Okay, as promised.... knitting.
I haven't finished much since my last knitting post. I finished a blue version of these socks, and they are very warm and comfy, too. As a matter of fact, they are already in the laundry, because I have worn them so much.
Around the end of December, I started a shawl with the impossibly fine handspun lace weight yarn that is a marvel to look at, and it is hard to imagine anyone ever being able to spin yarn like that. I chose the Fiber Trends Shoalwater Shawl:
The pattern is written for 4 different weights of yarn, so you can knit it with pretty much anything. It is pictured in a beautiful hand-dyed sport weight, but I of course am knitting it in lace weight off white. So, you have to imagine it looking rather fine and foamy. I am 25% done with it... I was wondering if the yardage on the yarn label was right, because it is a triangular shawl and I am halfway through the 4 pattern repeats that the shawl calls for, but I have only used up one of the 4 balls of yarn that the pattern calls for. So I called up my old math teacher colleague (Hi Barb! if you read my blog) and after a bit of figuring she determined that, in fact, it is correct that in a triangle, half the number of rows would really use up only a quarter the yarn. So that is right.
One thing about handspun laceweight yarn, as opposed to commercial laceweight yarn, will make this an interesting project upon completion. You know how usually, blocked lace items look very crisp and precise? Well... due to the thick and thin characteristic of handspun lace weight yarn (yes, even in the minuteness of this incredibly fine 2-ply yarn, there is diameter variation), the finished product will have a more "textured" look than regular lace yarn would achieve. Also, this rippley lace stitch pattern isn't terribly precise or geometric, so I think that coincidentally goes along very well with the textured look the handspun yarn will impart. I think I did a smart thing in choosing that particular pattern for this yarn, and I wasn't even trying! Woot!
I thought I took some pictures of my shawl but they are nowhere to be found... I will get pictures in a bit.
You remember that I am doing two projects at a time? Originally it was so that I would have one 'challenging' project and one 'mindless' project on the needles at any given time. Now that the lace shawl is well underway, it has moved into the 'mindless' knitting category, since I know the pattern well enough not to have to think about it overly much. Therefore I started a new and very exciting project!
I couple of weeks ago two customers came in, and got very excited about the Hanne Falkenberg "Ballerina" jacket that I have on display in the store. Some of you may remember me wearing it at the NETA Knit & Spin last year. Although I love wearing it, I always have felt a little disappointed that I didn't actually knit the one I have on display; I hired my dear friend Alison to knit it for me. I have always secretly wanted to knit a Ballerina for myself. So as you can imagine, with my two customers so excited to get their Ballerina's going, it didn't take much to persuade myself to order an extra kit and knit one along with them! I am so excited and so happy to finally be knitting this fabulous design. I never knew how much I wanted to knit it until I actually started.
So the three of us are knitting this Ballerina together, which is fun! One of the customers lives nearby, in Rockland; the other, who was just visiting at the time of the purchase, lives in California! I got to thinking, I bet I have other customers who have purchased a Ballerina kit from me, or another shop, but who have either never started knitting it or who started it but put it aside for some reason. Because let me tell you, I have sold a number of the kits, but I have yet to see anyone waltzing in, proudly wearing it.... or even sending me a picture of it finished. Where are you all? Dig out those Ballerina kits, girls, and let's knit them together! It will be fun! If you want to knit your Ballerina along with me, email me: yarndemon (at) gmail dot com, and I can set up some kind of email group or something. If nothing else, you'll have me to call on or email to ask questions, and I will have your email so I can regularly touch base with you and prod you as best I can, to finish your project! And then we can all have a gallery of finished Ballerina jackets when we are done... maybe go out to dinner together, wearing them. Here's what my Ballerina will look like when it is done (it is colorway 16):
I am loving knitting this jacket so much! Yes, it is on little needles (it calls for 3.0 mm, but I needed 3.25 mm to get the right gauge). Yes, the pattern is a little wordy... but it is also packed with helpful information and if you just follow it as it is written, it actually is right! I love the geometric progression of the knitting... watching the progress both mathematically and in color progression is a fascinating thing. Because the Ballerina is done in a series of short rows, with regular increases thrown in to make the hem curve gracefully back, every ridge you knit advances you closer to a checkpoint, at which you do something different and have a chance to make sure you have the right number of stitches. It is very logical and beautiful to watch it unfold. Also, this all makes me want to keep working on it, as progress -- even a little -- is obvious to see and the goal is always a little closer. I have worked on it for a little over a week and already I have the front right done, and I am about a quarter of the way along the sleeve. It is beautiful! It is my new favorite thing. Here are pictures, with comments.
These two pictures give you an overall idea of the shape that I have knit so far. I started at the right front and have already taken off the stitches for what in a 'normal' jacket construction would be the side seam. The working needle is the one I am doing the length of the sleeve with.
I love how the sleeve is contructed.... very clever. The whole garment is an amazing construction of short rows. It is magical. In fact, I love it so much that it was the inspiration for my upcoming Knitting Weekend class on short rows that I will be teaching.
Look at this amazing shaping... it is magic, isn't it? Isn't it? Aren't you as fascinated with it as I am? Well... maybe you are not. But *I* think it is treeeeemendously cooooool.
This is a close up of my provisional cast on. I cast on first with contrasting (stash) wool, then knit a row of fine cotton, and then started the garment itself. That way the row I pick up later to do the finishing band around the front and the neck will be at the proper tension. Clever, no? Heh... that's the way the pattern is written; I can't take credit for it. And although the red and yellow look great with the dark olive green, it is just waste yarn that will be removed later.
This next little tip, however, is of my own creation, and it might be a help -- one comment I have heard from people knitting the Ballerina is, how do I keep track of the short rows and the shaping? The thing about the Ballerina is that, right at first, you have pretty much three things going on simultaneously and it might be overwhelming to keep track of. One is the little "mock" i-cord edging for the bottom of the jacket that you knit as you go along. Trust me on this one, after you have knit about 10 ridges (or less), it will just click and you will get it. From that point on it will be obvious what to do when you get to the edge. The second thing to keep track of is to know where to turn, on each ridge, to make the short row shaping. That too is easy, since it is a regular number, and the gap marking the previous turn is blindingly obvious to see. The third thing, though, is not obvious to see and might result in a need to keep track -- and the accompanying possibility of not keeping track, and therefore getting a wrong stitch count later. In the jacket, you increase every so many ridges -- the number of ridges changes as you work through the jacket -- and you need to keep track of not only *when* to increase but also *how many times* you have already increased. You could make a chart of some sort on paper, and tick it off as you work. That is fine, but I am usually pretty good at forgetting to make the tick marks, or losing the paper entirely. I chose a quicker, easy to spot, impossible to lose method: coilless pins. Pin one of those babies on every ridge you increased on, and count from there. You can easily see how many ridges you have knit since the last increase, and therefore how many ridges you need to knit before doing the next increase ridge (and marking it). You can also see how many increases you have already made, by counting the pins. And if you forget to put the pin on, just count up from the last pin you remembered, put the new pin on, and keep going. Coilless pins are a wonderful thing, for knitting. Here is a picture to illustrate:
So that's my knitting, so far. I am very happy and excited with both of my projects, and I will keep you posted on my progress! Email me if you want to join in on a mega Ballerina knitting adventure (my email link is in the margin somewhere, and in the text above).
Happy knitting :)