Sunday, January 28, 2007

I got this thing for the color Green

I have got to start buying fiber in a color other than green or brown. I have just got done spinning a little laceweight yarn out of Romney and when I looked at my fiber stash I realized I still have tons of green fiber and a heck of a lot of "petroglyph" from Lisa Souza in the brown color range. In any case, it looks like I have enough of this green for a smaller shawl. Nothing on the scale of Mountain Pines which was pretty darned huge. I have some blue yarn I spun last year but when I knit a sample, I realize that the slubs and noils in this yarn make it difficult to knit into lace. It's not consistant at all. It may end up being something I knit "with" something else. We will see. This means I need to either buy, dye, or spin something to use for the Boundary Waters Shawl. I have some white laceweight yarn from Crystal Palace I could dye, or maybe the cream Zephyr that I have. I could also dye some of that BFL fiber that I have in my stash or the Merino. Hmmmm. We shall see. Stitches is coming and with it a look at Lisa Souzas booth and "The Russians". You know which one's I mean. The vendors with the beautiful Orenberg Lace Shawls along with fibers and gossamer weight yarns galore. Excuse me while I get my drool bib on. Sigh. Maybe I'll wait on the yarn for Boundary Waters until after I get a look at Stitches. Do they let you take pictures there or is that now "Verbotten"?
I'm half way through the third repeat of the WRS center and will post once I have finished the repeat. It looks remarkably like cheese cloth at the moment. Not at all impressive.
Hello I must be going.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Applause Please for missalicefaye and her Wedding Ring Shawl in progress!

Anyone who wants to see a Wedding Ring Shawl in progress, go check out missalicefaye. She has completed the center for her shawl and it is magnificent! I just finished the second pattern repeat thanks to her kick-starting my ambition. Only three and a half more to go for the center :-) A round of applause for missalicefaye and her beautiful, inspirational work!

On another note. misalicefaye mentioned that information on making a shawl frame could be found in one of Hazel Carters books. She is absolutely correct! I have that book. It's in "Shetland Lace Knitting From Charts" by Hazel Carter. It's available at a fair price at Schoolhouse Press. Basically, she tells you to take 4 lengths of thin wood, she suggests 4 feet, nail or glue the corners to make a square. Then, using a length of strong thread (one for each side) she tells you to thread it through a point of the edge, pass the thread over the frame and catch the next point. No pegs, no holes, just over and around to the next point. On line I've also seen people using PVC pipe and joins. This way you could possibly break it down easily but you'd have to be sure that it didn't rack. With PVC, you might also make other shapes so circular shawls could be blocked.

So not only is missalicefaye a wonderful knitter, she is also a font of information:-)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Interlude: Period of time before the next big lace project.

Now that Mountain Pines is done, I have to think about another lace project that is a little bit of a challenge. Although the Wedding Ring Shawl is a big project, it's so interminable that I can't focus on it too much or I will go mad. I'm nearing the end of the second pattern repeat for the center, but it requires at least 5 of these before I can start the border. So, while I knit away on that shawl, I plot what other "big", lace project I might start knitting. I find I also have time to do things that are not so very taxing as relief knitting. Those projects are important to me because they help give a sense of success that tends to spur the other knitting on. I think doing the Swallowtail Shawlette helped in that way just like watching missalicefaye knit the Wedding Ring Shawl helped to kick-start me back on my own WRS. So, see above my progress on the Flower Basket Shawl using my beautiful Christmas Koigu. It's a lovely shawl to knit for those who don't do much lace. It's not at all difficult and lacks those daunting "nupps" that are part of the Swallowtail Shawl (Jason, are you paying attention?). Flower Basket Shawl will be nice and warm and I think I will do the large size since I have enough yarn. Of course, it's been extremely cold out here for the Bay Area and this may have affected my perspective on shawls at this time :-) Also see pre-drafted fiber I am spinning for more laceweight yarn out of Romney I bought at Carolina Homespun . Blacks and greens, its a wiry yarn that spins up well but without the softness of the Merino/Silk I've been using lately. Still, pretty pretty though! See also that I am making yet another Swallowtail Shawl out of what normally would be considered a sox yarn by Shaffer "Anne'"which is wool with nylon in it. I bought it because it's about the right amount of yardage in one skein and it was pretty. The purple swallowtail is a gift to one of my co-workers who's leaving to go to another position so I still need to knit more of those little shawlett's so I might eventually end up with one. The Mountain Pines is sitting snug in a box wrapped with acid-free tissue paper. I don't often wear a shawl but I plan to wear this one a time or two at least. On the less satisfactory side, I am knitting on Fir Cone but it's not as pretty as I would like it to be. It's not the the ubiquitous Zephyr yarn in charcoal that is the problem. It's the fact that the lace pattern has difficulty holding it's own as the whole shawl rather than just an element among other lace patterns. Maybe it will look better once it's done and has an edge to it. Maybe I should have knit it in a variegated yarn and saved that Zephyr for something else.... Heck, I'd hate to frog it but it's just not very interesting. We shall see.
Lastly, I learned to spin when I was in my 20's, stopped for awhile while I obsessively knit cable sweaters, and took the wheel back up again a few years ago when I could not help but purchase beautiful hand-dyed fibers from Lisa Souza's booth. I did not do that first fiber justice. It was unevenly spun but I could not give it up once it was completed. I decided to knit a shawl with it but put it away and forgot about it because I was not happy because it was not "perfect" yarn. I found that unfinished shawl while I was tearing the house apart to find yarn to finish Mountain Pines. Rip or Finish? It would make a nice "office" or "car" shawl. One to sling over aching shoulders when it's cold. See my poor representation of the "Shetland Tea Shawl from the book "A Gathering of Lace",, pattern by Dale Long. My yarn is not so fine as the one shown in the book and I may already have a few errors, but I want to finish this shawl because it's a momento of when I started back with spinning and with lace. I will be looking at "A Gathering of Lace" and my other books/patterns for my next big project while I persevere with this odd little shawl.
To all of us who do persevere, Good Knitting!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mountain Pines Shawl

You haven't lived until you have crawled around on your hands and knees and blocked a shawl. Anyone seen any good blocking frames for sale? I mean, really. Couldn't they make a nice one out of Lucite? One with multiple rows of holes for different distances between points? One that could be assembled using wing nuts, screws, etc that could be broken down easily like they have with embroidery frames or quilting frames only LIGHT. They could even make one with smaller sides that can be shaped into something like an octagon so even circular shawls could be blocked. But I digress.

Please see above my Mountain Pines Shawl that I have finally finished. Thank God for the wires even though it's a challenge to find the floor space. The yarn was spun at 22-24 WPI on average using my trusty single treadle Schacht wheel. The fiber had been purchased during one of the past Stitches West outings long ago as you can tell from the price on the tag. Fiber content 70/30 Merino Silk, fiber from Widdershin Woolworks (P.O.Box 611 Arroy Hondo, New Mexico 87513) at least that what's on the tag. I'm not sure they are still there or not. You have shots of the yarn, the shawl pre blocking, on the wires and the compleated shawl on my sister and hanging from a blank wall. Yes, it's not exactly square, but I got pretty tired and my knees began to protest. It's "Good Enough" as far as I and Homer Simpson are concerned. Ignore the blue coverlet with red dots on it. Out of all the pictures, the color you see on the wraps gage is the most accurate, at least on my computer screen. Variations of sage green with lovely little highlights in a faint reddish tint, this shawl is actually very pretty in spite of the inconsistency's of my spinning. It's nice that the pattern didn't suffer too much from my lack of spinning expertise! I have to say, now it's done, I'm tempted to do the flip-side pattern. The original booklet came with TWO patterns. The second pattern, "Boundary Waters" shawl and is knit from the center outwards. I happen to have some rather nice hands-spun laceweight yarn that I made from fiber purchased from Carolina Homespun. You know, kind of like a matched set? Too many shawls, not enough time! Still, before I start another project, I really have to think a minute. The Dragone Shawl is something I want to knit but it has lots of stiches I've never done before and I don't want to fry my brain again so soon. If I finish the Flower Basket Lace Shawl and the Fir Cone and Peacock Feathers first, it gives me a clear field.

And that brings up my biggest point. A big thank-you to missalicefaye for knitting the Wedding Ring Shawl. Why thank her you say? Because, she has inspired me to pick-up my own work that was languishing and I have resumed toiling away on my own Wedding Ring Shawl. I'm still slow, but not as slow as before because I'm no longer doing the directional decreases. I'm just doing k2tog and it is indeed easier. I'm not sure the shape of the holes is as nice on certain sections of the pattern and for those sections, I may revert to the directional decreases. But I will not post any pictures of progress until I'm at least half-way done with the center section. Believe me, that will take awhile.
I'm sure you already know, but it's worth saying. I really enjoyed spinning and knitting this shawl in spite of any tedium during the edge portion of the program. Here's to finishing most of what was started in 2006!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Got Needles?

One of my co-workers is pregnant and wanted me to show her how to knit. She's almost done with her scarf and on Monday I will show her how to bind-off. "Can you show me how to make a baby hat?" she asked. Well... she is pregnant and you don't say no to pregnant women in my experience so I told her to get some yarn she likes that takes needles from US- 4 to US 8 (I have one of those patterns than can use lots of different size yarns). "Should I buy needles?" Now this is only the second thing she will have ever knit and I really don't see making her buy needles to do circular knitting just to make a hat. I told her I would bring her needles to use. Going home, I went through my needle stash and realized, I have a heck of a lot of needles! How about all of you? What are your current favorites or does it "depend" on what you're doing? My current favorites are my Knit Picks interchangeable needles, but they only go down to US 4 so it doesn't help me with my finer knitting. Still, the points are so nice that I'm tempted to buy Knit Picks other circulars in the smaller sizes to see if they would work well with my lace knitting. I feel a little guilty because, as you can see, it's not like I lack for needles. I have circulars down to US 000 in the Addi Turbos, I have quite a few birch and bamboo needles and the odd ebony and rosewood. I have Inox and Susan Bates and Crystal Palace and on and on and on. While we were talking, another co-worker also asked if I would teach her to knit. "I inherited all of my Grandmothers needles and there are just tons of them!" I bet I'm not the only one who has a needle stash. I'm 1/3 of the way through my last side of the Mountain Pines. You will not see it again until I go to block it!.
Good Evening To All!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Before Lace Became Obsession

Jason at ( has been thinking about spinning his own yarn and knitting a sweater. That got me to thinking. I only have one sweater left that I spun and knit. All the others wore out or were given away as gifts. Before lace became my main obsession, I loved to knit cables. See my "car sweater". The one I keep thrown in the back of my car for if it gets unexpectedly cold. I made this before I was more consistant with my spinning and knitting. It's too big, very green but I still love it and it's heck-a-warm when you need it to be. The pattern is one from Classic Elite but I left the color knitting part of the pattern out. So Jason, if you spin to knit a sweater, it's important to know what type of sweater and approx yardage you will need. Since I began to focus on lace, I've stopped knitting cables, but I may go back to it once I burn-out on the lace, if I ever do burn out on the lace that is.
Blast from the Past. Good Evening To All.

Siren Song of Koigu Part 2

I know I'm not done with Mountain Pine's yet but I couldn't resist starting the Flower Basket Lace Scarf using my Christmas Koigu. This doesn't really show the pretty colors of this yarn because it's late at night and I'm using flash. I hope to get a better shot later. I'm using US 5 to knit this and it's going to be a good substantial shawl. This one I keep for sure since the yarn was from a gift certificate my friend, Louise gave me. She's getting older and I won't give up anything that reminds me of her. Time's too short and someday I'll be able to wear this shawl and think of her generosity and friendship. I'm alternating knitting the edge for Mountain Pines, working on this Flower Basket Shawl and reading "Dark Moon Defender" by Sharon Shinn. What? Me, schizophrenic? Nah!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Ever miscalculate your yardage? Ever do it with yarn you spun yourself several years ago? Please see above that I am nearing the end of the third side of my square Mountain Pines Shawl. Thus far, the entire shawl has been knit from one continuous ball of yarn that I spun. See also that I have not enough yarn left on that ball for the end of this side much less the fourth side of the shawl. Never fear! I tell myself. I know I have more of it.....somewhere. Friends, my yarn room looks like a tornado hit it. I had a heck of a time finding that ball of yarn. As you can see, I did eventually find it after I tore the place apart. I also found more of that orignal fiber that I had stored. If worse had come to worse, I would have spun more yarn, but that would have delayed the compleation of this shawl. As it is, it will be a lesson to me to keep all my finished yarn togeather with my projects. Of course, it didn't have to be a lesson from the Marque de Sade of Yarn, but that's a tale for another day.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Swallowtail Shawl in Cashmere

Before it's blocked, this shawl is not very impressive and when you knit with Mill-end Cashmere that still has the manufacturing oil in it, there is a sort of "drag" to the yarn that's odd to knit with. However, once you finish knitting and wash that oil out, the shawl is very nice. I used Kookaburra Woolwash that my sister gave me as a gift. This one has teatree oil and conditioners in it and is effective against dust mites, is antibacteral and biodegradable according to the lable. It smells good and works. So, of course, does my shampoo. Take your pick. This shawl will be for a friend as part of her Birthday gifts. Yes, I know I'm supposed to save one of these for me, but I really do like my friends so I guess I will be making more of these later on. At least one will be for me. At least I hope one of them will be :-)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Swallowtail Shawl 2

I just had to make another one of the Swallowtail Shawls since I gave mine away to Louise. I might just make several for gifts since they are so fast to knit and easy once you get used to those "nupps". This one is in Purple Cashmere that I bought from ColourMartUK on E-Bay. Still US 4 needles but this has not been washed or blocked yet so I expect the Cashmere to "bloom" or become softer and fuzzier. It means the pattern will not be as distinct, but I'm hoping it will be baby soft which should make up a little for the loss of definition in the eyes of the beholder. I just have to do the edge pattern and cast-off and then I can wash/block it.

For those who want to see someone knit the pants off of everyone else, and do it with style and grace, check out Missalicefaye because she's just started the Wedding Ring Shawl ( . She's knitting the alternate center panel and it looks beautiful! It gives me the buzz to start mine back up again, but when I do, I'm giving up on the left and right leaning decreases and will take the suggestion made to me at the Heirloom Knitting Group . I'm just going to use k2tog instead. It will make things go faster for me if I don't have to keep trying to remember right from left. For now however, I'm taking a break from Swallowtail and will continue on the endless edge of Mountain Pines for a bit.

Good Evening to All!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Swallowtail Shawl and Porcupine Stitch Scarf

Since I forgot to take a picture of the Swallowtail Shawl after it was blocked, I went to Louise's house and took the pictures above. I did not check to see what the dimensions for this shawlette were supposed to be. I just did what looked good to me. Also see above a couple of shots of an old scarf I made Louise years ago. It's knit in taupe coloured kid mohair with a stitch called "Porcupine Stitch" and is the same in the front and the back. According to the book, this type of stitch was used to make fluffy head scarves that were referred to as "clouds" because they were light and fluffy. I'm hard at work on the second Swallowtail shawl and still marching on with Mountain Pines edge.
Until Later!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

"If You Love It, Set It Free" (Swallowtail Shawl)

What a crock that saying is. I set the "Swallowtail Shawl" free this morning and it sure as heck didn't come back to me. Seriously. I brought it over to my friend Louise's house so she could see it. Louise is a very dear, older woman who can knit the pants off me. I mean, Argyle socks for the love of Pete, real ones. I thought she'd say something like "Oh, that's nice Jane." and proceed to ignore it while we had our morning coffee together. "Ha!". And again I say, "Ha!". Louise proceeded to fondle and pet the shawl, held it to the light to admire it's lacy goodness and that was "all she wrote". That shawlette now belongs to Louise. Knit and blocked in three days and given away on the fourth day. Once again, I have knit a lot of lace, believe it or not, over years I've been knitting. I still do not own one piece of lace that I knit myself. If I didn't have pictures, no one would believe me.

I am now knitting a second Swallowtail Shawl. This one I hope to actually keep. I'm thinking purple cashmere. Back to Mountain Pine Edging (I'm halfway through the third side).

Oh yeah, Stitches is coming hurrah hurrah, Stitches is coming hurrah hurrah!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Knitting Year (Swallowtail Shawl)

The only good thing about this crappy cold is the fact that I was still able to knit. Thank the Lord for antibiotics and cough syrup with codeine. Also, a big Thank You to Evelyn A. Clark for designing the "Swallowtail Shawl". It's really a "shawlette" and I think I got it right. It's not error free, but a man on horseback is not going to see them. Knit with US 4 Knit Picks interchangeable needles using dark green Lace Yarn from Crystal Palace Yarns (100% wool from New Zealand). Pattern is from the fall 2006 Interweave Knits magazine and can be knit with 1 ball of Misti Alpaca Lace yarn (437 yds). You can see it pinned out on the floor using a few blocking wires. I could be more scientific about it, use a grid or something, but it's just not that big a deal to me to be that exact. Finally something that I can put in the completed section of this blog. Yes, I know. I did finish a "Green Shawl", but that one doesn't count because it wasn't really lace. Is it pathetic that my lace projects take such a long time that most of what I started last year will not be finished until this year? I mean, if finishing was a big deal to me, then I'd have to say that I suck major, but then I guess the challenge, rather than the finishing, is part of the charm of doing this lace for me. If it's all too easy, then there is no point. It's better if it requires effort, like knitting while ill or knitting with yarn that I spun myself or knitting with gossamer weight yarns or knitting butt-kicking patterns. I'm just not very fast. Still, Swallowtail sure is purdy!
Back to Mountain Pines edge!