Recently in Flower Basket Shawl Category

A few free hours...

secret pal 5

Starbucks Blog 7/11/05 1:40 PM

Funny to have to annotate the time and circumstance of blog entries, but for me, so many of them are not immediately at a connected computer. Instead, Iím often blogging from my Palm (for later synching), and, now, Iím blogging from the Starbucks (you canít just say ďcoffee shopĒ when itís a Starbucks) around the corner from the house. Todayís the third in our summer of ďthe sitter comes on Mondays.Ē The first time, I ended up playing with Spencer and the sitter most of the afternoon, after staying extra time when dropping Matthew off at preschool because he didnít want me to leave. The second time, I spent the afternoon at the dentist. This, the third time, is the first where I think Iíve got the next several hours to myself. Granted, Iím not connected, but thatís probably not all bad since if I was connected, Iíd potentially end up sucked into reading blog after blog instead of spending the time working on my own stuff. I also donít have the software on this computer that I need to be doing some of the work Iíd like to do. I guess if Iím finally going to accept that this ďisĒ the laptop Iím going to be using for a while, I may have to do some upgrading and adding on. As you can tell, I still mourn my Fujitsu lifebook greatly.

So, Iím here with the curious feeling of freedom and confusion that being away from the responsibilities of the children brings. Itís not a sensation Iím accustomed to, at all, and I sit here sort of at odds with my skin, waiting for the phone to ring, wondering if Spencer has woken up from a short nap, wondering what I do or where I should go when the money in my meter runs out, worrying that Iím doing the wrong thing by taking these few hours away on Mondays.

secret pal 5

I have to report in that Iíve been very spoiled by my Secret Pal 5. A package full of goodies, pink ones even, arrived on Saturday. It was great. My Pal sent me two skeins of Baby Ull in a wonderful fuchsia color for socks. Itís so soft, and the color is totally me. (My pal said she selected the brightest pink they had. I love it!) Iíve never thought of using Baby Ull for socks, but I think it's a really good choice, and the solid will be perfect to show off some patterning. Maybe the new socks in the Fall 2005 Interweave KnitsÖ. In addition to the yarn, my pal sent me a LEGO Clikits pink pen with hearts you can attach wherever you want (way cool), a purple mustang pen, a beautiful pen with Celtic patterning, and a charming little pig that is, of all things, a tape measure (which Spencer is holding in the photo at the top of this entry). Itís perfect for my fledgling tape measure collection. I canít imagine where she found it. Spoiled, I am. Thank you Secret Pal!

fbs fbs

Iím making steady progress on my Flower Basket Shawl, and I just love it. I love knitting lace (with bigger needles Ė the experience with the KnitPicks Shimmer on 1ís still has me stymied). I also find that even though Iím still having a good bit of trouble with my hand and fingers, knitting lace doesnít seem to cause me problems in the way that working on socks, for example, does. Iím sure itís because the whole experience is just Ďlooser.í At any rate, Iím just loving the process of this shawl. I canít wait to see it finished. Right now, itís still so bunched up that I donít have a strong sense of how it will look when spread out, and how this yarn will appear when blocked. Iím almost through the 7th repeat right now, and Iíve only just started the second ball, so I have plenty of yarn to work with. I donít see a lot of point in ďnotĒ using up the third ball I bought, so Iím going to let my yarn quantity guide the size, assuming I can guesstimate when to start the edging so I donít run out. Sharlene just completed her Flower Basket Shawl, and itís a gorgeous example of this pattern.

Itís interesting to me how so many of us work on the same projects, drawing creative energy and inspiration from each other. There are so many patterns out there, and I sometimes wonder how many patterns there are in any given book or magazine that ďno oneĒ has ever made. With the strong community of knit bloggers, so many patterns (Charlotteís Web, Flower Basket Shawl, Birch, Ribby Cardigan, etc.) these days become sort of ďcultĒ projects, or de facto knitting projects. Itís great for the designer (and publisher), but itís a strange thing to think about. Who made the first Flower Basket Shawl, blogged about it, and started the craze? Or, is the pattern such that so many of us would have made it anyway? Itís hard to know but interesting to ponder the ways in which our blogs contribute to the whole economy of knitting.

Flower Basket Road Trip

flower basket shawl

Well, we're back! The hellatiously long drive to Carlsbad (which yes, means we had to drive through LA, which means we sat in virtually standstill traffic for over an hour each way) has come and gone. We had a great time, assuming you understand that "great" means we had to more than once adjust our expectations to fit the realities of what it means to take such a trip and visit an amusement park with a four year old (and a 16-month old). We didn't get nearly as much done as we had thought. We never made it to the heated pool at the hotel. We never made it over the hill on the highway to see the ocean. We didn't ride most of the rides, even the really tame ones that we thought he'd loveÖ the car driving school, the Knight's Joust horse ride, the jeep safari ride. We did walk what felt like miles each day, we did take hundreds of photos of the boys posed next to ever cool LEGO structure we passed, including great shots of him with Darth Vader, R2D2, the green Bionicle, Knight Jayko and Knight Rascus, and busts of Einstein, Washington, and Shakespeare. We did pan for King's Treasure, dig for dinosaur bones, fly rescue helicopters, fly planes, take a mini cruise, and compete in a firetruck race. We (adults) did spend a good bit of time sitting and watching Matthew build with LEGOs in one pavilion, building, or store or another and then buying more and more bricks (LEGOs) so he could continue building in the hotel room. Somehow, going into the trip, what we failed to realize was that what was going to entertain and interest him the most was the sense of communal building - of walking into a small pavilion where there were thousands of LEGOs and just building, often side by side with other kids - and of building "at" LEGOLAND. We (adults) also spent a lot of time each day sitting outside The Hideaways, a giant multi-level playground of tunnels and ramps and slides and shaky bridges, and frantically scanning the structure hoping for a reassuring sight of him until he'd emerge from one slide or another to run our direction. We also saw so many amazing and unbelievable things built out of LEGOs that we all left wishing we could be LEGO master builders. To say that MiniLand at LEGOLAND California is one of the most remarkable things I've ever seen is a huge understatement. It's simply amazing.

So, a very "creative" trip, for sure.

With the combination of long days in the sun and lots of walking, we ended up fairly exhausted each night, so not a lot of knitting happened. Mom made good headway on her Clapotis, however. I bought her Rayon/Silk yarn from Over the Rainbow for her birthday. It's a beautiful mix of turquoise with some pinks thrown in, and it's working up beautifully. We all took a Clapotis to work on. I made us little instruction packs and a chart of the rows so we could easily check them off. Mom is the only one who made much progress, however. By the time she left yesterday, she'd made her way to section 3 and had done two of the "drops." It's going to be very pretty.

I worked mostly on my Flower Basket Shawl out of the Golden Chai silk I bought on my birthday. I love the pattern, even though for some reason I seem to have messed up on it frequently and spent a lot of time trying to determine where I lost a stitch here and there. Before I left, I made a black and white copy of the pattern and also did some blog searching for any tips or trips or warnings on the pattern. I finished the first section/chart before we left, so I was really glad to have found this set of notes on the pattern when I sat down the first night in the hotel to get to work on the second chart. It definitely wasn't obvious to me by looking at my copy that I needed to repeat a chunk of the horizontal chart a certain number of times for each repeat of the 10-row chart. The notes I'd printed totally explained this, but I had to laugh when I read this: "Youíd start row 1 and when you got to the pattern repeat outlined in redÖ"

Uh-oh. With a black and white copy in front of me, I had a moment of panic that I wasn't going to be able to work on the shawl until I got back home and had the color magazine in front of me. But, close inspection of my copy did show faint lines around a 10-stitch section of the pattern. I had to assume that was the section outlined in red. So, I'm moving along with it. The Chai Silk is really nice. It does run from extremely thick to extremely thin, but so far that's not a problem. I'm seeing a little bit of fuzzing on it, however, particularly on the back, which worries me. It almost looks like "wear," which makes me wonder how it will wear. And, I'm not seeing mine look dainty and elegant and light and Victorian the way the one I lusted over at the Yarn Harlot's site does. Maybe I'm just not getting the full effect with it bunched up on the needles here. And, maybe blocking it, or even ironing, as recommended, will make a huge difference.)

I'm in the fourth repeat of the 7 noted in the directions. However, I'm prepared to have to do more. I found the section on sizing interesting in the notes I had (it's at the bottom of the page). I haven't noticed a lot of discussion of how many repeats those of you who have made this have done, so I'll have to see where I'm at when I finish the seventh. I bought 3 skeins of the Chai Silk, so I have plenty to work with.

Oh, and I started Debbie Macomber's The Shop on Blossom Street, which Mom brought me. She was reading the sequel, A Good Yarn. Fun!

A good day

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We didn't have 'big' plans for my birthday, largely because mom was flying in late in the evening, and we've got plans for the next ten days or so, which means it felt a little cramped to "also" try and go somewhere special tonight since we've got dinner plans tomorrow. Mom's birthday was last week, so we're celebrating together tomorrow. After the boys' tandem swimming lessons, we're headed for the California Pizza Kitchen and a quick stop in the LEGO store. It's in the mall, so even though we're heading to LEGO Land on Sunday, there's no way we can eat at the CPK and not go to the LEGO store. It's okay though. You can't stay on my blog long without realizing we love LEGOs in this house.

Matthew and I just yesterday, in fact, finished the final level of the LEGO worldbuilder game. If you've got a LEGO (or computer) fan, I highly recommend it. The first few stages are very easy, but they get much, much harder. There are three "worlds" of challenges (and three levels in world one), and we've been playing during Spencer's naps for weeks now.

We have tons of LEGOs, but by far, my favorite small LEGO kit invention is the "xPod." There are nine different colored xPods out, and they're fabulous. Each comes with a few models that can be made from the generally 50 or less pieces, and that's cool. But I'm constantly amazed at the inspired "creations" (he alternately calls them "inventions") that Matthew makes with each xPod. Having played the worldbuilder game so much, he's now daily making new good and bad xPod creatures and vehicles and enacting the game. Pretty cool. (He's 4.) (Actually, we did something similar for a while recently with the various castle kit pieces. He and one of us would build dozens of obstacles and challenges for the Knights of Morcia to battle their way through, creating our own constantly changing quest, of sorts.)

At any rate, we didn't have much planned, other than that I wanted to go to ArtFibers to check out Chai. When I logged on this morning, I was greeted with several e-cards, including one from my Secret Pal, and a number of kind messages and good wishes from fellow bloggers, which I loved getting.

After dropping Matthew off at school, and sticking around long enough to help him make a fishing pole (one of today's optional "projects") and watch him catch a yellow fish in the swimming pool of paperclipped (so they're magnetic) bubblewrap fish in the play yard, M, Spencer, and I headed to ArtFibers.

Spencer is cutting yet another tooth and has the bit (okay, so more than a "bit") of congestion and crankiness that goes with that, so it probably wasn't the best day to yarn shop with him. Once he spotted the rack of hanging buttons, he wasn't happy being Bjorned or carried. He just wanted what he'd seen. I was picking up another set of Bryspun needles, so I gave him those to placate him, only to then have him unsheathing them ever few seconds and swinging wildly at my head with them.

Luckily, we were able to look around a bit before he got too fussy. The store has an amazing variety of fibers, and a fabulous array of colors. I can't believe we've never been in there before. The store manager, Kira, was wonderful as well. She was very friendly and helpful without being pushy. (We were also charmed to see our preschool's "thank you" note and class picture pushpinned on the bulletin board with a note written in about them being the "future generation of knitters." ArtFibers supported our school auction last year.)

I'd checked the web site before heading down and realized Chai comes in solids, too, and is then called Siam. (Somehow I'd never noticed them before.) From the pictures on the site, I was leaning towards a solid. Once actually in the store, I was torn between a very pretty Chai in a mix of roses and soft greens and a Siam in a salmony pink. I really was conflicted, but I went with the pink, mostly because M said so, and I do have trouble making up my mind when it comes to things like that. We also picked up some other goodies. The cranky one is crashed asleep in my lap, so I can't get photos right now, but I will.

It was funny when Kira asked if I have a specific project in mind. "The flower basket shawl from Interweave," I told her. "I've seen someone online make it out of Chai."

She laughed. "Lots of people have made it out of Chai," she said. She went on to mention the esteemed Yarn Harlot and how Stephanie mentioned it right around the time the book came out. Apparently quite the influx of Chai orders followed. It's the first time I've been in a store where the world of knit blogs met up with the real world of knitting and yarn. That may be hard to believe, but I still don't know any other bloggers in person, and I remember how shocked I was last year when searching for the Charlotte's Web pattern to find that at two major Bay Area yarn stores I checked they'd never even heard of it. (Charlotte is still popular, but last year it seemed to be all the rage on the blogs.)

So, that was all cool.

Then, I came home to find a package from my Secret Pal. I didn't even know she knew it was my birthday! She sent me a wonderful "vanilla sleepover" kit from The Body Shop. It's great. It's got body lotion, bubble bath, shower gel, perfume, and a sponge all in a sweet little bag, and it all smells divine, and comforting, and cozy. Vanilla must just be one of life's perfect scents. Thanks Secret Pal!

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