Monday, August 30, 2010

A tiny present

I adore these booties! I made them very far in advance, anticipating an upcoming baby (not mine). But it is a special baby and I want him or her to have all the soft and warm knitted things that the world has to offer. It's a little early to start handing off baby presents to the parents-to-be, so I am going to set up a little stockpile over here over the next few months. Just a bit at a time.


Cute, eh?

The pattern is named Baby Booties to Match Berry Sweater (ravelry link), and I made the large size with smaller needles and yarn. The foot is about 3" long, which is, god, I don't know what size of baby. It will fit eventually.

The aforementioned different yarn was Jo Sharp Alpaca Kid Lustre (40% mohair, 30% merino, 30% alpaca) in a pretty light yellow-green called Elderberry. The yarn is 121 yards/111m per 50g ball and I used about half of one.

The large size had a couple of wrong numbers in the toe-shaping section. I also wanted the toe shaping to be a little sharper than in the booties pictured in the pattern, so I knitted it like this:

Rows 1-2: K.
Row 3: K13, kfb, k1, kfb, k13.
Row 4: K1, kfb, k to last 2 sts, kfb, k1.
Row 5: K14, kfb, k3, kfb, k14.
Row 6: K1, kfb, k to last 2 sts, kfb, k1.
Row 7: K15, kfb, k5, kfb, k15.
Row 8: K1, kfb, k to last 2 sts, kfb, k1.
Row 9: K16, kfb, k7, kfb, k to end.
Rows 10-16: K.

I followed the instep and lace top instructions as written, but left off the last purled row of the final repeat, and knitted three rows to make an anti-curling garter stitch edge that matched the garter stitch foot.

There's no ribbon on them, but that isn't an artistic decision; it's because I don't have any good ribbons handy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


This was an experiment that I am especially happy with. Remember the teal thing from a while ago? This little triangular shawl is that pattern blown up with bigger yarn, bigger needles, and a plain purled row worked between the patterned rows. (Also directional decreases: I will admit to laziness and defaulting to only k2togs when knitting lace that's garter-stitch based and patterned on every row. Such laziness has consequences in a piece like this, though, so I made the extra effort.) With the plain rows included, it fit very neatly into a triangle.

What I like most is how the straight lines of decreases suggest curves when there are some rows between them:

When I was a kid I had a dress with ribbon roses on it, and wearing it was a joy because it had dozens of shapes to trace with my fingertips. Wearing this shawl is sort of like that! I think it probably looks weird, absentmindedly running my fingers down my arms, but who cares: there are curves.

It's mostly not very lacy at all, and I think it's quite striking! If you are interested in knitting it too, its name is Victoria (after the Queen, clearly!) and it's a $4 download on Ravelry. The pattern is only charted (and the charts are many, and sort of big), but it's very easy to follow. I used one skein of Abuelita Yarns Baby Merino Lace (420 yards/385m per 100g skein) in Jasper, which is the most excellent red. Knitted on US #4/3.5mm needles, it ended up being 46" across the hypotenuse and 23" down the centre.

I like the yarn. I'm not sure how well it would stand up to abrasion, as on elbows or underarms or between fingers on gloves, but it's great for a shawl or scarf. I've been stuffing it in my bag and taking it on field trips to heavily air-conditioned coffee places for about a month now, and it still looks fine.

Ever since I finished knitting it, though, I have wanted to knit a little shrug or cropped cardigan with the same set of patterns. From the top down, worked in one piece, with raglan sleeves so that the increases can be yarn overs, starting out with the less-dense pattern just like the shawl, and ending with the scallops. Garter stitch neckband and button bands, sleeves just to the elbows….

dreamy sigh

In other news, if you are in the market for a sleeve for your laptop and don't want one that looks like a windbreaker or nylon track suit, I direct you to Rib & Hull! The leather-and-felt sleeve I got is exactly right—just simple enough to be perfectly elegant.

laptop sleeve

More pea coat than windbreaker, right? And it feels nice, too. The felt is sturdy and a little coarse; the leather is supple and soft. It is a treat to carry around.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Throwing my hat in the ring

Here is a cool thing! The 4 oz challenge requires participants to spin 4oz of handpainted fibre, knit a sample, and publish a pattern, between now and the end of September. The fibre has to be from Southern Cross, Hello Yarn, or Spunky Eclectic (like I need an excuse to order from any of them!), and the idea is to produce a set of patterns intended for handspun that will take advantage of the interesting texture and colour properties available to spinners, and get specific about the yarn they're written for. There are not enough patterns that do this!

I ordered four ounces of BFL from Spunky Eclectic, in this colour. It showed up in the mail today. Behold:

venus BFL


My pattern idea involves spinning it into a smooth fingering- or sport-weight yarn and knitting it into gloves with dense lacy scallops—sort of like oyster mittens but finer and more detailed and with fingers. There will be spaces between the yarn overs and their decreases to make zigzags out of any variegation in the yarn, and some purled rounds interspersed to make the colours mingle a little more. I think this would work well for subdued variegation like my yarn will have, or for wilder stripes. It would also be perfectly lovely and not too boring in a solid or relatively solid colour. Or so I hope.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A thing I did not knit

I did something.

A few weeks ago, a ravelry user was selling a silver Orenburg shawl from her collection. I managed to pounce on it before anyone else, Paypalled some cash, and waited anxiously, refreshing the tracking number page every few hours and sweating through two weekends.

I got it today, and I just—


I can't even—

inner frame

I am very moved by its loveliness, that's all.

It is enormous and very fine. (I have no wedding ring nor indeed any ring to try it out, but the seller posted a picture of it being drawn through one of those.) The enormity hasn't really sunk in yet because I am too fascinated by the details. It is very soft and it weighs next to nothing. The yarn has bloomed a little and developed a floaty fuzzy halo that doesn't obscure the stitches at all and seems instead to highlight the lace.

The other effect of the halo is that the shawl seems not to touch the surface it's sitting on, like a hovercraft made of goat down. It is very shiny, too—the yarn looks like down very loosely plied with silk, and it glows a little in the light. I feel mysterious and invisible wearing it, like I am shrouded in fog.

In terms of stitches and rows per inch, it's about the same fineness as the things I have been knitting recently, so there is hope for me yet. This is not an impossible beauty. It's so enormous though!


It's really interesting to see how the patterns are put together. There are a lot of different things going on in this shawl, and it is all very carefully laid out and symmetrical. For some reason it hadn't occurred to me that you could arrange a whole bunch of different pattern elements and have it come out looking harmonious. I like the fill-in pattern that makes triangles around the central diamonds and I like the zigzags in the inner frame and I like the outer frame pattern most of all; it looks like something cascading, I like everything about it. I like everything about the entire thing.

outer frame

(I have been excitedly pointing out all of its excellent features to my long-suffering partner, who is listening patiently even though these details mean nothing to him. Ah, non-knitters.)

My excellent friend A. made gentle fun of me for buying a shawl that someone else knit, when I can knit perfectly adequate shawls myself. All of that is why: a treasure like this is an inspiration and a call to action. I have some Gossamer Web yarn neatly balled up and waiting to be knitted into something lovely; it might be time to break it out. I am so tempted to get some mohair yarn and knit a wispy nothing out of it instead, though.

In other, more inane news, I made a twitter account for knitting-related chatter. My name is rebeccabeast.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Today in statements of the obvious

Freshly-knitted unblocked lace looks like boiled ass.

And blocking will always reward you.

I don't want to say that blocking is magic because nothing in knitting is; but blocking as close as it gets.

This was another $5-on-sale skein of Exquisite, and another little Orenburg lace experiment. This time I was thinking about something I read in a book (The Art of Shetland Lace maybe) about triangular veils that could be folded up to fit inside matchboxes, so it turned into something like that. The central area has closely-spaced eyelets in clusters of four ("mouse prints"!) to make a more transparent fabric; it's bordered by pine cones? trees? flowers? in a field of garter stitch, and then outlined again by edging that echoes the centre.

I knitted the edging on afterward, which was cheating a little, but I didn't want to deal with it at the very outset of the project.

This thing I have been doing to the very edges of my edgings is not Russian; it's the "lacy edge stitch" that Sharon Miller talks about in Heirloom Knitting. On returning rows, you yo-k2tog at the beginning, and it makes a tiny prettiness. I like it because it makes the very edge look denser, like someone drew a line the shawl with a marker. It also makes the edges a tiny bit stretchier than they would otherwise have been, which is excellent when you are worried about easing in corners.

There is a new group on Ravelry about Orenburg down shawls, which I don't really post in but I read it a lot. They've been talking about knitting without charts, making up patterns as you go along but keeping them symmetrical and balanced. I tried out that approach for this piece -- a bottom-up triangular shawl is a good venue for making it up as you go along because you only have to worry about symmetry from side to side. I found it very peaceful not to be tied to a chart, although I admit to making one afterward so that I could duplicate my results if they were good.

The secret reason I am so, so, so pumped up about Orenburg shawls is that I bought one recently. It is in the mail! When it arrives, sweet internet, you'll be the first to know.