Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hello Summer!

It finally feels like summer in Finland! It's been pretty warm for days and the sun is shining in the blue sky. Things couldn't be much better right now. We also just spent five days visiting my parents at Viiala, Akaa. It's the place where we go for vacation. The food is great and there is plenty of room for Papu to run and of course doggie friends for her! Just look at this happy girl:

Papu kept her vegetarian diet even in vacation. Good girl!
Click to enlarge... because Papu's smile is priceless.
Clearly Viiala is the best place for doggies to be. It's way better than our small apartment in Espoo, where the only outside area is our concrete balcony. Nowadays Viiala is a great place for us knitters too, because there's a yarn store now. The yarn store is called "Miita" and it's just recently opened. The yarn selection was quite narrow, but the owner is also selling hand made items and teaches people how to knit. These small yarn stores don't do so well in the countryside, so I really hope for the best for Miita. I really would like to see this kind of businesses growing. Anyway. We visited the yarn store on Tuesday and I actually bought two skeins of yarn. I wasn't going to buy anything, but I just had to had this yarn:

DROPS Fabel, colorway 677
The yarn is nothing special really. I just liked the colorway. I've said earlier that I don't like multicolored yarns... but somehow I just find myself graving after them. I still think that multicolor yarns look better in skeins than when they're knitted.

Of course I brought my knitting project in Viiala, and I really planned to knit the Echo Flower shawl as much as possible... I even brought pins with me so I could block the shawl if I manage to finish it! Oddly, I only knitted two rows. Uh-oh. I don't know what happened. I guess it was just too hot to knit. Poor shawl has been completely neglected.

I really look forward to finish the shawl, though sometimes I have my own suspects. I know that all shawls look really messy and sloppy before they get blocked, but I think the flowers don't look so nice when I stretch them by hand. I think I have knitted too loosely, and as the designer also suggested, the shawl would look nicer in 4-ply yarn. But we'll see. We'll see.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The. Most. Frustrating. Shawl. Pattern. Ever.

I finished my third shawl about a week ago, though it feels like months already. I have to admit that this shawl has been probably my biggest knitting challenge ever, and not because the techniques used, but the insufficient instructions in the written pattern. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the charts, they were perfect... but it took us hours to figure out how to read them correctly! Though once the problems were solved, the shawl was actually quite enjoyable to knit and the outcome is pretty too.

So because of the insufficient instructions, I wouldn't recommend this pattern to a beginner shawl knitter. I myself would have passed this pattern if I could have foresaw all these problems coming. It's seriously not nice when you struggle with knitting and not because of your knitting skills.

If you have knitted shawls before, you're probably able to understand pretty quickly how to read the chart. There is one pattern repeat for the beginning and the end of the row and a repeat before and after the center stitch. And then there is one pattern repeat to repeat between all that... But I don't think this is so basic that you don't even have to write it in the pattern! I have knitted two shawls before with the very same construction but still I didn't understand to read the chart like that simply because it didn't say so. Uhoh.

Another issue for me was the overall chart repeats. If you followed the very strange instruction from the pattern, it didn't work out at all. You just have to figure out yourself which part of the chart you need to repeat. This is how I did it:

First I knitted rows 1 - 37 = the whole chart
Then I started from the row 23 and knitted to the row 35.
Then I repeated rows 21-35 until I was happy with the length.
I moved from the row 35 to the row 5 of the edge chart.

And if you're not a shawl n00b who have tried to knit this shawl, you have absolutely no idea how valuable that information above is. If you know this before you start to knit, there is a very big possibility that you don't have problems with the shawl at all.

OK. Enough with the pattern now.

I used my giveaway prize yarn to knit this shawl. I read from Ravelry that Tofutsies can be really splitty and painful to knit, but I didn't experienced anything like that. I used Addi circular lace needles and the yarn was a joy to knit. There was a minor issue with the yarn quality though. When I had knitted like 60% of the yarn, I came to the first knot and after the knot the yarn became really splitty and tangled for like ten rows. Then there was couple more knots and suddenly the yarn was fine again. I wouldn't have mind it so much, but I had to cut the yarn several times and it's really difficult to weave in ends in lace and in something multicolored...

Project info
Name: Naturally antibacterial
Pattern: Gail (aka Nightsongs) by MaweLucky/Jane Araujo
Craft: Knitting
Made for: my sister as a birthday gift
Size: 6 repeats

Needle: US 4 - 3.5 mm
Yarn: South West Trading Company TOFUtsies
Colorway: 726

My parents live in a trailer park...
By the way, this is the first time I feel that I don't have good project pictures! I decided to give this shawl to my big sister as a birthday gift and I had a really tight deadline. I took the pictures in a hurry and since I gave the shawl away, I can't take new pictures. My sister said that she liked the shawl, and I hope that she also knows to appreciate the amount of time and effort it took to knit. These things don't happen overnight, you know. And I absolutely adore the color of this shawl and I'm sure it looks really good on my sister!

Finnish summary: Kolmas neulottu huivi valmistui reilu viikko sitten, tosin tuntuu että siitä olisi jo kuukausia. Tämä huivi on ollut suurin haaste mun neulomishistoriassa, ei sen takia että siihen olisi tarvittu niin edistyneitä tekniikoita, vaan huivin ohje oli niin käsittämätön. Meni melkein tuntikausia, että onnistui tulkitsemaan ohjetta siten, että siitä oikeasti tulikin jotain. En suosittelisi tätä ohjetta ihan aloittelijalle, kun se ei minultakaan halunnut sujua vaikka olen ennenkin tehnyt samantapaisia huiveja.

Käytin huiviin sitä lankaa, jonka voitin jokin aikaa sitten blogiarvonnasta. Olin lukenut Ravelrysta, että sen neulominen voi olla tuskaista. Kivojen pitsipyöröpuikkojen ansiosta minulla ei ollut kuitenkaan mitään ongelmaa sen neulomisessa. Langan laadun kanssa oli kuitenkin pienoinen ongelma. Kun olin neulonut yli puolet langasta, törmäsin ensimmäiseen solmuun ja sen jälkeen lanka oli sotkuista ja jopa rikkinäistä. Kymmenen kierroksen jälkeen tuli kuitenkin uusi solmu, jonka jälkeen langassa taas ei ollut enää mitään vikaa.

Tämä on myös ensimmäinen kerta kun minusta tuntuu, ettei minulla ole projektista kunnollisia kuvia. Päätin antaa tämän huivin siskolleni syntymäpäivälahjaksi ja aikataulusta tuli melkoisen tiukka. Jouduin lopulta ottamaan kuvat kiireessä, ja koska annoin huivin pois, en voi ottaa enää uusia. Sisko sanoi tykkäävänsä huivista, ja tykkään siitä myös itsekin. Varsinkin väri on tosi nätti, tosin olen varma, että se sopii tosi hyvin siskollekin.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cuddly Crochet book giveaway winner!

The Cuddly Crochet giveaway winner is now chosen. Since Papu is our official mascot, we let her to do the drawing. We made tiny packages from paper and put a treat in each of them. Subscribers had two packages. The first package out of the bowl is the winner.

Here is the official drawing video:

And the lucky winner is Stephcuddles! Congratulations!

Thanks for all the participants!