Lace Knitting: Do’s and Don’ts

Over the last few months I’ve done a fair amount of lace knitting. It’s all been fun and I love how lace patterns all make sense from a maths point of view yet create something ethereal. However, I have heard a lot of “I can’t do lace knitting” from people too.

Lace Knitting - Vogue Knitting

 

Not all lace knitting needs to be fiendishly complicated. In fact quite a lot is repetitive and once you’ve memorised the pattern, you can knit in front of the TV just as if it were stocking stitch flying off your needles. On the whole however, you do need to start somewhere undisturbed. And depending on the pattern you pick, you will need a glass of wine or a darkened room and some headache tablets!

This is my humble advice to anyone attempting to try lace knitting:

stitch markers

  1. It is not surgery. If I can do it, you can do it.
  2. READ the pattern all the way through to make sure that you know all the stitches.
  3. Swatch. And swatch again. Some lace patterns just don’t work if you knit too tight/loose. It’s better you find that out before you invest too much time in your project. And of course the yarn that you picked may not be shown to advantage.
  4. Have plenty of differently coloured stitch markers to hand and make sure you use them. Don’t wait for the pattern to tell you to insert a marker. Just put one in where it makes sense to you – at the beginning/end of a pattern. Anything to help you with the counting.
  5. Learn how to put in a lifeline. I’m currently working on a simple lace pattern on a jumper. I’ve had to rip back to the beginning twice now because I found it impossible to pick all the stitches up correctly half way into the work. Third time round, I learnt my lesson!
  6. Anyone who tries to interrupt you when you’re finding your feet with a new lace pattern is asking to be barked at.
  7. When you’re done. BLOCK your work.

The only other thing about lace work is the charts. All odd rows read right to left, all even rows from left to right. The chart is invaluable to show you what the knitted lace looks like – a bit like crochet charts.

knitting lace chart

However, unless you have the eye-sight of an Olympic archer, you will need to increase the size of the chart provided in the pattern using a photocopier. If you only do this for your personal use, it is OK from a copyright point of view. And I’ve got to admit that I write out all charts in longhand. Yes, I do. Somehow, seeing it in print not just visually, helps me to knit quicker. Plus, if I’m very lucky, my youngest will spend half an hour or so reading it out to me as I knit. I’ve even been thinking about putting lace charts on to audiotape. Like books! There must be a market for that surely? Don’t forget, I had the idea first…

light as air lace

I hope this has given you some confidence to try lace knitting. It’s doubly rewarding when you see the finished item.

Posted in Knitting, Lace | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Lace + Geometry = Lacy Shrug: a Pattern

I am not a confident designer. I have ideas galore and projects a-plenty but I tend to shy away from sharing them/writing the patterns down as I don’t feel qualified. Over the summer, I was thinking about how it is possible to dress the human form (curves) with geometric shapes (mainly straight lines) and one of the finished results (admittedly there are many frogged and “sleeping” ones) is this shrug.

I wanted to create a pattern that was easy for beginners to follow but gave seasoned knitters an interest and even a possibility to exercise creativity. So it is in effect a long, wide scarf – we’ve ALL made one of those! – coupled with some easy but eye-catching lace. Of course to avoid any technical gremlins, this pattern is one-size-fits-all with minimum changes needed to personalise to your shape.

Lace Crochet Shrug

Please ignore creased camisole

I’ve enjoyed picking the patterns to use to shape the rectangle – slight ribbed lace to pull the sleeves in and a very open lace pattern to lengthen the back. However you could experiment with different stitch patterns to alter the shape. The shrug is knitted from one sleeve, across the back and down the second sleeve from top to bottom edge.

PATTERN
Use any DK yarn of your choice. You could try two different colours of 4ply held together, block colour, self-striping, self-patterning, sparkly, mohair…it’s up to you.
4mm needles.
Gauge is not important.

Cast on 98 stitches.

Sleeve pattern
Row 1: K1, *YO, k2tog, k4*, k1, repeat from * to * to end.
Row 2 and all even number rows: Purl all stitches except knit YO from previous row.
Row 3: K1, * k2tog, YO, k4* k1, repeat from * to * to end.

Repeat rows 1-3 until your sleeve measures around 28 cms.
At the same time, increase one stitch at each end of every 6th row ten times and then every 4th row four times. (126 stitches)

Back pattern
Row 1: K1, *YO, k2tog*, k1 repeat from * to * to end.
Row 2 and all even number rows: Purl all stitches except knit YO from previous row.
Row 3: K1, *k2tog, YO*, k1, repeat from * to * to end.
Repeat rows 1-3 until back measures about 58 cms.

The back

Repeat Sleeve pattern but decreasing the stitches at the same intervals (starting with the four row decreases).

You will now have a long rectangle. You can either just sew together the sleeves and block and wear or add the finishing touch with a little edging. I used a crochet picot edging as it’s easy and pretty.

Crochet picot edging
Hopefully you didn’t forget the selvedge edge – if you did, starting at one corner of the shorter side of your rectangle dc around the rectangle first making sure that you space your stitches evenly without pulling or puckering the fabric. Once you are done, dc into the next stitch, chain 3, then dc into the next two dc. Repeat all the way round the shorter side of your rectangle. Once you reach to the end, slip stitch in the other side and join with right sides together.
DC the seams of your sleeves together then carry on the picot edging when you reach the back. Picot edge all the way to the next sleeve, join the sleeve (this time at part closest to your body when wearing) with a slip stitch and dc the seams of the sleeves together. When you reach the end of the sleeve join, picot edge the cuff.
Rejoin yarn to the edge on the back of the garment which you have not worked yet and crochet the picot edge there too.

Picot edging

Picot edging – pretty

The picot edging pulls the ribs out so that the sleeve flairs out. I think this looks pretty, but if you don’t like it, use a different edging or don’t bother with one at all. And finally of course, you could knit a picot edging too but I’m too impatient for that!

Bell sleeves

Work in ends, lightly block and wear.

side view

If you need to customise the size, you can do so in many ways – make the back longer, the sleeves shorter/longer, or just make the sleeve seams shorter to allow easier access. I’ve had many different shapes and sizes of people try this on and it has so far fitted everyone!

Posted in Knitting, Lace, Patterns | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

A Wedding Gift

My baby sister is getting married. As if that wasn’t enough to send all sorts of hares running in every which direction possible, there is the question of the wedding present. Now don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy to be generous. Profligate even. After all baby sisters don’t grow on trees and they certainly don’t get married often. But knitting a bed spread? For a King size bed! Seriously?!

Nice Teeth

BTW – nice teeth!

Once the request was made, the dutiful follow. So there has been a flurry of emails and ideas exchanged and I have narrowed it down to these two options. The colour scheme will be different (of course) so I’m just being undecided on the pattern. Here are my options:

1. Tree of Life

Tree of Life2. Double Wedding Ring

double wedding ring

Which one should I make?

And please send me words of encouragement – I have never promised to deliver on knitting for something so meaningful and I’ve certainly never knitted anything of this size. I get bored with repetitive patterns so part of me is dreading starting.

Perhaps I could just buy a bed spread and knit a matching cushion instead?

 

 

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Leaf pattern Lace wrap – Done!

Summer Holidays are most definitely over. The boys are back at school, the days are drawing in, the air is crisp and fresh and the trees are wearing amber leaves. I’ve been meaning to get back to writing for a while but life got in the way in the shape of a bad bout of cold.

Summer has been a time of finishing projects. My WIP list is now very short indeed – I have finished all three of these!! The one I’m most proud of is the leaf-pattern lace wrap – it is a beautiful design by Asa Tricosa called Semele I fell in love with almost two years ago. I’m not a wrap person usually – I find that they slip off and get lost or are just too fiddly for words. But there was something about the leaf design – I have a soft spot for those…

The beginning of the lace wrap

I remember sitting at that desk!

I cast on in the autumn and having never done any form of lace knitting, it was slow going indeed. I remember that it would take me 30-40 minutes to knit two rows. However, train journeys helped me to persevere. Then I lost interest and many other knits followed. Each time I would look in my WIP basked, there would be that lovely speckled silk yarn and the half done wrap. I felt guilty.

Beginning

I think that finishing long slumbering work is a frame of mind. Sometimes it just happens. From the beginning of the summer, although I had many ideas for knitting projects, nothing would feel right until I picked up my WIP basked. At first it was only to check for moths (grrr) but then as the yarn tumbled out, I fell in love all over again. And surprisingly quickly, the wrap was finished. Here it is with a summer backdrop.

Jpeg

That lovely blue sky sets this off nicely!

All done JpegI’ve got to admit that  I was a little disappointed with the depth of the wrap – I always think of wraps as wide and long so it covers everything. Semele is not like that at all. It is a dainty slip of a thing for the shoulders and mid-back. I’ve got to say that this summer it saved me many nights of feeling cold and the chic French women all complemented me on it too. It was perfect! When we came home however, I knew that the lace had to be blocked and since I’m not well versed in lace blocking I was really dreading it.

Bath time

Bath time

The Magic of Blocking (2)

It’s much longer and wider than before

The Magic of Blocking (1) So far, so good. The pattern has opened up, the leaves are distinct, the wrap is wider and longer, my mistakes have been unearthed for all to see and the yarn is looking nice. It’s not quite dry yet so I will leave it pinned for a while longer.

I hope you have all had a very relaxing summer. I have a number of pattens to share with you during the autumn so come and visit soon.

 

 

 

Posted in Lace, silk | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Buttons

I remember as a child playing with hundreds of buttons all kept in a large tin. Each of my grandmothers had an almost identical container. One, as she made clothes, and the other as she had many clothes made for her. At the time, all I cared about is the buttons. Their weight, colour, size and texture varied a great deal – metal, bone, Bakelite, carved, mottled, smooth, pretty, functional, wool covered, four hole, two hole, the range seemed to be endless. Perhaps it’s the invention of Velcro and the wider use of zips, but my Mother’s collection of buttons was a lot smaller and less varied. Mine is very immature in comparison. However I do have one!!

Button haul

My most recent acquisitions arrived courtesy of a very thoughtful and craft oriented friend. And what a beautiful haul they are.

Button collection

They immediately reminded me of afternoon’s spent sorting buttons in my grandmother’s house. There are pretty wooden ones.

Wooden button

And modern metal ones.

Metal button

Girlie rainbow-hued butterfly ones.

Dragonfly button

And even shell ones.

Shell button

I was doubly thankful for the kind gift as I have been thinking of making my own recently and I’ve even bought some materials. I have an orange and brown reversible felt coat that I’ve loved a little too much and the buttons seem to have disappeared. I want to make some two-coloured new ones. This is a summer make – I will post photos when I’m done.

And then I want to crochet some. Another summer make.

crochet buttons

I now feel that I want to work on getting a project made so I can use those gorgeous red floral wood buttons. How about this? I think it’s really elegant. I just wonder whether I’d use it enough…

Interweave Crochet pattern for cape

Interweave Crochet pattern for cape

And that is all from me for a while. I’ve decided to emulate the French and take the entire month of August off. I hope to do a bit of designing, a bit of making, a bit of reading others’ blogs (I miss you all) and enjoy the summer. My warmest wishes to you and your families, thank you for stopping by and speak to you in September.

 

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Knitting the Skies

This weekend has been one in a million. Although my washing and ironing baskets are far from empty, and the house could do with a bit of a scrub, I am more content than I’ve been for a while. Why? Perhaps I allowed a bit of whimsy and nonsense to dominate my actions which has left a smile on my face as I mentally gear up for Monday.

On Friday, we bought a house. And on Saturday, we went to spend the night in our “new” house before the builders take over on Monday. The boys wanted to camp but I had every intention of sleeping under the roof, albeit on an air-bed and sleeping bag. We had a picnic dinner whilst we were planning rooms and hotly debating the use of space. We lit lanterns against the approaching summer night and listened to raindrops through the leaves in the garden. And a little spontaneously, we all decided that sleeping inside on such a balmy summer’s evening was a waste so we fell asleep looking at the night sky. Barmy really but wonderful all at the same time.

And whilst I was watching the night sky waiting to spot a shooting star or UFO, I suddenly remembered three knitting projects which perfectly sum up my evening. Celestarium,

celestarium

 

Equatorial Nights

equiatorial

and Southern Skies

southern skies

have been on my favourites list for quite a while. How wonderful to knit the skies as you see it from your part of the world. I have been tempted to try knitting with beads for a while and what better way than creating an accurate representation of the sky that first night in our new house. But for the fact I really should be packing, painting or organising, I would be casting on right away.

Have a good week – I will certainly be starting mine with a smile.

 

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It DOES Matter Where You Put Your Hook

When I learnt to crochet, my Mother was really specific about where I needed to place my hook in each stitch. There was most certainly a Right and a Wrong way of doing things. As I look around at others’s work and fiddle with a few patterns, it’s obvious that there are many other schools of thought. Those that believe that any place is good for a hook. Although I don’t disagree, depending on where you cast your next stitch, your work will look and feel different – so as long as you know the consequences, just carry on!

So it’s time to examine your stitches.

To start with, you have a rope of chains. Observe that on one side the chains form lovely “V”s and on the other side you see little bumps.

Chain "V"

See those “V”s?

Each “V” is a stitch and my Mother taught me that when you are working into a foundation chain row, you MUST work your hook into both sides of the “V”. And of course, I tried and worked away and it is HARD. Of course, I didn’t realise that this method was only one way to do it. And that her method was the most challenging for a beginner. The good news is that this way of starting gives a really firm and even edge to your work and the edge to your project will have the even bumps along the side, so it is most definitely worth persevering with.

However, if you want to have those beautiful “V”s edging your work then you need to do the exact opposite and work into the bumps on the back of your “V”s. This way round, not only do you have only one strand to work through, you also have the option of extending your work easily by working into the “V”s later. And if not, it’s a pretty edge to your project. Simple!

Or if you prefer, you could work into either the front OR the back loop of that “V” stitch. More on what this creates below.

Presuming of course that you’ve got as far as the second row of crochet, you have the same decisions to make – where do I put my hook? So a quick summary to help you decide:

  1. Working through the top two loops of your “V” creates a flat, reversible fabric. This is mostly what you’re after.
  2. Working through the back loop only, your fabric will have a horizontal ribbed effect – see Asymmetric Crochet Cowl and on the beginning of your work, your chain foundation row will be angled.
  3. Working through the front loop only, your fabric will be looser (avoiding that sometimes stiff feel to crochet fabrics) and your stitches more open. Be careful if you need a firm fabric as this way, your work is more likely to stretch.

Of course if you want to create freeform crochet, just throw the rule book out altogether! Insert your hook in between stitches, around the post of a stitch, or into stitches in a row below…there are no rules then.

Freeform Crochet

Freeform Crochet – go where the fancy takes you

Posted in crochet, Techniques | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Citrus Placemats – A Quick Summer Make

Whilst I’m counting the days to our holiday (still too many), mentally preparing for our house move and working on those WIPs, I wanted something bright and colourful on the table at mealtimes. My two are now old enough to be trusted without the wax table covering we’ve had for years but I’m not quite ready for the washing and ironing needed to keep tablecloths clean and stain free. I’ve been flirting with using some Adriafil Navy since it arrived a few weeks ago. It’s a lovely chunky, soft and colourful cotton mix yarn which is perfect for all kinds of summer makes. The question was, what pattern? I thought that I would rework the groovyghan

groovyghan

but I found that the yarn was too bulky and the DC pattern made the fabric too uneven – not great for a tablemat. I dismissed a variation on granny squares as being too lacy. Whilst I was resting my mug on the crochet flower coasters I made last year the thought came to me. Fruit!

orange placemat

So these mats were born. Incredibly quick. Very colourful. And being cotton, durable, absorbent and washable. I like it when a plan comes together.

all the fruits tablemats

Rather than crochet in the spiral, each row is finished off and the next started. The pith is added on when the mat is finished. It is just a row of chains.

citrus fruit tablemats

After making four citrus fruits, I was in need of inspiration. Thank you for your ideas! For those not in the know, guesses please as to what this is.

watermelon tablemat

And this?!

dragonfruit tablemat

Let’s hope it’s obvious….

Enjoy making these – do get it touch if you’re interested in the crochet kit (yarn and pattern to make four placemats).

All fruit tablemats

Posted in Craft, crochet, Summer, Yarn | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Entrelac Laptop Cover – a Pattern

Entrelac, the knitting technique that creates a woven/plaited looking fabric, has been something that I wanted to try for quite a while. I came across the Tenney Park pullover on Knitty which really started my interest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Isn’t this a beauty?

Of course, knitting for myself is  not something I do that often. However, I upgraded my laptop a few months ago and I gave in to the salesman’s patter on having a coloured case rather than a boring black or standard grey one. My lovely laptop is a gorgeous lacquer cherry red. It struck me that I had to protect it’s beauty by encasing it in wool. And so the entrelac laptop cover pattern was born.

Entrelac Laptop cover

Pattern

I used Katia Oxford Verde (three 50g) and Azul (two 50g) which have been my favourite go-to stroke yarns for a while. Katia Oxford is a DK tweed effect and gently variegated wool-rich yarn. Verde is a mix of gentle grass green with lapis and turquoise blue speckles whereas Azul takes in the different shades of blue denim from deepest indigo right through to faded with speckles of frayed white and grey. I’m describing the colours as my photos, as ever, just don’t do these yarns proper justice.

I held the yarns double on 4mm needles as I wanted a good thick protection for the laptop.

To create the weaved effect, you have to create a base row of triangles, followed by a purl row of squares, knit row of squares, which you repeat for the length of your work and then finish off with a top row of triangles. Bear with it, to start with it will look wrong, but it will all come together.

Cast on 48 stitches

Base Row Triangles with Verde
Rows 1 and 2 – K2 and turn, p1, sl 1 purlwise and turn
Rows 3 and 4 – K3 and turn, p2, sl 1 purlwise and turn
Rows 5 and 6 – K4 and turn, p3, sl 1 purlwise and turn
Rows 7 and 8 – K5 and turn, p4. sl 1 purlwise and turn
Rows 9 and 10 – K6 and turn, p5, sl 1 purlwise and turn
Rows 11 and 12 – K7 and turn, p6, sl 1 purlwise and turn
Row 13 – K8 and do not turn.
You have your first triangle.
Leave these eight stitches on the right hand needle and work the next stitches in the same way. You will have six triangles when you have finished.

Purl Row Squares with Azul
To make the left side straight, you need to work a triangle.
Rows 1 and 2 – P2 and turn, k2 and turn.
Rows 3 and 4 – P into front and back, p2tog (last st of triangle and next st on right hand needle to join) and turn, k3 and turn.
Rows 5 and 6 – P into front and back, p1, p2tog and turn, k4 and turn.
Rows 7 and 8 – P into front and back, p2, p2tog and turn, k5 and turn.
Rows 9 and 10 – P into front and back, p3, p2tog and turn, k6 and turn.
Rows 11 and 12 – P into front and back, p4, p2tog and turn, k7 and turn.
Row 13 – P into front and back, p5, p2tog and do not turn.
You  have used all eight stitches of the base triangle.
Leave these eight stitches on the right hand needle and go on to create your first square.

Pick up and and purl eight stitches evenly along the next edge of the base triangle and turn.
Rows 1 and 2 – K7, slip 1 purlwise and turn, p7, p2tog (to join pieces) and turn.
Repeat these rows 6 times.
Rows 15 and 16 – K7, sl 1 purlwise and turn, p7, p2tog and do not turn.
You have used all eight stitches of the base triangle.
Leave these eight stitches on the right hand needle and repeat these 16 rows four times.

To make the right side straight, you need to work a triangle.
Pick up and purl 8 stitches evenly along the next edge of the base triangle and turn.
Rows 1 and 2 – K7, slip 1 purlwise and turn, p6, p2tog and turn.
Rows 3 and 4 – K6, slip 1 purlwise and turn, p5, p2tog and turn.
Rows 5 and 6 – K5, slip 1 purlwise and turn, p4, p2tog and turn.
Rows 7 and 8 – K4, slip 1 purlwise and turn, p3, p2tog and turn.
Rows 9 and 10 – K3, slip 1 purlwise and turn, p2, p2tog and turn.
Rows 11 and 12 – K2, slip 1 purlwise and turn, p1, p2tog and turn.
Rows 13 and 14 – K1, slip 1 purlwise and turn, p2tog and turn.
All stitches are on the left-hand needle ready for the next row.

Knit row squares with Verde
Slip 1 stitch then pick up and knit 7 stitches evenly along the edge of the right side triangle. Turn.
Rows 1 and 2 – P7, slip 1 purlwise and turn, k7, ssk (to join) and turn.
Repeat these rows 6 times.
Rows 15 and 16 – P7, slip1 purlwise and turn, k7, ssk and do not turn.
All stitches in the square below have been used.
Repeat these 16 rows five times.

Repeat the Purl row squares three times and Knit row squares twice more.

Top row triangles with Verde
Slip 1 stitch and pick up and knit 7 stitches along the edge of the first square and turn.
Rows 1 and 2 – P8 and turn, k7, ssk (to join) and turn.
Rows 3 and 4 – P6, p2tog and turn, k6, ssk and turn.
Rows 5 and 6 – P5, p2tog and turn, k5, ssk and turn.
Rows 7 and 8 – P4, p2tog and turn, k4, ssk and turn.
Rows 9 and 10 – P3, p2tog and turn, k3, ssk and turn.
Rows 11 and 12 – P2, p2tog and turn, k2, ssk and turn.
Rows 13 and 14 – P1, p2tog and turn, k1, ssk and turn.
Rows 15 and 16 – P2tog and turn, ssk and do not turn.
Leave this stitch on the right hand needle.
Repeat top row triangle five more times to finish.
Cut yarn and pull through last stitch to finish off.

You now have a piece of entrelac fabric to cover one side of the laptop. I noticed that it was not very stretchy so I decided to put ribbing on the other side. If you like, you could hold the yarn singly, which would reduce the gauge, making a tighter fabric. Then you could carry on with the entrelac around the other side of the laptop too.

Pick up and k2, p2 along the long edge of your entrelac triangles. I used the top triangles as my cast off tends to be looser than my cast on and I didn’t want a wide top to the cover.

IMG_20140709_105110

Ribbed back of Laptop Cover

Knit in 2×2 rib until your work is the same length as the entrelac.
Sew sides together and smother your laptop in the softest of wool covers.
I don’t think there’s any need to block this work as the laptop stretches it nicely.

Of course you can use any colour variations of yarn and even pattern your entrelac. The sky is the limit.
entrelac

Posted in entrelac, Patterns | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Update on WIPs

There are many moving parts in my non-yarn related life right now. Perhaps as a direct result my knitting mojo is suffering. The alternate way of looking at it of course, is that it’s forging ahead on the WIP front. As ever, I have lots and lots of ideas of makes but nothing committed to paper and most certainly nothing on my needles. A quick review of my WIP basket however shows healthy growth. From the early WIPs, I’ve frogged the jumper and the wrap. The first as I dropped a stitch in the basket weave and for some reason didn’t notice until several cms afterwards (having absent-mindedly added a stitch). There was nothing for it but to start again. The wrap was fun whilst I learnt the pattern but then it quickly got ultra boring so had to go. I am however, left with a promise to my son to finish his rug.

It starts like this

It started life like this

And now looks like this

And now looks like this

My main problem, apart from the rash promise, is that some of the circles are bigger than the others, and that the slip-stitch edging has puckered the circles. There is nothing for it, I’ve got to undo all the edging (there are several strips done), compare the circle sizes and almost start again. And since we’re moving again soon, I should make good my promise…

I also have this little design project on the go.

Loom scarf

It hails from the wintry days when I did a fair bit of looming. I want to create a lacy winter scarf but then it turned warm, and I hid the project.

Loom scarf

It’s also really difficult to take a photo of the pattern – it’s sort of star-shapes and looks nice in real life…

And finally there is my excursion into lace with a very gorgeous speckled silk-based yarn.

Lace wrap

It is  not perfect, but it is now officially half-way but I’ve just not picked it up in a while.

There are a “few” more things but nothing I can’t deal with. Perhaps this holiday, I will be working on cracking the WIPs rather than starting something new. Hmm. Perhaps not!

Posted in WIP | Tagged | 6 Comments