Category Archives: lace

It’s just that starting is so easy

I don’t know what it is about lace and lace-weight yarn that can have such an all-consuming effect. Either you’re in the deep dark throes of trying to finish something and feeling like it’s never going to end, or you’re fresh-faced and starting out with something new and it’s all going to be GREAT, just wait and see.

When I cast off my Bridgewater shawl back in July I immediately started reading through all the lace patterns I’ve got. There have been several on deck – the Peacock Feathers shawl, for example. But over the last year or so I’ve been reading through the Elizabeth Zimmerman books gradually and waiting for the opportune moment to start a Pi Shawl.

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It turns out that the opportune moment comes when you’re riding a start-itis high after finishing a few projects, and even though you’re more than halfway through your Rhinebeck sweater and it needs to be done in a month you’re still looking for something new and shiny, and the yarn you bought yourself as a birthday present back at the end of July that has been waiting ever so patiently and that you were swatching up to knit something else entirely suddenly says “I would like to be a Pi Shawl now, please,” and it’s September and starting to get cold and you want to immediately cast on anything and everything that will make you feel warmer around any part of your body.

And that’s how it starts.

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Filed under lace, shawls

Allons-Y

[ETA]: This pattern is now available for sale on Patternfish, and in my Ravelry store.

I’ve been a busy little bee the last few weeks, as per usual getting one or two things ready for the knitting fair! For the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair this weekend, you will once again be able to find a new pattern of mine at Tanis Fiber Arts. ┬áTanis has been wanting a quick ‘single skein’ shawl pattern all for her own, and since she has two different lines of fingering weight yarn, I wanted to come up with something that a knitter could make with either one.

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This is “Allons-Y” (french for ‘let’s go!’), and is shown here in Tanis’ Purple Label cashmere/merino/nylon blend in the rich and gorgeous ‘poppy‘ shade. It is very soft and has a pleasant weight around the neck. Can’t you just feel the cashmere radiating through the photos?

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I wanted something that would combine a couple of stitch motifs for a nice scarf-like effect, in the nice versatile way that small shawls can be. You could wear this over the shoulders on a chilly day, or tuck it around your neck or under the collar for just a bit of extra insulation.

This uses 4.5mm needles and a single 100g skein of Tanis’ fingering weight, with just 7g leftover from my sample in the Purple Label (slightly shorter yardage than the Blue label merino/nylon fingering weight). A nice bargain! Experienced lace knitters will probably be able to knock this off pretty quickly, and adventurous new lace knitters who are looking for a second or third project to try will find it approachable enough. The shawl follows typical triangular shawl construction, and is worked from the centre neck down towards the edge, with a garter stitch edging and yarnover increases. Reverse side rows are worked purlwise, because if you’re going for speed, (not that I would ever be impatient to finish things, no no no…) you want to have that nice purl resting row waiting for you.

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Thanks also to Bridget Allin of Needles in the Hay, who I accosted…errr, who obliged me with a quick photo shoot in her shop.

See you at the fair this weekend, folks – and with one more thing I’ll have to tell you about tomorrow. (Heh). ;)

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Filed under design, lace

The magical step

Did you know that when you finish knitting your shawl, you can give it a quick bath and then pin it out for blocking, and it changes from being a lump of yarn into being an actual lace shawl?

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It’s true. It works every time.

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You just can’t make this stuff up.

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(Lamplight shawl. Full pattern details coming soon.)

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Filed under design, lace

Lifelines

The shawl is now thisclose to being finished. Just a few border rows and a bit of blocking and it’ll be done, and after that a bit more pattern drafting and it’ll be ready to go up for sale over at The Sweet Sheep. I’m happy that it’s almost finished (because then I get to fully show it off, and y’all will get to knit it too, if you should desire), and I can tell that I’m almost there because I’ve started longingly browsing other shawl patterns. Yesterday it was Knitted Lace of Estonia. When I was almost finished knitting my Bridgewater Shawl, I was giving serious contemplation to casting on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Pi Shawl. (I restrained myself). It’s some strange lace-coloured-classes form of startitis, who can figure it.

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On my last post many of you commented on the fact that I am using lifelines. I like lifelines. I’ve often used them while lace knitting because I like the sense of security, and in this instance they have been a great support during the design process. When I’ve gotten to a point in the project when I am happy with it and confident about moving forward from that point at the very least, I string in a lifeline. (Here: some of my Lorna’s Laces shepherd sock remnants. It’s non-grabby, thin, and colourfast, all good qualities in a lifeline). I’ve installed them at several points to support my progress, and it’s also a nice visual reminder of how far I’ve knitted. I like the advantage of knowing that if/when I have to rip something out, I’ll have a secure row of stitches to pick up. This doesn’t mean that my lace knitting is always mistake-free, mind you. I still make mistakes, I just give myself the option of a re-do if it gets to be that bad.

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However, I know that there are knitters that don’t use them, and Erin reminded me that this is actually a subject of debate. (I know – a facet of knitting with multiple opinions about it. Shocking, isn’t it? (DPNs vs. Magic Loop. Aaaaand…go!)) So I’m piqued, dear knitting friends, do you use lifelines? Whether you do or don’t, know that I have 100% respect for you either way. But I am curious to know more about what goes into that decision or non-decision.

And in the mean time, I’m looking ahead to the next knitting projects and I think a return to cables, lots more teal green, and more sweaters are on the horizon. Even if fall does bring a return to “real” work for me, I’m happy about cold weather knitting also returning.

Happy knitting!

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Filed under design, lace

Ticking along

(Because several people asked at my last post – if you want to know more about any future Toronto TTC Knitalongs, join the Ravelry group, follow the TTC Knitalong blog, or simply keep a close eye out on my blog or others like Team-leader Michelle, because advance information about signups is/was available in all of these places.)

I am not entirely sure where this last week has gone, so quickly. Actually, scratch that – I do know where it has gone, but I am still at a loss as to how we are already halfway through the month of July. Can’t we just stick a pin in the middle of summer and have it go on for an extra couple of weeks without having to reckon with the ever-approaching August and therefore the ever-approaching end of the sunny pace of life?

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Things are ticking along, at any rate. Last week I taught my as-yet last scheduled class of the summer at Passionknit, in Toronto, and we cut up some steeks darned good (photos above). I am moving along on various design projects for Tanis Fiber Arts, Indigodragonfly, the Sweet Sheep, as well as some ideas for me, and happily have been offered a teaching contract for the year (in central Ontario, which means a temporary move for me also). I am continuing with my running and training for a half-marathon (late September, fingers crossed), and knitting away in bits and pieces.

This past week I had the chance to head up to the Stratford (Ontario) theatre festival, with an online pal who came through town for a visit. We saw plays, did a bit of shopping, and made the fantastic discovery of the Chocolate Trail, which basically amounts to you paying for an up-to-8-stops pass to various chocolate-serving establishments in town. It was awesome. Chocolate, more chocolate, and then we had chocolate martinis. I regret nothing.

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Then on Saturday, just to round off the week, I made my way into the big city to the Toronto Textile Museum, where I participated in a workshop on Orenburg Lace with Galina Khmeleva.

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Um. Consider my mind blown. Or, rather, I feel as though somebody just came along with a key and opened up the door to something that you hadn’t noticed was there. It was great, sort of a technical workshop and history lesson all in one. This is a knitting practice that wraps together fibre craft, practicality, technical fluidity, beauty, and function so completely that for about a split second you sort of wonder if someone is actually kidding. But no, there is no kidding. This is LACE. Lace that means serious business.

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This week the name of the game is all about getting as much done as I can before getting on a plane on Thursday. I am heading off for several days’ vacation to hang with my friend Liz, and we shall knit, see bits and pieces of San Francisco and LA, make a brief stop at San Diego Comic Con (Sunday tickets were all we could manage), and I imagine, do the appropriate amount of lying around and being women of leisure. I mean, isn’t that what one does when one goes to California? I certainly hope so.

Over and out until next time! Possibly from the other side of the continent.

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Filed under design, fearless knitting, knitting knowledge, lace

Tra la la, tra laaa la, tra lalalalalaaaaa….

It is DONE.

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I’ll weave in the ends this afternoon when I’m sitting at the Purple Purl.
And then I’ll traipse around in it for a little bit.

And then I get to knit something new. I can’t even tell you how exciting it is to have this finished. This is 1900 yards of finished knitting. Thanks for the nice yarn, Wellington Fibres. And Jared Flood, even though I might have cursed your name once or twice during the miles of garter stitch, it sure is a pretty finished result.

Onwards!

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Filed under finished object: shawl, lace

In case you were wondering

Despite the fact that it is approximately twelve kinds of steaming hot outside (hello, July), I am thinking a lot about starting a bunch of new knitting projects. I am thinking about starting my own Royale (which will be my Rhinebeck sweater this year). I am thinking about designing a fair isle sweater, or perhaps a whole series of gloves. I am thinking about starting a new shawl with that Tanis mulberry silk I got at the beginning of May. I am thinking about starting a new pair of Jaywalkers with more of the Lorna’s Laces sock yarn I have stashed. I am thinking about knitting a cute little cropped summer cardigan to look cute and summery with.

I owe this rich knitting fantasy life to the fact that, instead of starting any of these things, I am trying to finish the things still on the needles before putting any new things on the needles. And this means that instead of fun new socks or awesome new cabled things, I am knitting the edging on the Bridgewater shawl, which is the final step before I block the snot out of it and pray that when it is blocked it really will look shawl-like and not like the pile of greyish string it is starting to resemble in my dulled mind’s eye.

July5-BridgewaterEdging

And just in case you were wondering, knitting an edging on a square laceweight shawl takes a freaking long time. 1 corner down, 3 more to go.

Here’s hoping when next we meet I will have this sucker cast off, because I don’t know how much longer I can resist the lure of my stash. Until then…stay cool, my knitting friends. And knitterly.

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Picking up

Earlier this week, I happily completed the centre garter stitch section of the Bridgewater shawl, decreasing all the way to the top point of the square. It was great.

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Now all I have to do is pick up approximately eleventy million stitches around the edge, and then I can start the lace edging. I’m going to guess that means I’ll be starting the lace edging, oh, some time in July. Or, perhaps just a few days. The yarn (Wellington Fibres mohair/wool 2-ply laceweight) is very, very lucky to be so pretty, I wouldn’t do this for just any skein.

I hope you’re knitting something awesome, folks!

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In which I talk about yarnovers

So, as we covered last time, I am in recovery from learning that I have been working my yarnovers (YO, also alternately indicated as “yarn forward” or “yf” – remember that, it’ll come in handy later) incorrectly, and dudes, it is a long damned time since I learned a knitted thing that changed my perception of what I was doing so distinctly. You can never have so much experience you can’t still occasionally feel like a beginner. Since my Yarnover Epiphany I have also since learned I am not the only one who has had this experience, something which eases my embarrassment like crazy.

Anyhoo, yarnovers. Let’s do this with some photos and you can figure out for yourself if a) you’ve been doing it right all along and can now sit a little bit taller in your chair knowing this, or b) you’ve been doing it wrong too and can come comiserate me with a stiff drink, or c) you have no idea what yarnovers are and are just here for some online procrastination. No matter.

Yarnovers are pretty much the cornerstone of lace in knitted form, I’d hazard to say. Heck, as Steph’s recent poll so soundly indicated, you make lace by putting holes in your knitting on purpose. Said holes generally get accomplished by combining YOs with decreases in various combinations. And it looks super pretty.

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I’ll explain with the aid of some photos here, first by showing you how I have been doing it, and then by showing you the way it is actually meant to be done.

When you are creating a yarnover, you are wrapping the yarn around the needle to create a loop. When you work that loop on the next row, it leaves a nice little lacy hole behind. Let’s assume that we are about to work a “yo, k2tog” step on this little swatch, below. Let’s also assume that we are starting with the yarn in the position as if to knit – yarn held in back of work.

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Next, what I have been doing is wrapping the yarn around the needle from the back, around the front of the needle…

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And then working the K2tog right afterwards…

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…and as a result you get a loop that looks like this from the front of the work (the worked YO is on the right-hand needle):

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…and it looks like this from the back of the work (worked YO is now on the left-hand needle):

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Turns out, this is actually a YO worked in the reverse direction from what you are supposed to do, which pulls at the knitted fabric and actually twists the YO in an unflattering fashion. It is the lace equivalent of knitting through the back loop when you are only supposed to knit a regular knit stitch. At the end of this post I’ll show you the results of this in a swatch that involves YO and patterning on every row. It’s huge.

In actual fact, the proper way to work a YO is, from that same starting position of the knit…

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..bring your yarn forward to the front of the work. (Remember that this is also called “yarn forward”?)

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That’s it. That’s a yarnover. For real.

Now, work the K2tog decrease that follows it, and the wrapped yarn will appear as you work that stitch:

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TA-DA.

And now you end up with a yarnover sitting just to the right of the K2tog decrease:

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See how different/better it looks compared to its cousin worked in the previous step?

You can see from the reverse side how different they look, in particular. The correct version now appears to the right-hand side of the photo:

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If all you are doing is purling-back on your WS rows, you might not even notice or care. If, however, you are called upon to work pattern on both RS and WS rows and suddenly have to manipulate the YO worked on the previous row, it makes an inordinate amount of difference.

I worked up a swatch (below) on fingering-weight yarn in a simple little netting stitch using both versions – the bottom half of the swatch is done with the ‘wrong’ way, and the top half is worked in the ‘right’ way. Can you tell the difference? It’s not an enormous difference, so don’t feel bummed if you can’t – in fact, with aggressive wet-blocking I dare say nobody would notice unless they went over it extremely closely. Since I am usually a pretty aggressive wet-blocker with lace, this also explains a bit why I never noticed anything amiss.

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However, check out this class swatch with a knitted-on edging, in which the bottom inch of the swatch was my work done with my initial method, and the rest of it was worked correctly. This is a sample in which there is patterning and YO on each row. See the difference now? See how compressed and flat the bottom section is, compared to the rest? (This is when, during class, I showed my finished swatch to Jennifer and she looked at me with a sympathetic “DUDE.”)

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This, my friends, is the power of working yarnovers in the right direction.

Since Wednesday night’s lace class I have been wracking my brain trying to remember how I learned to work yarnovers – did someone show me? Did I learn from written instructions? From a book? Or did I just do what I thought was a YO at the time, only to go 2 years before realizing there was a better way? Who knows. But I’m pleased to know the better/right way now, and I hope you are too. (Unless of course, you already knew. If so, kudos and cake to you.)

Go forth and yarnover fearlessly!

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Filed under demo, lace

You learn something new every day

Hi, my name is Glenna, and last night I nearly died of self-inflicted embarrassment in front of Anne Hanson. True story.

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I had the great fortune to nab one of the spots in her Advanced Lace Knitting class at The Purple Purl, and it was well worth it. Anne is knowledgeable, kind, and patient, and I am jealous of all the people who get to sit in her day-long class today. (I am on my way towards Edmonton later today, for a weekend in celebration of my grandfather’s 95th birthday. He does get to have priority.) I signed up because lace knitting is probably the skill set I possess the least experience in – I’ve been knitting socks and cables for about 5 years, but doing lace for only about 2 – and I also knew that I was going to be tasked with some lace design projects this summer, so anything to help me develop my skills in the lace knitting area is something I’m interested in. I was not disappointed! I have no doubt that everyone in the class enjoyed a revelation or two.

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Among other things, I learned about crochet provisional cast-ons for the first time (I’d managed to avoid it up until now), salient differences between lace patterns with and without the purl-back ‘rest’ rows (I tend towards the purl-back patterns, for speed and memorizability, but I can’t live there forever), different kinds of shawl construction, yarn selection, and much, much more.

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And then, while we were working our little test swatches to practice knitted-on edgings, I was running into some trouble and having difficulty figuring out what I was doing wrong. It was one of those moments where you know without a doubt that your work does not look the way it is supposed to look, and yet your brain refuses to give up the magical explanation as to WHY it doesn’t look right. And so Anne came over and helped me out and we figured out that the reason it wasn’t going right…is because I have been doing my yarnovers (YOs) wrong this entire time.

It rocked my world, I tell you. I immediately (well, today, after resisting the urge to cuddle all my knitted shawls in apologetic tears mumbling I’m so sorry my babies I DONE YOU WRONG) remembered my friend Liz reporting something similar on her Twitter about a week or two ago, and I emailed her to ask if my wrong way vs. the right way was the same as her wrong way vs. the right way. And it WAS. And I went and asked my mother to show me the way SHE does yarnovers, and it turns out SHE does it the same wrong way too. AHA.

So, dear knitting friends, I am duly prepping a post about this, because if there are at least 3 of us in this world who have been doing it wrong, then there are probably others too, and I would like to share this with you so that you don’t have to die of embarrassment while sitting in an Advanced Lace Knitting class with Anne Hanson.

And the rest of you who are doing it right, well. The first round of martinis is on me. Catch you next time (possibly live from Edmonton) with a photo-riffic YO post. It’s gonna be awesome.

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Filed under fearless knitting, lace