Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sampler Stole and Spinning Lace Weight (Who says they aren't cardiovascular exercise?)

I have decided that, as long as the spinning is to produce lace weight yarn, I am allowed to show it in this blog. See one bobbin that contains 4 ounces of Merino from Lisa Souza. I'm now spinning 4 ounces in the same colorway "Petroglyph" but in BFL and the color is different in this fiber. The BFL is not as soft, but very sturdy. Once I fill another bobbin, I will ply the two into a sample. If I hate it, I will order more merino. If you check out Opals blog you can look at her very pretty and very nicely spun lace weight yarn. I really enjoy knitting with yarn I spun. I can be reasonably sure that I won't see the exact same shawl on anyone else and the lace makes great gifts for family and friends.
I have finished the 7 pattern repeats for the center of the Sampler Shawl (7 repeats & rows 1-12 of a 46 row chart). I'm now working on an end border. It's 162 rows for one end and then I get to go back and do it again for the opposite side. The yarn is pretty if you like variegated yarn. If you hate that kind of yarn, then you will bemoan the color shifting. I think this particular ball of yarn is pretty but I don't take great pictures so the colors are actually a little darker in real-life than what you are seeing. The green ball of yarn that you see was sent to me by Lynn Lam of Yarn Place because I'm making the Sampler Stole for her shop. I thought this was very nice of her since I was not expecting it. I'm happy to make the stole for them since they have stocked so much yarn that I can actually use in one place :-) I just hope I do a good job on it so I won't be embarrassed to see it up in the shop! This yarn is apparently very much like "Lacy Lamb" (I don't have any Lacy Lamb in my stash) for those who are familiar with that yarn. I'm looking at the Victorian Lace book to see if there is something in there that would suite this yarn. Pretty color! Still working on Boundary Waters Shawl but won't post it until I'm done with the border and can start the edging. Good Evening All.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Heaven (How White is White?)

Just for Mozilla. You asked if the Heaven is White or if it is not white enough for wedding or bridal white. I actually think it's pretty white. This was shot when I first bought it and is lying on a piece of muslin which is not a very white color. It's not blindingly white however. Now that I have arrived back home from visiting my brother and sister-in-law (holiday grilling!) I have shot the Heaven next to some Zephyr in white on a piece of white typing paper. The Zephyr is actually more white but still not bridal white. Both the Zephyr and the Heaven have a touch of yellow to them. If you are trying to match the white to a brides gown you will need a swatch of the fabric from that gown to match it to I'm afraid. I've been in a few dress shops that did bride gowns. It's surprising how wide a range of "White" there really is. Good luck with that project.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Gotta Send a Care Package (fleegle in Japan)

Fleegle is in Japan at the moment and is swatching for the Princess Shawl from Sharon Miller's Heirloom Lace site. We are among the many on the waiting list for that pattern which is supposed to come out as a re-issue in Nov. 2007. I check in on her blog a lot and she was really wanting to swatch in some yarns that she does not have with her in Japan at the moment. I will be sending a small care package with some samples of yarn for her to swatch with (gotta go back to Yarn Place, not exactly torture if you know what I mean). In the mean time, here are some of those yarns that I swatched. I steamed-blocked, not washed so the ones from ColourMartUK still have the "manufacturing oil" on them and are not as fluffy as they will be in the end.
At the top you have the gratuitous shot of a dime for scale and strands of the different yarns. Then you have the "Group Photo" of all the swatches I made tonight after reading fleegles post. Then I have pairs of swatches which I will now give information on. All the samples except for the very small swatch at the end were knit on US 0 needles. The smallest was knit on 1.5 mm.The nice green swatch is A ColourMartUK yarn 50/50 cashmere silk, 3/84 NM . The Lavender is "Heaven" from Yarn Place, 45/55 Tencel and Merino Wool (120 grams or 4.2 Oz equals 3,100 yards). The Burgundy swatch is another ColourMartUK yarn 65/35 Cashmere Silk at 2/60 NM, The Pale blue/green is also ColourMartUK and is 100% Cashmere 2/32 NM and I confess, it feels sinfully soft even before washing out the oil, but I don't know if it will do for the Princess Shawl as it is more substantial than other samples I have on this page.
The last two samples look "white" but are really ecru. The top, and larger sample is 65/35 SWT wool and Silk (50g/1,300 yds) and I "think" I got that at Skaska Designs when I went to Stitches West 2007. The smallest sample is silk yarn I also bought at Skaska Designs (100 gms/6040 yds 120/2)
Now for the knitting.
Casting On- Much suckage to cast on with all but the pale green/blue 100% Cashmere. That first row is a doozy but I hope Princess does not need a lot of that. The worst was, of course, the silk
Casting off- Worst one was the 100% Silk. So tiny, so slippery, so annoying. All the others were OK.
Shine- Almost all the color yarns have nice shine except for the 100% Cashmere in green/blue but that yarn has it's own virtues to make up for the lack of shine.
Of the ecru yarns the silk really has shine, the SWT/Silk, not so much
Softness- the SWT/Silk is "OK" but not a treat to hold. The Cashmere is drool worthy for softness, the other ColourMartUK yarns also fairly nice and soft. The silk is "crispy" rather than soft with that characteristic kind of "sticky" feel or "drag" to the yarn. The Tencel/Merino is almost a little "slick" but very pleasant.
Definition- Good stitch definition on all but the 100% Cashmere. Crisp, it is not.
Splitting- I only had problems with the 100% pale green/blue Cashmere splitting a little.
Though I will have to decide what to use for my own Princess Shawl, I already know I have to make it in White. WRS is for Jessica, the Princess is for Shelby. Sisters. So, both in White. Less chance of "unrest" if you catch my drift. Check out fleegle's blog to see what she has already swatched in Japan.
Enjoy guys! I got to go finish my book!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

But I Digress... (Sampler Stole by Hazel Cater in"Graceful")

The ladies at Yarn Place asked if I would knit them something for the shop so I pulled out a ball of "Graceful" (color F03623 Summer) and I'm doing a relatively quick knit of Hazel Carters Sampler Stole from "A Gathering of Lace" using 2.5 mm Inox. Never fear however. I am also knitting on Boundary Waters because it's the closest to being finished so I can try out the shawl/lace blocking frame my brother made for me. I stretched this rather hard for these shots so I doubt it will actually block to this look unless I decide to try a "steam" block. Another variegated yarn, but the color changes are gradual and this colorway does not have radical shifts in color so it's quite pretty. I knocked off a row of WRS and was overcome by just how much smaller that yarn is than the Graceful. I have got to be insane.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone out there for responding to my anxiety over trying to alter the border for Spider Mutant. Somehow my brain went on vacation and I could not figure out how to proceed. No doubt guilt for having altered the pattern at all, classic that it is. I think I have a pattern for the border worked out and will take some quiet time to double check my stitch counts before starting. I will post and I will want everyone to be honest and let me know if this turns out to be a "reeker" as my friend Louise puts it. IE a really bad border. I hope not but sometimes things don't go as planned. Thanks again for the help!
I must go and read a book now because my hands want a rest. Good Evening and Good Knitting to everyone.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Spider Mutant

I am in charting hell.
If I get a "shout-out" I am using it now.
If you are taking a chart that was written for flat knitting, do you have to do anything weird to it to knit with it in the round? I'm trying to take a chart from a christening gown and use it as the border for Spider Mutant knitting from the center outwards. ie, knitting in the round. I thought that I would do row one reading from right to left, then knit row two reading from left to right. Am I right or is there something else I have to do? I am not doing right or left leaning decreases. Just doing K2tog. I just know fleegle and missalicefaye know the answer to this.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lace Blocking Frame (AKA Shawl Frame from Knit Picks Instructions)

For those of you who were wondering if the instructions for making a Lace Blocking Frame AKA Shawl Frame, that were published by Knit Picks would really work. Here it is. My very talented brother, Herman, made one for me. I am so thrilled! I'm not handy that way and I figure if my brother can build a Shelby Cobra from a kit, he could build this frame. I love being right, I love my brother Herman and I love my frame!!! (P.S. Thank You Shelby for helping to make the frame and giving your father the idea for the nail jig!)

These are the observations my brother hand while building the frame.
I'll have to burn a cd with all the pictures so you can choose which ones you want.

Some mental notes you could use in your blog:

Nail-Depth Jig:
"Having done a lot of wood working around the house, I noted in many of the woodworking magazines the constant use of jigs that many people have created to work around either a redundant and laborious task or something that needed a certain amount of accuracy. The nail depth jig came about for this reason and stemmed mostly from my daughter wanting to help hammer in the nails. However, at 9 years old, she doesn't quite grasp the concept of hammering a nail to only 1/2" depth so my sister can congratulate her niece for helping me come up with the jig."

" While the triangles I cut work, there was something in the back of my mind about people who are reading these instructions and do not have the resources for making such a cut from a 2'x2' board. I do not own a table saw so this makes this task a bit more difficult. However, working with a thin piece enabled me to use an old technique: you take a box cutter and score both sides of the board long the lines that are measured (the "X"). This may take a bit of time and you only need to go about 1/32"-1/16" deep. After that, you simply break the board across your knee or a solid table . Now there will be a lot of jagged edges but you can use some coarse sand paper or simply scrape down the edges with the box cutter.
However, the 2nd alternative may be more appealing. When you buy the board, simply have the store cut it into quarters. Remember, the whole Idea is to have 2 sides of the board at 90 deg. so you can square up the frame relatively accurate without the use of a framing square as I had done. It won't look as pretty but it WILL do the job."

Qwik-Clamps for holding the frame to the base:
" The optional pieces (screws, washers, wing-nuts) probably add up to maybe $1.00 for the L-bracket base. But in the picture you will note the use of some "Qwik-Clamps". These were bought for $4 ea. It adds to the total cost but I looked at it as having 4 less pieces to worry about unlikely to lose. They can also help assist in storage of the 6' and 7' pieces of the frame by clamping 2 of the sides together. And they could be used for other things around the house if so desired."

Build Time:
" Off the top of my head, I probably spent a total of 5 hours on the project including the purchase of the materials. The longest being the cutting of the triangles along with the nailing. "


Sunday, May 13, 2007

See A Void And Fill It (Yarn Place and Purlescence)

I recently began de-stashing my non-lace related yarn out of my storage bins. I used to knit cables but rarely do much of that any more as I am lace obsessed. The people who received my yarn are happily knitting away and I felt a nano second of virtue. All was right with the world. However, in my unwitting haste to transfer my "yarn-hoarding-guilt" to other unsuspecting knitters, I inadvertently created that most dreaded of natural phenomenons, the "YARN VOID" (echo,echo,echo). That's right, a vacuum so intense that it literally sucks the knitter who created it into the strong gravitational pull of any knitting store within a 50 mile radius of the stash location where the void was created. Unless you fill that stash void, there continues to be an imbalance. One that could, if not quickly corrected, cause The End Of The Universe As We Know It. I'd hate to be the one responsible for ending the world wouldn't you? So I had to gird my loins so to speak, and go shopping.
Seriously. It's not that easy for a lace knitter to shop sometimes. I mean, it really depends on what and how you knit. Lace, as much as I might like it, is not what the majority of knitters are into at the moment though more people may be trying it right now after that "Victorian Lace Today" book came out. So I buy a lot of my yarn on-line but that can be difficult because I'd rather actually see and feel yarn before I buy it. Buying a yarn you haven't seen on-line is a leap of faith. I like to buy from ColourMartUK because I have received really nice yarn from them and I have a real fondness for Cashmere and Cashmere blends at a good price. That's why I loved shopping at Stitches West. I was able to get some really lovely yarn that I would normally never get to see and touch before purchase. That said, I was in Sunnyvale visiting my brother's family and my Sister-In-Law Melinda took me and my sister May to two yarn stores. Now it's not an infrequent occurrence that I can walk into a yarn store and find nothing to buy but notions. Most knitting patterns for lace I have seen and either already have or are planning to buy on-line and they are the ones that are not usually stocked by yarn stores. Most yarn stores carry some small amount of lace weight yarn. The Zephyr, the Misti Alpaca. It's all fine but not something that will fill that Yarn Void I spoke of as I already have lots of both of those yarns. It's a bummer to be ready to shop, with money on hand and find nothing to buy. However, yesterday was different.
We went to Yarn Place first. Now I have bought yarn there before so I knew I would be buying lots of yarn there to fill that Yarn Void I had created. Their web-site is, to put it politely "messed-up" and they are in the process of trying to fix it so I had not been able to buy on-line from them. I've had contact with the staff at Yarn Place recently by phone and they were really terrific and willing to help me out when I thought I was going to need some yarn recently of a particular dye-lot. They were willing to set aside some yarn just to be sure I'd have it if I needed it. They were really great and so buying from them was not a hardship for me. Besides, they carry a lot of yarn that I found I couldn't resist. I bought a skein of bright green "Heaven" as well as two in a nice blue. Heaven has tencel in it so has a nice "shimmer" in the sunlight. I also purchased 4 ounces of a 50/50 silk/merino top from a place called Anzula, there that is really very lovely as well as a small cone of Heaven in a kind of a lilac color. In the picture, you can see it side by side with a cone of ColourMartUK which is a 55/45 cashmere/silk I also received the same day in the mail. I also filled in some books missing from my lace library as you can see. I'm not into Russian construction for lace but missalicefaye is knitting one of the stoles from it and it looks so great I had to have this book. "The First Book of Modern Lace Knitting" is a clasic I didn't have and that simple pattern from Cabin Fever for "Evening in Eden" looked like a nice simple knit as a break from more intense lace.
Next up was Purlescence Yarns . Now I didn't buy yarn there but they had some very nice lace-weight yarns, and I didn't buy fiber though they have spinning fiber from lots of very nice places including Blue Moon and even some Buffalo which is a little unusual. If I had not already dropped a bundle at Yarn Place, I would have bought more fiber but I just can't spin fast enough to warrent further fiber purchase at the moment. I did however, find something I have not been able to find in a brick and mortar store before. I bought a copy of the Hidcote Garden Shawl by Miriam L. Felton, from them and a bottle of "Soak"to try out. My over-all impression was that the staff have a good handle on what knitters out there are interested in right now. The shop is clean, well stocked and there were lots of knitters there just hanging out to knit. Really nice people, women mostly. You can knit there, they have spinning as well, they have classes for everything from basic knitting to lace basics, sock knitting, crochet and spinning. They even had the new Louet S-95, the extremely portable folding spinning wheel that I tried out. If we did not have 3 wheels in our home already, I'd be sorely tempted. It breaks-down and gets packed in it's own bag, comes with a kate of it's own and would be great for a spinner who enjoys "taking it on the road". It's a shop I'd go back to again.
Needless to say, I've corrected my error, filled the Void and am satisfied that I have saved the world. Good Knitting, Spinning and Shopping!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Spider Mutants and Bye Bye Mountain Pines

If you change a well known, well loved pattern, will you be struck down by the knitting God or Goddess? So Far fleegle is still standing even though she has been plagued by knots in her yarn. She appears to now be past the point in the yarn with all the knots and is hopeful to finish her "Spider King" without further aggravation. I'm going to spend the weekend charting the mitered corner for my version of "Spider Queen" which will now be referred to as "Spider Mutant". Think "Island of Dr. Moreau" only with yarn and spiders. Of course, I hope it will still be pretty, if different, but there is no guarantee in knitting! Forgive me Hazel Carter for I'm about to sin.

OK. I know I said I was going to start keeping my shawls rather than giving them away. Something about a "Legacy" to leave my little nieces who I imagine could care less. But you see, I have this very dear friend Jerry, who moved to Seattle some years ago with his partner, Paul (I have listed his fledgling blog in the side-bar under GPC). He really likes the Mountain Pines Shawl. He is here in the Bay Area and we just had dinner together because he is part of a committee interviewing potential rectors for the church he belongs to. Apparently, there was some conversation last night with some of the others on the committee and they were talking about how nuns in the Catholic Church used to do lace and go blind by age 35 yrs making the stuff. One of the people there asked aloud, "Who spins or makes lace now a days anyway?" Or words to that effect. Heh Heh Heh. Of course my friend had to tell them that I did and that there are lots of other people out there who do as well. He wants bragging rights, wants to show off the shawl, display it in his house for all to see and somehow that just feels "right" compared to being wrapped in tissue in a box on the shelf for the next 10-20 years or so until one of my nieces might take an interest. Besides, did I mention he's very dear to me? So on Wed, before he takes the red-eye flight back home, we will have dinner somewhere nice, talk about everything and nothing like we used to do all the time when he used to live in the Bay Area, and he will go home with a reminder of our friendship that he can show-off to his hearts content. The shawl is special, but then so is he!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Patience is a Virtue (Who am I kidding?)

I have to give you guys a lot of credit. If you want to watch speed knitting you are looking in the wrong blog. Because of my woeful inability to focus my attention on one task and finish it, you are forced to witness progress in tiny bites over multiple shawls. It's only gotten worse with menopause (or as we like to refer to it in my family, mean-o pause). With the demise of most of my hormones I find that I just run off and do whatever I want to whenever I want to. My inner-childish whispers in my head, "Bored with knitting Spider Queen? Well what the heck, lets knock off a row of the Wedding Ring Shawl!" and off we go "Wheee!" the roller coaster of lace knitting, that's me, and you all get to come along for the ride.
See above. I've finished 4 repeats of Spider Queen and have 1 and a third pattern repeats to go to finish the center. I am not doing the original border or edge so I can't really call it a "true" Spider Queen" after that. What will she do? you ask. Hell if I know. I will likely just take the border from another shawl pattern and modify it for Spider Queen. I've been looking at the border for the Unst Shawl and the one for the Christening Robe, both in Sharon Miller's, "Heirloom Knitting" book. I think I will deep-six the idea of having an actual "crown" in the border. I just haven't found one I like. I am up to row 142 of Boundary Waters Shawl's border (it goes to 171) and it's looking pretty nice with only one error that I fixed. I don't know about all of you, but I almost never have 100% error-free knitting. I usually have one or two Homer Simpson "good enough" fixes in them and only really sharp-eyed knitters can find them. Most people just enjoy the eye candy. And lastly, I'm up to row 20 of WRS. Not as nice stitch definition as misslacefayes because of my choice in yarn but still pretty nice by my standards. I have some nice cashmere/silk from ColourMartUK that I want to try and I know I will get nice clear stitches with that.
Speaking of ColourMartUK, they now have their own store/shop outside of their store on E-Bay which you can go to by clicking the hyperlink. I have to confess that I have purchased yet more laceweight yarn on that site even though I'm sure I will likely die before knitting all the stuff up that I already have.
In order to feel a little less like I'm hoarding, I have de-stashed a lot of my non lace related yarn (I used to do a lot of cable knitting) by giving it away to new knitters in my family. It's really good yarn since I have always bought nice yarn and there is no guilt at all when you give it away because you know they will love it and use it. I've seen several sweaters and scarves walking around in my ex-yarn and they look darned good! On top of that, I have high hopes to give away even more yarn as two more co-workers at my job have expressed a desire to either learn to knit or to have help to re-start knitting. For actual newbie's I usually bring nice yarn and some of my own circular needles to teach them. I don't have them buy anything at first because if they hate it, then they haven't wasted any money. Also, it's easier to "quality control" the yarn if you bring something you would use. Once they have knit with "good", it's much more difficult for them to justify buying cheap yarn. I have nothing against yarn that is inexpensive vs cheap. Cheap yarn feels bad in the hands and knits up worse. It creates a negative learning experience to knit with bad yarn. Inexpensive yarn may still be quite nice but cost-effective. In any case, I think something she can knit on a US 8 or US 9 is in order and Voila! you have an instant de-stash opportunity. I think I will stop now while I can still kid myself that I'm being virtuous. Good Night and Good Knitting!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

It is charity to teach (lace infection/inspirations)

I believe we all learn from each other. Not just the actually hands-on teaching of knitting, or publishing a pattern or book for others to enjoy, but the inspirations by example that we unconsciously set as we knit for ourselves and those we cherish. I love reading every one else's blogs because I really do get inspired. Missalicefaye is busy finishing her Wedding Ring Shawl and serial knitting other projects just as stunning. She just posted her next project at her blog and it's a pattern I have myself. I bought it years ago and did not think I could knit it at the time because I felt daunted by stitch techniques I did not recognize. I pulled my copy out and now I wonder what the heck I was so concerned about. Time and experience march on. If you like the "Lace Christening Shawl" by Gema Ord, you can get a copy at Shetlandtoday though I got my copy from Jamison Smith originally. I bet they have them still though they don't advertise specific patterns for shawls/wraps etc. at the site. I have not thought of this pattern in many years but now I am interested to see how it comes out for missalicefaye. You never know, it may go on my long list of things to knit. Opal has put" Spider Queen " by Hazel Carter, on her list too so maybe my pictures gave her a little nudge. As you can see, I've posted pictures of a pattern I just had to buy to add to the conga-line of shawls I want to knit. The "Reflections Shawl" by Sharon Winsauer was designed to go with The Alpaca Yarn Company's Suri Elegance line of alpaca yarn. I love it and I know it will likely drive me mad, if her "Heere Be Dragone" shawl, also by Sharon Winsauer, doesn't kill me first that is. I know some people might not have tried any lace yet, but I'd like to think that watching those of use have fun with our lace might make some others give it a try! I have posted some pictures of my sister-in-law Melinda's knitting. The first thing she ever knit that she considers "lace" is the scarf you see with the hearts that she made her daughter. She had learned to do a "yarn over" to make eyelets in a vest and this scarf was her second knitting project after that vest. Melinda discovered, as many of the rest of us have, that lace is just knit, purl and yarn-over stitches that are being manipulated one way or another. Everything else is just a little practice. The pretty pink variegated lace is the"Estonian Garden Wrap & Scarf " pattern by Evelyn Clark published by Fiber Trends. My sister-in-law is making the scarf for a co-worker from variegated merino singles she bought at Stitches West from "Tess". I think her work is just beautiful and she says she is really enjoying making the lace. That's the part I really like, that she is enjoying herself and hopes to bring pleasure to someone she really likes. I wish everything I did had that kind of a result! As for the pictures of plants, we have not had time to do much in the garden, but even then it gives us great beauty and inspiration, if you take the time to look! Good Knitting and Inspiration to you all!