Some time ago (late March, in fact) I cast on for Martina Behm’s Nuvem using some gorgeous cobweb silk from Solstice Yarns. I’ve been knitting away at it on and off since then, but I’m not really happy with it.
I’ve been following the pattern directions and knitting in the round on two circular needles, which isn’t normally my preferred method. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not used to the technique, or if it’s just that the weight of the hanging spare needle is too much for such fine yarn knitted at a loose-ish gauge, but I’ve ended up with huge ladders at the joins between the needles.
I’ve just done what I should have done ages ago, and moved the shawl from two needles to one (and have used one of the really flexible ChiaoGoo Spin cables, too), but that’s not going to do anything about the ladders that are already there. And people keep saying “oh, don’t worry, they’ll block out”, but I’m not sure they will. It’s taken me three months to knit 40g of the yarn (though admittedly I have mostly been knitting other things during that three months), but I don’t want to spend another three months knitting the rest only to end up with a shawl I’m not happy with. So I’m seriously considering ripping the whole thing out and starting again. Is that completely insane? What would you do? Can anyone show me documentary evidence of ladders that big blocking out?
Edit – so, Rachel is a genius and suggested hooking the ladders up to create an extra stitch. I wasn’t sure it would work, but I dug out a teeny-weeny crochet hook anyway, and blow me if it hasn’t worked! And I don’t think a couple of extra stitches are going to be a problem in this kind of a shawl. Thanks, Rachel, you’re a star!
A few months ago I bought a skein of rainbow gradient-dyed sock yarn from the Knitting Goddess. I knew straight away that I wanted to knit a semi-circular shawl that would show off the rainbow colours, and Patricia Martin’s Mizzle shawl seemed like the perfect pattern; the right shape, an appropriately meteorological name, and it even fit quite neatly into my A to Z of shawls.
It’s quite a simple pattern, though I did have to rip back several rows when I realised that I had been adding extra yarnovers at the ends of the decorative yarnover/k2tog rows. I kept repeating the stocking stitch/garter stitch and yarnover sections until I didn’t think I had enough yarn left for another repeat, and then did the ribbed edging until I had almost run out of yarn. I was a bit worried that I might not quite have enough for the bind-off but in fact I had a few metres left, though I don’t think it would have been enough for another row.
I was worried it would be a bit small, but it’s come out a nice size. I do find semi-circular shawls very easy to wear wrapped round my shoulders, and I love having a rainbow to wear!
After nearly five months, my Lady Heather is finished.
It was slow going to begin with, because the pattern is very intricate and it took me a long to really feel confident, though the second half went a lot faster and it would have been finished about a month ago if July hadn’t been so hot I couldn’t bear to work on it. I actually finished the knitting last week, but it’s been blocking since then.
It’s come out at a smidgen under eight feet long by two feet wide, so it’s really not surprising that it took a long time to knit. The yarn is BFL 4-ply from Ripples Crafts and I used 212g (I had two 150g skeins so I have enough left for some socks, or maybe a hat). It’s quite a woolly yarn, but not fuzzy, so the stitch pattern shows beautifully, and the result is a wrap that is lightweight but will still be warm to wear.
The pattern has instructions to sew buttons on to the shawl so it can be worn as a cardigan or shrug, and I did buy some purple shell buttons to put on mine, but it’s come out long enough that I think it would be difficult to wear it as anything other than a wrap, and I’m a bit worried about my ability to sew the buttons on neatly anyway, so I’ve decided not to bother with them. It’s not as though I don’t wear shawls as shawls a lot anyway!
Two years in to my A-Z shawl challenge and I’ve reached K, for which I decided on Katika by Julie Nandorfy, a free pattern on Ravelry that I’d favourited a while ago.
It’s a very straightforward pattern, based on the same principle as the very popular Baktus scarf: you start at one end, increase until you’ve used about half your yarn, then decrease at the same rate so you end up with a long, shallow triangle. This version has a pretty scalloped lace edging, and an integral i-cord finish to the top edge which gives a lovely neat finish.
The yarn is Tenby, from the Welsh dyer Cariad Yarns; it’s a merino/cashmere/nylon blend which makes a lovely cosy shawl, and I love the mix of colours in this skein, which remind me of the colours you see shimmering on split petrol.
The shape of the shawl makes it more scarf-like than shawl-like to wear wrapped round my neck, though it also drapes very nicely over my shoulders if I wanted to wear it that way.
I’d be lying if I said this was going to be my new Favourite Shawl Ever; there are several others I like better, but this isn’t bad and is definitely nice and cosy. And it was a quick, relaxing but not boring knit at a time of year when I didn’t really have the mental energy to tackle anything too complicated.
I’m not sure if I have any more mental energy now; L is Anna Richardson’s Lady Heather which I think may take me a while. Even if I didn’t have a geeky urge to cast on for a Bigger On The Inside at 6:15 this Saturday…
When I was crocheting the Juliana shawl I was a little bit worried about the size. I know crochet uses more yarn than knitting, and despite using most of two skeins of sock yarn, it still seemed quite small; when I’d finished it was only just wide enough to wrap round my neck. Still, I thought I could probably stretch it a bit bigger with blocking. So I blocked it over the weekend.
So, it turned out that blocking did more than just ‘stretch it a bit’. Somehow it made it go from a smallish shawl which could drape comfortably over the back of an armchair to one that barely fit on a 4-foot square blocking mat. It’s gone from being fairly solid and scrunched up to something light and airy and absolutely gorgeous, and I am so pleased with it.
Given that I was having lunch with crochet supremo Laura today, I couldn’t resist showing off!
Shawl – Juliana
Shawl pin – Purlescence
Dress – East
Boots – Duo
I’m on holiday this week, which means I’ve basically been spending my time listening to Radio 4, watching re-runs of Poirot and knitting and crocheting. And that means that once again I find myself WIP-free. I finished the Juliana wrap on Monday:
It still needs blocking, and will get a proper post once that’s done, but I’m really impressed I managed to crochet something so big (and I don’t think the mistakes in the mesh really show).
And then today I finished yet another pair of Earl Greys for T:
These are in self-striping colour-block yarn from The Knitting Goddess. The yarn came wound into cakes with the colours going in opposite directions, and I like the quirkiness of similar-but-different socks so I left them that way.
And I still have several days of holiday left. I’m off to cast on something new!
Recently I have found myself wearing Galathea and Godiva a lot; the long narrow shapes lend themselves to being worn as scarves which sit neatly within the open front of a jacket, where the larger shawls/wraps look a little strange (particularly over jackets with more structured shoulders). And it’s been cold enough that I’ve wanted jackets most days.
Shawl – Godiva
Jacket and dress – East
Boots – Duo
When it gets a bit warmer, though, I’ll probably leave the jackets at home more often and just wear shawls over my work dresses, so bigger shawls that cover my shoulders will be best. Semi-circles like Citron, Hypernova and Isaura work brilliantly here, but so does Elektra’s diamond shape.
For casual wear, I like smaller shawls I can wear wrapped round my neck; shallow trianges are my favourites.
And I could really do with some summer shawls or scarves, in non-wool yarns (I can’t wear wool at all in hot weather, even in blends, it just feels suffocating). I’ve accumulated quite a nice little collection of 4-ply and laceweight yarns in silk and cotton and even linen and pure bamboo. I suspect long and narrow is going to be best here; I want things I can just drape round my neck more as decoration than for warmth. Basically a handknitted replacement for the cheap viscose ‘pashminas’ I’ve been wearing for years.
Clearly, I need lots and lots of shawls. Which is just as well, as I’m not even halfway through the A-Z yet!
After spending all of January with only one knitting project on the go at a time, today I threw caution to the winds and cast on not one but two new projects (in addition to the Doctor Foster socks I started last weekend).
I finally found a J-shawl I liked. It took me a while, because my Ravelry pattern search is set to return only knitting patterns, and it turns out that the shawl I want to make is Juliana.
I’m not much of a crocheter, but I do admire Laura‘s lovely shawls, and I know I can manage the basic stitches. It remains to be seen if I will actually manage to crochet an entire shawl, of course!
I also cast on for this vintage snood for my friend S, who isn’t a knitter but had spotted the pattern on eBay and been rather taken with it.
The original pattern calls for ‘lingerie braid'; thanks to a suggestion from Jane I’m using Colinette Giotto which I think is rather effective at getting the frilly effect.
I finished a pair of socks on Thursday which had been my only knitting project for the previous two weeks; they’re my dad’s birthday present and his birthday is on the 22nd, so I didn’t really have time to work on anything else.
They’re basic top-down socks in a 3×1 rib with a plain knit row every sixth row and each rib section offset by two stitches from the one before, giving an interesting texture which looks like more of a brickwork pattern when stretched. I used just under 100g of Yarn Yard Bonny in brick red (which is what suggested the brick pattern to me). I was quite impressed that I managed to knit a pair of men’s socks in two weeks!
Since then, though, I’ve spent the weekend dithering about what to knit now. Having spent the last few weeks of 2012 knitting Christmas presents, and then finishing up WIPs, and then started this year with a birthday present, I’m overwhelmed by choice. At first, I cast on for a pair of Glasgow School Mitts in some lovely purply merino T gave me for Christmas, but it seemed ridiculous to be knitting fingerless gloves when we have several inches of snow and the weather isn’t forecast to get above freezing at all in the next five days. So I thought maybe I’d knit some new flip-top mittens to go with the fleece-lined Boden mac I bought just before Christmas (I got the grey with pink and orange flowers), as my purple striped Podsters don’t really go with it at all, and then spent most of yesterday evening swithering between more Podsters and Broad Street Mittens with a flip thumb. I cast on Broad Streets first, then decided to do Podsters with bits of the Broad Street pattern added, and then realised that the Podster pattern has been substantially updated anyway so only really needs a bit of tweaking here and there anyway.
And then I thought I’d start the next of the A to Z of shawls, and cast on for Juno Regina in purple merino/cashmere/silk laceweight. Which was fine until I dropped a stitch in the second repeat of Chart B and had to unravel the whole thing, and thought that maybe I didn’t want to knit something where a large chunk of the instructions read ‘repeat these two rows for 42 inches’ anyway. So I wound a skein of saffron-yellow Yarn Yard Crannog for the Japanese Garden Shawl, and then decided I wasn’t really sure I wanted to knit that at all.
Still, at least I got quite a bit of my first mitten knitted.
Given that I seemed to be having a dropping-stitches day, it was probably just as well to stick to basic rib and stocking stitch rather than attempting lace. But I’m still not sure what I want my next big project(s) to be. I am generally less than inspired by the choice of shawl patterns beginning with J, and indeed K, which does make me wonder whether I really want to carry on with the A to Z challenge (it was a lovely idea, but when there are lots of patterns I definitely want to knit, why waste time knitting things I feel meh about?). And I’m wondering about a cardigan – possibly Pilkington in my Skein Queen Voluptuous – but I’m not sure that late January isn’t too late to start knitting woolly cardigans really. Though it definitely feels too early for summery things!
Oh well. Mittens it is, then.
I finished my Isaura on Christmas Day. I used 78g of Yarn Yard Spinel (80% wool, 20% silk) and knitted 8 wedges rather than the 6 specified by the pattern to make it a bit more than a semicircle. It looked like a small scrappy thing pre-blocking, but after blocking it had pretty much doubled in size and is light and floaty and lovely.
I’m very pleased with it, and actually I don’t think I look that bad in tangerine after all!