Tuesday 26 May 2009

Cape cast off, shawl cast on

Lady's circular cape
Originally uploaded by

Knitting the border that runs around the whole garment did get mind-blowingly tedious in the long run, I must admit, but it's a wonderful finishing touch that I wouldn't have wanted to leave out. Some things are definitely worth the perseverance it takes to make them.

The cape is very light, perhaps 120 grams of the 350 grams I bought. What to do with the remaining yarn? Well, after knitting several lace shawls of different shapes, some with and some without modifications, I think I'm ready to try designing my own lace shawl! I really liked the shape that consists of three triangles, so it will be one like that.

While knitting another shawl last month I thought the patterns resembled rain and flowers, so I'm working with that idea. (That is, until I change my mind.) There are drop-like pattern shapes of different sizes to begin with and my plan is to fill next border with flower shapes of some kind.

Thursday 14 May 2009

New knitting group but familiar faces

On Tuesday I met a group of knitters – the fourth one in about a month! This particular event was very special, because I knew some of them but hadn't seen them for 15-20 years. You see, it took place where I spent most of my childhood, in a building only about half a mile from the house where we lived. Since moving I've only passed through the area a couple of times, so it was quite exciting returning, especially for this reason.

There were about 15 knitters there; I didn't know all of them but the ones I did know (like mothers of old class mates – no fathers in sight, strangely enough!) I recognized immediately or in an instant. Speaking of mothers, my mother joined me and it's nice sharing this day with her: it wouldn't have been the same thing just telling her about what it was like. Unfortunately, my sister was busy, but I hope there will be more opportunities.

The picture above shows where I lived as a child – and knitted, of course. If I remember correctly, it is actually where my grandmother showed me how to knit during one of her visits.

I've started knitting Jane Sowerby's "Lady's Circular Cape in Shell Pattern" (Victorian Lace Today) with the pale pink wool-silk blend that I tricked myself into buying last week. Sooo easy to trick sometimes!

An enjoyable project, even though it looks like assorted intestines right now...

Wednesday 13 May 2009

The Foster Knitter

Sleeping Beauty
Originally uploaded by
This knitting was once started by Ebba while she was living in Spain. A mother of four she never finished the project, but it was left like this – in 1922!

Yesterday two of her daughters asked me if I'd be interested in trying to finish it, so now it’s in my happy hands. There are some handwritten notes, but they are difficult to decipher; however, I’ve knitted similar patterns before and can continue knitting it. Words can't express what it feels like being trusted with a knitting project that's been kept for more than 80 years.

The main problem is that I don’t know what kind of garment it was meant to be. Well, "problem" is not the right word, since I’m happily intrigued by the project and like the challenge. One piece is finished and there seems to be enough yarn for a small sweater with short sleeves, so I’m going to search for vintage knitting patterns from the 20’s for inspiration. Low-cut? V-neck?

I’ve never seen a “yarn bracelet” before, a kind of cross to wind yarn around attached to it with a short chain, but I think it’s brilliant! Does anyone know if there's a name for it?

Monday 11 May 2009

A quick fix and a slow one

Alpackahalsduk med katt
Originally uploaded by

Yesterday I surprised myself by finishing two projects, a fichu cast on last week and a scarf cast on last year; this made me think about what makes some things quick to knit and others slow.

Obviously, it’s a question of motivation – but in my case it doesn't seem to have much to do with level of difficulty. The scarf certainly wasn’t more difficult to knit, on the contrary. My sister chose the yarn and we agreed I’d knit a scarf with various patterns: she liked the idea of a scarf with a lot of variation in it, and I liked the idea of being able to test different lace patterns. Therefore, I really should have been able to finish it ages ago.

"The Opera Fichu" by Jane Sowerby, on the other hand, is a different kind of garment that I haven’t knitted before. You begin by knitting a rectangle, then pick up stitches around it to knit a border, fold it, pick up stitches and cast on new ones to knit a neckband and ties.

It was far less complicated than I expected from the photos of the finished garment, but still very enjoyable learning how to knit it.

What is time-consuming about the fichu is the number of stitches: a border row consists of more than a thousand stitches, which is something of a paradox considering it’s a fairly small garment. However, the border pattern isn't very difficult; a repeat is six stitches wide and consists of two rows, one of which is knits only. I must admit it was rather monotonous, but then it didn't require much concentration so I could knit it even when it was getting late and I was getting tired.

What, then, is important for me to really get into a project? These seem to be the main factors:

  • A plan. Not necessarily knowing all the details but a general idea about the construction of the garment and what it will look like. You could say I like having a plan that I can change if I want to. (I did change some things in the fichu pattern, but let's not go down that road right now...) Perhaps the scarf idea was too vague: knit different patterns until you run out of yarn or it is long enough. Well, at least it seemed like a good idea in September.
  • Variation is important. Why then do I complain about a scarf that practically consists of variation? A strong sense of democracy: only a few lines above I complained about how monotonous the fichu border was, so in all fairness it's my duty to find fault with the scarf. I'm probably too much of a control freak: I like controlled variation, knowing the different elements will blend well. Perhaps you could compare it to colours. I don't mix all the colours and shades of colours I like in the same garment, but combine the ones I believe look good together.
  • Developing my skills by learning new things, testing ideas and stretching my limits - that's both exciting and rewarding. And I did get to test patterns making the scarf.
  • My personal taste. Call me selfish – I do! – but in my opinion life is simply too short for me to knit things I'm not that fond of.

Now, the scarf was a good project, worth knitting not just because I learnt more about myself as a knitter, but because my sister is pleased with the results. That's an important factor too, of course. But can you use the scarf to dress up as Rasputin, which is possible with the fichu?

Thursday 7 May 2009

Sometimes I'm efficient

Originally uploaded by

Last night I met up with two groups of knitters, first at a café in Finspång and then in this beautiful house in Ljusfallshammar.

What's more, they were all into twined knitting (Sw. "tvåändsstickning") so it was an unusual and unusually pleasant evening.

I even managed to buy some yarn: seven hanks of wool-silk blend, enough for at least two shawls.

Not that I need shawls, but I do need to make them (Dr Asplund's orders) and I think "Lady's circular cape in shell pattern" would be lovely in this pale pink hue. Where the pattern is? Victorian Lace Today, of course.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Eva's shawl finished

Evas sjal
Originally uploaded by

Both major and minor changes to the design made it quite exciting to see if the shawl would look anything like what I had in mind! It actually does, so I'm happy with my modifications:

1) adding three small groups of holes near the top of each triangle;

2) replacing the "Barège" pattern with a "Leaf and trellis" pattern from the Cap Shawl in the same book;

3) the edging I "designed" (sounds fancy!) to frame three sides of the shawl; the points are formed by increases and decreases, their width based on the number of stitches in the repeats; I used yarn-over increases to make groups of holes for decoration and to make the edging elastic. (I tried invisible increases first, but I thought that made the edging look too solid compared to the rest of the shawl; it seemed too tight too.)

4) adding a knitted-on border, basically "Mrs. Hope's Vandyke edging" (also in Victorian Lace Today) except I skipped two rows (15-16) to make it match the number of stitches picked up along the edge.

It's ca 120 cm (47 in) wide and very light, ca 120 grams (1/4 lb). Eva hasn't seen the finished shawl yet; those who have tried it on say they like the shape, since it doesn't slide off the shoulders the way a triangular shawl easily does. However, it keeps your arms free rather than covered, so if you want a shawl to keep your arms warm this might not be the best choice.