Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Swatching Birch

For Project Spectrum Elements Earth, I'm planning on the Birch Shawl by Sharon Miller (Ravelry link). I knew it was going to be dark green, both because of the theme of PS Elements, and also as a nod to the leaf lace pattern. But I didn't want to use the recommended Kidsilk Haze - I'd like to avoid knitting with mohair as long as possible. I decided to use this project as an excuse to try a lace yarn I hadn't used before, and decided on Morehouse Farms Merino Lace in Hemlock green.

On Earth Day, I swatched the lace pattern. I used the Fern Leaf Lace from Barbara Walker's first Treasury, as it's the same pattern without built-in decreases. I used US size 8 needles, as the original pattern called for, and love the result:

The yarn is single ply, so feels fragile. It's not as soft as other yarn I've been using lately - there is a lovely rustic-ness to the yarn that is perfect for the pattern. I've never used such large needles on such fine yarn before (it's thicker than other laceweight I own, but thinner than the fingering weight I'm used to using), and so have never knit something so "holey."

I have 880 yards, and want to make a generous shawl. Thing is, you cast on the long end and knit up to the point (which means the finished lace pattern will "hang" in the opposite direction of what is pictured above). So if I want to make the shawl bigger, I have to cast on those additional repeats and hope I don't run out of yarn.

Luckily, Fig & Plum has already knit this shawl in this yarn, and she used approximately 770 yards, so I've got a benchmark to start from. I'm thinking about casting on 20 extra stitches for two extra repeats. If anyone had any advice on how to know if I can fit two extra repeats in 110 yards, I'd love input.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cast On: Lace Leaf Shawl

I've started another shawl. (This also means that Tuscany is done. I'll do an FO post after blocking and another portrait session).

Pattern: Lace Leaf Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark
Yarn: Knit Picks Shadow in Vineyard Heather, held doubled
Needles: Addi Lace Turbos in US Size 6

I've finished the set up rows and the first repeat of the lace. The pattern creates a nice, mostly diamond-shaped leaf pattern with a little row of purl bumps for the stem. The leaves that are along the center and outer increase lines are a little bit smaller than the regular pattern to accommodate establishing the pattern. It's almost invisible.

I even wound the yarn doubled so I wouldn't have to wrestle two balls of yarn at the same time. I have three skeins of the yarn, which will bring my total length to 660 yards. Based on the pattern, this might allow me one repeat past the small size. I'm planning to use up as much yarn as I can.

After knitting primarily with a silk/wool blend over the last several months, it's taking a little bit of getting used to 100% wool. I like the yarn (Knit Picks Shadow), but after frogging a swatch (didn't like the needle size I tried), I noticed a tendency to felt that the blended yarn didn't have. It's taking some getting used to.

This one is going to be a gift, but I won't say for who just in case they see this blog.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

FO: Kimono Shawl

I finished knitting this shawl the end of January, but it took me a while to get the blocking wires, block it, and then even longer to take and post photos.

Pattern: Kimono Shawl by Cheryl Oberle
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss in Burgundy
Needles: Addi Lace Turbo in US size 5 / 3.75 mm
Dates: July 5, 2007 - January 26, 2008
On Ravelry

The only mod I made, other than yarn substitution, was to knit 16 rows of garter stitch at the top and bottom edges instead of the 20 the pattern calls for. That way the garter stitch border was even on all sides instead of being a bit thicker on the top and bottom.

I love this shawl! This was my first lace project, and I was just enchanted with it the whole way through. It is a long project - over 600 rows - but so worth it. It took me 7 months, but I wasn’t knitting exclusively. I learned so much about knitting lace from this project. I've since moved on to triangular shawls, which I think I'd recommend to a first-time lace knitter just because they go faster, but I certainly do prefer to wear the rectangular shape - it actually stays on your shoulders.

I love the yarn I picked. The Knit Picks Gloss is easy to work with and a great weight for the project. The burgundy colorway is gorgeous. It took just over 6 skeins of the yarn, but if I had frogged my swatch, 6 skeins may well have been enough. I went on to knit another shawl (the Tuscany) with the same yarn, and now that I'm knitting shawls with other yarns, I find I miss the Gloss.

Pre-blocked size was 17 x 72 inches. After blocking, it grew to 24 x 80 inches. This is a bit bigger than the pattern (22 x 72 inches), but since I used a wool/silk blend instead of 100% silk, I’m not that surprised. The final shawl is elegant and classy and lovely. It's my first lace shawl and suspect will long be my favorite.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

10 Skeins of Sock Hop

I played around with my camera and the 10 skeins of Sock Hop Yarn that I've collected for the Great Feather & Fan Shawl Project of 2008.

I'm trying to get a better sense of how the colors work together. At first, I didn't really like how the "In the Skies" blue (lighter, with pink) was so different from the "A Hard Day's Night" shade of blue (darker, with green). But now I'm thinking it will all go together very nicely.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Great Feather & Fan Shawl Project of 2008

At least that's what I'm calling it in my head, since it's still in the planning stage. Planning and stashing.

Several months ago, my breath was completely taken away by Hello Yarn's absolutely gorgeous feather and fan shawl knit from her own handspun. The details of the handspun yarn rippling through the lace pattern are really breathtaking. I think it was this shawl that convinced me I need to spin.

Of course, I haven't actually learned to spin yet. But I have been picking up some handspun yarn. First, there was my purchase of Sock Hop Yarn at Madrona:

Sock Hop Yarn in "You Babe," "Love Me Tender," and "A Hard Day's Night" colorways

And then Crown Mountain Farms had an update last week. So I ordered some more:

Sock Hop Yarn in "In The Skies," "We Are The Champions," and "San Francisco" colorways

Here's another pic of the new yarn:

What do you think? Is it a winning combination worthy of The Great Feather and Fan Shawl Project of 2008?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Project Spectrum: Fire

I love Lolly's theme for Project Spectrum this year - the four elements. I haven't been participating as much as I'd like because I have a few too many things going on in my life right now (homework for a photography certificate that I am taking, a photo show that is currently hanging, two open positions at work that I need to fill, recent travels, and of course, knitting). Even though it is a week into the new element, earth, already, I finally got a moment to put together a retrospective of pictures for the element of Fire.

Like I said, many of these pictures I never posted to the Flickr or Ravelry groups, and many of them certainly pre-date February, when the Fire theme began. But I have quite a few pictures that matched the red, orange, pink, Fire theme that I wanted to share.

1. Tuscany Lace Pattern Detail, 2. Tuscany Lace Pattern Detail, 3. Kimono Shawl Lace Pattern Detail, 4. Kimono Shawl with Yarn, 5. Kimono Shawl with Yarn, 6. Rumpled, 7. Kimono Shawl Detail, 8. Strawberry Hat, adult size, 9. Strawberry Hat, 10. Heart Graffitti, 11. Fruit Loops, 12. Colorful, 13. Red Yarn Cake, 14. Orange Yarn Cake, 15. Sunset Heather, 16. Candied Chrome, 17. Sundara Sock Yarn, 18. Burnt Cranberry, 19. Burgundy, 20. Burgundy, 21. Fence, 22. Fiestaware, 23. VW Door Handle, 24. VW Headlight, 25. Sweatshirt

1. Bandana Detail, 2. Bandana Detail, 3. Tomatoes, 4. Japanese Maple Leaves, 5. Lace Leaf Japanese Maple, 6. Strawberry Harvest, 7. First Berry Picking, 8. Rose, 9. Burning the Sacred Woods, 10. Burning the Sacred Woods, 11. Pink Tulip Macro, 12. Parrot Tulip, 13. Orange Rhododendrons, 14. Cherry Tree in Bloom, 15. Fire, 16. Candle Trio, 17. Fire Elemental Candle, 18. Fire Elemental Candle, 19. Red Dahlia with Bee, 20. Hot Pink-n-White Dahlia, 21. Red Dahlia, 22. Orange-Pink Dahlia, 23. Orange Hibiscus, 24. Somoan Fire-Knife Dancing, 25. Lughnasadh Bonfire

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tuscany Shawl

Okay, so the "on location" pictures in the last post were fun, but they don't really show off how beautiful this lace pattern is. So here are some pictures to remedy that:

Mmm, a bit of bokeh to make lace look all dreamy...

I like how the column of purls at the edge of the lace pattern makes the leaves stand out, and creates a lovely ripple as well.

It's a lovely pattern, isn't it?

I get a lot of knitting done on Wednesdays because I have several meetings where it is okay to knit. I've got nine repeats done now, just two more to go.