Friday, June 30, 2006

Yarn Review

Rosarios 4 Bio Bamboo: It's 100% bamboo, and comes in some lovely, rich colours. It's a great yarn, it really is. It's soft and silky to work with. It glides through your fingers and over the needles.

The resulting fabric has a beautiful sheen, and the weight and drape is magnificent. It's light, flowing, and somehow still substantial.

So what's the problem?

I'm working on a design for this stuff, and I've been avoiding it like mad. I think I've figured out why: it's boring. I've been working of late with a lot of interesting wools, with lots of texture. This Bamboo stuff is too damn smooth.

(If you're going to give it a try, be warned that it is a bit splitty, too.)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Dear Santa

My birthday is very near to Christmas. Which means that when I decide that I desperately need something in the middle of the summer, I either have to wait or go buy it myself.

Very, very tired of winding balls by hand. I might need to go shopping very soon.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Ok, so I've been quietly pleased with my progress with lace knitting. I've been getting good, I thought.

I can spot a problem. I can fix a missing yarn over on the next row, no worries. I've even figured out how to fix a missing yarn over on the next right side row. Wahoo!

I'm pretty experienced with cables, and the Yarn Harlot's demonstration of techniques for fixing a cable wasn't news to me. And I'd been applying roughly the same technique to figure out how to fix issues in lace, which has permitted me to fix a couple of mistakes in situ, when the mistake has only been 2 or 3 rows back.

And then, this morning, I read Yarn Harlot's post about S. Kate's lace fixing escapades. I am in awe.

Not only has S. Kate ripped back what looks like 15 rows! 15! rows! but it's in black! I can't even knit lace in black yet, let alone fix it.

It's good to be humbled once in a while.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Stitch Markers: A Treatise

Doing so much lace of late has required me to use a lot of stitch markers.

I've tried a number of different types, and each has its drawbacks. For some types, I'm still trying to identify the merits....

Little rubbery "cheerio" markers: have a tendency to bounce very far away and disappear forever when dropped.

Hard plastic markers: break.

"Split-ring" plastic markers: get tangled in the knitting.

Beautiful hand-crafted metal with beads: at $2+ each more complex lace designs require me to spend more on markers than I do on yarn.

Believe it or not, the markers I'm happiest with at the moment are the spare colour rings from our electric toothbrush. The heads for the toothbrush come with a couple of different coloured little plastic rings that you put around the bottom of the head to make sure you know whose is whose. You sadly can't get them off the head once they've been installed, but there's all those extras. And they make really great stitch markers.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Lace: Theorems, Corollaries and Lemmas

Things I have learnt...

  1. More repeats of pattern on a row are easier than fewer as you get a chance to get into the rhythm of a row.
  2. Stitch markers up the wazoo.
  3. Spend more time that you imagine possible examining your work to make sure you're ok. Particularly before you feed a lifeline.
  4. Feed a lifeline every pattern repeat or two.
  5. I've said this before, but for the love of god make sure that when you feed a lifeline it's into a row that is in itself correct. And that the rows below the lifeline are also correct.
  6. Before you begin a set of pattern stitches -- between two markers, of course -- count the stitches you're about to work. A corollary to that is that a missing YO is easily fixed on the next right side row.

I have to say I think I'm getting the hang of it. I've made more progress in the last few evenings, even watching really exciting television, that I'd made in the first couple of weeks.

But I guess the biggest thing to get used to with lace is that ripping back is not an extraodinary measure. Ripping back is the way of things. You'll do it a lot.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Did You Even Know that Sheep Came in These Colours?

Something I'm working on with yarn from my visit to a sheep shearing party this spring.

I love these colours.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Lace on a Plane

I thought this lace scarf would be a good choice for travel knitting:

I don't need a printed pattern other than a little card on which I've written out the three right side rows of the lace pattern repeat.

And I'm doing it on a short bamboo circular, which is entirely plane-safe.

And it's more intellectually engaging than sock knitting, so it will keep me more entertained.

Not so much, I learnt.

My attention kept getting dragged away -- "anything to drink?", "headphones?", a fidgety seatmate. So I kept making mistakes.

And it's hard to thread (or rethread) a lifeline when you don't have a needle with you. A crochet hook would have worked, if I'd thought of it in advance.

And then those clever little rubber stitch markers bounce very, very far when dropped.

It's very much two steps forward, one step back with this project. I do love the yarn, and when it's working well I like the design. But it is a patience tester...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Toronto is OK

Spent the weekend in New York, on a short vacation.

I did a bunch of research before I left: which knitting shops should I visit? Purl and School Products rose quickly to the top of the list, based on what I'd read about them online, and personal recommendations.

Both are terrific shops -- with welcoming staff and a nice selection and interesting locations. And I bought a book in each. I was hoping to find some hidden treasures, some books that aren't available in Toronto. What I ended up with were two books that have been on my list for a while, Barbara Walker's Treasury of Stitch Patterns Volume 2 and Debbie Bliss's Toy Knits. But both of these are available at home.

What about the yarn, you ask... Yes, there was certainly some stuff on the cone and unlabeled skeins that looked really interesting in School Products. Purl had a lovely selection of Rowan, Noro, Alchemy and similar sorts of products. But again, for the most part, there was nothing I couldn't find here at home.

All in all, I came away from both stores with the feeling that we're pretty well off here in Toronto. We have a variety of stores, each with its own niche, and we have access to some absolutely terrific yarns of all types -- the inexpensive practical stuff, and the luxurious and truly remarkable. We should be proud.