Posts Tagged ‘lace’

Never Gets Old

July 20, 2019

I generally find Facebook’s “memories” kind of creepy, in part because, well, Facebook is kind of creepy. But also because they remind me how poor my recall of time is.

Take yesterday, when I found myself thinking, “that was 9 years ago?!” when I saw this blast from the past:

lace knit shawl hanging in front of white window curtain

The magic of blocking was made real to me with my first, and so far only, lace shawl, Cleite in Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Lace in a midnight blue with hints of green.

I wrote on the blog about how I blocked the shawl, starting with the somewhat crumpled fabric that came off the needles, followed by its soak in the sink, and then careful pinning on Hannah’s bed. She was away being a counselor-in-training, I think.

If you’ve ever wondered what the big deal about blocking is — or if you’re just curious to see how this crumpled bit of wool (about 800m) was transformed with water, stretching (which is physics in action, as Kevin reminds me), and time — travel back to the “Magic of Blocking” post from July 2010.

In the meantime, I’ll be thinking about my next lace shawl.

Blocking to the Rescue

October 23, 2018

Pretty much from the time I cast on the Starshower shawl-cowl, I began thinking about blocking it when I finished. It was knitting up kind of stiff, even though the pattern was lace-ish, and didn’t have the drape that I was hoping for.

Did I swatch before I started? Why, no I didn’t. Thanks for asking. And while I really like the purple-grey yarn with a hint of sparkle, I couldn’t find the yarn band, so I was completely clueless about the weight.

Did I let these details hinder my project? Of course not! At last week’s neighborhood book group gathering, I worked the last pattern repeat.


Wine, cheese, crackers, and cake — and not a copy of the book, Before We Were Yours, in sight! At a doctor’s appointment on Friday, I binded off (or is it “bound off”?) and plopped it into the sink when I got home.



When I stretched it out on Hannah’s bed for blocking, I was pleased that it felt looser, softer, and a bit larger. Sure enough, after it dried, it had a lovely drape and a softer feel. It’s designed to be worn either as a cowl or a snug shawl around the shoulders. I’m not sure which I prefer, but I’m glad to have the option.







Monkeying Around

June 29, 2018

Based on comments from my last post, there’s a lot of folks who’d like to see more of the Monkey Socks (or, given the state of my progress, the Monkey Sock). Socks are my go-to knitting project, especially when I’m traveling since they’re easy to stuff tuck into a bag.

So a couple of weeks ago, as dear Jenn and I headed to Martha’s Vineyard for a quick visit to our sister-friend Kate, new owner of an awesome toy store on the island, I cast on a sock.


While I’ve curbed my yarn-buying activity a fair bit recently, I make an exception for sock yarn. Unlike that scrumptious skein of DK weight merino or chunky baby alpaca, I know exactly what I’ll make with 400 yards of sock yarn.

I love the almost neutral, subtle color changes in this luscious skein from Flying Finn Yarns. It called out for something other than my usual Good Plain Sock Recipe, so I searched for a pattern with some texture and detail.

Monkey Socks (free from Knitty) caught my eye, with curves and weaves and a little bit of lace. Fear not, just a few yarn overs here and there. I like the addition of the twisted rib at the cuff — just to shake things up a bit from a traditional K1 P1 ribbing.


I made the heel flap in Eye of Partridge instead of the plain stockinette called for in the pattern.


The pattern continues all along the top of the foot until the toe. Good thing my feet were clean in this shot!


As usual, I had to sit alone to graft the toe together with the Kitchener Stitch, quietly chanting the instructions to myself (knit front slip, purl front stay, purl back slip, knit back stay, repeat).

One down, one to go. What are you making this weekend?



Shed a Little Light

September 12, 2016

This is my first real candle jar cover, but I can say with confidence that it won’t be my last. A great way to use up extra bits of yarn — this is fingering weight — and to try new lace patterns.


In my home, we light candles at dinner every night. In my opinion, you can never have too much candlelight — inside or outside.




Project for a Dark & Stormy Night

September 9, 2016

Since finishing the striped shawl, I’ve been in a bit of a knitting rut. To be candid, it mirrors my present state of mind — preoccupied with challenges that leave me mentally jumping from one thing to another. But I believe I’ve found a remedy of sorts, in the form of a small, relatively quick project perfect for gift-giving and for using up small amounts of leftover yarn.

May I present a candle jar cover:


This first one is pretty wonky, the result of my not paying attention to the pattern. Funny how that works. I decided that lighter weight yarn would be preferable and dug out some fingering weight that the marvelous Ann Weaver gave me on my first Sheep Ahoy Knitting Cruise. Yes, it’s more than three years ago. Don’t tell me that I’m the only knitter with three-year old yarn in her stash.

I cast on while having dinner by myself before a ferry crossing 10 days ago. I’d ordered a Dark & Stormy in memory of dear Barb (and because I like the taste) and was enjoying the sunset and nearby table conversations.


A friend commented later how nicely the color of the yarn matched the beverage, and that’s when I knew that this project would be named the Dark & Stormy Candle Jar Wrap. What better for a dark and stormy night than a candle shining bright and safely protected in a glass jar?


Not done yet. Check back soon though because I’m on a roll.

Bermudiana Shawl Done!

August 25, 2015

Shawls always take longer than I expect. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since I’ve knit quite a few, but each time I’m reminded of just how long it takes to knit the several hundred stitches that make up a good “wrappable” shawl. How many stitches? For the Bermudiana, it was 463 — back and forth and back and forth and…

But now that the ends are woven in and the whole thing is blocked (a full-water block — I’m committed), I must say it’s lovely.

finished Bermudiana Shawl displayed on porch railing

I learned a few new things with this project: how to add beads (using a tiny crochet hook) and the i-cord bind-off. If you look very closely, you can see the gold beads in the lace “flowers” on the edge. They’d stand out better if I’d used the correct yarn for the lace edge, but I didn’t. Many thanks to friend Shelley, queen of the Sheep Ahoy Knitter’s Cruise, for giving me some of her yarn.

lace edge of Bermudiana shawl showing beads

The pattern called for an i-cord bind-off, so that’s what I did. Not sure I’d do that again soon. I’m not sure how much stability it adds and it’s a slow bind-off, which seems somehow unfair. By the time you get to the “I’m ready to bind off” part of a project, you’re ready to be done — and quickly. But I like learning and trying new techniques, so I stuck with it. Glad I did (even though I wasn’t so sure while doing it!).close up of i-cord bind-off along edge of Bermudiana Shawl

“Bermudiana” Preview

July 28, 2015

Sara Wolf, teacher on the marvelous Sheep Ahoy Knitter’s Cruise, designed a shawl especially for the cruise. Drawing on the sand, shells, and hibiscus flowers of Bermuda, the shawl features a scalloped lace edge (sand) and lightly beaded lace “flowers.”

Since I misunderstood the pre-cruise instructions for what yarn to bring for the edge (oops!), I had to borrow (permanently) yarn from a generous knitter — that would be Shelley, the brain behind Sheep Ahoy. I did have the Boboli Lace (#4352) for the main body, a blend of many of my favorite colors.

Boboli lace yarn, color 4352

I was not the only knitter who went off-pattern in my yarn selection. Thanks to the shopping prowess of #FlatBarb, Cathie was working with Sunseeker by Cascade, which has a lovely sparkle (zoom in to see the sparkles; they’re worth the effort). The colorway was Sand, not Oatmeal as several misguided folks thought it should be. Really, when have you seen oatmeal as dark as this?!

Lace edge and body of Bermudiana shawl in progress

On the last day of class, several of us displayed our shawls-in-progress. I love the variety of yarn and color combinations (but could do without the garish backdrop of the conference room carpet!).


Knitting at Sea

July 20, 2015

Long-time readers of the blog know that this is not my first knitting cruise; in fact, it’s my third — last fall, we went to Canada and Maine and two years ago to Bermuda. Of course, even regular readers (some of whom are family) are a bit bemused by the notion of a knitter’s cruise. No, not everyone here is a knitter. It’s a huge ship, and there are 2,000+ people, which just about anyone would consider an over abundance of knitterly folk!

workers washing hull of cruise ship in port

Our 25 knitters had three class sessions between Boston and Bermuda. Teacher Sara Wolf has designed a shawl, the Bermudiana, especially for this cruise. It’ll be available on Ravelry this fall, so check back. She’s drawn on the sand, shells, and flowers of the island and has created shawl and scarf versions.

border variations in Bermudiana shawl

I prefer the top version in the photo because it shows off the lace and beading above the scallop edge, which I think gets lost in the lower (red) version. I volunteered to be a model for Sara, who was taking photos for Ravelry.

modeling the Bermudiana scarf

With a 463-stitch cast on and 12 rows of lace, it’s kind of slow going. So some of us gather in an upper deck bar for a pre-dinner drink, knitting, and conversation. Our fellow bar patrons are bemused.


The Magic of Blocking

July 20, 2010

OK, that was definitely worth the effort.  I’d long heard about the wonders of blocking lace and had seen lots of photos on various blogs.  And I’m a big believer in the power of blocking (don’t scoff!) to turn ordinary knitting into something more finished, polished even. But even I wasn’t prepared for the rush I got after blocking my first lace shawl.

For those blocking rookies, a bit of explanation.  Blocking is a technique of wetting and shaping a finished piece of knitting, then letting it dry into a smooth, even, better-looking piece.  I block pretty much everything I knit from wool, which can be shaped quite nicely after it’s been soaked in water.  And, yes, I’m a full-immersion blocker — no spritzing with a steam iron or spraying with a water bottle.  Into the sink the whole thing goes for a good 15-minute soak, so every fiber gets really wet.  The wonderful Yarn Harlot has a good post about such things here.

When I finished the Cleite shawl (Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Lace, nearly one skein or 874 yds), it looked kind of fluffy and smaller than what I wanted.

Shawl before blocking

The detail of the stitches were somewhat lost. You couldn’t even see the lovely points along each of the two side edges.

Into the sink for a soak. Then I carefully transferred it to a bath towel, pressing, not twisting, much of the water out.

Shawl soaking in sink

I carefully laid out the damp shawl onto Hannah’s bed (she’s away for a bit) and began pinning.  First, I pulled the top edge straight, really stretching the wool (it’s resilient), and pinned all along the top.  Then, I pulled the center point and made sure the center line was straight.  Then each point along both side edges was pinned into place.

Pinned shawl edge

The stitches — all those thousands of yarn overs and decreases — just blossomed before my very eyes. I felt a bit giddy.

Shawl pinned for blocking

And then I let it dry while I took Michael and some friends to an amusement park for the day.  But not before making him come upstairs to admire the work in progress.

“Wow, Mom, that’s the first really beautiful thing you’ve ever knit.  It’s like a work of art.”

I take it as the compliment it was intended. And I just might have to try this again someday.

Random Thoughts of a Knitter in June

June 5, 2010

1.  Now that it’s warm enough to knit outside, I find myself loving Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Lace (color #01) more and more.  The subtleties of the color changes are much easier to see in bright light.  See?

Cleite lace shawl in sunshine

2. Still haven’t mailed the log cabin baby blanket to Michael’s teacher.  I really must get her address before school is done for the year.  In the meantime, I’m trying to enjoy looking at it instead of thinking, “Haven’t you mailed that yet?!”

3.  The approach of the last day of school is a tremendous source of excitement when you’re 11 and finishing 5th grade or when you’re nearly 15 and finishing 8th grade (and have an all-day field trip, field day, and “graduation” to look forward to). Not so much if you’re a high school sophomore with a heavy course load and 5 final exams between today and June 21.  And it doesn’t help when your brothers gleefully count down the days.

4. I just may have to give up on the recently discovered stash of wool that I found in the knee wall upstairs. After cleaning and drying, I discovered that it had been nibbled by (brace yourself) moths sometime over the past 13 years. I’m not above joining the occasional broken piece of yarn, but I think this might be too much. Will write more another day.

5. I really need to get to sleep earlier if I’m going to get up early enough to run more in the morning.  Must just force myself out of bed when the alarm goes off.  Snooze button, you seem like a friend, but you are not!

How Long Did it Take to Knit That?

June 1, 2010

I’m never sure how to answer when someone asks how long it took me to finish a project.  The truth is, I just don’t keep careful track of the time.  And I usually have several works in progress at the same time (OK, some have been sitting in a bag in the closet for a couple of years, but they’re still technically “in progress” even if I’ll never finish them!). There are many possible answers to the question:

  • “This baby hat took about one complete Red Sox game — on TV, not at Fenway, too many distractions.”
  • “I started this sweater last summer when I fell in love with the pattern and yarn, but then I had to knit a baby blanket for a friend and some Christmas gifts, so I didn’t pick it up again until April.”  Does that mean it’s taken me a year?!
  • “Oh, this lace shawl knit with luscious fine wool on size 2 needles?  I may be finished by the time I’m 50.”

I don’t usually give a direct answer because, well, I can’t.  I just don’t know.  Sometimes I can see myself in a particular place knitting this one object, and I try to count back to when that was.

While knitting a baby blanket at one of Michael’s  Little League game, an errant foul ball bopped a woman in the face. I jumped up to help her and a bit of blood got on the blanket.  She was fine, and the blood came out in the wash.  I finished that blanket while on a ferry to Cape Cod, probably in August.  So…Little League game in June (but I’d knit a bit by then, so maybe I started in April), and finished in August.  Four months?

A precise answer isn’t really what the person asking is looking for, I believe.  I think people ask because they’re curious, they want to show interest, and they want to be able to gauge (rightly or wrongly) if they could someday knit one of these (usually) lovely items, too.

If only they’d ask me that — “Do you think I could make one of those?”  I’d enthusiastically answer, “Of course, you could!”

Learning to Love Lace

May 19, 2010

I’ve had a mental list of things I’ll need to make before I can consider myself a “real” knitter.  Let’s not go into why I believe this to be true.  It’s not rational, of that I’m sure.  I know that I AM a real knitter: I take yarn, manipulate it around two sticks, and create lovely finished products.  That’s knitting; therefore, I’m a knitter.  But there are a couple of knitterly hurdles that I want to leap:

  • a pair of socks that fit and feel good
  • a lace shawl

I’m delighted to say that I’m getting close to completing item #2. Sometime last year, I found the Cleite shawl by Miriam Felton and was smitten. (Pattern photo, not my creation, below)

Cleite lace shawl by Miriam L. Felton

And then I found the beautiful Misti Alpaca laceweight at the wonderful Webs.

It’s taken a while ages to get this point.  At first, it was like knitting with exquisitely soft dental floss. I must have ripped back several rows 3 or 4 times before I completed the first 24-row repeat.  And ripping back lace is a whole new ballgame.

But after several sessions of uninterrupted knitting, mostly on the Providence-Philadelphia route on Southwest Airlines, it began to grow on me.   I realized that I could really see the pattern emerging and was able to work without referring to the chart every couple of stitches. Work-in-Progress: Cleite Lace Shawl

It’s hard to tell in this photo, but the yarn shifts subtly from midnight blue to light blue to sea green. Just gorgeous.

Now that I’m on the 7th repeat (for a total of about 325 stitches per row), I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Feeling so confident that I took it along to a recent middle school boys’ lacrosse game on a beautiful sunny day.

Might have been tempting fate though; I soon discovered that I’d mucked up not one but two repeats, which necessitated ripping back (tinking, really). Perhaps lace and lacrosse really aren’t meant to go together.

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