theraineysisters knitting and so much more

March 18, 2007

From Sally — A Tale of Two Shawls

Filed under: Peacock Shawl -- Sally's,Three-Cornered Shawl — surly @ 4:04 pm

First, I want to thank everyone who has entered our Anniversary Contest; it’s been really fun to read all of your comments. If you haven’t entered, we will be taking entries until midnight on March 19th, Central Time. We’re using Central Time because that’s Susan’s time zone and it gives you an extra hour. (In other words, at 12:01 on the 20th, you are too late.) Details on the contest, the oh-so fabulous prizes, and instructions on how to enter can be found by clicking on the link at the top of the sidebar.

Okay. Now for the shawl update. I’ve decided to abandon the red silk shawl for the time being. I was close to finishing the first repeat of Chart C, when I realized that the chart contained an error. Basically, some of the double decreases should have been K3tog (right dec) and not SK2P (left dec). Although there was a symbol for the K3tog decrease, it was only used once on Chart C and I think, even then, it was in the wrong place. I had assumed that the symbol would show up on a later chart so I didn’t worry about it. (It doesn’t.) Seeing that lone K3tog symbol, however, is what made me really analyze what I had knitted thus far.

These are not great photos. If you look closely, you can really see how the left side of the little triangle shape at the bottom SHOULD be slanting to the right. It ain’t. I guess that’s something I should have caught earlier; it’s hard when you are still trying to see what the pattern will look like. Logically, though, I probably should have figured it out. The problem continues up that middle line of the shawl. The decreases are slanting the wrong way, pulling and creating an unattractive series of holes. I dropped down a couple of decreases and changed them to see if the look of the shawl improves. It does. (I don’t have a photo of that.) But I can’t really drop down all the way to the bottom. Moreover, this same problem is occurring on the sides of the shawl — less noticeable probably but it would forever bother me.

SO the question became leave it or start over. And if I start over, do I even want to use this yarn? Is it bad luck? Does it really want to be used for something else? Maybe I should knit this in my blush coloured KidSilk Haze, which was my original intention. I don’t know.

Once I start asking whether I should start over, I inevitably do. So I will, but not right now. When I do, I will make two other changes to the shawl. As a reminder, here’s what it looks like:

I know this isn’t a great photo — sorry. (I’m sick with the stomach crud today so I’m just not up for photography.) The wide bottom pattern (which is Chart C), uses the SK2P decrease in the center of each of the clover leaf motifs. I don’t think mine were looking all that attractive apart from the slanting problem, so I will replace that with a different double decrease. Finally, there is no strong center line up the middle of the shawl. I’m going to insert one. As long as I have to rewrite some of the charts, I may as well.

In the meantime, I felt like knitting on a shawl but I just didn’t have it in me to start this one for the third time right this minute. So I’m doing another head start project: the glorious Peacock Shawl from Fiddlesticks Knitting. Photographs of it can be found here and here.

I started this shawl a loooong time ago. It was the first time I’d ever knit lace. Yeah. I chose this as my very first lace project. It seemed daunting, so I put it away. Well, when I pulled it out yesterday, I realized that it’s a very easy and manageable project. It doesn’t take much lace experience to suddenly be able to read your knitting as well as the charts. Reading your knitting is a big help always, but especially with lace. It’s nice to see that I’ve actually learned something. I’ve been flying through it. I’ve just finished the fourth chart (out of seven). (If you’ve never bought a pattern from Fiddlesticks, the patterns are very well written and the charts are wonderful — they’re already very large so you don’t have to blow them up.) The fun stuff — the big feathers — starts soon.

I’m knitting it in a lovely, deep eggplant color. I promise photos when I don’t have to crawl to the camera.

PS from Susan:

I feel your pain — I have been sick all weekend with a cold. 

I also started the Peacock Shawl several years ago and left it roadside when I decided I was not enamored with the color I had chosen.  I thought it was “copper” but it looked more like rust.  Also, I think it was a bit beyond me at the time as well.  I am going to get a new color and start over.

On the Eris front: I finished all the hems and am wet blocking just the bottom.  I want to see how it looks after blocking before forging ahead.  If it looks crappy, I’ll redo the hemline without the cabling. 

I also made and felted two eggs, but have not yet embellished them. 

Hey, I’m sick, but not too sick to knit 😉

March 13, 2007

From Sally — Lace Needles

Filed under: Knitting Tips,Three-Cornered Shawl — surly @ 3:36 pm

Gale asked: “Are you finding laceweight silk difficult to knit with? I am wondering about how it behaves on needles.” Funny you should ask — I was planning to write about the needles I was using but I wasn’t ready to because I was waiting to try a new pair. They came in the mail and I’ve been playing with them a little bit this afternoon.

As I mentioned in my earlier post this morning (please scroll down and read it too if you haven’t already), I worked myself into a mini-frenzy about which size needle to use with my very fine lace weight pure silk. I originally decided to use a U.S. 4 (3.5 mm), and that is what I used when I cast on the first time. I’m glad that I was forced to start over because the second time I went down a needle size, which was the right thing to do. (I’m now using a U.S. 3, which is a 3.25 mm.) In fact, I keep wondering whether I should have gone all the way down to a U.S. 2 (3.0 mm), but I think I’ll be okay.

Anyway, the needles you can see in this morning’s photographs are not Addi Turbos (my usual needle of choice). They are the Knit Picks needles. Now, I know that my first pair fell apart BUT those were some of the interchangeable needles. In sizes smaller than a U.S. 4, Knit Picks only makes non-interchangeable needles. In other words, they are constructed like a “normal” circular needle, all in one piece, and are fairly similar to an Addi Turbo. There are differences: the Knit Picks circular needle has a pointier tip than the Addi and the cord seems lighter and more flexible. Perhaps even more important, I noticed that something about the surface of the Knit Picks needle gave it more “drag.” It didn’t feel as slippery as the Addi Turbos and so the silk seemed to cling to it a little better. (As an aside — I would have used Addi Natura bamboo needles with the silk, but since I rarely knit with bamboo needles, I didn’t have any in the right size. I ordered some but, alas, I did that when I was still planning to use a size 4 needle. So I have some beautiful virgin Addi Naturas waiting for a project, but this one ain’t it.)

However, as many of you may know, Addi has just started making a circular needle specifically designed for lace knitting. So I ordered some of those, too. (What can I say? Knitting is about collecting and possessing, at least for me.) They came in the mail today. At first glance (and by first glance I mean at first ripping the package open as fast as I could), I thought they looked bigger and fatter than the Knit Picks needle. It’s an illusion caused by the color (they are gold); the tips fit through my needle sizer in exactly the same way. So, I knit a row, transferring the shawl to the Addi Lace needle to compare the two. That was a purl row, with no patterning, so I figured it wouldn’t tell me much and it didn’t. Here is a photo in mid-transfer, with a photograph of what I am making as a backdrop.

I’ve now knit part of a pattern row with the Addi Lace needles. Like the Knit Picks needles, the tip is relatively pointy (but it doesn’t jab me in the finger). The cord is very light and flexible — these would be good needles for the Magic Loop method of knitting. These needles are hollow, coated brass whereas regular Addis are nickel-plated. They have as much drag as the Knit Picks needle — maybe even a slight bit more. So, in most respects I would say that the Knit Picks and the Addi Lace needles are both great for silk and almost interchangeable. Almost. I give a slight edge to the Addi Lace needles because, based on these two pairs, the join on the Addis is noticeably smoother. It is, therefore, much easier to push the stitches up to the tip of the left needle when necessary.

Some photographs of the two different needles with no knitting on them. (The Addis are a 24-inch; the Knit Picks are a 32-inch. My Addi 32-inch Lace needles are in use on the shawl.)

Finally, to finish answering Gale’s question: the lace weight silk is interesting to knit with. It’s very slippery, and yet at the same time it has a kind of dryness that makes it sticky. What I mean by that is the yarnovers I make will often stick to the knit stitch that is next to it, so that I have to separate them on the following row. It’s not a big deal, but something to be aware of. It looks as if that is happening a bit less with the Addis, but I haven’t knit enough to know that for sure.

Now aren’t you sorry you asked?

From Sally — New Lace Shawl & Eris

Filed under: Eris Cardigan,Three-Cornered Shawl — surly @ 9:13 am

Well, Susan’s Eris is actually starting to look like a sweater. Mine is looking more like a bolero or a very impractical shrug with no sleeves. Here it is in all its “glory.”

This is a closeup of where I have divided for the sleeves so you can see the provisional cast on. Once I finish the body, I will pick up the sleeve stitches (which are on a holder), undo the crocheted provisional cast on, and knit up the twelve stitches I cast on. That way, there will be no underarm seam (just as with The Blue Shimmer). If the picture is confusing, my thumb is resting on the cord of my circular needle.

I’m way behind Susan with my Eris, in part because I got distracted by that red silk Sundara yarn I wrote about the other day. Once I recovered from the trauma of my lost cast on (thank you for all the sympathy), I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to put the whole project away for a little while or get it started to have as a second project. I was also spinning wildly on what size needle to use — I kept trying to do swatches and getting bizarrely inconsistent results. I decided to put it away for another day and concentrate on Eris. Then I made one small mistake. As part of my excessive worrying about needle size, I googled “Sundara silk” and “shawl” and found this:

It’s stunning and I was. Stunned that is. It’s the Icarus Shawl from Interweave knits, which I’ve already knit in Kidsilk Haze. Brook, whose blog entries on this shawl (including more photographs) can be found here, knit this beauty in the exact same color I had purchased. Well, one look at her Icarus and I was doomed. I had to play with my yarn.

I’m making the Three-Cornered Shawl from the Victorian Lace book. I don’t have an image handy; it’s on page 136 for those of you who have the book. The pattern calls for a backward loop cast on. I didn’t do it. Not only had I done it once, and not particularly liked the results, but I had come across some other knitters’ complaints about it. I swatched to make sure that the pattern would work with a different cast on and then decided to use a cable cast on (which I kept relatively relaxed because I didn’t want a tight edge). It looks fine. The backward loop probably gives a more invisible, delicate edge, but in the context of the whole shawl I don’t think it matters.

I’ve done the four-row beginning (Chart A), Chart B, and have just barely started the first repeat of Chart C. The pattern difficulty is categorized as “experienced.” It’s really not a hard pattern, though (apart from that cast on). The lace repeats themselves are small and fairly obvious — that is, they line up over each other nicely so that it is not hard to figure out where you are or whether you’ve miscounted. I initially put in markers to separate the repeats (just to make sure I had the initial counting correct when I set up the repeats), but I removed them after Chart A. Not only was it annoying to have so many markers, but — and this may be why they listed it as being for experienced knitters — the markers need to be moved fairly regularly as the number of stitches changes. Still, it’s a simple pattern with no lace patterning done on the wrong side rows (which makes it more of a lace fabric than a true knitted lace).

I have very little to show of it, but here is what I have:

I’m not sure that my shawl will be as exquisite as hers, but I’m hoping. If I hadn’t already knit Icarus, I’d probably be knitting it in this right this moment.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter our Anniversary Contest if you haven’t already. We are taking entries for another week. Details can be found by clicking on the link at the top of the sidebar (to the right).

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