Posts Tagged ‘shetland’

The weekend was wonderful. I completed the work on the swatches. Instead of photographing them, I decided to scan them into the computer using my copier. Now I’m itching to knit a complete lace project. In order to deal with this urge, I ordered some lace yarn. I don’t have a specific project in mind for the yarn, which means I’ll be creating my own.

It took me a bit to get into the lace groove. I made many mistakes both in reading the lace charts, counting, and mixing up which decrease to knit on the wrong side of the work. Actually, in Shetland lace there isn’t a right and wrong side. That’s part of its beauty and the cause of confusion until I get my mind prepared and working. So I did a ton of ripping, an action lace yarn doesn’t like repeated over and over again. Thank the yarn-gods-that-be for putting up lace yarn in the 1000 yards (914) meters skeins.

When I work Shetland patterns, I prefer to use Shetland yarn. But since Shetland yarn is Yarn Rascal’s favorite I didn’t want to be fending off yarn raid attacks every 15 minutes. So I chose to swatch with non-Shetland lace yarn. This decision helped throw my off my lace knitting game too. While I knew it was the wrong yarn and the lace motifs and backgrounds would look different I didn’t expect such a huge distinction. I spent quite a bit of time changing specific stitches so they would agree more with the yarn and give me a better idea of how the different motifs were working together.

On the particular Shetland lace motifs I used, the lace was worked on both right and wrong side rows. When lace is worked this way it is considered to be knitted lace. When a pattern says knitted lace, I know there are no rest stops on the turnpike, so to speak. On the other hand, lace knitting does have rest stops. In lace knitting, the lace is worked only on the right side row. The wrong side rows are purled and considered rest rows. The yarn I used was better suited for lace knitting because it had good stitch definition. Not all Shetland lace motifs are worked as knitted lace. Many are lace knitting. But I was locked into using two motifs that were knitted lace and therefore felt the shawl would look better if all the motifs were worked in the same manner.

My next adventure is an oldie but goodie. Back to the 1960s girl’s sweater. The sleeve is looking a tad forlorn and neglected. It won’t feel that way by the end of the evening.

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I took that walk down by the river that I waxed poetic about in my last post. Half way through the hour long trek MONA (Mother Nature) straightened me right out. A strong wind was blowing down river from the north. If a wind is coming from the north at this time of year chances are it’s cold. Froze my eyeballs at the halfway point in the walk and realized I really wasn’t properly attired for a constant, cold wind. So I turned around with my back towards the wind and continued walking only backwards. There’s a bit of cosmic irony in that, but let’s not plumb the depths. By the time I finished, my hands were frozen, I couldn’t feel my face, and my brain was numb. In short, it worked out well.

Today I am determined to pull together this lace shawl design. I’d like to be knitting swatches in earnest by this evening, photographing them by Saturday night, and sending the pictures out to the company Sunday evening. I get a low throbbing in my left temple each time I run that schedule through my mind. It’s either a blood pressure warning or an impending migraine.

The swatches I’ll be knitting are Shetland Lace designs. All will be in the form of lace knitting in that wrong side rows are not rest rows of purl from one end of the circular needles to the other. No, the wrong side rows are patterned too and one must remember to reverse what is on the charts. Thus it is important to remember whether I am on a right side row and knit the chart as is or a wrong side row and reverse those directional decreases. I can’t have myriad interruptions and work on Shetland Lace at the same time without messing up. In fact, the ideal place for me to knit Shetland Lace is a cloister where the occupants have taken a vow of silence. The least ideal place for this type of knitting is where I am currently living.

I need to have 4 to 5 swatches of 25 to 35 stitches and 20 to 30 rows each. I have searched and for the life of me, can’t find my lace needles; the ones with the extra sharp points. Blunt points don’t work well with this kind of lace. But blunt points is all I can find in the needle cache. It sounds like it is going to be a long, tear filled night, but I am trying to stay positive. It’s still very cold and windy out. The river has whipped itself up into a fine froth and I think I may be coming down with a head cold. But I must stay cheery and positive because I don’t want to take another walk.

Here’s to getting things done. Have a great weekend.

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Lots of knitting going on around here. Between collecting seeds from well-loved garden plants and doctor visits it’s been busy.

The 1960s girl’s sweater’s front and back are completed. The three needle bind off at the shoulders is also done. One sleeve is in the works. The maths for all the sleeves and sleeve caps is completed. I am particularly surprised at how well the plackets on the front came out. The front was worked in one piece up to the beginning of the placket, where I then divided it. Working both sides at once was a novel construction for me. Usually new construction techniques cause their fair share of headaches, but this one didn’t. It almost felt like the sweater wanted to be made this way.

I think what may have helped too is that I purchased the buttons before I ever got to the plackets. Usually, the buttons are the very last thing I buy and buttonholes and button bands are made for buttons I don’t have yet. Having them on hand and planning the plackets around them made the entire buttonhole and band experience go as smooth as silk. From now on, the buttons will be purchased ahead of time.

I’ve taken some time off from the girl’s sweater (I really need to come up with a 1960-ish name for it. Projects without a name feel like orphans to me). Instead I’ve spent time playing with Shetland lace designs for a triangular shawl that until two weeks ago I had no idea I was making.

The living room floor looks a little like a kindergarten classroom. Scissors, graph paper, pencils, erasers, cello tape, small cut out shapes, enough eraser residue to make a small mound, snippets and fine curls of paper here and there and Yarn Rascal relentlessly trying to position himself in the middle of it all to steal the pencils.

It’s the most familiar way I know to create lace shawls. Graph out the lace motifs, have a brown craft paper cut out of the size and shape of the entire shawl, and then start moving the lace motifs around until I come up with something that is pleasing. Since the background paper of the shawl is brown, and the lace motifs are cut out of white graph paper, I get a better idea of the impact negative space has on the motifs.

On Ravelry, I’ve posted my request for test knitters via the Free Pattern Testers group for the Forgotten Love Socks. Pop on over if you’re interested.

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Yarn Rascal swept the Golden Paw category Friday evening by winning two Golden Paws in one 6 hour period.

Friday I had emergency oral surgery. While the end result was successful, the process was difficult and long. I rate anything dental related on the same enthusiasm scale as getting in a bathtub filled with sea snakes. Add the phrase oral surgery and it has the same effect on my central nervous system as the thought of spending an evening in the reptile house at the Bronx Zoo when one of their asps has gone missing. (“Really, it’s just a baby asp with the cutest little deadly face….”)

No sooner did I arrive home then the Novocaine wore off and the second part of fun time began. I can only speak for myself here, but why do they call medicine for pain “painkillers”? I have had “painkillers” that have made me extremely sick and not touched my pain and I have had ones the make me very sleepy and don’t touch the pain. At no time in my life have I had any medication that stopped the pain.

Friday evening’s “painkillers” was the sleepy-didn’t-touch-the-pain kind. After I took the medication I decided to sit down and work on a small section of a Shetland Lace piece I’m playing with. My thinking was if I concentrated on something intricate it might take my mind off the explosions of pain in my mouth. So out came my Shetland yarn in Cobweb weight. The lightest of the light lace yarns. The kind that snags easily and can become a knotted mess if I breathe on it wrong. Right along side the Shetland yarn came Yarn Rascal. Shetland is his most favorite of all yarns. He was besides himself with delight that I took it out of the yarn vault.

I didn’t get deep into the Shetland Lace piece before the medicine hit me. Between the surgery, the pain and now the medicine I felt very tired. Without thinking I laid my wooden needles, the Shetland Cobweb Yarn, and the small piece of knitted lace on the table beside my knitting chair and went upstairs to bed.

It probably wasn’t more than 5 minutes later when Yarn Rascal appeared in the bedroom doorway thumping his tail for all he was worth. When I look back on it now, I can see he was besides himself with happiness and did everything he could to convey that to me. I remember lifting my head off the pillow and mumbling something like “eeeese” meaning please, but I could form the pl sound because it was too painful to do so. I also remember a clicking sound, like wood needles make when knitting. Yarn Rascal has this habit of when he has lost all self control and is doing what he should not be doing, he whines, thumps his tail wildly, and whines again as if to say “please, someone help me.” He was doing that in the doorway. My last thought before sleep over came me was “Oh noooo….”

The Skipper found the disaster. Yarn Rascal had decorated the living room, stairway, and hallway right up to the bedroom door in Cobweb yarn. It was draped everywhere. The Skipper said it looked like something we’d do for Halloween. The wooden needles were just outside the bedroom doorway. They were size 3, one of the sizes I never have enough of. Much to his surprise, The Skipper also found his crossword puzzle pencil that he was searching for. It was Yarn Rascalized, meaning it was covered in teeth marks and looked like something a beaver might leave outside one’s door.

This is all that is left of a full ball of the Cobweb yarn. The chances of me untangling what remains is zero.

shetland yarn rascal

And so Yarn Rascal gets a Gold Paw for his work with the Cobweb yarn and he earns a second Golden Paw for daring to touch and then destroy The Skipper’s Crossword Pencil. The really bad thing about the pencil is Rascal had to climb onto the dining table to get it. Now we have to figure out how he’s doing that.

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Yes, it snowed last night. Blizzard conditions. This morning’s dawn was a gentle rosy hue that softened the all white landscape. Snow artistically swept into graceful forms covered the lower third of the door. After two tries, I finally forced open the frozen door and stepped outside to shovel an area for Yarn Rascal. My eyeballs nearly froze, the temperature was so low. I came back in, found my old ski goggles and resumed preparation for Yarn Rascal.

The sun is full up now and everything outside sparkles like fine crystal. The below zero temperatures (below -17 Celsius) make everything so crystalline. I am almost delusional enough tempted to break out the camera and search out some good shots. Frankly, I don’t know if the camera will even work in below zero temperatures. And the car, which I didn’t quite get around to winterize, won’t turn over. I’ve been so far down in the weeds with my tech editing work and the Shetland Lace Baby Blanket and Yarn Rascal antics that other things have slid beneath my radar.

The Shetland Lace Baby Blanket progresses.

Shetland motif ktb

It’s construction is from the center out, known in Shetland terminology as a Borders Out design. I love this particular motif called Cat’s Paw. I think it will make a sweet center for a baby shawl. I fiddled around and ended up spacing the motifs farther apart than usual. I also decided to begin and end with a full motif top and bottom, while the sides of the center will have half motifs every other motif row. In addition, I substituted k2tbl (knit 2 through the back loops) for sl 1, k1, psso. It doesn’t make a big difference unless you know to look for it. The picture below shows the motif worked with the sl 1, k1, psso.

shetland motif skpo

This is the motif when worked with k2tbl.

shetland motif kbt2

When dressed (blocked) like the sl 1, k1, psso swatch it will be nicer looking in a tidy kind of way. The skpo was a looser stitch that sometimes made the left side yos noticeably larger than the right. Also, it didn’t always form the neat tight bead-like center I wanted. The k2tbl does the opposite. In fact I need to be mindful each time a yo is followed by k2tbl because it has a tendency to make the yo too small if the tension is too tight.

The blue yarn on the bottom is the provisional cast on. Knit 4 rows in waste yarn then join the Shetland Yarn. I tried other provisional cast ons and the results were less than optimal. When it comes time to start the borders I will be cutting the waste yarn thread very carefully and picking up the stitches seen here.

provisional cast on

Of course, what would a picture of Shetland Yarn be without it’s most ardent admirer. Yarn Rascal jumped from the bed into the chair as I was photographing the shawl last night. Caught red handed. He just can’t help himself.

Randi Shetland Yarn Caught


He is so totally busted.

Have a good weekend.

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‘Tis The Season

At the moment, I am caught up researching Shetland lace motifs. Very late one night while cruising the web, I found 299 wonderfully photographed archival pictures of Shetland lace shawls made in the late 1800s to mid 1900s all on one site and nicely grouped together. The photos contain motifs and design elements that I want to further study and that I may or may not include in the Shetland Baby Shawl I am designing. While I can find the site, I can’t find the 299 pictures. This is the story of my life in microcosm.

Yarn Rascal experienced his first Christmas. Within one hour, every toy had some kind of hole in it, or portions of it gnawed away. I am now looking into toys made specifically for destructive chewers. I am also looking for toys that will keep his mind occupied and present a challenge for him in figuring them out. Much of what I read about destructive chewers is that they need challenges. They also have a lot of energy that needs to be worked out. Yarn Rascal has a bottomless source of energy. Yesterday, The Skipper’s grandkids came over. The kids and Yarn Rascal played all day. 10:30 at night, everyone is gone and Yarn Rascal is still bouncing around.

I went over to see my family yesterday. Mom, Dad, sister, brother-in-law, and 2 nephews. My brother-in-law’s brother brought unexpected guests to dinner. Two were from Peru and spoke almost no English. One was Israeli and seriously kosher—my sister was serving ham, imagine how happy this made her. The last guest was from Moldavia. I don’t know how it all turned out, I left while the appetizers were being served and my sister and her husband were hurriedly discussing where they could get kosher food at 5 pm on Christmas Day. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that once the “kosher” food came into the “unkosher” kitchen, especially one with a ham in its oven, the food is no longer considered “kosher”.

I am hoping for a quiet day today. The Skipper’s family is coming up from Maryland, North Carolina and Georgia tomorrow. I adore his sister and mother and I realize the time I have left to share with them is growing less and less. His mom is well into her 90s and his sister has a rare cancer. His sister has been a model of dignity, grace, and respect throughout deciding to live and embrace life while she can. She is a very special to me. The Skipper built one of his trucks for her. She’s wanted one for two years now. I decorated it to fit her style and personality. We are going to surprise her with it tomorrow.

I know I’m a little early, but have a good weekend.

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Yarn Rascal was besides himself with happiness yesterday. The Shetland yarn from Jamieson and Smith arrived. I have only nice things to say about J and S. Everything I’ve ever purchased from them has been neatly packaged, arrives quickly even though customs can be a small nightmare. Their customer service is wonderful and I am honestly thinking of ordering more of their yarns to try them out. I love the Cobweb Lace Yarn for the baby shawl. Yarn Rascal spent most of the evening running up the stairs to make sure the door to the yarn vault, in which his precious Shetland wool resides, was truly closed. Then he’d wander back down. Sit with The Skipper and me for a bit, then back up the stairs the check the yarn vault door. It was good exercise for the little Rascal. At 9 p.m. he fell out on the couch, eyes glued to the ball of Shetland I was using for the cast on. At 9:03 his eyes were shut tight dreaming of Shetland Sheep.

I chose the Cobweb Lace Yarn because it gave me the look I wanted; sea foam briefly left on the sand as the wave retreats. I also like the feel of the little bit of lamb wool spun in. It makes the motifs look nicer and gives the whole thing a bit loft.

I know I said I would write about how to alter the neckline for the baby sweater, but that will have to wait until Monday. Friday is shaping up as the day from hell, starting with trying to track down my regular doctor before he goes off into the wild blue yonder of the weekend, and a list of other nasty errands that just suck the energy right out of me. Hence the tracking down of my doctor. I have really been sucked dry of energy lately and I think it’s time I stop making excuses for it and get it checked out. I am so exhausted that even the small things seem like rolling a huge bolder up a steep hill. Add to that a good deal of pain in the area where they removed my lymph nodes and it all just wears me down. That part of my body has become some sort of a weather barometer. When I get the pain I know to turn on the weather channel to see not what’s coming, but how long my pain will last. The new normal.

Have a good weekend.

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The weekend was restful even with Yarn Rascal in full Yarn Rascal mode. Autumn in this area of the world has decided to wear pastel colors this year.

autumn 5

Leaves the color of fire’s flame so bright you’d think the hills were burning are not with us this year.

autumn 6

Intensity gives way to toned down color and only comes to life with the sun shining behind.

autumn 2

autumn 3

Though the Japanese Maples seem to remember what Autumn once looked like.

autumn 4

The Shetland Lace Swatch grows.

shetland lace

Like watching grass lengthen, isn’t it? The pink yarn is the life line. I am sure that the bottom pattern will be the large border even though I have only knitted 85 rows of the 135 plus that make up that border. Above the life line I am sampling break patterns, fill-ins, elements for smaller borders, and patterns for the center. When I am done with what I am now looking at as a sampler, I will pick-up stitches along the edges and try out various edgings to see what I like. I am really enjoying the swatching process. I would never have thought I’d say that.

I’d like to include the Cat’s Paw and/or the Rosebud motif somewhere in the shawl. If I do, then I need to also include some eyelet motifs elsewhere to balance things. I am also leaning toward small trees and/or ferns designed to echo the diamond pattern so prevalent in the large border. The problem with trees and ferns is that they are directional. They have distinct tops and bottoms. If I include them, I will have to rethink my borders out design and look to the traditional way of putting the shawl together: sewing / grafting it all together. But let me not panic now. It’s too early in the design process to run around with my hair on fire.

Good news! The Skipper is wood working again. He is spending time in his two man caves: the basement and garage. I, on the other hand, have ordered the final book I wanted on Shetland Lace called A Legacy of Shetland Lace. I could just squeal with delight!

The last bit of info I want to share happened to me Friday and I want to pass it along to other women who might be going through or know women who are going through breast cancer stuff. I went to the dentist on Friday. It seems that when a woman receives breast cancer treatment one of the things that takes a negative hit is saliva. That’s right, the much under rated, never thought about, spit in our mouths. Saliva is crucial to teeth and gum health. It provides much needed calcium and other enzymes that teeth and gums need to counteract the bacteria, plaque, etc. Cancer treatment significantly reduces the amount of saliva produced and wipes clean what little is left of the calcium and enzymes needed to maintain dental health. Say hello to root canal work. The R and C words when put together are in the top 5 of the least favorite words I want to hear. If you are going through breast cancer, see your dentist and start an oral hygiene routine that will help women like us avoid expensive dentistry while keeping our mouth and teeth healthy.

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The Shetland Lace Shawl swatch continues to grow. It’s at 61 rows now, with 20 more to go. Reading the chart seems less daunting than when I started. The patterns make more sense to me. The knitting itself more rhythmic. I am no longer taking in a breath at the beginning of the row, holding it, and finally letting it go at the end of the row. Breathing normally while knitting makes for a better experience.

One would think that something made from so fine a yarn and full of lace holes would be long on good looks but not warmth. Not true. The amount of warmth this piece provides is well beyond what I thought. Any item made from this yarn will provide toasty warmth. No wonder the Shetlanders used this fine wool for socks, undergarments, shawls and the like.

I am hunting down 2 more Shetland Lace books. One is out of print, but I bet I can find it on Amazon anyway. The books will have to be acquired through the mail, which means I can’t just slip them quietly into the bookshelf and not have The Skipper notice them. I can sense that one way ticket coming.

I keep nudging him towards his woodworking downstairs and in the garage areas so he is out of my hair. That’s where he needs to be, wrapped up in a project, for me to ease the books into their rightful place, which is my eager hands.

The next blow for The Skipper will come when I rip out a good part of what I am now knitting to figure out yardage. Whenever I rip back some or all of what I have knitted, it is like nails on a chalk board for him. Though I explain it is a natural part of knitting it still annoys him.

I am hoping for a quiet weekend. A weekend of rest. I haven’t had one of those in a long time.

Have a good weekend everyone.

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The swatch for the Shetland Baby Shawl continues.

shetland lace swatch 2

It’s 60 stitches long and 41 rows. I don’t know what it will block out to and I am looking forward to finding out. The motifs shown may make up the wide border of the shawl. I am kind of sold on the diamond at the very bottom, but am not sure about some of the other shapes.

I don’t know what the gauge is yet. I’ll take that measurement after it is blocked or rather dressed. I am going to test out an edging at the top after I finish the entire border motif. Should I keep this particular border I may change the spacing of the motifs. Right now I am planning on working the shawl “borders out” which means making the center first, adding break patterns and smaller borders with more break patterns, then comes the border pattern I am swatching. More break patterns then the edging. Picking and choosing the designs is exciting. Every element that goes into this shawl will be swatched first to make sure it works as a cohesive whole and that I can knit the motif without constantly messing it up.

Right now the swatch looks exactly like I envisioned it: frothy like the foam left by a wave as it retreats from shore. I hope the needle size continues to give me that effect after dressing.

On the camera front, I got the Canon EOS60D and I am loving it. All bad shots are my fault from here on in and not the camera. It’s not small nor is it light weight but I still love it.

The Charlotte Baby Sweater and Hat are almost ready to be sent to the test knitters. Monday I traveled to the not-so-local Joann Fabric Store and found the perfect ribbon to finish the hat and sweater.

lace ribbon

I all but squealed when I saw it.


Tie the ribbon in a bow, sew on the sweater’s antique buttons, which go perfectly with the ribbon, take some photographs of it all and off to the test knitters.

The word from my oncologist is good. Stay of execution granted. I am very grateful for all I have and don’t have.

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