Thursday, 14 November 2013

Composition of the Stars

You may have noticed from my last post that I have a new pattern up - the Gold Star For Effort Scarf/Shalwette.  I have to say I'm rather pleased with it, especially as it took a very long time for it to get to its finished state.  Yes, I know - a designer of such simple items is perhaps not supposed to admit to taking months to get from the original concept to the finished item.  I suspect it should appear more like the apocryphal stories about Mozart and his compositional style - where we're led to believe most of his works were written as-is.  No revisions, no piano score to begin with, just pure and utter symphony (for example) in full score first time.  (He did just that, it must be said, for quite a few of his pieces...) 

No, I'm no Mozart of the shawls, I'm afraid, but I am quite interested in reliving the journey my little shawlette took to get from its starting point (from a comment by a Ravelry friend) to its final testing.

I explained in the last post how a comment about my first shawl led eventually to the latest shawl, but I thought it would be interesting to map out the journey in photos...  So here, starting from the first swatch, is a cosmically yarny tale in (mostly) picture form...

1.the confirmation that a chevron stitch creates an
excellent lower edge for a star
2. but the horizontal points at each side are proving
a tad difficult to line up properly
3. but they being to work better in a smaller form...
4. but then all definition is lost through an
overzealous eyelet effort
5. which then changes to an effort at doubling the eyelet
line which leads to a different kind of messiness
6. as does the second effort
7. but eventually the spacing begins to look neater
8. although there are still a few odd eyelets to fix
9. and the placement of a the upper double line to widen
10. there is hope and beads
11. and garter stitch
12. and enough yarn
13. for the finished item
14. which is rather dapper, even if I say so,

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Twinkle, Twinkle

...Little Star shawl,
How I wonder what you... 

What you... 

...are all...


Poetry.  Not my forte, as is rather eloquently shown above.  What I can do, however, is turn out little cosmic creations like this:

rain's obsessive stitchery fred sock in 'telltown'
aade lõng artistic 8/2 in 'flame'
and this:
fearless fibres lightweight superwash merino sock yarn in 'sloth'
More stars than there are in the heavens.  No, wait.  That's MGM.  Part of an Amazing and Expanding Universe.   Ah.  Eric Idle may have me for nicking that...  But I suspect you get the idea...

May I present the Gold Star For Effort (or Morning Star) Shawlette.

I was inspired to create this pattern by a friend on Ravelry who told me, after they saw my Cocktail Umbrella Shawlette, that I deserved a gold star for effort.  It was an innocuous comment that never-the-less took root somewhere at the back of my noggin, which was then jogged to the front after perusing some of my favourite cocktail websites for pattern inspiration, after finding mention of the Morning Star mocktail*. And the final falling in to place came when Rain of Rain's Obsessive Stitchery contacted me about a potential collaboration - her yarn, my pattern!  That plus a little bit of sparkle at the points of each star, and voilà!  A Star (scarf/shawlette) Is Born!  (Oops - sorry Barbra!)

*The Morning Star, by the way, can be a myriad of things: a medieval spiked mace; one of the many names for the planet Venus; a town in Western Virginia; a newspaper; a song by the UK band N-Dubz, but for my purposes, however, the Morning Star is a mocktail, or mock cocktail, and is one of the lesser-known non-alcoholic drinks in the cocktail firmament (see what I did there?!!)  There are a few differences in recipes, but on the whole it seems to involve one teaspoon of sugar, and one of honey, ten fluid ounces of pineapple juice, three pineapple chunks, and mineral water to the top of the glass.

The Gold Star for Effort (or Morning Star) Shawlette is a reversible crescent scarf-shawlette, worked from the star motif edging upwards, with some beads (60 to be exact) for a bit of added (optional) bling. The body of the shawl is worked in garter stitch using short rows.

My testers and myself have used varying amounts of yarn, from 400 yards, to 453, so to be safe, I've suggested that you have at least 450 yards of your chosen yarn before you start.  (The Fred Sock by Rain that I used for the gold version is 463 yards long in total.)


And where can you find this little gem?  HERE, of course.  Ravelry is again playing host and this link will take you through to the pattern page, which is available to all, not just Ravelry members.  Should you wish to purchase straight away (and why not?) feel free to click on the button below.

How much?  Only €4!!  (or £3.40, $5.40, ₪19, NOK32, ¥530.24..) and for the first month you can get 25% (or 1 euro) off with the code 'twinkle'.  Just apply it when prompted at checkout!

You know you're worth it! :D

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


(...or an off-facebook rant about the hypocrisy of the singing world.  Or, to be fairer to the mostly non-hypocritical singing world, a rant for the hypocritical singing circumstances under which I currently struggle.  Or something along those lines.)

I'm intrigued.  Did you really want to use twenty top-class singers in this way?

No, really, where on earth did you get the idea of bringing together twenty excellent singers from all over Europe, then barely ever let them sing over a mezzo-piano?  In fact in the whole of the two programmes (which include bombastic gems like Vivaldi's Gloria and Tavener's Svyati) you only let us sing forte twice.  TWICE. 

Silver-lining: I have finally found my falsetto register, something I never had as a soprano.  It's a shame that it may not last the week, though.  I am preparing a black armband as I type, and a short eulogy to the effects of new life lost too soon to the hypocrisies of the singing world.  Or something along those lines.
I understand, I do, that as a whole we make an extraordinary pianissimo.  So many people making such a tiny sound.  I hear it, (just, over my heart pounding with the strain of making long, l o n g  phrases with an extraordinary pianissimo) but hell's teeth, man, you're slaying our chords with quietness.  Too much of a good thing, and all that.

It appears that you want a single-voice sound from many people, but I wonder if you've ever thought how easy that would be, say, with one to a part?  Not that I like pointing out the obvious, but, really...
Now,  please don't get me wrong, it's actually rather exhilarating to be part of such mammoth quiet, but not, and may I be crystal clear here, not ALL THE TIME. 

Silver-lining: I'm not the only one who feels this, and have been surprised, yet at the same time not surprised, to hear from most of the female singers that this will be their last project.  They, too, are concerned about the damage constant pianissimo does to their voices.  I thought that perhaps my last (first) project with this ensemble was an anomaly (who really asks their singers to make such teeny-tiny noises for Mozart's Requiem or Mass in c minor) but it appears to be his 'thing', his calling-card, and party-piece all rolled into one.   I guess this also explains why so many of the old alto and soprano sections aren't taking part this time around...

Wait, I'm getting confused, that's schadenfreude, not a silver-lining.  Or something along those lines.

And don't forget that we haven't had our first rehearsal with the orchestra yet... after which I suspect all that time making pseudo-singing noises might just have been wasted.   Although, to be honest, he'll probably just make them play pianissimo, too.

Then we get to those singers who have stayed...  Yes, some of them have voices of amazing beauty, but... some of them don't.   And of the latter it appears, to me at least, that you don't want to scare them off...  The loud alto who constantly sings flat when she pushes her voice, (I forgot the cantus firmus in one of the contemporary pieces: loud and louder all the way through, although the rest are pianissimo-ing their way to the end) at which the rest of us try to tune up then get a mouthful for not being together, pitch-wise, with the louder lass.  And do you *really* like the way she back-chats you and tells everyone what they're doing wrong, or are you suffering in silence?  A bit like us...  And the tenor with the constant vibrato.  Baroque, classical,  or contemporary, it's there distorting harmony and, if nothing else, my sanity.  Yet for these, and other mistreatments of music, you say nothing, yet demand of the rest of us complete and utter homogeny of sound.  Which is effing hard when you've got a flat alto, a wobbly tenor, and other small but annoying anomolies of the perfect sound you want.  

Silver-lining: I should be able to pay my rent.  I suspect that statement makes me somewhat hypocritical, too. 

Or something along those lines.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Luck Of The Irish

irish ale shawlette by yours truly
guinness version in ice yarns kid mohair 'black'
and rowan kidsilk haze in 'ghost'
green beer version in yarn chef minestrone in 'spring vortex'
and bbknits prima superwash merino nylon in 'innocence'
The Irish Ale Shawlette is a companion piece (as they say in the art world) to my Irish Ale Socks.  I love these socks so much that I've been thinking about making something with a similar pattern for yonks...  

The stitch pattern always makes me think of settling ale, swirling, newly poured, in a pint glass, and the bubbly head at the top (or in this case, the bottom) just cries out to be made out of such a pretty (if I may say so) ruffled edge - a somewhat stylised form of the main stitch pattern. 

And so this little shawl was born. Or perhaps poured...

The Irish Ale Shawlette is worked from the top down and knits up well in most lighter-weight yarns, as long as you finish the body of the shawl after one full repeat, as the froth is calculated to work with that specific numbers of stitches.  

My Guinness version was worked in lace-weight, and the Green Beer in fingering-weight.  They both look extremely tasty and the stitch pattern is well defined in both weights.  Try in sport-weight, or DK for something a little more substantial!  Gauge isn't important, and as long as you have enough yarn, you're guaranteed of a darling little shawl, designed to keep the Autumn (or Spring) chills from your shoulders as you partake of an Irish Ale down the pub!

And BONUS! for the first month, you can take advantage of the introductory price of  €3 - this price is available until the 10th of September, after which it will go up to the normal price of €4.  

Further details can be found HERE on the Ravelry page (available to members and non-members alike).  You can also click the button below, which will take you immediately to the paypal page.  

Goan - you know you wanta!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Keeping Your Martinis Dry

cocktail umbrella shawlette by yours truly
madelinetosh tosh sock in 'grapefruit'

I'd like to introduce something to you that I've been working on for a while...  The Cocktail Umbrella Shawlette.  

In keeping with my main alcoholic beverages theme (yes, I am indeed that clever... or fortunate that that I have a one-track mind) this shawlette is a celebration in little shawl form of that ubiquitous little paper drink accessory you find shading all your favourite exotic cocktails.  (I have to admit to liking them on non-exotic cocktails, too...  I find, for example, a cocktail umbrella balanced on the top of a pint of Guinness rather endearing, in a beauty and the beast kind of way...  But I digress.)  

Of those non-edible garnished for your alcoholic beverage of choice, none can come higher in the estimation of all (i.e. me) than the festive cocktail umbrella.  It adds fun and frivolity to the most austere of drinks (and now I'm picturing a traditional spot of sherry in an old-fashioned sherry glass, adorned with a bright paper umbrella...  I digress again.) and nothing else says 'this booze is FUN' any better than this little paper firework!

The Cocktail Umbrella Shawlette is made from the lace edging upward, and the body of the shawl is worked using short rows to give it that classic crescent shape. Adapted from my Piña Colada Socks and initially inspired by Barbara Walker's parasol lace, this shawlette is the perfect companion to watching the sun go down whilst sipping on your favourite cocktail!

So inspired was I by this little bit of yarny engineering, that I went straight on to make another one...  It took 4 days.  I may or may not have been obsessed.

april showers version
zagroda sock in 'gray'

  424 little stitches, 6 rows in,
finished lace swirl,
short rows take shape, nearly done.

Considering this is my first attempt at putting a little shawl together, I have to say I'm pretty pleased with the results!  You must, if you have the time, take a peek at the other versions of this shawlette you can find on the pattern page (which I'll link to in a bit) as the colours my testers have chosen to make this are truly reminiscent of cocktail umbrellas - they look so festive and happy!

And because I am so proud of this little cracker, I'm offering it for €3 ($3.87, £2.55) until the end of June 2013 to all-comers, then will put it up to the actual price of €4 ($5.16, £3.40) after the month is up!  You can't say I'm not good to you! :)

You can find the Ravelry pattern page HERE, or if you want to cut out the middle man, you can click on the button below which will take you straight to paypal.  All mod cons here, you know!

To make this shawl you need: size (US 4) and size 3.25 (US 3) circular or straight needles, 380 - 400 yards of fingering-weight yarn, strong thread or similar for lifelines (optional but recommended), and around 20 stitch markers.  The size is roughly 75" wingspan by 15" depth but it depends on how rigorously and aggressively you block it.  I blocked both of mine to create scallops on the top edge, but it's just as simple (if not more simple) to block it straight.  I liked the added tension on the lace created by the scallops, but YMMV!

(you can click on any of these photos for a larger look-see!)

Mair Bloag Weejits

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Heh! I'm so funny!

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