Category Archives: lace

The Easy Nemesis

It’s been a pretty busy few months behind the scenes here at Knitting to Stay Sane, no secret about that – and I’m loving the design projects that I’ve completed so far this year, just as much as I’m looking forward to working on more. But damn if it doesn’t leave a knitter a bit fatigued after a while. To wit, a couple of weeks ago, after the Knitter’s Frolic, I started working on something I’d been saving for just such a moment. A moment that required just the right kind of brain activity. The sort of brain activity that leaves you in a place where only the most simple of stitches will do. Garter stitch.

Of course, I’m not sure what it says about me that I picked garter stitch on lace weight for my rebound-recovery project, but no matter. This is the start of a Bridgewater shawl, (pattern by Jared Flood in the Made in Brooklyn booklet), on lace-weight wool-mohair yarn from Wellington Fibres. I purchased one skein of this yarn at last year’s Knitter’s Frolic, and rounded out the yardage on a visit to their farm last August.

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As yarns go, this does not suck. It is smooth and beautiful. And as I have personally met some of the angora goats who contributed to this yarn, I knew it had a limited shelf life in the stash before I had to take it out and get knitting. Make no mistake, it’s a beautiful pattern as well, and I am definitely hankering after a gorgeous Finished Object at the end.

However, let’s not overlook that the combination of garter stitch on lace-weight with a relatively smooth yarn is making the pace a bit slow. Garter stitch is so very…garter-stitch-y. I’m almost half-way through the garter stitch section – a square, around which one then picks up stitches at the edge to work a lace pattern. I am very much looking forward to that moment. I think by the time I get there my brain will be well and truly re-habilitated and looking for some complexity again.

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Nobody ever said knitting wasn’t a challenge – what they forget to tell you is sometimes doing the easy job is the challenge.

You and me, garter stitch. Let’s go.

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A Brief Note

Dear Self

You are currently finishing up three knitting designs, have deadlines to meet, your poor benighted done-except-for-one-sleeve Portland pullover is already guilting the crap out of you from the corner you stuffed it in back at the end of February, you have a perfectly serviceable 3/4 finished pair of ribbed socks waiting on standby in your handbag, and the Frolic, with all its attendant yarn-purchasing opportunities and startitis fuel, is coming up soon.

So if you could PLEASE STOP RIFLING THROUGH THE STASH AND PLANNING OUT LACE SHAWL PROJECTS, THAT WOULD BE SUPER AWESOME.

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Thanks ever so much.

Love from, the rational side of your brain.

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Filed under lace, stash

Now to find a place to wear it

As it turns out, I finished my Tibetan Dreams stole at the end of December, one of the last finished objects of 2009. And then I realized that a lace stole is probably the least optimal knitted object to finish in the middle of winter, because then you realize you need to photograph it and any outdoor shots of you frolicking with the finished shawl draped elegantly around your shoulders are really really not going to happen in -10C temperatures. So I’ve been waiting for the opportune moment.

Happily, Lisa invited me out to the big city yesterday afternoon, for high tea at the Knit Cafe. (They do this once a month, and it is well worth it. Book in advance.) And after our tea there was a bit of a lull, and their front window was temporarily empty, and I got Lisa to snap a few pictures. (Thankfully, the Knit Cafe people did not seem to mind me draping a shawl all over their empty shop window.) I am extremely grateful. Check it out, man:

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Pattern: Tibetan Dreams stole, by Sivia Harding in ‘The Knitter’s Book of Wool.’
Yarn:
Tanis Fiber Arts fingering weight, in Deep Sea
Cast on: November 29, 2009
Cast off: December 27, 2009
Needles: 4.0 mm (one size up from the specs – in retrospect I could have probably done fine with the indicated 3.75mm, as the final stole turned out slightly longer than I might have liked. This is when being tall pays off.)
Notes: Can you knit a beaded stole in a month? Answer: yes, but only if you don’t knit much else, and are clinging to the project as a lifeline in the midst of grading hell. I made no modifications whatsoever to the pattern. There are, however, a few minor errata that slipped through the chart publication cracks, so do look those up before you begin this project.

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This is certainly a challenging project, well beyond beginner-basic lace, but is also a skills-building project. The lace pattern on the edges is a 20-row repeat, which will definitely ask you to step up your concentration. The central panel (worked first), also asks you to pay attention to your chart-reading skills, but I found it enjoyable to tick off the rounds one at a time as the mandala pattern blooms outwards.

Working with beads is still relatively new for me, but it didn’t take long to get the hang of it – in this case the beads are applied with the use of a (0.60mm) crochet hook, on specific stitches. They are spaced out just far enough to keep a bit of interest while knitting, but not to overwhelm the shawl with a huge amount of weight. The final effect is drapey and elegant, and I’m happy with my selection of beads that are coloured similarly to the yarn.

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Allow me to assure you as well, dear blog readers, that just in case you think beauty is the same as perfection, then keep on walkin’. There are a couple of places in the edges in particular where I goofed up big time and just fudged it to make it work, and changed my stitch marker placement so that it didn’t happen again on the next repeat. (I got better). Now, I would probably have to look very very hard to find that same section with the error. I am pretty okay with this. (A good reminder in general, I feel.)

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Sivia Harding, if I didn’t know for a fact what an awesomely nice person you are, I would think you were an evil genius. Thanks for the great pattern.

So what are you waiting for? Go out and knit yourself some badass beaded lace. Best time ever.

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Filed under beads, fearless knitting, finished object: shawl, lace

Nothing says happy holidays like manual labour

So it turns out that when you go from a few weeks of only an hour or so of knitting per day, to a couple of days in a row of knitting in the morning, afternoon, and evening, your arms and wrists and shoulders will respond with “HEY WAIT A MINUTE. OUCH, MAN.” To wit, I’ve been going pretty hard on the Tibetan Dreams stole for the past couple of todays, and it is starting to catch up to me.

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A while ago, back when I still had fantasties of completing more than one knitted gift, I also had fantasies of having this finished to wear on Christmas Eve. I estimate that at an efficient pace, this stole still has about 8 hours left of knitting in it, so that fantasy is falling hard to earth right about now. I still can’t wait to finish it, though, to see what happens to it after blocking.

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The yarn is gorgeous (Tanis Fiber Arts fingering, in ‘deep sea’), the beads are just right (silver-lined blue size 6 seed beads, thanks Arton beads on Queen St.), and I am looking forward to having one last grand finished object for 2009. Perhaps this is what I’ll be finishing off on Christmas day. I do promise to reduce my knitting hours today, though, so that my right shoulder doesn’t stage a revolt on me.

So instead I’ll switch to other forms of manual labour. Rum balls and other Christmas Eve treats aren’t going to bake themselves.

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Whatever your holiday looks like, I hope it’s a good one and that you have some time for knitting and whatever form of relaxation you like. I’ll have a rum ball for you!

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Parallel insanity

At the moment I have about ten zillion papers and exams still to grade (down from previous total of fifteen zillion), I have design ideas I’ve been wanting to dive into for weeks and months, my Christmas knitting is so far beyond being done that there is no point in even being stressed out about it, and have somehow chosen the month of December to undertake a complete sorting of my closet and non-yarn-related possessions.

So, naturally, I have cast on for a beaded lace shawl.

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This is the Tibetan Clouds stole, by Sivia Harding in the Knitter’s Book of Wool. (The yarn is Tanis Fiber Arts fingering weight, in her new colour ‘Deep Sea’.) It’s fantastic. I’m having far too much fun with it. It’s the knitting I can’t wait to get back to in the evening. The lace is moderately challenging so far but not dauntingly so, and the addition of beads every few rows makes it pretty exciting.This pattern does not pre-string the beads, but has you slip the beads onto specific stitches with the use of a 0.60mm crochet hook. (Which, as it turns out, is far easier to execute than it sounds.) I took Sivia’s class at Sock Summit this summer and learned all about the beaded knitting, but I’d been putting off getting more practice with it.

Well, sign me up for more beaded lace, man, because this is the fun kind of crazy. It’s similar to colour-work in that ‘just one more repeat/row’ effect – the beaded rows are like little goal posts, more so than intimidations. I chose silver-lined blue beads in a fairly similar colour to the yarn, for a more subtle ever-so-slightly-sparkly effect. Here’s hoping it all works out by the time I’m ready to block this sucker.

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The way the pattern is constructed is to work the central square panel first, and then pick up stitches for each side to work those one at a time. This is the point I have reached now. Come on 2009, you and me, we’re going to crank out one more lace shawl. Because, you know, knitting socks and hats and mitts in December, that’s just so…practical. Psh.

Screw practical, I want more beads.

Knit on, my friends. Knit on.

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Filed under beads, fearless knitting, lace

Moving Right Along

In my last post I mentioned that on Saturday I was, at least for a very brief moment in time, on a blank slate. I was free to cast on new things for myself having finished others, and one of the projects I finished was a second Swallowtail shawl.

I made my first one back in June out of Sea Silk, and it is lovely and drapey and beautiful, but I wanted one that would be bigger and cover more of my shoulders and arms. So, I took the pattern and up-sized it, knitting 19 repeats of the buds instead of the instructed 14. For a while i was expecting I would knit 3 repeats of the lily of the valley instead of the 2 in the pattern, but when I finished the 2 in the pattern I realized that a) it didn’t really need a 3rd repeat, and b) if I only did 2 then I would be done sooner.

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I’m quite happy with the result. Betty here is modelling it for me (she is so named after Mad Men‘s Betty Draper…since I’m going to be draping my knitting all over her, yuk yuk yuk I kill me), and doing a fine job. For this second, up-sized Swallowtail I used 1.5 skeins of Tanis Fiber Arts fingering weight in ‘Plum’, which on 4.5mm needles left me with a wingspan of just over 5 feet across. Very pleasant. And check out that lovely lacey point…

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It’s true that the nupps get easier the more you do them. I find myself much looser on the nupps this time around than on the first go, and I really do like the way they look. I could even start to enjoy the nupps, dare I say.

I have more shawls that i’d like to cast on…once I get through the 2 pairs of socks, 1 sweater, and 1 pair of gloves that have come on the needles since Saturday morning. Nothing like a little bit of knitting to take the edge off of term starting, no? I thought so.

Happy Wednesday – keep the knitting close by!

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Filed under finished object: shawl, lace

Progress

This morning I got up, had breakfast, and then sat down to finish plying my fourth skein efforts at the Little Gem. Lo and behold, I have managed to turn Kim‘s beautiful merino/seacell pencil roving (called ‘Brains belong inside your head’) into a skein of something approaching DK-weight.

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Still not balanced, but I am feeling better about my consistency and am definitely looking forward to more practice. I think I will try for about this same weight on my next couple of skeins, and hopefully not injure my poor Little Gem in the process…I have been having the odd surprise with the wheel, things like the drive band dis-lodging itself spontaneously from the treadle, and although this has been intermittent it definitely plays havoc with trying to maintain consistent speed.

And speaking of things that are purple, earlier this week I pulled out my current shawl project which I started before Sock Summit, but which has sadly been languishing ever since I came back from it. This is the Swallowtail shawl once again, which I am trying to enlarge by extending the bud lace to 19 repeats and intend to work a 3rd repeat of the lily of the valley.

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Wouldn’t you know it, even the nupps aren’t so bad any more. I could even start to enjoy them. I’m hoping to put in some quality time with this in the next week or so (famous last words, no?) so that I can move on to new things and have this as a fall wearable.

I hope your weekend is a good one! Keep the knitting close by.

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Filed under lace, shawls, spinning