Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Morning Knit Wit ~ Fairy Dust Lace Weight Yarn

With summer approaching, my weekends have been busy with spring cleaning and yard work, so there has been little time left over for knitting.  I have been knitting some summer projects (mainly lace weight shawls and wraps), but as I mentioned last week, it seems that I have been spending more time ripping them out than knitting them together! 

One stitch forward, Three back ... 

So, I have been focusing on spinning project.  There is nothing more relaxing than spinning ~  especially when you are working with some dream merino and silk blend.  This stuff just seems to spin itself! 

My friend, April purchased an entire pound of the is lucious fiber. Yes, that is 16 oz of pure softness.  My job is to spin it into a lace weight two ply yarn.  We are then going to split it and each knit a shawl.  I think it will be so interesting to see how different each of our knit projects will turn out using the exact same yarn.

So far, I have 317 yards ready for the needles, which is just under 3 oz.  So if my math doesn't fail me, we should get about 1,600 yards of this dreamy fairy dust yarn! 

Hoping to have my green shawl completed for next week.. 
Until then, keep your needles clicking and HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Morning Knit Wit ~ Burgandy Lace Wrap

I've spent the past two months knitting and ripping out lace shawls. Mostly ripping if truth be told. In fact,  I have another triangle shawl that I put aside because I need to rip back 8 rows and I just don't want to look at it for awhile.  But, even though these patterns are challenging me mathmatically, I really like the look of lace.

So I decided to try doing a simple rectangle wrap design with the KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) mentality. With the rectangle wraps, there are no changes in the number of stitches each row and it is easy to keep track of.  The result is this ZigZag Lacy Wrap.

What makes this simple design special is the yarn that I used to knit it ~  my own handspun alpaca, merino, silk blend in a gorgeous burgandy with subtle shade changes.  This wrap is soft, flowing and drapes beautifully. 

This photo shows the gradiant changes in shades:

The yarn is in between fingering and sport weight and I used 10.5 US needles to make the zigzags pop. 

I think it is perfect for cool summer evenings as a wrap to keep the chill off.  Or it can be worn as a scarf in the fall too ~ 

I really had fun making this easy lace and knitting with some of my handspun. Sometimes doing something simple will help build confidence for the more complex designs!

Now, off to rip and finish my triangle shawl that awaits me ~~

Keep you needles clicking!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Morning Knit Wit - Lacy Shawls, Nupps and Frogs

I've been working on my first lacy shawl for the past 2 months and I must say that I nearly gave up, concluding that I was not able to knit one of these lovely items.  But with some encouragement from my knitting group, several false starts and plenty of ripping out, I managed to complete one!

I call this Summer Breeze, both because of the wonderfully light weight and the aqua marine colorway that reminds me of a coral reef. 

But it was not completed without frustrations....

I started with a simple pattern using Evelyn Clark's Knitting Lace Triangles book, which is a great knitting 'recipe' book. It explains the construction and you choose the stitches and pretty much design your own shawl. It really is a fool-proof book.. unless you are me, who can mess up anything!

For my first attempt, I used size 5 needles, which is way too small for lace work. Although the leaf pattern I chose came out nicely, it was too close together and the lace was not visable.  I also was reluctant to use the charts and felt I was better off using the written pattern. This would cause me to make slight mistakes that would throw the entire pattern off in the next row. I also used some of my own handspun yarn and the slight variances in thick and thin was not working to my advantage. All things considered, I was bound to fail and my first attempt was a totally frogged project.

I then bought some fabulous blue and purple wool and attempted a different stitch from Evelyn's book, size 7 needles and forced myself to read the charts. This was coming out ok until I stretched it out too far to get a peek at the pattern and half of it fell off the needles!  I couldn't pick up where I left off, so again I frogged it.

I was ready to give up with my piles of frogged yarn, until I was browsing Ravelry one day and came across the Swallotail Shawl pattern by Evelyn Clark. I was already familiar with how she constructed shawls from my previous attempts, so I told myself I would give it one more go at it.  I bought different color yarn (just so I wouldn't be jinxed by using the same yarn that did me in previously) and I went to town.  
Correct needle size - check. 
Reading the charts - check. 
Putting in life lines- check. 
So far so good....
Until... (do you hear the sound track of Jaws here?) .. 


What the heck are nupps?  It is a simple stitch in which you knit in front and back of one stitch 5 times and then on the purl row, you purl them all into one stitch. It makes a nice little bump and adds texture... Kind of like a tiny little bobble.  It sounds alot easier than it is.
Let me tell you how hard it is to purl 5 stitches together and making sure you don't include the YO before and after each one.  It is hard!

So here I am, struggling to do these nupps and with only 2 more rows of nupps left, I get the brilliant idea of searching the Ravelry formus to see if anyone else struggles with these or if I am the only dummy.  And what do I find?  An actual You Tube instructions for the EASY way to do them!  So I went on my merry way, finished the shawl and blocked it to perfection:

I am so very happy that I didn't just give up!

If you are going to attempt your first shawl, I would recommend that you absolutely do the following to avoid any re-dos like I did:
1) Learn to read the charts.  I found that by putting them on my own graph paper and color coding the different stitiches helped me keep on track.  Because even one stitch out of place will ruin the entire outcome.
2) Use the right size needles
3) Put in lifelines every 10 rows.  If you do need to rip out, it is much, much easier to pick up with a life line.
4) Search Ravelry or You Tube for help in techniques that are new to you.  Learning something new can be a huge timesaver!
5)  Don't give up... no matter how much really really want to!

This has opened my horizon with working with lace.  I have started a lovely summer wrap with a zig-zag pattern with some of my hand spun yarn.  It is coming out lovely and I hope to share that with you next week.

Until then, keep your needles clicking ♥

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday Morning Kit Wit ~ My Studio is Finally Done!

It has been 2 months in the making, but my studio if finally completed. I can't say how much I love having a space that is organized and is pleasant to be in while I work. And.. may I say that by doing this, the rest of the house has become less cluttered and organized as well!

The only things I actually bought for this room is a new rug and a computer desk and chair.  (My friend gave me a hand me down table perfect for my sewing machine!).  The rest are things I've had around the house. 

Daryl painted the walls a nice antique white as there are only 2 small windows and the room needed to be lighter.  (My daughter has selected a dark blue for this room when it was hers and it was almost cave-like). He also refinished the wood floor to perfection.  Once that was done, it took me a few weeks to get totally moved in.  Boy ... do I have alot of stuff!

So here is the tour....

This room is at the top of the stairs that I have to give more kudos to Daryl for building this fabulous stair way.  The original stairs were the steep and narrow back stairway that he tore completly out and rebuilt a couple years ago.  Enter....

 Going around the room, I have a shipping station in the corner. Here is where I package my orders, make my tags and I have my summer craft fair schedule. This work table was an artist desk that my parents bought for me when I was still in highschool and an art major. I love this table and it has been with me for many years!

Next I have all my finish products, ready to ship or to pack up for the festivals. And along side that, my yarn stash.  And I'm still finding more yarn stashed here and there through out the house.   Just yesterday I came across yet another basket of yarn tucked away in the front room and said, "Oh look, more yarn!".

In the corner is my knitting and spinning center.  It is next to one of the windows, so I have great light during the day time hours.  And I just love spinning up here!  It is so enjoyable and relaxing to do what you love in a space that you love!  I am spinning some natural brown Romney-Perindale right now that is spinning very nicely.  Next in  the line up is some soft multicolor Merino Silk blend.

The long wall has my computer, printer and file cabinet.  A bit boring, but a necessity.  In the center of the room, I have a round table and 2 chairs for a work table.  And if you are noticing the rocking horse, this was made by my father for my children about 25 years ago.  I love the color and whimsey that it adds to the room.  Not to mention that I think of Dad every time I see it!

The next corner is my sewing station.  My sewing machine has pretty much been in storage for the last 7 years while we have been redoing this house.  It is so nice to finally get it out and working again.  I have a new project ready to go and am taking tomorrow off from my day job just to try it out!  After sorting my fabric, I find that I didn't have as much as I thought.  I feel a shopping trip coming on!

I have a sitting corner and I have to point out the wonderful quilted wall hanging my dear friend April made just for my studio!  Daryl is still working on the closet and there will be doors eventually. I'm excited to have so much storage space.

Next we come to the dormer window area.  This is a space that is limited, but has another light sourse.  I put one of my antique peddle singers here along with my quilting books, buttons  and all my old wooden thread spools.  Can I say I love it!?

Well, there is the tour.  I still need to put curtains up on the windows and Daryl needs to make the doors for the closets.  But I absolutely love my new space.  And I think my family is happy that our living room has turned back into a living room.

I'm currently knitting a lace shawl and hope to have that ready to show you next week.  It is the first shawl I've ever knit and I had to start over a few times already.  I'm also making nupps for the first time ever.  If you have ever knit nupps, you will know that they are very time consuming and fussy!  But more about that next week.  Until then, I am enjoying my new space and a huge THANK YOU to Daryl for all the help you've given me.  You are incredible!

Until next week, keep you needles clicking!