Monday, February 20, 2012


I caved.

After years of hearing how great this stuff is compared to the 2 main brands of Shetland jumper-weight yarn, I finally ordered some Hebridean jumper-weight yarn from Virtual Yarns, to see what the hoopla is all about. I picked a neutral color, in order to make this for DD and DSiL, when the time comes:

From Vogue Knitting, Winter 1991-1992.

Yarn came Saturday. Is it gorgeous? You tell me. I wish you could feel it through the monitor. It's much softer than Shetland.

My intention was to cast on when I finished Aeolian (I'm about half-way done, but have not been photographing along the way).

Earlier today DD called me in near-hysteria. Can you guess why? She's expecting! Well, I'll be finishing that Aeolian and casting on for the EZ and Meg Swansen baby blanket right soon then.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Glutton for Punishment

Remember this bit of gorgeousness?

photo of Aeolian shawl from Knitty, Spring 2009

Aeolian, that's it.

Yep, that's it on the needles. Yarn is Jamieson & Smith's 2-ply fingering Shetland wool; I had scored several skeins at $2 a skein when LYS decided to discontinue it (that's how I got the green Shetland for Old Shale shawl too; I bought everything LYS had). Naturally, I needed to supplement, so I wouldn' run out, but still, not a big expense. Beads are size 6/0 seed beads by Miyuki, in color Metallic Antique Rose-Lined Clear (what a mouthful; so glad I could order by number, it's 2601 in case anyone wants to see them on a bead site).

Speaking of beads, I learned that my favorite vendor of Miyuki beads, Teri Ann at Foxden designs, decided to cal it quits late last year. She'll be missed. I'd like to give a shout-out to a new vendor, the Bead Boutique of Naples. Very pleased with their selection and customer service: inexpensive shipping charges and no minimums to order.

As for Aeolian, I love it so far. I'm sure I'll make another. Already I think I'll do the next one with beads on the edges only (boy, those beads weigh a lot when you have a few on every other row). Not sure about fiber; maybe I should let beads rule and find some spectacular beads to display along the agave pattern (the bolder pattern) and the edging. Do I need so many shawls? Does anyone?

DonnaLee, I solemnly swear I'll find my blocking wires and use them!

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Still Hate Blocking

... but the results are worth it.

Old Shale shawl
Old Shale shawl

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Old Shale Shawl, aka I Hate Blocking

I hate blocking.

I love knitting lace, but I hate blocking.

From Knitting Traditions Winter 2010 I bring you the Old Shale shawl by Evelyn Clark, done in Jamieson & Smith Shetland wool, fingering weight, I had in stash. It's destined to be a gift, likely for my graduate student who will finish (G-d willing) this May.
Old Shale shawl
Old Shale shawl
Old Shale shawl

I still hate blocking.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I honestly do not know how this new Interweave knitting magazine, Knitting Traditions, escaped my notice. Apparently it's been out since 2010, but I didn't get the memo-- or the e-mail.

Anyway, I read about it on Ravelry and went to Interweave's site for the details. If you are as out of the (knitting) loop as I seem to be, here's the scoop on KT: it's a big magazine, big in the sense that it has lots of patterns (as many as 46 in one issue). It's organized around objects and types of knitting: colorwork, lace, socks, baby items, and so forth. It has patterns by folks we know and love like Meg Swanson, Nancy Bush, and Margaret Stove, to name a few. On Interweave's site each issue is $14.99, whether physical or downloaded. OK, I thought I'd treat myself to the 3 issues out there and order the real magazines. The price per didn't put me off as much as the shipping; that added nearly the cost of another magazine to the total. Nope, not gonna do it just yet. That was last week.

This week my LYS is having a pre-inventory and pre-Super Bowl sale. I fell in love with some aqua Kraemer Sterling Silk & Silver when I was there last. Not that I need it or anything, but I think I should make DD#1 a nice lace scarf (any reason to buy yarn and knit, right folks?). She loves all shades aqua/turquoise/teal/robin's egg blue, the way I love all shades coral/apricot/shrimp/peach. Being I work from home Wednesdays, it's a good opportunity to take a trip over to LYS in the next town. And the LYS has all 3 issues of KT.

Here's the Sterling Silk & Silver

And here's what I bought with the yarn:

Besides getting the Sterling Silk & Silver on sale, I got the KTs for 33% off the current issue and 50% off the previous 2 issues. My bill came to about the price of 2 skeins of yarn plus 1 magazine. If the LYS is going to discount previous issues of magazines, I'm going to haunt it more often.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Soggy, Sodden Mess

My poor Brambles!
I bought the Brooks Farm Four Play with the intent of making a dressy Brambles beret. I love the pattern; it's easy and fast; I've made it before out of Four Play.
Four Play knits like a dream but can be tricky to block, because it is 50% silk. It stretches like mad if it gets soaked. When I made the first one for my student, over a year ago, I sprayed the beret with water and then stretched it over a dinner plate to let dry. But working with white or off-white yarn often means a real cleaning is in order. I followed Brooks Farm's instructions and hand washed, using Eucalan. After soaking in the sink for 20 minutes, I squeezed the water out, rolled in a fat, fluffy towel, stamped on the towel, rolled in a dry fluffy towel-- and was left with this:
Brambles beret Brambles beret
Something about a gazillion sizes too big for a human head. Frankly, I'm shocked because Four Play is not the first 50/50 wool/silk blend I've knitted; Zephyr by Jaggerspun is also 50% silk and 50% Merino wool; it most certainly knows how to behave itself when wet-blocked. Just ask my Evenstar shawl and Carefree sweater.
To deal with my soggy, sodden mess, I took a deep breath, threaded waste yarn through the ribbing and nudged the thing onto a dinner plate. I eased it on a towel and put it in the warmest room in the house. After 4 days of ignoring the mess I made, I had to do something. I reread the threads on Ravelry about Four Play, and decided to reblock, after carefully shrinking the beret in the dryer.
Sprayer in hand, I wetted the beret and put it in the dryer on low for 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, I checked- still damp, still huge. turned the dial to 15 minutes and walked away. Came back at the appointed time-- still huge but dry. Slept on it (no, not literally). Rearmed with sprayer, I rewetted the beret and put the dryer on next lowest setting. Fifteen minutes did not a thing, either to the damp or the size. I know the dryer works fine, because I dried my clothes on the lowest setting and even my cotton sweaters were dry within 20 minutes. Turned the dryer up a notch and checked after 5 minutes- nada.
Finally, I took a gulp and turned the temp up to atomic blast and left it there, thinking either it shrinks to where I can block and wear it, or I'll make another out of another yarn. After all, if I can't wash Four Play, what good will the garment be?

It worked.
Brambles beret
I now have a wear-able beret.

Brambles beret
What to do when it gets dirty? Wash and dry in the machine? Soak in the machine and spin out? One thing is clear: my love affair with Four Play may be over.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Interesting Observation

My new yarn has been telling me what to make out of it. I've finished one project (another post on that) and started the new one.

Lisa Souza's Timaru is a silky yarn, suitable for lace. The Mother of Pearl when wound becomes a shimmery off-white color; the gradations of pastel simply melt away. I've been meaning to make myself something from Nancy Bush's book on Estonian lace. I need a dressy scarf. The Triinu scarf pattern fits the bill in terms of yardage, weight, and esthetics. Knitting the first edge I discovered something:
Triinu scarf
This is the edging for Triinu.

Watermelon Wedge socks
This is the Watermelon Wedge sock you've seen before. Notice anything about these two?

Would you believe the patterns are the same? Well, nearly: the sock pattern has K4 between the YO, K1, YO and the SK2P, whereas Triinu has K3 between the YO, K1, YO and the SK2P. Observe how the ribbing provides the anchor so that the space-dyed yarn makes those neat chevrons for the socks. Without a ribbed edge, the Triinu edging is free to flare out and make that nice frill that I'll be pinning when I block.

Neat, huh? I love knitting.