Monday, July 31, 2006

The Wedding Ring Shawl (snail paced progress)

So we are up to row 20 on the WRS . I couldn't resist posting these because I needed to see what little progress I have made. It's not much, but it is still pretty and it encourages me to continue with it now that the weather is better. I will put in another lifeline at this spot before I move forward. Also, see above current attempt to spin thin singles on my Schacht. I spin a bit in between everything else and will attempt to spin enough to make a stole or shawl. Short post tonight! This weekend I will not be around to knit. I will be visiting a friend in Seattle who is going to be giving a poetry reading. Will leave Friday, back Monday. No greater love hath one friend for another than to give up knitting and spinning time to be supportive of their artistic endeavors!

To Good Knitting and Good Vision!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Peacock Shawl Do-over (much bigger yarn and needles)

So yesterday I started doing the Peacock Shawl over again in a yarn size that I can live with on US 3 needles. You see a partial pin-out since there is no way to do a full pin-out unless I take the shawl off the needles and put it on something longer to hold the stitches. When the yarn is this big, I can see everything and I am already on row 91 of the pattern. Knitting this now just flies along like no effort at all. It's amazing how you can knit with authority when you can actually see the darned stitches. Now I know what you may be thinking. You may be rather concerned that the yarn is so LOUD. Well, you would be right about that. It will take a special kind of presence to wear this shawl and not be daunted. Still, when you are my age, life holds little to be afraid of in terms of what other's might think of you or how you are dressed. Besides, if not now , then when?
Anyway, the concept of knitting lace is not actually hard for me, it's the size differential that gets me. I want to knit the very thin lace-weights, but I pay for that desire in frustratingly slow progress since I can hardly see the stitches to correct errors. Hence, it is best not to make any errors in smaller size needle/yarn weights to begin with. Like I said, slow . I'm on row 20 of the WRS and did not knit it at all during the blistering heat-wave that we had here where I live (high 90's). I also took a picture of how I keep some of my lace projects now. I really like these clear project caddies. You can see all your supplies and retrieve them quickly It is also less likely that your lace projects will get bumped etc in these. I'd love to see how everyone else organizes their work. Of course, I have other things just thrown into knitting bags etc, but these are things that are not very delicate and if they accidentally fell off the needles, could be put back easily. There is a gathering in Dixon CA this weekend with sheep and vendors of sheep related products. I had considered going until it became so unbearably hot out here. I can't justify it since I have plenty of yarn, fiber and there are already 3 wheels in the house. Going to that show would only tempt us to buy more stuff and we already have a gracious plenty of supplies. I have been busy practicing spinning thin on my Schacht single treadle with some beautiful merino I bought from Lisa Sousa Knitwear (see side-bar). It's such a pleasure that I can't begin to tell you! I might experiment with my singles to see how sturdy they are. I've always been afraid to try to use my yarn as a single for fear it would just fall apart on me, however, on examination of the Shetland cobweb weight I've been knitting, I have begun to re-think my stand on this. If I give it a lot of twist, then steam-block it, I think It would be something I could use to knit with. I'm going to give that a try later. For now I'm still busy with the shawls and with my crazy quilt project. Not only that. Once I finish my Peacock Shawl, I have a lot of other patterns I want to try out!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Best laid plans... (when you choose the wrong materials)

Ok. So I picked the wrong yarn for the project and it's way too small. Peacock Shawl on US #1 needles is not worth the work to finish it. Not only is it too small, it is not as pretty as I wanted it to be. Not enough color. It is now trash. That's right, trash. Why you ask? Because I'm over 50 years old. I don't have the time to keep knitting a mistake. The WRS on the other hand is up to row 20 and looks good! Not enough to post but when I get one full repeat I will post. Of course, the yarn snapped so I have to hide a knot later or else fix it some other way, but still, looks good if very slow. My next attempt at the Peacock Shawl will be on US 3 and the yarn...well lets just say there is a lot more color going on. I have to admit it. I'm a loud person when it comes to color and after all it's a Peacock shawl. It's supposed to have alot of color. I am now knitting it in a Schaefer Yarn. It's the "Andrea" line which is 100% cultivated silk (wt:3.5 oz/1093 yds. Gage: 8 st/in). The colorway is Indira Gandhi and I have two skeins of it as one is not sufficient to do the shawl. I am at row 61 and will show it once I have a little more. Sigh. I will be using "Graceful" on something else I'm sure. I've been taking breaks and working on the Mountain Pines Shawl as well.

Have a Good Evening!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lifeline (no easy way)

So I put in a lifeline for the first time ever, using one of the long needles I bought. Not all that hard to do but next time I will remember to go under the rubber markers so that I won't have to cut them to get them loose! I needed all those markers to be able to move because, on some rows, you move those stitch markers over. I'm going to leave the lifeline in in and add new ones at intervals. I can remove them later once I'm done. I'm up to row 7 of the re-do and I did try to attach the lifeline to the end of the circular needle to see if it would stay put while I knit. I'm sure many others before me have tried this and found it not to be successful. The drag of the yarn pulls it loose, at least at this gage. I imagine it might work if you were using a very thin lifeline and larger needles with thicker yarn so it would slide better. I looked at the Knit Picks catalog that came today. They have a needle set with interchangeable heads. There appears to be a small hole at the base used for the tightening device for those needles. I wonder if you could attach the lifeline there on those needles? They would have a great anchor and would not tear loose. Anyway, using the long needle and just treading it through the loops is ok. If it was larger yarn and bigger needles I was using, I might even thread my US 000 needles through instead of the tatting cotton and just cap them off to hold the stitches "in case". If anyone else comes up with a brainstorm, let me know! I am behind knitting a baby sweater so I must stop work on the center for awhile to meet my Auntie duties!


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Fatal Error (RIP first attempt at WRS)

My first go at the WRS center has failed. What is referred to in health care as a "fatal error" has occurred!
I had to pick back on row 15. I managed it but damaged the yarn too severely in the process and the yarn disintegrated in the row and ran like a sprinter. Sigh. Gods way of telling me that I will have to learn to do things differently because this type of knitting and this type of yarn, is nothing like anything I've ever knit before. Which, is actually kind of exhilarating! See the picture of needles I got today at Lacis in order to use, for the very first time, a "lifeline". Thank you Jason for that link to the site that shows how to do it. Both sets of needles are blunt ended, both will take tatting cotton in the eyes to use as lifeline. The Doll needle has a much larger eye and is thicker in diameter than the Teneriffe weaving needles. The Teneriffe needles can run along the cable part of the circular needle and pick-up stitches very easily. I hope that I won't be making too many errors in the future, but if I do, I hope using the lifeline will spare the integrity of the yarn. I would have to choose the Shetland cobweb as my first attempt yarn. I could always go bigger, but what would be the challenge in that? So remember children. You can pick your nose as much as you like, but you cant pick Shetland cobweb weight yarn almost at all!

Disgustingly cheerful for all that I have endured disaster!

Much, much later I bet!

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Wedding Ring Shawl (Or why I lost what was left of my mind in 2006)

One of the women at work who I taught to knit took a look at my test swatch for the Wedding Ring Shawl and asked in an absolutely horrified voice, "Do you really enjoy doing this type of thing?" To her, it looks like some form of self torture. In a way, she's right. I wasn't going to post the shawl in progress until I had something more substantial to look at, but to be honest, it is such slow going that you might not hear from me for weeks if I wait that long. Any way, I thought you might like to see just what I have to contend with. See above, a close-up of part of the chart for the shawl. I had it blown-up 150% so I could see it. (see dime for scale). I use the post-it in order to keep track of what line I'm on. I used a highlighter to indicate the double yarn-overs as well as the center repeating motif. What? you ask, are those boxes doing written on the post-it? I have a left/right deficit. It's a mild form of dyslexia. When I look at those particular symbols on a knitting pattern, I have to glance at my visual cue's in order to know which symbol is which so I can make the correct stitch. Don't laugh, it works! Also, see above, between my row counter and the plastic container holding the ball of yarn, the "over-twist" that happens with Shetland and other tightly spun singles. The tendency to "fold back" onto itself, makes knitting with this yarn a challenge. I've been putting the container with the ball on my left side, pulling the yarn over the back of my neck as a tensioning ploy and down to my right hand so I can knit with it. If it twists, I can then pull the twist out because of the "drag" on the yarn at the back of my neck. It's slow, but it works for me because I'm not knitting this shawl all that fast. I'm sure others knitting with this stuff have come up with other methods to deal with this issue. "Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!", she cried out over the great internet abyss! I have only done 12 incredibly slow rows so far. Not much to look at at this stage I'm afraid. I have been working on the Mountain Pines shawl for a break from the WRS and someone asked where I got this pattern. I bought it one year at Stitches, a long time ago and I'm not sure anyone even sells this pattern any more. Since it's in yarn I spun myself, It's not nearly as fine as the Shetland. Still, it's pretty and I hope it will look "lighter" once I block it out. The center is "field of flowers" pattern. I'll post progress on that later but it doesn't look like much progress because it's knit from the inside-out. The rows just get longer and longer folks.

That's it for the time being. Until next time!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Cashmere is here! (And why I will be using the Shetland)

I received some very nice cones of Cashmere singles in the mail today from ColorMartUK in the United Kingdom. Four cones of what they label as their "cobweb weight" and one of the purple that is laceweight as well as a complimentary cone of pale blue, also laceweight, which they gave me for accepting the white even though it was not all on one cone. Above, you can see on the dime, two strands of yarn. The top is the Cashmere, the bottom is the Shetland. The Cashmere is larger, coarser and not as tightly spun as the Shetland. So, while Cashmere is nice, it will not go into the WRS (ie Wedding Ring Shawl). So tonight, the adventure begins! It won't be exciting. The center starts with six rows of garter stitch which will help ease me into the work at hand. I also got my additional needles in the mail (Inox US 0 24 inch cable and Susan Bates 14 inch straights in metal) so I'm all set!
I will report back when I have something to show! May be a little while though!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

So waddaya think? (62 row swatch of The Wedding Ring Shawl)

So here we have it ladies and gentlemen. This is the 62 rows that are the center of the Wedding Ring Shawl ( one view plain, one with a dime for size). I used the "old stash" Shetland from Lacis. I actually got better at it as I went along. Not faster, but better. I went slow enough that I was not making the types of mistakes I made at the start and I learned the look and feel of the yarn, how to pull it enough to get the needle into areas for the knit two togethers etc. Eventually, during a test swatch, you begin to see a logic to how the pattern comes together. I know how much I can pick back before I destroy the yarn, I'm better at stopping before I mess up because I'm tired at the end of a long work day, and I'm knitting looser so it will slide on the circular needles and not shread. So, do you think I should wait for the Cashmere? Or go ahead and start? Should I try "shudder" the Silk again? As frustrating as the Silk was to knit, I was wondering if it would look/feel better if I knit it on US 000. The silk is so fine, it looks insubstantial on US 0. Of course, I could just be delusional from lack of sleep. I am Menopausal after all! I looked at the alternative central panel and I know that I like this one better for some strange reason. I won't be swatching the other pattern out but you never know. I might use it another time for something else!

While I decide, I will go ahead and cast-on the provisional rows so when I get ready to go, I can just start knitting (cast-on 247 stitches). Now, from pictures of the other people knitting Heirloom patterns from Sharon Miller, there does not appear to be any one type of yarn they prefer to use to do the provisional cast-on. I actually like DMC Cebelia tatting/crochet cotton #30 because it's small in size but comes in nice colors so you can see the cast on edge well, it is not "hairy" so will not felt with the yarn I'm using and will come out cleanly when I go to cut the "live" stitches loose.

Must go cast-on now and maybe work on something less taxing for awhile.

To all, a "Good Night!"

Monday, July 10, 2006

A good yarn is hard to find! (Not all cobweb weight Shetlands are made equal)

I previously posted that I bought additional skeins of cobweb weight Shetland yarn from Lacis, as a back-up. Better safe than sorry and all that. Well, I opened one up to wind it and lo-and-behold! I find it is not really the same. The quality is not as good as the one from the 1980's. To be sure, I checked the Heirloom Knitting group at Yahoo. There is discussion there along the same vein. Sigh. It sucks to get old and have things you liked go the way of the dinosaurs! I shall use this yarn later for something else. It will not be used in The Wedding Ring Shawl however. For that, I will use my "old stash" yarn. I will also go back to the Sharon Miller Heirloom Knitting site and give a good hard look at her new lovely yarns. I trust her judgment and further purchases of yarn for this type of Heirloom Knitting will likely come from her if it's a gossamer weight type of project!

I heard back from the UK via e-mail about the Cashmere. Because it was the last of it in that color/weight, and because it is a "mill end" it is in several small cones, not one large one. The mill let me decide if I still wanted it or not as some persons might prefer not to have to make a join. I really don't mind so I said to send it. They were nice enough to throw in an extra cone of the other lace-weight yarn I purchased in lilac. When I get them, I will post them! For those who are knitting the patterns by Sharon Miller, Alice (see previous post) suggested I check out the Yahoo group for Heirloom Knitting ( . I did join and I must say that the people there are a wealth of information and inspiration. Sharon Miller also takes her valuable time to answer questions for that group. I think I will mostly lurk unless I have something to contribute that is informational. I did comment to them that I had compared the old Shetland from Lacis to the New and found that they were not the same. The nice thing is, that there is alot more to choose from these days than when I first was interested in Shetland lace knitting. At that time the Lacis yarn and one from Jamison Smith (still available but not as fine) were about all there really was. So I guess it's not all bad, this getting old stuff.

Be back when I finish the swatch!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Wedding Ring Shawl or Where is Yoda when you really need him? (There is no "rip" in lacework)

Every choice in tools has a "downside" and an "upside". Straight metal needles have no join to ease stitches over. A join that may shred delicate yarn. However my pretties, straight metal needles are slick. My needles slid out of the last 8 stitches on row 26 of the swatch when I reached for a glass of water and those suckers ran like a pair of cheap nylons. Note to self, hydrate at the end of a row and not before! Here then is something that older knitters other than myself and my sister may have noted. The new generation of knitters call it "frogging" because they "rip" out knitting. Older knitters only use the term "rip" in extremis because in lace, unless you have admitted utter defeat, there is no "rip" there is only "pick" as in picking back a stitch at a time so that you can save your hard work. The Shetland is so fine, that at one point, I had to undo a "slip one, knit two together and pass the slip stitch over" using the point of a sewing needle. yes, it's that fine folks. Consider that before you start to knit on this weight yarn. There are some who use a "lifeline" (a row of knitting where you have threaded a contrasting yarn through a row of your work so if you have to rip back, it will stop at this row and save your stitches). I have never used a lifeline and only heard of this technique lately. In my day, there was no lifeline. It's a Yoda type of a deal, "Do or do-not! There is no try!" . I have now picked back to row 22, right back where I started from. Sigh. Yet, when I look at the pretty pattern that remains intact, I want to keep going. Knitting can be a very masochistic kind of an activity little ones so beware!

Now came the tough part. If you have to pick back too much, you have damaged your yarn. It is a good thing to become aware of your tools/materials/issues before starting the actual shawl. it will help you decide if you want to be in that much agony or not. It also has told me just how many times I may pick back before I will have compromised the yarn so far that it is a issue of soundness. And soundness matters in a piece that will likely never be repeated by me. One which will require a lot of time, effort and patience. Part of the problem is that this is a cobweb weight single. Unlike a plied yarn, it does not have anything to bolster it's tensile strength other than characteristics of the wool and the initial spinning process to bring it to a cohesive yarn. So I threw away my swatch and started again (remember, there is no "rip" in lacework).

See above, the new swatch up to row 32. I have abandoned the metal needles and am working on Inox circular's even though the only length I have in a US 0 is a 120 cm length (I have sent away for a 24" one as I cannot find one that length locally). The grey coated metal holds the stitches. I imagine this will be an issue when there are lots of stitches on it, but I feel it is better to be patient with this type of issue than to risk dropped stitches because the needle is too slick. Only 30 more rows and my swatch will be done and I can look at it. If I like it, I will do this version. If not, I will swatch the alternate. You really have to be a bit mad to be doing this type of knitting I think.

If you want to see the very first person to finish "The Wedding Ring Shawl", visit YorkSett ( . Kudos to her and the beautiful work she did on a shawl for an actual bride! What a treasure of an heirloom and what a very fortunate bride. I can only hope that my version comes out well too!

I will be working on a few simple knitting tasks to soothe my frayed nerves. Maybe read a book. The siren song of the "swatch" will call me back to it soon enough I imagine.

Until then, Happy Trails!

When you are older, you need a lot of crutch's (Dodges to keep from messing up!)

Although Jason was nice enough to say that I appear to be knitting fast, in reality I'm not fast, just sedentary. I like to sit and knit. I'm also menopausal so when hot flash wakes me up in the middle of the night, I will just sit and knit a little until I can go back to sleep. My attention span is not very good, my eyesight sucks so what's a person to do in order to get the job done? We develop "crutches". Ways around some of our limitations. I like to enlarge my charts and put them in plastic sleeves so I can put post-it notes under the line's I'm knitting. I also use smaller post-it's to section off the part of the line I'm working on so I don't get as confused. This slows down the progress of knitting but It helps me not make as many mistakes that I have to correct later because I'm tired or inattentive. Lots of people use magnetic boards instead, but I have way too many projects to do that and the sleeves are light and portable too. You can also use painters tape to make reusable" section" markers instead of the smaller post-it's. They stick better and for longer. (see above example of a chart). It's never been about speed for me. I learned to knit as an adult so I'm just happy to be able to do it at all, much less be fast at it.

I have some pictures of the Peacock Shawl above and I am at row 85 of 223. The "feathers" are beginning to appear and I must say that after knitting on US 0 for the Shetland swatch, knitting on US 1 is much easier now. Also, in the Peacock Shawl, as in the Wedding Ring Shawl, there is a "double yarn-over" stitch that makes what ends up being a "gigantic" hole that I do not like at all. It might be ok in a thicker yarn, but in such delicate yarn, it just looks too big. Sharon Miller gives a great tip that I used on the Peacock shawl. I made a single yarn-over instead of a double, and on the flip side, I knit and purl into that one yarn-over stitch and end up with a much more reasonably sized hole. There you have it, cross pollination at it's best! That's the nice thing about knitting. If you don't like what was done, you can change it on yours!

Now that I've had a break, I will return to working on my Shetland swatch again. Knitting right now is a challenge as it's been hotter than the hinges of Hell out here in Castro Valley CA. Since I went to multiple places seeking out Susan Bates US 0 straight needles in 14" unsuccessfully, I ordered this as well as Inox US 0 in 24" on-line. I have time. I'm still swatching!

Happy knitting to all!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Row 22 of test swatch of The Wedding Ring Shawl

Opthamologist swears that I can do this folks! I had my yearly eye exam and asked if there was some reliable magnifying device I could attach to my coke-bottle-bottom glasses so I could see up-close when I make knitted lace. Practical man that he is, he told me to "Take off your glasses and just hold it up close. it will be OK". I don't take them off, I just peer over the tops of the glasses. If anyone else is doing this shawl, word to the wise. Do not knit it when tired and stupid. It won't work, I tried. See my sample after I had a little rest.
And now to confess that I am a stubborn git! I tried to knit that Silk again. I took an emery board and sanded all my fingertips smooth and tried that swatch again. It was like a bad comedy skit about safe-crackers. The yarn did not stick to me so badly this time but it was still not a pleasure to knit it. And I guess that says a lot about why I knit. It can be a challenge, it can be frustrating, it can take a long time but ultimately, all that still equates to pleasure for me for some odd reason. Knitting the silk was just not satisfying.
You can see above, a picture of the lace in the Shetland cobweb weight yarn ,up to row 22. I have placed the small ball of yarn in a plastic container to avoid snagging and when I'm done, I just snap the lid on and it keeps everything in place. Though I an currently using Susan Bates metal needles, I did pick up some bamboo needles to try out as well. Sharon Miller suggest the use of talcum powder to dust hands/work so it won't stick and will slide on the needles more easily. My sister says there is something bad about inhaling talcum powder however. The advantage of straight needles using this thin yarn, is that there is no "join" for the yarn to get hung up on as with circular needles where the needle meets the plastic cable. It was easier than I thought it would be. Just like riding a bike! In fact, being able to brace the needle while sitting enables better finger manipulation of those tiny stitches so that there is less threat of them falling off the needles while working. See also above my "respite" knitting. The Mountain Pine's shawl. On US 3 it feels like I'm actually knitting sportweight instead of laceweight after using US 0 needles. I will be working on the peacock shawl again and I bet it will be easier now after working even smaller!

Until next we meet!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Heck of an old Yarn Stash (Can you carbon date your yarn like me?)

I went to Lacis today to pick up additional Shetland Cobweb weight yarn. This is not to say that I have made a choice as to what yarn I will use for the shawl, but it's a safe bet I will eventually use it. When I made my swatch, it was actually quite pleasant to knit with. I couldn't find it initially as I was looking for pre-wound balls. The sales clerk looked at me oddly and produced skeins. "Oh!" I said stupidly. "You used to sell them pre-wound." She demurred, "Not that I recall." As you can see from previous pictures, they did, but it was so darned long ago when I squirreled these balls away, that no one can remember ever carrying them in this form. I think I obtained these in the 1980's because that's when I picked up a copy of, "The Art of Shetland Lace" by Sarah Don. I had saved that wool because it was rather difficult to come by in those days and even though I was not ready to knit that small yet, I knew I'd kick myself if I didn't get them. It's still not easy to obtain but I need not have worried. It's still the same beautiful product, but now I have to wind it myself! Talk about an "Old" stash. While I was there, I picked up Inox circular needles in 2mm and 1.5 mm. The points are nice and thin and the grey coated metal gives some drag to the yarn. I don't know yet if it will be "too much" drag once there are hundreds of stitches on the needles but at least I have an additional option. I also picked up a pair of rosewood straight needles "14" in US 0 (still not a "true" US 0 but maybe that's just not possible). I will also give these a try for the center of the shawl.When I first learned to knit, I did it exclusively on straight needles. It's only later in life that I went to circulars to spare the weight of work in my hands. However, there is little to speak of in terms of weight in this shawl so maybe it would be a nice change of pace.

I knit up a sample of the Silk. Let's just say it was not a pleasure. See all three samples above. My skin is somewhat dry. I don't take the best care of it. It gets even drier when I'm spinning as I spin prepared fibers rather than "in the grease". Dry skin is a distinct hazard with the silk as it caught on my hands incessantly. It was quite maddening! That aspect was worse than the fact that it was also difficult to see it on the needles. Maybe someday I will work my way down to it, or I may even spin a single to ply with it to make a nice laceweight for a different project. It will not, however, be considered for the Wedding Ring shawl. I will now be starting a larger test swatch to learn the center panel pattern on. Unlike Marilyn at "The Wedding Ring Chronicles", I have chosen the original center rather than the "alternate". Since it's only a swatch, I will use the Susan Bates Aluminum in Aqua, US 0. I have made copies of the pattern so I will not "ruin" my original. My vision is crap, so I will also be making an effort to enlarge the patterns so I can read them better.

Good Knitting!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Tennis Elbow (what you get from winding over 6 thousand yards of silk yarn)

Well. I finally got the Silk wound off. Whew! As I thought, not all in one ball. It kept getting snagged or snapped. This made it very slow going but it was worth it. Now I can swatch it to join the other samples. See above my Crystal Palace Bamboo US 0 needles. I have used these on "Graceful" for the Peacock Shawl in US 1 and they were fine, however they don't work for the cobweb weight yarn from Lacis and the Silk is at least that fine so I doubt it would work for that either. When I wound the Silk, I fit a cardboard center from an empty the toilet paper roll on the ball winder. This was just to give the ball some shape after I remove it since I plan to work from the outside in rather than attempt a center pull with such fine yarn. They are now each wrapped in Saran and placed in clear plastic containers to protect them from getting tangled up. I wonder if anyone else takes special precautions, or is it just because I'm being a control freak? Of course, it could just be my unnatural pre-occupation with yarn bondage. Oh well... If you go to "The Wedding Ring Chronicles you can watch as Marilyn does an uber swatch of the central panel variation she is considering for her version of the shawl. That's right children, Sharon Miller has given us two different center panel patterns to choose from. Smart cookie that she is, Marilyn is making this as a practice swatch so she can learn the ins and outs of the pattern before plunging head-first off the precipice that is this shawl.

I knocked off a couple of rows on Mountain Pines and the Peacock Shawl. I'm limiting myself to a few rows because I'm tired enough to mess-up. Must do my homework and read the Wedding Ring Shawl pattern before I go to sleep.

Nite Nite All!

Size Matters (choosing the correct needles)

On this, the glorious 4th of July, I am making lace swatches. I can only do the swatches from what I have on hand because I have PROMISED myself I will not actually knit the shawl until I READ the instructions first. I started on US 1 with Addi Tubo's for a swatch. It's too big for the yarn's I have in mind. Then I tried out knitting the Shetland Cobweb yarn on the bamboo needles from Crystal Palace, size US 0 . If anyone else is considering these needles with the Lacis Shetland or a Silk yarn, think again. Do the words "Sucks Much!" mean anything to you? Once you push those stitches past the metal collar that holds the plastic cable to the needle, you can't easily push it back because of the design of that join. At the point where the plastic cable enters the metal collar, there is a small rounded "bump" that is ment to facilitate the yarns transition. However, with use of the Shetland Cobweb weight or the Silk yarn, it just gets trapped between the bump and the metal collar. Think "choke chain" and you will get the idea.These needles are fine for larger lace yarn, but not for this project. The Addi turbo's could work but are slippery. To make the swatches above, I used Susan Bates 14 inch straight needles that are colored Aqua and are size US 0. They worked just great and points were nice and sharp. I'm thinking straight needles for the center are looking good. I will go have a look at rosewood straights in US 0 and make a trip to Lacis in Berkley to see what they have as well. I will also try to pick up a little extra Shetland Cobweb yarn while I'm there. I still have to decide which circulars to use. Maybe by the time I get done with the center, I will feel comfortable enough with the yarn to use the Addi Turbo circulars for the rest of the work. We shall see. It's really crucial for me to have needles with fine enough points to do the work well as the whole thing is such a challenge already that struggling with the wrong tools would be a drag.

The top swatch would be the Cordonet crochet cotton 100. Nice clear pattern but not a soft hand after washing and blocking out the sample. Advantage, there is no fear of shreading the thread as it is very strong. Still, I doubt I will use this for my project. Second swatch is the Shetland cobweb weight yarn from Lacis. It has a really nice halo, it got even nicer after the wash and blocking and it is not at all stiff, unlike the crochet cotton. Really very nice. Very high on my list as contenders. That leaves me the job of making up a Silk swatch and, if the cashmere comes from the UK, and it looks good, I'll try that too!

My thanks to Jason for reminding me that there are quite a few other people who are working on the Wedding Ring Shawl. "Knitter guy is already doing the "Princess Shawl but apparently this is not enough to keep him busy and he will be making the Wedding Ring Shawl as well.( Marilyn "The Knitting Curmdeon" has started a blog called "The Wedding ring Chronicles" to report on her progress with the same pattern and has already begun work on it at...( ). It's not a "knit along" but apparently people who know each other pretty well! Much luck to all of them! I'm already prostrate with envy that Knitterguy has made such terrific progress on that Princess Shawl. It won't be available again to purchase by the rest of us unwashed masses until 2007. Sigh. I only just got back into knitting Shetland lace lately after years of primarily cable knitting.

I must go now and take the silk skein and try to wind it into balls. I don't think I can get it to be all in one ball. It tangles easily and will end up being more than one ball as I hit immovable snags/knots/whatever. Will post swatch when I can!

Oh yes, in response to Jason's question if I will start knitting the Wedding Ring Shawl in the near future. You betcha! As soon as I get needles I like for the center, and finish reading the pattern info (tonight if my arm does not fall off from winding the Silk). Yes yes, I know. I have 3 other shawls on needles. But they are all larger needles and yarns. They will be the respite from the Wedding Ring Shawl, if you can believe that. This will be months and months of work for someone like me. I am not a fast knitter.

Until next post!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Curse of the Peacock Shawl (get back on the knitting horse darn it )

This is the re-do of my Peacock Shawl or as my computer tech family might say, version 7.0 of the shawl as I've had to start over that many times. I have checked each row on the flip-side to be sure the number of stitches is correct before moving onto the next row of lace pattern. This way, corrections tend to be made before things get too far out of hand. It's slow, but there are currently no errors. My sister just shakes her head as I continue to labor on. I have pictures of it pinned out and am currently on row 59 with charts that go to row 223 before edging is then started. The original shawl was meant to be a finished size of 88" from tip to tip along the top, 43" from middle of top to lower point on US 4. My shawl is being done on US 1 so I have no way to know what my version will actually block out to when done. There is also a picture of the very cheap but extremely serviceable neon plastic ponytail holders I use as stitch markers for lace work. I used to make yarn loops as markers but these do the job just fine for me and were a hint my sister got off the web while reading knitting blogs. Now, there may be some people out there who are asking why I would choose to do this shawl in a different needle/gage. The use of US 1 for this shawl is important for me . Why, you ask? Because my copy of the "Shetland Lace Wedding Ring Shawl", #350 out of 500, has arrived and just as I expected, requires a needle of US 1 - US 0. The Peacock shawl is meant to be good practice for me. A nice discipline to help me get "up to snuff" so to speak, for the really difficult work. I cannot post any pictures of the pattern contents in respect to the conditions of sale of this pattern to me. However, I will say the packet has very lovely production values with clear instructions and hints to help make it more understandable as how to proceed with this work. It also contains three full-color preview pages/images of the next book that will be published by Heirloom Knitting/Sharon Miller, entitled "More Heirloom Knitting" in which pictures of this shawl are presented. One can only hope that my hands and vision are up to this task. It will be terrible/great fun to try in any case. Within the packet of information is a really wonderful card of knitting yarn samples. There is sufficient yarn so that you can knit a small example in each, wash/block it to see if they would suit you to use for this project.

Promises To Myself-
1) I will read ALL the instructions first and see if I can understand everything BEFORE I start.
2) I will swatch/wash/block all possible contenders for the honor of being this shawl so I don't choose something I will be disappointed in later, after all that work.
3) I will NOT choose a yarn that I cannot really work with, no matter how competitive I am with myself.
4) If I finish this shawl, I will only give it away for a darned good reason!

I have already compared the sample skeins enclosed with my pattern, to my stash. The only three contenders, some that I have shown on this Blog are:

Shetland Cobweb (c. 914m per 20g) from Lacis in Berkeley CA
Silk laceweight yarn from Skaska Designs (100 g, 6040 yds, 120/2).
Cordonett Special DMC crochet cotton # 100 (431 m-20g) which I just had around the house for tatting actually.

I will knit up a swatch with the Cordonett, then the Shetland Cobweb as it is already wound into balls. The silk, alas, I must wind myself. I will try both the Addi Turbo circular needles in size 0 and the Crystal Palace bamboo circular needles in size 0. I have taken a needle gage to the bamboo and they are not "true" US 0 but more like a small US 1. I may go out and try some rosewood straight needles or double-points if I can get a "real" US 0 from those. I just went to the post-office this morning to send my check to the UK for the "cobweb" weight cashmere I ordered from ColourMartUK. If it is not too long in coming, I will also take a look at this for a potential contender. After all my dears, I am already knitting 3 shawls not to mention all the other stuff I'm doing. I can wait a little while longer!

Fun, Fun, Fun my Pretties!

Laceweight Cashmere (Do I really have to send away to England for every darned thing?)

If you Google Cashmere laceweight yarn do you know what you get? You get the American sites you already know of, hoping you will see a yarn you don't already know about that will be thinner than what you already have on hand for Cashmere. When you don't see anything new, anything you can really get excited about, you look, even though you might resist, off the continent entirely. What the heck. I already ordered the pattern from England, I might as well make a leap of faith and get some yarn too. I went to the E-Bay site and purchased yarn from ColorMartUK. I'd have used Pay-Pal but for some reason, it would not recognize my mothers maiden name after I forgot my password. It's been a long time since I've purchased a darned thing using PayPal so that's that. I was afraid I would not be able to make the purchase as a result, but, miracle of miracle's, this buyer accepts a personal check. I will mail it tomorrow, just before the 4th of July hits and hope that it all goes well! I actually bought two yarns, one which is labeled "cobweb weight" which is white, the other is more like the gage I have only it's a lovely shade of mauve. At least that's what it looks like on screen. Now God knows I don't really need more yarn. After all, you've seen a part of my stash (and I do mean only part of my stash) so you know I don't really need more. But I don't drink or do drugs. I take the fifth on the swearing part. I can buy a little yarn if it makes me happy. And, Oh Boy! does it ever make me happy! I will trot off to the post office and stand in line to mail this as fast as it can get there! See above some close-ups with dimes with some of the yarns I posted on my previous blog. I could not get the site to take more pictures on that one so here they are now. You can see, while nice, they are not as thin as the Shetland yarn or the Silk from the previous post. Maybe I will also do a comparison swatch test with some of the yarns. Just for laughs. After all. it's not always about getting an entire shawl through a wedding ring, as impressive as it sounds.

I just want to say something about the Brave New World of computers and the Intenet. I'm old enough to remember when pantyhose did not exist, when the first TV's came out and were black and white and when transistors were the new and in thing. I'm not all that old, but I'm on that tipping point where it was up for grabs if I would adjust to all the new things I need to know or if I was going to get left behind in the dust. So when you observe any technological inadequacy on my part, or a bit of "old fashioned" reluctance to throw caution to the wind and buy something via internet abroad, be kind and remember, someday this may be you too! Heck, I'm impressed that I can even get one of these blogs out with pictures, never mind anything else!

To all you lovely people who may be reading and lurking, Good day!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Miss Runner-ups (Or the yarn's that would be lace!)

That's right. "Wedding Ring" shawl "wanna-be's! They never made the cut because they are too bulky for that type of a shawl. I keep a lot of my yarn in clear plastic containers so I can see them. Between my yarn and that of my sister, we look like we are going to set up shop as a knitting store. I keep the finer gage lace yarn in a separate bin so when I opened it up to look at potential candidates for the shetland lace, I was assailed by small strident yarn-voices screaming "Pick Me! Pick Me!". Pathetic really, as only the most anorexic would even qualify to be considered. But there you are. Just as in the fashion industry, you cannot be too thin for this project. Still, they are lovely as you can see above, and will end up as something else. Most likely the "something else" will be a shawl that won't be as difficult and can be something I knit "in between" doing a row of the really difficult work. I say "row" because I have the bad feeling that a row is about all I can do at one sitting and not screw it up. We shall see. I have a few other patterns I can try to work my way up to my big project. Once again, if none of the yarns will work out, I can still find something else to use. I will check other blogs for what people have used with success. Thank's to Knitterguy, I linked to a site that has a comparison of yarns which could be considered for my shawl. There are knitted examples to see of each yarn. It was great of her to go to the trouble to knit swatches for us! (
I am still knitting away on the baby sweater as this is an obligation I should get done before I continue on my less pressing works. As an Auntie, it is my sworn duty to make at least one knitted garment for each child in the family now that I know how to knit. I need to make sure that it is also something that will not make the recipient parents cringe when they have to put it on the baby and take the obligatory picture to post on a web-site. It must also not be a garment so hideous that the child, when it matures, is tempted to place an aging Auntie in a nursing home in retribution! Something for you all to consider when knitting for wee-ones!

Till next we meet!