Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Something About Lace

Earlier this winter I decided to get away from my usual knitting projects and make myself a small shawl. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting my Lingonberry Shawlette. There is something about lace. It has caught me in it's web of yarn overs and ssk's. I've been queuing up shawl patterns at a mad rate, rifling through my yarn stash, plotting, planning.

The thing, I think, that I love most about lace is how when knitting it, it really looks like nothing spectacular. All those stitches bunched up on the needles make it hard to see any sort of pattern. Then you cast off and it looks a bit better, but still like a small, ugly duckling version of it's future self. Then you block it and it's true beauty suddenly appears.

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Fresh off the needles!

I've just finished knitting the Storm Fir Shawl pattern on Ravelry. It's a beautiful shawl, knit on 8mm needles, using bulky yarn. The pattern claims it can be knit in a day! I'm sure it could have been if I ignored such trivial things as eating, sleeping or taking care of my children, but since I'm not about to forego any of those things it took me about four or five days.

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Having a bath in some Lavender Euclan wool wash
I learned a few new tricks with this one. (I always feel so smart when I learn a new trick!) First off, this shawl was being knit for warmth and somewhat on a whim. I don't generally like to buy yarn for projects that I undertake on a whim anymore because I am fickle and my whims are sometimes short-lived. So I go "shopping" mostly in my stash, which incidentally has been largely built on long forgotten whims and generous gifts from two other knitters who possibly suffered the same fickleness as myself. Anyways, where was I? Ah. Yes. Learning new tricks!

Because I was going for warmth in my shawl (it's going to be my down in the basement shawl for when I'm sewing or watching TV) I chose a blue Alafoss Lopi I had in my stash. To join such bulky yarn in my usual way of just picking up the new strand and starting knitting with it, catching the two loose ends in for a few stitches would be pretty noticeable. Especially on a project such as this. So I decided to get over the fact I've always shied away from "spit splices" for the simple fact it sounds gross. I used to spit polish my drill boots, so really how bad could it be anyways? Turns out, upon actually learning about the technique, you don't need to spit on your yarn the way I had always imagined. Really, wetting your hands under the sink tap probably works just fine if you're opposed to licking your palms as suggested in the tip from designer, Ragga Eiríksdóttir.

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Looking much better after a bath!

So spit splice was my first new trick. The second new trick I learned was a lace cast off. Which sounds like it should be complex, but isn't and I assume it's name just refers to the fact it's suitable for casting off lace, because the cast off itself is not lacey. With my Lingonberry Shawlette all I did was go up a needle size to cast off, but it still seemed a bit too tight to me. Storm Fir directs the knitter to use a sewn bind off or other stretchy method. I really don't like doing sewn bind offs so I sought the advice of the google gods and came up with this method. It simply consists of knitting two stitches together (either through the front or back loop depending on your preference - I did through the front loop for my Storm Fir), then sliding the new stitch back on the left hand needle and knitting it and the next stitch together, repeating the process until done. So very simple and not tight in the least, but not too loose either.

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After blocking the lace pattern really pops out!

I'm really happy with my "Shawl for Warmth", but next up I think I might do a fine guage shawl again. I have some "too pretty for socks" sock yarn that is begging to be knit up as maybe a Holden Shawlette or maybe Warwick or maybe the Through The Woods Shawlette. We'll see...

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