Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I have been knitting a lot of swatches and thinking a lot about what to do with them. Here's one that has a plan:

A swatch

What I have in mind is a stole assembled from traditional Shetland lace patterns collected by Sharon Miller in her book Heirloom Knitting, and put together in the "borders-outward" style she suggests. You start by casting on some stitches provisionally and knitting the central section followed by a border. Then you put those stitches on hold, pick up the stitches from the cast-on edge, and work a second border in the opposite direction. The piece is finished off with a knitted-on edging worked all the way around—cast on a few stitches provisionally and join every other row of edging to a stitch picked up from the body. Once the edging is completed, you graft the end to the beginning (that's like ten stitches to graft, it's barely even a thing).

For my purposes, the central section and the border sections will be squares, 20" per side; the three sections in a row with a narrow edging all the way around will yield a generously-sized stole 24" x 64". I'm not sure yet how I feel about carting around that amount of knitting in the summer. The pattern is modular, though; a knitter can choose to cast on more or fewer stitches in multiples of ten, to make a stole that's wider or narrower, and knit more or fewer lengthwise repeats to lengthen or shorten the finished piece. I think a scarf would need different proportions, though—I'm thinking about more centre and less border, but I'd have to play around with it to see.

The swatch shows the pattern for each section—the densely-patterned diamond area is the centre and the little floral pattern it flows into is the border. The edging is narrow enough to lie flat at the corners without any special treatment. I decreased a few stitches on the last border row to see whether it would keep the edging from puckering on the short end, and it did! So that's a trick that will end up in the pattern.

I intend this to be a pattern for adventurous intermediate or newly advanced knitters. There is lace patterning on nearly every row (i.e. no resting rows!), but the patterns are easy to read and the repeats are easy to separate with stitch markers. There is no arduous counting because the motifs are small and closely-spaced. The knitting is not technically challenging; it has a garter stitch ground and only requires that the knitter know how to execute a yarn over, k2tog, and sk2p.

Those are my thoughts! I'm waiting on some yarn from Knit Picks to make samples of both stole and scarf—this is a pattern for their catalogue.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Solstice stockings

Elinor from Exercise Before Knitting is hosting a sock-knitting contest, which I couldn't resist. My contribution is this:

Solstice stockings

I made these out of Socks That Rock Mediumweight in "Winter Solstice", which was a lovely experience. Sportweight socks go shockingly fast! I made an entire sock in an evening of watching Alias.

I am especially pleased with the cuff, which is sort of chunky and tightly-knit lace edging:


It fans out into pretty scallops when you put on the sock, and it is stretchy like you wouldn't believe. My anguish about knitting socks is that the cuff edge always feels too tight, no matter how I cast on, and I end up adding calf shaping that sometimes interrupts or destroys the pattern.... but a sideways garter stitch edging is automatic calf shaping, and makes a very comfortable cuff. I would be wearing these socks now if it weren't 29C outside.

If you want to knit them too, the pattern is available on ravelry for four of your finest Canadian dollars.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I got so excited by the little hexagon pincushion that I made a bigger one to go with it:

hex little and big

Yes. The reason I invented when I was finishing it was, it is good to have one pincushion for pins and one for needles, so that nothing gets misplaced. (I have spent a lot of time looking for needles in a collection of pins.) It's a good reason!

The other excitement is a set of charm squares from a couple of years ago. (The collection is Shangri-La from Moda, I think). I noticed that each one can become two hexagons and leave a couple of scraps to maybe turn into coordinating diamonds, and I started something:

hex landscape

I'm not sure what this will be! (A sort of silly kitschy sleeve for my laptop, maybe.) So far it's a mass of hexagons, assembled more or less at random. The only assembly criterion I have is that two hexagons that are from the same colour group shouldn't abut.

Cutting out dozens of hexagons and basting them and sewing them together is slow and painstaking and repetitive and meditative work, which is exactly what I am interested in doing right now. The process goes something like this:

  1. Cut out some paper hexagons.
  2. Look at all the fabrics and pick out two or three from each colour group. Cut out some fabric hexagons.
  3. Fold one fabric hexagon of each colour around a paper hexagon and baste them at the corners.
  4. Pick three of them and assemble them into a three-hexagon unit.
  5. Put the new unit next to the already-assembled hexagons and admire everything.
  6. Attach the new unit to the old assemblage.

As you can see, I am grotesquely inefficient and spend a lot of time looking with admiration at my own work. The colours are so pretty.