Posts Tagged ‘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.







Ciao bella, Arabella!

January 5, 2017

It’s always a treat to see the beautiful creations of fellow knitters. At a recent dinner party, dear friend Alison arrived with a gorgeous shawl draped around her shoulders.


She obliged my desire for a few photos and explained that she’d won the yarn (Full Moon Farm Silk and Merino Corriedale Cross) at a knitting retreat last winter. I love the three pink-plum colors and the contrasting gold.


I’ve only glanced at the pattern (available for free here) and am intrigued by the open work between the color “wedges” and the multi-colored connections along the edge. I may add it to my Ravelry favorites. What’s on your needles these days?


Self-Striping Magic

August 10, 2016

Self-striping yarn amazes me. Actually, the dyers who create self-striping yarn amaze me. How do they do that? How do they figure out how much yarn to dye in each color, and, more importantly, how do they actually dye it?

I know I could look it up on the Interwebs and find some videos, but I rather enjoy the state of amazement and wonder.

Which brings me to the wonderful folks at Caterpillargreen, who’ve created a small line of exquisitely striping yarns. Despite my being in New England and them in British Columbia, my skein of fingering “Concrete Remix” arrived only a week after my online order. Using Caterpillargreen’s free pattern as a starting point, I quickly cast on.


The yarn is designed for a triangle shawl started from the top-center (the back of the wearer’s neck) outward to the edges (tips of the fingers). And here’s the wonder of the coloring: the initial stripes take much less yarn than the final ones, so the yarn is dyed accordingly so you end up with stripes of the same width.


I modified the pattern a bit, knitting the bright colors in seed stitch. Three stitch markers remind me where to add stitches (yo at edge of garter stitch edging and M1 on either side of the center line). The pattern is straightforward, so I can knit pretty much anywhere — watching TV, riding in a car/bus/train/ferry, or even while a spectator at a beer pong game.


Shawl: Dropped & Draped

July 8, 2016

Dropped-stitch shawl hanging out in the shade.

Thanks to Sister-Friend Cathie (she of the knitting cruise and Ontario road trip), here’s a photo of the shawl “in action.” What a wonderful evening we had with my our Mom and our unphotographed husbands!


on Instagram:

Tropical Salad Shawl

July 6, 2016

The colors of the Madeline Tosh yarn that I purchased in Ontario grabbed me from the moment I saw it at The Little Red Mitten. Even though they aren’t colors that I wear at all very often — yellow and orange aren’t very flattering on my Celtic looks — I knew I’d buy it. A fruit salad of mango, cantaloupe, honeydew, and papaya: the perfect combination for a rectangular wrap across the shoulders. I usually take a photo of the label so I’ll recall the name and colorway. Alas, no such luck this time!

The drive back from a glorious weekend with two Sister-Friends was the opportunity I needed to bind off.


Back home, I plopped it into the sink for a good long soak before blocking. I discovered the magic of blocking quite a few years ago and now soak and block every wooly item. Washing is a definite “must” after you’ve carried a project around with you for weeks.


And once you’ve soaked, squeezed (gently, of course), and rinsed, you might as well block. I was hoping to lengthen this shawl (or is it a wrap?) a couple of inches — both to highlight the lovely dropped-stitch waves but also to ensure that it’d be long enough to really wrap around my shoulders. I’d only bought one skein and wasn’t really following a pattern. Risky, I know, but worth it.


Knitting by the Sea

June 2, 2016

I had the great good fortune to spend Memorial Day Weekend on my favorite island, surrounded by the sea, fresh ocean breezes, thick evening fog, and lots of testosterone. Yes, it was me, Patrick, and eight young men, ages 17 – 20.


A wonderful time was had by all. On Saturday morning, Patrick and I pinged back and forth from the library computers, printers, and scanners, and the notary at the bank in order to finalize paperwork for the lease on our sweet girl’s new apartment in NYC.

The library had a display of local items made from scrimshaw, including a swift for winding yarn. In addition to mending ropes, lines, and sails, whalers sometimes knit or did macrame. They also carved gifts for the women back home.


These scrimshaw bodkins were likely “used to separate threads or punch holes in embroidery designs.”


Naturally, I made time for my own handcrafting. The dropped stitch shawl is coming along nicely.


Traveling Shawl

May 19, 2016

It’s graduation season, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to travel for several special occasions. 

Before heading to New Orleans for niece Rachel’s graduation, I cast on a dropped stitch shawl for the journey.   There’s lots of sitting and waiting during commencement exercises, so the shawl grew a bit by the return flights. I must not have been paying careful enough attention because I discovered a dropped stitch. See that green loop standing up there in the middle?

 Yes, I’m aware that it’s a Dropped Stitch Shawl, but this errant stitch wasn’t supposed to be dropped. 

Next up, my dear Hannah’s graduation in New York City. My Mom, Patrick, and I drove to Stamford, CT, parked the car, and hopped on the commuter rail to Grand Central Terminal. Of course, the shawl came along for the ride.   

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.


Virtual High-Five

August 15, 2013

There are many pleasures to finishing a project:

  • being able to wear or use the completed item;
  • knowing that someone else will be able to wear or use the completed item;
  • anticipation of the gift-giving;
  • moving on to another project (there’s always another project!);

And then there’s the joy in sharing your finished creation with other knitters, who have an understanding of the skill and effort that you put into the piece and who can “ooh,” “aah,” and applaud the details — yarn color and texture, stitches, patterns, tension (the good kind).

Friend and fellow knitting cruise pal Cathie finished a bee-yoo-ti-ful square shawl last week — all by herself, in a bar. Before you picture a solitary knitter, boozing it up in a dingy bar somewhere, please know I’m quite sure that she was in a lovely lounge and waiting for a couple of friends to arrive. At least that’s what she wrote on her phone in the note that accompanied this photo of said shawl. (Pattern is Traffic Furniture by Ann Weaver)


Cathie wrote, “OK, I’m in a bar…but there’s no law against knitting in a bar – as you know. The problem is this … I’m waiting for friend and just finished the shawl. No one was recording, taking pictures and the only cheer was in my head.  I clearly have to block it but …. anyway …. I’m wishing you guys were here.”

Can you relate? How about a virtual high-five for Cathie and her shawl?


Zig-zags on a Crescent

August 14, 2013

After a binding-off miscalculation, which resulted in a bit of tinking back and re-binding-off, the crescent shawl is done.


It’s a variation of Ann Weaver‘s basic triangle shawl; actually, a smaller version of her Saturated Shawl.  I didn’t discover until I’d blocked it that I’d been less than consistent in my increases. The result is that there are two zig-zaggy lines of increase “holes” from the center to the edge. I blame this mistake “design element” on the frequency with which I knit this while in a bar and/or while chatting with lively, engaging, and downright funny fellow knitters.


I used some lovely sock yarn that I bought in Ottawa earlier this spring: Blue Faced Leicester Sock by Riverside Studio in Quebec. The dyer is Kathryn, katdry on Ravelry, where she seems to be more active than her  Etsy shop (where I was unable to view the beautiful yarn that I know is there).

I added a couple of stripes of light gray that I took from the stash that Ann Weaver shared on our cruise. I wanted to set off the second triangle that starts about shoulder blade height. Of course, if you wear it wrapped around neck, the stripes appear every which way.


I used a new bind-off, taught to me by wonder-knitter Barb. One that’s looser and more stretchy, just right for the edge of a shawl that you want to drape every so loosely.

Instead of the usual knit 2, stitches then bind one off (looping one stitch over the next, resulting in one remaining stitch on right needle), you knit 2 stitches, then knit them together through the back. Like this:


This leaves you one stitch on your right needle. Knit one more, then knit 2 together through the back again. Repeat until the end of the row. The result is a nice, loose edge – like this:


I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with the Albers Cowl.


Bit by Bit & an Amazing Dress

August 8, 2013

WIth my renewed commitment to more knitting and more regular blogging, I’ve been exploring ways to fit these two pleasures into my day.

Knitting at work kind of defeats the purpose of work. It’s not quite at all legit to charge clients for time when, in fact, you’re not really doing the agreed-upon work. Although it looks more like work than knitting does, blogging at my desk isn’t Kosher either.

I’ve yet to find a way to knit while driving although I must confess that much of my excitement at the prospect of driverless cars is actually fueled by a I-could-knit-while-driving excitement.

Keeping my knitting close at hand and picking it up for short intervals is helpful and kind of fun. It makes those inevitable gaps of the day seem less like waiting. Mentally composing a blog post on my morning run or walk is sometimes fruitful — if I can remember to write my thoughts once I get home.

I’m at that point in the crescent shawl where progress is hard to see. It’s too scrunched on the needles to be measurable. At least, I can’t be bothered to do it.

crescent shawl in progress

I think I’ll go for another 3 or 4 inches before binding off. As with most projects, the closer I get to finishing, the more eager I am to be done.

Speaking of projects, my knitting cruise mate Jenny is making an exquisite Icelandic dress (Lopi Lite, I believe). Knit from the bottom up, with two gorgeous bands on the hem, it is going to be a wearable work of art.

Icelandic dress knit in Lopi Lite

What’s on your needles these days? And where & when do you knit?




Different Ship, Same Knits

August 4, 2013

The wonderful Sheep Ahoy Knitters’ Cruise ended Friday morning. To keep up the momentum and powerful knitting mojo that I felt during those seven days, I’ve vowed to knit every day and blog more frequently.

Friday evening found me on a ferry to my favorite island, 30 miles off Cape Cod, enjoying the crossing and knitting the triangle shawl.

As I headed back to the mainland on Sunday, it was a few inches longer.  I think I’ve got about 3 or 4 inches to go although it’s always hard to estimate when I can’t spread it out.


Shawls from the Top Down and Square from the Middle

July 30, 2013

In addition to the Albers Cowl, we’ve had workshops on knitting a top-down shawl and another on a square shawl, knit from the middle out.

Ann’s instruction has been spot-on — just the right mix of explanation, theory, and flexibility. She’s generous with her knowledge, which is extensive, clear in her instruction, and patient in answering questions and providing guidance.

Here’s the angular variation on her top-down triangle shawl. As you can see, it’s not strictly a triangle (it’s several) and not strictly top-down. The two “wings” give the finished product a lovely drape over the shoulders.


Barb, Cathie, and I all decided to knit the crescent variation. They’re both very speedy knitters. Cathie clearly put her new-found color theory skills to work:


(Not really. She’s using Noro Silk Garden. A couple of our fellow knitters don’t appreciate her sense of humor and were, quite frankly, puzzled when she bragged about how lovely her color combinations were.)

Barb’s using some lovely Paton sock yarn for hers. No photo yet, but I’ll remedy that soon.

I’m using some luscious hand-dyed Blue Faced Leicester Sock yarn by Riverside Studio that I bought in Ottawa earlier this year. I think it’s yummy (if still only a doll-shawl at this point).


I confess that I didn’t pay careful attention to the square shawl workshop because (1) I hadn’t signed up and wasn’t “officially” in the class and (2) I wanted to work on my two current projects rather than take on a third.

However, the square shawl construction is really clever. Square in the middle. Lots of picking up stitches along the edges and then knitting outwards, creating “spines” at each corner (just yarn overs that leave nice holes on each side of a center spine of 2 or 3 stitches). The sample she brought has gorgeous colors and drape, especially since she’s got the knack for wrapping and wearing just about anything.


Laugh Track

July 29, 2013

Cathie thinks she’s read somewhere that the human body needs one good laugh per day to stay healthy. At this rate, we’ll be the healthiest women on the planet — or at least on this cruise.

On Saturday, she, Barb, Mom, and I enjoyed about seven good tear-inducing belly laughs. Yesterday I lost count at five.

Of course, this morning we could barely remember them. One was sparked by a comment about almond milk, which quickly devolved into something about how difficult it would be to milk an almond.

As we waiting for a table at dinner, we looked over a balcony at a lovely three-generation family gathered for a photo to celebrate a 60th wedding anniversary, a milestone we thought worthy of a rousing cheer. Either Barb or Cathie commented about “clapping Canadians,” which the other dubbed “Canadians with the clap.”

Like most funny situations, the retelling doesn’t do justice. You had to be there. And I’m really glad I am.

More later on the knitting front. Until then, here’s the four of us before dinner on Sunday. Barb and I are wearing handknit shawls. Mine is lace (pattern is Cleite) and Barb’s looks just like the sea in Bermuda, all lovely “waves” of blues and green.

four knitters on a cruise

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