26 October, 2007

Blocking, who needs it?

Soft, white, and fluffy like a cloud.

This is how I like my lace to look.

The Large Rectangle in Leaf and Trellis pattern, from Victorian Lace Today, in a scarf version. I am working on the edging at the moment. This project is renewing my love for Misti Baby Alpaca Lace yarn! It's so wonderful!

And it does come in 22 gorgeous colors...

Maybe I will have to flatten the project a tiny, tiny, little bit at the finishing stage. But not too much!

Meanwhile, though I love the white alpaca, I am hankering after colors... Who knows what will come out of this?

09 October, 2007

Local yarn and fabric store closing

I am so bummed. For those who live in South-Eastern Mass, the Randolph location of Fabric Place is closing. Everything is on sale. They have yarn as well as fabrics, and in fact they were the biggest MA yarn shop south of Boston. I just discovered them last spring, and was really happy to find such a great big store reasonably close to my area. It was too good to last, of course.

Their selection includes Classic Elite, Berrocco, Brown Sheep, Malabrigo, Fleece Artist, Karabella, and lots of other goodies. And their fabrics are awesome. They also have their Pfaff sewing machines on sale... This always happens when I am on a budget.

This is the second time this has happened in a year here... I plan to take good care of the remaining smaller shops.

Their Warwick, RI, location is also closing.

Well, I just thought I would pass on the word about the sale, if anybody lives in the area, and is in need of yarn. :)

09 September, 2007

A Pine Tree Sock

Pattern: Pine Tree Socks by Katherine Misegades, free pattern here
Yarn: Dale Heilo, 3 skeins of 50g
Needles: 3 mm

The Katherine Misegades sock is made with a special heel, which is very cool. There are no short rows, and no picking up stitches. There are no special heel stitches and this allows the patterning to flow all the way down the back.

They are super comfortable. I love that they are nice and long. Also, the way the sock is angled gives it a shape that fits my foot very nicely. Now I am almost looking forward to the cold so that I can wear my Pine Tree Socks. As soon as I finish the other one, of course.
Thank you, Katherine!

Also, my user name on Ravelry is mohairkid. Or The Mo-hair Kid as we like to say it 'round these parts.

21 August, 2007

Lace Knitting

We liken lace knitting to making a souffle: To the uninitiated, it exudes an aura of mystery and difficulty; but when the work is done, you realize it is mostly air and no trick at all.

Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swansen, Vogue Knitting, Winter 92-93.

Mostly air

I love this quote. Elizabeth Zimmermann had the gift of expressing things succinctly!

In between working on the Pine Tree Sock, my little wall quilt, and my Brocade Leaves sweater, I cast on for another lace project. Resistance was futile.

The pattern is again from Victorian Lace Today, the Large Rectangle in Leaf and Trellis Pattern (p 52). Though I am only doing one repeat across, instead of two, so that I will have a scarf instead of a shawl. See gorgeous full size versions of it here and here.

For the yarn, I am again using Misti Baby Alpaca Lace, in natural. I love this yarn. Very nice and extremely generous with the yardage. So generous that I have tons left of the red from my last scarf.

The pattern is bothering me slightly, though. If you look at the picture, you can see that the stockinette section is larger on the left side than the right side. It has two extra stockinette stitches, so the pattern is not completely centered. It's a tiny error in the chart. I have already done six repeats, so I don't have the heart to frog it. It will be one of those imperfections that shows it was handmade. Handmade with love :)

On a Lace related topic, I have good news for North American lovers of Japanese knitting books. They are now available here, at the Needle Arts Book Shop. The lace sweater at the top of the page is spectacular. I can see this becoming a new obsession for me... Lace knitting, finally in Japanese!

07 August, 2007

Pine Tree Socks

Thanks to Anni, I have discovered some wonderful socks. They are the Pine Tree Socks from Katherine Misegades. Her name may be familiar to you from her beautiful collection The Tongue River Farm Sock Collection.

The Pine Tree Socks feature knit and purl trees along the front and back and a small cable decorating the sides. Aren't they sleek and pretty? Don't they look warm? I think they will be perfect for living at Pine Cone Lodge this winter. And not just because of the name, though that's a bonus. Pine Cone Lodge can be pretty chilly!

Like Katherine, we also have tall spruces around our house, and I can see why she would not want to take hers down. They add so much character and atmosphere.

Katherine Misegades' blog features many beautiful designs for both socks, sweaters, hats, and scarves, along with thoughtful, inspiring quotes. This awesome sweater reminds me of a traditional Norwegian pullover called a "vams". She also has several free sock patterns.

My last pair of socks had some lace, and maybe it's not so practical to have wool socks with holes in them... doesn't that defeat the purpose of staying warm? I think it might be a good time for me to start on some socks again. :)

Photo from Katherine's blog.

29 July, 2007

Lipstick red lace

This was so much fun!

Pattern: Scarf with No. 20 border, Victorian Lace Today
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Lace, in color Lipstick, 2 skeins
Needles: 3 mm Addi turbo

Width: 29 cm
Length: 142 cm
Pattern repeats: 22

I did twenty-two repeats of the lace pattern, which is exactly the same as the much larger stole in the book. I thought I would have to knit more than that because my yarn is thinner than what they used in the book, but that's just how it worked out. Check out the picture at the end. If I had made a narrower scarf I could have easily gotten by with just one skein of this yarn. Good to know!

I tried modeling on the pretty one:

Is this my color?

She ran away into her safe corner, but I followed. Just as well, the wood makes a nicer background. See how her right ear leans in? It does that when she in insecure. Poor thing, the tortures she has to suffer through.

Outside was better. As a bonus we got a better representation of the color as well.

This is taking forever...

I am not sure it was worth modeling it on her. I spent half an hour trying to pose her, which was impossible. Every time I tried to move so I could get her from the side, she followed and wanted to face me. And then I spent half an hour afterwards picking out white dog hairs with tweezers. They worked themselves in really well!

I love the way the second border is knitted on. And look how far I got with the first skein of yarn! Ten cm short of the end! So about 97 percent of this scarf from one skein...

I really learned a lot from this project. The knitted on border was definitely cool, and I found that a crochet bind off works better for lace. For me at least. The book recommends suspended bind off, but it worked out tight for me. I tried a few different ones, but none of the others worked. Lace is addictive, I think it's the most fun knitting there is. I had to force myself to put it down.

One amazing thing about the book, is that the author, Jane Sowerby, knitted every single shawl herself. There are forty items, most of them quite large!

Thank you, Jacqueline and Stephanie, for the fun knit-along!

12 July, 2007

I love rock'n roll

Put another dime in the jukebox, baby! Rockin' girl Agnes kindly nominated me as a Rockin' Girl Blogger, so now I am pretending to be Joan Jett.

I know I am silly, but I can't help myself. It seems Joan Jett immediately springs to mind for a lot of people my age when you say Rockin' Girl. Though Joan probably wouldn't be showing you pictures of quilts and lace.

Now I am supposed to nominate five others. I nominate Meg - for all the fascinating topics she writes about, Blossom - for her beautiful sewing and style, Liz - for her beautiful art works and photos, Mel - for her beautiful spinning, Marina - for her gorgeous fair isles, and Marianne - for her caring and thoughtfulness. Of course all in addition to beautiful knitting. Okay, maybe that was six. I must do two more: Katy and Brooke, who both share their lives with lots of beautiful greyhounds and have so much fun with it. Pippi and I get our daily must-read greyhound news from them.

I would really like to nominate all the bloggers I read. I want to say something like "You all rock!" but honestly, I am too old. I can't use an expression like that with a straight face. So let me just say that all of your blogs are an endless source of inspiration to me, and I get a lot of joy from reading them.

I am picking up some UFO's:

The first is this wall hanging. It represents the four seasons, and there are some autumn leaves still to applique. I won't tell you how old this ufo is. Well, ok, ten years. Blossom came to visit me a few years ago. I was showing her my projects, and I couldn't find the book for this. I have since turned the house upside down several times, and it has never appeared!

Every time I thought about starting this again, I would feel compelled to search for the book, thus keeping myself from actually working on it. I can hardly believe that I would have owned a book and forgotten its' name. It was a Japanese quilting book, and I think I bought it in Copenhagen at Quilter's Paradise. I have the pattern sheet, but I wish I had the picture so I could see how they did their quilting and surface embellishments. I now have decided to face the fact that I will never find it, and I will have to improvise. How scary.

Putting something on your blog causes it to get finished, right?

November, 2007, edited to add: A very kind reader sent me a sweet email and the name of the book! I was able to find it here. I really enjoyed seeing it again. I know I would never have been able to think of such a nice frame for the picture, so I am really happy. Thank you very much, M.C.!

The second thing I have picked up again is the "Scarf with No. 20 Edging" from Victorian Lace Today. This has hibernated for about six months. The funny thing about this is that many people have done the same scarf as part of the KAL, and all except one have done it in red! And no, the picture in the book is not of a red scarf, it's yellow! This is a scarf that just wants to be red.

Plus, there is still the Brocade Leaves sweater, Poetry In Stitches p124.
Nordic Fiber Arts has a "one per customer" notice for this book and for Norsk Strikkedesign on their page now.

One of our rhododendrons which is blooming at the moment. I think it may be a 'Rosebay' rhododendron, and it blooms well after the other rhodies. The weather has been misty for a few days and I feel like I am in Oregon or Seattle. It's so nice! After the drought, this is better for the plants. Tourists are not happy, though.

02 July, 2007

Poetry in Stitches Camisole

The Poetry camisole is finished, and I really like it! After spending more time on the finishing than the knitting (typical), it's ready. This pattern is a copy of an actual vintage under garment. Maybe it was worn over a corset? I love learning about what people wore underneath their Victorian and Edwardian finery.

The shaping makes the top very comfortable, and I believe it would be flattering on most body types. The only adjustment that I made was to knit it size small on the length, but size medium on the width.

The instructions for the button holes were written for the medium size only, so I had to do that calculation for the size small. But I think it was good for my brain to be forced to do a tiny bit of math. It is getting old and creaky.

I found some flower shaped buttons to bring out the summery feel.

Pattern: Poetry In Stitches p126
Yarn: Hifa Luxor cotton in pale blue 315. (Click on the button that says "Fargekart" to see the colors) Kit was special ordered from Nordic Fiber Arts.
Needles: Addi Bamboo circulars, 3 mm, 60 cm (24 in) long (An awkward Addi size, stick with 80 from now on!)
Crochet hook: 3 mm
Started: May 21, 2006, Finished June 28, 2006. A record!

The weather is not cooperating. Sometimes it's too sunny for pictures! I hope to be replacing this picture shortly.

I love the Hifa cotton yarn. It's smooth and makes a pretty fabric. I would love to make something in plain stockinette using this yarn to really bring out the sheen.
The only problem was that the plies tended to separate some when crocheting, but I don't mind, because this is what makes the yarn so smooth and silky. Crocheting was much harder on my carpal tunnel than knitting, though. I think I need one of those ergonomic hooks!

I had a problem with my cast-on being looser than the bind-off (the cast-on side is the button hole side), and when I tried it on, I realized that it would not look good. One side was a little longer than the other. So I picked out the row before the double seed stitch area, picked up the stitches, and reknit the 14 rows in the opposite direction. Now it's great. There is not any gapping between the buttons at all, even though the top is quite form fitting.

The garter stitch was quite stretchy, but the crochet edging firmed things up nicely.

I really liked knitting sideways like this, and I am thinking of making this Solveig Hisdal jacket from Norsk Strikkedesign later! I also love this Hanne Falkenberg jacket, the Mermaid. Isn't it the coolest, most awesome design ever?

20 June, 2007

Pippi the burrowing greyhound

A little princess.

The Pipster is the worlds most pampered and decadent little greyhound. And the most affectionate.

At night, when she runs upstairs to go to bed, she refuses to lie down on her super cushy L.L.Bean bed. She stands there looking at us until we bring out the blankets from the closet. Her bed must have her blankies. Only then will she lie down.

She has heard the story "The Princess and the Pea". And since she believes she is a princess (she misunderstood the title, in her mind she changed it to "The Princess is The P"), well, she wants to be treated like one and sleep on many, many mattresses and blankets.

She likes to be tucked in. Even if it's 80 (27) degrees outside. Now she is happy. She'll stay under her blankies all night.

In the morning, this is Pippi:

Come on, Pippi, we got to wakey, wakey!

Where did she go? You probably didn't know that greyhounds are burrowing animals. Notice that she got up, turned around, and lay back down again. Some mornings we see no part of her at all. Other times she just hides her head. Time to play the game Where is The P? No energetic jumping out of bed for the Pipster, she likes to be woken up with morning spoiling*. Morning spoiling is the best**.

Greyhound owners are a little nuts.

* The word spoiled is a very positive word in our house. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that other people may misunderstand when we say that a dog is spoiled. In our house it just means somebody who likes their spoiling. We love for all dogs to be spoiled.

** Morning spoiling is especially good for shy greyhounds, the ones who pretend that they don't care about being petted. In the morning, when they are relaxed, they forget to keep up this pretense.


05 June, 2007

The camisole is getting there

I felt compelled to post, even though the weather is very dark and dreary and I can't get a great picture. I have the crochet edging and the buttons left to do. I still have to actually buy the buttons. But this is a pretty fast knit, and I had lots of plane and airport time to knit when I went to Mexico. I was inspired by Sandra (I love her colors), who did hers so fast, and knitted whenever I had a minute. I love the little wedges which give such a good shape, and they also break up the project, knit twelve rows, knit a wedge, knit fifteen rows, knit a wedge. Somehow that was very motivating.

I almost don't want to post, I kind of want the Mexico pictures to be at the top of my blog forever and ever. I thought about putting one in my header, but pictures of palm trees don't exactly scream "pine cone lodge". :)

02 June, 2007

Travel, food, and textiles

My husband travels to meetings in cool places. I tagged along to Acapulco.

We were lucky enough to go to a party here and see this beautiful view.

Seafood on the beach every night, watching the sunset from this deck. Food in Mexico, what a wonderful experience. The breakfast tortillas, the papaya juice, the soups, the seafood... I was taking notes.

It was funny to see all the cabs.

Shopping for embroidered dresses in the market, I was able to get a blouse

and a dress. I could look at this forever:

I would have loved to buy more, but aggressive bargaining was so much work.

Some knitting happened as well. I am almost done with the camisole now, but I loved this floor so much, I had to show this picture.

I didn't have internet available except for about an hour and no cell phone service either. It was relaxing. But now I am slightly behind on my emails. Hope you all forgive me.

20 May, 2007

Cotton for summer

Tired of black and white yet? No way, not me! Though I am feeling compelled to set aside the wool every now and then, and play around with this cotton camisole from Poetry in Stitches.

Hifa cotton in ice blue from Nordic Fiber Arts.

It was a treat to choose a color out of the 60 or so on the color card. I seriously considered at least four or five different blues, but in the end I went with this one, the palest of the pale. The yarn was special ordered, so it took a while for it to get here, but it is beautiful. Smooth, sleek, mercerized cotton, quite unlike their rather rustic (but lovely) Hifa 2 wool, which I am using for the Brocade Leaves sweater.

The camisole is knitted sideways in garter stitch and "double pearl" stitch (I may have to find what the English name for this is), and is copied from an actual antique under garment! Isn't it cute with the short row shaping at the waist?

Twin dogwood trees in our yard. Finally it's spring! Though of course it's still raining.

Variations on a sweater

I hope everybody who is knitting fair isle is reading Nanette's blog, Knitting In Color. Her blog is like a class in color knitting, with lots of details and pictures. She wrote the booklet, "Stranded Color Knitting", which is a must for anybody who is new to fair isle knitting. It's like having a friend to show you what to do, how to hold the yarn, how deal with tension problems, the best ways to weave in the ends, and much more. Her latest series of posts has been a master class in knitting gloves. She is so very generous.

The sharp eyed among you may have noticed that two of the sweaters in the recent "inspiration" post were the same. One is a copy of an antique*, knitted in very fine yarn and cut up the front to be a cardigan. It is edged with woven bands. The other one is an updated version in Susanne Pagoldh's Nordic Knitting, knitted in heavier wool and with ribbing at the neck and on the sleeves. If you want to make the cardigan, just follow the pattern in Nordic Knitting, but use thinner wool. Eliminate the sleeve and neck ribbing, and cut up the front. Edge with woven braid.

The Pagoldh book is the only place I have seen a pattern for this sweater, known as "spøta-trøje" from Stord, an island on the west coast of Norway outside Bergen. Though I have seen several other antique examples. Here is another as pictured in Traditional Knitting by Sheila McGregor.

Note the initials and the year 1860 knitted in. I love the way the different star patterns are combined. As usual, click on any of the photos to see them larger.

*1975 copy of an antique sweater from 1846 pictured in "Trollstål og Kjerringspinn" ("Sorcerer's Steel and Women's Webs - Norwegian craft traditions: knife-making, knitting and weaving").
Published by De Norske Bokklubbene in association with the Lillehammer Olympics 1994. This beautiful book reminds us that these three crafts were crucial to survival, knitting and weaving to keep warm, and knife making to keep fed in a country with very little farm land. Lillefix, you would like this book ;)

11 May, 2007

Some Selbu mittens for your pleasure

From left:
1. Korntrø-rosa, named for Korntrø Farm,
2. Hjart-rosa (Heart rose),
3. Skaltroll-rosa, also named Pine Cone Pattern (I believe)

4. Værhorns-rosa (Rams Horn rose),
5. Endløs-rosa (Endless rose), also called Grankvist (spruce branch),
6. Kinn'tyrill-rosa (though I have also seen this named Rams Horn rose)

Wouldn't they all make beautiful sweaters? Any of these patterns could be either done as bands or all-over. They would fit my criteria perfectly. I am considering designing my own.

In my quest for black and white patterns, I looked through some of my Norwegian text books. I found the above graphic in this book, The Mitten in Norwegian Tradition, which is written by Ingebjørg Gravjord and was published in 1986. Unfortunately I don't believe it is available in English, but I just read that it is being republished, so there is a chance that could spur a translation as well. I hope so.

It is a very comprehensive academic book, written by an expert in cultural history. She is a historian, as well as instructor in textiles at the Academy of Applied Art and Design(?) (Statens håndverks- og kunstindustri skole). It covers mittens in all forms, whether woven, nålbinding, twined knitting, or ordinary knitting, and the regional traditions and history associated with them.

Click on the picture to get a close up of the the gorgeous embroidered mitten from Telemark on the cover, with the year 1730 stitched on it. This mitten was done in nålbinding.
There are no patterns in this book, though it does contain some instructions on unusual techniques. This book, along with another by the same author called Knitting in Norway, are my main sources of historical knitting information. This is how I find out all about the olden days!

I also have a blog to share with you. Kathy has started a new inspiring blog where she is compiling all kinds of resources on Fair Isle and Norwegian knitting in one place, such as links to lots of tutorials and other informative sites. Check it out, she's an excellent writer, and it's a great resource!

10 May, 2007

Black and White Inspiration

I discovered a curious thing this winter. When the weather is gray and gloomy, and everything kind of blurs together, black and white is soothing to look at. I think my eyes got tired from trying to focus with all the gray and found it very comforting to gaze upon a certain black and white item. It was very surprising.

Therefore, to prepare myself for next winter, I want to knit a new sweater to wear all of January. (And, as it turns out, April. But I am not bitter.)

I have made a list of vague criteria:

1. Black and White
The colors must be deep dyed black and bleached unnatural white. Not natural white and natural black sheep colors. It has to have maximum contrast.

2. Balanced
The balance between the two has to be close to fifty-fifty. Or sixty-forty white-black. My jacket from long ago called for 600 g white and 400 g black.

3. The "Right" Scale
The patterns have to have the "right" size. For example lice patterns are too small, they are visual noise. Solid blocks which are ten cm (four in) across are too big. On the old jacket I really like the large rose pattern which is called "rams horn rose".

4. Norwegian Style
I want to do it in a Norwegian style pattern. Though this could work in an Op Art style pattern as well. (I found these socks by Laura Andersson. How cool are they!)

I have scanned through all my books and booklets looking for inspiration. Here is a little selection. Click for close-up.

Oleana. I could probably handle the red border.

Ellinor Flor from "Rosa Heimafrå". I love her. This coffee table sized book is one of my favorites!

Sandnes Garn Maybe if I reversed the colors on the sleeves and shoulders.

Traditional sweater from Nordic Knitting by Susanne Pagoldh

Viking ship action from Sandnes Garn

So hard to choose! The Oleana of course is not available to knit, only as ready-to-wear. But I better get started on this asap. At my speed, seven-eight months is probably reasonable.