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Rubber bands… they convert 7″ double points to straights and gather the fabric to keep 117 stitches worth of Kimono Shawl in progress from falling off the technically too-short needles.

Kimono Shawl WIP

If I break one, no problem. They come free with takeout menus that I find hanging on the building doorknob a few times a week, which means I have an endless supply. And I’m always surprised to find knitters out there who don’t know this trick.

Blooming bougainvillea courtesy of a neighboring building.


No, actually, I don’t think there is a better way. For straight-edged shawls I adore using the blocking wires, but for scalloped and lacy edges, a million pins is the way to go.

Haruni blocking

This method means two nights of pinning, though, one evening for each half o’ Haruni, because I apparently own only half a million pins (give or take a dozen).

Seeing the aurora borealis is on my list of “someday” travel dreams. It’s only been on the list for a year and I didn’t actively pursue it once I thought it up because brrrrr, the weather is usually on the cold side once you’re far enough north to see the lights. However, I could make it up in knitting: Revontuli, the northern lights shawl, has been on my mind pretty much since I first spotted it on Ravelry and in December I made it.


The barrier is made of a grabby type of stone (sandstone, perhaps?) that is wide enough to accommodate shawls and holds them in place while you photograph them. I’m sure this is exactly the purpose the parks department had in mind here.

The pattern uses increases and decreases to create the zigzags. I made it nearly one pattern repeat longer than written and used size 11 needles to work a suspended bind-off in knit on the last row. Despite the long rows to purl back, I made this quickly because I liked seeing the stripes appear.


Pattern: Revontuli-huivi/Northern Lights by AnneM
Yarn: 2 skeins Lang Yarns Jawoll Magic Dégradé, color 85.0025
Needles: US size 9
Size: 64″ across top and 28″ tall
Started 12/8 and finished 12/28/2012


This is souvenir yarn I bought in Bad Sooden-Allendorf last fall when I stopped for lunch on my way elsewhere. I knew Lang Yarns in general are available in the United States but I really liked these colors so snapped up two skeins because I had the opportunity.


It’s big enough to fit the lion sphinx.

I’ll have to wear it whenever I do make it to the far north in honor of the occasion, probably over something else so my neck stays super-warm.

I joined the more than 10,000 other knitters on Ravelry who have made a Citron shawl/shawlette and made one, too. Mine is a purple wedge of citrus:



Pattern: Citron by Hilary Smith Callis, as published on Knitty, Winter 2009
Yarn: Creatively Dyed Yarn Calypso, 100% merino wool, color Aruba
Needles: US size 6
Size: 46″ wide across top and 16″ tall at center
Started 4/21 and finished 4/25/2012

This was a quick knit but felt like it took far longer than 4 evenings; those ruffled rows contain a lot of stitches. I wanted to make it one repeat longer but did not have enough yarn (fortunately, had just enough yarn left to turn out a pair of booties). It turned out a little small but my statuesque model is able to wear it wrapped:


In keeping with the fruit theme, I also made some fruit socks earlier this year. No pattern here, just cast on, increased, ribbed, made drawstring holes, then increased for the little ruffle on top before casting off. I gave one to my co-worker who happily uses them for apples and hard-boiled eggs. The rest will go to the craft fair I’m participating in next month.


Pattern: own
Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in CW-380 Dusty Sage, Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash in 844 (purple), James C. Brett Marble Chunky in MC10 (blue) and MC23 (blue-green), Wolle Rödel Soft-Merino in 316 (purple)
Needles: US size 5 and 8
Started 3/31 and finished 4/13/2012

They look pretty lined up with their apples inside them:


No reason for the recent blog hiatus except I’ve been knitting more (at 9 miles of yarn this year already!), reading more, and sitting at the computer less. I also went on a just over 3-week vacation in September/October, my first one in 4 years. It was time. My days were so busy that I knitted only on the airplane and it turned out to be something I had to rip out and start over after I got home.

This was supposed to have been a quick, 1-weekend woven scarf project using a skein of Tofutsies. Today I’m unweaving it for the second time.


Gads, but the unweaving is tedious and disheartening. I now have little desire to finish this project. Why undo it? Well, the first time around I beat each row with my usual force and it turns out that was too tightly: I was more than halfway through my yarn supply for the warp and had only 6 inches of scarf, so I unwove and tried again, beating more gently. This time I managed to get about halfway through the length but can see I definitely won’t have enough yarn to finish so I have to undo it and beat it more gently still. I saw this as a sample scarf at Stitches West a couple of years ago so I know it can be done with one skein. I do wonder how I’m supposed to keep the row that’s up against the beam straight whenever I advance the warp when I’m weaving this loosely. It goes wonky every time. You can see one of those wonky rows just above where the shuttle is parked.

I suppose a smarter choice would be to attempt to scare up a second ball of this dye lot. Hmph.

In knitting news, I’m plodding through some more baby booties and basic novelty yarn scarves. I went away for a week to Oregon and needed airplane and mindless knitting and these projects served that purpose. My mom’s sweater is on hold because I can’t get my brain focused on the basic calculations needed to figure out the neckline. Silly, but there you have it.

Hanging on the wall at my grandmother’s house in Oregon is this needlepoint canvas I stitched for my grandparents when I was 12. I took a photo of it for posterity:


My impression now: good execution and wow, does that yarn not fade over the years. I think it’s acrylic. Also a not-to-my-taste design. Not to my grandmother’s household’s taste, either (it kind of stands out), but she has it in the dining room where it gets seen a lot.

Tucked away in a closet, called “too good to use,” is the feather-and-fan stole I knitted for her for Christmas 2001. Darn. I had made it for her to wrap up when in bed reading and hoped then she’d actually use it. I encouraged her to use it when I saw her last week. I have a feeling it went back in the closet after I took it outside for a photo shoot. The pattern is Theatrical Lace by Eugen Beugler and the yarn is Brown Sheep Cotton Fine.


My impression now: I still like it! The blue is darker than it appears in the photo.

My 18g spindle survived its plane journey tucked in its wine box in the suitcase. I taught my aunt and uncle to spin while my grandmother chose to observe. A couple of days later we went to the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill (museum) and saw how big spinning machines worked at this now defunct mill. My aunt and uncle said the spindle lesson made the mill tour make more sense to them. Me, I am in awe of how fast spinning and weaving machines can work.

A few months ago I went to the yarn shop and liked a sample scarf knitted up in Noro Kirameki. I bought the yarn and ended up making something completely different with it, and something crocheted at that.


Pattern: Half Granny Square Shawl by Anastacia Zittel
Yarn: 1 skein Noro Kirameki Singles, 60% rayon, 25% nylon, 10% wool, 5% cashmere, color 152
Hook: size G (4mm)
Size: 58″ across the top and 28″ from top to point
Started 1/8 and finished 1/26/2012

I didn’t understand the first couple of rows of the instructions. I made the chained ring, fiddled with the first row or two and ripped it out multiple times, then ignored the instructions and made three shells in the ring. That worked and I could get going on the first real row.

The yarn is clingy, sticks to itself firmly. This was good for not losing the last dozen stitches when I threw the shawl into my messenger bag and the hook fell out, and bad for when I discovered a mistake a few rows back and had to rip. Luckily that only happened a few times and I only broke the yarn once trying to tug it free while ripping. It reminded me that one of the reasons I like knitting better is I can usually drop down just the few affected stitches to fix a simple mistake. When crocheting your only choice is to rip back entire rows. Well, you could also repeat the mistake and call it a design feature.


It blocked out nicely. If you want yours to block out wider at the top, make those chains when turning a row looser than I made mine. Mine are a little tight.

I’m crocheting a shawl that is rows of repeating shells. See:


The thing about crochet is you go through your yarn faster than when knitting so it’s quite satisfying that way. The other thing is if you notice a mistake 3 rows back you can’t just drop the applicable stitches down and fix them. Oh, no, you have to unravel the entire 3 rows. That part is disheartening, as is the fact that the hook drops out of the working loop constantly when I’m crocheting on the bus. With knitting I don’t have that problem. I will keep on, though!

My big-ish pile of finished objects is staring at me again, meaning it’s time to write them up and tag them. Today’s topic: shawls.

The Twilight Shawl is one that wasn’t in Ravelry even though it was published 4 years ago. I got the pattern and yarn from the Wagtail Yarns booth at Stitches West earlier this year.


Pattern: Twilight Shawl by Joyce Miller, published by Wagtail Yarns, 2007
Yarn: 1 skein Wagtail Yarns 2-ply Laceweight, 100% kid mohair, color 510 150 Deep Aqua
Needles: US size 4
Size: 64″ across the top, 31″ tall
Started 3/14 and finished 10/24/2011

The pattern used nearly the whole skein of yarn, maybe 15 yards left. The yarn is very slippery. This means when I dropped a stitch, it ran half a dozen rows without provocation. It also means the finished shawl drapes beautifully.


It did not take me long to knit; I finished knitting it 4/10. Then it sat around waiting for me to sew the seam joining the two halves of the feather and fan and border sections and block it, which I did 7/24. When I blocked it I found a stitch in the feather and fan that escaped a k2tog (how I failed to notice that while neurotically counting stitches while knitting escapes me) that I quickly trapped with a safety pin and finally fixed on 10/24.


For some reason, only the Syrian pattern, which in my opinion is the simplest part of the pattern, is charted. The feather and fan section and the border are written out. The seam causes a small bulge that would not block out. The shawl is wide enough that Sancho and Don can wear it simultaneously:


The next shawl (not as big as Twilight; more a triangular scarf) was so nice I knitted it twice. Self-portraits were kind of a problem this time around. This is the best I got:


Pattern: An Old Shale Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark, as published in “Knitting Traditions,” Winter 2010
Yarn: 1sk Misti Alpaca Lace, 100% baby alpaca, color MC-1071
Needles: US size 6
Crochet hook: US size E (for border)
Size: 48″ across the top, 21″ tall
Started 7/27 and finished 8/6/2011

The agave modeled it better:


As did the ever-trusty Mr. Quixote:


There are a couple of small errors in the pattern, printed as k2tog in three places where it should be ssk, on row 21 and twice on row 45.


Second time around is in a light spring green:


Details same as above except:
Yarn: 1sk Misti Alpaca Lace, 100% baby alpaca, color 7300
Started 9/14 and finished 10/16/2011

The border was easy-peasy, hooking together multiple stitches and chaining between. You crocheters out there might know this already, but when it tells you to slip a number of stitches together you don’t include the stitch on the hook in this count. Slip 3 stitches means grab 3 shawl stitches with the crochet hook and hook those together with the stitch already on the hook. I didn’t pin out each individual point of the border when I blocked, just ran my blocking wires through each major point. I like the former look better (when I look at other shawls in Ravelry) but am lazyier than I care to admit so the latter suits me fine.

Hmm… these bring my shawl count up to 14 when I look at my Ravelry notebook. That doesn’t sound right; it feels like I’ve made more, maybe because thin yarn + lace = lots of knitting hours.

I took the leftover two colors of Misti Alpaca Lace, spun up a Corriedale singles, and plied the three strands together:


Quantity: 1 ounce
Finished yarn: 1 skein, 3-ply, 49.5 yards, about DK weight
Spun and plied at 12:1 on Lendrum wheel

I was industrious today. Lots of housework, laundry, some drop spindling, spun up the Tinki alpaca on the wheel (more on that in a later post), cooked sambar, baked a loaf of bread, and made tartlet shells and turned one into a strawberry tart for tonight’s dessert. I also finally sewed up the seam on the Twilight shawl and blocked it. Cue the big frowny face.


Usually blocking means a happy face. See, though, the out-of-place hole up in the upper right? Click the photo to see it with the note if you can’t see the hole. While pinning, a dropped stitch I obviously didn’t notice during the knitting (how? how? I counted stitches so carefully!) ran in a dramatic fashion. Yargh! Never let it be said that this Wagtail Yarns mohair isn’t smooth; that baby was moving south fast.

I went to the Ravelry meet-up last weekend. I enjoyed looking at all the finished objects worn by everyone and met a couple of nice ladies, whose real and Ravelry names I promptly forgot.

Sunday warmed up a lot after I posted the blocking photos and the shawl dried very quickly so I took it for a walk in the park in the afternoon. The weather obliged by being almost perfectly still most of the time and the clocks hadn’t changed yet, making for some great light.

We took a short walk around the area in front of the Academy of Sciences:


And continued on the walkway around the Music Concourse:



And stopped at a park bench on the way home so you could get another good look at the crocheted bind-off edging:


Pattern: Peacock Feathers Shawl by Dorothy Siemens, available from Fiddlesticks Knitting
Yarn: 2/3 skein JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18 lace weight (2/3 of 150g ball, 1665 yards), 50% merino wool, 50% tussah silk, color: Peacock (what else?)
Needles: size 4 Addi Turbo lace needles and size E crochet hook for border
Finished size: 78″ across top, 41″ straight up the middle, 56″ each side
Started 10/2 and finished 10/25/2009

For the sake of accuracy here, I looked up the Cervantes statue that’s in Golden Gate Park, the one I use for hat photos sometimes. I always call it the Cervantes statue even though I know only the disembodied head at the top of the sculpture is the man himself. I wanted to know who it was kneeling at his feet. I give you Don Quixote with his buddy Sancho Panza. Don is the one cross-dressed for a night out:


I got some amused looks from passersby when they saw me staging that one. The wind had picked up and I took about 45 shots trying to get one that didn’t have the shawl flapping in the breeze so I was there a while.

The pink blob grows, slowly, slowly, on the bus. I had to wad it up to make it an unrecognizable blob for its photo shoot (recipient views my Flickr feed):


I don’t know if I have enough yarn to finish this. Pout. Which means I’m working on it more slowly, as though I don’t want to find out for sure that I don’t have enough yarn. I frequently find myself doing this when it looks like I’m fighting a losing knitting battle. I know working more slowly makes the yarn last longer, calendar-wise, but doesn’t make it go any further in a project. It’s my irrational knitting thing and the reason there are 5 sweaters in progress for me in the apartment on which I have not made any progress in months or even years.

Yardage surety is a great thing: the last (or perhaps I should say latest, in case she decides she wants more) of a series of hiking socks for my mom is also underway:



Flickr Photos