Friday, July 11, 2008

Illuminatia

I've always liked challenges, whether they were academic or artistic. I'm strong-willed and stubborn, but not to the point of being nutty about it; it helps being strong-willed, or I'd lose heart and give up halfway through whatever project I might be working on. I'm old enough now to be less likely to abandon a challenge... I think. Doesn't mean I don't get defeated by things, 'cause there are quite a few that leave me grinding my teeth and fuming with the desire to pitch them out the nearest window in a fit of pique.
Most of my recent tests have been self-inflicted. Yes, self-inflicted is the right word, especially because I've turned into a perfectionist. People keep telling me I'm too hard on myself and should save my energy for the important things, which apparently don't include whether or not the cheesecake cracked across the center because the oven was too hot, or whether or not the bumps show after I've woven in the ends on a piece of knitting. My answer, spoken and silent, is that if I see the mistakes, someone else is bound to, so it's better to make sure there aren't any. Not that it really matters with a cheesecake, because I doubt even Wolfgang Puck got it right the first time; I'm guessing the Yarn Harlot also has to frog things once in a great while. I'm not perfect and I don't aspire to be. If I did, I'd be a size 2, a marathon runner, and somewhere on the Forbes list, among other things. Um.. no, thanks.
So. Challenges, challenges. I wouldn't say I've mastered the tabi socks, though I can say that I've become familiar enough with the pattern to be able to not need the pieces of paper except for a the very beginning. Since I've got it mostly under control, I decided to give lace knitting a try. Lace knitting, according to some, is pretty easy because in its simplest form it's just a series of increases and decreases like yarn-overs and k2togs. At it's most complicated, there are patterns like the Laminaria, which knitty rates as "piquant", i.e. complicated yet not exhausting.
Well, instead of toeing the water and trying something easier first, I cast on for Laminaria. And then started scratching my head over the things like 1-into-3 star stitch and 3-into-3. The pattern comes with detailed explanations of what these things mean, but I still wasn't sure what I was doing was right, especially since there didn't seem to be any sideways growth. I posted a question on the associated KAL on Ravelry and was surprised to learn that, instead of moving the stitches from left to right, you're supposed to leave them on the left needle and then do the yarn-overs so that you end up with three stitches and no increase. This seriously didn't occur to me when I tried it the first time, but since several people were kind enough to point this out, I've gotten through the first two charts and am halfway through the third. No, I'm not gloating. Really!
The third chart goes by the mysterious-sounding name of "Transition Chart", and the idea, I think, is that the star stitches slowly fade into the blossoms, until this chart ends and the next one begins. Okay. Pretty simple. Right? Wrong! There's yet a third star stitch, and a fourth: the intimidating-bordering-on-scary 3-into-2 star stitch followed by the 9-into-3. Yikes. I've only recently recovered from the struggle of mastering the 1-into-3 and 3-into-3! And then there are these creepy black squares indicating skipped stitches. Skipped? Or is it slipped? Looks like another look at the KAL board is necessary. See? This is what I get for starting out with a cheesecake instead of something easier.
I got a nifty little package in the mail today: my new fountain pen. I might just divorce my three others (one leaks and is scratchy, one is scratchy and cranky, and the third takes an awful lot of encouragement, even after a thorough cleaning) because this one is so nice. It writes like butter, it's so smooth. Absolutely. No. Scratchiness. And the ink flows beautifully. Of course, having good ink cartridges--I bought a converter, too, so I can use bottled ink when the urge siezes me--makes a big difference. I wonder if there's any way I might convince J. Herbin to start making cartridges to fit Lamy pens... bribery, maybe? As I said to someone else earlier tonight: It would be in the company's best interest to make cartridges for popular pens like Lamy for two reasons. 1. They enable pen junkies to indulge their cravings for gorgeous colors and wonderful ink. 2. They increase their profit margin by enabling pen junkies to indulge their cravings for gorgeous colors and wonderful ink.
Seems pretty logical to me!

2 comments:

teabird said...

Maybe we Herbin lovers should investigate the refilling the Lamy cartridges with Herbin ink...

The shawl looks lovely already!

Rachael said...

Logical indeed! It surprises me that they don't...

Wow! You aren't kidding about jumping right in! That's a difficult pattern. I'd be surprised if you weren't finding it quite challenging since this is your first lace project. I'm scared of it and I've made lacy things before...