Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tips for Knitting Lace

Just a few words things that have saved me time and effort as I've knit lace.

Now, you must understand, I love to knit lace. As a matter of fact, a lace scarf was the first project I ever started. It may have been the 10th or 12 project I completed, but it was the first one I started. Once upon a time, I did start knitting a swatch. I got knit and purl down and was bored out of my mind. That swatch probably got ripped out. So then I decided I wanted to knit lace. You heard me right. Lace.

FTW, lace is almost always a bad idea for a first project, because it requires a larger knowledge base than plain knitting. There are whole books out there about the different kinds of stitches possible in the different styles of lace knitting. Estonian lace enjoys a high degree of popularity right now, and makes unholy stitches out of things like purl 9 together through the back loop. Don't get me wrong, it looks absolutely lovely in the finished project, but oh dear god, is it ever difficult to master with just 2 needles.

I digress. I started knitting lace, and learned along the way, some things that would have saved me hours and hours.... and hours of time. Here's the short list:

  • Lifelines - a piece of smooth yarn (I recommend crochet cotton) that you thread through your stitches. Here's a video on how to put one in your knitting. I highly recommend them when you're about to start a row with a new pattern repeat. It saves much time otherwise spent tinking.
  • Stitch markers! Good stitch markers for lace are hard to come by. If you find one that doesn't snag your lace, doesn't slip around the YO's, and doesn't dangle or tangle in your lace fabric - STASH UP ON THOSE BABIES. They are worth their weight in gold. They're very handy for putting at the end of a pattern repeat. Let's say you have 30 stitches, and 4 repeats of a 6 stitch pattern, with 6 border stitches on either side. You'd have a stitch marker after the first 3 border stitches, another after 6 stitches, another after the next 6, and so on until you're left with a stitch marker and 3 border stitches. Granted, that sounded way easier with only 30 stitches. It saves much time otherwise spent counting when the row is 120.
  • Chart holders! Of any kind or variety. I'm partial to clear plastic folders or sheet protectors with a sheet of cardboard inside it to give it some rigidity. I take lace knitting pretty much everywhere, and I need something durable to protect my chart. Knitpicks offers a magnetic chart holder as well. Because without a good chart, I'd be lost and having to tink. It saves much trees lost in reprinting.
  • Post-it notes! They come in all shapes and sizes and are great for marking where you are in the pattern. Place it right above the row you are knitting so you don't lose your place or read the wrong line and start knitting the next row instead. I cannot tell you how much time I've lost tinking because I knit the wrong row. Post-it notes live in my supply bag.

That's it for now. Dinner calls.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Miss Adventures


I'm baaaaack. Craziness intact. Proof of concept?

I was taking pictures for the new pins going into the shop this week. For the life of me, I cannot find my two-toned Icarus shawl that I prefer to use for pictures. The lovely blue-green transition serves as a wonderful foil for metal. Terrible pun, I know. Anyways, I have no idea where it is. If you find my Icarus, please tell it to come home. I wound up using my Panache shawl for pictures instead, and the fuzzy alpaca halo created this intriguing warm tinge all over the white spaces in the picture. While it was an interesting effect, it was not what I wanted. So what did I do in response?

I casted on Bitterroot by Rosemary Hill. Clearly, this is the sane response to a lack of cool-toned shawls. When lacking shawls in the blue, green, or purple variety, one should simply cast on another one. As if I didn't have enough projects on my needle to begin with. Ha! To make this more challenging, I'm knitting in Malabrigo laceweight. You know, that gorgeous, single ply, soft yarn that's almost as impossible to frog as Rowan Kidsilk Haze. Clearly, I'm touched in the head.

I do love this pattern, though. Anyone who's knit an Icarus will feel alot of similar design elements and the rhythm of the lace will breeze past your fingers. I'm nearing the end of the repeats for chart A. I'm doing the shawlette version, so hopefully she will make her debut in the shop photos within a week.

Yes, you heard me right. A week. I knit a disastrously small Damson by Ysolda Teague in 6 days. It's how I fell in love with Malabrigo in the first place. Originally, it was intended for a friend who's going away to vet school. I had cast it on size 4 (3.75mm) needles because I'm a loose knitter. So I thought it would come out to a reasonable size, which it did. Once blocked, it was almost exactly the size in the pattern. Except, that size would have been perfect for my friend's first born child. Whoops! I also advise against starting the lace section after 10 pm at night, two hours after your flight's been delayed. This is not a clear-minded time, for separating out 8 repeats of 36 stitches. Just sayin'

Knitting break over, though. Time to resume happily knitting obsessively.
Welcome to Crazytown, where my friends have proclaimed me queen. Why did they do that you ask? For some reason, there's very little that I fear about knitting. Hmm, a dress in laceweight done in lace knitting written by vogue? Sounds great! I have very few inhibitions when it comes to knitting, and that sometimes ends disasteriously. Apparently, other people think this signifies a level of crazy that only the royalty can attain. Follow along with my escapades as I dive head first into all sorts of insane techniques and projects without much more than an "Oh! That looks pretty, I can make it!"

Those will probably be my famous last words.