Thursday, February 26, 2009


Ordinarily I'm not consumed with progress, especially if I'm enjoying the knitting as much as I'm enjoying this one; the Lilac Leaf Shawl from "Knitted Lace of Estonia".

One cannot, however, keep from looking at patterns for the future and my eyes kept returning to another pattern from that book, Miralda's Shawl, thinking perhaps I would knit it for Mother a Christmas gift.

A knitalong is starting for Miralda on March 1! Ooohhh. That would be fun, wouldn't it?

I can't imagine getting this one done by then and won't even try such madness, besides Miralda is knit on larger needles so I could have them both going!

I did take time today to finally finish a bag I started a long time ago. I'm not crazy about it, but it is done and I won't have to see that pieced front mocking me every time I pass by it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A little side trip

... to smocking land.

Years ago I used to smock a great deal. It was fun as long as I was doing it for my own daughter, but not so much fun otherwise. [Funny how that play can turn to work.]

A friend is expecting a grandbaby in late summer and asked for help in learning to smock. I am happy to help.

Some months back I accompanied her to the SAGA convention market and she bought a pattern for a Smocker's Tote. Later she picked out fabrics and passed to me to pleat. These fabrics are lovely but were a bit heavier than my pleater liked and I ended up breaking a couple of pleater needles in the process. Ouch.

I ended up finishing out those two rows by hand which seemed easier and quicker in the long run and posed no threat to my remaining pleater needles. Still, lovely fabric and this should be a fun project when we get started.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Define crazy

Could you define crazy for me? 'Cause I think I have it.

The idea for the EPS seamless sweater was to start knitting the body with the first full ball of yarn and when it ran out to start a sleeve. E.Z. quite sanely suggests starting a sleeve (20% of the body's magic number) while you're still working on the body as it will be "quite a small piece of knitting, and can accompany you on trips, or live in its basket in the kitchen, waiting for any spare attention you can give it".

So I started the sleeve on dpns, worked a little garter for the cuff edge and came to a screeching halt. I'm to mark three stitches for the vertical underarm and will work increases [M1] on either side - every 4 rounds, I think.

About here is where the craziness ensues. I find this almost terrifying. See! Crazy!

Working an Estonian shawl full of nupps, with a separate sewn-on edging and only an illustration to go by? No sweat. Knit a sock with several different charts? So what. But increase? Up a sleeve? By directions that take about two sentences? I'm a puddle of nerves.

I've tried to examine this. Is it because there are no step-by-step instructions or because I can't see or feel my way ahead? I'm not sure. I think it's more that I don't have faith in the process. I don't believe I can do it. And, as I type this, I'm convinced it has much to do with not having a concrete chart. Without a chart I can get lost; go off course, forget to increase; lose track. And here's the clincher: not know what I did when the time comes to replicate for sleeve #2.

Well, that's what The Patented Hatch-Mark System is for. I will make a chart. It's still crazy, but in a planned, controlled way. (Don't tell E.Z., 'kay?)

Friday, February 20, 2009

FO on the floor

The scarf has been done for a few days but I kept putting off the blocking. [I won't bore you here again with how much I dislike this process.]

This is one with beads instead of nupps. I've nothing against nupps. I don't mind knitting them and I love the way they look. I just wanted to try beads out for once and I like the look for this scarf.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Love is in the air

Santa was a bit delayed this Christmas. He placed his order with Amazon for Nancy Bush's latest book, Knitted Lace of Estonia, but it was backordered. I suppose demand for the book was possibly greater than expected? If so, that is entirely understandable. This is a truly wonderful book. Nancy never disappoints. The designs are beautiful, of course, and the text and history is fascinating.

It was difficult to choose a first project, but I settled on the Lilac Leaf Shawl (Ravely link). This is not a heavily nupped pattern. There is a lovely lace border, one of which I've just completed, and then a diamond border with nupps before the leaf center. The edges are straight garter stitch.

Doesn't the yarn look familiar?! Yes, it's Lacey Lamb again and in the very same color as my last Nancy Bush Estonian shawl.

I carried in my partial ball leftover from that shawl and had it weighed at my LYS. I loved knitting with that yarn and in that vibrant RED. This way I'd be assured of having plenty and perhaps even have enough for a third. Are three too many??

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Be Mine




Barbara just asked about the tatted button heart.
Pattern here.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Beads instead of nupps

[Blogland's most boring post title, but my mind is blank.]

Thank you to my two loyal readers and commenters for the encouragement on the start of a sweater. It reached the 70s today. The irony was not lost on me!

The sweater is to be an off-and-on project. It is a lot of stockinette in the round and will be perfect for a travel project - at least until the sleeves get attached and it becomes a little cumbersome for lugging about.

Repeating patterns, specifically lace, and more specifically Estonian lace, is my current obsession. I had started this scarf version of Estonian Garden (Fiber Trends S-2009) just before Christmas when I was craving soft alpaca. This is Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine so not a laceweight yarn. At the time I started it I was just trying hard to knit something other than an Evelyn A. Clark triangle. You know how I love them!

I thought this yarn a little thick for nupps and had always planned on substituting beads. I don't know if you've ever tried to find beads to match a yarn, but I never seem to find just the right bead. I'm not a big fan of shiny anyway. This tube contained a combination of shiny and matte and with enough variation in color, too, that I thought they just might work even though they they were a little more green than I wanted. We shall see as this project progresses.

Speaking of which I hope it progresses quickly. My Christmas present copy of "Knitted Lace of Estonia" by Nancy Bush finally arrived! I'm chomping at the bit to start a project from that wonderful book. Or maybe I'm just chomping M&Ms. You know those Valentine colors have been out for weeks!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fact or Fiction?

For the longest time I was sure this book was FICTION.

Just like this one!

Joy? Seriously? I don't think so.
Over the years I had tried numerous times to learn to knit and never seemed to succeed. It was too frustrating. Finally, one day, the time was right. Good thing, too, as knitting is the perfect needlework for me right now - extremely portable, quite varied, easy to pick up and put down, challenging and yet very soothing. Who could ask for more?
But still I remained quite intimidated. It seemed Elizabeth thought I knew how to knit more than I thought I did. I wanted more hand-holding. It couldn't possibly be as simple as she tried to make me believe.
Yet every time I saw one of her patterns pop up on blogs and Ravelry, the knitter was raving.
So when I found the book on the sale table at Borders for only $3.99!!! I grabbed it. I read it. I was still intimidated.
Sometime before Christmas a big, soft bag arrived in the mailbox from Mary. Inside was quite a bit of Galway Highland Heather yarn in my absolute FAVORITE color; a deep dark green. Mary thought I might could use it in some felting projects. I thought why not TRY a sweater. It wouldn't cost me anything but time.
What you see above is the beginning of an EZ EPS - meaning I'm using Elizabeth Zimmermann's Elizabeth's Percentage System. According to this system, I take one measurement - the width I want the sweater to be - and using the gauge I get with the yarn I use, come up with the magic number for cast on. From there on all other numbers are a percentage of that magic number. (I don't think EZ actually calls it magic, but it must be, right?)
So, as we here in the deep South begin to warm up and head into spring, I start a 100% wool sweater. TIMING is everything they say.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

B is for

...the buttonhole stitch!

This workhorse shows up everywhere. Of course it is used in handmade buttonholes, carefully encasing and reinforcing a knitted opening or the the raw edge of a cut opening. Worked closely together in this manner, it gets the job done without flair. But you can space the stitches out, you can vary the length, you can stitch them in a circle and it is just as useful as a decorative stitch and, as such, is a staple embroidery in crazy quilting and applique.

I use it most often in the edges of Hardanger embroidery.

It works just as hard in cutwork embroidery (example here); again encasing the raw edges and working the bars between motifs. The whitework of Broderie Anglaise has eyelets and small openings reinforced with delicate buttonhole stitches

And, if you remember from an earlier post seeing the beautiful work of Dorie Millerson, it is heavily used in needlelace also.

Of course B is for beads, too! I added a little beaded picot edge to a felt heart as a little thank you token to the stitcher coordinating the Love Quilt blocks.

Interesting (at least to me!) in that when I think of these alphabetic stringplay terms, I so far think only in relation to embroidery and not so much in knitting. Knitting is my most recent string obsession, so I suppose it has not had time to really sink in as deeply.