Saturday, June 28, 2008

Adventures with Lace

I think I am hooked on lace! I have 4 projects on the go, and all of them are lacy. (This doesnt include the non-lacy projects I also have on the go, of which there are many. Oops.). I am not sure what it is about it. It requires more concentration that just straight knitting, since you have to follow charts do fancy things like yarn overs and knit 2 together etc etc, but of course the beauty of it is that individual stitches are easy, its just the way they are all put together that makes it look complicated. So you get to produce a really impressive piece of knitting without doing anything at all hard. Hurrah!

So, to list:
1. Creatures of the Reef Shawl intended for my Grandmother-in-law. I couldnt resist the little sea creatures and since she lives by the beach, I thought it appropriate. I am enjoying doing it, but it is a long project..I have almost finished the crab/seahorse section and am dying to get to the starfish! It is great fun to see the animals emerging, but they wont look truly ace until after blocking.
2. Lace Ribbon Shawl, a recent Ravelry favourite. I am using a sumptuous (ooo, dont get to use that word often) 2ply silk/cahsmere blend from Violet Green which makes me want to cry when I knit with it as its so soft. This one is going to be for me ;) The pattern was a pig at first when reading off the chart, but once I learned to read the knitting it became a lot of fun. Only started it a few days ago but loving it.
3. Started this morning the Isobel scarf from Cider Moon with the Debbie Bliss Cathay left over from my tank top thingy. Looking good so far. This one is for a sister-in-law. Not sure which one yet.
4. The Upstairs Shawl in another pant-wetter from Violet Green, this one a 2ply merino in a imaginatively named colourway, Squid Ink :) This one is for me too. So sue me.

And another thing I have discovered is that regular old circular needles are pretty pointless for lace. Literally. Their ends are too fat, and since you are overwhelmed with K2togs (knitting 2 stitches at once) with the old lace (thats what makes the holes!), or sometimes even K3tog, then pointy ends is what you need. So in steps Addi Lace Turbo needles...oh boy they are like knitting with butter. Well, not really but you know what I mean. They are pointy, and smooth (plated with something that looks like 24c gold, but probably isnt) and the join between the needle and cable is smoooooooooooooooooooooooth, so your stitches dont catch. I think I am in love.

Oh, and the other really great thing about lace is that a little yarn goes a long long way, so even though it might get a bit pricey, a whole 100g skein can make a huge shawl that takes you months to knit. Great value for money :)


He is still to be born, but I finally finished his cardigan. I was really pleased with this one. Rosie chose the buttons, which really finish it off nicely. His mum was really pleased with it too :)


For some light relief, a few quick and easy projects from Alan Dart. The sheep is from his farm selection, and the elephant from the Noah's Ark set. I love to knit them, but the fiddly bits like legs and ears can try my patience, so they are good 'once in a while' projects. The legs have straws in them, which is genius since it makes them stand up. The elephant is knit from Mirasol Hacho left over from my skinny scarf. He looks quite lovely, I think.

Such lovely patterns, with all the shaping in the knitting. So clever.


I have this really great friend. The kind of friend that will always step in to help you out. She is lovely. When I was accepted onto my teacher training course and was looking for childcare for Molly, she immediately offered to have her one afternoon a week and even more on occasion. She loves my kids :) I met her when our eldest children were babies almost 7 years ago and inbetween then and now we have run a business together and lived to tell the tale. We share a sense of the absurd and both have 'difficult' mothers. She is lovely. Did I already mention that?

So after I started college and she started watching Molly for me, I starting knitting her a gift. I had wanted to knit the Clapotis ever since I joined Ravelry, since you cant surf for 2 minutes on there without coming across another one that someone has knit. And it looked fun.

And it was! It's knit on the bias, starting at one corner and working your way up. Its basically stocking stitch, but ever once in a while you get to knit a stitch through the back loop to twist it.This starts to make sense once you get to the point when you are dropping stitches....woot, such fun! (as previously documented on this glorious blog).The twisted stitches border the dropped on, so basically tighten the bands of stocking stitch. Its such a clever pattern. I have to admit, though, that it gets a bit of a slog in the middle section, but its so worth it, because the result gives such a fantastic drape for the shawl, especially once it is blocked.

I wish I had a better photo of it finished, but I rushed it off to her and now its too late, but you get the idea.

And you know what, she loves it! Whooo, it made me so happy to be able to do a nice thing for someone who has been so kind to me :) Thanks,'re lovely :):)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Its Magic!

When me and the kids were on holiday a few years ago in Pembrokeshire, we went to a medieval fayre thing, and the kids had a go at felting with fleece. In other words, take some stinky sheep fluff, add soapy water and mash it around on a board until it made a flat blob, then hang it in the tree to dry. They enjoyed the mashing but were underwhelmed by the result. As was I. And I didnt warm to random things made this way either ie felt hats and sculptures.

So when I joined Ravelry and came across various photos and whatnot of felted items I paid no attention. Then I saw a pattern for a lovely Solstice bag that I had my eye on. Turns out it was felted. So I put that thought to one side. Then I saw some lovely coloured yarn on sale online, Trendsetters Granito, which happened to be especially for felting. The yarn made me buy it....and so to my first felted bag.

I started with the Sophie Bag. It knits in the round and is easy peasy with just a bit of shaping. The handle is i-cord grafted on with Kitchener stitch, my first go at that and a nice introduction as only 6 stitches :)

And then to the washing machine. A 60 degree wash in a front loading machine with a few pairs of jeans. If I had read as much about felting before I did that as I have since, I would have been way too intimidated to try. There is a ton of information out there about dos and donts of washing machine felting, much of it contradictory. For example, Felting Lore has it that front loader washing machines make felting much more tricky than the top loaders used often in the US. Anyway, I didnt read any of this until it was too late. And by that time, the bag had come out like this:

Hurrah! Ignorance is bliss!! Its like putting your knitting in a magic cauldron, waving your wand and pulling out something completely different. I love it! The bag is fits my purse, phone and lipstick and is perfect for taking out when I dont need to carry all the other extraneous rubbish that usually resides in my handbag. And it is much admired. So much so that I have been commissioned to make one for a friend :)

And of course, I couldnt stop there. One disaster later when I tried to use up some Debbie Bliss Pure Merino that didnt felt (I later read on Ravelry that DB yarns often dont felt as they have been treated to make them washable), I made this out of lovely heather mottley pink 100% wool aran from New Lanark (great price!) and gave it to Rosie's friend as a birthday present. Mindful of the poor carbon footprintingness of doing a 60 degree wash for one tiny item (and my washing machine takes 1.5-2hrs to do that!) I decided to try hand felting in hot water...which kind of worked, but my hands got hot, so I ended up sticking it in the washing machine in the end anyway. I think I need to get myself a plunger.

So I am a felting convert. On the needles is a big bag but maybe I will get around to that Solstice Bag one of these days......