Monday, February 25, 2008


Shawls are stylish, too! Here's one in the semidark, pretending to be worn:

unst stole - drape

This is the Unst Stole from Sharon Miller's Heirloom Knitting, knit in 2/28 laceweight silk from Colourmart on 2.25mm needles. I started it at the end of December and finished it today, not quite two months later; I would've finished it earlier if I hadn't set it aside for a month in the middle after getting bored of the edging (which is interminable).

I only made a small change, which was omitting the narrow insertion on the straight side of the edging. I'd already dipped into the yarn for a different project and wasn't sure if I would have enough to complete the pattern as written, so erred on the side of caution. This turns out to have been an excellent idea, because there are only about ten metres of yarn left over.

unst stole - edging

Given more yarn (or forethought), I'd have been tempted to copy missalicefaye's modification: she added extra repeats of the border grid and filled them with new motifs, to gain a few extra inches of length. Her stole is beautifully proportioned and I think better for having longer borders. (The borders on this stole are each about a quarter of the total length, exclusive of edging, with the centre making up the other half; better proportions might have the stole divided into thirds, so that when you wear it the borders go from fingertips to the edge of the shoulder and the centre is the width of your back. Or my back. I will have to experiment.)

unst stole - border

I find that this particular central pattern is a bit irritating to block, because it tends to "pull in" more than the border pattern, which is worked over the same number of stitches. I've knitted a couple other stoles with a similar central pattern and noticed the same annoyance, but didn't think to do anything about it this time; next time I would work the borders over fewer stitches than the centre (not many fewer, just six or eight), and then it wouldn't be a fight to block the long edges straight.

unst stole - centre

I could also invest in a set of blocking wires to reach the same end, but I kind of enjoy crawling around on the floor with a handful of pins and a measuring tape.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A candidate for re-knitting

lily of the valley

There is a sentence in Marianne Kinzel's First Book of Modern Lace Knitting that made me angst-ridden and filled with guilt for weeks about the type of doily I tend to knit:

"Do not use silks, rayon, or any other yarn with a highly polished surface, or of conspicuous colour, as this is not in the lace-making tradition."

This doily is not made from yarn with a highly polished surface and it's about as inconspicuous a colour as you can get, but it's still completely against the rules because it's cashmere. (Cashmere and cotton, actually). I knew it was a stupid idea—I wanted to knit this pattern and I wanted to knit with this yarn and I wanted to do both right now, consequences be damned—but didn't know quite how stupid until very recently: the yarn has so much bounce to it that it's dead set against laying flat. Even if I block it severely and don't unpin it until it's already been completely dry for hours, just in case, you know, and pick it up carefully without stretching it and lay it on a table and leave it alone in a bone-dry environment. Nope.

I just unpinned it after reblocking right now, and the fans around the edges are already starting to ruffle. It doesn't pucker or bind when it's pinned flat, and it's also flat in the picture that accompanies the pattern (it's from an excellent Russian lace-knitting magazine), which leads me to blame the yarn alone.

But man, is it pretty!

lily of the valley - 2

This is what I mean about increasing to make a large eyelet by working k-yo-k-etc instead of k-p-k-etc: see how nicely the increased stitches sit beside each other? My feeling is that knitting and purling up all the necessary stitches stretches out the yarnover or double-yarnover or whichever and makes it tend to curl up a bit. That's not happening here even though the yarn really wants to sproing into a different configuration.

The main floraly part is excellent, too:

lily of the valley - 3

I don't think it's intended to be lilies of the valley, but that's what it looks like to me. The motif is very simple—you increase four stitches from one so you have five altogether, work plain for a few rounds, then decrease the extra stitches away—and if I knit this again I might dress it up a bit with some purled stitches down the middle. We'll see!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Something green

This doily is from pp. 60-61 in Eva Maria Leszner's Gestrickte Spitzendecken and is worked in 2/28 laceweight silk from Colourmart, as ever, on 2.25mm needles. It's just over twelve inches in diameter. (Click for bigger.)

green doily

The colour doesn't photograph terribly well—my camera is convinced that it is bronze, but it's actually acid green. It's an unexpected but awesome colour for a doily and I like it, and hopefully its intended targets will not be too offended by the strangeness.

The pattern had moments of driving me crazy because I've gotten so used to the Burda charting style, which this is not. They do share some symbols but conveniently enough they don't mean the same things, which threw me for a bit. (I finally decided that the "V" means "ktbl", not "slip this stitch" or "kf&b" as I initially wanted it to mean.)

I adore the petals made out of columns of yarnovers and stacked decreases, and the littler ones with purls in the middle remind me of the red silk doily; maybe they share a designer. There are sections where the pattern calls for 7 stitches to be made out of one without indicating how, so I chose to work (k-yo-k-yo-k-yo-k) into the stitch in question instead of (k-p-k-p-k-p-k); I find that it looks tidier in the end and that it's not a pain in the ass to work, which I always appreciate.

green doily detail

Something old

I've been knitting a lot of doilies lately, almost exclusively doilies in fact, and I may as well blog about them! I attempted a knitting blog some time in the past, but failed due to lack of updating the thing. This time I may succeed because I'm overbrimming with single-minded determination and focus. Doilies, you guys.

Here's a doily from the Burda magazine "Tricot d'Art/Lace Knitting", published 1980—this is the infamous one with a hundred thousand Nieblings innit. It's small (11" across, 43 rounds total) and I didn't like it at first, but it's grown on me and now I think that it is dope. I used silk thread from Colourmart and 2.25mm needles.

red silk doily

Every round of this doily is patterned, which means that it's fiddly to work but turns out looking quite delicate. It's almost too delicate in silk; it would probably work better in a sturdier cotton or linen thread. But silk is fine for a doily in a low-traffic area that doesn't get manhandled much.

The flowers around the edges are my favourite part, and a most elegant example of what you can do with yarnovers on every round, I think.

red silk doily - leafy edge

The secret reason I knit doilies almost exclusively out of silk is that I've got a ton of it, mostly leftovers from knitting shawls. The yardage on the cones is generous, so a leftover 1/3 will yield eight or ten doilies. I've got a long way to go before I use it all up (and I intend to!).