theraineysisters knitting and so much more

June 10, 2007

From Sally — What in the World Am I Knitting Next?

Filed under: Cap Shawl,Sally's Mermaid — surly @ 12:25 pm

I know you’re all dying to know. First, let me thank you for all of your kind comments on the Cap Shawl and on my daughter, who modeled it for me. It is a beautiful shawl and it is an easy pattern. Really — it is. As I said when I first posted about it, the only thing that might be tricky for a beginning lace knitter is getting started. Once you have some stitches on the needle, the pattern is easy to knit and remember. The border is not difficult either; it’s just slow.

One other note: because Kidsilk Haze is difficult to rip out (the mohair in it acts like velcro), you might want a smoother yarn if you are a newbie.

Oh! And thanks Deirdre for the compliment on my garden. I should have taken pictures a week ago when the primrose and peonies were still in bloom. I’m in a bit of a flower lull at the moment.

So, what am I up to now? Well, I do have to finish the baby blanket (Widdicombe Fair, aka the Carousel Baby Blanket redux). I put it down to finish the Cap Shawl and that baby is due in July which, if I can count correctly, is coming up soon.

I have also picked up one of my *coughgeezhowmanyofthesedoIhavelyingaround?cough* unfinished head start projects: Hanne Falkenberg’s Mermaid. I was actually pretty far on this one when I got seduced by something else:

I started it with a provisional cast on (on the left side of the photo); when I get to the collar on the right side I’ll pick up stitches around the neck and the live stitches waiting on the left side and knit it all in one piece so I don’t have a seam in the middle of the neck. I’m not sure why Hanna didn’t write this pattern that way because she has done that on some of her other designs. Not that I have a cupboard full of unknit Hanne Falkenberg kits or anything.

June 8, 2007

From Sally — Cap Shawl Finished!!!

Filed under: Cap Shawl — surly @ 11:22 am

It’s going up to a refreshing 98 degrees in the nation’s capital today with high humidity. Yes, a perfect day to force my lovely daughter to model the just-finished Cap Shawl from Victorian Lace Today. As you may recall, I knit it out of Kidsilk Haze in Blush. The pattern called for eight skeins; I used just under seven. I think that is in part due to my having used a smaller needle than called for. The pattern suggests a U.S. 7, but I used a U.S. 6. (The border took almost two skeins.)

Here it is just off the needles before it was blocked. It measured about 54″ in diameter. The finished size was supposed to be 74″ — I knew then that I would not be getting that large a shawl, but that’s in part because I changed needle size.

Here it is blocked and pinned. (The white dot you see on the shawl is a daisy pin that I forgot to pick up.) I was able to stretch it out to about 68″ in diameter, so it’s taller than I am, which is what I wanted.

Finally, here it is free of its pins. These are not great photographs, but it was a bit miserable this morning to be outside draped in mohair and silk.

Brownie points if you spy Mighty Mite wandering around in some of the pictures.

May 29, 2007

From Sally — Cap Shawl Border Update

Filed under: Cap Shawl — surly @ 5:39 pm

I’m very slo-o-o-o-wly puttering along on the border for my Cap Shawl from Victorian Lace Today. As I said in an earlier post, I first had to deal with a few little issues. To recap (get it, Re-Cap; okay I apologize for that already):

1. The chart was in garter, not stockinette (even though it was knitted in stockinette), so I changed it. (That, of course, took all of two seconds.) I just didn’t think the border would look right in garter; the rest of the shawl is all stockinette.

2. I didn’t like the rows of plain stockinette in the middle of the pattern repeat. On one hand, that provided an easy spot to use when grafting the beginning and end of the border. On the other hand, I didn’t like it. So, I took out those rows and then adjusted the math to make the number of stitches fit with the border repeats. So far so good.

3. My final little challenge was deciding how I wanted to knit the border to the shawl. [Quick aside for those who have never done this: When you knit a border onto a square or circular shawl where all the shawl stitches are still “live,” you work one stitch from the border together with one stitch from the shawl every other row. In other words, two rows of knitting decreases or “binds off” one shawl stitch. You then typically slip the new stitch on the next row instead of working it. It was how to work the two stitches together that I was thinking about.] The pattern directions told you to knit one border stitch and one shawl stitch together through the back loops on a wrong side row. I would need to do it differently because I wasn’t working it in garter. The instructions also told you to slip the stitch purlwise with the yarn to the right side. I think what she wanted was for the slipped stitch to be to the wrong side, and turned (not flat). I’m not quite sure how to describe what I mean.

This, except for its being stockinette, is how I think the shawl was supposed to look. It’s fine, and if I kept going I would have lived. But I was somewhat dissatisfied. (I purled two together through the back loops and slipped with the yarn to the right side.)

Here, I purled two together — leaving the slipped stitch on the right side. If you’re really observant, you’ll realize I’m knitting this experiment counter-clockwise, instead of clockwise. I decided the top edge looked nicer when I did it clockwise, so I stopped and started over again.

I’m not even going to bore you with some of my other variations. Can we say “just give it a rest already?” Therefore, after many (probably unnecessary) stops and starts, I knitted it clockwise: purling the two stitches together (with no twist) and slipping the stitch with the yarn to the wrong side. Do I love it? No. But it’s just a shawl, not the love of my life, so I’m finishing it and moving on. I haven’t made much progress, but that’s because doing a border this way is slow and I’ve had very little time to knit in the past week or so.

Here, for those of you who haven’t done this, is what it looks like as you knit:

Here’s a more “distant” shot, which reminds me that no one is going to be examining the border with a magnifying glass (I hope). I know it will also look so much prettier once it’s blocked. (It will, won’t it? Yes, lying is allowed. Possibly even encouraged.)

Finally, here is my photography assistant. (This is my daughter’s Chihuahua puppy. He’s always a big help.) Blame him for any shots that are out of focus.

May 22, 2007

From Sally — Cap Shawl Update

Filed under: Cap Shawl — surly @ 5:39 pm

Is it permissible to post without photographs? *looks around nervously for the blog police* Alrighty then.

I’m finished with the knitting of the Cap Shawl and have been for a couple of days. I’ve been too busy (with jury duty and whatnot) to get a good start on the border, but it was causing me some issues anyway. I’ve started it and ripped it back several times. I now think I know how I will knit it, and once I get going it will be fine.

These were some of the issues:

1. I don’t think the border chart, which is a very simple one, matches what was actually knit on the shawl. The chart is written as if it were knit in garter stitch, but the photographs of the border look like stockinette. (Similarly, the last few rows of the shawl chart show some purl rows which I think were intended to be garter stitch; however, the knitted piece is done in all stockinette as far as I can tell.) The author uses the identical border for the Maltese Shawl/Scarf pattern later in the book. In the photographs of the Maltese, the border is knit in garter stitch as shown in the chart. The difference is noticeable. This was a bit of an issue for me because her method for joining the border as you knit along assumed you would be knitting the wrong side rows. I want to do mine in stockinette and so I will be purling. So I had to make a few adjustments there.

2. Every other time I’ve done a knitted on border, I’ve had the shawl stitches on my left needle and knit the border on as if I were moving counter-clockwise around the shawl. This border is charted so that the shawl stitches are on the right needle, and you add them clockwise. I thought about flipping the chart so I could do it in my usual manner but then decided against it.

3. There are three plain rows in the center of the chart (two purl rows and a plain row with no yarnovers in between them). When I started the border, I decided that it looked funny to have those rows there — something looked a bit off-center. At Sue’s suggestion, I eliminated that bit of plain knitting. I think it looks better. Of course, that changes the number of rows in the chart, which means I have to fiddle a bit as I go so that I have the correct number of rows so that I the number of full repeats matches up with the number of live stitches on the shawl.

It takes two rows to eat up one live stitch on the shawl. I have 738 stitches and my new chart has 28 rows. That means that I get rid of 14 stitches per full repeat. I need 742 stitches for the repeats to work out. In other words, I will be four stitches short, but I can easily add those by creating an extra stitch four times.

So, that is where I am and what I’ve been doing. I have a little bit of the border finished, but I need to rip it because I changed one last little thing in my plan.

I’ll post photographs as soon as I have enough to make it worthwhile.

From Susan — just a little comment: I just bought a “new” car (2004 Chrysler Pacifica, cuz I knew you’d ask!) and today I finally got to put my vanity plates back on — LV2KNIT rides again!!  It really did not feel like my car until I put those plates on it.  Honk if you see me!! 😉

May 10, 2007

From Sally — Cap Shawl . . . and more

Filed under: Cap Shawl — surly @ 6:43 pm

I haven’t had much time to knit lately, but now that I have a good start on the baby blanket I decided to turn my attention to my Cap Shawl from the Victorian Lace Today book. I’ve finished 133 out of 171 rows, but according to Susan’s fiendish formula on how to figure out how much of a shawl you’ve knitted, I’ve got miles of knitting to go before I sleep.

Here it is (not much to see as is typical with lace).

Here is a close up of the transition from the spiral to the pattern at the outer edge before the border:

One of our loyal readers, Wendy O, is also making the Cap Shawl. She’s knitting it out of Zephyr Wool and Silk in a lovely color of pale green called Sage. I am hoping that she’ll let me share some photos of her shawl when it’s all finished.

Speaking of our readers: we may not be the biggest or best knitting blog, but we have the best readers. First, I want to thank everyone again for their kind comments about my entries to the Sheep & Wool Festival. And thank you Auntie Ann for letting me know that there were pictures of the Bohus floating around on other blogs. (I want that sock knitting machine. I am very serious.)

Finally, I don’t even know how to thank Kim, my mannequin benefactress. She heard that my Lucy (who has now been renamed Ethel), was a bit larger than I am. Lo and behold, a second one showed up at my door. I’m speechless.

This one even has nice legs and a cute little ass (which I sadly lack). Thank you so very, very much.

Here is Lucy modeling the Bohus:

Wearing only what God gave her:

Trying on my somewhat neglected Eris:

I can’t wait to see you in June.

April 11, 2007

From Sally — Rose Colored Glasses

Filed under: Cap Shawl,Knitting Tips — Sally @ 1:41 pm

I have shawl fever. I can’t stop myself. After finishing the Peacock Shawl, I needed to knit yet another one. The yarn I’ve wanted to knit with for a long time was even in my stash: Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Blush (Shade 583). I bought a fair number of skeins of this yarn a long time ago, but had never decided on the perfect project for it. Now I have: the Cap Shawl in the Victorian Lace book. If you have the book, the pattern is on page 28. If not, here is a thumbnail photo I was able to find.

The Cap Shawl is a circular shawl approximately 74 inches in diameter, and it may very well be one of the easiest patterns in the book. Even so, it is gorgeous and dramatic. It would be a great shawl for a beginner, except for the start. (I think that the start of a circular or square shawl can be a bit tricky for beginners, but maybe I’m wrong.)

Here is mine the day I started it (two days ago).

I was going back and forth about which size needle to use. The pattern, which uses Kidsilk Haze, called for a U.S. 7 (4.5 mm), but I thought that would be too loose. I started it on a 6 (4.0 mm), and that looked a bit loose as well. I jumped all the way down to a 4 (3.5 mm). I did that because I knit my Icarus Shawl out of Kidsilk Haze on a U.S. 3 (3.25) and it turned out well.

I finally liked how the center looked on the smaller needle, but I was a bit concerned that the shawl might not stretch enough when blocked and end up being too small. So, after about fifteen rows, I switched to a U.S. 5 (3.75 mm). Now, I might have stayed with a 5 except for one problem: I wanted to knit it on Addi Lace Turbos and the only ones I could find in a hurry (I’m a bit on the impatient side) were size 6.

What to do? What to do?

I decided to put in a lifeline, try the 6, and then rip back to the lifeline if I thought the knitting looked too loose. If you are unfamiliar with the term lifeline, it’s a way of saving your sanity in lace knitting. When you are at a point where you know your patterning is correct, you thread smooth yarn through your live stitches and leave them there. Later, when — I mean if — you make a mistake, you have a safe place to rip back to. (It can be very tricky to rip back down safely to the right row when you have all the decreases and yarnovers involved in lace knitting.) The idea is to do periodic lifelines — every ten or 20 rows — so you are only “risking” a certain number of rows of your knitting.

Well, this is not the kind of pattern I would normally take the time to use a lifeline with, but I went ahead. I was on my Knitpick interchangeable needles, so I just threaded some spare yarn from my Peacock shawl through the little hole you use to tighten the needle tip on to the cord. That way, I could just knit a row and automatically pull that yarn through for the lifeline.

NOTE: If you do this — or even if you are threading your lifeline through your live stitches with a tapestry needle, DON’T PUT YOUR LIFELINE THROUGH YOUR STITCH MARKERS!! If you do, they won’t move with you on the next row. Yeah. It would be a problem. Here is a (slightly out of focus) photograph of the lifeline right after I put it in. Note how the lifeline jogs around the stitch marker.

I have not had much time to knit this week, but the first half of this shawl is so easy (I don’t need to even glance at a pattern or chart) I’ve made some progress anyway.

Here is a photograph I took today as I went from a 24″ circular needle to a 32″:

Finally, here’s another photograph. I’m including this one because you can more clearly see the lifeline I put in two days ago. I’m staying with the size 6 needle, but I haven’t bothered to pull that lifeline out. I could (should?) put in another one, although I don’t think I need one. (Saying that out loud probably dooms me to some horrible mistake.)

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