My current work in progress:

1. Ashburn, designed by Melanie Berg, knit from Woolfolk Tynd in colorways 6, 7, and 8 on a 4 mm (U.S. size 6) needle.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

Onward

Thank all for the interesting comments on knitting mojo. I was impressed that even Austin PowerS — thank you, M in M — took time out of his busy schedule to comment. icon wink Onward

Some Q and A

Lauren asked:
Have you ever knitted a sock, er, boot out of worsted weight yarn?

I don’t think I have — the heaviest yarn I’ve used is dk weight. But the majority of my socks are fingering weight yarn knitted on size 2.0mm needles.

Laura asked:
How did you learn to design knitwear? Did you take a class at a local school? Complete a master knitting course? Make it up as you went along?

I’m making it up as I go along. Don’t tell anyone.

Carolyn asked:
I notice that you generally just knit the pattern on the leg of the sock and don’t carry it on to the instep/upper foot area, why? I’m just curious myself. I like both ways and sometimes I feel that having the smoothness of stockinette across the top of my foot is more comfortable for long wearing of socks day.

I’m a delicate flower and don’t like the feel of anything but stockinette against my foot. While a sock may look nice with a pattern extended down onto the instep, most of the time I hate how it feels.

Betty J asked:
When you pick up the wraps on the short rows, do you just knit (or purl)it then, or do you pull the initial stitch out from underneath the wraps before you knit/purl it?

I don’t pull the stitch out from underneath the wraps — I pluck the wraps off the stitch and then knit the wraps together with the stitch.

Dave asked:
Ok, so you have a new stealth knitting project that you do on public transportaion, in front of potentially thousands of people, and you can’t mention it here? And how long have you been working for the CIA?

(Note that I am not answering Dave’s questions here. I emailed him a response about the stealth project. And then I had to kill him because he knew too much. Poor Miss Lulu Kitty. Orphaned at such a tender age.)

Kristin asked:
Do you do much spinning these days? I’d love to see some if you do!

None. If anyone sees my spinning mojo, would you please send it home to me?

Brigitte asked:
Love the ribbing on the new Keelan! Looks like a couple ridges of garter before the ribbing starts?

Yupperdoodles! There are garter ridges at the bottom and top of the ribbing. I didn’t want the ribbing to pull in too much so added the ridges. I like ‘em! Here’s a lousy picture of the ribbing — it got real dark suddenly due to a storm, so the lighting sucks.

keelan092806a Onward

But earlier, Lucy offered to help me knit.

keelan092806 Onward

Andrea asked:
Keelan question: Now that it’s going to button down, what will the neckline be? V-neck seems the most logical, but you didn’t say. Or are you going to wait until you get there and just surprise us? icon wink Onward

Keelan will indeed have a v-neck.

P.S. to the 7 billion and 1 people who have emailed me to alert me to the knitting-related short animated film on YouTube: Yes, I’ve seen it, thank you. icon smile Onward

Lucy sez:

lucy092806 Onward

“I love laundry day!”

Knitting Mojo

In early July, right after finishing my Mara cardi, I cast on a new project, a design for an aran vest I was working out in my head, Keelan. I started it in Rowan Scottish Tweed fingering weight and completed most of the back.

And then I let it sit. For ages. I did finally finish the back and started on the front. And then I let it sit. For ages.

That danged project seriously screwed with my knitting mojo. I’m not sure why, but I hated knitting it. The yarn was nice, I liked the cable pattern, but the whole thing was just sucking my knitting mojo right outta me. So I kept starting and finishing other things, and enjoying them, but in the back of my mind, a little voice was chiding me that I needed to finish Keelan. After all, I really didn’t have all that much left to do — it’s a vest and I had the back and a third of the front done.

Right before I started the Wing-o’-the-Moth, I picked it up again and felt the joy of knitting being sucked right out of me. It was at that point I decided to abandon Keelan in its present state. I immediately cast on Wing-o’-the-Moth as comfort knitting. Mohair/silk yarn being knitted into lace really does go a long way towards soothing the knitter’s soul.

While I was knitting the Moth, I was swatching and experimenting with yarns for the new Keelan. And much to my surprise, I found the perfect yarn in my stash: Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed.

I bought a bag of this yarn at least a year ago with only a vague idea of what to knit from it. Turns out it is perfect for the Keelan I envisioned in my head.

The new Keelan is still a vest, but it will button down the front instead of being a pullover. And it will be longer that I had orginally planned.

Due to extreme fatigue and zombie-like demeanor brought on by seasonal allergies and the meds I take to combat them, my progress has been slow. But I am making progress, and thoroughly enjoying the knitting.

keelan092706 Knitting Mojo

Which is really what it is all about for me.

It took me a long time to realize that it was fingering weight Keelan that was messing with my knitting mojo. I guess that’s because I very rarely start knitting something and stop feeling the love. But I need to remember this experience for the next time it happens.

How about y’all? What affects your knitting mojo?

In Other News

I finished the Opal Handpainted socks.

opalsocks092706 Knitting Mojo

To recap, it’s colorway #22, knitted on 2mm needles. Toe-up. Of course.

There was a comments request for a close-up of the sides of the toe. Here you go!

toe092706 Knitting Mojo

And the other side:

toe092706a Knitting Mojo

My new commuter knitting is a stealth project, so there will be no mention of it here. Just sayin’.

Comments

I try to make a point of answering most questions from the comments. Sometimes I email the commenter in response, sometimes I answer the question in the blog the next day. If you leave a comment asking a question and you post either a fictitious email address or never check your email, don’t keep leaving the same comment with the same question, nnnnnn-kay? I do have the brains (most of the time) to take “remove” or “nospam” out of an email address — that’s not what I’m talking about.

(The reason I mention this is that someone has left a comment on four separate occasions asking the same question, getting a tad more belligerent with each asking. I responded to three out of four of those comments via email. And then deleted the comments from the blog. Because I can.)

If you ask me a question the answer to which I deem is none of your business, I will ignore it. My blog, my choice. And if you persist and keep leaving the same comment, I’ll ban your ass. icon smile Knitting Mojo

Lucy is considering the advisability of leaving prank comments on my blog. Heh.

lucy092706 Knitting Mojo

Tuesday Twaddle

Wherein I attempt to answer a bunch o’ comments questions.

Jessica asked:
What kind of stitch markers do you prefer for your lacework? I can’t seem to find any that aren’t too big for smaller needles or don’t weigh a ton when I get a bunch of repeats going.

My favorites are the little red rubber rings you can get a bunch of places. Mine came from Patternworks, I think. I’ve also got black and white rubber rings. I generally mark the center paired decreases of the shawl with the black ones, and sometimes the outermost sections of the shawl with the white ones — that way the markers alert me when there’s something different going on from the “regular” lace pattern repeats.

I prefer the rubber ones to metal ones, because I find the metal ones are often tempted to fly off the needle at inopportune moments. The rubber ones are far more obedient (or lazy?) and stay put. I used the smallest size of the markers on my size 6 needles.

Betty J. asked, about the Moth:
Your edges look much more defined than on the Knitspot website. Is that because of the silk/mohair blend? The before blocking pics look hairy. But the post-blocking pics do not. Is it still hairy? Either way, gorgeous!

I don’t think in any of the photos of Moth shawls out in blogland, I’ve seen one that was blocked out the way I did mine. My edges are quite a bit more pronounced, aren’t they? Has anyone else made a moth and blocked it out like mine? Just curious.

The shawl is indeed still hairy. The mohair gives it a lovely fuzzy halo, but fortunately it does not shed. I wore it today over a black dress and there was no shedding whatsoever.

Annie asked:
I keep going over to the website to order the pattern, but hesitate because I’m not sure how difficult it is. I’m pretty new at lace knitting. What is your opinion on the difficulty level? You make it look so easy!

I don’t think that the pattern is very difficult. It is a large undertaking, but there is no single technique used in it that an enthusiastic advanced beginner could not do. The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. Go for it!

Mandella asked:
I’m glad that you wear your shawls, but how do you wear them so they look elegant? Are you just a draper, do you tie them, or do you use shawl pins? I’m asking because every time I put on a shawl my DH says I look like a hippy!

(Pssssst! Go see Mandella’s lovely Lotus Blossom shawl on her blog!)

I firmly believe that there’s nothing wrong with looking like a hippie! Me, I’m just a draper. I will sometimes use a shawl pin with a heavier shawl, but with a very delicate laceweight (like the Moth) I’m afraid I’ll damage it with a pin. I don’t know how “elegant” I look, but my co-workers are used to see me wearing lace shawls. And when it is chilly in the office (more often than not), they look at me enviously!

Teri S. asked:
Do you have another lace project waiting in the wings?

I have the pattern for the Diamond Fantasy Shawl from Sivia Harding and some Handmaiden Sea Silk earmarked for it — but I’m not sure when I’ll knit it. It may be next in the queue. Then again, it might not. icon smile Tuesday Twaddle

Knitnana asked
And what color of Jo Sharp DK Tweed is that you’re using for Keelan? Boheme perchance?

keelan092606 Tuesday Twaddle

Yep, it’s Boheme!

keelan092606a Tuesday Twaddle

Emy asked:
Just an OT question, can steeking be done using any non-superwash wool or merino? I am thinking of attempting one!

If you can cut it and it will not unravel willy-nilly, you can steek it. You might want to experiment first. If your yarn has a tendency to unravel when cut, you’ll want to stitch it like a Norwegian steek.

Another consideration is the thickness of the yarn. A steek adds bulk to the armhole. So you generally only want to steek with fairly fine yarns.

Lucy agrees.

lucy092606 Tuesday Twaddle

More of the Moth

I un-pinned the Moth early this morning, so it’s time for a photo-shoot.

moth092506 More of the Moth

Not easy to take a photo of yourself from the back. Just sayin’.

moth092506a More of the Moth

Thank you for all the nice comments on this shawl. I am very happy with it and it is going to the office with me in the morning.

moth092506b More of the Moth

Some questions:

Aubrey asked:
I have a stitch/style question – would it look funny to do a more solid-looking increase in the middle? I know alot of shawl patterns use the YO-K-YO center increase, but I personally think the solid line of holes detracts a bit from the lacework.

I think this is a matter of personal preference. I like the line of holes down the middle. Try it with a more solid increase and see what you think. icon smile More of the Moth

Sarah asked:
Does going up 2 needle sizes help with elasticity, or does it affect how the bind-off looks?

The pattern directs you to bind off loosely. I went up two needle sizes on the bind-off to make darn sure I was binding off loosely enough. And it worked.

Michelle asked:
I’m working on the Fibertrends Lace Leaf. Twice I gotten to well over 35 rows. Everythings going good. I get side-tracked and suddenly, I have one too many or one too little stitches. I’ve backed off row after row and have not had to rip and start again for the 3rd time. Is there a trick to recovering from an error. It just isn’t the same as picking up a dropped stitch on a sweater or sock. How in the heck do you know where to begin?

There are a couple of things you should do to keep your lace behaving.

First, use a lifeline — at a point where you know the pattern is correct, thread a contrasting yarn of thread (dental floss works great for this) through the live stitches. That way if you need to rip back, you can rip back to that point where you knew everything is correct, and you’ll have all your stitches live on a thread.

Another thing — separate each pattern repeat with a stitch marker. I find this extremely useful — you are only dealing with one pattern repeat at a time, and this helps you figure out where you went wrong. If you have the wrong number of stitches between two markers, you’ll know the problem is in that repeat. Until you get the hang of the lace pattern, count the stitches in each pattern repeat as you work them — or count them on the way back on the wrong side row. That way you’ll find any errors right after you make them — and they’ll be a lot easier to deal with.

The Rebirth of Keelan

After I finished the Moth, I picked up Keelan, which had been languishing for months. I decided I didn’t like it in the Rowan Scottish Tweed fingering weight. It just wasn’t what I had in mind.

So I went into the stash and found some Jo Sharp SilkRoad DK Tweed and swatched with that. Exactly what I had in mind!

keelan092506 More of the Moth

So Keelan has been reborn.

The Silkroad DK Tweed is lovely yarn — 85% wool, 10% silk, and 5% cashmere. It is extremely soft, and really doesn’t feel like wool at all. It has a soft, cottony feel to it. I’m using a 3.5mm needle and getting 20 stitches and 30 rows to 4 inches.

Forgot to Mention

Several of you asked where I got the “flock of sheep” pictured a couple of blog entries ago.

sheep092506 More of the Moth

I actually don’t know where any of them came from exactly — they were all gifts, given at different times over the years. What can I say? When you know a knitter, you give her a sheep.

Lucy prefers the concept of giving a side of salmon, but that’s just her.

lucy092506 More of the Moth

The Moth Has Landed

Yesterday afternoon at 4:35pm, I cast off the final stitch of my Wing-o-the-Moth Shawl. Here it is, pre-blocking:

moth092306 The Moth Has Landed

I used a needle two sizes larger than Ithe one I knitted the shawl with to cast off, and used the same cast off in the instructions for the Flower Basket Shawl — knit 2, then knit those 2 stitches together through back loops, then knit 1, and repear with those 2 stitches, etc.

The cast-off edge:

moth092306a The Moth Has Landed

Today at noon I soaked the shawl in cool water, and blocked it. Ta da!

moth092406 The Moth Has Landed

It took me only about 45 minutes to get it all pinned out. I used blocking wires across the top, and pinned out the bottom edge with t-pins.

moth092406a The Moth Has Landed

Pinned out, it is 88 inches across the top, and 44 inches down the back to the bottom center point. The finished dimensions in the pattern are listed as 86 inches across the top and 36 inches down the center back. But I’m an aggressive blocker. icon smile The Moth Has Landed It will shrink slightly when I un-pin it.

To recap, this is the Wing-o’-the-Moth Shawl, designed by Anne Hanson and available for sale from her here.

I knit mine from Alchemy Haiku in the Dragon colorway. I used three skeins (325 yards each), and used all but a very small bit of the last skein. I knitted my shawl with a size U.S. 6 needle, and cast it off with a U.S. size 8 needle.

The pattern and charts were very clear and well-written and easy to follow. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting this and I can’t wait to un-pin it and wear it!

Lucy got excited at the start of the blocking process, but quickly lost interest and headed off to her kitty pi for a nap.

lucy092406 The Moth Has Landed

Liam Pattern Now Available

A couple of you have asked me recently about the Liam aran sweater I designed a couple of years ago. I’ve posted that pattern for sale as well. The permanent link to the pattern for sale will stay over in the sidebar.