Ribs and Lace Reboot

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before I had a blog, I tried to knit the Ribs and Lace Tank from the Spring 2007 issue of Interweave Knits. This was before I had any substantial experience knitting lace, and was near the beginning of my shift to knitting in front of the TV, so the bottom lace part was quite difficult for me and took quite a long time. But when I finally got to the bust shaping in the ribbed bodice, the numbers started failing to add up in a pretty drastic way, and after checking and rechecking I discovered to my horror that I had cast on the wrong number of stitches by a fair sight (like, 20-30 stitches fewer than I needed to knit my size), but by some terrible terrible accident, whatever number of stitches I’d cast on was still a multiple of eleven, so the bottom lace part worked out just fine and I never noticed my mistake. In thorough denial, I took the piece off the needles and attempted to try it on to see if it could be salvaged, but no. Not at all. Way, way, WAY too small.

So I screamed and raged and threw the thing into the corner and didn’t look at it for two years. Last summer, I had finally gotten over this tragedy enough to frog the piece to salvage the yarn and try again. What you see above is the yarn, all kinked up from being knit into a garment for, you know, two years, and tied off into skeins. I figured I’d document it for posterity, since by this time I had a blog and I knew that eventually I’d post about it. I gave these skeins a good soaking to get the kinks out, hung them into the shower to dry, and twisted them onto themselves into sad little approximations of the sort of skeining you’d buy in the store:

Apologies for the incredibly dark picture — I didn’t think to photograph these guys until when I was about to wind them up into balls to knit from, and it was late at night and the flash looked even crappier. The two balls on top are the ONLY TWO BALLS for the project that I hadn’t knit into the unwearable tank top by the time I noticed my mistake. Sigh. But I got all this wound up, and I’ve been back at it after triple checking the size, and I’m all the way through the lace skirt now and about to start the bodice:

Yaaaay. Before I cast on again, I wondered idly if the lace would be charted — and when I actually looked at the pattern, I laughed at myself, because of course both of these lace stitches have only ONE row of actual lace patterning to them — the other rows are straight knits or purls. I breezed through the whole skirt in just a couple of days, the skirt that I struggled over and swore about three years ago. Progress! Growth! Hooray!

Now, I’m a little skeptical about this pattern for a number of reasons. With the greater knitting experience that I now have, I’m not sure that I would have chosen to knit this pattern — but since I had the yarn for it and everything, I figured I may as well. For one thing, many Ravelers have complained that the “skirt” part of this pattern is too wide in the larger sizes, and I feel like mine is looking too wide, too. But I really didn’t want to do the math involved with knitting a skinnier skirt and a larger bust, so I’m just knitting it as is. For another thing, I really don’t like the “dartboard” effect that the bust shaping results in, but fortunately Svetlana has posted alternative directions for the bodice on Ravelry that eliminate this effect.

Basically, if I end up with any kind of wearable tank at the end of this process, I’ll count it as a victory over my past demons. This pattern has literally been at the top of my Ravelry queue since I first joined the site, because at that time the only thing I knew I was going to knit at some point in the future was this damn tank top again. I’m excited to finally conquer it!

Les Abeilles

My Les Abeilles shawlette is done! It’s quite small; I stretched the crap out of it in the blocking, and it came out to just 15 inches deep and 36 inches wide. It would be more useful if it were just a touch wider; I do wish that I’d had the heart to rip it out and add an extra repeat on each side. The thing about this pattern is that it’s knit from the bottom up, so you can’t change your mind about how big it’s going to be once you’ve started.

But in fact, once I discovered the method of pinning that you see here (and above), I was suddenly enchanted:

Pat was enchanted, too; he had been whining about wanting another 20 minutes before going out to take these pictures, but when he saw this pin configuration he agreed that we needed to take photos immediately while things were so perfectly positioned. 🙂 I think it’ll work, and it’ll be an excuse to wear this lovely shawl pin, which I don’t often bother to use with my larger shawls.

Here’s a blocking shot where you can see the lace pattern up-close and personal:

Isn’t it pretty? And it’s quite easy to work; it’s super simple to memorize and everything makes intuitive sense. And the yarn, Stricken Smitten S’marvelous, is incredibly gorgeous.

Stay tuned until next time, when I will have for you a heartrending tale of love, loss, and renewal — of a tank top, that is.

Austin Campanula

Of course I would finish this on the day that summer heat finally hit southern California. Until today (well, and yesterday a bit), we’d been having relentlessly gorgeous weather — low 70s and upper 60s, some clouds but no rain — that is much more characteristic of spring than summer in LA. But now that it’s in the 80s, of course it was time to model my new cashmere scarf.

I like that you can see my new bright-turquoise toenail polish in this shot! The pattern is Anne Hanson’s Campanula, which was delightful to knit. I never quite memorized the lace, but I got familiar enough with it that I could knit it in front of subtitled films such as the amazingly ridiculous Chinese Ghost Story II with no trouble and only brief glances at the chart. The pattern is written for Great Northern Yarns cashmere laceweight, which is quite fine, so I used a larger needle (US 2 1/2) with my Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashemere 2-ply. Here’s a headless shot where you can really appreciate the yarn:

Isn’t it lovely? I’d been having trouble photographing it on our shady porch before, but here you can see that it glows. And it’s super soft. As I believe I mentioned here earlier, I got it at Hill Country Weavers in Austin, TX, which was conveniently within walking distance of the Austin Motel, where Pat & I stayed for half of our trip. It’s a lovely, well-stocked shop and I highly recommend it! I also got some wonderful forest green sock yarn there that I’ve earmarked for my next pair of socks, but I’m not sure I’m going to be in the mood for sock knitting until the fall when it gets chilly again. I’ve named this project “Austin Campanula” for the origin of the yarn, and also because its brown/goldness reminds me of the Texas countryside.

Here’s a blocking shot:

Technically it’s a post-blocking shot; I forgot to photograph it until I took the wires out. Which is almost a shame, because I put those wires in meticulously, threading them through every damn purl bump in the garter edging because this design has no regular eyelet row in the edging that would have made using wires easier. I used every bit of the 400 yards of yarn that I had, ending up with a scarf that is 10″ wide by 57″ long after blocking. It’s pretty much the perfect size!

I should be finished with my Les Abeilles shawlette very soon, and I have an exciting garment project coming up — stay tuned!

Midsummer Lace

I mean, yes, I knit lace all year round, but it’s particularly in season in the spring and summer. Also, the gorgeous yarn you are looking at is Stricken Smitten‘s S’marvelous in her June colorway, “A Midsummer’s Twilight.” I’ve had my eye on Stricken Smitten for awhile, and when I saw last month’s limited edition colorway I fell madly in love and decided to splurge on her most sumptuous yarn base (S’marvelous is a 70/20/10 blend of baby alpaca, silk, and cashmere), and I’m not sorry. This yarn is so gorgeous I can’t stand it. In addition to having lovely drape, shine, and softness, the dye job is just fantastic — the hints of purple and green remain hints when the yarn is knit up, without any pooling or spottiness. This June colorway is no longer available, but the July colorway should also appeal to you blue/green/teal lovers, so go check it out!

The pattern is Anne Hanson’s brand new shawlette, Les Abeilles. She started swatching for it right around the time that I got this yarn in the mail, and I knew immediately that I was looking at the pattern that this yarn was destined to become. It’s a great design, but the smallest size (which I’m knitting, because I didn’t have enough yarn for the medium size) is quite small. Just yesterday I saw another Raveler who’d had the sense to just add another repeat of the hem pattern on both sides (I think the medium size adds two repeats), and I wished I’d thought of that! But it’s fine, I wanted something small and scarflike anyway. And I like the proportion of hem-lace to center-garter stitch the best on the smallest size, anyway.

I’ve also been making quite a bit of progress on my Campanula scarf (also a new Anne Hanson pattern!):

I took it with me on vacation, where I put in a bunch of work on it in the evenings, but at about 2/3 of the way through I got Scarf Fatigue. You may be familiar with this ailment — unlike shawls, which tend to be ever-changing, scarves are often just the same thing over and over and over, and so no matter how much you love the pattern, at a certain point you just have to cast on something else. In this case, it worked out pretty well — once I got my secret projects squared away, I cast on for the Les Abeilles shawl to break up the tedium of this scarf. But now I’m at the point in Les Abeilles where it’s just garter stitch from here on out, so the scarf is starting to look appealing again. I should be done with both of them in not much more than a week or two!

The Coaster Project: The Final Chapter

I am now back in California and the coaster project has come to an end. Here’s the whole family! I knocked out the last coaster, on the upper right, in the morning before my flight. Here’s a close-up:

Pattern: Crochet Stitch Motifs by Erika Knight, “Traditional Hexagon II,” p. 79.

Yarn: Takhi Cotton Classic

Hook: 3.25 mm

This one was super easy — it’s basically just a modified granny square with a border — but I managed to mess it up in round 3 by failing to read the directions, and I ended up with an octagon that wouldn’t sit flat. But I realized my mistake in time to rip back and finish this up before I had to leave for the airport. Despite (or because of) its simplicity, this one was my mother’s favorite & she’s commissioned a set of them in green and gold for Christmas, so you’ll see more of these eventually.

All in all, this project was a rousing success. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get any academic work done when I was visiting my mom, since she needs so much help with simple things around the house while she’s recovering from her surgery, so making these gave me something to do while hanging out with her that could be easily picked up and put down when necessary. And now I have a lovely, brightly-colored set of coasters that matches my brightly-colored living room decor!

I’ve been doing some knitting behind the scenes, but some of it will have to remain secret for another few weeks. I do have a few things I can show you, though, so in a few days I’ll update you about what’s been going on needle-wise!