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Starting the Dragon

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Dear Libby --

I think that perhaps it's time to put the last post behind me an move on to a more enjoyable topic.  I guess one thing that we learn as mothers is that the process is constantly teaching us something and constantly forcing us to draw on reserves of strength that we didn't know we had.  Parenting is so much about the long haul... something I didn't really understand until Ms. Z came into the world.  Perhaps Mr. C is sharing that with you, too.

Speaking of perseverance, I've hit a small milestone on your Dragon shawl. 

20090830_DragonCorner.jpg
Although this is just the corner, it marks the point at which I have actually started knitting bits of the dragon -- row 55.  Of course, the bits aren't really visible yet, that's going to take another 10-20 rows before his foreleg really becomes apparent.  But it's started, and after all that ring lace, it is definitely a milestone for this project. 

Actually, though, the ring lace and I have begun to have a meeting of the minds.  After I inserted those stitch markers, things go much better, and after 20-odd rows of it, my brain started to see the patterns it needed to see in order to help my hands make a better go of it.

20090830_RingLace.jpgAnd when you get it blocked out a little bit, it is quite lovely to look at.  A fitting background for a dragon, I think.

This shawl is going to also have another unique quality -- I think it's going to have something of a minty fresh smell.  You might notice that white line at the top of the picture above... that is my most recent "life line".  Taking a hint some folks made after my previous post, I decided to try out dental floss instead of yarn.  Definitely a good suggestion as it threaded in easily and slides around well without pulling out.  I'm hoping I won't need to roll anything back, but, just in case, my Crest "Glide" is going to be there to make it a little easier for me.

I wish this were going a bit faster, but I'm finding it hard to work on when it's not daylight out.  I need good light to deal with the tiny stitches.  And even when I do have good light, the thought I have to put into the lace pattern means that I can't do too much without taking a break, lest my brain get tired and I make some mistake that means an unpleasant amount of tinking.  So I get in about two rows a sitting, if I'm lucky... and only about 6 rows a week. 

I guess I'm going to have to cop to that whole "slow and steady" thing... but, even at that rate, if I could keep it up, I should be able to finish before Mr. C heads off to college...

Love to you,

T


P.S.  To all of you who left comments on Friday and to those of you who might not have done so but might have sent some good energy my way... please know that the weekend has been a good thing and I am feeling much better.  All your thoughts and good wishes were and continue to be much appreciated.  Sometimes I use my blog to document my craft projects... sometimes I use it to write and release whatever I need to write about.  Thank you very much for reading and for listening to my voice even when it isn't always a happy one.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

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20090809_DragonLace.jpg
To say that the "Dragon of Happiness" has been my most complicated knitting project to date would be an understatement.  I have done more tinking on this project than any other project I've ever worked on.  The first part -- the stockinette border with the Chinese characters knit into it -- was relatively easy and I managed to accomplish that without any serious problems.  But the second section which contains the dragon uses "ring lace" as the background lace stitch.  There is pattern work on both sides, making it a true lace stitch.  And you would think that 30 six stitch intervals would not be that much of a challenge to get right row after row, but I've run into just about every problem.  I miscounted once on the base row and had to rip and re-start.  I've run into problems with maintaining the pattern (in other words, I started out doing one thing and ended up doing something slightly different) and I've just plain gotten confused with something and had to tink back until I could resolve the confusion correctly. 

I think the resulting ring lace is lovely, but at the rate I am going (I have just finished row 41 in the picture) I am destined to finish this project sometime around when Z heads off to college. 

I finally decided to put stitch markers in every 3 repeats to help keep myself on track.  I had put in a life line (it's just barely visible in the picture) at the start of the lace motif region, but learned quickly that using a fine sewing thread wasn't the best idea.   Next line I set will probably be with a thicker perl cotton

All that said, I think the ring lace is quite lovely and I'm looking forward to seeing how things continue to develop.



Dear L,

When you have a little brother (I know, I know, "little" is no longer an accurate adjective), you often wonder what he is going to do when he gets older.  Will he stop being annoying?  Will he ever wear another color besides black?  What career path will he pick?  Will he find a good person to spend his life with?  In the case of my brother, he did eventually stop being annoying (I think he was around 20 at the time), he did stop wearing black (and even surprised me by being open to striped hand-knit socks), he became a chemical engineer (of course, the engineering part was never in doubt, but he left us on the edge of our seats with the chemical part.... how many times did he take a stab at organic chemistry?) and he most certainly found a very special person to spend his life with.  I know that anyone who knew and cared about my brother was happy when you agreed to share his life.

Knitter that I am, I've always wanted to knit something special just for you as my way of saying that I'm glad you're part of our family.  Yes, I know I knit you the dragon scale socks (in honor of your love of dragons), but I while I loved designing them for you, somehow they've never seemed like quite enough. I know that at one point we sat down and discussed felted handbags.  My brother reminds me of the fact that I still have not produced a bag on a yearly basis (he's definitely looking out for you!), and while I wish I could make good on the promise, the right inspiration just hasn't hit me.  And if I can't get inspired, I have almost zero chance of accomplishing a fibery project. 

But this year has been such a big year for you -- in November you brought my beautiful nephew into the world, and you've had to face more than your fair share of challenges in his almost 6 months with us.  I wish we were closer (Houston is so far away) so that we could be there more often to help, and that Ms. Z and Mr. C could get to know each other as they grow up.  In lieu of being there, I like to think that this is the time when a hand knitted gift could be a bond, a reminder that somewhere in Chicago, there are people thinking about you and your family.  And thus began the start of my inspiration.

I hope you won't be disappointed that it's not a felted bag. I still have not found the mojo for that project.  I have always thought that your love of dragons is very symbolic of your personality: strong, powerful, wise, protective of those you care about, and not afraid to breathe a little fire every now and again when you need to get something done.  It is these dragons that have been the source of my inspiration for something special for you.

20080510_DragonStart.jpgToday I started your Dragon of Happiness shawl.  The yarn is a delightful alpaca, silk blend (Alpaca with a Twist, Fino) that is soft and rich, the color is a deep raspberry burgundy (selected with a bit of consultation with my brother).  It will be knit on size 1 needles -- all 115,000+ stitches (there are 230 stitches on that needle in the picture and there are more than 500 rows).  When it is finished, it will probably be one of the magnum opi of my knitting career.

I have gone back and forth on whether I should keep it a surprise.  In the end, I decided that I could not.  I am sure some will think that I am going public just so that I can blog it (and there may be an ounce of truth in that), but the biggest reason is that by declaring my intentions publicly, I'm making a commitment to to you and the project.  I have no idea when it will be completed (it is a project that requires focus and not every day brings me the opportunity to apply myself that way).  I hope that you'll enjoy seeing it grow.  

Happy Mother's Day, Dragon Momma!

With much love,

Theresa

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