Sunday, October 28, 2007

Enter the Dragon...(sweater that is)

Despite the fact that I do like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Chow Yun-Fat and well choreographed martial arts movies in general, that’s not what this entry is about. This entry is really knitting related.

I started knitting this dragon sweater of my own design just before my son was born; that was five and a half years ago. I kept leaving it for “higher priorities” I told myself. The truth, I guess I wasn’t happy with the way it was going. I hit a design mental block of how I wanted the final product to look and being the perfectionist that I am, I didn’t want to do a second rate job with it. I have yet to design the back of the sweater. My husband suffered in aggravation because he liked what I was designing, we spent a good amount of money on good yarn and he wanted to see me make good use of it. As he reads over my shoulder, he adds, “And I think it’s going to be amazing, too”. No pressure at all there. With such high expectations, I think one might understand my trepidation.

What was my reason for embarking on this venture? My mother-in-law gave me a lovely red purse once. I decided I had to make a red sweater to co-ordinate with it – any excuse to knit/buy yarn. The yarn I’m using looks like satin and it reminded me of the lovely sheen traditional Chinese jackets have. I used that style of jacket as my inspiration for this design. Below is the beginnings of a swatch I had done.

The red and green yarns are Lang Opal, the gold is Lang Opal-Maxi.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Halloween Sweater - Completed!

It's done! I finally finished the beading and the sewing. When I tried taking a picture with the flash, the flash reflected off the beads so much, they looked like neon lights. My wonderful OTT-LITE was not a good choice for light source in this case. The second attempt without the OTT-LITE still glowed quite a bit. The next attempt was without a flash, but the picture quality was so so. The final attempt was by my fabulous husband who used the macro setting on the camera to get good quality close-ups, so I actually have decent pictures to post.

This is the final sweater, unbeaded, unbuttoned:

Here is the final product with some close up details. Notice that in the picture above, the cuffs are not folded over. While sewing the beads onto the cuff, I had to turn the cuff over at one point and loved the way the beads appeared when the cuff was turned over so that's the way it's staying.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Halloween Sweater

What's on the needles? I’m attempting to finish a sweater for my daughter to wear for Halloween that will compliment her costume but that she could still use on a daily basis; she’s going to be a fairy princess. I’m starting off with an Elsebeth Lavold pattern, Herdis, but will embellish it a bit with beads. The yarn I’m using is very different from what’s called for in the pattern. I seldom follow a pattern exactly the way it’s written and will try to use yarn from my stash before I resort to shopping. The yarn called for is Elsebeth Lavold’s Silky Wool (65% wool, 35% silk, 100% gorgeous; ~22 sts/4” on 4mm needles) and I’m using Phildar Canelis (67% acrylic, 33% rayon, also gorgeous; ~26 sts/4” on 3mm needles); very different yarns. The Canelis is a discontinued yarn I bought on sale many years ago when they were trying to clear stock (I will buy yarn on sale and figure out what to do with it later). So how did I pull this pattern off?

I did my gauge swatch to determine what tension I was knitting to and then picked a size whose finished dimensions according to my gauge would fit my daughter (stretching it a bit during blocking didn’t hurt either). I’m pleased to say that it has blocked very well.

See the unblocked example below:

See the blocked examples below:

Welcome to my first blog post

So why did I start this blog? I may be a chemical engineer by profession but I'm passionate about knitting. I'm very artistic in general and love other crafts too, which I might feature from time to time on my blog.

The past two years have been full of monumental events/changes in my life both personally and professionally. I feel I'm at a critical turning point in my life and it's time to stop thinking about doing a blog and start doing a blog. Hence the title, "Finally! Fran Knitting!

I used to be part of the Mississauga Knitting Guild but the meeting times unfortunately don’t work with my schedule any more. I thought this blog might be a good way to keep in touch with current knitting buddies (I do miss them) and meet some new ones. I found the sharing of information enriching and support from the friends I’ve made invaluable.

Recent changes in my life, I’ve started teaching a beginners knitting class at night at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga. I love it!

Much thanks and appreciation go out to friends and family members who have supported and encouraged me to follow my dreams.