Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Victoria and Albert Museum Collection

I'm just going to place this entry from the V&A Museum here without comment. To do so would just prove the foolishness of my feeble attempts at description.


Shetland Islands

18th century

Hand knitted silk

Width along top edge 243 cm, height neck to hem 126.5 cm

Museum no. T.137-1966
From the 1830s knitters on the Shetland Islands adopted the then fashionable technique of lace knitting. This style quickly became identified with the shawls and veils knitted by Shetlanders from yarn spun into very fine thread on the Isle of Unst. These items were knitted on steel wires and the tradition of passing the finished object through a wedding ring became established, as this demonstrated how light and delicate it was. The knitters invented the patterns of the shawls, many of which have names taken from local features, such as 'Ears o' Grain', 'Fir Cone' and 'Print o' the Wave'. Although these shawls were bought by wealthy women during the 19th century, the knitters earned little in return for the amount of detailed work that went into creating the thousands of stitches that made up one garment.

PLEASE, do yourself an enormous favor and check out the rest of the collection at

I'll be the drool off the keyboard.


Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ribbit, Freaking Ribbit

{Major Sigh} well, for those who may be following along, you may have noticed more than a pregnant pause here lately. There's a good reason for that, I promise you. After finishing 2 repeats of the 300 stitch round, I decided that I simply cannot abide the look of the shawl. I thought I was satisfied with the guage I was working, but now it is apparent that it's just not doing ANYTHING for the lace pattern. So, it's a gonner. I'm frogging the entire shawl and starting over. ugh. I know I'll be happier for it in the end, but it's a little depressing at the moment. Thank goodness I know I'm in sympathetic company who won't allow me to wallow in the slimy murk of the lily pond for long.
That has not, however stopped me from designing the next rounds!!! Fear not! As long as you are still knitting in a guage that suits you and your lace, I present to you the next pattern.
Since Liz is well underway with her workshop over on
Traditionalknitting, I really wanted to use some of those patterns. They are LOVELY and if you haven't been following the workshop, you are really missing a fantastic opportunity. The pattern I wanted most to use was Candlelight, but the stitch count was just a bit tedious to work in, so back to good old Barbara Walker and her Treasury of Knitting Patterns to find a lace that she calls Fern Lace that is pretty darned identical except that it has a 10 stitch repeat. Perfect! So I present to you Fern Lace

Pretty, isn't it? So why this pattern? This will give you a bit more complicated design to follow and 'read' on the needles. The design alternates before the repeat actually completes, so you will need to really see what is going on with the stitches. It's really not all that hard. The central component of yo, K1, yo is what makes the stem of the fern (or candle) and that is easy to keep your bearings on. I know you can do it and it will look soooo pretty in this next band.

You might note that I said the 300 stitch band rather than 288 stitches which the original Pi pattern calls for. I did a bit of playing and determined that indeed the extra stitches only enhance the appearance of the lace and in no way deter from the end result (when you are knitting in the proper guage, but I think we've been over that already. Please pardon the pity interlude.)

This is a 16 row pattern which also works very well to do 3 repeats with 2 rows of knitting before and after the yo increase rounds. Here is the pattern:


1 Knit (and all odd numbered rows)

2 / O 1 O \ 5

4 / 1 O 1 O 1 \ 3

6 / 2 O 1 O 2 \

8 3 O 1 O 3 Y (I am using 'Y' instead of the upside-down version which means Knit 3 together. If anyone knows a way to do that in common type, please share.)

10 O \ 5 / O 1

12 O 1 \ 3 / 1 O 1

14 O 2 \ 1 / 2 O 1

16 O 3 Y 3 O 1

So I leave you to your knitting. Me and the the frog are going to go enjoy a glass of wine, some Chocolate Strawberry Frozen Mousse and destroy a shawl. See ya round the frog pond! I'll be the slimy one.


PS. have you all figured out that you can cut and copy the design instructions to a regular word processing program and print it out on either business card or notecard stock? ;-)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Pattern #2

How is everyone coming along? I would expect you are at least ready for the second pattern. I was pretty sure it would work out alright, but didnt' want to post till I'd actually tried it. The second pattern is called Horseshoe... because it ...well....looks like a horseshoe. Go figgure.

I'm giving you the picture from Barbara Walker's "A Treasury of Knitting Patterns" because first of all, I couldn't get a picture of mine that looked right at all. It's in that 'ugly bag' stage where it's too small to open up and too big to sit nicely. Secondly, I managed to knit it upsidedown, so it won't look like yours anyway...unless you knit yours upside down too. :)
It's not a difficult pattern at all, but has a bit more too it than the first pattern, so will stretch your lace muscles a little more. This pattern has an 8 row and 10 stitch repeat. Now, the second section has a 24 row and 144 stitch repeat. The 24 rows works perfectly, we'll do 3 repeats, but 10 into 144 doesnt' quite cut it. So...what to do? You could a. decrease 4 stitches or b. increase 6 stitches to make the pattern fit. Considering that this is a circular piece that gets blocked out pretty hard anyway, I chose to increase the 6 stitches. When you knit the first plain knit row after the yo increases, place 6 increases evenly around the work. I personally prefer the M1 increase but any increase will work. How to space evenly? Divide 6 into 144 and the denominator will be the number of stitches between increases. Come on! you can do that much math! :)
OK, here's the chart and written versions. Remember that charts are read from the bottom up and written directions from the top down.
Note: ^ = SSK

K K K K K K K K K P (10)
O K K K ^ K K O K P
K O K K ^ K K O K P
K K O K ^ K O K K P
K K K O ^ O K K K P

  1. 3, O, ^, O, 3, P
  2. 9, P
  3. 2, O, 1, ^, 1, O, 2, P
  4. 9, P
  5. 1, O, 2, ^, 2, O, 1, P
  6. 9, P
  7. O, 3, ^, 2, O, 1, P

OK, not to hard, right? There are a couple of really good features to this pattern for the sake of learning. You have two points on each repeat to make sure you are in the correct place and haven't messed up stitches. See the blue ^ (SSK) and the blue P stitch? You have those on EVERY round to match up. OK, so on the even rounds you only have the P stitch, at least that means that you can never be more than 9 stitches wrong. Every round, look closely at where the SSK and the P stitch will lie. If it's not in the correct place, you only have one repeat back to examine and see where the mistake is. If it's in the row previous, DO NOT FROG BACK AND ENTIRE ROW. Either make an unobtrusive correction if that's possible, or drop the one offending stitch to the row below and reknit it correctly. If it's a yo, pick up the thread between the stitches, if it's a SSK, take out the offending stitches, make the correct decrease and bring the stitches back up.

Learn to repeat that sequence in your mind and you won't make NEARLY so many mistakes. Consider the even rows an opportunity to catch any bugs before they are an issue.

Also, note that the yo on rows 5 and 7 are in the same place. I'm not sure why that is, but it just doesn't work out nicely otherwise, just watch it. I assure you it's no problem after being knit.

OK, if I dont' manage an update until Monday, it's because I'm working the PAOBA Alpaca show in York PA this weekend. It should be fun and I'm sure I'll get some blogworthy pics to add to the other site at . The dinner on Saturday is a spoof on 'Let's Make A Deal' costumes and all. Surely something blogworthy there. And there is always the Fleece to Shawl on Saturday. I certainly hope I can look up from my spinning long enough to click off a pic or two.

So until Monday.... Tally ho!!! (get it? horseshoe...tally ho...oh well)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Hello all. And now for another exciting installment of the Shetland Pi Shawl Saga...
Lest you get too bored, or take yourself too seriously, I suggest a short foray to this site WHAT A HOOT!!!! I love this person's sense of humor.
Now, for today's topic...Lifelines, safetyline...whatever you want to call it, you may be praising it if you have a major tragedy and need to rip out stitches.
Do we all understand the terminology of destroying our knitting? just in case we have some confusion...

Frogging...this is actually ripping out a whole row or more of stitches. Often discouraging, occasionally rewarding, rarely entoxicating but on the occasional really bad project...well, that's another topic entirely. It comes from the term 'rippit' as in rip-it or ribbit as in the sound a frog makes. Get it?
Tink....this is what we do when only a couple of stitches, or perhaps a single repeat or more is affected and you need to 'un-knit' back to the point of issue one stitch at a time. Why 'tink'? Because it's the opposite of 'knit'. k-n-i-t = t-i-n-k ok, then! You know, they say that any joke that needs explanation just isn't all that funny.

Now, for lifelines. All a lifeline is, is a sturdy, easy to see thread or cord inserted into a row of knitting so that if you should need to frog back, the line will catch all the live stitches on one single row. It's always best to put these in on a row where you can remember exactly what pattern row it represents. A plain knit row before a new pattern repeat would be a good choice. The first row of plain knitting after a major increase row would be another good choice. Also put a SEPARATE marker on the first stitch of that row. When the lifeline is tied into a circle, you won't have any other way of finding that very first row stitch.

As you can see here, I used

  • a contrasting color
  • A cotton cord (cotton doesn't felt or grab)
  • a long cord
  • a cord that will remain tied and not slip apart
  • I insert the line with a yarn needle while THAT ROW is on the cable of the circ needle

My particular choice is a piece of cotton carpet warp because I have tons of it and it's almost as useful as Duct Tape around my house. (SN: we all understand the eternal value of Duct Tape don't we? Between Duct Tape and WD-40, there is nothing I can't fix. If it moves, tape it. If it doesn't move, WD-40 it. )

Once you have safely knitted far enough that you won't need to frog back, or you hit a good place to insert another line, you may just clip the cord and remove the lifeline. It doesn't hurt to just leave it until the entire piece is finished either. Call me superstitious, but I don't take them out until I'm ready to block.

So that's your giggle for the day and your new skill. I have the next section of lace almost all ready and hope to post it tomorrow. Is everyone about ready for the 144 sts section?


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Tips: card notes

OK, so now that you know how to read the charts, what's the best way to keep them handy? I like to not only travel with my projects, but I never have fewer than 2 going at a time, so I need some method to
  1. take notes
  2. read notes and charts quickly, and
  3. keep them easily organized in my knitting bag

My answer is index cards...all SORTS of index cards!

(BTW, I trust you know that to see a larger view, you can click on the pics, right?)

There are lots of options and each one has it's own merits.

  • Spiral bound index card books. These are great for longer projects as you can put one line of the pattern on one card. When you finish that pattern line, turn the card. There are usually about 150 cards and I rarely use them all. Let's say that I'm working the EZ basic Pi Shawl; For chart A I'll make a cards like this:

-------------------------Card 1--------------------------

Row A3

3 * \, O, 1, O, /, 7* 4 (Translation: Knit 3 *SSK, YO, K1, YO, K2TOG, K7* K4)

Row A4 Knit even

--------------------------Card 2---------------------------------

Row A5

2 * \ , O, 3, O, /, 5* 3

Row A6 Knit even


I'll continue on this way for the entire design pattern and then use index tabs on the side to tell me where the A design cards are located. If I find a tricky section, I can write a reminder or note in on the card or the on facing it. If I have a design where there is only one repeat of each line and I need to be able to see multiple lines at once, I'll put the entire design repeat on one card and use symbols and colors to help clarify. For instance, the border is a 8 row repeat that goes back and forth rapidly and I need to read line by line at a quick glance. This is what it looks like:


1< 3 / O 3 / O / 5 O O 2

2> 7 / O 3 / O 2 O / 1+1

3< 6 O / 3 O / 2 O O / O O 2

4> 8 / O 3 / O 4 O / 1+1 etc....


What does this tell me?

Row #, direction of knitting, stitch order, by coloring odd rows blue and even rows red, my eye is quickly drawn to the correct row when I look up from my knitting for an instant reminder.

You can also find translucent covers for these bound cards. The covers are nice because being frosted, they don't glare (especially in the car) and they keep the cards neat and together.

  • 4x4 graph cards and innexpensive photo albums

Graph cards are awesome! not only does your eye see pattern better when letters and symbols are aligned, but you can do on the spot graphing, work out lace patterns, write more legibly, and just make the whole mess easier to read.

You can buy all sorts of cheap snapshot albums or you can go all out and buy an expensive one if you like. My favorite is the cheap 10 shot album at the dollar store. I can insert cards in order, place the working card in the cover so that it's useable with the book closed. Insert numerous cards in one sleeve to sort my patterns or repeats or whatever. I have managed to find 3x5, 4x6 and 5x7 photo sleeves, but the 5x7 are usually 8.5" x 11" pages and it's just not as handy.

If I want to use the book just once, (come on, it's ONE BUCK), then I can use a Sharpy marker to mark off the rows (of the card inside the sleeve) as they are knitted. Too cheap for that? put clear tape over the row numbers on the sleeve. Make your marks on the tape. When you are finished with that card, pull off the tape and the sleeve is clean again.

Of course, you can also do the same with regular size paper or graph paper and clear page protectors. I keep the larger purchased pattern graphs in a page protector and use the tape idea to mark off rows.

So that's my hints and suggestions regarding index cards. I bet you all can think of some good ideas too. If so, PLEASE share! I love finding new and better ways to do things!

Elaine...CCR-fuzzy-headed after a long trip yesterday.

What day is this?

OK, for anyone who didn't notice, I got my days messed up...again. I'm good for that, I'll warn you now. I was gone MONDAY, not Sunday. The funeral was wonderful and so was seeing a couple of old friends that I've missed terribly. I tried to get some done on the shawl, but working out a pattern is not good travel knitting for me. I did, however get almost a complete pair of 'Hugs and Kisses' cable baby socks done though. I'll post more as I get the next pattern worked out.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Pi progress

This is one of my favorite projects ever. Even though I'm just grabbing bits
of time here and there to knit, it's really fun. I'm on row 41 of 48 of the 288
stitch section.

Here's a progress pic as of today:

I'm so looking forward to seeing all the projects. There are two more pictures
on my site. The URL is below my name.


Sunday, May 15, 2005


Hi all, just a quick note that I will be gone all Sunday and possibly Monday. Traveling to NC for a funeral. 12+ hours in the car with nothing to do but knit. All invites will have to wait till I get back unless you post your request in the comments here and Risa catches it.

Ok, who stole my needles?

No, I didn't actually get my needles stolen. Every shawl I'm currently working, and considering working on all take the same size needles. I need more! More, I tell, you, more! Once I get more, I'll be casting on a Pi R Square in the Turquoise Splendor colorway of Shimmer. Yes, I will be putting in various lace motifs. Cat's paw will be in there somewhere. More later.

new member intro

Nice to meet you all! I'm name kathir..I am glad to be on this list. The idea of posting on a blog is pretty snazzy. I'll bet i have "met' some of you on other lists. I am still marveling at how great it is to be in touch with knitters around the world. What could be better??
I meant to do the EZasPi on the yahoo list, but just never got it started. I've had EZ's book for years. I am a fan of Liz Lovick so when I read she was being the knit mentor with Elaine, I had to jump in.
I purchased 2 colors of laceweight North Ronaldsay from Liz winter before last. It got cast on today. I'm using the lightest grey first. I'll have to look up those Shetland color names, but I think they only apply to wool from the Shetland breed.
I am at round 13 increase row & will do the cat's paw next. What is the next stitch?
I am close to done with a fair isle vest, so I will keep that going too. Truth be told, I have stitches on more than one set needles in my house.
Can we place pictures here?
Kathi in Long Beach

More About Heirloom Knitting

More About Heirloom Knitting
Just wanted to enter a plug for this fabulous book. Anyone who seriously wants to study this form of knitted lace or wants to do some great projects, owes it to themselves to get this book. Yeah, it's pricey, so are patterns and what is your time worth afterall?
Get the book.


No, that's not me being catty...again...

The first design I inserted into the Shetland Pi (side note =SN: why do I feel like I should be inserting ingredients and offering baking temperature suggestions?) is the design called 'Cat's Paw'. It's a simple, easy to follow pattern of yarn overs (YO) and knit-two-together's (k2tog or /). Now this being the first design element and not knowing the level of all the knitters here, I'm going to introduce some basic concepts. If you don't need that info, just breeze over it. If you know of a better way to explain it, please DO! this is a group project ya know.
I use a system of knitting shorthand that I learned from the Barbara Abbey book Knitting Lace. If you don't have this book, it's worth the price and then some. It's available from Schoolhouse Press and I paid $24.95 for my copy. The shorthand method works real well when going from chart to written or for taking handwritten notes because many of the stitch symbols are the same, and the knit or purl numbers are just how most people think. So here are the first conventions of this system:

3 = any regular number digit stands for that many knit stitches, i.e. three knit stitches
P3 = any number preceeded by a P means to purl that many stitches i.e. purl three stitches
0 = yarn over
00 = yarn over twice
000 = yarn over three times, you get the picture, right?
/ = K2tog or knit two together. Knit two adjacent stitches together as if they were one
So.... if I write 3,/,0,P2 that would translate to: "knit 3 stitches, knit 2 stitches together, yarn over once, purl 2 stitches" Makes good sense right?

Now, I will put a chart form up when possible. The easiest way will be to just type out in a balanced font like this:

K K K P P P 0 / P P P K K K
K K K P P P / 0 P P P K K K

Personally, I still find the shorthand easier.
OK, so now you will understand what I SAY to do, do you understand WHAT to do? All of knitting is ONE STITCH ! that's it, one stitch. Sometimes you do that stitch backwards and call it a purl, sometimes you put two stitches together and call it a decrease, sometimes you add extra loops and call it an increase...well, in this case we are going to do half of a stitch and call it a yarn over. (SN: you did ALL of these things when you first learned to knit, you know you did. But then you didn't mean to do them and someone called it a 'mistake' and scared the living daylights out of you so you'd never do it again. Well, chuck that baggage and let's have FUN.)
Knit 2 stitches together (k2tog or / ) - do exactly what it says. put your right needle into the fronts of 2 stitches, loop, pull out and off and TADA! you knitted 2 together! Notice that the end results sorta slants to the right. That's why we use the symbol ' / ' for a k2tog. Get that in your head and the next decrease you learn will make all the sense in the me.
Yarn Over (yo or 0 ) - This is just making half a stitch. Whatever way you loop the yarn for a knit stitch...just do that without making the stitch. I knit continental (German, pick...) so I pick up the yarn counterclockwise on my needle just as in a knit stitch, then I insert the needle as normal for the next stitch. If you knit the other way (European, American, throw...) then you will wrap the yarn around the needle counter clockwise and then insert the needle as norman for the next stitch. That's all it is, honest. If you need visuals, check out those links that I listed in the last post. Bookmark those sites and refer to them.

A yo will be knitted or purled on the next row just like any other stitch, but a hole will be left. Well, here's a revalation for you; lace is just a system of organized holes. There, I just blew the whole mystique of it, right? Yeah, maybe, but if it makes it approachable for YOU to feel like you can do it then it's worthwhile. A yo will also ADD one stitch to the count and increase the size of the knitted piece. Maybe that's what you want, as in a triangular shawl building from the bottom up, but maybe you don't want to add to the stitches, as in our Pi shawl. In that case, you follow the yo with a k2tog which decreases the count by one stitch to keep the count the same.

K K P P K K = 6 sts
K K 0 / K K = 6 sts the 0 added one, the / subtracted one and they came out equal

Yes, this is junior high school go back to your 7th grade teacher and appologize for whining that 'I'll never use this in real life!"

Another skill that will serve you well in lace knitting is to knit by READING your knitting. This will come with practice, but for now, I want you to really pay attention to the stitches below the ones you are currently making. The Cat's Paw design forms a circle of holes. Look at the design on the chart, squint if you must, but see the design in the stitches. If your next yo hole is supposed to be diagnal to the left of the last one, SEE how that looks when you actually knit it. This skill will save you from clinging to the charted instructions for dear life.
Related to that skill is finding the repeated patterns in your design row by row. Lace knitting is a system of repeats usually (but not always). In a single row, you may have an introduction group of stitches, and then a set pattern for X number or repeats and then a closing group of stitches. For instance, a design I'm working on now looks like this:

Row 57: KKK0KK/0K0/K/0K0/K/0K0/K/0K0/K/0K0/KK0K

Notice that in the middle section, the repeat of /0K0/K repeats itself (actually 6 time on my pattern) before the closing repeat. This is much easier to see actually graphed out, but as you knit, you should be picking up those repeats and just chanting away, one row at a time. As a matter of fact: on that entire pattern, the opening group of KKK0 is exactly the same on every row, as is the closing 0K repeat, so I only have to look at the odd stitches between the first group, the last group, and the repeated middle segment. Sounds confusing? Take a look at some lace graphs and I think it will start to come together.

So onto the Cat's Paw Pattern now that you know how to knit it. I know there is some history to the stitch, but I'm leaving all that to Liz (who I hope get's back soon cause I really need to start working on the next lace section of this shawl) I started this on row 15 right after row 13 which is a increase row and row 14 a knit row. (OK, true confessions...I forgot to knit the plain row on row 14, if you think I'm ripping out now, you dont' know me real well yet) The repeat leaves 2 orphan stitches. I suspect you could just decrease down 2 stitches to make 70, instead of 72 in the round, but I just did 2 stitches at the beginning of each row. Yes, it will show, but it was my choice and again, if you think I'm ripping it out now......
Cat's Paw
row #
13 increase row
14 Knit even (and all even rows in this section)
15 2, *2, /, 0, 1, 0, /, 3* we all understand that groups between ** get repeated, right?
17 2, *1, /, 0, 3, 0, /, 2*
19 2, *2, /, 0, 1, 0, /, 3*
21 2, *0, /, 5, /, 0, 1*
23 2, *1, 0, /, 3, /. 0, 2*
25 2, *0, /, 5, /, 0, 1*

Here's how the chart looks:
14 K K K K K K K K K K K
15 K K *K K / 0 K 0 / K K K*
17 K K *K / 0 K K K 0 / K K* Can you see the blue circles of yo holes
19 K K *K K / 0 K 0 / K K K*
21 K K *0 / K K K K K / 0 K*
23 K K *K 0 / K K K / 0 K K* Here you can see the two halves of the next row of holes,
25 K K *0 / K K K K K / 0 K* when this design is finished, you have 2 rows of circles staggered

Now find those same circles in the picture:

Got it? I knew you would. See, knitted lace totally demystified.
Now go forth and make holes in your knitting!
CCR-the fuzzbuster!