Monday, December 24, 2007

The First Annual BadCat Holiday Contest

This week finds me as busy as ever, with no time for new knitting and even less time for new designs. It could make me almost as cranky as my little "Party Pooper" sheep. I got him last year, and if you push him down, his tail lifts up and he poops jelly beans. Every fiber loving person should have one... But I found something even funnier under the tree this year. Here is my new Run Quickly Sheep. He has "truely scamper action." I got one for me and one
Here is the deal. Leave me a Haiku about sheep, warm and fuzzy for the holiday season, in my comments. Funny gets special points. I will select the Haiku that I enjoy the most, and send the author a Run Quickly Sheep to enjoy! Be sure you leave an email address with your comment, because I can't reach you if you don't!

Here is my daughter's Sheep Haiku, to get you started:

Come, sheep in your white
Coats of warmth, to my spinning
Wheel, to give me wool.

Peace on earth and good will to all! Meow.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Circular Start Revisted...

One of the frequent barriers knitters have, to projects that start from the center, is the start. A center start can be frustrating, especially in very fine yarn; frustrating but achievable. The more you do it the easier it becomes. Practice makes perfect and all that... Less experienced knitters should not avoid patterns that have a center start. I suggest you do the opposite. Jump in and try a few different techniques. There are many free patterns on the Internet for doilies, which usually have a center start. The start for my recent doily involved making a loop and picking up stitches from either side of the "hole," placing the stitches on double pointed needles, and pulling both ends to snug it up. You can see the results here. Fleegle shows an excellent technique that involves the same process, using two circular needles. You can see a full discussion of her technique here:
I used an entirely different technique for The Veil of Isis, because I started with only four stitches, which is a different challenge. You can see the entire process for that technique here:

Another blogger, Rosemarie Buchanan, shows yet another excellent circular start here: , which she calls a "belly button" start. Another great option for a center start with few stitches.

Yet another excellent resource can be found here at Judy Gibson's site: , which covers Emily Ocker's circular start. You can also find an illustrated description of the same start here, in this wonderful book.

The circular start is at the back of the book, but it comes along with a discussion of Pi Shawls (and other great EZ stuff.) Just think! For very little money, you can buy this book, see an excellent circular start AND try it to make a Pi shawl! What could be better? Maybe a doily, you say? Well try this:

This website is owned and maintained by Nurhanne Reckweg, who has translated some of the best doily patterns on the Internet, and the above link takes you to some tips and tricks for doily knitting. While you are on her site, I suggest you look around and find the free doily patterns, which you can use with any of these circular starts. CAST ON!

12/15/07 Addition! Fleegle sent me this link: which shows a Turkish style cast-on. The selling point of this technique is that you do not have a hole in the center when you are done. This might be a good option in certain situations, and Fleegle says it is an easy way to negotiate just four stitches for a center start. I have only used this technique for starting socks from the toe and hats from the top, but I will try it for lace the next chance I get. Meow...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Doily Has Landed

My doily is blocking and I am very pleased with this little project. The pictures are not great, in that the thread is still wet in areas and has a blotchy appearance. If you can ignore that, I will show you what made this so much fun. Around the edges of the very central petals there are two-stitch cables which give you the interesting texture you see.
You can really see those "texture" stitches here, along with the decrease lines to give the large leaves a veined appearance.
Here you can see the "veining" of the leaves clearly and also good use of single yarn-overs up the center of the leaves, and double yarn-overs inside the flower petals.

This doily was knit with #10 cotton, in a "linen" color and US 2-0 needles. I used about 400 yards of cotton and the finished dimension is 23 inches across, under blocking tension. The pattern is the cover design from Special Diana Strickdeckchen D944. It was designed by Zdenka Holacka.
I have some other knitting to get done before I move further into the doily process, but in a few weeks I hope to post a small original doily pattern to work on techniques; in particular the center start and negotiating double-pointed needles. Like everything else, it just takes practice and a strong will to get it right. Small doilies are perfect for practicing. I will post later this week with more information about center starts in the literature. Until that time, knit on! Meow...

Monday, December 3, 2007

What is on my needles?

I have a good number of things on my needles right now...all are calling to me softly. The lovely sampler in white Lacey Lamb is half done and has an end-of-the-year deadline. Hecate is languishing, the first panel almost complete and ready for the deep edging. The lovely, powder-blue silk-cashmere leaf scarf is inches from done. So what am I knitting? A doily, which was calling very loudly.

I was visiting a dear friend the other day, and she was "organizing" her things. In the process, we discovered she had DUPLICATES of several old magazines filled with doily patterns. I quickly relocated them to my home, under the guise of helping her "organize."

So here you have them, all in perfect condition, with the charts completely unused. How lucky am I??? I have the most wonderful friends. When I got them home, I sat and looked them all over very carefully, choosing the perfect "first" doily. I have knit many things with a center start, and even things you might call doily-esque (at least my husband always called my lace knitting doilies) but I have actually never knit a real doily. I wanted something nice, but not crazy, with charts that made good sense without intensive research. My husband has dubbed these new magazines (and any new doily things I will now collect) as Stricken Chicken books (referring to me and not the magazines, really.) I apologize to my European readers for his American humor. It is kind of funny though...
I selected a doily pattern by Zdenka Holacka, From Special Diana D944. She knit it in #20 thread on 1.5mm needles and I am using #10 cotton and 1.75mm needles. The cotton was all I had around when I "needed" to cast-on. Since that time, I prevailed upon a friend in California to send me a bit of the 60/2 Tussah Silk from Lacis, that you can see in the picture above. That little package has 500 yards in it! That will be doily #2. I used an excellent start that was illustrated in the magazine, very like the circular start Fleegle showed us ( using two circular needles, but instead using double-points which is what I did. I really like double-pointed needles, but I know others don't feel the same fondness... It starts with 12 stitches, so is relatively easy to do. I am on row 85 of 119 (considerably further along than the picture above) and will post a blocking picture, I bet by the end of the week. I am loving it and already looking for what I will do next, with that 60/2 silk. Excuse me while I go dig out my reading glasses from my embroidery box...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Wrap it up!

I thought I would take a moment to review some of what this Saigon Scarf project was about. I worked through some new patterns to see how they transitioned from one to the next with some success. I tried a new edging design, also with some success. I tried a new bead technique (the double beads) with some success. All in all, this has been an excellent swatch. I hope this will now become a few different new projects in the new year. I am leaving you with this one final chart, as promised. If you prefer symmetry, start with chart 1, knit chart 2 until the desired length, and end with this final chart. It will look very nice...

My Final Materials and Finished Size:
-I used #8 square-hole, gold lined Japanese seed beads for all beads.
-I Used 1 skein of Elann Baby Lace (Alpaca/Merino lace weight yarn) 50gms (600 yards/skein.) Another great choice would be Jade Sapphire Lacey Lamb (one ball.)
-I Used US 2 knitting needles. My gauge was 5 stitches to the inch firmly blocked in stockinette stitch. My finished dimensions were 11 inches wide and 51 inches long blocking. It relaxed after I unpinned it.
-I used a US #13 crochet hook.
-Yarn needle for finishing and T-pins for blocking.

I would like to remind everyone that this is the final post in a series, with the label"Saigon." Please review all posts in this series before casting on. This project is offered for your personal use, without a fee, but I request you take a look at the first post in this series, where I discuss my design inspiration and suggest a charitable donation from all knitters of this design who have the resources! Happy holidays, in plenty of time for you to knit this scarf as a gift!
My next post will be later this weekend on a totally new track. Meow.