My current work in progress:

Pitch by Emily Greene, knit from Elsawool Cormo worsted on a US 6 needle

Archives for June 2005

Behold the Crumpled Rag


The first of no doubt many more WIP photos of the Tina Shawl.

It doesn’t look like much in progress. A sad crumpled little sack. But I am happily knitting away.

I like knitting lace in the round. I like that it forms a nice little bag on the needle — you can drop the ball of yarn inside and carry it around far more easily.

I also like that there is patterning on every round. It’s far more interesting than patterns that have a plain round in-between each lace round.

The Addi Natura needle is working out nicely. The laceweight yarn catches occasionally on the join, but not too badly. I’m using a 24-inch needle and am pretty sure I won’t feel the need to switch to a 32-incher. When you complete the body of the shawl, you have 736 stitches on the needle (an alarming thought, eh?), but the yarn is so fine I don’t see any problem with it all fitting. I think. I’ll get back to you on that.

About the red rubber stitch markers: I purchased them from Patternworks a while back. And here they are.

About the provisional cast-on that was discussed in the comments the other day — please bear in mind that it is a cast-on I have not tried, nor am familiar with, so I am at this point unable to answer questions about it or post photos of how it is done. Susanna mentioned that it is documented in the Reader’s Digest version of Montse Stanley’s book on page 75 and is called a “bind-off cast-on” and it is also in Sally Melville’s The Knit Stitch on pages 74-75, and also in Nancie Wiseman’s book of finishing techniques. Also, Veronique reported that it is clearly illustrated in Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Shawls. Thanks to both of you for supplying so many resources for this technique!

Rest assured that when I do attempt this technique I will report back here. Anything knit-related is blog-fodder as far as I’m concerned. And some stuff non-knit-related as well.

Which reminds me. Wow, thanks for all the positive haircut comments! (If you have no interest in hair and hair products, kindly skip the following.)

(And note to Stephanie: Garland at Celadon Spa cuts my hair.) I even managed this morning to blow-dry it into some semblance of what it looked like yesterday. I’ve had it cut like this in the past, and I really ought to remember that I am always happier with my hair one length, not layered. Please remind me of that the next time I look like I’m thinking about a layered cut, okay?

In answer to comments questions, while my hair is quite curly naturally, it is easily blow-dried straight. The photo yesterday was the salon blow-dry, but that was done with no styling products. If I dry my hair with a diffuser — lots of curls. Without a diffuser — smooth.



Lucy is very much a lap cat (in answer to a question in the comments). Sometimes she is content to sleep in one’s lap. Sometimes she requires that the person on whose lap she is sitting be petting her. Sometimes she requires that said petting be accomplished with both hands, not just one. And sometimes she requires that everyone in the same room as her be petting her. With both hands.

She is probably amused at how easily she bends us to her will.

Other Stupid Things I Have Done

Yesterday I confessed my ineptitude with using a crochet chain for a provisional cast-on. (Thanks, by the way, to Susanna for mentioning in yesterday’s comments the better provisional cast-on. I do have Nancie Wiseman’s book of finishing techniques — I think — so I’ll check it out there before I do my next provisional cast-on.)

Another comment reminded me of another of my past ineptitudes. Loren commented:

I had to frog my Kiri shawl this morning. Is there a special technique to use when knitting several repeats within a row? I can’t seem to keep count and do want to knit this shawl before the end of the summer.

Two words: stitch markers. Put a stitch marker in between every freaking pattern repeat. This is why I own approximately one billion stitch markers.

I used to not do this. And then when I eneded up off by a stitch, spent a whole lotta time trying to figure out where I went wrong.

Last night I picked up the stitches around the center square of Tina, and started knitting the first border pattern. My knitting is sprinkled liberally with stitch markers.

I like the little red rubber rings the best. I have some sterling silver jump rings that are nice, but they have a tendency to fly off the end of my needle if I look at them funny.

The Tina shawl has four sides. The increases are done at the four corners. I put medium-sized markers at the corners so I’ll easily recognize it when I come upon it in knitting.


I mark off the pattern repeats between the corners with the small-sized markers.


I have pinned a small coilless safety pin near the marker that marks the beginning of the round, though I could also use a different marker there.


The pattern repeats on this border are 24 stitches, so I have discrete universes of 24 stitches bordered by markers. It’s a heckuva lot easier to keep track of your pattern in small increments like this.

Sometimes the markers have to be shifted — like if they fall in the middle of a double decrease. That’s slightly annoying, but not annoying enough to make me want to stop using markers.

Vee Haf Vays of Enhancing Our Stash

In today’s mail:


Fingering and laceweight yarns from one of my favorite eBay sellers, Over the Rainbow Yarns.

Vee Haf Vays of Trying to Keep Cool

When it’s fifty billion degrees outside with 5 billion percent humidity, I am driven to desperate measures.


I get half my hair chopped off!

Lucy is sticking with her usual look.


Stash Enhancement is Good


This is yarn I purchased from Judy at Smatterings. Ten skeins of “Mallard,” which is slightly heavier than lace weight merino/silk, a total of about 1600 yards. This is gonna make some pretty lace! And a big shout out to Judy. She has beautiful yarn and gave me wonderful customer service. Thanks Judy!


This is from Joslyn’s Fiber Farm — some brindle brown laceweight from their sale page, and their Angel Hair laceweight in colorways “Plumes” and “Tropics.”

Oh, and then there is this:


Twenty-one skeins of Koigu Kersti. Ahem.

I purchased this via eBay from the lovely Erica. Erica mentioned in the item description on eBay that it would make a lovely Cromarty. You don’t have to tell me twice.



I have finished the center square. Now I need to pick up the stitches around the square so I can knit the borders. I removed the provisional cast-on at the bottom and strung the stitches onto a length of yarn. And I actually managed to not screw up the crochet chain this time — I unzipped it easily and all the little stitches obediently popped off like they are supposed to.

Sometimes when I do the crochet chain cast on and I knit into the bumps on the chain, I accidentally pick up more than I should of the crochet chain, or somehow twist it. Then I end up snipping the chain, digging it out with a needle, and all sorts of other rather inelegant gyrations. So imagine my relief at not having to go through that with over 100 stitches.

Shawl Talk

Thank you for all the lovely comments about my “Purple Haze” shawl. It’s not a terribly complicated pattern to knit, apart from the shaping to make the curved ends. But the instructions were excellent and if one pays attention, one should have no difficulties. I found no errors in the pattern.

Purple Haze came to work with me today and will reside in my office for a while. It’s just the thing for those aggressively air-conditioned days. That’s my number one use for shawls — having them in the office to throw over my shoulders when I need a bit of warmth. I sometimes use them as large scarves over my coat in the winter. Very rarely do I use one as an evening wrap, even though I’ve got a number of them that would go beautifully with formal attire. The last time I wore formal attire was in 2002. I just don’t have that sort of lifestyle.

I store my shawls folded on shelves. I do take them out periodically, unfold ’em, shake ’em out, and refold ’em.

Lucy Talk


Lucy is indeed declawed. She came to me that way. She’s pretty good about not messing with yarn and knitting anyhow. Apart from rolling around on the knitting, that is.

Who can blame her for that?

Consider It Blocked

I unpinned the “Purple Haze” shawl ( thanks for the naming idea, Alice!) when I got home today. Here it is.


And the artistic shot:


It’s not easy to photograph because it is large!

Julie asked in the comments: “I’m wondering, though – how do you keep Lucy off your lace while it’s blocking?”


I’m sorry — can you repeat the question? 😉

“Get away from me! This shawl is mine. MINE, do you hear me?”


Lucy very carefully and daintily walked around it while it was damp, but as soon as she deemed it dry enough . . . well, you see.

I’ve always had cats helping me with the blocking process — here’s my sweet Tristan helping me block the Peace Shawl (during my last Summer of Lace, 5 years ago, a couple of months before Tristan died at a ripe old age):

While blocking on a bed or a board is a good idea, this shawl measures 40 by 106 inches. Far too long to fit anywhere, really, except the floor. At least in my universe. (Sorry, I didn’t measure it pre-blocking, so can’t tell you how large it was. I’d guess about half the finished, blocked size.)

Tina Shawl

I’ve started the Tina Shawl, from Fiddlesticks Knitting. As noted in the sidebar, I’m making it from Misti Alpaca Lace and using a US 6 (4.0mm) needle.

One starts with the center square, and uses a provisional cast-on, as one will be picking up stitches all around the square and knitting the borders in the round. I used a crochet chain cast-on.


The Misti Alpace Lace yarn is lovely — very soft and silky with just a bit of a halo of fuzz. It was a bit fiddly at first knitting this laceweight yarn with a size 6 needle, but I quickly got used to it. I tried using an Inox Express needle, but it was very slippery, alarmingly so. I quickly went back to my Addi Natura (bamboo) needle and am happy with it.


Now I’m impatiently wanting to get started on the borders, because I know they will take freaking forever to complete!

Button Contest Winner

The people have spoken! The winner of the Summer of Lace Button contest is Sammi, who submitted this button.

Sammi wins this:


425m of Opal Handpaint in shades of green. It would be great for a lace scarf, or socks.

Thanks to everyone who entered. All the buttons are great, and the voting was very close, I think.

Deborah Newton Lace Shawl

I finished the shawl on Friday. Here’s what it looked like pre-blocking.


I blocked it this afternoon. First, it relaxed in warm water w/ a mild detergent for 20 minutes.


I rinsed it carefully and gently squeezed out as much water as possible, then pinned it out on my carpet.


All I did was to pull out the points of the edging and anchor them down with T-pins. I do own blocking wires and thought I might use them in the straight edges of the shawl, but ended up not doing so.


I spent about half an hour crawling around on the floor, pinning and repinning the points to make sure the shawl was spread out evenly (ow, my back!). From time to time I measured across it to make sure I was getting an even width throughout.


It’s about 40 inches in width, and 106 inches long. The pattern lists the finished size as 40 by 80 inches. Mine is much longer, for some reason. I did the prescribed number of repeats so I’m not sure where the extra length came from. Possibly some difference in the yarn I used as opposed to the yarn used for the original.


Lucy is not sure what she thinks about this.


I started the Tina shawl — pix tomorrow!