Life proceeds apace, and I realize I have been MIA for a couple of weeks, after doing so well for almost a full month!
So to tide you over, because I am working on many things (including the recipe for artichoke dip that I was asked for by everyone at the Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking potluck), here is a teaser of the peacock inspired shawl I am designing/knitting for a zoo fundraiser.


I, like many knitters, have been dabbling in a little design work here and there for awhile. Just small things, like panels for baby socks, tiny people and animals, and the occasional somewhat short-waisted baby sweater.

So when I was asked to design and knit a half-length shawl for a fund-raiser my zoo is throwing in June, I was both excited and horrified. I have never attempted to design anything as exciting as a lace shawl, and I’m not the fastest knitter in the world. And there is one more thing you should know about my typical knitting designs – but if you are a knitter, you might want to sit down first.

I don’t like to do knitting maths.

That’s right, my typical design method is to just start knitting and eye-ball things. Little or no swatching. Definitely no calculator. Occasional rip-backs because I fouled it up too badly to fix on the fly. This is making the shawl project (using tiny yarn, tiny needles, beading and lace) more difficult than it should be. But, as per usual, I will just continue to knit until I either have a disaster or a shawl. I will be taking it to the Caribbean next week (because lace-weight alpaca LOVES the beach), and hope to have some lovely pictures of it for you soon.

For those of you who might be interested in doing something similar – I recommend getting in touch with your favorite local non-profit organization. I have noticed that many organizations and schools hold silent auctions, and are often very excited to be able to offer one of a kind items by local artists.

In case you live in the Philadelphia area and are interested in obtaining this monstrosity work of art, it will be auctioned off at Elmwood Park Zoo’s Beast of a Feast on June 4th. Proceeds go towards funding the zoo so it can continue to educate and promote conservation efforts, as well as towards a conservation project in South America.

Might be a little obsessed with beaded lace right now.

Specs: Unique Sheep Chasca in Justin Gradiance; Unknown succulent house plant; Size 3 needles; Silver-lined Cobalt beads.

1 – Crocheting a baby blanket. This was my first attempt at reading crochet charts, and my first finished crochet project! (Ignore the granny blanket’s whines of neglect, babies are trumps to all other projects)
Cabled Baby BlanketView 2 of the cabled baby blanket
This is Sólás Caomh crocheted in Naturally Caron Country, in Charcoal and Green Sheen.

2 – Finding these sweet buttons at a local art show. I have plans for these beauties, to be told once I actually start the project. I’m a little concerned that I don’t have enough of them, but I literally bought all of this type that the artist had!
Not my gumdrop buttons!!

3 – Having my mother be a bad influence on my knitting. Remember this lovely lace knit-along shawl?
yay, beads and lace!
Well it still isn’t finished, but now it has a friend!

I was going to forgo the second shawl, but I accidentally got my mom addicted to lace shawl knit-a-longs and then couldn’t resist when she signed up! I totally had willpower to avoid knitting 2 shawls at once. Totally. Maybe.

4 – Knitting for Christmas – including these little beauties:

The hair was the most fun, and is only slightly realistic.

Which I adapted from the “Human Bean” pattern in this book. Yes, they are based on real people (Kaela of Local Kitchen, and her hubby), and they were incredibly fun and fast to make. And I cackled about making them for months before hand, because they were such a goofy idea.

I knitted some other stuff which I neglected to take pictures of, and one surprise present which hasn’t been delivered yet, so it might be more of a mid-winter gift instead.

5 – Generally doing lots of random Christmas things, like trimming the tree, and baking my husband a gingerbread TARDIS.

It's bigger on the inside.

6 – Considering whether I should take up spinning and quilting. Because a girl cannot have enough hobbies.

I have spent many years knitting, and fairly actively avoiding crochet (except as a provisional cast-on technique). And then I saw this pattern. I queued it on Ravelry, cooed at it for awhile, and then finally decided it was too beautiful to not own it (with the assumption that some of the more garish vivid colors wouldn’t make the cut in my version). So I emailed my sister (an avid crocheter):

You need to show me how to make this.

She was, of course, charmed by my winning ways, and I showed up to visit my family with these in hand:

Icky splitty yarn and size J hook

After a fair amount of foul language and some beer, she and my mother loaned me some crochet cotton and a smaller hook, and we ended up with this:

My first crocheting!

And while I am knitting several items on deadlines, and some things not on deadlines but which clearly should have priority, I can’t seem to stop.

A whole lot of crocheting

Almost as tall as a crochet hook

So…I have not made much progress, but…I’m finished clue 2 finally!
Isn’t it pretty?
yay, beads and lace!
So now that clue 9 (of 9) will be out this week, I’m finally ready for clue 3. Apparently this amount of lace/beadwork really gives my tendons a workout, so it has been slow going. Well, that, and…I may have cast on and worked on some other projects (some of which are super-secret projects and therefore are only partially visible):

memo to me: learn to take better blog pictures.

My first foray into lace knitting was, as all things, an exercise in biting off more than I could comfortably chew. I found a beautiful shawl pattern (in this book, Lily of the Valley Shawl), and decided that my mother needed one. Two yarn purchases (because the first batch I bought I didn’t buy enough of, and then they were out of the colorway, so I bought a different colorway instead [153, if you are interested]), and much time and frustration later, I had made something beautiful, even if the edging was 4 rows shorter than it should have been, and it never was blocked. You see, it was 11pm on the eve of Christmas eve, and the edging looked fine, and no one should give their mother a damp, half-blocked shawl for Christmas, so I opted for a soft, dry, wrinkly shawl instead.
However, despite set-backs, and a lot of looking techniques up (how do I do a yarn over in front of a purl again???), I discovered that I loved everything about knitting lace. The teeny tiny yarn and big open on purpose holes in the knitting were just addicting.

So I moved on to lace hats and scarves:

Lace scarf of awesome.

The hat was looking out over the dunes in NC.

Anyway, so along comes this past March, and I see that one of my favorite yarn and bead stores is offering a mystery lace knit-a-long (with beads!!), with the Unique Sheep people. I think, “Awesome! I should see if my mom or anyone wants to do it with me!” And so I ask, and we all (me, my mom, my sister, and my aunt) pick out yarn, and wait for our yarn and first clue to arrive. And here’s a picture of my mom’s first ever lace knitting! (cat added for interest):

Oh yes, the cat loves lace knitting! So does the blocking board.

I think she did really well considering that it was her first lace, her first use of tiny needles and yarn, her first YO!!! and there was a little bit of pattern errata making things hard (the Unique Sheep people fixed it almost right away, so don’t go hating on them!). I was really proud of her.
Clue 1 arrived last Friday, and I have been just loving the pattern so far. My mom, not so much, though, because we used a lace cast-on, which Eunny says is a weird and unpopular cast-on (even though my grandmother taught all of us to cast on that way!), but good for lace. The problem with the cast-on is that if you cast on a stitch purl-wise, it can unravel itself sometimes. Which, unfortunately, we needed to do for the last cast-on stitch, so we could slip the first stitch on the first row. Clear as mud, eh?

So clue 2 arrived from the magical pattern faeries last night in my inbox. Which is exciting, except for the fact that this is what clue 1 looks like right now:

It's totally almost finished....

See those 4 lonely little beads on the yarn at the bottom? That is how many more pattern repeats I have to do, as each bead is placed on the edge halfway through the repeat. Maybe I’ll be done by Christmas.

Next Page »