Saturday, March 27, 2010

Not A Shawl

This stole doesn't quite meet the technical requirements for 10 Shawls in 2010 (not enough yardage), but I'm not at all sorry that I made it exactly like this.

sea stole sea stole sea stole

If I had made it any wider the color repeats would have been shorter across the stole. And as it is I had enough yarn left over to make another scarf half as wide, which will make it easier to give the stole away as I intended.

The stats:
One row Lace Scarf
220 yds /69 grams of my handspun Wensleydale
Size 10 needles
Blocked to 11" by 66"

I did think that I could squeeze in a "true" shawl this month, but the lovely yarn I chose just isn't working with any of the patterns I've come up with. It is a bamboo/silk/merino blend with no bounce, low twist and lots of drape. One way or another though, I will get another shawl going for April.

sea stole

Just one more shot... I couldn't resist!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Purse Dilemma

My old purse was purchased about 5 years ago and is starting to show its age.

I think I just heard my very fashionable sister sigh, and we can all pause to recognize that five years ago was about 1/3 of her life... anyway, yes, I am an old stick-in-the mud with an unfashionable purse. But now you can rescue me, if not from my fashion sense, at least from having a decrepit everyday accessory... I've been looking for months, and here's what I've got:

Pros: Purse very much like my current one. Small, can be worn across the body with a strap. It even comes in some other colors.

Cons: Boring. I've had a purse like this for 5 years.

See the etsy listing here.

Pros: This one is also small, but has only a short strap. I like the pleats.

Cons: Might find it a pain to carry around when grocery shopping.

Listed here.

Pros: This one I really love the style of.

Cons: I'm concerned that it is too big for me to use comfortably. Would I adjust to a purse 4x the size? Would it make my arm hurt? Would I feel stupid if my purse was cooler than the rest of my wardrobe? What will I do if I have one black purse and want to wear brown shoes?

Listed here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Bit O' Green


Happy St. Patrick's Day :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Sea


The wensleydale is knitting up wonderfully.


Frothy texture and mesmerizing color transitions... there is something about it that makes me think of the sea.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


wensleydale handspun singles

When Mohair first turned on me, I despaired of getting to knit with shiny, fuzzy yarns ever again. But I had underestimated wool. Sheep produce an amazing variety of fiber, a fact that is often lost in our age of mass production. It is still fairly rare that I will find a yarn that specifies the breed. If a breed is specified, the most common is Merino - a fiber known for its softness.

Becoming a spinner opened up a whole new world to me. Not only do different sheep breeds produce very different fibers, but what you get varies greatly depending on the flock, the sheep, and preparation of the fiber. In my spinning life I've mostly spun commercially prepared Bluefaced Leicester (BFL), a longwool that has greater sheen and durability than most Merino.

Last week I took my exploration of longwool to a new level. I tried out some Wensleydale (check out the pictures of sheep with ringlets). The majority of the fibers were about 7 inches long. That must be quite a wool coat when the sheep is still wearing it! I got 360 yards of singles from 4 oz. The final yarn is shiny and has a huge halo (since these photos I've started knitting with it and the halo just grows and grows). To the uninitiated, I imagine it looks just like Mohair... hurray!

wensleydale handspun singles

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spring Things

Spring has certainly been in the air here. A chorus of frogs sings in the swamp behind our house every night, trees are budding and blooming, and crocus are popping up in the flower boxes. My thoughts are turning from sweaters and mittens to lighter things. Of course, that process has also been helped by the arrival of this book Haapsalu Shawl (Haapsalu Sall):

Shawl book!

This is a coffee table book devoted to the Estonian knitting tradition unique to the town Haapsalu. The book has a brief historical introduction, an overview of the traditional design of the shawls (with handy explanations for how to plan and attach a separately knit border), and a pattern library of more than 120 stitches. I included a few of my favorite design motifs in the mosaic, but clicking through to the flicker stream will reveal a few more if you're interested.

This isn't a book where patterns are planned out for you. The mathematical formula is demonstrated, and the knitter is expected to use it to adjust for the lace repeat. The idea of knitting a separate border and sewing it on is also rather daunting for a beginning/intermediate knitter... however the instructions make it seem doable, and the results are so fabulous looking!

Also sprinkled throughout the book are women of Haapsalu (artists, writers, leaders) showcased with a quotation about the town and a shawl around their shoulders. Often the lace looks even more stunning as a whole than just one repeat can show, so I'm glad these photos are included, even if the entire directions for these shawls are not spelled out.

If you're interested in this book, Knit Purl of Portland has preorder open for another round of them. When I check several months ago it was possible to buy this book directly from Europe much more cheaply, but I'm not set up to do a European style direct bank transfer, so I sucked it up and paid the big bucks. Just for reference, I also have Knitted Lace of Estonia, and while both books are lovely, they are different enough in technique and stitch patterns for me to justify having both.

There is another review of Haapsalu Sall / Haapsalu Shawl here if you want to see more pictures :) This blogger has the version in Estonian, mine is the one in English.