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Archive for December, 2008

Lilac Leaf Stole

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This is the Lilac Leaf Shawl, from the new book Knitted Lace of Estonia, by Nancy Bush.

I knit this shawl using Jaggerspun Zephyr, color ebony, on US size 4 needles. Black yarn is notoriously difficult to work with, because it can be hard to see detail in the work. I always made sure to put a white piece of paper or a light-colored blanket on my lap. Between the white paper and the open texture of the work, I had no trouble seeing my stitches. The odd thing about this color of Zephyr was the feel of the yarn. It felt a bit scratchy, and did not like to slide through my fingers the way I am used to Zephyr doing. My swatch softened up a DSCN0453bit after blocking, and then softened much more over time, so I anticipate that the stole will similarly develop a nice feel.

This shawl has nupps, which are special stitches that resemble beads in the work. I was worried that the nupps wouldn’t show up in the finished work. They are difficult to do, so I wanted them to show up! I was happy to see that they stand out well in the blocked shawl.

My one criticism of this pattern has to do with the grafting instructions. The instructions have the knitter cast on at one end, knit the edging, then the border, then the entire middle panel, and then the second border. The second edging is then cast on separately to be knit, and then grafted to the second border. The graft occurs in the middle of six DSCN04651rows of garter stitch, but the grafting instructions – which are quite specific – are for stockinette stitch. As you can see in the photo, this creates a wide “valley” between two of the three garter stitch ridges. Given that the book is extremely specific regarding several other techniques, I fail to see why the need to use a garter stitch graft was not included. Fortunately, the dark color and small gauge of the work insure that this error will be visible only if you really look for it!

One last note: No, you’re not imagining things: I did indeed get a haircut! It is up to the middle of my back now. I’ve been a bit surprised at how many people have been upset by this, particularly my students. Don’t worry, it grows back. I do this every few years; otherwise it would be dragging on the floor by now!

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Cookies!

My annual Christmas gift to my friends and colleagues.

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This year I made gingerbread men, crispy lebkuchen, pecan cringles, windmill cookies, mocha chocolate cringles, and, of course, chocolate chip cookies. I think that altogether it came out to just over 300 cookies. The windmill cookies are cut round because I don’t have any cookie stamps – anyone still need to get me a Christmas present?

Surprisingly, I only used 9 eggs this year. I did, however, go through an entire 5 pound bag of white flour, 1.5 bags of brown sugar, and 2.5 pounds of butter. I put together 14 plates of cookies. Now for the fun part – delivery!

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Snow!

Since moving to Texas two years ago, I’ve really missed snow. Our annual Thanksgiving trip home to the Midwest, however, got me all caught up.

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Yeah, driving back to the airport on Interstate 43 was lots of fun!

The snow had been lots prettier that morning, viewed from the front porch of my mother-in-law’s house with a hot cup of coffee in hand:

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In between listening to the wildly divergent political rantings of my various uncles and drinking lots of good beer (why, oh why can’t we get Molson Goldon here in Texas?) I got quite a bit of knitting done. I’ve put my Shetland shawl on DSCN0424hold to work a black lace stole, to wear to a New Year’s Eve party. This is the Lilac Leaf Shawl, from the new lace book by Nancy Bush, Knitted Lace of Estonia. I’ve really enjoyed the book so far. It has a nice balance of historical and technical information, a small stitch dictionary, and some lovely complete project patterns.

I’m working this shawl in black Jaggerspun Zephyr. Black yarn has a reputation of being difficult to work with, because it can be hard to see the stitches. I’ve been putting a white piece of paper in my lap, however, and had no trouble seeing what I was doing. It’s hard to see the lacework right now, but I assure you that the pattern is lovely.

On Thanksgiving Day I also cast on some mittens, which I’m making for a friend who recently did me a really nice favor. She indicated that her winter coat is DSCN0428 dark navy blue, so I’ve done my best to choose colors that will hopefully match any shade of navy. It is neat how the light lilac colored yarn looks ice-white against the royal blue when they are knit side by side. This is the Tallulah’s Heart pattern, which I found in Jorid’s Knit Pattern Shop. This site has cute mitten patterns all around. I might do either the Fisherman’s Friend mittens or the Wedding Mittens next. These mittens are a little lightweight and fit my hand really well – I hope that they fit the recipient’s hands just as well! I’m using the Dalegarn Baby Ull for these mittens. It has been really nice to work with. The outside of the ball band says that the yarn is machine washable, but the inside of the band – which, of course, I didn’t see until after I had started the project – has long and complex laundering instructions. I think that I might have to knit and wash a swatch before washing and blocking these mittens.

Now, off to finish writing my Christmas cards!

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