Monday, January 15, 2007

A Big Cone of Yarn for a Shetland Shawl

This is what happens when you buy a gigantic cone of wool/silk yarn from eBay. Yes, it's 50% wool and 50% silk, just like the well-known Zephyr by Jaggerspun.

But had I read the description more carefully, I would have noticed that the weight in the eBay listing was 2/23. So, what's wrong with this picture?

The wool I bought is lovely, but it is NOT from Jaggerspun. Jaggerspun Zephyr comes in 2/18 lace weight. (It also comes in DK weight.) This cone of yarn at 2/23 is somewhat thinner than the Jaggerspun Zephyr.

The seller called this yarn Zephyr, because that is what's on the label. In fact, if you hunt around, you'll find many different companies have a yarn called "Zephyr." So, what did I get for my $20?

How to Determine Yards Per Pound from a Cone Label

The cone label says the yarn is from Phoenix Dye Works in Cleveland, Ohio. The yarn weight on the label is 2/23. The actual weight is about 2.5 lbs, including the cone itself.

Jaggerspun lists its 2/18 wool/silk at 5,040 yards per pound. I know that 2/23 is a skinnier yarn, and is going to have more yards per pound. So how many yards of yarn did I buy? And how does 2/23 yarn compare to 2/18 yarn?

The first number of the fraction is the number of plies. A ply is a single strand, so I have two plies.

The second number of the fraction is the yarn thickness. The yarn thickness is determined by the number of times the yarn is spun at the worsted standard of 560 yards per pound.* (Cotton and linen use a different standard.)

The yards of yarn on my 2/23 yarn cone, which weighs about 2.5 lbs, could be calculated like this:

Multiply the bottom number times 560:

23 x 560 = 12,880

12,880 divided by 2 plies = 6,440 per pound

6,440 x 2.5 lbs (total weight) = 16,100 yards (wow!)

I don't know how much the cardboard cone weighs, but I would need to subtract it from the total weight to get an accurate number of yards. A good estimate would be about 0.10 lbs for the cone. In that case, I would substract 0.10 from the total weight of 2.5 lbs. Then I would calculate:

6,440 x 2.4 lbs (total weight minus the cone) = 15,456 yards.

Truthfully, I will probably never use the entire cone of this yarn, even it were less than 10,000 yards.

*Note: After some additional reading, I corrected the worsted standard to 560 yards per pound. This seems to be the most often used number. Some websites use 500, but that seems to be the minority.

The Shetland Lace Shawl

I decided to knit Shirley Paden's Shetland Lace Shawl from Vogue Knitting Fall 2005 with my now infamous Zephyr yarn. This must be my favorite issue of VK, since I've made at least three items from it.

If you recall, the lace shawls in this issue did not come with charts! Lace knitters around the world were up in arms about this. If you are a lace knitter, you know what I mean. Vogue called it a print space issue and promised to post the charts on their website.

For me, charts are a necessary part of any lace pattern. If a pattern doesn't have a chart, I'll make one myself. A chart allows you to see where the increases and decreases fall in relation to the previous row. Have you ever tried to knit a lace pattern like this?:

Row 16: 1 selvage st, k2, yo, k2tog, k1, yo, sk2p, *yo, k1, k2tog, yo, k3, yo, k2tog, k1, yo, sk2p; rep from *, end yo, k1, k2tog, yo, k2, 1 selvage st

Imagine reading rows and rows of this, without seeing on a chart where the yarnovers are supposed to line up with the previous row's yarnovers.

And, to make it even tougher, this is a Shetland lace pattern, with knitted lace on every row -- no plain rows. Technically, "knitted lace" is lace on every row. "Lace knitting" is lace on every other row, with plain knitting on the alternate rows.

It took a few months before VK finally published the charts for the Fall 2005 lace shawls on its website. The Shirley Paden Shetland Lace shawl was my favorite. I began to knit with a size 6 needle, then decided the gauge was too large and ripped it out. I settled on a size 4 needle.

With this type of knitted lace, it's difficult to see the pattern unless you stretch out the piece. I stretched it as much as possible and got a good look at the Webs, Spiders and Diamonds in the Shetland lace. The shawl will have four pieces which will be sewn together. The center will be two rectangles, grafted together. A separately knitted lace collar will be sewn to one long side. Finally, a knitted lace edging will go around the entire shawl. This is a big project, and I hope to learn more about Shetland lace shawl construction along the way.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Hanky Panky

An edged handkerchief is elegant, especially when a bride holds it in her delicate hand. A friend at work is getting married this month, and I promised to give her something special for her wedding.

I had a hard time finding an off-white hanky to match her gown, so I took a plain white one and rinsed it in strong tea. It gave the hanky a vintage look.

I didn't want it very dark, or ecru, but a soft white. Hanky blanks are usually bright white, either cotton or linen. This one came from JoAnn's online. The key word when looking for handkerchiefs is "hemstitched." That means that the hanky has a row of tiny holes stitched along the edge, making it easy to crochet a border.

The thread is Coats Opera #20 in Ivory. Most of the edging patterns I have call for finer thread, but the openness of this crochet pattern allowed me to use #20 without it being too dense or heavy. I used a German #5 steel crochet hook, which I think equates with an American #12.

This was fast and fun to do. Now, I want to do a set of sheets! I have a lovely set that was hand-edged by my grandmother for her wedding in 1917. She crocheted the edging and embroidered her initial on them. She also made her wedding veil, still preserved in a trunk at my parents' house. My grandfather was a tailor and made his wedding suit.

Weddings always make me nostalgic!

To press the hanky, I will lay it on a pillowcase, spraying it lightly with Niagara spray starch. I prefer not to press it directly, so I will lay another pillowcase or cloth on top, and lightly steam press it. Then I will fold it into quarters and lightly steam the fold lines. This will make a nice presentation.

For storing, it should be laundered and pressed, but not starched. Starch can yellow with age. And we want this hanky to be passed on to the next bride, don't we?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Puntas Sweater at Mach 5

The baby shower invitation arrived two weeks before Christmas. My cousins were throwing the shower on 12/28.

I thought, "I've made baby sweaters in two weeks before ... no problem."

Well ... this one came down to the wire. Considering all the Christmas shopping, cooking and visiting, it's not surprising that I was finishing it up the day before the shower!

My cousin is the recipient of this Puntas Sweater, the pattern slightly modified from the Green Mountain Spinnery book.

The colors are magenta, spring green and light brown -- beautiful bright colors for a baby girl.

The "puntas" or points are the pointy things around the edges of the sweater and hat. I thought the puntas looked darling on the hat; they made the brim curl up just a bit. But on the sweater, I thought they looked a bit too curly, so I added a row of single crochet to tame the bottom ruffle.

The sweater has little green and brown accents near the cuffs, neck and puntas. The hat has similar accents and a brown "stem" at the top.

I like this pattern mainly for its simplicity and charm. It's easy to modify if you have the urge. The body is done on one circular and the sleeves and neck are finished with dpns. I made the hat with dpns, too.