September 30, 2004

GO WITH THE FLOW

A word about successful steeking: Yes, I was one of the instigators who encouraged Ryan to cut her steek without sewing it first. But I wouldn't want to lead you, Dear Reader, astray; I wouldn't want you to cut a steek that wasn't meant to be cut.

I and the other Feral knitters were so confident that Ryan could cut her steek without stitching it first because Ryan had knitted her pillow top using Shetland yarns.

Shetland yarn is sticky. The yarn has little scales on it. When knitted, the scales of one stitch want to hug the scales of its neighbor; when cut, it doesn't want to unravel. This makes Shetland yarn perfect for steeking and also for felting.

I would not recommend steeking a garment knit in cotton; better to knit it in pieces and seam the pieces together. If you are knitting a garment in machine washable wool -- one of those darling Dale baby sweaters, say -- know that the wool has been treated to make it machine washable, and so is no longer scaly. I would definitely sew my steeks in this case. And even for a sweater knitted in any wool other than Shetland, I would definitely sew my steeks.

Bronte scarf update: On my former blog, a Dear Reader had once posted a comment asking me whether I had found an error in the lace chart on row 97. I was not as far as row 97 then and I did not appreciate what that Dear Reader had found perplexing. Until last night, that is. If knitted as written, that row contains one extra decrease. You end up with 78 stitches instead of the required 79. I kept one eye on the TV to watch the Mariners game, and one eye on my yarnovers, and resolved the problem thusly:

I adjusted the row to make the yarnovers flow with what had already been knitted. I put yarnovers on either side of the previous lace row's double decreases, and I centered row 97's decreases on both the previous double decreases and the three plain knit stitches of the previous lace row. This sounds more complicated than it was.

In short, I changed the row to read, right to left: K2tog, yo, k5, yo, SSK, k1, k2tog, yo, k4, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, skp....etc.

It was that knit 1, instead of skp, that made all the difference, and allowed the yarnovers to flow from the established pattern.

I'll get this change posted to the Errata page on the Two Swans site soon.

Only 29 more rows, and the scarf will be completely knitted. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can finish it today.

Posted by Karen at 04:54 PM | Comments (1)

September 29, 2004

HEADING FOR THE BORDER

A lot was accomplished at the Ferals' meeting on Monday night. I finished the last of the lace repeats on the Bronte scarf -- whoohoo! -- and am heading for the final border. Only 40 rows more to knit, and then she'll be ready for blocking!

The Bronte scarf pattern calls for 7 balls of Yorkshire Tweed 4-ply, and it also calls for 10 pattern repeats of lace. When I finished the 10th repeat, I still had quite a lot of yarn left on the 6th ball, and the 7th ball on deck. Since I prefer scarves longer rather than shorter, I went for an 11th repeat of the lace, and that it what I completed Monday night. 11 repeats, and still yarn left on the 6th ball. (Pause, now, for a commercial: Yorkshire Tweed 4-ply and the Bronte scarf pattern in A Yorkshire Fable are available from Two Swans. Now, we'll return to our regular programming.)

I don't want to steal Ryan's thunder, so let's just say that she made some Very Important Progress on her Celtic pillow on Monday night. Check it out!

Posted by Karen at 06:11 PM

September 25, 2004

ART & LIFE

"The art of life, of a poet's life, is, not having anything to do, to do something."

-- Henry David Thoreau, American Transcendentalist

Dear Reader, I hope this weekend presents you with some time that allows you to express some of what makes you uniquely you.

With Stormy enclosed in a bedroom, I was finally able to get a photo of the Flower Basket Shawl:
flowerbasket 004.jpg

The Flower Basket that Evelyn Clark wore in the lace knitting class was knitted in Misti Alpaca, as was the one pictured in Interweave Knits. However, Evelyn's was blue, and knitted from only a single strand of the alpaca. (The Interweave one uses two strands.) Interestingly enough, Misti Alpaca has a bit of a halo. This is not something you would predict, given the photo in the magazine.

I came home all fired up to knit a Flower Basket of my own. In my stash, I have a gazillion laceweight yarns of all persuasions, and looking these over, it occurred to me that Kidsilk Haze, with its halo, would look nice in this shawl. So I elected to use some purple Kidsilk Haze. The color, Dewberry, is actually a lighter purple in real life than in this photo.

Kidsilk Haze is a beautiful yarn. (But then, I've been a fan of mohair, and of silk, for forever.) That's why it is one of the yarns that I carry at Two Swans.

Posted by Karen at 12:15 AM | Comments (3)

September 22, 2004

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, READ THE DIRECTIONS

The past two weeks have seen me in a whirlwind of taking classes. First, there was Evelyn Clark's lace knitting class in Seattle, then a magnificent trip to San Diego where I took classes with Jill Badonsky to train to become a creativity coach, then I was hardly back home for 12 hours before I was madly pasting and gluing colored papers in Peg McNair's color theory class held at Weaving Works. But, who's complaining? I've always loved being a student. (And I've got the degrees to prove it.) I am in my element when learning new things.

So as not to overwhelm you, Dear Reader, I promised to take it one story at a time, so let's start with September eleventh, shall we?

That was the day of Evelyn Clark's lace knitting class. The local talent in the fiber arts here in our little corner of the US is amazing, and Evelyn is one reason this is so. She is also a very sweet person. If you ever get the chance to take a class from her, Dear Reader -- grab it!

The class was held at the Yarn Gallery in West Seattle, a shop that is filled floor to ceiling with yarn. In a slapstick moment, I had a comb sticking out of the side pocket of my knitting bag, and when I was going through the aisles, the comb accidentally snared a hank of handpainted yarn that was on display, so that hank trailed around after me for awhile until I realized it was there.

In class we knitted a small sampler that was a vehicle for the following topics: reading a chart for knitting lace, knitted-on lace edgings and picked-up lace edgings, spit splicing and Russian joins, and blocking lace.

I wish I would have known about spit splicing before I started the Bronte scarf (that I am now almost finished with); I'll be darning in yarns ends on that project, but I think I can hide them in that scarf because it is garter stitch lace. Spit splicing (as inelegant and unladylike as it sounds) would have been a better technique. My attempt at a Russian join in Evelyn's class resulted in a lumpy strand with plies sticking out, but this is another technique that is new to me and I am sure I will improve on it with practice. I have attempted provisional cast-ons before, the kind where you work from a crocheted cast-on, but I've always been stuck having to pick the cast-on out, stitch by stitch -- until, under Evelyn's tutelage, I was able to pull the crocheted tail, and it magically unzipped!

In class Evelyn was wearing the Flower Basket shawl that she designed, the pattern for which was published in the most recent Interweave Knits. I fell in love with this shawl, so went home and started my own, using some Kidsilk Haze:

flowerbasket 002.jpg
I was attempting to get a decent photo of the Flower Basket when Stormy decided to help. She was pretty proud of herself for catching that ball of Kidsilk Haze!

Evelyn had said in class that the pattern was published without errors. I happily cast on and knitted the first flower motif, and the first ten rows of the repeated lace pattern in the center. I was working on starting the next set of ten rows at the Feral Knitters meeting Monday of last week, and the stitch count was all wrong. I think I had everyone around the table looking at my photocopy of the chart, counting stitches and puzzling over the math.

The next morning, while frantically packing for my plane trip to California, I grabbed the whole magazine, rather than taking precious time to make another copy of the pattern. And there on the plane, looking at the pages in Interweave Knits, I realized that the lace repeat is clearly delineated in a red box. That was the key bit of information that my black-and-white photocopy was missing. Follow the lace repeat in the red box, as the directions tell you to do, and the stitch counts work out perfectly.

Posted by Karen at 07:07 PM | Comments (4)

September 19, 2004

KNITTING KARMA

Yoohoo! I'm over here now, with the other prettyposies knitting bloggers! Hey, you found me! Welcome! I have all kinds of news to share, but I'm taking it just one story at a time.

rosyfingereddawn 003.jpg

I wish I could say that I just whipped up this shawl over the past week. Truthfully, though, four years ago we were going on a family vacation to Hawaii over Thanksgiving. And I desperately wanted to knit a shawl to wear on that trip. I tried the Beauty and the Bias shawl kit, and that wasn't quite right (too heavy for the tropics, and not lacy enough to suit me); I made starts on many of the lacy shawls in Folk Shawls but for one reason or another became dissatisfied with them and didn't continue them; I started this, the Rosy Fingered Dawn Shawl (a kit from Blackberry Ridge). I knitted the center "fingers," and the next section, but on the third section, the chariot wheels, my stitch count was off on two of the four sides. No matter how much I strained my brain, I could not figure out how to resolve it.

Concurrently, Belinda had just posted to the Knitted Lace list that she'd finished a Rosy Fingered Dawn shawl, substituting a different yarn for the kit's dawn-pinks, lavenders, and sky-blues. She was curious about what the kit's yarn colors were really like. So I arranged to swap with her, sending her the original yarns, and she sent me some laceweight yarn in return.

And then, out of the clear blue sky, in my mailbox a few days ago appeared a packet, tattered and quite the worse for wear from its travel all the way from Australia. Inside, though, beautifully finished and folded, was this shawl! I never dreamed that Belinda would send it to me. I am thrilled to have my very own Rosy Fingered Dawn shawl, and nearly speechless at Belinda's unexpected generosity. A million thank-yous!

rosyfingereddawn 002.jpg

(What shawl did I wear in Hawaii four years ago? A blue one borrowed from my dear friend, the prodigious knitter AnneL (scroll down to the Sept. 15 entry on the Audrey-along to see her modeling her latest sweater). I think it pained Anne to get an e-mail from me every morning during that period, describing how I was disliking some shawl I had begun knitting just a day or two before, but all infatuated with the next new one for which I was just casting on.)

Posted by Karen at 05:02 PM | Comments (12)