Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Banned from planes again?

Great story about a woman's knitting needle exploding as she was using it....

It's just absurd enough to be true. There's even a plausible science-y explanation.

That doesn't stop the conspiracy theorists and rumours, though... "space aliens"?

I'm just worried that the TSA will hear about this and ban knitting needles from planes again.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Lace Designing!

I'm chosing to blame this on Cheryl Oberle and Barbara Walker, rather than Denny.

As I get into the zen of it, as I get more familiar with the lace pattern of the Highland Shawl, I'm able to think more about the shape of the stitch patterns, rather than just trying to figure out what comes next in a row. And as I do that, I think about what might happen if I do a left-leaning decrease rather than a right-leaning decrease, or what might happen if I put the yarnover before rather than after the decrease... and hey presto! I'm designing lace.

The Highland Shawl continues apace, and with it, in red, you see the start of an idea upon which I am noodling.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Correction - Oops!

The fingering weight yarn for the lovely Cat's Paw shawl actually came from Hopeful Farms, not Woolly Acres as I'd previously mentioned.

Thanks -- and apologies -- to Michele and Gil of Hopeful Farms.

Monday, August 21, 2006

It's Official

I am a lace knitter. I bought blocking wires.

I blame Denny.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Ribwarmer is on Hold

So the answer is indeed a heavier yarn. Emma Jane proved it. Although she did confess that she often plays fast and loose with gauge... with sometimes hilarious results... in this case, she got it right.

LK doesn't have Lamb's Pride in the colour I want, so I've ordered it, and will be forced to focus on one of my other existing projects until it arrives.

That's not a bad thing.

What is on my needles right now?

For Boring TV:
There's the Highland Lace Shawl. Requires much attention.

For Exciting TV and Car Journeys:
Requires little attention, but is large and hard to carry around: a feather-and-fan shawl in some hitherto abandoned cast-off Fleece Artist Country Wool.

For Commuting:
Small and requires no attention at all: rainbow socks.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Thanks to a chat with Abby, I solved the problem. The yarn required for the ribwarmer is a heavy, heavy worsted.

I just swatched with Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted on 5mm needles and it matches the cable pattern gauge.

The rib pattern gauge has got to be the misprint.

Wahoo! Off to buy some more yarn! The good news is I know it will knit up very quickly.


They don't call it "tension" for nothing.

The yarn substitution I made for the ribwarmer isn't working. In a big way.

First all, it's pretty clear that the original yarn must be an aran, not a worsted. That, I can handle.

But I'm still hugely puzzled about the difference in row gauge across the two stitch patterns.

A k4 p4 rib should be 18 sts/24 rows when lightly stretched... that's basically st st, so that's a perfect aran.

But then a 8-row cable pattern with the same yarn, same needles should have 16 rows to 3 inches. Which is 21.3 rows for 4 inches. WTF? It's got to be a typo, must be 16 rows to 2 inches.

I spent some time with the schematic, and I'm even more puzzled.

10 repeats of a second 8-row cable pattern, essentially the same as the other one, should provide 15 inches. Which means that they're serious about the 16 rows to 3 inches thing. I have NO idea how this is supposed to work.

Am I missing something about the behaviour of cable patterns that the row gauge changes so radically? I thought I was pretty good at this stuff, pretty smart.


Thursday, August 17, 2006


I got distracted.

The new fall Vogue Knitting has this faboo little cable vesty shrug ribwarmer thing.

I'd seen someone wearing something like it last year, sketched it out as a possible design project, and then promptly forgot about it.

In my recent survey the pre-fall offerings in my local megamall, I saw and tried on a similar thing. It was indeed as stylish on as I thought it would be.

So I hurried my butt over to LK, picked up the mag and some yarn, and cast on.

I bought Nashau "Julia". The gauge seems slightly off what the pattern calls for. The manufacturer of the original yarn says it's a worsted weight; other sites suggest it's an aran.

I'm a bit suspicious, because there's wildy different row gauges given for the two (not that) different cable patterns. One gives 24 rows/4 inches, another gives 16 rows/3 inches. That doesn't feel right to me.

We shall see how this goes.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Zen of It

I'm getting the hang of this new lace pattern, slowly but surely. The approach is entirely different.

Instead of mindlessly placing markers and repeating patterns between the markers, the pattern requires a careful count at the start of each row.

I've got to repeat a 24-row chart 5 times. The wrong side rows are plain knits (other than an increase). The 12 right-side rows repeat 2 different stitch patterns, at a different offset...

stitch pattern one: k2tog k1 k2tog yo k1 yo
stitch pattern two: k3 yo [slip 2 together knitwise, k1, pass 2 slipped stitches over] yo

The magic is in knowing how many stitches in from the edge you start the pattern, and which stitch of the pattern you start on. The rest is just repeats of the 6 stitch pattern from there. Markers don't help because of the offset, and because of the yarnovers. I find it tricky to keep a marker in the right place when you're doing yarnovers either before or after it.

I've got a copy of the chart with the key rows labelled, I've got a sticky note and a pencil. When I'm done a row of the chart I note it. Simple! Well, easy enough that I can mostly pay attention to the TV.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

More Adventures in Lace

Feeling emboldened by my recent success, I decided to take on another lace project: the Highland Triangle Shawl from Folk Shawls. I chose it because it's got three separate elements -- the basic triangle, an inner border, and the outer edging, applied row-by-row. Seemed like a good test of my skills.

In a word: holy mother of god. It is a test indeed. I'm struggling with the basic triangle. The problem is with the lace pattern. The Cat's Paw shawl was sets of vertically aligned 7-stitch pattern repeats. I could place markers, and repeat the pattern across the row. When the sides grew another 7 stitches I would place a marker and work additional repeats of the chart. Easy! I was actually working on this one in the streetcar! I could work it while watching TV!

The chart for the triangle is a mind-binder. It has repeating elements, but the basic pattern repeats at an offset, and the repeats blend into each other. And there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how you add increased stitches into the pattern.

I tried placing markers, but because of the pattern alignment, there's no good position for them that doesn't get wrapped up into the double decrease. So each row requires me to read the chart and count stitches. Which means that it's a total attention-absorber. I can't do anything else while I'm working it -- no TV watching, no talking. And because I need the chart in front of me, I can't work it while in the car, either. Sigh.

I shall persevere.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Finishing Queen!

Another FO! A modest-sized (50 or so inches wide, 25 or so long after blocking) shawl in undyed fingering weight from my friends at Woolly Acres Farm. (Have I said recently how much I love their yarns?) The picture doesn't convey the depth of the grey -- it's really very lovely.

It's not bad, considering how badly I suck at lace knitting. There was some serious ripping 'n' cursing required to get it done. I am a master of threading lifelines, though.

I messed with the pattern, of course. I added the eyelets at the top, before the border, to balance it out a bit. It's garter-edged with an easy-to-memorize 7 stitch cat's paw lace pattern repeated across.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

"Even I Don't Do That"

I'd heard many rumblings, over the years, about the friendliness -- or lack thereof -- of the staff at a certain big, old Wool shop here in downtown Toronto.

I've been going for years, since I used to live to around the corner, and I've never had a single problem. They were helpful when I was a beginner, asking stupid questions. Their selection is unbeatable. But maybe I like it because, for the most part, they leave you alone to rummage. And don't engage in unnecessary chat or banter that might distract me. I like to be left alone in paradise.

I dropped by yesterday, looking for some inexpensive superwash DK for a lace wrap project I'm experimenting with.

I started in the bargain basement, I always do. It's a positive Aladdin's Cave. (Worth a visit since they moved it downstairs.)

There was a lone staffer downstairs... "The DKs?" "Wool?" "Yup." "Over there."

I pondered the colours for a bit, and ultimately a chose an interesting green colour. (Still not confident enough to do lace in black.)

As the staffer rang me up, she asked me what it was for. "A lace shawl." "What, now? But it's August." "Yup. Hey, it could be worse. A few summers ago I made a mohair wrap for a friend's September outdoor wedding."

"Mohair in August? Even I don't do that." She handed me the bag and we were done.

Some might consider that insulting or unhelpful.

Me, I took it as a massive compliment. If I'm doing stuff that even a R___ staffer doesn't do, then I must be hardcore.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thanks Denny! Got it!

That is all.

(This will all make sense in a month or two.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


At last! A pair of bee stripe socks!

And I'm loving how this next sock project is turning out. The yarn is Sheldrake Farm Soft Touch Ultra 100% wool which I picked up at the Knitter's Frolic in the spring. Great rainbow striping. These will bring some serious fun to my winter boots.

These will be my fourth pair of 100% wool, hand-dyed, small producer sock yarn socks. Am a bit worried about how they'll wear... ask me again in April, after a winter's worth of boots.