Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


i started the fall knitting
socks right now
to be followed by cowls, hats, mittens

still in the midst of the endless studio reorganization
i can almost..... almost see the light

it all has to be done before october as we heat with wood and right now the woodstove is completely covered with stuff such as paints, watercolor paper, woolen hats, knitting needles........
you know the stuff of life

take good care bess


By Blogger vi, at 8:51 AM  

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Sunday, August 16, 2009  

Lace on the Brain

I must thank all of you for your kind words of sympathy, posted and emailed to me over the past week. Each of us in my family is finding her way through this door, but I have had the help of friends and I count you all among that list.

Another great boon for TheQueen has been her knitting. Taking a cue from Elizabeth Zimmermann, I have been Knitting on, with confidence and hope. And not just any knitting either - for I am in the throes of Lace Fever and can't stop knitting it, thinking about it, looking at books on it, borrowing More Books about it and even charting my own lace.

I've knit a little lace over the years - slipping in bits here, a cuff there, and last summer I began exploring Evelyn Clarke's lace triangles (Thank you Clara) I found that knitting lace in August is particularly pleasant. There's natural daylight long into the evening. Lace is lightweight, even when you're knitting wool, so it doesn't fill the lap with heat. And lace is just plain fun to knit. Much like fair isle and other stranded colorwork, it is always changing - there is always some surprise floating off your needles if you just knit one more row. Well, alright. Maybe two more rows.

At my first Stitches event in 2007 I registered with Hunt Valley Cashmere for their Great American Aran Afghan square of the (every-other) month club. I had admired their yarn for a long time and I had thought I'd like to knit that afghan. Turns out I LOVE their yarn but am indifferent to the afghan so I just began stockpiling the yarn as it came in every 8 weeks, figuring there would come a time when inspiration would inflame my passion and I would cast on the right project.

Lace shawl kept floating through my brain and Knit Lace in August thrummed beneath like a basso continuo. August drew near and, though I had intended to knit Only Socks this summer, I told myself, finishing 3 pair of socks was enough. Knitting is not supposed to be something I punish myself with but something that thrills me with pleasure. Discipline has no virtue in and of itself - but is to be used as a tool to make your life better. And there was this beautiful Sleeves in your Pi shawl (see August 3 post) and I cast on and here are a few photos:

Here is a closeup of the center part of the pattern.

As I mentioned earlier, the cashmere knits up much smaller than the yarn used in the original design so I'm going to have to enlarge it - and a few weeks ago I fiddled with charting an additional outer ring. I am now only 4 rounds away from beginning my own chart - I plan to get there today. I'm still on self imposed medical R&R this weekend, with great hopes that I will be well enough to do a full day's work tomorrow.

I can't say enough about the joy of knitting lace with this yarn. Normally I am a springy bouncy merino fan and rather avoid inelastic yarns, but this yarn is different. It is pure joy to work with, it makes me happy when it touch it, it inspires me to keep on knitting. It stays put on the Addi Lace needles and if it splits, a gentle tug in two directions after fixing the split restores it to smoothness.

It also seems to hold up well as a fabric. Mind now - I am well aware this is cashmere. It's a delicate fiber and is expected to pill over time. But even knitting with these delicate fine fibers can sometimes create signs of wear and I am seeing nothing on my shawl yet. This shawl is going to be heavenly to own and to wear. And buying the yarn slowly, over time, has made it affordable for me. I think it comes to $22 a skein (though I don't have an invoice before me - there may be a shipping charge) and that is something I can afford every other month.

Another interesting thing about this yarn is how it knits up on different needles. Here is a project I started because I am a true EN - look a bird - FP and can never resist TheNextThing. While pouring over discussions of pi shawl techniques (needed if I am to expand a spoked pi shawl) in Meg Swansen's Gathering of Lace I got to wondering if this cashmere yarn could be knit up into those lace gloves .... and guess what! It can! See?

Not sure I'd do this more than once, because I find that when I knit an inelastic fiber on size 0 needles I grip them so tightly I bend them. This is definitely not relaxing knitting, though it's not tense knitting either. I just grip too tightly. I wish I had wooden zero's because, though I might still grip tightly, I wouldn't bend them. Of course .... I might break them - so I have resisted ordering More Needles.

The happy surprise is that this yarn, knit so tightly (a photo of the palms would show this, but alas, I don't have one) is still supple, soft, a delightful texture and a pleasure to feel. It will make the most luxurious gloves I will ever own and I'll probably wear them only for dress-up. (remember "dress up"?)

And lest you fear I successfully resisted purchasing any new lace knitting treasures, I assure you that an order went out to KnitPicks for Anna Marie Jensen's Rona Lace Shawl and a couple of skeins of their Gloss yarn in a color called celery. Well. I had to try those new acrylic needle tips, didn't I? And once I had an order started, what's a pattern leaflet and a few skeins of laceweight?

And yes. I cast it on and have knit about 25 rounds. Just a bit of knitting. Just to see. Because that's the way it is when you have Lace On The Brain.

May you all knit on, with hope and confidence, and find rest on the other side.

posted by Bess | 8:03 AM