Archive for the “lace” Category

I had planned to cast on for the Dancing Cranes stole on Friday night, but the discovery that my size 7 needles were regular blunt-tipped circs and not Addi Lace needles gave me pause. The last time I tried knitting lace with blunt needles I nearly gave up on lace altogether, and I have no desire to repeat that experience. Saturday was a day for hunting down needles! I went first to Knit and Stitch = Bliss in Bethesda, but they didn't have the Lace circs in size 7. Apparently they're going to stop carrying the Lace needles; they aren't selling well enough to justify stocking them anymore. They did offer me the Addi Click Lace set, but that's unfortunately at $185 that's out of my budget right now. Maybe in the future I'll sell off all the Addis I have to fund the Click set, but for now... no. Later in the day I stopped by Needles in the Haymarket and was lucky that they were still open, even though it was half an hour after closing time. I bought the very last size 7 Lace needle they had in any length, and it was even the 32" I needed. Whew! I guess I could have made do with a shorter cable, but I'm sure I'll be glad to have the length. If not for this project, then for something in the future.

On Sunday afternoon I got out the yarn and my new Lace needle and contemplated casting on three hundred stitches with the yarn held double. I'd never done a cable cast on before, so I had to look up instructions for that before getting started. It seemed easy enough... I cast on the first three stitches three times but the yarn refused to slide free for a fourth attempt, so I cut off those few inches and began again. This time instead of trying to use the right needle to bring the new stitch through, I used my smallest crochet hook. It worked like a charm! After a while I had gotten into the routine motion of pulling new stitches through, and all three hundred stitches were on the needle, with stitch markers at each ten stitches, which were counted three times each just to be sure. The Silken Kydd is really unforgiving of mistakes, which is typical for fuzzy mohair. I shall simply have to refrain from making any mistakes over the next 35,700 stitches or so.

It was some time before I could bring myself to actually get started on the first stitch. I procrastinated by re-doing the math: the stole has a 28 row repeat and calls for three repeats; I bought enough yarn for four just in case. If I work one row per day, that's one repeat per month, which means even if I decide to do the fourth repeat the stole will be done in mid-March, well before the end of May deadline.

Before bedtime I'd purled the four-row edging and went off to dreamland feeling quite pleased with my progress. The yarn is actually quite nice to knit with, less slippery than I'd guessed it would be and a *lot* more fuzzy. Tonight I'll find out if I can concentrate on knitting lace while watching Monday Night Football - it's the Vikings at the Packers, and it should be a good game.

Do cranes really dance, anyway?

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The fourth washcloth has been giving me no end of troubles. I must have started it seven or eight times, with four different patterns, just trying to get it right. Each time something went wrong - I missed a stitch, I chained the wrong number of stitches, the colours were playing out in the ugliest blotches. Finally I gave up and decided to do another Woven Stitch cloth, since the last one came out so well, and I had much better luck. I didn't get another argyle, but I did get some nice zig-zags. So much better than splotchy blotches! (But man, I really need to get a better camera, or wait 'til daylight to take pictures.)

I ordered the Silken Kydd yarn from Elann for the Dancing Cranes stole, and I'm totally impressed with their shipping time. I placed the order on Sunday night and got the yarn on Wednesday morning! The pattern calls for three balls of yarn and three pattern repeats to make a 14.5" by 80" stole. I ordered a fourth ball in case I'm crazy enough to want to do an extra 8400 stitches of a fourth pattern repeat for a slightly wider stole, or just in case three isn't quite enough. Since I want it finished for cousin Dianna's wedding in May, I'm going to have to get started right away. Even if I only knit one row a day, it will be done in time. I'll cast on this weekend and see how far I can get.

Floyd and Kipling are the best laundry helpers I could have wished for. They're also a great incentive to put the laundry away as soon as it's out of the dryer. Otherwise they will shed on it, use it for a jungle gym or as a hiding spot for guerrilla warfare or as a perfect napping hammock.

Cats are great, aren't they? Happy Feline Friday!

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Like most of the women in my family, I run on the cold side. I've even been known to shiver in 75-degree (24 C) weather if there's a breeze. The other night I stubbornly refused to turn the heat on, though it was 66 degrees (19 C) in the house. I'm told that some people are comfortable at this temperature, but not me! Instead of cranking the thermostat I put on a sweatshirt, my warm wool slippers, and enticed the cats to sit with me. It wasn't just me, at least; Kipling's ears and paws were cold too, and once he realized that I was making a warm spot on the cold leather couch, he was happy enough to curl up beside me. (We do this a lot, as evidenced by the picture.) Maybe I should knit a cat sweater for him? I bet he'd absolutely hate that. I'll get his reaction on video, if I try to get a sweater on him. It's sure to be amusing to everyone who isn't him!

My co-workers seem to think that 68 degrees is a good temperature for our office, so I'm often cold at work too. I have a company-issued blue fleece blanket to wrap around myself, and a forbidden space header hiding under my desk which sometimes gets turned on even when it's incredibly hot outside, because that's when they crank the air conditioning to make it too cold inside.

People make fun of me for being cold all the time. But as they say, "Cold hands, warm heart!"

Where is this going, you may ask? Well, I'll tell you: in the next year I have two weddings to attend, and the sort of dress that one wears to a wedding is also the sort of dress that doesn't cover much, so unless I do something about this problem I will be shivering my way through two wedding ceremonies and receptions. Or I will look silly wearing a man's suit jacket over my dress. I'd rather not be covered in goosebumps or look silly, so I've come up with a solution: I am going to knit a stole.

This stole, in fact. (Picture is from Elann's website.) It is the Dancing Cranes stole from Elann.com, knit in Silken Kydd, which is Elann's version of Rowan's Kidsilk Haze for less than half the price. Conveniently, the pattern is free! I'm undecided between "Pewter" and "Winter White", but I think I'm leaning towards white as it would go with everything. "Forest Mist" and "Baked Apple" are pretty colours as well, but probably not as versatile. It seems to me that light coloured stoles show off best over a dark dress. What do you think?

The runner-up in my pattern search for a fancy lacy thing to wear at a wedding is this half-circle shawl inspired by Elizabeth Zimmermann, in honour of what would have been her 100th birthday. If you don't have a Ravelry account you can see the designer's picture of the shawl on Flickr.

It was a very close second; I like half-circle shawls and I think this one is quite pretty, although I'd probably choose a different edging for it. Maybe I will knit this pattern as my second shawl and use it for office-wear, using a dark colourway of one of the yarns with silver content for sparkle-appeal. I never thought of myself as someone who would wear a shawl, but between being cold and hanging out with knitters, I'm starting to see the appeal of a warm and pretty lace-thing to wrap around myself.

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I've been thinking about lace design.

I have a single skein of Madelinetosh Merino Light, 440 yards of yarn in the Vintage Frame colourway, to work with. I'll have to swatch, of course, but I'm thinking that using US 5 (3.75 mm) needles would give a nice drapy fabric without looking too open in the stockinette sections, and help the yarn to go further. Not only is it a matter of not wanting to go buy a second skein, it's also that I want this to be my first for-sale pattern, and I don't want it to break anyone's budget if they should decide to knit it up.

The first question is, what shape to make the shawl? A rectangular stole might be easiest to design, with no increases or decreases to account for, but I like the look of triangle and half-circle shawls as well. The half-circle could be made up of wedges or it could be made up of three triangles put together, which would look sort of like a square with one triangle cut out of it. I am considering making up two versions of the same design, one in the rectangular shape and one in another, as-yet-undecided, shape. And there will almost certainly be an optional ruffled edging.

Which type of shawl do you prefer: rectangular, half-circle, triangular, or some other shape? And why?

The second question is, what lace patterns should I use? This shawl/stole is being designed with a specific theme in mind, one that I'm not ready to share until I am a little further along in the process. After some consideration, I've come up with three symbols that represent my theme - heather flowers, chevrons, and cats' paws. I am armed with the Barbara Walker Treasuries, several instructional webpages on how to integrate lace patterns into differently-shaped shawls, and a knitting symbols font loaded onto my computer. I am ready! Here we go! This will be fun!

I guess if I'm going to be the sort of knitter who makes shawls, that makes me into the sort of person who *wears* shawls. This is very, very far away from the image I have of myself, but I like to push that image sometimes to see how far it will go. I have a necklace made from a vintage typewriter key that says "margin release," and I think that's become my new motto. Push the boundaries, try new things! Get outside of the lines!

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After a wonderful dim sum brunch with a group of friends, Janis and I celebrated "World Wide Spin in Public Day" by, what else, spinning in public! We set up our wheels at a local coffeehouse and got to work. I brought eight ounces of merino pencil roving with me. After a few frustrating undertwisted yards that kept drifting apart, I was able to get a good single going. The pencil roving has colour changes every six to nine inches, so I plan on chain-plying the singles to keep the striping going. The yarn should come out to be a good fingering weight once it's plied. Spinning sock yarn does take a long time, but I like knitting socks best of all, so I end up spinning a lot of worsted, fine singles.

We'd originally thought to sit outside the coffeehouse and spin, for the best "in public" experience, but it was really bright out and I didn't have sunscreen with me. Even so, a few people stopped to watch us spin indoors, and one even asked to take our picture to send to her fibre-fiend sister. That was really cool - and she was nice enough to send us a copy of the picture. (These two aren't them; I remembered I had my camera after she'd gone and Pirate-Husband was kind enough to take some shots of us.)

I can't have a spinning day without teaching a friend to spin. This is Stef, learning the drop spindle (my Cascade Little Si, which weighs about an ounce and a half) with some bright green top. Janis's larger spindle is on the table. Stef decided that spinning really wasn't her thing, but she does want to learn to knit. I'm not as confident teaching people to knit as I am to spin, but hopefully I can get the concept across well without too much frustration on either side. Maybe I'll ask Janis to help with the teaching. Since she knits English and I prefer Continental, it might be good for both of us to be there so we can teach both ways. Then Stef can pick whichever she likes better!

Janis and I, along with Stef and Sam, also stopped by Woolwinders to check out the new inventory. They have a pretty good selection of higher-end yarns, but very little in my favourite "cheap sock yarn" range. I wasn't going to buy anything at first, but Sam and I have been talking about designing a shawl together, so I got this Madelinetosh Merino Light in the "Vintage Frame" colourway for that. Sam also got a skein of Merino Light, but in a dark purples and black colourway. I won't have time to design and execute a shawl for a while, but this beautiful pewter-coloured fingering-weight single will be perfect when I get to it. We're discussing the possibility of incorporating the same stitch patterns into both a triangular shawl and a rectangular stole.

Floyd and Aubrey are out cold. This might be the only time I could knit in front of them without fearing for my yarn. Fortunately, kittens sleep a lot...

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Mom loved the gloves. She says they fit her perfectly. I thought the fingers might be a bit long, but she assures me that she wants a bit of extra room at the fingertips in case she grows her nails out for anything. Unfortunately, because it was a dark day, I wasn't able to get any pictures that did any more justice to the gloves than the one I took the other day. But yeah, they came out really well. My brother commented, "When you decide to do something, you really take it all the way - that's great work!"

She also asked me if I knew of any good baby blanket patterns. I sketched out one that I'd knit a few years ago, before I had a camera, that's fairly basic. It has a seed stitch border, then alternating stripes of seed stitch and stockinette, and one of the stockinette rows has a run of (k1, k2tog, yo, k1) to make little eyelets. My guess is that without a real pattern written out, she won't want to figure out how to translate my sketch to her blanket, but that's all right.

And in more about Mom's knitting, she is 3/10 done with the Upstairs Shawl (link in German) that she's knitting for herself with KnitPicks' Alpaca Cloud in Smoke Heather. I am so happy that she's getting back into knitting more than just baby sweaters and blankets! Even though the shawl was going to be for herself, she's considering giving it to her closest friend. One of these days, I will convince her that it's all right to knit for yourself!

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My first thought for the baby blanket I'm about to knit was that a feather and fan pattern would look lovely with the variegations in this yarn. I already know the pattern, it's easy and memorizable, and it will look complex even though it's not really. But then I started thinking... lace. Acrylic yarn. No blocking. Lace needs blocking, doesn't it? There's no blocking acrylic. The best you can do is "kill" it, which involves steaming it very carefully so as not to melt it, and stretching it to the shape you want, but that's not really the same as blocking a piece knit from animal fiber. (Dear Canadian Sister, I typed "fibre" the first time I wrote that. You're rubbing off on me!)

Ravelry to the rescue! I did a pattern search for feather and fan baby blankets, and turned up this lovely piece: Feather and Fan Rainbow Blanket. It's knit in acrylic and the lace looks good! The ripples are all rippley and the yarnovers show the way they ought to. While I'm not going to use this pattern exactly, at least now I have some evidence that the stitch will work with the yarn I've chosen.

I ordered lace needles in size 8.

As for the Bloo Sock, Janis rightly pointed out that a k2, p2 ribbing doesn't flow smoothly into a k3, p1 ribbing. I showed the beginnings of the sock to Pirate-Husband, who suggested that a k6, p2 ribbing for the body of the sock would flow nicely. I think it will also look better considering how many stitches there are, so that's what I'm going to do. Flow problem solved!

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A few weeks ago, in the Virginia forum on Ravelry, I 'met' someone who lives in my neighborhood. She was having a bunch of people over and invited me and Pirate-Husband to join in the fun, so last night we headed down the mountain to her house. We had a great time. It's so good to have local friends. I love the internet! We probably never would have met if not for Ravelry.

So I didn't get a lot of knitting done last night, but I do have to say that I love my new lace needles and I will never use anything else for lace again. They are worth every penny I spent on them.

Today, maybe spinning or maybe knitting. I haven't yet decided.

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My new Addi turbo lace needles arrived yesterday, before I even got the tracking number for the package. Turbo shipping for turbo needles, I guess! ...okay, that was a bad joke. Anyway, I had time to do a couple of rows on the Ostrich Plumes scarf, and already I'm in love with these needles. When I get home from work I'll try a pattern row!

Pirate-Husband's socks are coming along as well. I'm a couple of inches past the gusset decreases and can knit in the car again since I don't have to look so closely. I'd like to have them done before I go on vacation next weekend.

And, someone on an IRC channel I frequent has commissioned me to make a Swiffer cover for her! That seems like it will be good vacation knitting along with the next sock.

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My parents came to visit this past Sunday, and my mom brought with her the bare beginnings of a swatch for a stole she'd like to make from KnitPicks' Alpaca Cloud in Smoke Heather, a lovely light silver-gray. When she saw my Ostrich Plumes scarf she decided that she wanted to make the same pattern, but knit lengthwise. It's been over 30 years since she did any lace knitting, and she needed explanations of some of the stitches. So I got my scarf off the shelf and got her through a pattern row.

After they left, I thought to myself, "Wow, it's been a really long time since I've put any rows on this scarf. I really should get to work on that; it's been more than a year since I started it." And now I remember why - I hate, hate, hate the needles. Long, slippery, blunt aluminum needles are just not suitable for this project.

So I just ordered an Addi lace circular needle in the right size, and I didn't add any yarn or roving to my cart. Stickin' to the diet! Yay willpower!

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