Friday, July 03, 2015

Bigger Begonia Swirl

Some knitters have been asking how I made the Begonia Swirl bigger, so my project tips are below.

I decided to enlarge the shawl, and added one begonia per each section (went from 22 to 33 begonias). I used 1,980 glass Miyuki seed beads, rose bronze color, size 8/0.

The delightful yarn from Violet Lynx was hand-dyed in Russia and shipped to the US quickly (about two weeks).  She has some great colors and lots of yardage for bigger shawls. The gradient is all from one skein.

I would recommend about 1,200 yards of laceweight, if you decide to increase the size like I did.  I ran out of yarn on the last four rows, so I used a similar yarn to finish. I think it outlines the flowers.   I’m happy with the result.

Overall, it's lovely work for when you are relaxing, until the flowers! Then much concentration is required -- especially if you are adding beads. It’s not difficult for a lace project, and the gradient yarn produces spectacular results.


The construction is a little different than you might expect. You start out with 11 repeats. Then, when you get to the edging, each repeat splits into two begonias - so you have 22 edging repeats (begonias). This is the way it’s written, but I wanted it larger.

To get the larger size, three begonias per repeat, I had to have more stitches at the start of the edging chart. This took some calculating, but it’s not so bad. What you need is 20 sts per begonia at the start of the edging chart. Don’t count the selvage stitches.

To add that extra 20 sts per repeat, you need to keep increasing at the same rate (yo, k1, yo, k2, yo, kxx, k2tog). It gets a little tedious with all that stockinette, but it’s worth it.

When the stockinette (the kxx) is equal to 60 sts, you have enough for three begonias per repeat (33 begonias total). Then start the edging chart.

I would not recommend increasing faster, as this would make the spiral twist too much. I don’t think it would hang right.

I highlighted the stitches on the chart to make adding the beads easier.  These I added with a  size 10 steel crochet hook.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Stanwood Ball Winder

For decades, I've wound my yarn from skeins into balls by hand.  That's right, by hand.  I love how the yarn feels as I'm winding and that I can customize the shape and feel of each ball.  I guess I just love yarn!

Well, after much research and hesitancy, I finally bought a ball winder.  Even though I do love a good Zen session of hand winding, this ball winder will help me wind faster, and spend more time knitting and less time thinking about knitting -- even though, thinking about knitting is pretty good, too.

This is a Stanwood Large Metal Ball Winder. I ordered through Amazon, because I get free shipping.  You can order directly from Stanwood, and the price is lower, but add shipping and tax and it costs about the same as Amazon.  The large size will hold about 10 ounces of yarn.  I like that it's a little larger and more heavy-duty than smaller plastic ball winders.

Setting up took about five minutes, with easy instructions that were included.  I've found that it's not very noisy, like some metal winders, due to the nylon gears.

More on this as I get some experience using it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Filigrane Spitzendecken

What luck! 

Occasionally, I shop on The Book Depository website for lace knitting books, and this one popped up today. I hadn't seen it before. It's a new release of a Niebling pattern folio, as of March 10 2015.

Filigrane Spitzendecken

Filigrane Spitzendecken

Publisher: Buchverlag Fuer Die Frau
Language: German
Publication Date: 10 March 2015
ISBN 13: 9783897984790

Collecting Niebling patterns is somewhat of an Easter egg hunt -- it's very exciting to find one you haven't seen before.

This may have been out before, and I just never saw it, but I doubt it. I would appreciate hearing about any upcoming publications of Herbert Niebling patterns.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Izzy's Sweater

My cousin Cara sent me this pic of her baby Izzy (Isaiah Benjamin) wearing the hoodie sweater I made for him.  It's a Rowan pattern called Hazel, knit with 100% washable merino wool from Plymouth . The buttons are Tagua nut (vegetable ivory) from Britex, washable as well.  The little girl is Kate.

So, without further ado, meet Izzy and Kate.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

OceanKnitter's Center-Pull Ball Tutorial

I was asked to post a video tutorial of how I make a center-pull ball. This is a handy skill to learn.  If you have a swift and a winder, you probably think that you'll never need to wind a ball this way.  Let me convince you why this is a good skill to learn and know.

1) When you are on a trip away from home, you may not want to bring your swift and winder.

2) When you are riding in a car/plane/train/boat, and you don't have a time or space to set up your equipment, you can drape a skein around your knees and wind a ball by hand. 

3) You can stop midway and finish winding it up later, because it's portable and you don't have to take equipment apart and put it away.

4) Your center-pull ball will be as soft as you'd like.  I often wind with one finger under the yarn wraps, as you'll see in the video.  But you can put no fingers or more fingers under the yarn wraps to make the ball harder or softer.

5) While winding this way, you will find every knot or nub or imperfection in your skein, before you ever start knitting with it.  Better to find out now, rather than in the middle of a long row, that you have a big knot in your yarn.

6) Children who are learning to knit often enjoy making this special center-pull ball that never tangles.

7) You can do it anywhere because you're a super knitter! 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

San Mateo County Fair 2014

The San Mateo County Fair's been over for a few weeks, but I'm just getting around to posting the ribbons.  My Balmoral Thistle coffee cloth won a first place blue ribbon and Best of Show - Textiles. 

They did a great job with the displays this year.  It's only $2 to enter an item, and with that, you get two tickets to the Fair and a parking pass.  I hope everyone had a good time at the Fair this year!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Balmoral Thistle

Balmoral Thistle is being blocked for entry in the San Mateo County Fair.

I was concerned near the end that I would run out of thread.  Halcyon Yarn, who produced the 10/2 tencel, no longer carries this weight.  They do have 8/2, a little heavier.  I was so nervous about possibly needing to procure extra yarn, it was giving me agida, as my mom would have said.  I believe this is Calabrese slang for heartburn (acido, or acid). So, as most knitters do when faced with running out of yarn, I knit faster. 

On the last pattern row, I felt a bit of relief, but I still had to crochet off.  I put in a lifeline, just in case, and began the process of crocheting off all those tiny stitches.  I made it to the end with only this little bit of thread left.  I don't think it's enough for even one more round.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Doilies are Something

Someday, you may come across a little crumpled lacy thing.  Maybe you will be digging through the family cedar chest, looking for those special tea towels, and you'll find this weird little curled up lace thing.

You may not know who made it.  But you know it's something.

Long ago, someone finished washing the dishes, put some quiet music on the stereo, and put on her glasses.  She turned on the lamp nearest her chair, and lifted the piece up close to her face to look at the spot where she left off.  Then she pulled a few yards of string from her knitting bag, and knit a few stitches.  She paused and checked the new stitches to make sure they looked right.  Then she knit a few more stitches until she got to the end of a repeat.  The doily looked as it should, so she kept going.  It was going to set on that end table near the sofa.  It would look nice there, under the figurine that she had brought back from Italy.

She kept going until she finished it.  It was lovely, one of the nicest doilies she had made.  She put it in her ironing basket and thought she might block it on Saturday.

But that was long ago, and the doily ended up at the bottom of the family cedar chest. And it stayed there in a crumpled ball, for years.  How many times was the chest opened and closed over the decades?  Hundreds of times?  Yet no one paid any mind to the curly, lacy things at the bottom.  After all, they were nothing -- just some old crumpled up doilies.

The fancy lace tablecloths and matching napkins that were the pride of the German great aunts were passed down with great reverence to the next generation, who remembered the aunts taking them out every year for holiday dinners.  Those stately table linens were sent out to the cleaners after each use and put away lovingly to await the next ceremonial opening of the cedar chest.  Those were something.

But the doilies remained, untouched and unloved for decades -- until someone looked at them and said, those are something.  And then they were blocked and starched and loved.  Yes, they are loved.  Doilies are something.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sonoma Shawl - Freia Fine Handpaints

It's been a while since I've posted anything to this blog. I seem to post everything on Facebook these days.  But here's something new and knitted by me for Freia Fine Handpaints.  Tina asked me to knit the sample for her upcoming show.  I always love her yarns, and this laceweight is no exception.

The yarn is Ombre Lace, and the colorway is Grapevine.  It suits the lovely Sonoma Shawl, designed by Tina Whitmore for Freia Fine Handpaints.  I used a size US3 Addi turbo lace needle and gauge was just right.

The yarn has a little nylon in it, which would make it a snappy choice for sweaters, socks and gloves, yet, it also blocks beautifully for more elegant designs like this one.  You can judge it for yourself.  The stitches hold their shape well -- if you're a lace knitter like I am, you know how important it is to be able to control the size and shape of every stitch.

Just before I blocked, I dunked it in lukewarm water with a drop of Dawn dish soap for a couple of minutes, and then rinsed with water of the same temperature.  The colors did not run at all, which is quite an accomplishment considering the intensity of the dyes. Very impressive.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teeny tiny thread

Found in the archives of The Lace Museum in Sunnyvale, 1000 count thread used for tape lace.
I can't imaging even attempting to knit with this, but I would like to look at it in person one day.

I'm trying to decide what to do with my newly acquired 100-weight DMC Cordonnet.  It's burning a hole in my knitting bag.  I need to figure out if I'll have enough to make a bigger table center, or perhaps make a few small doilies.  We shall see.