Category Archives: finished object: shawl

Urban Collection: Lakeshore Shawl

Knitting friends, I’m so pleased to announce that the final piece of the Urban Collection is here and ready! (Available now on Ravelry, as well as on Patternfish along with all other collection pieces). This last pattern took me a little longer to finalize than originally planned, but I have to admit I’m pretty happy with it. And now that spring has firmly established itself around these parts in Southern Ontario, the timing could not be better for shawls.

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When I was started planning this collection a while back, my goal was that if a knitter were to knit and/or own all of the items in this set, she would be ready for any occasion with a piece of knitwear. That includes sweaters and accessories to be sure, but I knew I wanted to finish with a nice shawl. Shawls are pretty welcome from spring through fall, either as the main attraction atop a dressy outfit, or wrapped over your shoulders while going about your day through the city. There are so many ways to wear them, and so many fabulous colours of yarn available to show off your lace handiwork!

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This pattern is worked in the classic top-down triangle shape, beginning from the top of the centre of the triangle at the back of neck, increasing outwards with yarnovers at edge and either side of the centre stitch. There are two main charts in the triangle portion, and the shawl is finished with a knitted-on picot lace border. It’s a shawl that will expect you to have a little bit of lace practice going into it (or at the very least be comfortable with the basics), but won’t tax you so much as to grow weary of complicated charts. I wanted this to be a piece in the lighter end of the intermediate range, that would ask a bit of attention of you but not so much that you can’t still get on with the rest of your day. I quite like the way it turned out, and I know I’m going to enjoy wearing this sample during the coming spring and summer!

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I think every knitter deserves a silk shawl in their life. This is worked with Tanis Fiber Arts Silver Label 100% mulberry silk, in Garnet. (Garnet continues to be one of my favourite colours, though I have to say I do not think there is a bad colour when it comes to the silk.) It uses 2 skeins of the TFA silk, or approx. 850 yds of your preferred laceweight or light fingering weight yarn, on 3.5mm needles. Finished size is a comfortable 72 inches across the top “wingspan”, and size is best altered by altering needle size and gauge.

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I’d like to once again thank Tanis Fiber Arts for yarn support for this and the other pieces in the Urban Collection, Bridget at Needles in the Hay for obliging me with a few photos of the modelled piece, and Kate Atherley for technical editing.

Happy knitting on this fine Tuesday! May there be delicious lace shawls in your future.

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Filed under design, finished object: shawl, lace

Things I did this summer

Knitting progress continues apace here at Knitting to Stay Sane, but rather than show you the 6 inches more teal green sweater I’ve accumulated since last time, or the swatches and sketches and wound yarn cakes I’m happily pondering, I need to go back for some due diligence on a finished project from the summer that hasn’t yet seen the proper light of the blog since it was finished.

You may remember that I was knitting the Peacock Feathers shawl this summer, and that I gave myself just shy of 2 months to knit it in order to have it finished by my birthday – which also co-incided with the middle of Sock Summit. I think the last time you saw it it looked something like this:

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Or maybe this:

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But I never did get any proper modelled “Finished Object” shots with it, and that’s just a crying shame, because this shawl is awesome.

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I did, in fact, make my deadline. When I gave myself that deadline I knew it was going to be just enough of a challenge, but do-able. Most of it was done with about 1-2 hours of knitting each day, and some days all I did was two rows on it and that had to be enough. I spent the 5-hour flight from Toronto to Portland for Sock Summit knitting most of the last of the edging chart, and the rest of it the that night. Then on the Friday of Sock Summit I woke up knowing that all that stood between me and a finished shawl was the crochet bind off (which I’d never done before), and blocking and pinning out (which I had to do on the hotel bed, also a first-time experience for me). The great thing (if one wanted to look at it that way) about coming down to the wire on something like this is that you don’t have time to worry about whether or not you can pull off a crochet bind-off on a 600-stitch silk shawl while riding transit to the Oregon Convention Centre and waiting around at coffee breaks. You just do it.

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I wore it around Sock Summit the rest of the weekend, as well as the local Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair here a month ago. It is an eye-catching shawl and I got a lot of lovely compliments on it. This shawl will get you noticed – it is big, beautiful, and any knitter who’s been around the block a few times will look at it and know that you had to put in some time and skill to get it.

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I point these things out not just to state the obvious (because let’s face it, there is no denying the awesomeness of this pattern), but to emphasize the fact that nobody, not one knitter out of the many who have admired and touched this shawl, have noticed or pointed out a single one of the what are probably dozens of mistakes I made while making it. The whole thing is not a big flaming hot mess, let’s be clear on that for sure, but there are little imperfections scattered across it.

Most of them were fairly typical lace knitting mistakes, like accidentally mis-aligning chart rows by 1 stitch and then having to fix it on the next row, but other dumbass moves were things like me reading a double decrease as a single decrease because I was knitting it during the hottest month of July possibly in several decades and my brain was oozing out my ears, and then having to fix that on the next row. But the thing is, there are thousands upon thousands of stitches in this shawl, and I read my knitting as I went and made it work and forged ahead because that’s what I wanted to do. This is 100% silk yarn, and given the choice between an imperfect yet beautiful shawl, and having to rip back silk – I choose living with the imperfections. Beauty does not need to be flawless.

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I love this shawl and I’m glad to have knitted it. It is a skills-building project that will ask a lot of your brain and attention span, but still allows you the restfulness of purling back on the wrong side rows, and the pleasant comfort of increasing every right side row in the same place through yarnovers, like typical triangular shawls do. Tanis’ mulberry silk yarn is a dream to work with (2.2 skeins for this shawl), as is the colour, and now I have this great shawl to pull from my closet the next time I want a kick-ass accessory. The pattern and yarn sat on my shelf for over a year before I finally cast on, and I’m glad to have dispatched them to this result.

What ambitious projects are waiting for you in your stash? You just never know what awesome things they could be.

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Filed under fearless knitting, finished object: shawl, lace

Still going, still good

One thing I learned from the last Sock Summit is that, for me at least, having knitting classes 4 straight days in a row is a recipe for being really really exhausted by Sunday afternoon. This time, I planned for that and allowed myself a day of no classes whatsoever on Friday. It worked out pretty well.

I spent a few hours strolling around the marketplace (acquired 2 more skeins plus a 15-minte chair massage which was GREAT), and chatting with knitters there;

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Then I had the most delicious brown rice bowl for lunch from a food cart, which I ate too fast to be able to take a picture of it, visited a cupcake place and scarfed down a life-changing chocolate ganache cupcake, and hit Powell’s later with some fellow knitters. (Powell’s were ready for the knitters).

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And, oh yes – I finished the crochet bind-off on my Peacock Feathers shawl and then BLOCKED IT. (Thank you, hotel bed). I do indeed get to wear it as my birthday shawl today.

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Today for my birthday I get to take knitting classes all day, shop with knitters, then have dinner with knitters. Looking forward to all of it!

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Filed under finished object: shawl, knitting in public, knitting tourism, sock summit

Around and around

The Pi Shawl, she is done, and I am well pleased. I wore it out on Wednesday as a layer under my jacket (then, erm, learned very quickly to be careful not to choose jackets with little grabby snaggy parts underneath the collar – had a close call) and got to show it off at the Toronto Downtown Knit Collective meeting at ‘show and tell’, which was also super fun. Go ahead and knit yourself one of these, man. I mean, sure, it’ll take a while. But then you get this:

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This is worked with 2 skeins (just 2 skeins – 5g left of the 2nd one) of Indigodragonfly 50/50 merino/silk, or about 1400 yards, in “One, one purple skein, Aaa Aaa Aaaah!” that I got myself last summer as a birthday present. I had a 3rd skein waiting and ready, but was glad to get to just the end of the 2nd one and not be left with a large amount of remnants. This is on a 4.0mm needle and after a solid blocking is about 5 and a half feet across. If i had to do it again, admittedly, I would go down to 3.5mm and work more rounds to compensate for the difference. The finished product here is lovely, but the yarnovers are a little wider than I’d like (this ain’t no Orenburg lace, to be sure, but you know) for full comfort. Still, I’m happy with it, and it’ll be a nice light layer or scarf to throw on when needed.

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Elizabeth Zimmerman’s instructions for this shawl are workable for a number of different yarn weights, so you could easily do it with fingering or DK if you like, for a snugglier garment. The yarnover variation here (yarnovers worked every 6th round) is one that appealed to me since it adds just a hint of interest, but a plain stockinette version would surely be the ultimate in mindless knitting, if a person were drawn to that sort of thing. And the garter stitch border is sitting there doing just what I wanted it to – being plain more than fancy, and floating along happily at the edge.

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So look at that. Sometimes when you put a project away for a few months, and then come back to it, you realize you really CAN finish it after all! Thank goodness.

I do have the Peacock Feathers shawl still waiting and on deck to come up next, but before I start that I am getting in some quality speed-stockinette time on a new Hourglass Sweater (pattern from Last Minute Knitted Gifts). It’s been on my brain ever since January when I went to Vogue Knitting Live with Lisa and she pulled hers out of her suitcase to wear one day and I immediately wanted one of my own. We’re just in sleeve country at the moment, but I’m hopeful that chugging away on this will have me a completed sweater in a brisk enough period of time, and then I can sink my teeth into some more lace knitting.

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Happy long weekend, or regular weekend if you are not in a Canadian part of the world! And happy knitting to all.

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Filed under elizabeth zimmerman, finished object: shawl, lace, sweaters

The lace knitting version of crazy

So, you know how, when you’re knitting a lace-weight shawl, and you’re so close to being done that it feels like you’re really close, but then you realize you actually still have at least another two hours of knitting to go on the border? And it feels like it’s never going to end? And you’re not really sure you were thinking very rightly when you decided to start this project on a whim?

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But then, eventually it does end, and you wash it and pin it all out for blocking (because even though it’s a circular shawl you don’t actually have circular blocking wires and are just making do with a million T-pins instead), and it looks sort of nice, like maybe it really did turn out OK after all, and that maybe it was actually a really great idea to start the shawl, because if you only ended up with exactly 5g leftover on the second skein then that’s a pretty great place to have stopped at?

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And so you know how then you think, well, this lace knitting business isn’t so bad, now you have to immediately decide to start another one, even though you have a zillion other things to work on and you know eventually this new one will still have that agonizing almost-done-but-not-yet phase waiting for you?

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Yeah. Me too.

(And if the sunshine ever returns from under these rain clouds that seem to have glued themselves to Southern Ontario, I will totally get on some proper Finished Object photos of the Pi Shawl. But it’s done, and I like it, and it was all worth it.)

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Filed under elizabeth zimmerman, finished object: shawl, lace

Lamplight shawl

It never rains but it pours, it seems (well, yesterday it was actually pouring. Cut to me, realizing my umbrella also didn’t make it with me in my move. Hah), with design work, and by some fluke of timing I get to tell you about the shawl pattern I finished over the summer, on the heels of my two pattern reveals last week. This is the Lamplight shawl, a pattern I worked on for Michelle at the Sweet Sheep. Her maternity leave carried on a bit longer than anticipated, so that’s why this is coming to you in September instead of in August as originally planned!

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Michelle gave me one of her Super Soft skeins to work with for this project, and the yarn really is extremely well suited for shawls, as a soft and lofty 2-ply light fingering weight. It feels very nice in your hands to work with and blocks up beautifully. If you were to substitute yarn, I would recommend choosing something similar in the light fingering weight category. The advantage with these Super Skeins that Michelle does is that they have over 900 yds in a single skein, so you don’t have to stop to change yarn halfway through.

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In designing this I wanted to combine two motifs, as that is a pattern that I like in triangular shawls, and to use stitch patterns that include purl rows on the wrong side, for ‘resting’ as it were. I like that this allows for a bit of comfort and slightly speed with the process. Additionally, I wanted it to be modifiable to be able to be produced in a smaller, scarf-sized version, and so the instructions include both the large size (pictured) and the smaller size. The smaller size takes about 375 yds, the large one about 800 yds.

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This is currently available as a Sweet Sheep exclusive, and is available for download here.

Thanks very much to my friend Smitha who obliged me with some modelled shots of the shawl! I think she looks great. Too bad I had to take back the shawl when we were done. And thanks to Michelle at the Sweet Sheep for the design opportunity!

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Filed under design, finished object: shawl

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

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

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

Thumbs up for shawls

Yes, I think I will have to make more of these. Don’t tell my socks.

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Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl, by Evelyn Clark (issued in Interweave Knits 2006, and available for free here)
Needles: 3.5mm circular
Yarn: Sea Silk, from Handmaiden Fine Yarns. 1 skein did admirably for the lace-weight size, and I was left with about 11g of a 100g skein.
Cast on: June 18, 2009
Cast off: June 26, 2009
Size: After blocking, approximately 49″ wide and 22″ down the centre, slightly smaller than predicted dimensions for the lace-weight size.
Modifications: None.

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It is bee-you-tea-ful. The yarn is, of course, all manner of gorgeous (since it is mostly silk), and until I started this project it was one of my very few skeins of ‘precious yarns’, you know, those yarns that you neglect out of worry you won’t do right by them when you finally knit them up. I bought this skein at Lettuce Knit during the TTC Knitalong – and not the TTC Knitalong from earlier this month, no no, the last TTC Knitalong in 2007. So that’s two years’ worth of waiting to use this up, and I even had it wound up and bagged with the Swallowtail pattern since a year ago. No more. It is no longer yarn. It is a lovely shawl (or scarf, more like), and shiny and pretty and MINE.

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I would like to do a bigger version of this, in a proper drapey shawl that covers my arms. As many others have figured out by now, up-sizing this shawl requires a bit of thought and effort since the stitch count of the pattern repeats differs between the budding lace that you start with, and the lily-of-the-valley (featuring our dear friends the nupps) that finishes. If you increase the budding lace pattern by repeats of 5, it should work. I’d like to try this with a fingering weight version, perhaps adding 1 or 2 more repeats of the lily-of-the-valley as well.

You know, knitting is pretty great. It’s a good thing I do it a lot.

Knit some precious yarn today – you’ll be glad you did!

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Filed under finished object: shawl, lace