Posts Tagged ‘lace’


October 19, 2012

No, we don’t have icicles here yet.  A killing frost and appropriately chilly mornings, but no icicles.   Whether it was the change of season or the vacation (yes, Mr. Owl and I checked out for a bit), the reset button has done its job.

The knitting mojo is back, and not a nanosecond too soon.  Count on a few skeins of Birte to cure whatever ails you.

In the meantime, I am attacking the runway full of projects waiting for blocking.  Which brings us to the icicles:  the Oslo Walk Shawl

Oslo Walk Shawl by Susanna IC

from Susanna IC.  The yarn is special.  It is my friend Nancy Zeller of Long Ridge Farm‘s first attempt at semi-solid dyeing.  Her results on this 100% silk were spectacular.  All she needed was a nice piece to show it off.

The shawl was

Miyuki 8/0 beads

originally featured in a spread in Interweave Knits about contrasts in knitting.  I went a different direction, using this finer cobweb silk and 8/0 taupe lined crystal AB Miyuki beads from Twisted Sistah Beads.  The breeze and sun co-opted my efforts to capture them

A shallow beaded crescent

winking on the edging.  Use your imagination:  Ice crystals on pewter.

Project marriage score: 9

Modifications: none

Needles:US 7 for CO and BO, US 5 for knitting, .5mm crochet

Use a .5mm crochet hook for these

hook for beading

You’ll find the shawl and the yarn at the Long Ridge Farm booth in Building A at Rhinebeck this weekend.  Scads more of my knitting will be at the Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth, also in Building A.  Maybe you’ll find me there, too.

Keep your eyes peeled for owls  😉



June 18, 2012

Yes, dear friends, I am still here.  It’s just that I am so very far behind at everything that I can see my own backside!  That includes correspondence, mailing prizes (for wont of packaging), laundry, organizations I purportedly lead, gardening and anything but the care of one Darling Bebe.  On the other hand, there is some packing, straightening and staging accomplished, so the ledger isn’t completely unbalanced.  It’s just that priorities are restacked and jumbled at the moment.  And somehow my employers have failed to notice that it is summer, when things are supposed to slow down.  Not so.

Polaris, a mystery KAL

I can’t claim any significant knitting is happening.  Nope.  By the time I pick up needles, I pretty much doze off sitting up straight in mid-stitch.  But some long-completed FOs are finally getting the attention they deserve since there is an invitingly pristine guest bed available for blocking.

Spirit Trail Fiberworks Nona

This is my first attempt at a KAL, or knitalong, as part of the Susanna IC group on Ravelry.  Today, you know the pattern as Polaris.  But at the time, participants were rationed portions of the pattern  every couple of weeks, and dutifully kept each other company knitting in our respective places around the world.

Beads? Can you see beads?

I liked the concept a lot.  The problem with the “mystery” KAL for someone who lives and dies by the success of project marriage is the great difficulty in choosing the right yarn – and more difficult – beads – for the pattern when you don’t know what the finished project looks like.   In this instance, the yarn was easy – Spirit Trail Fiberworks Nona.  I used it to make an enormous and dramatic Phoenix Rising for STF, but had nothing of my own made with Sunna’s skinnier laceweight sister.  Time to use the skein from the 2011 Holiday Club in a colorway very similar to STF’s Aquitaine.  (Most accurate in top photo)

Modification: I-cord bind-off

I know that Nona is marked “heavy laceweight” but as someone who’s knit several football fields’ worth of it, I would quibble with that.  Nona takes an 8/0 bead via crochet hook just fine.  Because of her fiber composition (50% merino, 25% silk, 25% cashmere), she has a bit of “grab” that laceweight yarns without cashmere don’t have.  Once soaked, Nona blocks out hard and gets thinner.  I would not hesitate to use Nona for just about anything calling for “laceweight” unless the project specifically called for 100% silk.   And if you are new to knitting with laceweight yarns, I would recommend Nona specifically because of that bit of grabbiness you might like.

Look – see there are beads, really!

Choosing the beads was another story altogether.  I had some 8/0 dark amethyst AB seed beads, but in swatching, they seemed kind of lost on the dark yarn.  So following some advice from Bead Queen Sivia Harding, I went with a lighter, clear bead I found at a local shop.  They do pop a bit in plain natural light.  Admittedly, they are rather subtle.  I’m not one for too much bling.  But next time, I will try to go with a triangle or hexagonal bead ~ one with facets that flash a bit more when picking up the light.

I know you can see the beads here.

As for the pattern, it was the usual clear Susanna IC crescent.  I thought it was fun to knit with other folks and to get the pattern in installments.  Until the lights went out.  And stayed out in the aftermath of the October Snowpocalypse.  (Which tells you how long ago all this started.)  It’s one thing to knit lace by candlelight.  Beading by candlelight?  Nope.  Unh-unh.  No way.  Sorry.

Eventually, the poor little shawl was finished and relegated to the blocking pile.  It has waited and waited and waited.  But now you get to see her.

Yarn:  Approx. 410 yards Spirit Trail Fiberworks Nona

Pattern:  Polaris – “Susanna IC Mystery Crescent KAL”

Modifications:  Because of the tendency for the top edge of these crescents to roll in stockinette, I chose to use a two-stitch I-cord bind-off using a US 7 needle.  If I had it to do again, I would have bumped that up to an 8.  It gave a very nice edge to the top that I think it needs for stability.

Needles:  US 8 (C/O) and US 5 Addi Turbo circulars

Project marriage:  Yarn – 9.5  / Beads – 6

Somehow, I’m afraid that if I resurrect the KAL thread on Ravelry, I’ll be in for a lot of hazing.  I guess that’s what happens when you are the de facto caboose.


April 9, 2012

As I took my skeins of the new Spirit Trail Fiberworks Verdande out to wind, I could hear Carly Simon warbling in my head, “Anticipation … anticipa-a-ation, it’s makin’ me wait.”  I had waited a good long while to put this new yarn through its paces.


Spirit Trail Fiberworks Verdande

Verdande did not disappoint.  The worsted-weight big sister of Birte, Sunna and Nona, Verdande is pleasantly plump.  The twist makes the yarn well-rounded and Verdande doesn’t think about splitting ~ not even for a nanosecond.  For my test, I used plain old slick-finish original Addi Turbo needles.   The pattern is Susanna IC’s Geada from Twist Collective.  I liked it for a test knit because it

Colorway - Tuareg Blue

incorporated cables into the lace, allowing me to do different things within the same project.  As is my habit, I do not use a cable needle, increasing the occasion for splits in the yarn, if a yarn is so inclined.

Verdande knitted up like the wind,

Geada blocked

wicked fast.  The entire project used two skeins plus 40 grams of a third skein, leaving plenty of yarn for a set of mitts or a hat or whatever other accessory you might like.  Like all of Susanna’s patterns, it was written without so much as a comma out of place.  The I-cord bind-off will prevent any rolling of the neckline in the finished piece, and it provides a tidy edge that makes my obsessive heart go pitty-pat.

Even in harsh noontime sun, it's BLUE

I confess that I do have a tendency to block lace a little ~ ahem ~ aggressively.  This is why I appreciated Susanna’s schematic of the finished dimensions, which allowed me to block this shawl to the precise desired measurements without over-blocking it into some enormous flapping pterodactyl thing.

Yarn:  520 yards Spirit Trail Fiberworks Verdande, colorway Tuareg Blue

Pattern:  Geada

Modifications:  Zilch

Blocked measurements:  11 in at side edges, 17 in at center point

Project marriage score:  9.5

Utterly gratuitous backlit shot

I loved knitting with Verdande.  I would next want to use it in a less lacy shawl – something like Terra, Ashby or Barbara W, perhaps, to take advantage of its lovely drape and warmth that come from its cashmere and silk.  On the other hands – plural – some nice mitts would be cozy, too.  Or a cowl.  Or … you get the idea.  Good thing I have my own skeins in the stash to play with soon.

Summer’s Dim

January 24, 2012

With six inches of snow over the weekend, summer seems but a distant memory.  Kind of how I feel about knitting Simmer Dim.  Last July.  It was a wicked fast knit.  Like, a week.  All except for the picot bind-off, which seemed to take a week in and of itself.  But such a pretty edge.  An edge that would have to be blocked into hundreds of little points.

One stitch at a time - while dry - saves work when wet!

But why slave over a wet shawl with a gazillion pins when you don’t have to?  Once again, it’s a lifeline to the rescue.  All I did here was run a long cotton lifeline through every single point in the exact same part of the point stitch.

When you’re

Connected and ready to go

finished, you have all of your edge stitches connected through one lifeline with very long tails.  (The long tails are key ~ remember, you’re going to be stretching the piece significantly.)  Off to the warm bath with you!

At blocking, I

Simmer Dim - the whole shebang

usually start by marking the center of every piece with a wire spine.  It helps me keep things even, whether it’s the depth of the piece on either side of the midline, or the length of the “wings” or any other measurement.

Here’s where the lifeline magic

Let the lifeline do the work

comes in.  Because all of the points are connected by an inelastic thread, I don’t have to pin out every. single. one.  Sure, there’s some adjustment along the way.  (I’ve always maintained that blocking lace is a process of adjustment, not absolutes.)  But moving four pins around sure beats moving 40!  And the lifeline keeps all of the points within a section at pretty much the same depth.

A fine point

48 hours later, this is what you have.

So here is the official 411:

Yarn:  Knitting Notions Classic Merino Superwash Sock in the colorway Atlantic found in the KR Retreat Stash Lounge in 2010.  Thank you to the kind knitter who left it there.  The color was inspiring.

Pattern:  Simmer Dim by Gudrun Johnston (currently only available through Ravelry)

Gudrun is a terrific designer who writes clean patterns that practically knit

No socks out of this sock yarn

themselves.  I know when I choose anything of hers, I’m in for a thoroughly pleasant knit.

Pattern modifications:  None, other than blocking more aggressively than many others did.  I suppose I could have gone up a needle size since I used less than

Summer's gone, Simmer Dim is left

2/3 of the skein, but I’m happy with it as-is.  The depth at the center point started at 12 in, but post-blocking, grew to 18 in.

Project marriage score:  9  The yarn performed what it was asked to do nicely.

So back to where I started, yes, I finished knitting this in July.  It has waited patiently over the seasons while other projects have commanded my knitting attention or the guest room I needed to block it properly.   As I pinned it out the other day, I was reminded of a knitter Ann Budd told me about, who has a trunk full of unblocked shawls.  She loves knitting lace, but hates blocking.  So she knits them and tosses them into the trunk.  That struck me as terribly sad.

I greatly enjoy the blocking process.  It’s just my small house is making square inches challenging, more so since Santa’s last visit.  With a family trip coming up, nothing else will get blocked for awhile.  The guest bed is needed for suitcases.  But I’ll have a new shawl to pack.


September 15, 2011

Alas, the hollyhocks of summer are long gone and the skies are decidedly autumnal today.  Even as I welcome the cooler temps, there’s something a little sad about it.  Summer 2011 went too fast.  I seem to have missed a lot of it somehow.  But a lot of big serious ugly things are behind now, and if losing a summer was what it took, so be it.

Alcea by Susanna IC

Because I dare say that this will be a reminder of summer wherever I go.  This is Alcea, another flawlessly written pattern by SusannaIC.  Alcea, as in hollyhocks.  It’s fair to say the colorway, Flower Studies #45 in Sundara Fingering Merino Cashmere, is the most

You want a close-up?

relentlessly cheerful thing I’ve seen in a while.  No blues allowed while wearing this little number 😉 I didn’t even really like the colorway, but when I went stash-diving for this pattern, it said, “Pick me!  Pick me!”

And so I did.

Okay, not THAT close

I knocked this out in the space of ten days or so.  Somehow, it took less than half a skein.  I’m still trying to figure that one out.  Because it finished at the right size.  I was blocking for wingspan, not depth.

SO – here’s the knitty gritty …

Finished size:  58″ wide by 16 deep at deepest point.

Project marriage score:  9.5

Projects waiting to be blocked:  2

Next up: a high-pressure two-day out-of-town work meeting that eviscerates my weekend.  No fun whatsoever.

I haven’t left yet and I can’t wait to get home.


September 2, 2011

Ahhh, yes.  We have blocking space again.

Pattern:  Juneberry Triangle by Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

Juneberry Triangle in Birte

Yarn:  Spirit Trail Fiberworks Birte, 2 sk, Dancing the Orange.  Skeins were alternated on the main body of the shawl, but not on the wide border.

Needles:  Signature Circs, US 6

Pattern mods:  zilch

Dancing the Orange

Finished size:  63 inches wide by 29 inches deep

Birte is extremely bouncy to knit with.  I can easily understand why it is so appealing for cowls, mitts and other close-to-skin accessories.  I didn’t know quite how it would behave when asked to perform lace tricks.  Based on the fiber composition – 75% Merino, 15% Cashmere, 10% Silk – I knew it would block, but how well was the big unknown.

Birte's bobbles and blocking

Juneberry Triangle was a great demo to find out.  With double yarn-overs and even bobbles, there were plenty of different stitch patterns to block and see what Birte would do after ample drying time on wires.  I gave the shawl a good soak in warm water and Eucalan, then blocked pretty aggressively on wires and dried it for three days.

Well-charted territory

If you like knitting by chart, this pattern is for you.  Each chart comes with clear instructions at the outset as to the direction of even and odd rows.  Even though there is pattern on both the right and wrong sides of the work, the pattern is pretty intuitive.  Some knitters have worked the decorative bobbles larger than the 3-stitch version written.  I opted not to, as I was unsure how Birte would behave when blocked, and didn’t want them mondo big depending on that.

Digression on charts:  Knitters love ’em or hate ’em.  Give me a chart over words any day of the week.  I can see my stitches on a chart the way I can’t in words, and my brain and hands can be at work on a chart without my conscious mind paying much attention at all.  I can’t explain it any better than that.  Maybe I spend too much of my waking time with words to be able to digest them during my knitting time …

All in all, this was a most enjoyable project.  The pattern was clear, the yarn was well-behaved and most suitable.  I flew through it and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again, this time trying it in the worsted-weight wool (Shelter) also suggested for a different look and feel altogether.

Project Marriage Score: 9

Now that the runway is clear, stay tuned.  Lots more FOs just waiting to hop onto the wires.


July 7, 2011

While obsessively planning my travel knitting for a recent trip, I took along a skein of Sundara Fingering Merino Cashmere in the colorway Turning Leaves and Rose Beck’s Sugared Violets pattern.  Plenty of stockinette in this one-skein pattern suitable for picking up and putting down on trains, buses and the like.

Unblocked and waiting for a bath - or 3

Like a few other pretties, it’s been stuck on the runway waiting for blocking – but not for space issues.  I was waiting for a delivery of Synthrapol.  I wanted to knit the larger version of the shawl, and since most Sundara skeins tend to run “heavy,” I put in a couple of lifelines in case I ran short, and kept going.  (I am happy to report, I did not run out of yarn.)  However, my snow-white crochet cotton quickly turned pink.  The yarn was bleeding all over the cotton, and in some instances, my fingers, too.  Ruh-roh.

The last thing I want to do while preparing my knits for blocking is waste 100 gallons of water removing excess dye.  So I consulted the Oracle of Fiber and Dye for advice.  A hot bath in Synthrapol was prescribed.  I duly gloved up and dunked the shawl into the hottest water I could stand.  The bath turned into cranberry-juice cocktail.  I let it sit a good while, then rinsed in the same temperature water.  And thought I’d give it a little rinse in Eucalan for sake of a lavender scent.  That turned cranberry, too.

Sigh.  Here we go again.  Groundhog Day.

Finally out of the bath and pinned out

It took three wicked hot Synthrapol baths before the water ran significantly clearer.  And the final Eucalan bath yielded something close to chamomile tea in color.  Good enough.

Because this shawl did not have “points,” I inserted lifelines

No points on this edge!

in both edges that I then used to pin out the edges as smoothly as possible.  I find the thread makes this easier than just pinning out the wet fiber by itself.

It dried beautifully.  I suppose it lost about 10% of its color saturation

One more newel

along the way.  Better to lose it in a wash tub than on my clothing and skin!  So in this case, the lifelines had nothing to do with the knitting and everything to do with the Excess Dye Warning System.

Project marriage score:  9

Mods: None

Yes, I have been on a bit of a newel photography kick lately.  My satellite office has plenty of staircases and I’ve walked up and down them for years without noticing that they would be a helpful place for FO photos.

See, my employer has decided

that it is preferable for me to lose precious time with DB /spend hours in the car daily /spend my own $$ on gas than for them to pay minimal rent for my space.  I will soon lose access to them, so I am taking advantage of my surroundings while I can.   Until I have new digs.  That go along with a new employer.

Apologies if photos seem out-of-sequence.  They are. WordPress is not playing nice today.


June 23, 2011

Alcea in the garden

‘Tis the season for hollyhocks.

Here, in the garden this morning, where they have self-sowed and come up annually …

… and this year, on the needles, in this fun little crescent-shaped shawl from the talented Susanna IC.  Her pattern is called Alcea, the Latin name for hollyhocks.

Inspiration comes in many forms, and rather than questioning my yarn choice, I just went with my gut.  It is Sundara Fingering Merino Cashmere in Flower Studies #45.  Sort of a Crayola

Flower Studies #45 starring in Alcea

orange meets pink and coral.  Frankly, I didn’t really like it much.  If someone had wanted to buy it from me, I’d have been happy to sell it.

I don’t know that I see myself wearing a screaming coral-and-orange shawl.  Maybe it will become a wardrobe staple.  Maybe it will become a gift.  At this point, I haven’t a clue.

Just a compulsion to knit this yarn into this project.  Away we go.

My own

June 15, 2011

Although there is far too little knitting time in my full-time working mommy life, I do really enjoy test-knitting.  It allows me to test-drive a yarn I have not knitted with before for little commitment.  There is no pressure at all to make the right choice for project marriage purposes.  When it all works, the model sells yarn or patterns or classes.  And once in a while, there is a certain wistfulness that comes with packing up the project and sending it away.

Hawthorne II in Lyra

This was the case with my original Hawthorne.  The Spirit Trail Fiberworks Lyra knitted like butter and the project was over far too soon.  Things around here have been a little complicated lately, and I needed what Luann calls a “Break glass in case of emergency knitting” project.  So I grabbed up the leftover yarn, pattern and needles and cast on without having to swatch a stitch.  This is good.

Lace at one gauge, garter at another

While speed was in no way a consideration, I had the knitting completed in a week.  One week of decadently smooshy knitting. Ahhhhhhh.

Needles:  Signature circs, US 7, Addi Turbo US 8 and US 9

Yarn: Approximately 1 sk of leftover Lyra, colorway Appalachia

Modifications:  Knitted from the outer border to the neck edge, I worked the lace on US 7.  Four rows from the end of the chart, I bumped up to US 8 and on the last row, US 9.  This compensated for my tendency to knit lace loosely yet put the garter stitch at the desired drape.  I also added two rows to the top edge out of my greedy desire to use up every last bit.

Lifeline inserted before garter short-rows

Blocking tip:  After knitting the last row of lace, I inserted a thread lifeline.  This allowed me to block the lace portion below the lifeline more aggressively than the garter section, which I pretty much laid out without stretching.  Because of the silk and alpaca content (fibers which don’t have natural elasticity), I didn’t want to stretch the garter section.

Project marriage score:  10  ~ no real stretch since the pattern was written specifically for this yarn.

Call it a wrap!

It’s mine.  All mine.  And I don’t have to share it with anyone.

In kind

June 3, 2011

When someone goes above and beyond to do a great kindness, the only proper response is repayment in kind.

Koulouria by Helen

The kindess: A carefully wrapped shoebox filled to the brim with koulourakia (koo-loo-RAH-key-uh), or koulouria (koo-LOO-ree-uh), as we call them.  They are my favorite Greek cookie.  Like a traditional shortbread, they are crunchy, somewhat dry and not too sweet.  The perfect accompaniment to coffee in the morning.

No one makes better koulouria than Helen.  When her daughter was married a couple of years ago, Helen left a box of them in every out-of-town guest’s hotel room.  They were divine.  So when I recently saw Helen at a family gathering, I asked if she might share her recipe.  Helen came through with the recipe and the aforementioned stash of cookies.  I made short work of them, as my hips can attest.

How to repay such generosity?

Spirit Trail Fiberworks Paivatar in action

After some collusion with her wonderful daughters, we determined that lavender would be a nice color for a little something.  As if there wouldn’t be something lavender and appropriate just waiting in the stash … which, of course, there

Elektra by Romi Hill

was.  (Insert giggle/snort of choice here.)  Two skeins of Spirit Trail Fiberworks Paivatar, a merino/cashmere/nylon blend in Lilac.  I married it with Elektra for a host of reasons: the Greek origins of the pattern name, its unique pentagonal

Wearable in many ways

shape, its wearability ’round the shoulders in chilly summer air conditioning or around the neck under a coat in winter.

The pattern by Romi Hill is terrific; flawlessly written.  I made some modifications to make up for not using beads, as follows:  Instead of using the suggested increase for each of the spines, I used a YO.  This highlighted the spines in a decorative way without having to stop and insert beads.  If you are making your own – I did this for every increase until the last chart.

YOs along the spine, shaping

Because I was wary of running out of yarn, I opted for the minimum number of repeats.  In a perfect world, I would have knitted using US 5 needles because Paivatar is closer to a DK weight than a fingering, but because of yardage concerns, I went with US 4.  I blocked the daylights out of it and the garter stitch opened up quite nicely.  Ultimately, I had about eight yards of yarn left over, confirming my suspicions.  Sometimes the Yarn Goddess is with us ~ probably because this was a gift.

Long edge detail

I was very pleased with Paivatar in spite of working it up on a slightly smaller needle than it really wanted.  (Not the yarn’s fault.)  This yarn would be suitable for a cowl or other next-to-skin wear.  It certainly handled lace – and blocking – eagerly.  I used regular blunt-tipped Addi Turbos and it did not split at all.  The colorway exactly matched its name, and its tonal variation was perfect. I did alternate skeins at the spot where the garter-stitched edge met the pattern so that the two skeins would blend.

Project marriage score: 9

Elektra is now belatedly winging its way to Helen, having spent more time than I will admit to on the the wires.  Really, it’s the least I could do.

Now I have to pull out the flour, sugar and eggs and try to replicate Helen’s koulouria.  On the other hand, there’s a Greek festival this weekend and I’m sure I’ll find some there …

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