Friday, August 21, 2009

Summer Squares Take Nine: We're Blocking DarkStar

I finally finished the DarkStar Stole, so I thought I would show you how I block. First, I soak the piece in cool water for a bit. "A bit" is at least 30 minutes, and usually more. Just leave it alone...
This yarn is wool, so I just left it alone in the water. Don't play with it... When it is ready for me, I gently press the extra water out and rolled it in a towel. I then thread my blocking wires through every beaded point along the edges on all four sides. After that, I pin the wires out as evenly as I can manage...
It was late at night and it was hard to manage...
Close-up of the corner, where you can see how the wire goes through the points.
Some edging detail. You can really see the beads (I think.)
And just a bit more pattern detail...

Pattern re-cap:
The DarkStar Stole, from The Summer Squares Suite
Yarn: EmmaLou from LandOLace (1200 yards)
Beads: Japanese 8/0 Transparent Amethyst Rainbow (20-30 grams)
US size 1 knitting needles and a US 14 crochet hook

I will be off-line for a few weeks, so I posted the third and fourth squares for this project at The Summer Squares group today. The fifth square will be posted over Labor Day weekend, and the border and edging after that! Out Summer Squares group will run through the end of September, but is now closed to membership. The individual patterns and the full chart set will all be available in October. Enjoy the rest of you summer!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Summer Squares take eight: Dark Star

For those of you following my Summer Squares Project, today brings us to the final chart for the second project (The Blue Quartet.) I posted the Quartet Edging chart earlier today at the Summer Squares group. Today also brings us to the first chart for our third project! The third project is a stole called Dark Star. There are five squares, which are just knit one after another. Once the five squares are done, a border is picked up around the entire rectangle and knit in the round. Once the border is complete, an edging is added. This is the one project in The Summer Squares Suite that has (optional) beads. I am using EmmaLou yarn, from Land O Lace, in a fabulous color. There are several close shades of purple and the effect is almost like crushed velvet to me. You cannot appreciate it in this picture. I have a 1200 yard skein. The beads are Japanese 8/0 transparent light amethyst rainbow. I am using a US 1 needle. You can see more of the project in today's video. The picture is of the first square in this new project and is called Moonshine. You see it still on the needles, in a totally unblocked state. It will look a bit different blocked... I have also been playing with some fiber my friend Judith sent me, in preparation for a fun winter project a few of us will be doing. The colored skein is tencel and sw wool, but our project involves merino/silk fiber, which still has to be dyed. The small white skein is actually a sample of that fiber. It involves spinning, beads and lace. That is all I can say! The spindle is from Elizabeth, at Greensleeves. It is called a Vixen and has a Satine whorl, a Mahogany shaft, weights less than 1 ounce and spins wonderfully.
My video today is about a different technique you can use to add beads to your lace. Instead of using a crochet hook, I take a "dental floss threader" and a length of beading thread and use that to both store the beads and add one to my knitting when needed. For me this technique is slower, but it does avoid the possibility of dropping a tin of small beads! You can get beading thread at most shops that sell seed beads. You can get "floss threaders" at most large drug stores, and on line here. It costs US$3.29 for 25 of them, in a nice plastic case! You will have a lifetime supply for yourself and a few friends. I use them for adding beads, as you see in this video, but I also use them to string beads onto yarn when I knit with beads pre-strung. You might need some in you knitting bag...

I'll be back next week with the second square in the Dark Star project, and maybe a video of how I block this project. Until then, keep knitting!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Socks are long as they have lace on them.

I interrupt my usual programing to introduce a new sock yarn. Jade Sapphire Yarn Company just release Sapphire Sox. Here is the deal: 330 yards per skein, 25% Cashmere, 63% wool and 11% nylon. It comes in a bunch of interesting colorways, as you would expect from Jade Sapphire. The one they sent me is called Soul Mate...and I enjoyed the way that it striped. The yarn is soft but not delicate and was a pleasure to work with on a US 2 needle. I can't speak to wear, because I knit mine and JS took them as samples! With the nylon content and the nice twist, I suspect they will wear well. You can grab my pattern at the Jade Sapphire website or at my Ravelry pattern store. It is free. If you want the yarn, it will take a bit more effort. If you are lucky enough to be at The Sock Summit, there are two vendors there who have some. If not, ask for it at shops that carry JS yarn. They should be able to order it. Now I'll get back to knitting...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Summer Squares Take Seven: Finishing the Quartet and A Survey of Estonian Books.

We are still moving along, over at The Summer Squares Group. Today I am posting the last chart for The Blue Quartet squares, plus the Blue Quartet border chart. I have more info on that to follow...but I thought I would add a small book review to my post today. Not a review, really, but more or a survey. I am now the lucky owner of three knitting books that came from Estonian. How cool is that! Thanks to Malle, I am lucky enough to have a copy of this amazing new lace book from Estonia. First, I want to say that this book is a hardcover, large format book with very high quality photography. My pictures of the book are pretty bad, because I turned my flash off to avoid glare. The book, on the other hand, has wonderful, clear pictures and equally good charts.
There is a large section on the history of this knitting style which I only wish I could read. It looks wonderful, but the pictures tell a great tale, even without the words. There is a brief English introduction and an English chart key.
There are photos of classic knitted pieces, and patterns and charts for all the components of each piece. There are also great technique photographs. This is not a pattern book for projects, as much as a history and technique book. Included is a very good collection of traditional Estonian lace stitches in photographs along with clear charts. Using the information they provide, you can knit yourself any of the classic pieces shown in the book, but you will have to do some figuring for yourself.
This is a gorgeous book, and if you are lucky enough to get yourself a copy you will enjoy it!

I have another lovely Estonian book, which was given to me by my daughter's friend. She picked it out for me while visiting relatives in Estonia! How nice is that? Very...
This is a book on knitting mittens and gloves. This one is actually a project book. Again, I can't read the content, but I think these are modern patterns based on traditional mittens and gloves. The technique photographs and the charts are excellent. I have not made any of these yet, but I won't have any trouble following the charts. These gloves are especially nice.
Finally, I do own a copy of this book, which is an amazing collection of Estonian stitches, with black and white photographs and charts that are very usable. The charts have some errors and are sometimes hard to read. This book has become hard to find, and when you can find it it costs too much. I hope the publisher see the overwhelming response to the new Estonian lace book, and considers re-printing this classic. It would be wonderful to see it re-done with better photos and charts, but honestly it is worth having it just as it is, so I vote that they re-print it however they can!
There is a section in the back of the book with photographs of finished garments that use the stitch patterns. The pictures are fun.
Along with "basic" stitch motifs, there are a few centers and edgings. Many wonderful things!
If I have another opportunity to get a knitting book from Estonia I will say yes without seeing the book. They know how to knit, they use good charts and I love the traditional work. There you have my opinion!
Now, back to the task at hand, today we have The Cello square and the Blue Quartet border, already posted at our Summer Squares Group.
Nice picture above and bad picture below!
I have no video for you today, but maybe we can block something for next week. Let's see how much knitting I get done. Just to remind you, next week I will have the Blue Quartet Edging and the 8th square posted at The Summer Squares Group. The 8th square is the first square in our third project! I better get back to my knitting...