Category Archives: shawls

That point

It’s a good thing that today’s Canada Day, because I’ve got plenty of knitting to keep me busy with Canadian-dyed yarns. Not the least of which is my ongoing Peacock Feathers shawl, which I’m working up in Tanis Fiber Arts Mulberry Silk. It’s lovely, and I’m hoping in my heart of hearts that I”ll be able to keep plugging and get it done by the end of July – because that’s when my birthday is, and when I’ll be at Sock Summit, and I’d like to be able to wear it for both of those occasions.

July1-PeacockFeathers

I’m at that point now in the shawl when I can finally step back and see not just something that resembles a tangled mess of purple weeds, but an actual bonafide pattern starting to emerge. It’s very reassuring to get to that point, because you start to feel a bit of relief that it’s actually all going to turn out just fine, despite all those little tiny mistakes you made in the first couple of chart repeats. This is also about the point when it’s easy to feel some confidence, like, “Psh, me and this shawl, I GOT THIS. I’ll be done in a snap.”

So then, if you should happen to take a closer look at the fact that you the last remaining chart of the main pattern is in fact the largest one of the bunch and bigger than the previous 3 put together, and that you have at least one full skein more of yarn to go before finishing (possibly two more, if the nervous glances of the ladies who sold you the pattern when you wondered if just 1000 yards would be enough to get by, are at all accurate), and that you’ve now got less than a month to go before you supposedly finish this, then you might sort of feel a little bit less confident.

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But it’s Canada Day, so at least that means I can have a beer while I knit with it.

Happy knitting today, Canadians and all!

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Because summer said so

So, I’m through Charts 1 and 1a of the Peacock Feathers shawl. That’s…almost like being halfway done, right?

Well okay, possibly not. I’m not going to lie – I want this shawl. I’ve had the materials all ready to go since last year’s Knitter’s Frolic (Tanis Fiber Arts mulberry silk, in Velvet), but now the mental push finally came to shove when I realized I wanted to be able to wear this at Sock Summit at the end of July. That’s still a pretty flipping insane deadline to give myself, I realize, considering this is far from the only thing on my needles, but I’m going to give it a shot. A girl needs something to wear out on the town with her fellow knitters, doesn’t she?

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At least, that’s the vision I’ll keep in my head to keep me going. Like any other lacy enterprise, until I get to the final moment of binding off and blocking, it’s still going to look like a lump of tangled purple weeds. But it’s a silky smooth lump of weeds at least, and the yarn is lovely to work with. I’m planning on designing something with this yarn in the near future, so in a way this project is sort of like one giant test swatch. Who’s to say a girl can’t multi-task a little with her finished-object dreams? A little reminder to appreciate the process as well as product.

And because summer does appear to mean business already, I’ve quickly dispatched the Silk Garden Hourglass and it’s having its own blocking session at the moment. Time to rotate in some lace.

I hope you have a cold beverage of choice to keep you and your knitting company this weekend! Keep the yarn close by.

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Resurrecting

Remember this? Me too, dimly. The Pi Shawl I started on back in the fall has lain dormant amongst the yarn stash and WIPs since about mid-November. I think I harboured some hopes of finishing it over the Christmas holidays, but then with other knits going on it became clear this project just needed some time to sit. I’d reached the part of the pattern where you’re knitting nearly 600 sts in the final section and just reached a stopping point.

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A week or so ago I took it back up and realized, as one often does after the Great Timeout of Projects That Were Sucking The Life Out Of You Before, that I wasn’t actually that far from finishing. This could actually get done. Of course, although the Pi Shawl is extremely versatile, the original instructions aren’t written for laceweight, and when you reach the final instruction of knitting the last section for 40 rows “or until tired,” there’s a fair amount of leeway for deciding when to stop. I’ve sort of been going with the technique of holding up the radius (it’s a big bunched up circle at this point) along my arm and judging if it’s reached my wingspan yet. I think it has. Which means I finally get to start on the edging.

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Because I’ve made a deal with myself that I can’t start one of the two (or three or four) sweater projects I’m itching to start on until I finish this shawl, you see. And, uh, just being left with a knitted-on garter stitch border on an almost-600-stitch circular shawl, that’s almost like being done, right?

I hope so.

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Filed under lace, shawls

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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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

Needs more shawls

As delightful blogger Cyn so fantastically summed up in her post yesterday, “if you’re not knitting a triangular shawl right now, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.” Well, nyah-nyahs to me, because I am doing it right. I am knitting a triangular shawl right now, and in fact it is on the homeward stretch of being finished.

What shawl, you might wonder? Well ladies and germs, it is the ubiquitous Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn Clark. I think that just about everyone in knitting land has made this shawl. In fact, even if you haven’t made it, I think you should double-check because you may have actually made it when you weren’t looking. There are over 4,400 of these babies on Ravelry and I can see why. It is lovely.

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Well, that it is, it is lovely until you get to that first round of the freakin’ nupps. Increase 4 sts into 1 st? No problemo. Then on the next round, p5tog into that same stitch? Pah, no problemo….sort of. After those first 2 rows completing the first set of nupps, I was considering how I would feel tossing it out the window and letting the birds carry it off for their nests, that is how agonizing the first set of nupps was. I immediately grasped the rationale behind so many knitters’ decisions to replace those nupps with beads.

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But then, it got easier. The next set was better, and then the next set after that was better, and now I feel comfortable saying “I have nupped.” The thing that is worrying me now, interestingly enough, is the quantity of yarn. I still have what feels like a hefty quantity of the Handmaiden Sea Silk left (delicious, but also tres chere), and I would hate to have a huge amount of leftovers. (Mind you, I would also hate to run out. Please knitting karma, please be gentle).

In any event, I should discover the answer soon enough, because I am now on to the 2nd lily-of-the-valley repeat and then have the border edges to go. And then, a 2nd triangular shawl of the season will be mine. This may end up being the ‘Summer of Shawls’ that I wanted last year to be, and wouldn’t that be exciting?

Needs more shawls.

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The trouble with Monday

…is that it is not the weekend. Knitting-wise, I had a pretty decent Sunday. I went into Toronto with Martha and met up with Lisa, Martina, and her friend Nichole for high tea at the Knit Cafe. We compared our current knitting, fantasy knitting (in my head I will have 3 shawls and 4 socks knitted by Tuesday…danged reality of the space-time continuum), and ate a series of small tasty treats. It was delicious.

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I think I will have to go again. Mmmm.

My current knitting that has been on the go for a week now is the Oyster Bay shawl (also available as a Ravelry download). Kate has knitted two of these now and makes it seem as easy as getting out of bed, and it’s lace which uses fingering weight which I like, so I decided to just go for it.

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Last August when I was in Halifax I picked up 3 skeins of Tanis Fiber Arts fingering weight (which I am now pleased to report is available in Toronto as well) in the stubbornly bright ‘royal flush’ colourway, intending to do a shawl with it eventually, and lo and behold eventually has arrived. The pattern is going along quite smoothly so far, though I had quite a hiccup in the beginning which turned out to be related to the fact that the nice neat little “pattern repeat” box was not at all visible on my printed black & white copy. Check your colour PDFs, my friends. Hours of teeth-gnashing might be saved.

And now it is Monday, and I am trying very hard not to switch out “grade stack of papers” for “swatch for new sweater”. We’ll see how that goes.

Keep the knitting close by!

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Filed under knitting in public, lace, shawls

But it’s only 750 yards

So two and a half weeks ago I was at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair and returned with a small haul of new yarn. I followed our friend Dee’s lead and cast on for something right away. She, of course, finished her something within, oh, a week or so, and meanwhile I’m still plodding. It’s not the most horrible plodding, per se, I just sort of thought I’d be done by now. It’s my second Forest Canopy Shawl:

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The yarn is really quite lovely on the hands, and is just made for shawls – it’s fingering-weight merino hand dyed by Michelle at The Sweet Sheep, in ‘Super Skeins’ (this colour is ‘Depth’) that are long enough that you can get a shawl out of a single one, no stopping to switch to a second or third skein, no weaving in ends in the middle of your lace pattern. Highly brilliant. In fact I might even get another one in a different colour, next time I’m at a local festival.

The only downside of course, is that I’ve knitted at least 15 pattern repeats by now and I still have 100g of wool left and I’m starting to feel like I’ll be knitting this shawl forever. I mean, it’s a fingering weight shawl, shouldn’t this take, like, 2 seconds? It’s 4.5mm needles, not laceweight on 3.25mm or something…

Then Martha pointed out that this is yardage equivalent to two pairs of socks, and I do very rarely finish two pairs of socks that instantaneously. So when you put it that way, I’m doing just fine for time. I can be patient. This has nothing to do with wanting to breeze on through and start another project right away to ease my stash guilt before Rhinebeck. Nope. Nosiree, nothing of that sort. Um.

But in good news, I did finish the first sleeve of the Swing Cardi last night, so I”m on the home stretch with only the second sleeve, neckline, and finishing to go. Just over two weeks to go…

In other news, my next post, according to my blog statistics, will be my 300th. Since I have managed to let two Blog Anniversaries sail right by me (it is in July), I am going to make the 300th post count. I think there shall be some giveaways, it’s about time I did a blog contest! So, stay tuned. And I hope your Thursday is a knit-worth one.

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Filed under lace, shawls

Shawl time

I was already enjoying the Forest Canopy shawl as I was knitting it. For real, I was only halfway through it and already thinking of what shawls I was going to make next, what other lace projects I’d filed away for “someday” in my knitting brain. Then, I blocked it. Yes my friends, blocking lace really is the most fun you can have with yarn and T-pins. I present to you my first lace shawl:

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A few of my knitting friends have been working on this pattern lately, and when i realized it could be done with sock yarn, and that I could use the 2nd pair of skeins of Socks That Rock that I purchased at Rhinebeck (in the lovely semi-solid Jasper colourway, no less), I was sold. I cranked this out in about 2 weeks, and then inexplicably let it sit there for another week before blocking it.

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The astute and experienced among you may notice that I didn’t quite get to a full border – I only managed 4 of the final border rows instead of 8, as I ran out of yarn. And indeed, I ran out of yarn after getting 80% of the way through the bind-off. Clearly, this is an indication that I over-shot and should have stopped 1 repeat short and done only 17 instead of 18 repeats of the main pattern. But you know? It totally works. Nobody who has examined this shawl has caught the 12 inches of substituted yarn I pinch-hitted the final bind-off with, and dudes, I call that a win. I have Kate’s yarn to thank for being the right shade.

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I like that this pattern is easy to ‘embiggen’. Although it’s possible to complete the pattern with only a single 350-400 yd skein of fingering weight yarn, it’s pretty easy to just keep going and do more repeats until you feel like you’ve gone far enough. The finished size is about 78″ across, which is pretty much perfect for me (I’m 5’9″. Big comfy shawl, please). Great for wrapping around my shoulders in the heavily air-conditioned theatre on Friday night.

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The STR Mediumweight makes this a less ‘holey’ knit than it is perhaps intended to be, and I probably could have gone up a needle size (I used 5.0mm) without trouble. Still, I call this a win and freely admit that there will be more shawls this summer. Shawls Ahoy. Summer of Shawls. I’ve got the patterns stacking up in my mental queue and have but to choose.

Lace knitting. Why didst I forsake thou for so long? Good thing I finally found you.

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Filed under finished object: shawl, lace, shawls

More with the yarn shops

I am actually starting to get backed up on the knitting content and WIP/FO reporting. There’s a completed Forest Canopy Shawl that is finished and blocked and just needs some ends woven in, and a 2/3 finished pair of Noro Kureyon Sock knee-highs that I’m really enjoying. On the shawl front, I have definitely been enticed to the magic of lace. Here’s what it looked like about a week and a half ago, almost-finished and unblocked:

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That’s Socks That Rock Mediumweight in ‘Jasper’, from two of the skeins I brought home from Rhinebeck last October. I’m hoping to take the finished product out for a spin tomorrow night, for a trip to the theatre. Martha just finished one as a birthday present for our mom, and Steph is working on her own right now too with Indigo Moon. Shawls ahoy. Summer of Shawls has commenced around these parts.

But I still had more yarn shops to talk about, carrying on from my last post. In April I got to travel twice, to New York and to Boston. I did quite a bit of yarn shop visiting, more than is characteristic even for me – this is a testament to how a stressed out about-to-defend-her-thesis grad student looks for comfort. There are many fine shops in those cities, but some particular ones stood out for me.

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Knitty City is the New York shop that still sticks out in my mind. This was admittedly partly due to the selection – lots and lots of sock yarns, worsteds, things in sweater quantities and little quantities, and Canadian favourites like Mission Falls and Fleece Artist as well. The staff were also very friendly, as were the clientele. There were a few separate chairs and tables, even in such a small shop, and my friend Rebecca and I just sat for a bit after our purchases and knitted, and chatted with the people there. During that hour or so I watched a large number of customers come and go, and the staff people dealt with a huge variety of requests, all with patience and skill. I left wanting to go back again.

Also, I will say that it doesn’t hurt to combine the yarn-ing with a visit to the awesome Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is what we’d done that morning. In fact, I think my ideal day in New York would look something like that, possibly rounded out with a yummy dinner. (I should mention that after visiting S’Mac I continue to have dreams of their gruyere macaroni and cheese.)

Boston’s yarn shops are many. I think I visited 5 altogether and there were still others I could have gone to. The most memorable ones for me were the two in Cambridge (wish I’d spent more time there, too, it was way more fun than the Copley Place office/hotel/mall complex that I was trapped in for the conference): Mind’s Eye Yarns and Woolcott & Co. Here’s why.

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These are both small shops, each with strong selections that complement each other. Mind’s Eye Yarns is clearly a spinner’s shop as well as a knitter’s place, and so I walked out with a bit of fiber instead of yarn – and could have walked out with more than I did, believe you me. I was alone in the shop and Lucy, the owner, let me browse on my own and answered a few of my questions when I mentioned I’d started spinning and was looking for advice on plying. As I was leaving I mentioned that I wanted to find Woolcott as well, and she gave me directions (accounting for the construction-at-the-time around the relevant subway station) without hesitation. And then she said, “Tell Sean I said ‘hi’.”

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So when I got down to Woolcott, Sean the owner was there with another staff member, both knitting away and chatting happily. I walked in and he greeted me and told me about the sales on, and I said, “Oh, and Lucy from Mind’s Eye said to say hello.” And he said, “Oh, Lucy’s just about the nicest woman you’ll ever want to meet.” I left thinking how awesome it was that they were so friendly with each other, rather than being in cutthroat competition. I bought a skein of sock yarn and a skein of Noro Silk Garden, and as I was checking out he told me about both of the yarns and how they behave (Noro still has “some action in it”, is how he described it, which is why centre-pull balls and Noro are not so mixy), which was reassuring.

All three of these shops were comforting experiences, I went in and left feeling on equal footing as a knitter with the others sharing the space, and I liked how accessible they were to a person accessing cities largely on foot or by transit. My visits in April overall confirmed for me that yarn selection is, at best, only part of the reason why some LYSs become ‘favourites’ more so than others.

Onwards to the weekend – the days go by pretty quickly when you’re taking a bit of time off! Next time I promise some photos of knitting content, either a finished shawl or a knee sock, or both. Have a great Thursday, and may your knitting be close by!

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Filed under knitting tourism, lace, shawls, yarn stores