Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Three down...

One to go.

I finished the second of the Bridesmaids' Shawls. There is no need to post a picture. It is identical to the first one. When I have the second one all blocked and dry, I'll post a picture of them together just so you know that there really are two of them.

I've also started a shawl for my junior bridesmaid. She's 10 years old, but small for her age. I want to make her something that she can wear now without looking like she is wearing her mother's clothes, but that she can also wear when she is grown up. I also have limited time for this project. About six weeks of knitting time left to go. Who knows how big a shawl I'll have time to make? So, I'm making this one triangular. I've started at the bottom point, and I'm knitting on the leaf border as I go. That way, when I run out of time all I'll have to do is put on a border along the top edge. Also, I think that triangular shawls of varying sizes can be worn comfortably. So, here is what I have so far.

(I had some lighting problems with the photos. These red shawls are hard to take pictures of!)

This may be the last time I can stretch it out to take a good picture of it for a while. But, because I've already used the same yarn and the same needles for two similar shawls, I should be able to estimate how big it will be after blocking all along the way. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to stretch it out wider when I'm blocking it. Right now, it measures 13 inches from tip to top and about 15 inches across the top.

But if you think that means that there won't be any pictures here for a while, think again. There are two new projects just being born. But I'll save those for another rainy day. It looks like we'll have enough rainy days over the next week here in the Boston area to go around.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Spam and knitting lace

OK, so blogger is working out well, but I've been getting a lot of comment spam. Why anyone thinks I really want to read that stuff, I don't know. I turned on word verification, so hopefully that will solve the problem.

In knitting news, I did manage to get home in time to take down my shawl. It is now all blocked and ready to wear. I'll take some modeled photos the next time I'm home alone for a while. There probably won't be too much knitting progress in the near future. My wrist has been hurting, so I think I might need to go easy on the knitting for a few days.

Also, Angie asked if I had any suggestions for an easy first lace project. I know there are a lot of people out there who want to try lace for the first time. So here are my suggestions. If any of you more experienced lace knitters out there disagree with any of this or have any other suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know. There are probably as many opinions as there are knitters.

1. If you have never knit lace before, I would suggest NOT starting with a shawl that uses lace weight yarn. It's easier to get used to sorting out all the yarn overs with thicker yarn. Something around fingering weight to sport weight makes a nice shawl.

2. Make sure that the lace pattern is only worked on right-side rows, with plain knit or purl rows for wrong side rows. You'll be able to see what you are doing more easily, and you'll also have a bit of a rest between lace rows.

3. It's easiest to knit lace patterns that have a short repeat (both stitches and rows). That way, you will probably have them memorized before long and you'll be able to knit without the chart.

4. Speaking of charts, it is much easier to knit lace from a chart than from written out directions. If you aren't comfortable reading charts, I definitely recommend learning how. It's not as hard as it looks!

5. As with all knitting projects, you should like the pattern you are making. It will be more fun to make, and you'll also be happier with the final product.

6. Don't be discouraged if at first your lace doesn't look like you think it should. Knitted lace is not particularly pretty while you are making it. It needs to be stretched out in order to show the pattern. After you've finished a full pattern repeat, use your fingers to stretch out a portion of your knitting. You should see something that resembles the pattern.

So, what patterns fit this description? The good news is, a lot of them! Start looking around and see what you like. Or, design your own. A rectangular shawl is just a rectangle of lace (cast on a multiple of the stitch pattern and knit for a while) with a border around it. The border can be as simple as garter stitch that is knit on as you go (knit a few rows of garter stitch to start, keep the first and last few stitches of each row in garter stitch, and knit the last few rows in garter stitch) or a more complicated lace border that is knit on afterwards.

The great thing about knitting lace is that it isn't nearly as hard as it looks. The same principles apply to lace knitting as to any other kind of knitting. If you can knit, purl, and work yarn overs and decreases, you can knit lace. Have fun!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

When the men are away...

...the secretive knitter will block!

I ended up being able to block my wedding shawl sooner than I had thought. While I did have some offers of other people's houses I could use to block it, I thought it would be easier to do it at home. I had a chance this morning, and I took it. My soon-to-be husband left for work a little early this morning. I locked the door behind him and immediately started blocking. This shawl turned out to be BIG. It is about 110 inches long (that's 9 feet!) and 18 inches wide. I want the edges of this one to be a bit scalloped, so I used many, many pins instead of wires. After about an hour of washing and pinning, I set up a fan near it and left for work. Now I just need to get home early to take it down. I hope it's dry!

Here are a few photos of it all pinned out.

The center panel

about 1/3 of the length

One end

A closeup of a short side

Thanks for all your comments about the join. I'm glad you didn't notice it much. Once I had washed the shawl and pinned it out, I didn't notice it much either. Blocking solves all sorts of problems!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I couldn't wait

I looked at this shawl with its 5 leaves of border left to go, and I couldn't let it sit unfinished. So I knit all 5 of those leaves. When I got to the end, I remembered a little mistake I had made at the beginning that I didn't go back and correct. Instead of doing a provisional cast-on so that I could just graft the end of the border to the beginning, I did a regular cast on.

This means that the grafting was a bit harder than it should have been. And it didn't come out as well as I would have liked it to. I'm sure you can tell which leaf has the join.

But hopefully when I'm wearing the shawl, and people are looking at it from more of a distance, it won't be too obvious.

I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to block the border. If I leave it pinned out in the living room, it won't be a secret project any more. It might have to wait until the night before the wedding.

Monday, August 22, 2005

So Close I Can Taste It

Both shawls I have been working on are almost done!

See that tiny little gap in the border of my wedding shawl? Just 5 more leaves, and that gap will be gone! I've discovered that it is this shawl that has been hurting my wrist. While I love the yarn I am using (Unspun Icelandic from Schoolhouse Press), it doesn't have a lot of stretch so it is hard on the hands. I can only do about 2 leaves per day without my wrist hurting. So maybe in about 3 more days I'll have this one done.

I also made great progress on the second bridesmaid's shawl this weekend. I'm ready to turn the last corner. Then it's just 10 more leaf repeats and I'll have another one done! This shawl hasn't been blocked at all, so just imagine it looking like this (August 15th).

Hopefully my second bag of this yarn will come in soon so I can start figuring out how to make this pattern into a triangular shawl.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A Magical Pumpkin

I couldn't take the shawl knitting any more, so I decided to start a small, fun, easy project. I made a magical basket (from The Second Treasury of Magical Knitting by Cat Bordhi) out of Knitpicks Wool of the Andes in Pumpkin. I followed the pattern exactly, except that I didn't check my gauge, and used a size 10 needle instead of the recommended size 11. It took less than one 50g skein of yarn. This project was easy, but interesting to make. And it went really, really fast. I started last night, and finished it this morning. Here it is:

And here it is felted:

Would I make more of these? Absolutely. I loved working with the knitpicks yarn- I think it is perfect for felting. I think it might pill a lot in a sweater, but for a basket it is fine. And the pattern was quick and fun.

More on the shawls next week.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


I've been making progress on my shawls, but I don't have anything that is very photo-worthy. Here is a summary of what I have done, and what is left to do:

1. The center panel of my shawl is done. I only have 15 more leaves to do on the border. It doesn't look much different than it did here (scroll down to July 28). In less than three hours of knitting time (but it has to be secret knitting time) this one should be done.

2. I have one of the bridesmaids' shawls completely done and blocked. The center panel of the second one is done, and I have passed the half-way point on the border. All that's left is 37 more leaf repeats, and a corner. If I can keep up last night's pace, it should be done in about a week.

3. I have yet to start a shawl for my junior bridesmaid. I think I am going to run low on time for this one. I had to order more yarn, which won't be here for about another week and a half. That means I'll have about one and a half months to knit the whole thing. I think I am going to try to adapt the pattern for a triangular shawl, starting at the bottom point and working the border on as I go. I tried to chart this out on graph paper tonight, but I think it will be easier to figure out with yarn and needles in my hands. This way I can knit it as big as I can given the time, and then quickly put a border along the top in the last minute. I think this plan might work. But only if I knit fast!

There is one problem. My wrist is starting to get sore from all this lace knitting. Attaching the border to the center panel requires a lot of wrist strength. Hopefully it holds out a little longer!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A New Home!

I've decided to move my blog. The lack of a comments option on my Verizon blog was bothering me (and some of my readers). Kathy suggested that I try blogger. Hopefully this works better!