My current work in progress:

Tawney Sweater,by Jenni Barrett, knit from MadelineTosh Tosh Sock, using 3.25mm and 3.5mm needles.

Archives for August 2010

Stitch Markers

Reader Carolyn asked for stitch marker recommendations. These are my favorite:

They are the little rubber rings made by Clover. They come in a package like this:

The package contains two sizes of markers, and while it says the small ones are good for needle sizes up to U.S. 5, I am using them with no problem whatsoever on my size 7 needles.

I like the rubber rings because they tend to stay put until I move them. some metal rings I have want to fly off the needle point with only the slightest provocation. I do have a lovely assortment of fancy stitch markers that I use, but I like to use them sparingly — perhaps one at the start of a round.

And this is a nice segue into a discussion of stitch markers on your pi shawl.

You don’t  need to buy ring markers if you don’t already have them — you can simply use small lengths of yarn in a contrasting color tied into loops. another idea is rings cut from a jumbo drinking straw.

You also don’t need to mark every single pattern repeat on your pi.

Throughout this design, the pattern repeats are either 6 or 9 stitches. When we get a little further along in the increases and the total number of stitches is in the hundreds, you will find yourself needing a whole heckuva lot of markers if you want to mark every repeat. I find that putting a marker every 18 stitches is sufficient — that’s three of the 6-stitch pattern repeats and two of the 9-stitch repeats. (Did you see what I did there? I figured out those numbers quickly and in my head.)

As you can see, Lucy is visibly impressed by my prowess with numbers.

Don’t forget — Part Two of the Shetland Pi is coming tomorrow.


I can see by checking Ravelry that a bunch of you have finished Part One of the Shetland Pi Shawl already. I love seeing everyone’s progress and it’s fun to see what yarns you are using. So many pretty pretty pis out there! That reminds me — a thread for this project was started in the WendyKnits group on Ravelry. If you are knitting along, please feel free to post there.

If you have not cast on yet, don’t feel like you will be left behind those of us who started already. The first two parts go pretty quickly, and Part Three will not be released until next Sunday. It won’t take long to catch up! And of course you don’t have to knit along with the majority — you can do this at your own pace whenever you want.

Here is my Part One:

Stay tuned for Part Two on Wednesday!

There have been a few questions about yarn amounts if you are using a different weight yarn than I. I can offer you some approximations, based on my experience with knitting shawls of this size. Remember, however, that these are just approximate numbers because the amount of yarn you use will depend on your gauge and needle size and the differences between knitters.

  • Laceweight — 1200 – 1300 yards
  • Fingering weight — 1300 – 1400 yards
  • Sport/DK weight — 1500 – 1600 yards
  • Worsted weight — 1600 – 1700 yards

If, when you get towards the end of the shawl (say, halfway through Part Four) and you think that you are going to have a lot of yarn left over, or if you think you are running low, you can adjust by doing more or fewer pattern repeats than the pattern calls for. Part Four is the largest chunk of knitting — over 50 rounds at 576 stitches per round. Part Five consists of an edging pattern of approximately 20 rounds, and that can be very easily adjusted (and was designed to be customized so that you can use more or less yarn as needed). We can talk about that when we get there.

When all the clues have been issued, I’ll put them all together in one pdf and make it available here on my Free Patterns page (Part One of the pattern is already listed there) and because there was a request for it, I’ll make it a Ravelry download as well so those of you who want to keep it in your Ravelry libraries can do so.

Oh, and I fixed the pdf of Part One so that the links I put in the document should now work for you.

I aim to please. 😉

More Pi!

Yesterday I blocked my EZ 100th Anniversary Pi (Gull Wing version), which I knit from Wollmeise Lacegarn in the “Single Malt” colorway. Before blocking it was approximately 46″ across.

After blocking, it grew to 68″ across.

And I used two-thirds of my skein of Wollmeise.

I’ve got over 500 yards remaining in the skein, which means I can use it to knit another small shawl. Since I love this colorway, this makes me very happy indeed.

It took less than 5 hours for the shawl to dry completely. Usually I will leave a shawl pinned out a full 24 hours, just to make sure it is good and dry. But I unpinned this baby yesterday afternoon because it was taking up so much floor space and was difficult to walk around. It was bone dry, anyhow.

And interestingly, Lucy slept through the whole blocking process. (Rest assured that she was awake later and happy to play, though!)

I get questions from time to time about how I keep Lucy from bothering my yarn and knitting. The only time Lucy ever shows any interest in my knitting is when I lay it down on the floor to photograph it or block it, and then she simply lies on it.

Lucy sez:

“Well don’t tell them all my secrets!”

Ready, Steady, Go!

It is time! Time for Part One of the Shetland Pi Shawl! Get yours here (It’s in pdf format).

Because Part One is relatively small and will not take too long to knit, I will be posting Part Two on Wednesday afternoon (August 18). Part Two also does not involve much knitting , so Part Three will be posted next Sunday (August 22). Then Parts Four and five will be posted on the following Sundays.

To recap, each part will be posted on the following dates:

  • Paret One – Sunday, August 15
  • Part Two – Wednesday, August 18
  • Part Three – Sunday August 22
  • Part Four – Sunday, August 29
  • Part Five – Sunday, September 5

Of course you can start anytime you want — earlier pieces of the pattern will not go away, and the url for each pdf will be posted on the Shetland Pi Ravelry page.

ETA: Some of you are having trouble opening the “help” links in the pdf. Here they are:

You may find it easier to work the first round if you lay your work down on a cushion or pillow. See my August 4, 2010 blog post for a discussion of an easy way to start a circular shawl.

An alternative cast-on you can use is Emily Ocker’s Cast-on, which is documented in photos here.

Another alternative that looks very simple is the “Belly Button Circular cast-on” documented here.

There are many videos available online that demonstrate circular cast-ons. Here is a listing of videos I found via a Google search.

There were a couple of Shawl-Related Questions in the comments lately.

Sally asked:

How do you wear this circular shawl? Do you fold over a portion and put that over your shoulders?

Exactly. 🙂

You could also use it as an afghan or a lap blanket or a baby blanket.

Hannah asked a multi-part question:

How do you pin a wet shawl to the carpet? Will it harm the carpet? How long would it take to dry?

I block most of my lace by pinning it directly to the carpet and don’t bother using my foam blocks.

I have wall-to-wall carpet with nice thick padding underneath, so the t-pins sink in quite securely. I have been doing this as long as I have lived in this condo (which I bought in May 1994) and have  done no harm to my carpet by using it as a blocking board.

How long it takes to dry depends on how soaked the fiber is, how warm it is and how humid the air is, of course. Probably different fibers dry at a different rate if speed as well. But my experience is that a blocked piece dries in as little as a few hours, and at most has never taken more than 24 hours to dry.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to block this:

Lucy has been resting up so she’ll be ready to help.

Bound and Determined

Today I am binding off my EZ 100th Anniversary Shawl.

I’ll blog the pre- and post-blocking measurements (and photos of course) after blocking. I did think I would block it tonight, but remembered that my cleaning lady changed days this week and will be coming tomorrow. It probably would not be a good idea to have a gigantic circular shawl pinned to the living room carpet while she is trying to vacuum, right? So I guess I’ll hold off on blocking until the weekend.

I am not planning on using my foam blocks to block this because I don’t think I have enough of them to make a square big enough to accommodate this shawl. So it will be pinned directly to the carpet.

Shetland Pi Shaw KAL

Are y’all ready? Needles poised? The KAL will begin on Sunday, August 15. I will post Part One of the pattern then. Noon-ish, eastern time.

I’ve added this design to Ravelry, so you can queue it if you like:

There was a question in the comments asking whether the pattern is charted or written out. I’m providing both charts and written out instructions for this. If you are a “written-out” only knitter and want to learn to knit from charts, this is a great opportunity to do so. The chart for each pattern section is pretty small, so it won’t be overwhelming.

I’m just sayin’ . . .

I have a stealth project I’m working on, so I have something to knit until the KAL starts.


It’s the Lucy Lap-Cam!

Yarn and Needles Questions and Answers

There have been some questions over the past few days that I will attempt to answer today.

Hannah said:

My swatch is too big! Should I go down a size or two in needles? Do we want to match your gauge? In other words, if I use a fingering weight yarn and the gauge is off, will the end result look terrible?

You don’t need to match my swatch — unless you want to. The objective is to have a swatch that you like in terms of size and lacyness. If you knit up a swatch, block it, and it is HUGE and the lace is too open and sloppy looking, then do try again with a smaller needle. But if you like the way your blocked swatch looks, then you are good.

Everyone knits a little differently, so you very well may need to use a different needle size than I did (I used a U.S. size 7 — 4.5mm — for my swatch).

Dr. Jackie asked:

Do you think the pattern would be better in a dark or light color, or doesn’t it matter?

I don’t think it matters. I think the pattern will show up very nicely in both light and dark colorways.

Catherine asked:

Would you consider this KAL fit for a lace beginner? Also, I’m not really fond of circular needles. Would it be possible to knit this project on double point needles?

I think a beginner could do this shawl. None of the lace patterns are difficult. There are no particularly tricky techniques. I think the most fiddly part of the shawl is the cast-on, and that is easily conquered.

But knitting the whole thing on double-pointed needles? I would not recommend this. You would need quite a few needles to be able to fit all the stitches on once you have done the final increase. And then you have the danger of dropping stitches off the ends of all those needles every time you pick the piece up to work on it. I know I’d have a problem with that. If you want to give this project a try, I strongly encourage you to give circular needles a try. You start out knitting on double-points, and you can work on those needles until you have a fairly good-sized piece, then switch to a circular. I don’t know what your objection to circulars is, but transferring a piece in progress to a circular might be more pleasant for you then past experience, if your experience was starting a piece on a circular.

Celestine commented:

I have some wonderful cashmere and silk in my stash. I have never knit with either fiber. Do they both work for lace?

Absolutely! You can definitely use non-wool yarns. Another good idea would be sea silk, if you happen to have a bunch of that.

LoriAngela commented:

I ordered yarn based on the gauge. I’m worried it’s more lace weight than fingering because of the vague terms.

I wouldn’t worry about it. Once you get your yarn, knit a swatch and see what you think of the results. That’s the beauty of a project like this — it will work for many different yarn weights!

Elianastar said:

I’ve got six 440yd hands of Knit Picks Gossamer in Sweet Pea (discontinued yarn/color) lace weight yarn.

I took a look at this yarn and think it would work very well for this project. The Ravelry link to projects knit with that colorway that Elianastar left in the comments is here. Isn’t it pretty? 🙂

Beth said:

I ordered Kauni after you did your blue/ browns shawl and wondering if that will work.

Absolutely! I think a self-striping yarn like Kauni would be great fun for this project!

I’m planning on posting the first part of the Shetland Pi on Sunday. Stay tuned . . .

In Current Pi News

I am coming down the home stretch on the EZ Anniversary Pi. Just a few rows left to go!

It’s a good thing, because photos of it on the needles are not particularly inspiring, are they?

And Lucy is still stalking her fuzzy rat.