Category Archives: lace

Volume 2, Part 1

Last winter (yea verily, just slightly more than a year ago now), I launched the first patterns in my Urban Collection set (on Ravelry, on Patternfish), and lo and behold, I’ve decided to come back for another round. This week I’m kicking off the Urban Collection, Volume 2, with two patterns just right for the final months of winter. All patterns are once again featuring beautiful yarns from Tanis Fiber Arts, and are intended as a versatile collection of pieces for the contemporary knitter. All of the patterns will be available for sale individually at any time, but if you’d like to take the plunge and pre-order the entire collection for $5 less than the final collection price, you can do so now on Ravelry any time between now and April 15th. You’ll then receive all the new patterns as they are released, automatically. Updates to the collection will happen about a month apart, so the next patterns will arrive towards the end of March. (The collection will be available in full and individually once it is complete, some time in May.)

DukeSt3

This time around the collection will include 3 sweaters and 4 accessory patterns, with an emphasis on pairing sweaters with lacy accessories (scarves/shawls and cowls). I’ll be starting with the warmest yarns in February and then as we get closer to spring will start to bring in the DK and fingering weight yarns, for variety and versatility. The first two pieces both feature worsted weight yarns, for relatively quick knitting as compared to lighter yarns, and also for comfort and coziness.

First up is the Northside Pullover, in TFA Green Label Aran. This year I’ve been wanting to try out more darker shades for the dressy visual effect they have, and so I wanted this pullover to be something that would work equally well with both pale and darker colours. It’s shown here in Olive, which is not a colour of Tanis’ that I’ve worked with before, but I think it’s safe to say I’ll be doing so again!

Northside6

Northside3

This pullover uses a combination of cables and garter rib for a nice vertical pattern that’s a little rustic but also classic, and I’ve no doubt it would work well with tonal semi-solids as well as solid colours or heathers. The same garter rib combination is shown on the long cuffs to complete the effect, against a field of stockinette on the sleeves and at the side. The sweater has long sleeves and is full-length to the hips, is worked from the bottom up in pieces (seams are helpful when using superwash wools – they like some additional structure!), and then sewn before working the collar to finish. I’ve come to enjoy pullovers because they are so warm so instantly, and the finishing takes up much less time than cardigans. (Rest assured, though, a cardigan will make its appearance in the rest of the collection). This uses a stockinette gauge of 20 sts/4 ins on 4.0mm needles, or your preferred needle size to obtain gauge.

As a warm layer accompaniment to the pullover, I offer the Duke Street Shawl (Ravelry link), a quick and warm triangular shawl. It might be worn around the house as an extra layer (such as I often find myself doing in the afternoons when I’m at home), or more snugly around your neck when you leave the house. It features Orange Label worsted, which is a luxury blend including some silk and cashmere, and I would happily knit with it any day of the week – but other wool-based worsteds would work just fine in its place.

DukeSt2

DukeSt6

This is a top-down triangle with a lace pattern around the edge, measuring about 50″ across at pattern gauge, for a slightly loose and drapey fit. Whether draped around the shoulders or bundled around your neck, it’s warm and fairly quick to knit, which is exactly the kind of thing I like for this time of year! I also really like being able to bring some lace knitting in to the cooler parts of the year, rather than just leaving it for the summer.

In another month’s time I’ll update the collection with the next couple of patterns, and in the mean time these ones are good for keeping cozy with. Many thanks to Tanis for the yarn support on this collection, and for these patterns I am grateful to Kate for technical editing support and Austen for modelling. Thank you all, ladies!

I hope you’re all having a good Wednesday – catch you next time with more knitting adventures.

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Filed under cables, design, lace

Always in progress

I’ve reached that nice sweet spot of knitting where I have put a couple of finished projects behind me and have the freedom to cast on for something new, and am enjoying this prospect muchly. Granted, the approximately seven thousand new things I am likely to cast on in the next month will probably not seem so exciting a month from now when I am wishing I didn’t have seven thousand things all in progress, but still – for the moment I have some new projects to ponder.

May23-Royale

My new Royale is finished and blocking (updated pattern will be made available soon – options ahoy for two sleeve lengths AND two neckline depths), and I did make the bargain with myself that lace could happen next, so.

May23-Lace

I had been planning to put something together with these two things – my Tanis Fiber Arts laceweight purchased at the Knitter’s Frolic was going to be a Miralda’s Triangle from Nancy Bush’s Knitted Lace of Estonia, but when I finally sat down to actually start it I realized that this is a pattern that actually calls for fingering weight, not laceweight. And while I could modify that sucker for laceweight by changing the number of pattern repeats on it (many Ravelry knitters have done so simply to get a larger shawl than what is written), I decided that I will save this hot pink awesomeness for something else.

I’ve got a few fingering weight options in the stash that would be great for the Miralda’s triangle shawl, but I am pretty sure they are mostly in the purple colour scheme, and (since taking out my shawls for show and tell at Lace 101+ up in Collingwood in March and realizing I own a big pile of handknitted purple shawls) I promised myself the next shawl project I started would be something not-purple, I reached for something else instead. I’ve got this beautiful skein of Willow St. silk from Shall We Knit up on deck (it is one of their in-house yarns), and have started playing around with it for a scarf-sized shawl (I do like the look of wearing them bandit-style during the spring and summer), so this will become something fun. Also relatively quick, I think, since it’s one 475 yd skein. (Or so I say now. Further bulletins as events occur).

May23-WillowSt

Since it’s just about summer, though, I feel like more lace on the needles is a good thing, so don’t be surprised if I get back to my lace stash and start something else. I’ll try to keep it on the modest side, though – two more shawls in progress at most.

Happy knitting this Wednesday!

PS – if you’re in the Toronto/southern Ontario area and want to come to the TTC Knitalong, signups are now open for this July event! Spots are going quickly and some teams are full or almost full, so definitely keep many options in mind for your signup. All the teams visit four awesome stores in Toronto and everyone gets a fab tote bag to stuff with yarn for the day. Visit this page for more information.

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Filed under design, lace

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.

Lakeshore1

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!

Lakeshore3

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!

Lakeshore5

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.

Lakeshore4

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:

July29-ShawlBindoff

Or maybe this:

July31-Peacock1

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.

Oct9-Shawl1

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.

Oct9-Shawl5

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.

Oct9-Shawl7

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.

Oct9-Shawl8

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

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.

July1-PeacockFeathers2

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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Filed under lace, shawls

Skipping the markers

It’s been a week of good knitting progress so far, and although attention to the Peacock Feathers shawl isn’t quite as far along as I’d like it to be (errr, only 5 weeks away until Sock Summit deadline, HEH), but it’s coming along nicely.

June22-PeacockFeathers

As often happens with lace patterns (and as I have often done myself when writing patterns, and I completely support this approach as an option), this one directs you to use stitch markers to denote pattern repeats on the lace rows. After the second chart or so, when I’d gotten to one of the rows requiring you to shift the markers left or right by one stitch, I decided spontaneously to just ditch the markers altogether. And you know what? It was the best decision ever. I found that I had been paying more attention to the markers than to the emerging lace itself, and that without the markers I was able to focus more on what the lace actually looked like – I was “reading” my knitting much more clearly. It was very much an “ahhhhh” moment.

Sometimes I often think with knitting patterns that if we could just write down what’s in our head, it would save us so much trouble. That if it were just possible to say “okay, so you’re making this lace pattern where there’s a skinny swooshy thing waving around alternating between these other larger leafy swooshy things, and there are yarnovers in between all of them, and you’ll do that for a while until it switches to something different,” then it would all work. But then on the other hand, maybe the process is about getting your own brain to come to that conclusion all on its own?

In the event that this is far too philosophical for a Wednesday, I’ll leave you with a picture of wee Athena, one of my two kitty companions this week. I give her until Friday before she figures out how to send emails and order from Amazon.

June21-AthenaKitteh

Catch you next time! Stay cool, and keep the knitting close by.

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Filed under lace

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?

June3-PeacockFeathers

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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Filed under lace, shawls

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:

May20-PiShawl2

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.

May20-PiShawl1

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.

May20-PiShawl5

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.

May20-NoroHourglass

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?

May17-PiShawlBlocking2

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?

May17-PiShawlLeftovers

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?

May17-Pondering

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

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.

May12-PiShawl2

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.

May12-PiShawl

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