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Archive for the ‘Knit shawls’ Category

Recently I’ve been doing some sample knitting for a yarn-dyeing friend. She sent me three different kinds of lace yarns which I’m using to knit up some patterns I’ve been eyeing for quite some time.

Kuusk cowl

The first project I did was the Kuusk cowl, which was published in Knitty last year. I knit it up in Amanda (Ravelry link) which is a 100% merino lace yarn from Rain’s Obsessive Stitchery. I seem to recall that the yarn is superwash, not that it really matters for lace. When are you ever going to throw a lace shawl in the washing machine? (If you do, please don’t tell me. I don’t want to hear about it.) The yarn is roughly the same weight as Zephyr and a bit springier, so it was very nice on my hands. Nice enough that I knit the whole cowl up in one day. Just a nice, quick little project.

The Kuusk pattern is knit in the round and has nupps. I’ve knit many, many nupps prior to this, but not in the round. I can’t say I enjoyed closing the nupps from the knit side. They don’t look as neat to me and didn’t plump up as nicely as they usually do. If I re-knit this pattern I’ll either sub out the nupps for some beads or simply leave them out altogether.

Can you see the nupps? Nope, I can't, either. I promise they're there.

The second project I knit up with Rain’s yarn was the Triinu scarf, from Nancy Bush’s Knitted Lace of Estonia. This is the fourth project I’ve knit from that book. I can see myself doing everything in in eventually because the patterns are so nice. Nothing super complicated, just nice, well-written patterns that tend to be easy to memorize. The big lace scarves are possibly a little too big and airy to use as a conventional keep-the-weather out scarves, but they are just right for a dressy stole or for pinning over a blouse on a cool day.

I knit the Triinu in Eleanor yarn, from the same shop that I linked to above. This yarn has just a little bit of sparkle. In the skein it looked too sparkly to me (I’m not wild about bling in general) but once it was knit up the sparkle toned down and was just right. Everyone that sees it loves it. The silver fibers didn’t make the yarn scratchy or hard to work with.

The third yarn Rain sent me is called “Marie” and is a different animal altogether. It’s an alpaca/silk/cashmere blend and while I knew in my head that it would feel differently than the all-wool or wool/silk blends, my fingers kinda forgot about just how slippery alpaca could be. This yarn blooms a bit after washing and blocks well, and I’m super excited about the project I’m using it for: Rhodion, from last year’s fall issue of Knitty. I’ve knit two other fabulous patterns by Elizabeth Freeman and  been wanting to knit this one since the day it was published. The lace-and-cables are absolute magic. They are also absolutely no fun at all to pick out if I make a mistake, so yeah, I’ll be staying out of the beer while I’m working on this one!

Rhodion swatch.

The photo I’ve posted is of my Rhodion swatch (yes, I swatch my lace, and you should too). The cables look like little double helixes before blocking, and after the block relaxed a bit the swatch retained a nice three-dimensional texture. The really cool thing about this swatch is that I cast it on right in the middle, with a provisional crochet-chain cast on. I knit two repeats of the cable pattern, cast off, turned around and picked up from the provisional cast on, and knit two more repeats. I love everything about this swatch: the helixes, the texture, and how the subtle color changes work with the whole thing. I’m working on the shawl now and every time I pick it up, I’m excited to work on it.

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I feel like I jumped in the deep end for this one.

Alpine Lace table runner

This is the pattern “Alpine knit scarf” from the book Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. Because I wanted to make a wedding gift, I modified it to make a table runner by changing the proportions and knitting it up on a smaller scale, with size 30 Cebelia crochet thread. This means that I knit it up on size 000 (1.5 mm) needles. Tiny! This was one of those projects that required extremely good light and lots of hand washing before handling the work.

Here it is with my hand for scale.

In order to determine a good length for the piece, I did some measurements and calculated the proper number of lace repeats to knit using the golden mean. This worked out well. For anyone who is interested in reproducing the proportion, this worked out to be 20 repeats of the rose leaf pattern; the rest of the piece was worked as written in the pattern.

I like to give household items for wedding gifts. This means working in a strong fiber like cotton. Wool and silk are both higher-maintenance and will fuzz up over time if left out on a table. Silk will also fade. White, mercerized cotton, however, won’t fade and doesn’t have any fuzzies left to cause trouble. However, I hate working with the stuff. Cotton has zero give or “bounce” and it’s hard on my hands; my left hand is still recovering from this one. Slippery cotton + slippery, tiny metal needles + lace patterning on every row made the first few rows a tad perilous as well. I must say that it was a mentally stimulating project. Blocking the finished work was also something of a challenge. The first time I blocked it, it bounced right out of block the next day. So, I soaked and blocked it again, with lots of starch and a little steam after it was dry. It should stay put now. I hope.

(No, I do not knit every wedding gift. I don’t have the time. Sorry Julie; I’m just not going to be home enough this summer!)

The diamond lace is patterned on every row. You can tell because the threads form straight lines in between the holes. Lace which is patterned on every other row has twisted threads. You can see this in the center "rose leaf lace" panel.

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Garden Shawl triangle, with my fun party dress.

This one’s for Mom.

This is the Garden Shawl. The pattern was written by Dorothy Siemens. I’ve done another of her patterns before, Peacock Feathers. Both were well written, although I liked the Garden Shawl better. I modified this pattern to make a triangular shaped shawl, both because I like knitting triangles better than squares (less edging!) and because the yarn I chose came in 1100 yarn skeins, and I didn’t want to shell out for 2 skeins. I used all but 18 grams of my 100 gram skein, so my triangle shawl used just over 900 yards.

I’m going to refrain from naming the yarn I used in this very public space. Sufficient to say, it is 100% silk, light laceweight (but heavier than cobweb) and looked very pretty in the skein. I found 4 knots in the skein and innumerable slubs, and for the price I paid, this is absolutely inexcusable. On the other hand, my Russian joins are now perfect.

(For anyone not in the know, a Russian join is a tricky but lovely method of joining yarn back together after a break or, in this case, after cutting out a knot.)

I had a lot of fun with this pattern. As I said before, I modified the pattern shape. It was written as a large square, with four triangular panel sections divided by long straight “flower panel” runners, and edged with a lace border. I took it down to a two triangular sections, which together make one large triangle, separated  and edged on the sides by the flower panels, and then edged at the bottom with the lace edging. Knitters interested in the technical details can visit my Ravelry project page here.

This was my 25th lace shawl! Now I’m going to take a break and knit a sweater. Don’t worry, it’s nice and complicated.

 

As and end note, could anyone recommend blogging software for a Mac? In case you can’t tell, I’m having some issues here. The WordPress web interface leaves a bit to be desired.

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Yeah, so lately, I’ve been doing more knitting and less blogging about knitting. This means that once again, I’ve got two finished shawls to show off!

 

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The first shawl is the Evenstar Shawl. The pattern was written by Susan Pandorf, as a “mystery shawl” knit-a-long. For the uninitiated, a mystery project is one where parts of the pattern are emailed to the knitters over a span of time. When you start knitting the project, you don’t know what the finished project will look like – that’s the “mystery.” For this shawl, the pattern parts, or “clues” to the mystery, were emailed every two weeks.

Although this mystery shawl started in February, I fell behind on the knitting sometime in March and didn’t finish until October. I was OK with that; it’s not like the mystery shawl police were going to come and confiscate my needles if I didn’t keep up. DSCN0074

The final project was just lovely. I’m glad that I signed up for this knit-a-long.  The pattern is meant to evoke images from the Lord of the Rings trilogy (hence the name) but it is lovely in its own right.

The yarn that I used for this project was Yarn Place Heaven. As you can see in the photos, it blocked really well. I blocked it out over a month before taking these photos, and the patterning is still extremely crisp. Yarn Place describes this yarn as “cobweb weight” but I think that it’s closer to gossamer. I knit this project on US size 1 (2.5 mm) needles, and I really think that I could have gone down to 2.25 mm or even 2.00 (size 0) needles; close up, the lace patterns are quite open and loose as I knit them on size 1. The size of the skein was very generous, around 3,000 yards. I still have most of the skein and I think that I will be able to get another large shawl out of it, at least. Something nice about this yarn was that it was just a little bit sticky. When I occasionally dropped a stitch, it didn’t tend to unravel quickly, like silk does. Mistakes were easy to fix without ripping back – DSCN0062always nice!

Because I knit this project with such a fine yarn, my shawl came out quite a bit smaller than the other finished shawls from this knit-a-long. That’s OK. Not every shawl needs to be voluminous! The very fine gauge makes the shawl almost ethereal; it wants to float through the air. It was difficult to make it lay flat for the photos.

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The second shawl that I photographed today is also on the smaller size. In fact,  it’s my smallest shawl to date. This pattern is Swallowtail, by Evelyn Clark. I needed something simple to work on during a recent trip, so I pulled some Lacey Lamb out of a drawer and cast this on. What a neat little knit! The size combined with such soft, fluffy yarn makes the shawl nice to wear as a little neck scarf. (Please forgive the poorly lit photo.) This shawl has a nice, classic look to it. It’s not over-the-top in any way. Moderate size, simple, effective stitch patterns and layout, and good wearability. Out of all the shawl patterns I’ve knit up so far (about 25!) I think that this one will best stand the test of time. I will definitely be knitting this one again.

This yarn has a bit of an issue with blocking, however. It is super soft and springy. This makes it easy on the hands when I’m knitting with it, and the final project is wonderfully soft and cushy to DSCN0051 touch. However, all of this soft springiness means that it doesn’t like to hold a block. Here I have a photo of my gauge swatch, knit and blocked 6 weeks ago, next to the shawl, which I blocked last night. You can see that the swatch has seriously bounced back from the block. The stitches have all closed up quite a bit. I knew from previous experience that this yarn likes to behave this way, so I chose a larger needle than I would normally, in order to produce a more open gauge. After a few weeks, the shawl will look like the swatch. Even with the bounce back, the pattern still looks nice in the swatch, so I’m confident that the shawl will still look nice as well without needing to be re-blocked before each wearing.

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Is this my fourth post for the year? Yep, I’ve been busy.

Happily, not to busy to knit.

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This is the South Seas Stole. I very much enjoyed the interesting stitch patterns DSCN1091in this project, although ultimately I wasn’t happy with how they displayed when I blocked the shawl. Overall, however, the shawl turned out very nicely – as you can see from the photos, it is extremely light, even gauzy.

 

The yarn I used was wonderful!It is called “Love Potion No. 3” and it was hand-DSCN1090dyed by this lady. The color is vibrant, and the yarn was a dream to work with, despite the fine gauge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSCN1113 The second shawl is Miralda’s Triangular Shawl, from the book Knitted Lace of Estonia. I usually enjoy bobbles and other textured stitches, but not so much in this shawl. I think that the root of my dissatisfaction stems from the yarn, which is a silk and wool blend from Blackberry Ridge. At this point, I am accustomed to working with very fine and smooth lace yarns. Lately I’ve been working with cobweb and gossamer weights almost exclusively. The Blackberry Ridge yarn was a DSCN1115heavier laceweight, almost up into the fingering weight range, and had a springy, sticky feel. Don’t mistake me – it is very nice yarn. It’s just not the type of yarn that I enjoy working with.

 

 

 

 

It’s nice to have two shawls to show off! Now, back to physics and calculus for me…

 

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It’s embarassing to admit, but I’m not quite sure of how many lace shawls I have knit so far. I think that this is #20. The photo is of the swatch I did to test the yarn I chose against the pattern. I like to swatch out lace patterns on a small scale before I cast on for large projects, to see if the pattern reads clearly and what the proportion of open vs. knit stitches looks like. If I don’t like the swatch, I might change to a larger or smaller needle and thus manipulate the proportions, or I might find a different yarn. I got lucky on this one: I liked the proportions I got on my first try. The yarn is Yarn Place “Heaven” and I am knitting it on US size 1 (2.5mm) needles. (Yikes! This is thin stuff!) The yarn is surprisingly easy to work with, although I need very bright light and a good contrasting backround to work on a scale so fine.

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I have finally succumbed to the mystery-shawl-knitalong craze and signed up for the Evenstar Mystery Shawl. For those of you who are not in the know, a “mystery shawl” is a new shawl pattern. When you purchase and commit to DSCN1061 knitting the shawl pattern, you don’t know what the final product will look like – it’s a mystery! The pattern is released a little bit at a time – in this case, every two weeks. The first “clue” to this mystery shawl was released last Friday; I’ve knit it all up and now I have to wait until next Friday to get the next part of the pattern. According to the designer’s website, there are 757 knitters all signed up for this mystery shawl. So, theoretically, 757 of us are all knitting this at the same time. It’s oddly fun.

DSCN1055 Through the magic of the Internet, I recently was able to swap an unloved shawl for a nice knit blouse, made by another knitter.  I knit the “Cap Shawl” from Victorian Lace Today about two years ago. It was fun to knit, but has DSCN10551languished in a drawer ever since. A few weeks ago, I read about a knitter who had made a short-sleeved sweater that didn’t really flatter her. Would anyone want it? The sweater was my size, so I went out on a limb and offered to swap my unloved shawl for her unloved  sweater. The sweater fits great! It’s just the sort of thing that I would have made, except that I didn’t have to do the work. And I heard back that she really likes the shawl.

A few weeks back, I posted about a flatbed bicycle trailer that I overhauled. My father seemed to be fairly impressed by the photos, so here’s another photo for him:

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The object in tow is my husband’s erstwhile wheelchair! After four long months, he is back to walking (most of the time) on his own. We rented a folding wheelchair (free to us, since we had already hit his health insurance deductible) for several months to help out in situations where crutches weren’t practical, such as at the airport. The wheelchair was great to have on hand, but I was just as happy to haul it back to the medical supply agency.

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This is the Triinu Scarf, from Nancy Bush’s Knitted Lace of Estonia. This is the second project I’ve made from that book, and it certainly won’t be the last – I think that I could happily make every project in the book, and then start playing with the included stitch dictionary. I knit this scarf with two skeins of Misti DSC00706Alpaca laceweight, and size 4 needles. The Misti Alpaca was likewise a joy to work with. It’s great to combine good yarn with such an enjoyable pattern!

I normally tend to tweak patterns to fit my particular tastes, but I largely left  this one alone, with the exception of not slipping the first stitch in each row. I used to always slip the first stitch of every row, which makes a nice, neat edge, but I’ve had a few lace projects develop tight edges during blocking.  At this point I’ve knit enough lace that my edged stay neat regardless, and I value the more flexible edge because I typically stretch my lace to the limits while blocking.

I also took some liberty while blocking, and blocked a scalloped edge on the DSC00699scarf. I thought that it made for a more unified look between the narrow, lace ends, and the garter-stitch long edges. It also meant that I got to use about 200 fewer pins! I finished this while traveling, and blocked it out at my mother’s house in Ohio. My blocking wires, alas, were at home in Texas, so I made do with straight pins from her quilting supplies. I don’t think that I would have even considered a scalloped edge if I had blocked it at home, so it worked out OK; I really like the scarf with the scallops.

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