Archive for the “lace” Category

That secret gift I mentioned in my last post is a neckwarmer/cowl for Grandma! I knit it with a yak/silk blend that I spun a couple of years ago, but didn't know what to do with it... until now. The pattern is Polyphylla, which is available for free on Ravelry.

A cowl, with a ruffled edge at the bottom, knit in handspun yarn. The colours are stripes of dark and light red, blue, and green.

I really enjoyed knitting this pattern, not to mention knitting with my own handspun yarn of silky warm softness. It's well-written, though I was a little bit unsure about the instructions to shift the stitch marker for the beginning of the round. Fortunately it's so easy to see where one is in the pattern by looking at what's already been knit, so I got around the confusion easily enough. The bindoff makes a really nice edge, but as I mentioned in my previous post, uses up a lot more yarn than I expected!

The cowl used one skein of my handspun yarn, and I am absolutely loving the self-striping effect that I produced! The only thing is, I had two... and they had slightly different yardage, and I don't know if this was the 118-yard skein or the 140-yard skein. I'll have to remember to re-measure the remaining yarn before I start another project with it, just to be on the safe side.

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This project is a gift, so I can't share pictures of the whole thing yet. But holy wow did I ever cut it close on the yarn! The project called for a long-tail cast on over two needles; I overestimated the amount of yarn I'd need and had nearly a yard of tail remaining. Laziness said "it's 168 stitches, you don't really want to start over - and besides, it's handspun yarn and super soft, what if it gets fuzzy when you pull it out and do it again?" I definitely didn't want that to happen, so I just started knitting.

The beginning of a knit project, showing nearly a yard of yarn trailing from the starting point.

You see where this is going, right?

I knit the project, convinced even up to the last round that I would have plenty of yarn. But then I came to the bind-off, which is a really nifty one that I hadn't tried before, and which took up A Lot more yarn than I expected. As I worked my way around, I started to get worried... so I worked faster, because that's how that goes, right? Knitting faster means you might outrun the end of your yarn.

I finished with five inches of yarn left over.

The end of a knit project, showing five inches of yarn trailing from the ending point.

I'll share more details about this one after the gift has been given!

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The idea behind a Pi Shawl, or in this case a half-Pi shawl, is that you double the distance between the increase rounds, which double the number of stitches, and you end up with a round (or in this case, half-circle) shawl. It's not really so much about pi as it is about geometry: a circle will double its circumference in doubling the distance from the last doubled distance/circumference... which is confusing, and so it's a lot easier to say pi.

mmmmpie

I'm using Lisa Souza "Montreaux" laceweight to knit the EZ 100th Anniversary Camping Half-Circle shawl, which was designed as a tribute to Elizabeth Zimmerman, who was to knitting what Julia Child was to cooking. So far it doesn't look like much - but this is pretty much what lace looks like at the beginning, before the designs really start to show up and before a good blocking makes the stitches and yarnovers stand out properly.

Camping Half-Pi

The rows are rather short now at 79 stitches, but soon it'll be 154 stitches per row, and then 309. Shawls are tricky because they start so fast, but then as the rows get bigger and bigger, each one takes longer and longer. I'm sure there's a mathematical way to figure out what percentage of Pi I've completed, but I don't know what it is other than by figuring out the total number of stitches in the whole thing - and that seems like it might be discouraging.

The variegation shows up much more in the picture than it does in real life, but it's a fairly accurate representation of the colour - a rich, plummy purple. The sheen of the silk content should help it show up against a black dress, as it's fairly dark. If that doesn't work, I'll just have to get a lighter-coloured dress!

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I'm coming into the home stretch of the Dancing Cranes stole! After a dedicated week of working on it, I am more than halfway through the third and final pattern repeat. This week, too, will be mostly given over to lace knitting (or is that "knitting lace"?) so that I can have the stole bound off, washed, and blocking by the end of the weekend.

The pattern as written says that the finished stole will be around 18", and I think mine is going to be wider than that - which I'm quite happy with, as I didn't think 18" was enough. Originally I'd considered doing extra repeats, and I even bought the extra ball of yarn but now that I'm out of time, however wide it is will be wide enough!

The thought of trying to block this thing with pins was horrifying, so a set of blocking wires from KnitPicks has been ordered and is on its way to me. I can't wait to see what it looks like once the lace is all opened up! Right now it looks like a fuzzy tangled mess, but I know it will be absolutely gorgeous after blocking.

Dancing Cranes has been an exercise in counting to eleven, over and over and over again. It would have been a much more difficult project without stitch markers every eleven stitches to mark off the pattern. Every return row I counted zero for the knit stitch, then one through ten for the purl stitches, just to make sure I still had the stitch count correct, and I'm glad I paid such close attention because I kept finding little mistakes. Knitting through the stitch below, missing yarnovers, little accidents that were fixable before they'd gotten too far down.

Even so, I wouldn't say that it was a particularly *difficult* knit, just one that required lots of care and attention. When I concentrate like that, I stick my tongue out like Linus when he's writing to the Great Pumpkin. And when I do that, it throws my entire jaw off. So, I chew on guitar picks. I'm no good at playing with a pick; I drop them into the guitar half the time, but they're great to chew on! Between the sticky note marking off the rows and the pick, I kept my place (and my jaw) pretty well indeed.

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On Monday night I sat down with the Dancing Cranes stole to knit my two rows for the day. As I got near the end of the first row, I noticed that I only had ten stitches, rather than eleven, between the markers. (The pattern repeats over eleven stitches, so to make it easy I've put a million markers in. I mean, one ever eleven stitches. It helps me notice issues like this.) Well, crap! I stared at it for a little while trying to figure out where I'd gone wrong, and eventually decided that I was simply too tired to try to fix it, so I went to bed.

When I woke up on Tuesday morning I had a vision of the problem in my head, and it was as simple as a missed yarnover. So when I got home from work I did a little flip of two stitches below the row I was working, and voila! A yarnover. Then I knit the second row from Monday, and my two rows for the evening, and felt quite accomplished.

By the end of the week I hope to be well into the third and final repeat. I'll be glad when this project is done! Not that I'm not enjoying working on it, but I really want to block it, take pictures of it, and wear it to that wedding I'm going to in October.

(Whatever shall I do with an extra ball of the Silken Kydd? I'm sure I'll come up with something beautiful.)

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I have just two months left to finish the Dancing Cranes stole, and so I snuck away from the cats to a quiet place where I could work on it. I'm starting to feel some anxiety about getting it done in time, so I'm planning to dedicate a portion of every evening to work on it until it's done. I don't want to be putting it out to block the night before I'm supposed to wear it!

Halfway through the second pattern repeat, and it's measuring about nine inches wide when I stretch it out a little. The pattern says that the finished stole should measure fourteen inches relaxed, after blocking, and that seemed a little narrow to me so I'd planned on doing a fourth repeat. But if I can get it to be eighteen inches with three repeats, then I'll have an extra ball of the yarn to use on another project!

(Not to mention, doing three repeats instead of four seems much more feasible.)

This second picture is huge (2000x1500, about 2.5 MB). I was going to size it down, then thought it would make excellent desktop wallpaper. Here is a direct link for downloading!

(All rights reserved, for personal use only, please do not use this photograph for profit or commercial use, etc.)

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The speed at which I've been knitting lately has given me a boost of confidence and renewed my energy for knitting. Two hats in five working days, a pair of armwarmers in less than ten hours? When I first started knitting, I never would have dreamed that I could crank out finished products so quickly. (And now, I'm making excuses like "well, it's worsted yarn, it's not like it was a pair of socks or anything.")

So here I am, considering that it's eleven weeks to Maryland Sheep and Wool, and wondering how many of my current WIPs I can finish before then so that I can feel no guilt about buying more yarn or fibre. (I'm rather pleased that I've used all the yarn I've bought so far this year. Three balls of yarn in, three balls of yarn out.)

Currently on the needles, I have the neglected Stripey Striped Socks, the not-yet-forgotten Napramach, my current traveling sock (I've just realized I've never taken a picture of it, nor of the last pair of socks I finished! Must rectify that.) and the light and airy Dancing Cranes stole.

The stole doesn't need to be finished until the middle of October, but I know it will take a while, so I want to keep up with adding at least a row every day, and preferably two. With around 60 or 90 rows left to work, depending on whether I choose to do three or four pattern repeats, I don't want to risk the chance of not finishing it in time. I do like working on it, but it's a solitary sort of project, and I don't always want to lock myself away to work on it.

The sock will just travel around with me until it's finished - I've almost completed the first of the pair, and then the second will take up residence in my purse. When I'm done with that one, the second Stripey Striped Sock can become my traveling companion if I haven't yet finished it at home. It's not the best sock for the job, but it'll have to do, because I really want it to be done.

Napramach... I actually don't know how long it will take for me to finish this thing! It took me six weeks to make the first half of it, and I seem to be knitting much faster now. Maybe three weeks? Then blocking, crocheting the sides together, and sewing in the lining, and it's done. I'm guessing that my friend has probably forgotten about the bag by now, or if she hasn't forgotten then she's given up hope that I'll ever finish it for her. It will be a nice surprise for her when it's finished - she only knew that I was making a bag for her, but I never told her what it would look like!

The bonus prize of finishing Napramach will be that I'll have most of each of six colourways of Rowan Felted Tweed to play with after the bag is done. I'm thinking of designing a colourwork hat with the leftovers; there should be more than enough, and I already know how nicely the colours go with one another. The second bonus prize will be on my yearly tally, because I'll be able to cross off six balls of yarn from my count! I wonder if I should cross off all six balls, because I bought them specifically for this project? Or do I mark each of them as half-used, since there will be enough to make another project?

The Stripey Striped Socks are close to the heel on the second sock, and I can't seem to find my notes on how many heel stitches I left unworked in the centre of the short-row heel. I think I scribbled them on a tiny piece of paper, not expecting nearly two years to fly by between sock heels. I'll count stitches on the first sock and try to get the second sock as close as I can.

I'm going to love each of these projects when they're done. And I hate having the Stripey Striped Socks and Napramach hanging over my head. I see them and think I ought to put some rows on them, and then I go do something else. It's time to crack down and get these projects done and off the WIPs list so that I can start new things. At the same time, I don't want to burn out on knitting again; I know that's more likely to happen when I'm forcing myself to work on projects that I don't like as much. I'm just going to work steadily on these four projects until they're done, and I won't start anything new until at least both pairs of socks are finished. Then, of course, I'll need a new traveling sock.

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Progress on the Dancing Cranes stole comes in fits and spurts. I neglected it over the holidays and came back to it with a vengeance in the last few days - this picture is already several rows out of date!

Each 300-stitch row takes me about half an hour, so it feels like a real commitment to make myself sit down and work on it. I don't like stopping partway through a row. But once I get started, I want to keep going for hours! "Just one more row..." has kept me up past my bedtime more nights than I want to admit. I like the yarn (even if it sheds a bit while I'm working with it) and I'm really enjoying watching the pattern form. It's not a very complex lace pattern at all, and I've gotten it in my head firmly enough now that I can put on music or YouTube videos while I work. When I first started, I wanted total silence and concentration, but now some background noise is fine.

Each 28-row repeat will use up about one ball of the yarn. The pattern calls for three repeats and I have four balls of yarn, but I probably won't make a decision about doing the fourth repeat until I'm closer to being finished and I can see what size the stole is coming out to be. If I decide to stop at three repeats, I have the thought to pick a lace stitch and an edging from one of the dictionaries and make up a one-skein decorative scarf (a scarflet?) to wear at work.

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There is absolutely no progress to report on the Dancing Cranes stole. I spent Wednesday after work configuring my new computer (yay, new computer!) and so didn't have time in the evening to knit. Last night when I sat down to put my two rows on I completely misread the chart and knit, then painstakingly unknit, about 80 stitches. Unknitting the SSKs was not particularly enjoyable, but eventually I'd gotten back to my mistake and worked forward again until I realized that my eyes were crossing from tiredness. Since sleepy lace knitting is a recipe for making mistakes in lace knitting, I put the stole down halfway through a row and went to bed.

I've been thinking about design again! The weather is getting colder and that makes me want to knit cozy warm things. I had the idea for a double-thick fingerless glove/convertible mitten, with colourwork on the outside mitten. Already I'm sketching out how it would be constructed. Both the inside and outside would be worked in DK weight yarn, possibly using different yarns for each. The outside would use a strong and smooth yarn so the colourwork would show up well, while the inside could be made of a softer luxurious yarn.

Happy Feline Friday! Could these two be any cuter?

Yes, Floyd does have bald spots around his lips. When he was a young kitten he had an allergic reaction that gave him horrible skin crusties in his ears and on his pawpads and lips. Poor little guy! We're still not sure what caused it, but fortunately the crusties cleared up quickly and have never come back. Usually it's difficult to notice that the fur doesn't grow well around his mouth; the camera flash reflecting off his skin makes it seem worse than it really is.

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If I'm only knitting two rows of lace per day, I'm not going to have much progress on the Dancing Cranes stole to blog about in every entry, but here's the progress so far: four rows of edging, and four rows of first repeat of the lace pattern. On the wrong-side row I discovered a mistake I'd made on the right side, and had a moment of gratefulness that I was able to read my knitting and know how to fix the error, because there would not have been any unknitting of nearly 600 stitches to repair the problem. It was fix it or move on. Fortunately it was a simple fix; I'd missed the second stitch of a SSK and all I had to do was pass that stitch over. Whew, problem solved.

The yarn is so light and airy; when I pull a new length from the ball it floats back to the table like down instead of just falling. It's also, as I mentioned, almost completely unforgiving. I keep noticing as I knit how the mohair fuzzles work their way in and around each stitch, which is why unknitting more than a few stitches is all but impossible. On the plus side, the yarn-ends from where I change skeins are unlikely to work themselves out after the stole is washed and blocked! It does shed a little bit, but I'm hoping all those pieces fall out while I'm knitting and not while I'm wearing the finished piece. I guess the shedding could always be blamed on a cat, if I need to place blame.

More procrastinating with math: If I decide to work four pattern repeats of this shawl, then every six rows is another 5% completed. If I can knit four rows tonight instead of two, the project will be at 10% completion already! Not bad progress, eh? For someone who claims to dislike math and numbers, I sure do a lot of figuring out stitch counts and percentages complete...

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