My current work in progress:

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

Archives for August 2005

Blog Days of Summer

I note that there is a fair bit of blog ennui going on in the knitblog universe. No surprise, I think, considering that we are nearing the end of August.

The end of August seems to me to be a difficult time for knitters. Summer is winding down and we anxiously look forward to fall and winter knitting, yet often the weather is still too damned hot to do anything about it.

Although in DC, we are having a stretch of delightfully cooler weather.

My solution is, of course, to knit lace.

I’ve got more than half of the edging completed on my Woodland shawl, and have reached the point where I am thinking: “Is it live or is it Memorex?” No, what I’m really thinking is “Is it lace or is it crap?”


Only blocking will answer that question. And I predict that I’ll block this baby tomorrow night.

Speaking of blocking, Caroline asked the other day:
I was wondering the other day if you wash your shawls – I have several that I drag back and forth to work and a couple are starting to look a little dingy, but the idea of a complete reblock is sort of discouraging. Do you do that?

I haven’t done so yet, but I suppose I will at some point, and I’m not looking forward to it. My shawls either stay at the office or stay at home, so fortunately there is no need to wash any of them. Yet.

And Bronwyn asked:
It seems that you go through the second type project obsession… I am of the first type, where I do a lace project, then a pair of socks, then a sweater, maybe a small item or two, then lace again. Whereas you get really into one thing for a reasonably long period, then move on to something else. Just curious if this is correct.

I do seem to immerse myself completely in one thing and then do nothing but that until I move on to something else. I know I’m not done with lace yet, but it is entirely possible that I feel a fair isle phase coming on . . .

Oh, Balls!

There’s been some discussion in my comments about electric ballwinders. A commenter mentioned that Schact is no longer selling the electric winder and is referring people to the manufacturer’s website, here.

Stasia asked:
Do you use some sort of “center” on your ballwinder so that your center-pull laceweight balls don’t collapse? Or do you let them “cure” a bit on the winder before removing them, so they’re stable?

I just pull them off the winder and the “core” sort of fills in. And I use the yarn from the outside of the ball, not the inside. I realize that I might be in the minority in this, but I almost always knit from the outside of balls wound on a ballwinder. I prefer that the yarn remain in a nice firm ball while I use it.


In Case You Wondered

On my being busy, Andrea asked:
Is part of the stuff you’re doing book-related? We’re getting close, aren’t we? Can’t wait to see it!

Why, yes, as it happens, it is. I’m spending some evenings doing the last minor edits, before the book goes off to be put into production. Eeeeeeee!

As for getting close, the publication date is next May. So it depends on your definition of “close,” I’d say. 🙂

In Case You Wondered, Part Deux

In Swedish you say Imse Vimse spindel instead of Inky Dinky spider.

What does Lucy Think?


Lucy would like Rebekah to know that while the idea of a little cap made from feathers is quite alluring, she doesn’t think she could handle the excitement!


I’m up to my eyeballs in stuff — no time for a lengthy blog entry.

I do, however, have a progress photo (complete with photo stylist):


I’ve just started knitting the edging onto the Woodland Shawl.

While I don’t have 17 billion repeats of the pattern to do (as I would if this were a square shawl), I still have 8.5 billion repeats to do. So I plan on moaning about that as much as possible.

And I’ve started thinking about my next lace shawl. I want to use the lovely alpaca laceweight L-B got me at Holly Spring Homespun. It’s in shades of lavender so I’m thinking Spring Flowers . . .

Here’s the alpaca, lounging on the ball winder.


I’ll hopefully have more coherent bloginess tomorrow.

In the meantime, Lucy is holding out hope for a Catnip Shawl.


Yay! For Electric Ballwinders

When I purchased my electric ballwinder a while back (two years now?) I thought it was a bit of a frivolous purchase. But that is so not the case!

I bought the larger size winder (the link to the exact model I bought is in yesterday’s blog entry) and have not regretted it for a minute. It has adjustable tension, and will wind a ball up to 8 ounces.

Therefore, yes, I can wind an entire skein of Helen’s Laces (1250 yards) into one ball on it. This does save a lot of wear and tear on the old arm.

I am very careful not to twist the skein as I put it on my swift, so that it will come off easily when I turn on the ballwinder. But after that, said ballwinder does all the work — I just stay nearby so that I can switch it off quickly should the process hit a snag.

Size Matters

Erin asked:
Is there a standard width that you should shoot for on shawls? I’m getting close to finishing the Os and Vs shawl from Martha Waterman’s Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls, and she says her circle was 34″ across, which seems a bit small to me. Mine looks like it will end up closer to 42-44″ across. How do you know what sizes to shoot for?

It depends on the size of the recipient, and how big you want the shawl to be. Off the top of my head, I think most square shawls range from 54 to 60″ square.

And I think a good rule of thumb for triangle shawls is to make them as wide across the long edge as the recipient is tall. There’s a bit of advice in the Waterman book, btw, that says to make the long edge the same as the recipient’s wngspan, as it were.

Speaking of Shawls

I’m nearing the end of the “body” of the Woodland shawl — soon I’ll be knitting the edging.


(I see my photo stylist got in the shot there.)


We Are Not JLo

Stinkerbell asked:
Why the triangle shawl? Living in Euro-Land people here wear the scarf style/pashmina/stoles all the time. And I am tempted to make one in that style. But triangle…. I don’t know how to wear it. I mean it points in a direction and at an anatomical part that I am not sure I should be drawing attention to anymore… Non?

My dear Tink, you do make an excellent point. We are not JLo. We do not make a habit of featuring . . . ahem . . . that part of our anatomy. Nor (at least in my particular case) should we.

However, I do love triangular shawls. Fortunately, most of the triangular shawls that I have made are long enough so they adequately cover the derriere.

Marlena asked:
Seeing your hank of Helen’s Lace reminded me of a question: how do you wind your laceweight yarn? I am about to embark on my first lace projects (inspired by your summer of lace), and don’t know if it would be wise to use my ballwinder and swift for the task.

Not only do I use my swift and ballwinder to wind laceweight yarn, but I use an electric ballwinder. And have had no problems whatsoever. (My ballwinder is the Schacht 8 oz ballwinder shown here.) I use the electric winder for almost everything. Exceptions are skeins that are tangled, very fragile yarns, or mohair.

Jon asked:
I won 1000 yds of laceweight cashmere at Stitches Midwest and want to knit some lace for my mother. I’ve never really done lace knitting before and I want some thing extra-ordinary for her.

Do you have any suggestions for a pattern that’s fairly easy and will use that amount?

1000 yards of laceweight cashmere . . . sigh . . .

How about the Flower Basket Shawl from Fiber Trends? According to the pattern, for a small shawl 34″ deep by 68 ” across the top you need 750 yards of laceweight and for the large shawl 45″ deep by 90″ across the top you need 1100 yards. The large size seems pretty huge to me — if your mom is petite, you could definitely get away with making the smaller shawl. Or you could possibly do one in-between small and large.

Another idea is the Leaf Lace shawl — also from Fiber Trends.

Even More Stash Enhancement

Last week I got my kit to knit Dew that I ordered from Kim Hargreaves. Mailed from the U.K. on August 9, it reached my post office (package was registered so I went to the P.O. to sign for it) on August 17. Pretty speedy shipping.

The kit came packed in a nice white box, lined with tissue paper and tied with white ribbon — lovely presentation!

It includes the pattern printed on nice heavy stock, the yarn in the “meadow” colorway that I selected, a Kim Hargreaves label, and matching beads, which are used in the flower corsage. It looks lovely and I’m bettng I’ll start knitting it as soon as the weather cools down some.


In the meantime, I am knitting away on the Woodland Shawl.


And Lucy cares not one bit whether her butt looks big.


Designing a Shawl: Dumb Luck or Forethought?

Liz asked:
I’ve been wondering, when you’re designing your own shawls, how do you determine when to start the bottom border and/or knitted-on edging? I have a shawl on my back burner that I’m working up with a finite amount of yarn. I haven’t been working on it because I’m not sure how to figure out when to end the body and move on to the edging without running out of yarn.

As a side question, when doing a knitted-on edging, do you just jump right in? Or is there a system to matching the edging to the shawl body? Do you just knit the edging till you get to the end of the body, not worrying about where you are in the edging pattern?

Good questions!

I basically know how much yarn it will take to knit a triangular shawl of the size I am making with a knitted-on edging. When I’m done, I’ll have a more exact idea. There is guesswork involved!

As for creating the knitted on edging, I do plan ahead. I make sure that my edging pattern repeats match the number of stitches that I have on the bottom edge. I take into allowance that when I get to the center point of the shawl, I am going to want to do twice as many edging rows for a couple of repeats so that the edging will be full enough to lie flat around the point when blocked.

Here’s a not-particularly-extreme close-up of the Woodland shawl:


Clare asked:
Have you ever attempted to block (other than very gently) any of the rowanspun yarns? My instincts are saying that this probably isn’t the yarn for a lace project, but I love the feel and drape of the yarn.

The only Rowan yarn I’ve used for a shawl is the Yorkshire Tweed 4-ply, which I used for the Deborah Newton shawl a couple of months ago. It blocked out beautifully.

Stash Enhancement!

I caved in and bought a skein of Helen’s Laces in the oh-so-yummy Aslan colorway last night at Knit Happens.


And when I got home last night, this was waiting in my mailbox:


That would be two skeins (220 yards each) of hand-dyed fingering weight qivuit in the Lupine colorway. From Caryll’s Designs.

I plan to use this to knit a lace scarf for the Qivuit Knit-along I joined a while back. The knit-along starts the beginning of September. I had planned on spinning my qivuit roving and using that, but I know I’m not going to get that done before September. So I’ll save that for later.

So . . . 440 yards of fingering weight qivuit. I may make up my own scarf pattern for this, or thumb through the ones I’ve already got and see if something catches my fancy.

Lucy Sez