Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Hello, internet! I've just gotten back from a series of epic shopping excursions in Toronto. We went to Romni and Americo (halfway by accident; stopped for coffee and there it was across the street) and ended up with a daunting amount of yarn and fibre. And then my friends took me to an enormous number of bookstores where I bought an enormous number of nerd books. And then I came home and there was more fibre waiting for me, and spindles for spinning fine, and and and.

I'm actually still a bit shellshocked from SHOPPING OVERLOAD, too much to make a list of what actually got bought, so instead I'll leave you with a picture of the parts that I am most actually genuinely breathlessly excited about. A hundred thousand books to read only some of which are jokes, and a very light Butterfly Girl spindle, and some Falkland wool top from Hello Yarn that wants to be spun into yarn for a shawl.


Monday, May 12, 2008

There are no yak in the Grand Banks

It's done!

yak stole - full

Structural recap: I knitted a strip of edging and a mitred corner with wrap-and-turn style short rows for neatness, then picked up stitches along the long edge plus the stitches from the cast-on, then mitred another corner. This way I could work the edging on the long sides at the same time as the stole's body, which made me a much happier camper at the end (with no endless knitted-on edging to accomplish). The body is divided into lengthwise thirds: the first section of a pattern with "trees" and hexagons, the second section with only hexagons, and the third section as the first. Then another mitred corner, a strip of knitted-on edging, one last corner, and a lazy graft: I did it the way Galina Khmeleva describes in Gossamer Webs, pulling stitches from the opposite edges to be grafted through each other until there was only one loop left.

All of the patterns are modified versions of things found in Heirloom Knitting. I detached the edging from the elaborate panel it was attached to:

yak stole - edging

The border trees-and-hexagons I amended so that they'd be symmetrical end-to-end (after being driven completely insane by their asymmetry when I knitted the Unst stole from the same book):

yak stole - trees and spiders

And I made the motif in the centre of each little hexagon into a spider, to more closely match the hexagons in the border (the original pattern has the middle row worked plain, so that it comes out looking more like a bead).

yak stole - hexagons

The transition between the pattern sections is not terribly elegant, and next time I knit a stole of this type I'll pay more attention to what happens there. Here I just stopped knitting one pattern and picked up the other (their repeats are the same width: 12 stitches), where I should have done an extra tree or diamond or something to make the transition smoother. Next time for sure.

yak stole - transition

The yarn is 50% yak and 50% silk, got from Twist of Fate (100g hank, of which I have 38g left—apparently there was more here than I thought?). I knitted it on 2.5mm needles. It came out to 2'x6', which is my favourite size for a stole but was also a stroke of good luck, as I was pessimistic and half-expecting it to be smaller.

I put it away for a month or so because the central section was never going to end. There are around two hundred little hexagons with spider motifs inside them, and I was bored after twenty. Someone thought they look like flowers; I think they look more like scales attached with rivets to some type of mechanical fish. It's also got fins and a wavy edging and it's a shimmery browny silvery stone colour and during the knitting I listened to this beautiful CBC Radio interview about the collapse of the cod fishery, so I've nicknamed it the Grand Banks stole.

This was the first time I'd ever blocked something with wires instead of hundreds of pins; the bits-of-string method as a middle ground has never appealed to me. Reader, my eyes were opened! It was so fast and painless!* I didn't run out of pins and I always run out of pins! (T-pins, at any rate: no matter how many I have on hand, it's always about twenty too few, and I end up sustaining many stab wounds to my fingertips trying to manoeuvre tiny steel dressmaker's pins into position.)

The floor I blocked it on is in a bit of a draft, and the shawl was bone-dry within half an hour. No kidding. I had to mist it with water halfway through stretching it out to keep it damp enough that it would hold its shape once unpinned. Drying speed might be the real reason I love knitting very fine lace.

yak stole - paper thin

Speaking of fine lace, I think I'll knit a doily or several out of the leftovers, as part three in my continuing series "Knitting Doilies from Stupid Stuff". Stay tuned.

* Except for the part where I felt cheated out of fun and defiantly pinned out one long side anyway.