college? Well I didn't get around to it until I was in my late '20s. I was working part-time and enjoying uppper division classes in literature and art. I got married to a Sunset boy. We had a lot of fun going to Hawaii and taking road trips.

Sadly, I lost my father to lung cancer just a month before graduation. This Lowellite didn't take a traditional route, but I did finally graduate magna cum laude at the ripe old age of 32.

Phase Five - Mom-o-Rama
A part-time job at the VA Hospital turned into an interesting opportunity. The scientist I worked for was also a former astronaut who was sending an experiment on the Space Shuttle. She made a documentary about it, so I got to learn all about video production and go to Cape Canaveral to tape and watch the launch of the fateful STS-107 mission.

Meanwhile I got divorced. Yes, again. I decided I needed some kind of strategy because I really wanted to have kids, but it just didn't happen in either of my first marriages. I felt almost jinxed. So I told my now husband that I would not get married again unless a baby was on the way. I actually had visions of getting married in the delivery room.

In September 2005 I quit my job to work on our general contracting business. I found out I was pregnant in November, we took our honeymoon in Scandinavia in April '06, and got married in May, two months before my due date. I chickened out about the delivery room ceremony, and a good thing, too, because the baby almost got born in the truck on the way to the hospital. Boy has life changed in the past year!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

First Rosemaling

I took my first "official" Rosemaling class. (I had a great first lesson at my Anna K. Daughters of Norway rosemaling day last month, and did a couple practice sessions on my own). I am very happy with it, but I have to admit that the photo makes it look much more impressive than it is in person. Please do not click on the photo, leave it nice and small. Thank you.

Rosemaling is Norwegian folk painting. This is the Telemark style. You can learn about Rosemaling here. I have always admired Rosemaling, but never considered trying it. I have never painted and don't consider myself "artistic". But I have gained confidence in trying new things since I took a basic drawing class a couple years ago. Fortunately I was able to get an afternoon "off" from the baby one day to check out our Rosemaling group. They were very encouraging, I had fun and was hooked. And fortunately my husband was nagging me to spend more time away from the baby so I bravely signed up for an all-day class.

Our instructor was the accomplished Marley Wright Smith. It was daunting at first, but I'm glad she had us beginners do a "real" piece. We did some practice strokes, but she encouraged us to jump right in and paint on the wood.

I went into today's class feeling pretty confident, but that feeling left me almost immediately. I could not get my practice strokes to look as good as my previous ones, and when I laid down my first strokes on the wood they looked awful. I think every project has it's discouraging moments, though, when you feel like giving up. I pushed ahead, believing Marley when she said the detail work would bring it all together.

Well, the line work was fun but I still was not happy with my craftsmanship. Marley put in some strokes to bring it together, and fixed my "root", which had gotten lost. It really came together when I got brave and painted the border around the edge. I had to leave class a bit early, but was lucky enough to find the baby napping when I got home, so I fixed a few more things, scrawled my name and called it done. I just remembered - Marley said to paint the back, too.