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Posts Tagged ‘lace’

I’ve had the Louisa Harding Amitola Annwn scarf done except for two rows and the bind off for about 2 years. Yes, this is the height of procrastination. I just couldn’t seem to find the time to finish it.

Then Dartmoor Yarns on her blog dared me in her comment section to finish the endless WIP. Even as a child I couldn’t resist a dare and I haven’t, it seems, outgrown that even at the age of 63.

I present to you the finished Annwn Scarf.

louisa harding amitala scarf 2

louisa harding amitala annwn scarf 1

The scarf (she also has a wrap in the same pattern) is by Louisa Harding and knit in her yarn Amitola which is a wool and silk blend. Knit on US 6 (UK 8) 4 mm needles.

I love the way the cable balances the ruffled edge of the scarf. It really is an easy knit. I just ended up getting distracted by other projects. Thanks Dartmoor Yarns for helping me finish this!

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The Infernal Socks

I am currently working on what I call “the infernal” socks. They are my masochistic knitting project for this month.

rose rib socks knitt lace

They will be bed socks. The socks on the left are a photograph from the book Sock Knitting Master Class. The one on the right I just finished and haven’t blocked yet. The pattern is Rose Rib Socks by Evelyn Clark. They are finicky to knit.

First they are cuff down. I hate working socks that way. I am a toe up person. I could have altered the pattern to make it toe up but in the end decided to stay with the pattern as written. Mistake number one.

Socks that fit me best are ones without gussets. These have gussets. I hate working gussets in cuff down socks. Picking up gusset stitches is bad enough on its own. Add a dark yarn and night knitting and I need a klieg light and magnifying glasses to see the proper stitches to pick up. Once done, the stitches on the dpns are unwieldy and not evenly divided over the needles. This drives me nuts just looking at it.

Next come the dreadful decreases on every other row on both sides of the instep. I am famous for decreasing on one side and forgetting to do the same on the other. I have come up with a plan that helps me mark the points where the decreases need to be made at the time they need to be made but it is a lot of moving around colored stitch markers. I hate fiddling with stitch markers every row. The decreasing portion can’t go fast enough for me.

Then there is a small reprieve of straight knitting before I get to the toe and more decreases. This time I need to remember to decrease two stitches each side of the instep every other row. That’s a total of four chances in one row that I get to screw up. The stitches become less, the sock gets smaller and smaller, my knitting gets tighter and tighter and then I am left with an opening of 16 measly stitches through which I need to fit the entire sock so I can then Kitchener stitch the opening closed. For me, Kitchener stitch has endless possibilities for going wrong so I need to close myself in the bathroom where my attention won’t be disturbed by Yarn Rascal or The Skipper. Then finally the horrid little experience of making one sock is over with.

Did I tell you that the rose rib pattern is intricate? Eight rows of intricacy. No mindless knitting here. Even though I counted rows I somehow continually left out rows 5 and 6. To fix that I have to rip back to the start of the sock. There is no easy place to pick up stitches otherwise. I have never used  a life line when knitting socks but I am now using one for these.

I’ve started the second sock. I look forward to it being done.

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I assure you, knitting is taking place. I am working on the Cameron Shetland Shawl by Susan Miller.

the-cameron-shawl

I am working from the center out, which means I only need navigate 125 stitches at a time. The stitch repeat is only 10 or 12 stitches. Oh the numerous ways a 10 to 12 stitch repeat can go wrong. Let’s count them, shall we?

1) Knit the wrong row entirely. Repeat this periodically throughout the 242 row process.
2) Knit while someone is talking to you.
3) Knit while watching television.
4) Dog steals knitting and dismantles it to his liking. Dismantle what dog has dismantled and try to pick up stitches from life line.
5) Realize you can’t see life line because it is a very pale lavender and fades away completely against the white frothy-ness of the Shetland yarn. Starting from the beginning is the only answer. Do not cry. It is too early in the process for crying.
6) Toss stash for a darker life line yarn. Come up empty. Have an argument with yourself over whether to shelve the knitting until you go to the store and get a darker yarn or to continue with the very pale lavender because you’re afraid a darker cotton yarn might unintentionally stain the white Shetland yarn. When the migraine appears, knitting is done for the night effectively ending the debate. Take two headache pills. Go to bed.
7) Memorize the repeat of a row, only memorize it wrong. When you get to the end of the row notice the stitch count is off. Rip back to the very pale lavender life line and try to pick up the tiny white stitches. Make a cup of Chamomile tea, drink it slowly while repeating the words “It’s okay. Everything will be fine.” Put the knitting away for the night.
8) Memorize repeat of row, memorize it correctly. At end of row stitch count is off. Carefully review row. Repeat the review at least 3 more times. Fail to see where the mistake is. Rip back to the very pale lavender life line. Crying is now allowed.

Of the 242 rows I managed to knit 60 rows successfully.

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I say this, not to antagonize the knitting-gods-that-be, but my current lace shawl project is not as masochistic as it could be and I am instead constantly thinking about undertaking a real Shetland Shawl project. Hence the next debacle project on my needles will be the Cameron Shawl by Susan Miller created on US 3 needles in lace weight Shetland yarn. It’s the kind of yarn that doesn’t rip back at all.

the-cameron-shawl

Let me clarify what I mean by “not as masochistic as it could be”. I still have three full lace charts to work in which anything that can go wrong probably will go wrong. I have, for instance, ripped out the current row of 500 plus stitches three times, only to make yet another mistake so it’s up to four rip backs. I have been so tense relaxed while knitting this particular chart that I have gotten lymphedema in my left arm (the mastectomy side) which has made me lose three days of knitting in order to lessen the swelling. Those days were given over to specific arm exercises, lymphedema massage to help drain the fluid, and wearing a lymphedema sleeve that fits so tight that it activates my claustrophobia and sends me into a panic state. Still, I am determined to take on the Cameron Shawl.

Why? Because I want to move out of my comfort zone in knitting. I want to test and expand my lace knitting skills and I have always thought a Shetland Lace Shawl is a true test of one’s knitting prowess. The only way for me to grow as a knitter is to keep moving beyond what I am comfortable with and know about. Yes there will be mistakes, perhaps even tears and a lot of frustration, but I think it will all be worth it (in a kind of nervous breakdown way) to learn something new and challenge my skills to step it up a notch.

I don’t knit to be bored. I like to be excited with what is being produced by my yarn and needles. I think this Cameron Shawl will shake things up a bit. For now, the work is on the current shawl which needs a few rows ripped back because I really don’t know what happened on the left hand side of the spine but it doesn’t look like the right hand side. After I get that figured out, I’ll be rolling like a steamboat on a river.

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What are nupps? Nupps are a group of knit ones and yarnovers made into a single stitch. On the wrong side row these knit ones and yarnovers are purled together in groups of 5 or 7 stitches and made into one. When done properly they form a neat stitch cluster. In reality they are not hard to produce, though their reputation is one of difficulty. A relaxed tension and a focused mind is all you really need.

However, relaxed and focused are not natural to masochistic knitting. Before knitting a 100 plus stitch row that includes nupps, central decreases and lace be sure you are thoroughly distracted. It can’t be emphasized enough that the distraction level must be so great that when you look at what you’re knitting you don’t have a clue as to where you are in the row or for that matter what row you’re even on. In short, the knitting looks alien to you.

Such a preoccupied state of mind can be achieved in many ways. Having someone dear to you ailing while you await a call back from the doctor is a strong mental distraction. At the same time, your adorable fur baby suddenly develops a limp which you are sure means he’s going to loose one leg.  You are now in a holding pattern waiting for doctors and vet to call back, running through your mind again and again what you are going to say to them. For the coupe de grace turn on the television to the news channel.

Now you are sufficiently prepared to pick up your knitting and tackle those nupps, lace and central decreases. When something goes wrong, as it certainly will, it is not a matter of simply tinking back a few stitches. If it is a right side row tinking back a central decrease almost always causes a dropped stitch that you can never find until you rip back to your lifeline. If it is a wrong side row, the chance of successfully picking up the group of five knit ones and yarnovers is about the same as you winning the total jackpot at powerball. Again, ripping back to the lifeline becomes a necessity.

At the end of the evening, exhausted and spent, you have knit only one row successfully. But the fur baby isn’t going to lose his leg. In fact, after the vet called he stopped limping altogether. The ailing loved one is still ailing but now has the proper medication to remedy the situation. And you still have 15 more rows of nupps, central decreases and yarnovers awaiting you tomorrow.

 

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In The Meantime…

In the true spirit of masochistic knitting, the Pothos shawl shown in the last blog has…well…gone to shawl heaven. It was a very painful passing for me. I had made a mistake that couldn’t stay and when I went to rip it back very bad things happened. I have more yarn, but since part of the problem is the yarn, I am not sure I will use it for this project even though it is the perfect weight. The truth is not all lace weight yarns are the same weight. I need to be able to work this on a US size 6 (4 mm) UK 8 needle at least. What I ended up ordering is MadTosh Merino Light. Not a lace weight, but more of a fingering. I’m hoping that if I bump the needle size up to a US 7 I’ll get the kind of fabric I want.

Yarn Rascal senses yarn is on the way and sits in the window watching for the mail truck to arrive down the road. When it comes he’s like a siren that can’t be ignored. On goes the leash and down we walk to get the mail.

In the meantime, I’ve started The Skipper’s mother’s stole with MadelineTosh Prairie and there is no way Prairie can be worked with a US 6 needle. In fact, I tried to get away with a US 5 (3.75) UK 9 and had to drop down one size to a US 4. The insane part of me believes that I will finish this stole before the yarn arrives for Pothos. I am not a speed knitter, so this is delusional at best.

The stole I am making is Evelyn Clark’s Estonian Garden Wrap.

1251233270_e1dc44a181_z

I made it a long time ago for me and used a fingering weight yarn in a wool and cotton mix. For the life of me I can’t remember the name because I wanted to use the same yarn for the current one. I will have to take a picture of mine and post it. It was one of the first lace projects I knit and I remember the nupps were just killers. But I love my stole and wear it a lot, so I thought it would be great for The Skipper’s mother.

This time around I am using a true lace weight yarn. The pattern is perfect for the novice lace knitter. The nupps are kept to a minimum and can be altered if the knitter doesn’t want to tackle them.

Knitting is what I will be doing this weekend. I hope to make progress, though the middle finger on my right hand has developed what feels like arthritis. I’d go to the doctor about it but I just don’t want any more radiation. Besides, with the way things are going in the world having a stiff middle finger in the air all the time seems to sum up my internal sentiment. It does, however, interfere with the amount of knitting I can get done so I will have to ask the good doctor about it the next time I see him.

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Masochistic knitting and lace are a match made in heaven. All those yarn overs, decreases, increases, double decreases, double yarn overs, either written out or charted over squares so small that even a dust mite looks huge, these are the elements that could bring a lesser knitter to his / her knees, but not the masochistic knitter. No, the masochistic knitter peruses the chart through a magnifying glass and thinks, “Oh yeah, I got this. No problem.” Add the correct size of circular needles and lace weight yarn that likes to adhere to itself and one is very close to the fine art of masochistic lace knitting.

Purists will say that not all lace knitting is knitted lace. One way  lace knitting takes place is only on right side rows. Wrong side rows, considered “rest” rows, are worked in purls. The other way lace knitting takes place is on all rows, no “rest”. Both qualify as masochistic knitting, though the latter kind will get you into a nicely padded “rest” room in a quiet, calming color faster.

Pothos knit lace shawl 1

This is the Pothos shawl I am knitting for my sister-in-law. When a shawl is unblocked and still on the needles I call it the mouse nest stage. The yarn is  Miss Babbs lace weight yarn called Isadora. The colorway may be Rainforest.

The shawl has “rest” rows. I say this with a insane giggle immediately following my words. Yes, they are all purl stitches, and no they are not restful. In true masochistic knitting nothing is restful. There are just so many ways to mess up that it is hard to get through any row with ease. Yarnovers, double decreases, directional decreases, double yarn overs provide an abundance of opportunities for a mis-knit. On the rest rows yarnovers hide beneath a stitch making two stitches look like one. Knit it that way and there goes the row count. Another masochistic beauty of knitting lace is that being one little stitch off  there goes the whole row of 300 plus stitches down the drain. Holes in lace are strategically positioned. When they are not in their proper places it is noticeable.

pothosh lace knit shawl 3

I know what you are thinking: This is what a life line is for. The knitting gets ripped back to where the life line is technically holding the correct amount of stitches in their correct order. In true masochistic knitting this is a theory that doesn’t always hold true. In masochistic knitting many bad things can happen to a life line.

The most masochistic of all those things is thinking the count on the life line is correct only to realize it isn’t. There are so many ways this can happen but here are just a few: 1) The life line count is really correct but you’ve miss counted that count twice and are now slowly removing the life line and trying to catch all the teeny crazy stitches knowing if you do it successfully you’ll just have to rip out the next row too to get back to a correct count. 2) You missed a stitch when you inserted the life line and said stitch is now obscenely dangling unhinged five rows below. 3) When you pulled the knitting off the needles to rip it back to the life line you somehow also removed the life line from most of the 300 plus stitches.

This is only an introduction to the art of masochistic knitting and lace. There is so much more to share with you.

 

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