Wednesday, June 22 / 11:12 a.m.

Knitting accessory?

I don't have any progress photos to post, since the front and back of Butterfly are exactly the same. However, I wanted to show you this great new gadget: a nice wooden book stand. You can adjust the tilting angle and moveable arms keep the pages open. I'm very excited about it! It will also be good for putting cookbooks on while working in the kitchen.

The book being modeled is Joyce's Ulysses; I've always been terrified it but finally decided to give it a go. It may not be suitable reading for lace knitting, though... perhaps I should start something in garter stitch!

I'll leave you with a cool knitting link: check out the photos.


Thursday, June 9 / 11:02 p.m.

Gauge... gets you every time.

I cast on to knit the edging for the front of "Butterfly", having completed the edging for the back (and then picked up stitches to knit the body). If I could do it all over again, I would have knit both edgings first, as my gauge has loosened since I knit the first edging, and I'm having a devil of a time tightening up to match. I suppose I could go down a needle size, but that would require altogether too much work (i.e. going out and buying a new pair of needles!).

Not to mention ripping back the too-big edging is NOT FUN. Ah, mohair. I'm convinced it's what the King had in mind when he sang "Devil in Disguise".

I think for most lace projects, gauge isn't a crucial issue, but since in this case (a) both halves need to be the same size and (b) it has to fit me, it's quite important. Also, I've knit so few lace projects that I don't really have a 'feel' for whether I'm knitting tightly or loosely yet. In stocking stitch I can knit a whole project loosely or tightly, on purpose, and manage to maintain even tension. In lace, I'm just trying to make sure I stick to the pattern as I increase and decrease (the secret to my success so far has been lots of post-it notes).

Speaking of gauge, if you're knitting a project and just can't get it (or trying to adapt a pattern for a completely different gauge), you should download "Jim's Handy-Dandy Little Knitcomp Program." It's free, and it's saved my (knitting) bacon on more than one occasion.


Tuesday, June 7 / 11:31 a.m.

Make a pot of coffee and settle down for the morning

If you're anything like me, you go on bouts of knitting web-surfing. You check out the newest catalogs, or if there aren't any new ones you haven't yet seen, you search for obscure knitting studios that might have 'new-to-you' patterns. You window shop at online knitting stores (in my case, the prohibitive shipping costs to South Korea are what prevent me from adding items to my shopping cart, but I'm sure you have your own reasons). You look for new blogs with interesting prose, interesting projects, or interesting pictures (you come across the triple-threat blogs that contain all three but rarely). You skim all the postings on Knitter's Review. You download free patterns you'll probably never knit, 'just in case.' And, more often than not, you're convinced that you've seen it all. That you've spent so much time reading knitting web sites, that there's nothing more to read. Jaded, you turn off the computer and go back to that stalled project. When it stalls again, you'll go back to the PC to find that, happily, there are new sites! New catalogs! New postings! And even old sites you hadn't found.

If you're anything like me, you'll spend an enjoyable morning perusing the Victoria and Albert Museum's online knitting exhibit (link courtesy of Claudia Knits). They've got items from the collections, an explanation of regional knitting in the British Isles, really really egotistic interviews with British knitting designers, a free surrealist pattern, free 1940s patterns, and a free Rowan pattern ("Liberty" from "Classic Cafe"). I hope, however, that unlike me, you won't be ripping back row upon row of knitted lace mohair while you read it!


Friday, June 3 / 12:55 p.m.

Thing of Beauty

My latest project is "Butterfly", a (randomly) beaded lace camisole from Rowan 37 designed by Jennie Atkinson, who is, I believe, new to the Rowan team (correct me if I'm wrong), and it is a Thing of Beauty (capital letters Absolutely required).

I'd planned to knit it in a lavender colour but when several balls of kidsilk haze were put next to several different colours of beads, the only combination I really liked was the one photographed: a very pale pink called "pearl". The shiny glass seed beads are pale pink and off-white, and I think the colours combine nicely for an antique lace effect.

I really like the effect of knitted lace, and I also enjoy the process, but its low wearability factor has led to few lace projects for me. I have a gorgeous white lily of the valley shawl my grandmother gave me, and I think I've worn it once (and even then, it didn't really go with my outfit). I might occasionally sling a wrap across my shoulders but a lace shawl is really too fussy for my style. A tank top, on the other hand, is just the ticket, which is why I was very pleased to see this design in the latest Rowan. I think I'll be able to wear it with skirts (over a beautiful silk camisole that I have yet to find) or jeans (over a plain cotton spaghetti-strap tank).

So far the knitting's gone smoothly and surprisingly quickly, except for one ridiculous mistake that forced me to rip back 25 rows or so. When you're knitting lace with beads and mohair, ripping back takes as long (if not longer) than the knitting itself. To solve this problem, I plan not to make any more mistakes!

The one thing that worries me is the seaming, as it will make or break the piece. Fortunately there are only two side seams, but I haven't seamed anything lacey before (who HAS? Not much seaming to do on a shawl or scarf!) and I'm a little worried. Anything like backstitching where you end up with bits folded to the inside (sorry, I don't sew so I don't have the proper vocabulary) would show, but the more invisible mattress stitch has only been successful for me in stocking stitch so far. Ah well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it - I'm still not finished the back. I think I definitely won't use the Kidsilk Haze for the sewing but probably sewing thread.

I'll leave you with a closeup of the stitch pattern, which I believe is quite common (at least, it looks very familiar, but then it should as I've been spending a lot of time staring at it lately!):

I'm also working on "Hobo", another tank top from Rowan 37, and I've got lots of ideas about knitting these days so I should be back to blogging for the forseeable future. Winter and its light levels unfavourable to knitware photography bogged me down for a while.