Cool, showery, windy. Hummingbird wars at the feeder on the verandah. Wish you were here!
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
We're off again, driving up to Dulles tomorrow, and flying out early on Tuesday. This time it's to Montserrat, a very small island in the West Indies, south of Antigua. We're hoping to have internet access, but in case we don't here's a preview with some photos from our day trip in February 2004, and a week-long visit for a ham radio contest in November 2004.
Montserrat from the old ferry, February 2004
Though the volcano destroyed the main city and the old airport, the central and north portions of the island definitely earn Montserrat's nickname as the Emeral Isle of the Caribbean.
The former capital city of Plymouth
The old airport is just at water's edge
The island is very mountainous rainforest for the most part, with beautiful black sand beaches.
On the West Coast
Here's what the Hubs and his brother will be doing
CQWW CW, November 2004
Here's what I'll be doing
Redonda and Nevis at Sunset
I'm taking the Secret Stole and Hypoteneuse as my travel knitting! Oh, and I'll leave you with a cool link to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Knit as a sample for my Intro to Lace class at The Needle Lady, I'm using this as the class project per the request of the owner. This pattern from Victorian Lace Today was also issued as a leaflet to shop owners when the book came out. The first border is knit in garter-based lace, bound off, and the edge stitches picked up for the scarf body.
The body of the scarf is a 4-stitch garter eyelet rib. As I seemed in no danger of running short of yarn, and wanted a nice long scarf, I knit an extra 10 repeats of the body. The second border uses the same chart as the first, is cast on from the last body stitch, and knit as an attached edging.
The merino/tencel worked up quite nicely, and has a very soft, warm hand. Any unevenness in my spinning is well-hidden by the laciness of the stitch patterns.
The pattern was quite straightforward, and other than the tedium of knitting the body (OK, that could be my short attention span talking), this is a quick easy knit. The end result has a lot more impact than the simplicity of the pattern would imply.
Pattern: Scarf with Striped Border from Weldon’s Vol 5, from Victorian Lace Today
Yarn: Handspun Merino/Tencel, 2-ply sport/DK wt, approx 400 yds, 3.5oz
Needles: KnitPicks Harmony, US6
Completed: 10/18/2007, Blocked 10/19/2007
Finished Size: 12” x 68”
Posted by Margaret at 4:38 PM
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I’ve changed my mind.
The Tangled Yoke Cardigan has captured my knitting heart. I just really want to knit this thing. Does it help that I sat right behind Crafty Lawyer’s pretty green TYC for an entire three hour class. Yes!
So, I swatched with Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, which lots of knitters are substituting for the Rowan Felted Tweed. As a very loose knitter, I would have been on US3’s to get gauge and there’s enough texture/stickiness to the yarn that it would have been a bad thing for my hand/wrist/arm, that much knitting at 6spi. So, I had some Classic Elite Wool BamBoo and love the color, sheen, and stitch definition. So, I decided to knit the sweater with this, despite being off gauge, and was going to knit the smallest size’s numbers, and wing it. Got a cuff cast on before Stitches then set this aside while I was gone.
My visit to the evil temptress that is the Webs booth resulted in a sweater’s worth of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light in denim mix. I love the regular Ultra Alpaca – it is soft, forgiving to knit, warm, and holds both it’s shape and blocking well. It can be knit a wide range of gauges equally well. The Light is the very same yarn in a sportweight of 5.75spi. So, I’m on US3’s (but with a soft smooth yarn), just a bit over gauge, but I think the size Small numbers will work. My sleeve/swatch will tell me what I need to do by the time I get to the stockinette section.
Mods so far: I’ve made the sleeve cuff quite a bit narrower, and will have plenty of room for the extra increases with the extra couple of inches I usually need to add to the length.
ETA: I'm seriously thinking about knitting the body in the round with a steek for the front. Anyone want to tell me why I shouldn't?
In the queue
Monday, October 15, 2007
I know some of you are feeling a little hungover from your Stitches purchases. Here at Lots of Yarn, we know how you feel and want to do something about it.
Wanna see what I got? It might make you feel better!! Now bear in mind, I went to the Fall Fiber Festival last weekend. I have Lots of Yarn. I have Lots of Fiber. OOoops.
Scored some Socks That Rock from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. It’s not for me, it’s a gift.
Rosie’s Yarn Cellar had lots of beautiful sock yarns and Sea Silk, but I restrained myself. Knitting Notions’ wonderful kettle-dyed merino in gorgeous colors from laceweight to worsted, is always tempting, but still, I was good.
Visited Skaska Designs and succumbed to some softness. The beginning of the slippery slope.
Kid Hollow Farm from just outside
Then, as they say, I had a little falling down in the Windy Valley Muskox Booth. I have two skeins at home of the pure qiviut, but the blends were my sirens. It wasn’t a fair fight. The samples in Suri Alpaca were too lovely. The qiviut/merino/silk is too soft. I love my little qiviut/silk Swallowtail so much. How could I resist more fiber happiness? Even the merino/qiviut/silk blend is just delightful. I’m afraid I asked her not to tell me what the total was.
What to knit with it? The simple pretty Angel Lace shawl by Evelyn Clark from Mistralee Farm Studio. I also found Melissa Leapman’s Hot Knits at Yarn Barn of Kansas with the sweater featuring the leaf-lace-cable-vee-neck we swatched in class. I think this is what I really want to knit with the Classic Elite Wool Bamboo not Tangled Yoke. And, stepdaughter’s friend just had a baby, so I do have a little person to knit something for!
Saturday afternoon I worked The Needle Lady booth. Lots of wonderful knitters visited us and it was a good show. But, it’s exhausting!
Sunday, I just thought I would walk through the Market one, last, time. Purely unnecessary, gratuitous yarn buying ensued.
I kept walking by the Shelridge Farm booth all weekend. No, no, no I don’t need any laceweight. But, a little fingering weight never hurt anyone, right?
No, no, no I don’t need any roving. Merino/Tussah you say? Lisa Souza hand-dyed roving? OK.
No, no, no I reeeeaallly don’t need any roving. But, I’ve spun with Black Bunny Fibers’
Black Water Abby, just pure enablers there. I had a nice chat about yarn weights, and whether washing first would make the worsted weight soft enough for me to knit Celtic Dreams without my hand falling off. Small sample ball to take home and test it out? Why sure!
What if I just check the Webs booth? Just for a minute? Just to look? At the Ultra Alpaca Light? A Tangled Yoke’s worth of lighter weight of my favorite yarn? Dammit, only $5 more for a 20% discount. A couple of balls of superwash merino for some chunky socks will do the trick. And this Kaffe Fassett Regia will make a very nice gift for another SnB friend.
There. Feeling better now?
Friday, October 12, 2007
Having fun at Stitches, Hon. Two great classes so far. Pardon the quick and dirty photos.
Lorna Miser, founder of Lorna’s Laces, taught us how to knit a set in sleeve from the top down. Krista, that means NO SEAM.
Cables. Melissa Leapman, author of last year’s Cables Untangled, and a wonderful, enthusiastic, funny teacher, had us fly through swatches for
Met up with Mary at the Wharf Rat and enjoyed the sunshine and warm (not hot) afternoon.
The Market is AMAZING! I bought qiviut and cashmere. It’s quality, not quantity that counts!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Long promised, and my last post before heading up to Stitches East, here is my review and comparison of various knitting needles with a particular slant towards lace knitting. There are lots of needle reviews in blogland, so the usual disclaimers apply – this is my opinion, based on my experience (or lack thereof), and my preferences.
IMHO. YMMV. NAYY.
First, here are our contestants from my needle collection (Click photos for a larger version on Flickr):
1. Addi Lace
2. KnitPicks Options
4. Addi Turbo
5. Boye (old Wrights)
6. Inox (Silver)
7. Inox (Gray)
8. KnitPicks Harmony
9. Addi Natura
10. Clover Bamboo
11. Jenkins Woodworking
12. Destiny Circular (no photo, to be reviewed at a later date)
All needles are US5/3.75m except the Clover Bamboo which is a US6/4.25mm (the only plain bamboo I had) and the Jenkins which is a US4/3.5mm. All the needles reviewed are circulars, which is my strong preference for lace knitting. Well, I knit pretty much everything I can on circs.
For each needle I’ll describe: material, tips, finish, join, cable, weight, cost, projects I’ve knit with them, and overall impression. The top three things I’m looking for in a lace knitting needle are: a very pointy tip, smooth finish, and smooth join. Pointy tips are essential for making single and double decreases a joy rather than a pain. You don’t want a lot of drag with delicate yarns and open stitch patterns. But neither do you want a needle too slick for the yarn. Needles flying out of the knitting = bad. Gaps, bumps and bends at the joins are to be avoided so your stitches will glide smoothly from cable to needle tip.
Having a flexible cable can make knitting more comfortable too. A quick soak in some hot water will take care of many cable kinks. And if your project has any substance, its weight will eventually solve the cable issue.
I don’t mind a needle with a little weight to it. Some knitters have complained that the KnitPicks Options are too heavy. But I have a large hand and the weight gives me more feedback on the needle, and hasn’t bothered me yet.
Now, on to the needles!
1. Addi Lace
Clear-coated brass, tapered very pointy tips, smooth finish with a slight grippy feel, smooth straight joins, cables a little stiffer than regular Addis, medium-light weight, fairly expensive. Purchased from Moonrise for $12.
Projects: Mystery Stole in Zephyr laceweight, Forest Canopy Shawl in Handspun BFL fingering weight
These are now my go-to lace needles. The points are very pointy, with a nice taper. The brass finish does discolor a bit with use, but this doesn’t bother me. The finish is very smooth but with just enough drag to it that slick fibers still have a secure feel on the needles. The join is great, but the clear red cable is just a little bit stiff, though not bothersome enough for me to get around to giving it a dip in hot water.
2. KnitPicks Options
Nickel-plated hollow brass, slightly tapered very pointy tips, slippery but not quite as slippery as Addi Turbos, KnitPicks Classic have a smooth straight join, Options have interchangeable screw-in connectors with smooth straight joins and the ability to change cable lengths or add stoppers, very flexible cables, heavy weight, inexpensive (can be purchased as a complete set or as individual tips and cables). Available only from KnitPicks.
Projects: Argosy Scarf with handspun fingering wt, Hypoteneuse in Silky Wool, swatch for Twinings in handspun Merino/Tencel, early rounds of Sea Fever with Ultra Alpaca.
The Options system, which is also interchangeable with the new Harmony tips, are a good addition to the lace needle collection. The tips are very pointy, to the point (HaHa) of being sharp, though the taper is fairly short. The finish is great for yarns with lots of texture, or silk as it can tend to be a little sticky, but perhaps too slick for fine mohair. Watch out for the heavier needle falling out of the first few stitches of a row if using very fine laceweight. As my MIL used to say, regardless of all that, I do like these needles. They have been perfect for the Silky Wool and for knitting the light worsted weight Ultra Alpaca at a tighter than usual gauge.
Teflon-finish, moderately tapered and slightly rounded tips, smooth finish but not slippery, slightly angled joins can develop a teeny gap, cables retain curl but can be softened with a brief hot water soak, medium-light weight, moderate price. Only seem to be available from
Projects: Mystery Shawl 1 in Silk and Ivory fingering wt, Mystery Shawl 2 in Zephyr laceweight, Mystery Shawl 3 in Anny Blatt Fine Kid, Oriel Lace Stole in Miracle Alpaca/Tencel DK.
Though in close up view, the points on the Aero’s are no pointier than an Addi Turbo, the feel of the needles is better for lace. Perhaps it’s a combination of the not-so-slick finish and a very-slightly longer taper. The angle join can hang up stitches just a little.
4. Addi Turbo
Nickel plated brass, moderately tapered and slightly rounded tips, very slippery, smooth straight joins, flexible cables, medium weight, expensive. Available from many sources.
Projects: Flower Basket Shawl in Brooks Farm Primero (because I didn’t know any better), Tangled Yoke Cardigan in Classic Elite Wool BamBoo, lots of socks on two circs.
I love the smooth drag-free finish and unless I am using a particularly slippery yarn (say, Kidsilk Haze), Addis are my needle of choice for most projects. However, the rounded tips that make it great for splitty yarns and general knitting, make these less suitable for lace knitting. I knit my first lace shawl with Addi Turbos with extremely slippery black kid mohair! How I managed to keep my sanity I’m not sure. But, I did keep knitting lace!
Aluminum, blunt taper with moderately pointy tips, smooth finish, slightly angled joins with a bumpy join and stiff cable, lightweight, these were old needles in the stash – price and availability unknown.
Found these in the needle drawer, haven’t knit with them in recent memory, but thought I should compare them in case someone has an old set. The points and finish would be fine for lace. The joins could become annoying, and unless the cable softened it would fight lightweight lace yarn quite a bit.
6. Inox (Silver)
Nickel-plated ??, moderately tapered and pointy tips, smooth finish but not slippery, smooth straight joins, flexible black cables, lightweight. Price and availability unknown.
This is another needle stash discovery, and they look like an old set of what is now Inox Express. Unlike most Inox needles, the join is straight and it lacks the little pinched spot in the cable common to the Grays. I haven’t knit with these in a while, but think these would be fine for lace.
7. Inox (Gray)
Teflon-finish, moderately tapered and pointy tips, smooth finish but not slippery, angled joins can develop a teeny gap, cables retain curl but can be softened with a brief hot water soak, medium-light wt, moderate price. Available from many sources.
Projects: I’ve used the smaller Inox grays for socks and miscellaneous projects, but not for lace. These needles are virtually identical to the Aeros, except that the angle of the join is much greater, and they are readily available. Personally, I don’t like the angle. Others like the way the angled needle rests in their hands.
Rating: B+, maybe an A- since they are reasonably priced and easy to find.
8. KnitPicks Harmony
Laminated dyed birch, slightly tapered very pointy tips, smooth finish-slightly grippy, interchangeable with KnitPicks Options (see above), very flexible cables, lightweight, inexpensive (can be purchased as a complete set or as individual tips and cables). Available only from KnitPicks.
Projects: Striped Scarf with border from Weldon’s No. 5 using handspun Merino/Tencel sportweight, swatched Classic Elite Wool BamBoo (a little splitty).
A wood version of the very popular Options needle, with all the positive qualities, but in a lightweight non-slick needle. The colors in person are not nearly as garish as the website would lead you to think. They are however, a little distracting with a dark or highly variegated yarn, making it a little harder to see your stitches on the needle. With a light-colored yarn, it’s not a problem. Though the tips change material from wood to metal at the join, there is no gap and where laceweight will get hung up.
Note: I ordered three sizes of tips and had a problem on the very first use with a split in the lamination on one set. An email to KnitPicks went unanswered, but a quick phone call to Customer Service took care of the problem and they are sending me replacement tips.
9. Addi Natura
Bamboo, tapered moderately pointy tips, smooth but grippy finish, straight brass join, flexible cable similar to Addi Turbo, lightweight, expensive. Available at some
On an early lace project, I had read about and so tried the Naturas. For a confirmed bamboo needle lover, these would be suitable for lace. Me, I didn’t like the grippy finish or the join. The transition from the bamboo to the brass ferrule has a small depression that caught laceweight yarn constantly, though I think these needles would work much better with a sportweight yarn or heavier.
10. Clover Bamboo
Bamboo, moderately tapered blunt tips, slightly ridged grippy finish, straight joins with a little pinch in the cable, fairly stiff cables, lightweight, moderately expensive. Available at some
Honestly, I would knit lace with these as a last resort. The blunt tips, grippy finish and stiff cables are all great for regular knitting but would make lace knitting a chore. There are many die-hard bamboo needle lovers, and I would suggest the Naturas or Harmony tips over the Clovers.
11. Jenkins Woodworking
Brazilian Rosewood, very long tapered very pointy tips, smooth fine-grain finish, smooth straight join, very thin flexible cable, lightweight, very expensive. Available only from Jenkins Woodworking by special order.
Projects: Secret Stole in silk/cashmere laceweight
These gorgeous, custom-made rosewood needles arrived looking like a piece of fine jewelry. Handmade and signed by Ed Jenkins, these needles are fabulous. The tips have a very long taper that makes double decreases effortless. The points are sharp. While you may want a slightly faster finish for some yarns the fine grain of the rosewood and smooth finish on these is nearly perfect. The cables are very very thin and flexible, great for the lightest of laceweight yarns. These needles were highly recommended by Anne Hanson of Knitspot, and I have to completely agree with her.
12. Destiny Circular (no photo)
Rosewood and Ebony circulars from Lantern Moon with a silky finish. I don’t own any of these, but will get a photo next time I’m at TNL and add some details later.
So, my top five lace needles are (drumroll please):
1. Addi Lace – great overall lace needle, pointy tips, just-right finish, smooth joins, nice cable. And, tied for
1. Jenkins Rosewood – a true luxury lace needle, very pointy long-taper tips, beautiful finish, smooth joins, very thin cable.
3. KntiPicks Options – when you want a fast finish with a pointy tip, interchangeable system lets the cable grow with your project.
4. KnitPicks Harmony – the shape of the Options in a lighter, less slick wood tip.
5. Aero or Inox Gray- reasonably priced, readily available needle, great for someone wanting to try lace without spending a lot or having to order needles online, smooth finish, good tips.
Just for grins, many of the needles were still attached to knitting when I took their photos!
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Here’s a quick post on three classes I’ve taken recently. I like to take classes, even on techniques I’ve done before, as there’s always something, some little tidbit to learn from a good teacher!
Jane gave a series of four classes at The Needle Lady last weekend. Jane is best known for her swing coats, mitered squares, and intarsia sweater designs, and the shop had a trunk show for her visit. It’s amazing sometimes how much better some garments look on than in photos, and surprising that other garments you think you’d love really don’t flatter.
With a background in fashion and textiles in
Saturday morning was the Textures class. We knit a small clutch bag with seed stitch, cables, traveling stitches, embossed leaves, and short rows.
Saturday afternoon was a workshop on sizing, fit, and shaping (particularly sleeves) based on actual body measurements and swatching. Lots of good tips gleaned there!
Sunday was a beautiful clear day to spend at an outdoor fiber dyeing workshop at Stony Mountain Fibers. Organized by the Charlottesville Fiber Arts Guild, and postponed from the middle of the heat wave in August, we had a great time. The group is composed of knitters, spinners, weavers, and stitchers of all sorts, and each brought their experience and a different set of goals for their dyed fiber – most dyed yarn, but several of us dyed roving for spinning or felting. There’s a slideshow with all the photos HERE.
We used acid dyes with a steam bath to set the colors. Some experimented with rainbow dyeing and others with a more variegated approach. Bitty stayed up late doing her homework and dyed a perfect self-striping
Barbara’s new covered patio made a perfect space for the workshop and there was plenty of room for everyone to dye their skeins and then take a little break while they set.
I dyed two sets of roving, and was clearly in a purples mood – Violets and Mixed Berries!
Spinning Silk with Beads and Feathers
This workshop at the Fall Fiber Festival (aka DustBowl) was taught by Linda Witt from Misty Mountain Farm. First, they have wonderful hand-dyed yarns and fibers and if you get a chance check them out at a festival, online, or at their shop in Amissville.
Just when the weather really got hot on Saturday, we got to sit in a nice shady breezy tent and spin all afternoon. Linda helped us with techniques for spinning tussah silk top, and we got a chance to sample some bits of cotton-silk, cashmere-silk(!!!), and merino-silk. Rather than string our beads on a spun single, we used a thin silk thread, then plied that with a silk single. Lots of possibilities there for coordinating or contrasting the bead thread, and the beads too.
Next we learned a knot plying technique to anchor small feathers while plying. This could also be used to add bits of dyed locks, thrums, bits of cloth and such. While I don’t see myself adding bits to my yarn, I did like the knots themselves which made an interesting textured silk yarn and helped break up the barber-poling in the plies.
We had a great time, and now I’ve got some plans for those two balls of hand-dyed silk in my fiber stash.
Monday, October 8, 2007
WIP’s in Active Rotation:
(Yes, I really am working on all of these at different times as the week goes by)
Hypoteneuse Stole: Anne Hanson of Knitspot’s simple, geometric “man-lace”. Easy knitting, goes quickly in DK Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool. Great SnB, car, and TV knitting.
Progress: Into repeat 6 of 18.
Forest Canopy Shawl: Susan Lawrence’s Leaf lace top-down triangular shawl with scalloped edging. Knit with my handspun fingering weight BFL on US3 Addi Lace needles. This is about the easiest lace I have ever knit. Will knit additional repeats, as large as my yarn allows.
Progress: Knit through repeat 10 of TBD.
Scarf with Striped Border from Weldon's No 5: I’ll be teaching an Introduction to Lace Class at The Needle Lady in November. Mimi asked me to use this pattern from Victorian Lace Today as the class project. It’s a very simple garter stitch lace. The first edging is knit, stitches picked up for the body, then the final edging is knit on.
Just to knit once through the pattern, I’m using my handspun Blueberry Merino/Tencel. It’s a sport to DK weight, which is a bit heavier than the pattern calls for, but it will block out to be a nice warm scarf.
Progress: First edging and about 60% of the body.
Secret of the Stole: Another mystery stole, this time designed by DK, the Nautical Knitter. Sign-ups closed on October 4th, but the pattern will be available once all the hints are released. I’m using some Just Our Yarn Silk/Cashmere that I bought at Montpelier two years ago and hand-dyed a lovely soft light blue, iridescent silvery-white #8 seed beads, and my new Jenkins Woodworking Rosewood US4 lace needles.
The first hint came out October 5th and is very easy so far. Two points are knit then joined to make a W-shaped edge.
Progress: Hint #1 Done.
I don’t usually have the patience to knit sweaters. Some of you who know me will be chuckling at the size of the lace shawls I’ve knit and number of stitches in the socks for my size 11 feet and wondering how this can be. Yea, me too. And wondering how I’ve been bitten by the sweater bug this year.
Sea Fever Cardigan: Simple gansey pattern cardigan, knit with Berroco Ultra Alpaca in the heathery lilac color on US3 and US4 circs. At 240+ stitches per row in pattern every row, this one is a long-range project. To make the knitting easier, I cast on three extra stitches and started knitting in the round and plan to machine stitch steeks at the cardigan front, and no reason not to do the armholes too.
Progress: Knit 8” from the bottom edge.
*NEW* Tangled Yoke Cardi: Stockinette cardigan with knotwork cables at the yoke. Decided to go with Classic Elite Wool BamBoo, in the slightly steely medium blue, using Addi US4 circs. The yarn is loosely plied, very squooshy and resilient. The bamboo gives it a nice sheen and silky feel. While swatching with pointy needles (KnitPicks Options) it was occasionally just a little splitty, though with the Addis it’s less so.
Gauge is working out at 5.5spi, so I’m planning to use the stitch count for the smallest size. I’m starting with the sleeves, making them a bit narrower and adding length. I’m giving serious consideration to knitting this in the round and steeking it as well. It’s not that I don’t like purling as much as that it tires my left hand/wrist/arm more.
Progress: One sleeve cast on, garter rib cuff 1+”
In the sweater queue? Lace Cardigan from Louisa Harding’s Modern Classics in Blue Sky Alpaca/Silk, Celtic Lattice Vest from Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Vests in Spirit Trail BFL and Ultra Alpaca, and maybe a vest in some stashed
MadTini Sock Two: Pattern from Sock Madness. My carry around knitting, this will get worked on in bits and pieces. These socks just don’t call to me to be knit on. Need to get them done so I can start something more fun.
Progress: Ribbing and two repeats on the leg done.
Merino/Tencel - Red: My goal is to spin 8oz of 2-ply laceweight. I’ve got the first ounce or so spun. In order to keep the singles at all consistent, I find I need time when I can just sit and spin on this when I’m not tired or distracted.
UFO Hall of Shame:
Felted Tote: Hibernating
Touch Me Scarf: Frogged, will knit it again later a little looser gauge.
Dancing Crayons Wrap: Hibernating. Need another large mitered square and to rework the i-cord edging.
Clapotis: On Hold, pending a decision on what else I could knit with 600yds of this variegated yarn.