Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Amazing Lace Challenge #1: Languishing Lyra

I gave birth to my Lyra in the Fall of 2005. It was a difficult birth, foreign and nerve-wracking, with size 20 DMC Cebelia thread, and size 0 (2.0 mm) steel dpns. Herbert Niebling, a German designer who passed in 1966, created the original pattern for this masterpiece in lace. His pattern of tiny squares and symbols is the most complex of any doily I've attempted.

We got along famously in the beginning, but soon, Lyra became a difficult child, requiring so much attention, I could no longer take her with me on my daily commute. I found that my eyes would tire of looking at her. Upon my last eye examination, the doctor informed me that I was in the early stages of presbyopia -- could Lyra have hastened the onset of this affliction?

Lyra has languished in my knitting basket for months, neglected. I feel it is now time to give her another chance. After all, she is only half-grown at Row 123, with 876 stitches on my 60" size 0 (2.0 mm) circular needle. My calculations indicate that by the time she is fully grown at Row 179, there will be 1,420 stitches on the needle. It will take 30,968 61,936* stitches to complete her from this point to the finish, on Labor Day 2006.

*(Edited: 30,968 includes only the odd rows -- 61,936 is the correct number of stitches, including the even and odd rows.)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

It's a Purple Thing

Okay, I wear purple. I like purple. But not everything I knit is purple! My sis, who also likes purple, requested a purple shawl. She still hasn't seen it, so this is its debut (currently unblocked), here in OceanKnitterland. This is the Susan Shawl from Stahman's Shawls and Scarves. Myrna Stahman moderates the Faroese Shawl Knitalong on Yahoo groups. I've had such a great time knitting this shawl, I'm thinking about making another one soon. The shawls in the book are knit from the neck down, starting with a short neckband, and gradually working outward. The lace border is knitted on sideways -- yep, I said sideways. The lace border rows are perpendicular to the last row of the main body of the shawl. As you knit the border, you gradually eat up one stitch at a time off the last row of the body. Surprisingly, this is easy to do, even though it may sound intimidating. Myrna's instructions are foolproof. You just have to trust the pattern.

The yarn (if you can call it that) was fingering weight mercerized cotton, hand dyed by Interlacements. I bought a huge hank of this at Stitches, probably over 3,000 yards. It was a bit daunting to wind the stuff into useable balls, but I was determined. I wound about half of it one night by hand. I know, you think I'm nuts, but for fine yarn or thread, I have always done this by hand. The important thing to me was to make sure there were no knots, and that I had one continuous ball for the entire shawl.

THREAD WINDING, OceanKnitter-style

My method is to wind the thread in a figure eight around my thumb and index eight times. Then, I fold the figure eight in half, leaving the start of the ball hanging loose, and begin winding around and around. I always keep two or three fingers under the yarn I am winding to keep it soft and loose. After ten or twelve winds around, I pull my fingers out of the ball, and put them on the outside again, continuing in this manner until the ball is the size of my fist.

Now, this is the part that I may do differently than other knitters, but it works for me. I take a piece of scrap yarn and tie up that first ball like a bakery box. That means, the ball is now secured and will not unwind and roll away from me, as I start ball #2 from the same hank, without cutting the yarn. For this particular shawl, I made eight center-pull balls, all daisy-chained together, without cutting the yarn once. Each ball is tied up. I only untie a ball when I'm ready to use it.

The good: you will only have two ends to weave in when you are done.

The bad: you will have to carry around all eight balls of yarn with you while the work is in progress.

You might say, why not use coned yarn? Well, sometimes a particularly nice hank of yarn calls to you, and it's not on a cone. Also, some coned yarns will have knots hidden inside, and you won't know about it until you get halfway through the cone. It's just a matter of preference. For this shawl, I wanted it to be as perfect as possible for my sister.

I'm hoping to have time to block it in the coming week, in between working on samples for Kristin Omdahl, who is making great strides in the knit and crochet design world. I'm excited to be working with Kristin again, after working with her on two other sweater samples.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A baby raglan cardigan

This is the baby raglan cardigan I made for my neighbors across the street. Mike and Kelly are a very sweet couple, and they have an adorable new baby girl. The cardigan pattern is a very old one, knit from the top down with raglan shaping. I modified it with seed stitch trim. The only seams are the two that run under the arms and down the sides. I love the flower buttons, which leave no doubt the wearer is a little girl.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A drop in the ocean ...

I am no longer "blogless." As fast as my fingers will let me, I am starting a blog, knitting projects for books, knitting sweaters for babies, a scarf for my favorite aunt who turned eighty, and a lace shawl for my sister who likes lacy things. A photo pinned on her bulletin board of one of my lace shawls is a hint - she must have one! I'm in the midst of a Faroese Shawl, the Susan Shawl from Stahman's Shawls and Scarves. I'll post photos as soon as it's ready to block. In the meantime, I'll knit in my favorite chair, think of things to say, and post when I am able.