Friday, February 27, 2009

American Beauty, Take Three!

It's Friday! I am glad to be ready to post our next chart, just in time for Happy least in New York. You might notice that my picture is better this week. That has something to do with a little thing called blocking. I just love blocking lace knitting. I never know exactly what I will get, but I am almost never disappointed. This week our design is proceeding along without a real surprise. We have two more rose buds opening. I know that several of you finished last week's chart within hours of my post, but this week it might take longer, just because those darn rows are getting longer, right?

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Chart B2 follows Chart B1 without fanfare, so keep going! There are no row repeats this week. Do not worry. I have not forgotten about giving you the option to make your piece larger, but we are not there yet. If you are new to the party, please take some time to review all previous posts with the "American Beauty" tag, so you can catch up to us. Everything you need will be there! Until next week, knit a few more rose...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

American Beauty, Take Two!

I hope many of you have successfully worked the cast-on and Chart A, and are waiting for the next step. This week we are working on Chart B1. If you are new to the party, please take the time to review all previous posts with the "American Beauty" tag. Much of the basic information for this project has been posted already. Chart B1 is a continuation of our rose petals, with a stylized rose bud/heart at the center. Every Chart B1 row is worked twice. That is once for each side of our triangle. The edging charts continue repeating from our earlier charts without change. There are no recommended row repeats, so just knit through this new chart once.
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You will notice one of my favorite stitches in today's chart. We used the same maneuver for one of our Summer Sampler patterns. I did a step-by-step tutorial on the maneuver, and you can refer back to it if you need a refresher. You knitting should look something like mine (pictures above) when you finish Chart B1.
This will be a good time to do a gauge check. You can run a ruler along the "spine" of your piece to see how many rows per inch you are getting down the center back. This will help you decide how many rows you want to add or subtract from your project. Don't worry about it this week. We will get back to the idea in the future. Again, there are no extra rows to add this week.

I thought you might enjoy seeing a few on my birthday goodies. I admit that there were some other outrageous edibles and drinkables which are now gone, and I didn't get pictures. You will have to trust me when I say that they were very yummy.

I got these gorgeous spindles from myself, via Golding Spindles. They both have whorls that were hand painted in Russia. The smaller(lower) one is painted abalone on ebony. The picture on the whorl has a lot of depth which is hard to photograph. They are both for spinning lace-weight yarn.

I got a hand knit scarf from my darling daughter. Yes, there is a lace pattern she snuck in there!
I got this gorgeous pot and lovely hand lotion from my brother's partner.
I got beads and this chocolate from my sister and her family. I got a knitting kit from my friend Jane. I got a shopping trip from my mom and dad, which included an afternoon shopping and lunch with my mom. I refuse to model anything, but I got a few things that will be perfect for Barbados (more to come about that.)

Could it get any better? I don't think so, but I'll be back next week and we can discuss it... Until then, knit on!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

American Beauty, Take One

Are you ready for some Valentine's Day fun? Find yourself a quiet place and read this post carefully! There is a ton of information here, and you'll need it all to make the most of this project. If you are new to the project (or new to my madness) please be sure you read all previous posts with the American Beauty tag to get up to speed. The materials list and the Chart Key have already been posted.

Please start by printing out the charts. I suggest you click on each chart to make it larger, right click to copy the chart and save it to a Word document. If you do that with each chart, you can format the charts to re-size them. You can also set your printer function to print each chart as one page in landscape mode. MOST (but not all) of the charts will be in landscape. It should be obvious if they are or are not.

The first chart today is an overview of the first part of the project. It is not intended for you to work from, but rather as a visual, so you see how the working charts fit together.

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This next chart is the Edging Chart A (AKA Bramble.) I suggest that you print six copies and use a highlighter to mark one row of the repeat on each of six copies (there are six rows in the row repeat!) This will help you keep track of which Edge row you are on as you knit. You can move the chart marked with the row you finish to the bottom of the stack of sheets...

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Next you have Working Chart A. Please be sure you read all the pattern notes AND all my notes on each chart.

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Pattern Notes:
Please read the chart key carefully for special notes about stitches. This project begins as a center (neck) start triangle, much as Autumn in New York did. Do not use my modified Turkish Cast-on for this project. Instead use a standard provisional cast-on or a standard Turkish Cast-on. That is because this is not a garter stitch neck edge. We went over links for those when we started Autumn in New York, so check back if you want suggestions. There are also previous discussions on adding beads, including a step-by-step from early Veil of Isis posts.

There are two Chart As. One shows you the full layout. The second is a “working chart.” The other charts will be presented only as “working charts.” Only the first Chart A will show both halves of the triangle and the Edge Charts. All the following charts will only show half of the triangle and no Edge Charts. All charts will show the center stitch (which runs down the center back.) There is also an Edge “working chart.” Only right side (odd numbered) rows are shown ON ALL CHARTS. Even numbered rows are worked as defined in the chart Key. Essentially, knit the garter (3) stitch edges and purl the knit stitches. Chart A has a row repeat and pattern repeat marked. I did not knit any row repeats, but it is here for those of you who prefer to continue in the Rose Petal (Chart A) motif. You can continue and make the shawl as large as you like, adding a simple cast-off when you are ready. For those who choose to knit on through the charts, do not repeat these rows, but rather proceed to Chart B when I post it. I repeat: Do Not Keep Knitting Chart A! You will continue with the Edge Chart, following the row repeats until Chart D. On Chart B there is an alternative stitch block for one section of the chart. If you choose to use this alternative, use it through Charts B, B2 and B3. Once you complete Chart B3, you can return to Chart A row repeats, and add a few repeats if you want your piece larger. There are ABOUT 54 more rows to the pattern AFTER Chart B3 WITHOUT any extra repeats, so only add repeats if you want your shawl larger than the 54 rows that will follow. Calculate how large that will be by checking your own row gauge after you finish this weeks knitting. Be sure to consider your bead and yarn usage, because more rows will use more beads and yarn! You need a set of four double pointed needles and a circular needle in the same size, large enough to hold a bunch of stitches, which we will have towards the end. I am using a 32 inch circular.

Using double pointed needles:
2 needles for step I and 4 needles for step II
Step I
-Cast-on 19 stitches using a provisional cast-on
-Row 1) knit 19, turn
-Row 2) Knit 3, purl 16, turn
Knit rows 1 and 2 a total of four times
-You will have 19 stitches on needle A
Step II
-Using a second double pointed needle, pick-up three stitches along the short edge of your piece and purl them. This is needle B, with 3 stitches.
-Using another double pointed needle, pick-up the 19 stitches from your provisional cast-on. Purl 16 and knit 3. This is now needle C, with 19 stitches.
Turn your work. The front is now facing you. Begin following the charts as follows:
-Knit Right Edge Chart row 1. Place a marker. You will have knit all the stitches from needle A and one stitch from needle B.
-Knit Chart A row 1. That is: Yarn-over, knit 1, yarn-over. Place a marker.
-Knit Left Edge Chart row 1. This will include one stitch from needle B and all the stitches from needle C (as shown in purple above.)
-Turn your piece and work a return row back. Be sure to maintain the garter stitch on either edge as shown on the charts.
-Continue following the Charts in sequence. Be sure to read all the notes.
-You should be able to switch from your double pointed needles to a circular needle after Chart A, row 25
Above, you can see the purple indicating where I switched to my circular needle (just after the second beaded round.) Once you complete Chart A, your piece should look like my piece, above. Take time this week to make the cast-on nice. It takes some care to get things set-up, but once you establish the pattern it should flow smoothly.

I'll be back next week with Chart B and maybe some pictures of my birthday goodies! Until then, knit on!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

American Beauty: Do you believe in swatching?

If you are here reading this post, chances are you are thinking about knitting yourself some roses for Valentine's Day. I am posting the American Beauty Chart Key (for the entire project) along with a swatch chart. The chart key will give you a modest idea of what is coming. The swatch is the "ground" motif for our project, and I call it Rose Petals.

When I was designing this piece, I started by looking for a symbol of Valentine's Day. I played with heart shapes and roses and this project is what developed. When I think of "American Beauty" a few things come to my mind. First are Roses, and in particular This Rose. The second is music, and in particular this music. The third is a movie, and in particular this movie. The third (visual) says it all. So I invite you to join me and wrap yourself in a bed of rose petals!

This pink swatch was knit with some left-over 2/24 yarn and silver-lined gold beads. This white swatch was knit with some Shetland cobweb weight and copper-lined clear beads. I would have used my project yarn, but I am already using it for the project and I didn't want to break it! That should tell you what I think about swatches! Not really...I actually swatch a great deal, but I didn't make a swatch for this project from my project yarn. So there. The point of the swatch is to give you a chance to try your yarn with your beads and see if they work for you.

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Review the Chart Key carefully. This is the only time I will post it and if you have any questionsyou can post them in the comments section. I will reply in kind and it will be our own FAQs, if you will.

To knit the swatch, cast-on four stitches. Turn your work and begin the chart at row 1. Only the right side (odd numbered) rows are charted. Even numbered rows are knit for the garter stitch and purled for everything else. Once you finish row 41, knit row 42 across and cast-off loosely. Soak in warm water and lay flat to block. Decide if you like the way your beads and yarn work together. Decide what size needles to use during this process. The choice is very individual.

I am trying a new technique to post my charts and I hope you enjoy them. I'll be back next week with our real cast-on. Until then, keep knitting!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

American Beauty Yarn Selection

People have been discussing yarn choices for our upcoming project, so I thought I would put together this post reviewing a few of the available options. Pay special attention to the number of yards per gram, which will help you figure out if the yarn you want to use is in the ball park. I am using a real lace weight (2/28) and most of the yarns I have listed here are that. I threw a few heavier lace weights in, so you could compare the yardage. I included how much yarn I suggest you have on hand. I also included a link to one possible buying option and an approximate cost. That cost includes shipping to the US as best as I could figure, so you can do a fair comparison.

As always, I encourage everyone to use something they will enjoy working with. If you choose to use a different weight yarn there will be opportunities to add or omit charts to make the total number of rows fewer or greater. This allows the knitter to accommodate their chosen yarn. If you do this you will be making some independent choices because I won’t be working with your yarn and I won’t be able to make those choices for you. I already discussed in the previous post my suggested colors. I do not suggest variegated yarn unless they are very “tone-on-tone.” You will loose much of the lace detail if you use a multi-colored yarn. Again, this is your choice!

So here are some suggestions! Have fun…

100% extra fine merino 2/28NM laceweight
Length: 2300 Yards.
Net Weight: 150 Grams
<$15 US
Yarn needed: 1 cone
100% extra fine merino 2/30NM laceweight
Length: 2450 Yards. Net Weight: 150 Grams

2/28NM lace weight
Length: 2300 Yards
Net Weight 150 grams
Yarn needed: 1 cone
Lane Borgosesia Baruffa Cashwool
<$20 US
100% Extra Fine Merino produced in Italy
Yardage: 1460 yards per 100 gram
Yarn needed: 1 skein
Malabrigo Lace Baby Merino
Yardage:50g skeins are 470 yds.
Yarn needed: 2 or 3 skeins (I would get 3)
<$40 Can.
Grignasco 2/28 yarn is 75% extra fine merino and 25% silk.
Yardage: 100g skein is 1400m/1533yds
Yarn needed: 1 skein
<$25 Can.
Grignasco 2/25 - 100% pure merino wool.
Yardage: 100g skein is 1250m or 1363yds
Yarn needed: 1 skein
<$15 Can.
Alpaca With A Twist Fino Yarn -- 70% baby alpaca/30% Silk
Yardage: 875yds/skein
Yarn needed: 2 skeins
<$40 US
Jade Sapphire 2-ply cashmere or cashmere/silk
Yardage: 55 grams, 400 yards
Yarn needed: 2-3 skeins
<$100 US for 3 skeins but you might only use 2
Jade Sapphire Lacey Lamb yarn-- 100% Extrafine Lambswool—
Yardage: 825yds/skein
Yarn needed: 2 skeins
<$40 US
Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace
Content: 50% Wool, 50% Silk 2/18
Yardage: 1250 yards/4 ounces (about 125 grams)
Yarn needed: 1 skein
<$60 US
JaggerSpun Zephyr 2/18
Yardage: Approx. 630 yards/2oz (about 62 grams)
Yarn needed: 4 ounces
<$30 US
I hope this was useful. Until next time, knit on!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Favorite Month..

I just love February. It is my last month of cold weather, with spring close enough to feel real. I always have at least one long weekend. I always get chocolate for Valentine's Day. My birthday is the same weekend as Valentine's Day, so I get to have a party. What more could I ask for? To celebrate the month of February, I present my 2009 Valentine's Day Shawl. I thought I would give you a materials list and some general information in case you want to knit with me I am knitting from my stash, which many of you know is both voluminous and sexy (thank-you Mary Rose.) I jumped in and came out with some Colourmart 2/28 angora-merino in the perfect shade (they call it Crimson but I call it Rose.) That would be perfect for me, of course. I am suggesting reds, pink or any color that reminds you of roses. The design is all about roses, so think about that when you choose a color.
You will need one cone of any 2/28 (or close to that) yarn from Colourmart. Current options in rose colors are plentiful, including merino and cashmere. Other good yarn choices? Zephyr, Helen's Lace and many more. Feel free to add suggestions for yarns in similar weights to the comments. I don't have a final yardage for you, so be sure you have close to 1000 yards on hand. I suspect I will use about 900 yards. The design will have options to increase the size, so if you like your shawls big have more yarn on hand.
You will need a set of double pointed needles (4) and a circular needle (32 inch) in the size you choose. I am a relaxed knitter and I am using a US 1 needle. Gauge is not going to be critical to this project, so swatch with your yarn and choose a needle size that gives you the look you like. You will need a US 12 crochet hook (or size to fit through your beads) if you want to add beads. I am adding beads. You will need some smooth waste yarn slightly heavier than your project yarn. You will need at least 2 stitch markers, but maybe you will want a few more, so have them on hand. I only use 2. You will need beads if you want to use them. I have 35 grams of 0-8 silver lined gold abalone Japanese beads. I also have some special heart beads . I have 20 of these hearts on hand, but I might use less.

Are you trying to decide if you want to knit along? Here are a few pieces of information that might help.
1) This is not a traditional knit along. This is me knitting a project, which I just happen to be sharing with you! I will be posting all the information here on my blog. You don't need to sign up for anything or join anything to knit with me, but you can join my Yahoogroup (link on the left side of the blog) if you want to. We will be discussing the project there. All my designs are charted, and all the charts for this project will be posted here. You will actually need to read my blog posts for the rest of the instructions and important details. The charts will remain here on my blog, along with the posts, for as long as my blog stays here (so the foreseeable future.)
2) After the project is done, I will put it together into a full pattern, which will be available at my Ravelry pattern store. This will be in the same format as all my patterns, and stand alone (without the blog posts.)
3) This project is for the intermediate lace knitter. Anyone who knit with me on The Summer Sampler and Autumn in New York has all the skills needed to knit this piece. The cast-on will be a bit different and probably the most technical aspect of the project. I think you will enjoy it. After you get the piece established, there is a long stretch of fairly simple knitting before the next fun part. The final shape is a modified triangle. I am using a good amount of beads, so if you have been wanting to get more comfortable adding beads to your lace, this will be a good opportunity.
4) The cast-on post will be on Valentine's Day.
I will be back to show you my birthday goodies before we actually cast-on...Until then, Knit on!