My birthday happened a few weeks ago, and my lovely boyfriend got me this ball-winder and swift. For a long while, I’d been despairing about the $70 pricetag associated with most umbrella swifts, but I recently discovered these square swifts with adjustable pegs — they are widely available on Etsy and Ebay from people who make them by hand, and are generally priced around $20, which makes them an excellent solution for us poor grad students. They are not quite as perfect and magical as umbrella swifts — sometimes the yarn gets caught on one of the arms as it spins — but this is a pretty minor annoyance, and is well worth putting up with for a savings of $50. The swift works great, does everything it’s supposed to, and it also folds flat for easy storage! The ball winder is the new $20 one from KnitPicks, and it’s great — ingenious design, easy to use; I highly recommend it.
These new toys allowed me to turn this:
Apologies for the darkness of this picture; the colors are much truer in the first one. I treated myself to this collection of yarns for my birthday, courtesy of Yarn Lady‘s moving sale. I’ve already made a striped hat (though I still have a million ends to weave in), and I’m working on a matching scarf a la Jane Thorneley, but I don’t have pictured of either of them yet. Those projects are both on hiatus, because I was eager to get to my summer knitting. Behold:
This is a shawl I’m working on with some of that Malabrigo Lace I bought over spring break, in the “Stone Blue” colorway. I’m knitting it from Evelyn Clark’s Knitting Lace Triangles, a book that allows you to design your own shawl using any combination of several different lace patterns that she provides for you. I was frankly disappointed that the book only covers four main lace patterns and one edging pattern, but it’s a clever idea and the lace patterns all are compatible mathematically and transition into one another beautifully. Clearly somebody needs to make a bigger and better version of this book, with more lace patterns to choose from. But I am determined to get my money’s worth, and I’d been wanting to do a more geometric lace pattern after my last flowery one — and I really like the way this is coming out! The lace is so open that I think I’m going to get a pretty big shawl out of my 470 yards.
Here is Evelyn Clark’s book in action, featuring yet another of my new toys: a set of pattern magnets, to help me follow lace charts in books. Several Etsy sellers carry them; I got mine from Slipped Stitch Studios, who had blindingly fast service — as in, I ordered them on Sunday and they were in my hands on Monday. It helps that we live in the same county, though, I’m sure.
The other thing I’m working on is Hannah Fettig’s Whisper Cardigan, from the spring issue of Interweave Knits:
The yarn is yet more Malabrigo Lace, which I think is a great choice for this project because it’s so soft and so affordable. I’m very excited to wear this sweater, but I gotta tell you, knitting this thing is boring me to tears. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s a fast knit — sure it’s got half-length sleeves, a shrug-back, and its “fronts” are merely vestigal, but you’re still knitting stockinette fabric with lace-weight yarn, and even on US 7s that takes a million billion jillion years. And as a recent lace convert, stockinette is the last thing I want to be doing right now. But the color is gorgeous and will match everything I own, and the light, airy fabric is to die for, so I’m plowing along. I’ve been alternating this thing with the shawl to keep from stabbing my eyes out; my usual technique is to put a row or three on the shawl (which is getting big, so this takes 40 or so minutes) when P. and I start the drinks-and-a-movie portion of our evening, and then when it’s time for round two of drinks, I step away from the lace and do as much stockinette as I can stand. A good system, no?