Tag Archives: lace

Two by two, hands of blue, cables make me want to scream

So, I am working on a Bigger on the inside shawl, to coincide with my watching of Doctor Who. It’s actually been going swimmingly, considering my propensity to get bored with what I’m knitting and walk away from a project for years on end.  A lace shawl finished in less than two months?! Inconceivable!

However, I’ve hit the first cables that make up the roofline of the Tardis and the instructions are so freaking unclear. Mainly this is because the designer doesn’t want you to knit these like regular cables, where you slide one stitch off, either to the back or front, and then come back to that stitch later. I can do that no problem. But her instructions call for keeping the stitches all on the same needle, and when I attempt that it comes out totally verkakte. This would all be made clear with a simple video somewhere, but does anyone on the internet have one? No. The best I can find use four stitches instead of two, or call it C2F instead of C2L, but a stitch dictionary I found online made it clear that these aren’t really interchangeable stitch terms, they are slightly different. Also, shouldn’t it be C4F if you are working four stitches, not 2? There is absolutely no standard for this term and so many “teachers” and “designers” online are using the terminology incorrectly I want to scream. Shoot me now. Also, I have a miserable cold so my patience is really low right now.

Ok, upon rereading the stitch dictionary I found online I discovered that the different between C2F and C2L appears to be that one version slips stitches and the other works them on the same needle, as this pattern calls for. Strangely enough, though, the term that calls for the stitches to be worked on one needle is C2F, while this pattern uses that definition for C2L. Do you see what I mean about no freaking standards? Makes me want to tear my hair out.

Thankfully, I did find an online tutorial that was a.) using two stitches for C2F, and was b.) knitting them the way that the designer for this pattern asks that they be knit, even if she’s using the wrong term according to others out there on the web. I’m sharing this video with all of you so that others don’t go through my personal torture. Now I’m going to go take another antihistamine.

UPDATE: Ok, so I tried to start the purl side of C2R and C2L and totally got confused. It was clearly way too late at night and I was too sick because I missed the directions entirely. Though the words didn’t really help at all. However, I found an obscure video about knitting 2-stitch Bavarian twists on the wrong side. At the end of the video, the teacher explains that these “twists can be turned into crosses” (aka C2L or C2R) by turning one knit stitch into a purl stitch. Perfect! Exactly what I was looking for. Though I did stop for a minute and think, “Wait, so does ‘C’ stands for ‘cross’ or ‘cable’? I’m so confused!” I personally followed Method A from the video and after doing it about three times along with the video I could remember it enough to do the two mock cables by myself. Just ignore her when she says to knit the first stitch – it’s always a purl stitch.

So the moral of this story? Sometimes in patterns, less is not more, more is more. After seeing those videos I could do the cables or twists all on one needle, no problem, but not being able to understand what I was doing was very difficult at first. Since these are pretty obscure techniques, in my opinion, more explanations upfront would have made this less of a hair-tearing experience.

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Workin’ The Yardage Maths

Math has never been my strong suit, and therefore I know that what I just learned today will fly right out the window of my brain if I don’t write it down somewhere. Hopefully it will help someone else in the future, too.

I received this gorgeous skein of laceweight recently. It was a test base for the yarn company Dream in Color, when they were trying to pick out a good laceweight for their future Baby yarn.

Wouldn’t it be fun to be a yarn buyer? I imagine someone getting a box full of creamy white skeins of yarn and lying them all out on a table and then having everyone walk around and pet different skeins until they pick which one they like. Mmm, maybe they even roll in the yarn. Secretly, of course. When everyone else is off dying test skeins. 😉

Anyways, enough of my fantasies. So this test base I acquired is, as you can imagine, absolutely divine. Dream in Color doesn’t do shoddy yarns, yo. it’s a blend of 75 percent merino wool and 25 percent silk, and it’s a very traditional laceweight, probably coming in at around 2/18 (which is a typical laceweight gauge). There was just one problem with this yarn. I had no clue what the yardage was! There are all of these mysterious numbers on its tag (which I’m sure, dear readers, you will be able to figure out) but they had me totally and completely stumped. As you can see, this was clearly mill language, not end user writing on the tag:

SPH 5169
STH (?) 1596
75 – sw merino wool
25 – silk
2/12.86 wc. (or 2112.86 wrc. it’s a total tossup. really.)

So what was a girl to do? Figure it out the slow way. I started by unwrapping the skein and picking a point on the hank where the yarn seemed untangled and pretty straight. I began counting each strand, in groups of 100, eventually counting out loud so that I didn’t lose track. That total came to 368 strands of yarn. But now I needed to find out how long my actual skein was. I started by trying to simply shake it out and measure it, but that was an effort in futility. Then I remembered that professionally spun skeins are typically done in specific lengths. I grabbed by yardstick and sure enough, the skein was the full length of the yardstick when pulled taut, meaning that this was a 2-yard skein. A quick bit of math (one yard, or 36 inches, doubled equals 72 inches) and then I took 72 inches and times’d it by the 368 strands. That gave me the number 26496 – as in 26,496 inches. Right. So now I have to get that number of inches down to a manageable size. So, how many yards are in 26,496 inches? If I divide that number by 36 inches (aka a yard) I get 736 exactly. Ah ha! Therefore I have 736 yards in this skein!

So essentially the formula is this:

strand count X skein length doubled = total inches / 36 inches = number of yards

For metric measurements, it’s the same system except:

strand count X skein length doubled = total centimeters / 100 centimeters = number of meters

Yey! I figured out how to measure large amounts of yarn! Now, granted, this is just a rough gauge. And if I was trying to figure out the yardage for a skein of yarn with less yardage I’d reskein it around a niddy noddy to get to my yardage. However, for large amounts of yardage, like laceweight, where it’s just sort of inconceivable to spend your day fighting hundreds of yards, this is a great formula to use.

Stash Storage 2011

I photographed my stash storage situation last January, and thought that this was an appropriate time to repeat the process … and assess the damage. cough Yeah, I’m slightly embarrassed about how much bigger my stash has gotten!

Stash Storage 2011

Left Stack
– The green plaid bag I bought in Mehico is up at the tip-top, and that is full of fiber for spinning, which, since I swapped most of it away, is basically a bunch of little wee bits from Phat Fiber boxes. Below that is a bin about half-full of Manos. That reminds me I should be collecting it more. 😉
– Underneath that is a new bin containing silk and rayon. They used to share a bin with my cotton, but I…collected too much cotton. Anyways, rayon needs to breathe for best preservation, so there’s plenty of space in a bin all to themselves. Half-full.
– Next bin down. Cotton. Cotton, cotton and more cotton. I do like cotton. This bin is packed. No more cotton for me.
– Sweater yarns are on the bottom. I think that large container has my Noro Silk Garden for my shawl and the Misti Alpaca Chunky I have saved for a cardigan. Basically, I keep big lots in the big sweater bins, even if they aren’t technically sweaters. Mostly full.
– My large canvas bag of acrylic, sock scraps, and LYS novelty yarns didn;t make it into the picture. So sad! Half-full.

Center Stack
– My little alpaca bin is on the top. It actually isn’t as full as it should be, in my mind. But that’s only because I have a ton of alpaca that was moved into sweater bins, so these little one-offs hang out here. Also stores my exotics, such camel, llama, and cashmere. Half-full.
– My Big Wool bin is next. This contains any wool yarn that is sportweight or up. I’ve got a nice little corner in it designated for handspuns, and also my Blue Heron merino silk hangs out here. Another one of my most-used bins, which is why it’s in a handy to reach place. Three-fourths full.
– More sweater yarn. Moving on. Mostly full.
– The bottom bin contains my neglected mohair and angora. I keep them there together because they are both sheddy, and I figure that they can shed on each other instead of everything else. 😉 Half full.

Right Stack
– Ah, here we are at my sock and lace yarns. Please note that the top bin lid is not closed. Because it is too full. That bin contains my 100% wool sock yarns. I’ve pared it down and down and down and everything in there I have earmarked for a sock project. Full.
– The next bin is my nylon sock bin. This bin contains sock yarns that are blends. Most have nylon in them, but I think one or two have rayon instead, and since that is a strengthening fiber as well, I keep it together. This bin size actually used to be flip-flopped with the 100% sock bin, but I decided after my hole-y disaster with my Malabrigo socks that I would switch them, in an effort to increase my nylons and decrease my 100s. Half-full.
– The third bin down is smaller and even though it says “Non-Sock” it actually does contain sock yarns. But these are yarns that are either not suitable for socks or have been either designated for non-sock projects. My Queensborough Laurel’s Lofty is stored here, for example, as well as all of my shawl yarns. Mostly full.
– The bottom bin is all laceweight, all the time. Lord knows why I have so much lace! Actually, I do know, it’s because a bunch of it is for my Earth Striped Wrap, so all that Kidsilk Haze takes up a lot of space. Full.

Ok, that’s all! Next time I’ll try to post about some of the projects I’ve finished up lately.

Mush on my feet

I just wore a big honking hole my Malabrigo Socks. It’s only the third time I’ve worn them and they haven’t even been washed yet! Can you feel the anger and frustration radiating from my body? Here are the socks. They were knit for me by a Ravelry friend out of Malabrigo Sock in Boticelli Red. They are gorgeous.

Aphrodite Socks by Jeannie Cartmel

I’ve wore them three nights in a row, being careful to wear my slippers most of the time and definitely not walking on the carpets in them. While I was sitting at the computer tonight I took my slippers off, because hello, wool is very warm and my feet were getting hot. And then right when I was about to go to bed, boom. I look at the bottom of my foot and there’s a huge freaking hole right where my toe is.

Hole in Malabrigo Socks

What. the hell. is that. I’ve worn other handknit socks just like this made from 100 percent merino, but never have I had a sock completely disintegrate like this on me, and so fast! I am mightily displeased. I’m also a little wary of using more of my 100 percents for socks. I certainly don’t want my handknit socks to fall apart this quickly!

So yeah. Know what that means? All of the other Malabrigo currently earmarked in my stash for socks is being de-earmarked. I have now decided that Mal Sock cannot stay in my home because this yarn, as socks, turns into mush far too fast for my taste. I guess this is m y first opportunity to use my grandmother’s darning egg, at least. grumblegrumble

I bless the rains down in Africa

So I promised all of you a sneak peek of my Africa-themed stitch markers, and now that it’s August and these have been sent in, I’m thrilled to reveal them to you! If you remember, my inspiration this month was the song Africa, by the 80s hair band Toto. It’s got a catchy chorus with just one line that everyone remembers and sings overandoverandoverandover again until they’ve gone mad. Fortunately for me, I listened to this song long enough while I was making these stitch markers that I now know all of the words. And yes, I even watched the Lion King version of this song.

These African-themed markers are inspired by that single line in the song we all know – “I bless the rains down in Africa.” I thought there was something very poetic about the concept of Africa’s heat and suffering juxtaposed with the cool blessing of rain, which during the wet season washes it all away. Refreshing and beautiful, like a terrific storm occurring when a cold front meets the hot, unforgiving August weather we experience here in the Northern Hemisphere.

These stitch markers feature gorgeous vintage garnets and fire topaz Czech glass drops. I love the garnets because they look like a dusky reddish brown when they are lying in your hand but the moment you put them up to the sunlight they gleam with this inner purple light. The topaz glass beads are shaped like raindrops, and the iridescent fire polish to them creates a subtle rainbow effect in the light.

I Bless The Rains Down in Africa

I have several of these limited edition sock-sized stitch marker sets available in the shop. They are there for the month of August in conjunction with the Phat Fiber box. I thought it would be nice that if someone received a sample in their box they could then pick up a full set.

It is done.

My mother is going on a cruise through the Mediterranean this spring. When she and my father stop in Rome, they plan on seeing the Vatican. There, to get into it, women need to be modestly dressed, by hiding their knees, bare arms and even covering their heads with handkerchiefs and shawls and the like upon entrance. I thought a small shawl, knit out of some gorgeous sea-colored yarn I owned would be perfect for her. Something about the romance of wearing a hand-knit shawl in the holiest of holy places (according to some) struck my fancy. Plus, I figured it would keep her warm in the air conditioning on board the ship at the very least!

The yarn I used was Skein Queen Elegance, a sport weight blend of merino, silk, bamboo (rayon-based) and nylon. This yarn was luxurious to work with, and while it had a mild tendency to unply itself if you worked it too hard, in all it was a great experience. The finished product has a subtle silken feel to it and the dye job is simply divine. I decided to knit Carol Feller’sCentrique Shawl with it. After my first lace-shawl-knitting experience went horribly awry, I thought sticking to a more simple pattern might be the trick. And Centrique was perfect. Well, almost. My mother is taller and longer-limbed than I, so I wanted to make the shawl as big as possible Therefore, in order to stretch my yardage, I knit it with the larger-sized needles and decided to make the larger version. Oops. I ran into problems near the end. I’d miscalculated and realized that I should have knit the small, not the large, as I was 7-8 rows short of yarn. I decided to scrap the little eyelets that extend out past the triangle and just end the pattern early. I actually cast-off once and discovered that my binding was so tight it was ridiculous, and when I tried the lovely stretchy bind-off recommended for the Cleite pattern, I ran out of yarn before the halfway point! Sigh. I had to tink back two more rows, to the very tip of the last triangle, and then I had plenty of room for the cast-off edge. The Cleite edging was used again in the final piece, but I think it might have been too stretchy. Ah well. Third times the charm, right?

There were also some minor knitting problems. While I was incredibly proud of myself for figuring out how to successfully pick up dropped yarnovers several rows later, in blocking I discovered that my first k1, yo on the RS rows were horrible loose, which made blocking painful. It took two whole hours crawling around like I was praying to Mecca before I had hidden the nasty looseness, and then only somewhat. I found that pulling out my yardstick and using that to help me block helped immensely. The cats were, of course, greatly intrigued – every time I turned around they were closer to me, lying there half-asleep like they hadn’t just crept closer to investigate. The room was blocked off for the night. I could only imagine what sort of grand temptation that would be for them.

I finished this shawl just in time for Mother’s Day! My mother cried when I gave it to her. She knew I was knitting it and was just so overwhelmed that it was for her. Win! Then she used it as an example in her Children’s Story in church. She held up the shawl to explain what children can do for their parents. While the congregation was oohing and ahhing, little Bella, precocious as ever, piped up in a voice that could be heard clear in the balcony, “It has holes in it!” The congregation roared with laughter. Not to be outdone by a 3-year-old, my mother quickly replied, “That’s because it’s a holy shawl!” It was a hilarious morning.We photographed the shawl in my grandmother’s garden, and then when it got too cold to stand out there, we ran inside and I tricked my mother into a photograph. Ha!

I’m exceedingly proud of myself for finishing my first lace shawl. While I’ve done some lace, nothing has been on this large of a scale and this finished product is making me itch to cast on another large lace project! I think I’m addicted. If you are interested in seeing all of the oodles of photographs I took of this pretty thing, you are welcome to check out my Mediterranean Arias project page on Ravelry. And yup, you can follow the link even without an account, since I’m sharing it with the public. Ravelry is so awesome.

An epic cat’s paw lace sampler (and review thereof)

Well, tonight I watched the Count of Monte Cristo (2002 version) and knit myself a handy-dandy lace sampler, featuring the ubiquitous cat’s paw lace stitch, which apparently can be made out of anything and everything (stitch-wise). Or just about. I only chose to look up and knit eight variations of the pattern, so this sampler can be considered expansive but certainly not all-encompassing. For the fibery freaks out there, this sampler was knit using KnitPicks Telemark in the Drift colorway on a nice pair of vintage size 4 US 10″ aluminum needles.

Cat's Paw Lace Sampler

The top two stitches (which were the last two I knit, naturally) both feature a k2togtbl stitch. The left one is from Jennifer Jones’ blog,  The Knit Monster, and has a stitch called a double decrease, which I’d never done before. The double dec was interesting in general, as it creates a very straight bar running through the center between the yarnover. However, for the purposes of the cat’s paw motif itself, I thought it made the yarnovers below it look uneven.

The right one is Elizabeth Lovick’s version, from her website Northern Lace, which has, in addition to the k2togtbl, a k3tog in place of the double dec. I think this stitch, while it created an even-looking design, was not my favorite. The k2togtbl made one side look a bit “wonky” (there’s your techy term for the night) and the k3tog was quite simply, just a pain to do.

The bottom six cat’s paws were all knit directly from the chart compiled by Wendy Knits, as I have cited previously:

Courtesy Wendy Knits

The top two motifs on the chart, as well as the bottom-most right one, all feature a sl1, k2tog, psso stitch between the final two yarnovers, and I rather like the way this stitch creates a nice roundness to the center knitted portion of the design. The top right one seemed to be most effective at this, in part because of the alternating k2tog and ssk stitches around the yarnovers. Every motif that used the mirror design of the ssk stitch (symbolized in this chart by the “\ ” mark leaning to the left) created a more round, even appearance in the final lace.

The second stitch down on the left side in the chart had a unique center yarnover, which I thought was interesting. However, it did not create the appearance of either a cat’s paw or a flower, but rather a simply honeycomb design. The two stitches that I found looked the most like cat’s paws were the bottom left design and the right motif in the second row up. The placement of the k2tog and ssk stitches caused the yarnovers to stretch toward the highest point, making the midle yarnovers so small they are almost nonexistant and creating very large holes at the base. They look like the arching, flexing claws of a cat.

Even as I begin to finish cataloguing and describing the different traditional cat’s paw lace motifs I’ve knit, I am seeing where I could have tried other variations of the stitch. For example, you could substitute the k3tog with any of the other patterns, or moved the k2tog to the other side of the “honeycomb”-looking one for a more even appearance. Really, the combinations and possibilities therein are nearly endless. I shall leave that for others to take on, however, as I am quite satisfied with my own results. Enjoy!