Lacy shawl

I wasn’t entirely kidding when I said ‘next blanket…’ – the big belly that’s currently rather getting in my way will be turning into a baby in eight weeks or so and so this is on its way to wrap him up.

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I started it a while ago but as I’m making it up as I go along and am now on the fun bit (the borders) I can just keep knitting until the arrival is imminent then pop the edging on. I really like the process of sitting down with graph paper and pencil and making up borders. I’m using design elements from Sharon Miller’s Heirloom Knitting (which is an awesome resource and workbook with some beautiful projects) but one thing I really love about lace knitting is that you can make things up. Some of the motifs I’m using aren’t official and don’t have names, I just drew a load of symmetrical increases/decreases and yarnovers in groups and started knitting.

One great tip I picked up was from Kate Atherley‘s blog (editor of Knitty.com) about double decreases – usually written in patterns as sk2po (slip, knit 2 together, pass slipped stitch over). She suggests an alternative using s2kpo (slip two at the same time, knit, pass both slipped stitches over together). Which creates a perfectly vertical decrease rather than the slanted one a normal sk2po creates. Illustrated on her blog here. I’m using both in this shawl because there are some occasions where the slanted decrease ‘finishes’ a line of decreases perfectly and some where the vertical one carries the look of the motif upwards. Nice to have the option!

As usual when I’m enjoying a knit I immediately want to knit a load more like it – when it’s a blanket, I want to knit blankets. When it’s lace I want to knit lace. I’ve still got a huge cone of Jamieson & Smith cobwebweight from w-a-a-a-y back when and I’m starting to feel like I might be able to tackle it now…

Bad decisions – possibly

When you’re in the throes of moving house, into what Americans call a fixer-upper and I would call a wreck, it’s possibly not the greatest time to start a lace shawl.  The realities of spending days scraping off wallpaper, filling holes in skirting board, hands rougher than sandpaper and no energy in the evenings for reading lace charts mean that progress can be slow…

However, the cosmetic stuff that I can actually do (as opposed to the structural stuff that a builder needs to do) is nearly done for the meantime, so progress on the shawl is actually being made. I’d like one of those Ravelry progress bars to show that I’m on the last foot or so! I’m really loving this colourway – sometimes you just can’t tell how a handpainted yarn is going to come out when you knit it, but this is gorgeous. Violet Green’s lovely laceweight.

I’ve also got as far as retrieving the stash from the spare room where it’s been lurking amongst boxes of books for weeks, so there’s every chance that I’ll soon have too many things on the needles again. Which makes me happy.

Bored now

While the sampler shawl is doubtless going to be very pretty, the knitting of it is boring in the wrong way. It doesn’t look like anything at the moment of course (because lace never does), but the colours are coming out beautifully.

The patterns are repetitive, but because they’re all infinitesimally different, you can’t just memorise and knit on auto-pilot. I’m nearly halfway through and I’m still having to read the charts every line or so. I’m never still reading charts by this point in a shawl. Because of the constant switching from one pattern to another very-similar-but-not-the-same pattern it takes quite a bit more concentration than I was bargaining for, without any of the satisfaction you get from radically different patterns. I think next time I do a sampler shawl I’ll use some of the awesome Estonian and Shetland motifs (which is possibly a terrible lace-knitting faux pas) – the lily-of-the-valley pattern in particular is calling to me.

Unnecessary and probably stupid

Because we’re moving house.

Because I’m surrounded by boxes.

Because the stash is packed and I kept out one skein of laceweight.

Because it’s been in the stash for ages.

Because when I’m surrounded by chaos, if I have to knit then knitting something solid and dependable and simple and reassuring should surely be the order of the day, but bugger that, frankly.

Because the sampler shawl from Victorian Lace Today is so pretty.

Especially when it’s in Violet Green’s laceweight 2ply in colourway Peonies.

New projects

My sideways scarf is finally on the needles.  I like striped scarves, but I like longitudinal stripes, so the easiest way to do that seemed to be to knit the whole thing sideways.  This has meant some experiments to find a needle/gauge that I like and work out what stitch to knit it in.

Sideways scarf
Sideways scarf

After some experiments with the little leftover sockyarn balls scattered like fat hail through my stash, I’ve plumped for a 2.5mm 100cm circular needle and stocking stitch.  I’ve resigned myself to knitting it twice as wide as I’d like and then sewing it up, as I don’t want a garter-stitch side. Picky, aren’t I?   On that needle size, I’m getting about 6.5inches to 50 stitches – so for my 6ft scarf I need around 600 stitches.  A row is taking me a long time… I also want tassels, so am using the steeking method at the end of each row to give myself some ‘spare’ yarn to play with at the end. It makes for messy-looking knitting but I am liking the way the stripes are coming.

And as usual there’s a sock on the sock needles. I averaged a pair of socks per month last year, but have only managed one pair so far this year.  The new ones are a thank-you present for someone who’s supplied me with LOTS of baby goodies for the bump, so I hope she likes the colour. They’re in Violet Green’s hand-dyed sockwool (SoleMate), which is lovely to work with and beautifully comfortable and stretchy when knitted up.

Clover socks
Clover socks

I also couldn’t bear to rip back the borders of the candlelight baby shawl – apart from anything else it wouldn’t have been ready in time for the bump to come home in next month – so I’m comforting myself with the thought that There Will Be Other Shawls whose borders I can knit in garter-stitch. This one will have to stay in stocking-stitch and be done! The edging is the brand-iron edging, which I wasn’t all that keen on at first, but it’s growing on me!

Candlelight shawl border and edging
Candlelight shawl border and edging

It isn’t quite finished yet, because I’ve run out of yarn just before the last side, so waiting for another ball to arrive now!

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