Monday, September 8, 2014

Everyday Lace: A Review and Scavenger Hunt

Right, where was I? The steady diet of woecakes is becoming pretty monotonous, let me tell you. But enough whinging, it's my turn for the Everyday Lace Scavenger Hunt!Everyday Lace Scavenger Hunt button

Like several other participating bloggers, I responded to blogger and first-time author Heather Zoppetti's call for book reviewers and in due course was supplied with a pre-publication eBook review copy of Everyday Lace, published by Interweave/F+W, which I must delete after my review is complete. I received no payment or other consideration in exchange for my review. (That does rather provide perverse incentives to procrastinators, nu?) And although both the author and the Interweave Digital Marketer offered some guidelines, my words and opinions are my own.

As its title implies, Everyday Lace is an excellent introduction to making lace knitting part of, well, every day. The look of the book is appropriately quotidien yet still wonderful, more Rhinebeck than Downtown Abbey (not to knock DA, I love both). Heather's experience as a sought-after knitting instructor shines from each page,Everyday Lace cover and the first chapter on Lace-Knitting Essentials and Glossary and Sources of Yarn at the end are particularly informative and valuable.

The heart of the book are three chapters of patterns, sensibly organized by ambient temperature – Warm, Transitional, and Cold. The esthetic is appealingly fresh, modern, and original – there are no vintage doily or tablecloth patterns re-purposed as garments here. There are written and charted instructions and just the right amount of guidance to help a less experienced knitter yet not annoy a more experienced one. I took a closer look at two patterns, Christiana Headband and Swatara Socks.

Christiana Headband is lace knitting at its most basic: a lace rectangle. Some designers might stop there and call it a bookmark, but our author cleverly folds the flat piece – great spatial reasoning! – into a stylish headband that looks great and fits great. It's not only an excellent first lace project, it's also a good use of the small quantities of handspun yarn that novice spinners tend to produce. What better use of a spinner's oh-so-precious first yards or meters than to wear them proudly on one's head? I made Christiana out of some Blue Suede Shoes yarn leftover from my handspun Simple Skyp Socks, wore it, and liked it so much that I started another out of linen Quince Sparrow. But life intervened and that project has the slows (sigh). I'm still dithering about going to Rhinebeck (where Heather will be signing books!); if I do go, I'll make yet another for the occasion.

Christiana Headbands

Swatara Socks are more advanced, not only because they are socks but also because the graceful mirror-image center lace panel and the lace clocks repeat over different numbers of rounds, so some concentration is needed. I'm knitting mine as part of September Sockdown. As I prefer a taller sock than specified in the pattern, I added a full repeat of the center panel. Here's the sock before the heel flap, which is as far as I've knit.

Swatara Sock wip

Overall, I'd cheerfully recommend Everyday Lace. There's much to appeal to knitters of all skill levels and ages, although many designs are particularly aimed at younger and less experienced lace knitters. A knitter who works through the patterns will discover unobtrusive expertise, careful pattern-writing, and thoroughly modern style. Do have a look at the book on the publisher's website and all the patterns on Ravelry.

Everyday Lace Scavenger Hunt button

Gentle readers who have been following the blog tour know what comes next: the Scavenger Hunt questions!

Heather's question: Where does Heather live and work?

My question: How'd I do at the Garden State Sheep & Fiber Festival?

Good luck to happy scavengers and congratulations and thanks to our author!

Every Day Woecakes

Oh hai. On top of all my other woecakes, teh Internet ate my review of Everyday Lace by Heather Zoppetti. I'm re-constructing it, be back before noon.

Please Stand By button

ETA: Updated! Sorry about the technical difficulties, find the book review here.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Comforting

As crazed as my year has been, there's a wonderfully comforting continuity in the process of going from fiber (beauteous Gale's Art undyed Blue Face Leicester)...

Fiber and spindle

... to yarn (240 yds of strangely kinky 2-ply S-spun, Z-plied)...

Yarn

... to swatch (Tvåändsstickning motifs from Rossling by Leslie Comstock)...

Tvåändsstickning swatch

... to entry for the the Garden State Sheep & Fiber Festival skein competition (Challenge Class 14: Textile Yarn Swatch).

Competition entry

I can hardly believe it's been eight years since I last competed. And I'm astonished and elated to have come home this year with First in Class and Best of Show ribbons.

First in Class, Best of Show

The words of wisdom from EZ have never seemed truer to me: "Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Belated TdF Wrap

Did I say things had calmed down a bit roundabout Exit 151? I eat my words. Not unlike this year's Tour de France, my Tour de Fleece was full of unexpected developments.Tour de Fleece button While that meant a Did Not Finish for some, at least I finished a few things... perhaps less than I'd hoped, but in retrospect a decent amount for a slow spindle spinner and distracted sock knitter.

First up, there's one skein of S-spun, Z-plied ecru Gale's Art BFL, intended for Tvåändsstickning. I'd hoped to have more, but oh well, I put what I had in the pot.

Finishing ecru BFL

After its bath and thwacking, the skein was 240 yds (219 m) of kinks. I've never had that happen before. Someone on Team Madness suggested I may have been inconsistent in the direction of spinning. I've looked at the skein closely and don't think that's the case. Could it be stress-related? Dunno. I still think the yarn is delightful.

Ecru BFL skein

I had a skein of Gale's Art Polwarth sitting around from last spring, so I gave it a bath as well. I suppose it's indicative of the continuing chaos hic et ubique that there simply hasn't been time to finish something so lovely.

Finishing Polwarth

The Polwarth was 183 yds (167 m) after bath and thwacking. It's a little kinky in spots too, although not nearly as much as my more recent spinning. Huh.

Sweetness and Light Polwarth

During the TdF I finally finished a pair of socks from last year's Sock Madness, Bricks and Tiles. Having been a Singleton Sock of Shame, the pair deserves a post of their own, I think. Although having already put off the post once before, I also think they deserve a FO photo here.

Bricks and Tiles Socks FO

After so much messiness, yesterday I received a surprise in the mail. Ooh!

Mailbox

It turned out to be a Team Madness prize from Leslie Comstock, a Mali bead spindle with a bit of Sally Fox' brown cotton sliver.
Bead spindle and brown cotton sliver

Thank you, Leslie! I can't wait to give it a spin. Erm, maybe this weekend, when I have more time. Sigh.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Second Rest Day

Today is a rest day in Carcassonne for the Tour de France and so too for the Tour de Fleece, a chance to catch up. Or perhaps an excuse to play – what else? – Carcassonne. Someday I'd love to see the historic Cité, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Carcassonne

My TdF is coming along nicely. Half the ecru BFL braid is spun, plied, and ready to finish...

ecru BFL, 242 yds (221 m)

... and a skein of Gale's Art Polwarth that was spun and plied last spring but somehow never finished is finished. I'm very pleased with my MDS&W '13 fairing. That's only half the braid – I really should spin up the rest. Maybe after TdF.

Sweetness and Light Polwarth, 183 yds (167 m)

There's FO socks to show off, too. Coming soon!