My Vibrant Lonely Tree Shawl

I had a really wonderful time knitting this shawl.  I've wanted a lacy leaf-patterned knit shawl for ages but didn't quite have the courage to start a lace chart with a toddler underfoot.  Then I saw how easy and straightforward The Lonely Tree Shawl was.  Most of the knitting took place on a very long drive (thanks to German construction season) to the Bavarian Alps while the toddler snoozed and the mister drove.  I'm so lucky.

I used Tosca Light  by Lang Yarns in color 0053.  I held two strands from two skeins together and I'm really enamored with the effect. I was a bit worried that the oranges and greens would mix and make mud but they played really well together.  The only complaint I had about this pattern was that I wished I could keep knitting when I reached the end of the chart!  I had a good bit of yarn leftover and I usually go for a bigger shawl, though this one drapes just right over my shoulders or around my neck.  As luck would have it, Silvia Bo Bilvia released The Elder Tree Shawl with an endlessly repeatable chart and variations for any weight of yarn (it's a paid pattern whereas The Lonely Tree Shawl was free). I might go for that one next time! Probably would have done it this time if I'd seen it before now.

So, do I have enough shawls yet? Well, of course the answer is NEVER.  I'm a shawl girl, what can I say?  If I had to justify myself I would tell you that this is my first knitted shawl, the rest are all crochet. It has the most wonderful drape and texture and I've been taking every opportunity to wear it before the full-blown summer heat hits us.  You just can't have enough shawls, I tell you.

Until next time! Happy crafting.

Formal Lace Shawl

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCPicMonkey Collage   It's finished! It's been blocked! And my toddler didn't eat any pins off the blocking board.  I call this a win, win, win situation.  The lace is shiny and lustrous and has a beautiful drape, perfect for frolicking in meadows (or my backyard).  I hope it's also perfect for formal events but I can't be sure until Saturday.  The result is totally worth the crazy, struggling process of making it (click that link if you want the gory details). Now I've just got the issue of styling and accessorizing to worry about.  Wait, what do you mean a shawl is an accessory? No, no, no, the shawl is the main event!  Everything must compliment the shawl.  I'm not going to tell you all how many times I've tried on my outfit, thrown it back into the closet, and dragged it back out again so that I could glare at it better. I think I made the classic error of investing so much love and excitement into this shawl that there isn't an outfit in the world (or my price range) that can measure up to it. So right now the shawl, dress, and I are in a cooling-off period. Mister Lace Shawl is buried in the back of my closet with the evening dress and I'm not going to look at either of them all day.  This is good because I'm actually very busy today.  I've got an important meeting to attend, a toddler to occupy, a potluck dish to whip up, and a good book to read.  Speaking of books, have you heard of Women Are Scary?  I literally just held back tears through the first chapter because I felt so much hope while reading it.  Nobody really tells you how lonely motherhood can be, and if they do you don't believe them because babies. Babies are cute. Pattern notes if you're interested:  Pattern is Maia Shawl by Lisa Naskrent. I used an entire three balls of Lace Lux by Lana Grossa and had to cut out a border repeat to make that happen. I would caution against using Lace Lux if you tend to make mistakes because it is nearly impossible to rip out.  The wool surrounding the metalic thread gets tangled very easily and I may or may not have used a seam ripper to frog my swatch for extra yarn... I used a size 5mm hook instead of the recommended size because I'm cool like that and I wanted a lacier shawl. Well, have a lovely day, all!  I hardly know what to do with my hands now that I've finished my shawl but I think I recall having one or five works-in-progress to keep me busy... Talk soon!

How (not) to crochet a lace shawl

SONY DSCStep 1: Spend at least one hour carefully choosing yarn to match an evening gown that you haven't tried on yet. Do not have a pattern in mind while you shop.  It's much easier to find the pattern after you've limited yourself by the amount and type of yarn you've bought.  Bonus points for bringing your fussy toddler and exhausted husband with you to the yarn shop. Step 2: Try on dress.  When dress does not fit properly, have a small meltdown. Consider sacrificing knitting hours for extra jogging hours in order to become both shorter and less lumpy. Have a good laugh when you come to your senses.

Step 3: Pick a shawl pattern after no less than three hours on Ravelry.  You should make sure to take into account how many meters of yarn you've purchased so you're sure to have enough. Or just pick any pretty pattern you like and ignore all pattern notes.  There's no way this shawl can take 1,000 meters and you'll most definitely be fine with the 600 you've bought.

Step 4: Begin crocheting.  Choose any size hook you like!  This is supposed to be fun! Bonus points for starting the shawl in a moving car while riding down a winding, country road while simultaneously trying to sooth a toddler and balance your ipad with the pattern on one knee.

Step 5: Frog first 20 rows because you did not read the pattern all the way through before charging blindly ahead.  Instead of a triangular shawl you have started to crochet a lace amoeba.  Since your yarn was rather expensive, frog what you've created and start fresh.

Step 6: Come to the terrible realization that you can't rip back the amoeba because the yarn you've chosen has fused to itself.  Narrowly avoid meltdown by breaking yarn and tossing your lace amoeba into a cupboard.

Step 7: Crochet madly for a few hours until you have a nice chunk of lace.  Feel smug and confident that you'll have this shawl finished in plenty of time.  Only work on the shawl when you're bored of other projects or need something fancy for your Instagram.

Step 8: Panic. You've run out of yarn and the shawl is puny.  Raid your stash.  When you realize that nothing in your stash goes well with "shiny", come to terms with the fact that you just need to suck it up and buy another ball, even if it is rather expensive. You've already come this far, don't wimp out now. Maybe you can find a good deal on the Internet.  Bonus points for choosing a colorway that has been discontinued.

Step 9: Procure yarn from local yarn shop. Hope the dye lots aren't horrendously different.  Crochet leisurely.  Now that you've purchased a whole new ball you will be able to make a huge shawl and have loads of wool leftover to crochet something fancy like earrings. No worries.

Step 10: Panic. You are running out of yarn.  Do some math, cut out repeats, crochet quickly.  The faster you crochet, the less likely that you will run out of yarn.SONY DSC

Step 11: Cry.  You have run out of yarn on the final row of your border.

Step 12: Go and find the lace amoeba that you weren't able to frog.  Procure seam ripper.  Gently pry stitches apart until you have salvaged enough yarn to finish the border.  Bonus points if you have a toddler who will destroy your house while you do this. Watch as she hides your credit cards and driver's license under the rug.  Hopefully you have a backup seam ripper because she will hurl the one you're using (lid on, thankfully) into the oblivion.SONY DSCSONY DSC

Step 13:  Rejoice! And block. Victory is yours.  I hope you have enough pins.

My shawl is finally blocking and I am hiding from my crochet hooks for the night. What a whirlwind.  Thankfully I've found an evening gown that matches my yarn and still have four more days to string some pearls to tie it all together.  I can't wait to show you all what the shawl looks like after blocking! Isn't it such a mystical process?  Watch this space for sparkly updates soon.SONY DSC

Easter Outfits

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCHello my friends and flowers! Easter weekend in Germany is nice and long. With stores closed for Good Friday you can't help but start a nice relaxing weekend early.  And a relaxing weekend (if there is such a thing when you live and care for a toddler) is just what I needed after the veritable crafting fit I'd had the week prior.  I don't know what possessed me to think this, but a week before Easter I decided that Little Pickle and I needed matching skirts for an Easter egg hunt.  And matching skirts turned into matching outfits complete with shawls.  And then Papa needed a matching bow tie...and as you can see, I spent a lot of time at my sewing machine this week. Thanks to a very patient Papa who kept Little Pickle at bay while I sewed the fiddly bits and a very curious little one who is still happy to sit in my lap while I sew the easy parts, I was able to get them all finished. Alas, the Easter egg hunt was not to be.  The weather was cold and wet and a soggy, teething toddler did not sound appealing to any of us so we stayed home and baked!  The Osterbrot turned out marvelously.  It was my first time using a German recipe and I was very pleased with how infrequently I needed to open my dictionary to get through it. (You can find the recipe I used here.)  I wanted to buy an Osterbrot from our local bakery so that I had something to aim for, but apparently it's more of a Bavarian treat and we live farther north.  No matter, it's delicious either way.

I hope you all celebrated this weekend in whichever fashion you like and for whichever reason suits you best.  Spring is truly upon us now.