happy birthday, baby!

Posted on Posted in food and garden, lace/shawls, projects, Uncategorized

today david turns 40!
it is also beth’s and beckie’s birthday and we want to wish them both the happiest of days!

i won’t show you everything because the pictures just didn’t come out that great (i was in a hurry). but i will give you an eyeful of the showstopper

we like to call it, simply, “heart attack on a plate”. it has every bad thing in it you can think of.
it was luscious.
(and yes, it goes really well with champagne . . .)

we decided to have his dinner last night because we have an event with another family to go to today (we’re going to be godparents!).
i spent virtually the whole day in the kitchen yesterday, which is an indulgence i haven’t had a chance to take in a long, long time. i’m really glad that i finally got to do it for this occasion.
what took all day you ask?

we-elll, i made several indian dishes and the prep work for that is pretty intense, even though we sent out for the appetizers. with everything that we had in the garden, plus a few other ingredients we ended up with a luxurious array of colorful foods

of course there was no gift ready . . . but we had already settled that. and i didn’t even knit one stitch on the gift yesterday. in fact i didn’t even pick up my knitting til very very late at night, and then, promptly started falling asleep over it. but i felt OK about that.

i did make a little progress on the man lace the other night, when i experimented with switching needle sizes. i ended up moving to a needle one size larger and am now completely happy with the fabric. this gives a little more of a taste of the fabric openness, and it will be even more exaggerated when wet-blocked.

several people emailed me to say that the speckled yarn looks like it is overpowering the lace, and i agree that it seems so in the pictures i have been showing. however, i have a couple of things to say about that.

first, the camera is so sensitive that it is truly picking up every single little hair and speck, and magnifying the whiteness of the white against the brown. i think this makes the yarn a lot busier than it is to the naked eye.

second, in my experience with lace knitting, the very beginnings of any shawl project do not show off the pattern or the openness of the fabric very well, so i always reserve my judgements about the yarn choice til i have a good chunk knitted up. the scale in a lace shawl is very, very important (i think), and at first, the yarn always looks off-scale with the pattern.
but you have to keep in mind that shawls are large pieces, so the yarn scale diminishes as the piece grows, as does its texture, AND the texture of the stitch pattern. sometimes what looks great after a few inches is just bland and plain once you get another 18 inches on there. that’s also why i do a LOT of generous swatching before i start my projects (okay, i admit it, i like swatching, but that’s a whole other post . . .)

this picture, taken just a little further away, and with a flash, will put the yarn and the pattern in better perspective, and i think that effect will increase as the piece gets bigger.

not that i don’t have a failsafe planned if all that does not resolve itself. i have thought that if i get it done and do not like the speckled yarn still, i will ask david what HE wants, and if he thinks it needs to be less contrasty, i can dip it in a tea or dye wash to take the white down a bit. i’m not that worried about it; i think i have options.

i’ve also been working very hard on getting the casino shawl pattern ready because from all the email i received about it, i’m hearing that a lot of people want to knit this one too! i appreciate SO much the wonderful things you are telling me about it. i enjoyed making it and being photographed with it, and the pattern is flowing out nicely, too. it should be ready very soon!

i even interrupted the man lace for one evening on friday to make a “mini-me” doll shawl to test the instructions i wrote. it is so cute! (the edgings are ridiculously out of scale with the size, but i figure my niece’s dolls won’t care).

this one i did in some leftover sock yarn, so you can see what it looks like in something besides cashmere. here’s a closeup of the wool

for weeks, while i knit the shawl, i was struggling with the pattern because i was trying to write it by working off the chart i made. each time i sat down to work on it, my brain would tie up in knots and i ended up just staring at the computer screen.
but then whenever i sat down to knit, it just flowed from my handsโ€”i could not for the life of me figure out what i was doing wrong. (and partly, i was so caught up in worrying my work project for the last few weeks that i couldn’t think straight about the pattern.)

then friday i had a breakthrough. i sat down and cast on enough stitches for the casinoMini, and just wrote each line as i knit it and FINALLY understood how i should write the pattern.
after that it was zip-zip-zip right through it.
i meanโ€”phew! i was starting to think i was losing my pattern mojo. and that would be bad! i have become addicted the feeling i get from constructing a new design and then translating it into a set of instructions. (yes. i know i’m a geek).

anyway, i think i can wrap this up in the next couple of days. i DO want to make one more little test shawl with the typed instructions and debbie is going to test a doll-sized version too (one casinoMini just isn’t enough . . .!).

15 thoughts on “happy birthday, baby!

  1. I love the mini-me shawl! What a great idea! It almost makes me wish I had grandchildren to knit itty bitty shawls for!

  2. I love the Casino shawl pattern in wool as much as in cashmere! Perhaps I’ll knit two shawls.

    The Man Lace fabric looks really good now. Although I was concerned about the white speckles, they don’t seem to be a problem any more, because the lace holes are showing up so much better. I like the texture in the first photo, but I suppose that blocking will flatten the fabric somewhat, so that the finished item will look more like the second photo. It will be interesting to see how it finally turns out!

  3. Actually I like the scale of the edging on the doll shawl- it adds a modern flair! Will await your pattern…………thank you!

  4. Happy Birthday to David and friends!

    I have to say, I am rather ridiculously excited about and fascinated by your Man Lace project. (Yes, I’m a geek too!) Can’t wait to see more, including the eventual “modeling” shots ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Love the idea of knitting mini-shawls for my daughter’s dolls….much more interesting way to begin my forays into lace knitting, than swatches.

  6. Happy Birthday, David! And whooboy, you got the final point in the casino shawl to work, it looks great! I can relate on it being tough to accurately photograph very contrasty or textured yarns. If you take photos with flash, one thing to try is to take the photo from farther away and zoom in. Gets rid of some of the brightness.

  7. Oh I want that little doll shawl I want it, I want it! Actually I agree with the others, it is a really good way to try out patterns because you have this cute little shawl at the end for a local doll or bat or hamster or whoever happens by when you’ve cast off (sorry, bound off, Europe interrupting there). Glorious pattern as always from you Anne-girl.
    Celtic Memory Yarns

  8. That skillet full of delicious food looks SO yummy. Mmmmmm, shrimp! ๐Ÿ™‚ Is that okra I see as well, or beans?

    A very happy belated to David. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Are you kidding? Champagne goes well with everything! Wanna be really decadent? Get a fairly expensive bottle, similar to what you’ve got in the pic, take a walk in the woods with your sweetie late on a sunny Sunday morning in the fall, and drink it from the bottle. Divine!

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