Thursday, August 31, 2006

Circular Shawl from Doily Pattern Part Deux (Are we channeling someone?)

For those still interested in making a circular shawl from a doily pattern I have a couple more suggestions. You can, of course, do what Meg Swanson did for that circular shawl she made in "A Gathering of Lace" . That would be the "Spanish Peacock Shawl". She made it on really big needles, about size US 10, added additional repeats of the pattern and finished with a lace edge from Barbara Abbey's "Knitted Lace". If you got the most recent Knit Picks Catalogue (Fall 2006) which I got today, the one with the black and white sweater and portable magnetic board on the front, you will see on page 44 that there are several circular shawls that were adapted from patterns published by Gloria Penning. I pulled out my copies and found the "Rona" pattern in my copy of "Danish Lace Treasures" which featured the work of Anna Marie Jensen and was published by Gloria Penning. The original was done with # 30 cotton and with US 0 needles and ended up 33 inches in diam. The doily had 153 rows ending with a crochet edge. The version in Knit Picks looks very much like the original but, according to the ad, is now knit on size US 5 and ends up 52" in diam using "Alpaca Cloud".

These shawls are circular, not more than 360 degrees, so block out flat. Very pretty. Check out that Knit Picks catalogue!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Circular Shawl from Doily Pattern (Actually, more than 360 degrees)

There has been interest in how to make a circular shawl from a doily pattern. There is an article from the Spring '95 Knitter's Magazine on how to do this if you want to go to the source material. The article is by JoAnne Besold and is titled "More than Circular". She took a doily pattern and used larger and larger diameter needles to make the shawl bigger. The result is a nice circular shawl that ends up being more than 360 degrees in circumference. As a result, it actually stays put on your shoulders. I've made several in the past and they really did stay on my friends shoulders without always falling off. Especially if made in a cotton or linen.

How To

Select a doily pattern that is at least 75 rows long (90 rows is better) or one that was originally 18" to 20" in diameter. You will need about 1,000 yards of laceweight yarn for an elbow length shawl and aprox. 1,500 yards for a 62" diameter shawl. (She showed examples of "Snowflake" from Gloria Penning's Knitted Heirloom Lace II to which she added an additional lace edging, also knit "Snow-on-the-Mountain, a Coats and Clark pattern and added beads to the points at the ends)

Cast on with a size US 5 needle. Work a 3 inch radius in the pattern.
Change to US 6 needle. Work until 1/3 of the doily pattern is done.
Change to US 8 needle. Work another 1/3 of the doily pattern.
Change to size US 10 or 10.5 needle and finish the pattern.

If your pattern will allow it, and if you want the shawl longer, add a knit lace edging to the shawl either with the US 10 or larger needle.

Wash/block (I actually did not block flat because mine was more than 360 degrees. I folded the shawl in half and then blocked it more like in a crescent shape).

If you have a pattern you like, but it is not enough rows, it is suggested that you might knit "relief" rounds into the pattern to lengthen the pattern
Purl one round, Knit 3 rounds, (YO K2tog) for 1 round, Knit 3 rounds, Purl 1 round, Knit one round.

That is essentially it. If you don't already have any doily patterns, there are a lot of nice ones available. Gloria Penning has some very pretty one's at her site at ( You could also check out some of the free pattern sites as well.

That's it for now. Good Luck with it if you decide to give it a try! Let me know how it works out.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Not bad for a Mill End (Cashmere/Silk from ColourMart)

Not bad. Not bad at all. See above the Cashmere/Silk I purchased from ColourMart on E-Bay. (see sidebar for link). If you go to the site and click the Cashmere/Silk, you will see that there are still 4 colors left (White sold out). There is about 5,000 yards of yarn on each cone and it's very reasonable considering the cost at other retail shops for something comparable. This was knit on US 1 needles then washed/blocked. It holds it's shape well and once the "oil" was washed off, it still had a shine with a nice "halo" of cashmere. You can look above and compare it to the previous swatches of Cordonet crochet cotton, Shetland Cobweb and Silk I knit before and see that it's soft like the Shetland Cobweb but , in natural light, still has the sheen of the silk without that "crispy" quality that I was not fond of in the 100% silk. What did I wash it in you ask. You already know. I used shampoo because it's what I had around. This is not expensive stuff but I promise to use something better to wash it with if I knit a shawl with it.

I finished a baby sweater. Still have to sew buttons onto it before I can post it to "Janes Reality". Why even tell you I finished this since it's not lace? Because, I promised not to start another lace shawl until I finished something. Well, I finished something! Actually, I have to finish a shawl before I can start another shawl, but it makes for less clutter to have completed something. I've got this thing where I am loath to finish a project. I get real close then sometimes I stop knitting. If anyone else has this problem let me know. What do you do to give yourself incentive? Now that the baby sweater is done, I just have to finish the Mountain Pines shawl (it's the closest to being finished of the shawls.) My reward for finishing that shawl and this baby sweater is that I get to make "The Spider Queen" shawl! I must ask missalicefay what type of yarn she used on her's. It asks for US 3 needles. I tried swatching a gossamer yarn with the US 3 and it did not look good to me. It looked too spindly. I have some 2 ply cashmere, I have some cream colored Zepher. Heck, if it comes to that I have stuff from all over I could be using.(see past post for examples of "stash" of laceweight I have stock piled) Anyone have any suggestions? My own hand-spun yarn is not ready yet. I have a heck of a lot of spinning to do before I can use that for anything.

Now, my birthday is in the fall and my sister is willing to buy me whatever I might like to have in the way of knitting/spinning stuff. I will not have her buy me yarn or fiber because I have tons of that already so I'm looking at patterns, knitting software and knitting books. Now this is not to say that I don't have a lot of patterns and books. I do, but since I have so much darned yarn it is not unreasonable to want a few more patterns. I'm eyeing that "Victorian Lace" book but I really need to see it first to see if it is worth the money. There are two very nice patterns at Sharon Millers Heirloom Knitting site (see side bar) # 1 the "Unst Bridal Shawl" and #12 the "Spring Shawl" that I will ask for. I'd love to make them and since the "Princess Shawl" pattern will not be re-issued until possibly next year, these would be nice to do in the mean time. So many patterns, so little time! I just picked up "Legends of the Shetland Seas" from Blackberry Ridge by Hazel Carter ,as well as "Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl" by Sivia Harding Knit Design and the 'Shetland Lace Patterned Faroses Shawl" from Heartstrings (see sidebar for link). These are not as massive as the "Wedding Ring Shawl" and will be nice to knit as relief. If anyone has any patterns to suggest (I may be buying "Violets by the Sea" as well), let me know.

Hello I must be Going!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I'm not always Sisyphus (progress does get made from time to time)

The Circular Shetland Shawl from "A Gathering of Lace" has forced me to become a clone of Sisyphus. I have to re-knit the "Madeira Lace" section over again. Sigh! Still, a lot of my other projects have been coming along better. The Peacock Shawl is up to row 127 but is too crunched up on the needles to take a picture of right now. The Mountain Pines is up to row 35 of the boarder pattern and is looking pretty good. Last, but not least, I have finally completed one full repeat of the WRS! Now to do it 5 more times and then end with rows 1-40 for the center. I've been checking out different sites and there are a number of people working with this pattern. Some of this knitters are really going flat out and knitting up a storm while some others are more my speed. Quite a few are using the Silk which I could not manage to knit well with. I'm not giving up on that silk, just not using it for the WRS. I tested my merino singles that I was spinning to see if they would hold up to knitting by themselves. Nix, Nope, Nein. It's not bad, but not strong enough to knit on it's own. I will end up plying it into a nice lace weight yarn. So will I give it up? Hah! I have been checking out sites to buy shetland wool:)

I did take a break in order to catch up on some reading. I'm savoring the latest book by one of my very favorite authors, Lilith Saintcrow. It's the second book in her urban fantasy series with Necromancer, Dante Valentine, "Dead Man Rising". Dante is not just armed on the cover, she has a whip,gun and a sword and she knows how to use them darn it! Don't piss her off! Just love it! I also picked up a nice new edition of selected poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay. It's part of the "American Poets Project". I love her work, always have. I even have a few very lovely first editions of her published poetry. This way I feed both my violent and gentle sides!

Have a wonderful evening!

The "Old Yeller" option (my sisters cure for big mistakes)

There are times where a piece of knitting must be extensively frogged back or ditched entirely because of terminal FUBAR. My sister recently referred to this as the "Old Yeller" option or her less politically correct comment of "Sometimes you just have to shoot the horse." Yes, we are mixing metaphors, but what the heck, it's my blog! I had started the Shetland Circular Shawl from "A Gathering of Lace" months ago and stopped. Why? Because there was his honking huge error that I found about 1/3 of the way down the almost finished shawl. Usually I just bite the bullet and rip, but I was trying to do the limbo and "fix" it. Needless to say, I couldn't repair it. So there it sat on the needles, moldering away until a midnight hot-flash had me up and ripping it. Sorry Old Yeller. These comments may be too harsh for all of the lace knitters out there, but this is a part of knitting. Some Homer Simpson mistakes may stay, the rest must go.

Sleep Deprived but Happier!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Turtle and the Hare (slow and steady goes The Wedding Ring Shawl)

Yeah yeah. So I'm slow. Blah Blah Blah. I'll still have a shawl at the end! Now let me be totally, brutally honest. This shawl has mistakes in it. Of course, I didn't show any of those in the photograph :) These mistakes are "Homer Simpson" mistakes. "Good Enough!" As my friend Louise would say "A man on horseback's not gonna see them!" The person who will receive this shawl will not only not care that there are mistakes, she will not even know they are there. I will know where they are and will point out every last one of them to her when the time comes but she, bless her soul, will not care one whit. In fact, she will cherish the mistakes because I made them. Go figure. Since this is the very first Sharon Miller pattern I will ever have made, I don't really mind a few mistakes. And it's the first piece of "knitted lace" (ie. pattern every row) I've ever made as well , so there has been a learning curve. Now these are not huge mistakes. Those types of mistakes I made early on and I threw out those first efforts. These I can live with. I hope by the time I finish this one, I will be able to buy the pattern for the "Princess Shawl" which should, I believe, be re-issued in 2007, and do it justice. That's another one I really want to make!

Has anyone out there used a knitting software program called "Stitch & Motif Maker"? I've been looking at it because I want to mess around with lace pattern combinations. If anyone has had experience with that program please do tell! Inquiring minds want to know! It would be nice to be able to make up a few things on my own and then post them if they turn out. If anyone knows of a better design program, let me know!

Must go read now. Yeah I know I should be knitting ,but a change of pace every once in awhile is refreshing and I usually knit better after a little break!

Good Evening all!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Catch-Up (knitting lull)

When I was on vacation I did not knit. That is not to say I did not buy yarn however. Before I left for the lovely city of Seattle, I went on line and purchased at obscenely low prices, two cones of lace weight yarn. The Pink is a 2 ply Cashmere and the White is a 60/40 blend of Cashmere and Silk. You can see scale on the dimes (left pink/right white). They are quite nice though you can't really see the character of the yarn until you wash off the "oil" they use on it to make it easier for their Mill's to handle. These again are "Mill Ends" and I think they are not a bad alternative to more expensive lace weight yarns . Most especially for a lace knitting freak like me! They also sell other weights of yarn for knitting or for weaving. ( . I will put this link in my side-bar because I really like it for bargain yarn. They are very nice, deliver in a timely fashion and the goods are as advertised. Be aware however, you must really study the information that describes the yarns so you have a good idea as to how fine the yarn is, how many plys if any, and if it is for knitting or was originally manufactured for weaving. The yarns for weaving are more tightly spun so will twist more. This may not be a big issue for those who are making shawls using the tightly spun cobweb weight yarns and are accustomed to the over-twist issue. The merino yarn I purchased while visiting my friend, Jerry on Bainbridge Island. I got this instead of the "Kid Silk Haze" that was beside it because I liked the color. And also, see a shot of the wheels my sister and I have at home. I'm posting these because poor Jason had to search my other site to see them. As often happens, knitters become spinners and visa versa. Jason has it bad for spinning right now. He will soon learn, as have all of us, that it only feeds the knitting addiction :)

Now I must be knitting!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Worth Flying for (Thank the Lord I flew before the Security Alert!)

Thank the powers that be. I took that trip to Seattle before the security alert turned ugly! I went primarily for a poetry reading my friend Jerry was giving. He's been working at it for a number of years, on and off. Lately he has put a lot more time and effort into the work and I feel he's getting a lot better. A whole crew of us went up to this little coffee shop where they have poets read to support him. I may be biased but I liked his reading the best of the 3 poets who were up there. I don't have permission to post any of it, but once he does publish (he's working on that now) I think he will let me. Of course, a lot of the poets in his writing group feel his writing is directed at a "less diverse" group of readers (read Gay) as opposed to what I guess would be considered more mainstream, but I don't think I agree. People are people, Gay, Straight, Whatever. Anyway, I liked it a lot. Of course, his partner and he have once again sold their house and bought another house and are in the middle of a re-model. I say "once again" because his partner, Paul is a real estate agent and they do this every 4-5 years or so. Each place is beautiful and sells for more than they bought it for. It's a little confusing for the rest of us but we try to keep track of where they are. In stark contrast, my friend, Cindy, who I stayed with in Seattle, is re-modeling her modest home and it has been literally "jacked" up into the air so a lower floor and slab can be poured. Of course, there is currently a concrete pourer strike. We stayed at her mothers home which is right next door to her place. What were the chances that both of them would be doing this at the same time? We talked every night until well after midnight, baked, bitched and caught up on our lives. I brought her my swatch of the WRS center to see and I ended up leaving it with her because she wants to show it to some of her friends who knit. It was OK since it already served it's purpose. I did miss knitting while up there but I would never have been able to do a good job. Too distracted and busy during that trip! Now I have a confession to make. One of the reasons that I left the WRS swatch up there in Seattle is so Cindy's mother could see it. We have this little thing going where I knit something, she knits something more complicated, and I respond with something yet more difficult. It's not on purpose you understand. It's just a "thing" we do without really saying that we are doing it. I know it's petty but I never said I was perfect! Heck, if the woman is going to turn the seamless sweater that my sister knit for Cindy's daughter inside out to see how it was finished, then she can go ahead and stare at the swatch for awhile.

See above pictures of the tips of some knitting needles. Susanne's US 2-3 Ebony needles, Crystal Palace US 0 Bamboo and Addi Natura US 1 Bamboo. Some of the Heirloom knitters were asking about how some of the tips compared so I posted it there and here in case anyone is thinking to go smaller and wants to go with wood/bamboo. I still prefer the Inox for the WRS myself!

Good to be back! Will post again when I have more for you to look at than needle points!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Take my lace knitting on an airplane? Are you mad? (will be out of town)

Before I go for the weekend, I thought I'd make a short post. Normally I knit on a plane, but I'm sure I'd just screw up the lace or else someone will interrupt me while I'm knitting and the Air Marshal will have to arrest me! There was an inquiry asking if this yarn was going to bear up under blocking because I was expressing having problems with picking back and yarn integrity. Let me say it's not the fault of the yarn that I stink as a knitter sometimes. The twist in the yarn is good and it's strong for what it is. It blocked like a dream and has lovely drape as you can see on my sister (she now has a second career as a hand model!). I will say that picking back should be done only if you have to and that I'm getting a little better at it. Still, I prefer going real slow because I don't have to pick back if I don't make the mistake in the first place.

Here's the thing. I like to try things even if I might fail. It was not always so. I was not raised to be fearless. Until recently I would never have dreamed of having a blog or letting anyone but family and close friends see any of my craft obsessions. But as you get older, you realize that potential public humiliation is really nothing. It does not matter compared to the possibility that someone might be like-minded and interested in what you do. If my trying things that are difficult encourages someone else to try, then I think that's great! This is only the 3rd Shetland style shawl I've ever made. I've done lace knitting (ie, there is a row knit plain between pattern rows) to make lacey shawls, stoles etc. and the previous two Shetland Style shawls were just that, lace knitting. I admit that one of them, the one my friend Louise owns, I both spun the yarn and knit the shawl, but it was knitting of a different level of difficulty compared to what I'm doing now.. According to Sharon Miller, for something to be considered knitted lace, every row has pattern and there is no plain knit row to create the lace. The fact that I'm over-reaching to make my first piece of knitted lace is part of the adventure.

I guess I'm saying don't be afraid to try even if you are afraid to fail. You and I have a shelf life. Don't have a regret you can easily avoid. You may find, as I have, that people are actually very kind about your obsessions! I love the fact that my first true piece of knitted lace will be this beautiful shawl. It's worth the time and effort. Not everything is at my age.

That said, I am up to row 30 on the WRS. No additional lifeline, I forgot to put it in. I think I will keep going and put the lifeline in after the first full course of the pattern instead. Slow and steady is working for me. Those with more experience and better vision would undoubtedly go faster and with much more authority than me. I say,more power to them!

Until my return, I hope everyone has a terrific weekend. I know I will as I'm going to see very dear friends and will have more fun that I can possibly stand! :)