Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This time: The Real McCoy

I've previously blogged about my project for the Herbert Niebling Lace Knit-Along and my decision to start over with a different yarn after having knitted the first pattern set with Blackberry Ridge's lace weight wool yarn. Well, I received the Alpaca Cloud yarn from Knit Picks. It's wonderfully soft, the color is "smoke", an nary a knot. So here is a rough pic (on needles, unblocked, just pinned out a bit) of the first pattern set, the second pattern set doubles the no. of "leaves," but otherwise is the same. The pattern design is from Niebling's later years and, to me, appears simple but elegant. A rough measurement suggests each pattern set will block to about 20 to 25" suggesting an adequate size for a circular shawl since the original pattern shows three repeats. The beauty of the pattern, however, lies in the fact that an extra pattern set could easily be added if one where inclined so.

Now to knit on my Dale of Norway sweater with a photo of progress made so far to come tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Another yarn woe with a project. I've joined the Niebling Lace Forum on and we are currently having a knit-along of one of Herbert Niebling's lace patterns. We are able to knit the Niebling pattern of our choice. Herbert Niebling was a a well-known German designer of knitted lace and his patterns were originally pubished by Burda Verlag, a German publishing house. Most of his work was done in the 1940s and 1950s. His patterns are currently not available in a published collection, so those of us who were not fortunate or smart enough to amass the Anna magazines in the 70s and 80s, are paying dearly on E-Bay to collect the patterns. There is also a Yahoo group advocating with Burda Publishing to have Niebling's patterns re-issued as a collection. With this history in mind, I chose the pattern Minettara, a beautiful lace pattern for a circular table cloth from the January 1985 issue of Anna Magazine. Since I had bought some lace weight wool yarn from Blackberry Ridge Farm at the 2006 Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, Mich., I decided to use it. Well, now we are to the "argh!" of this post.

The yarn looked beautiful in the skein, a single ply, non-dyed yarn, of appropriate softness for a shawl. Then, I attempted to wind the yarn into a ball, and there, the trouble started. The yarn broke eaily and frequently while winding, making me question the yarn's ability to stand up to the final blocking of the finished cloth. Nevertheless, I decided to start knitting with it. As I was nearing the end of the first repeat, it became abundantly clear that this particular project was not going to happen with this particular yarn. What to do? Knit Picks to the rescue. I've ordered 3 skeins of Alpaca Cloud, hoping that this yarn is of a more substantial nature.

In the meantime, I have "wasted" precious time on this project. But then, maybe not! It gave me a chance to try out the pattern with a lace weight wool rather than the normal doily crochet cotton. This exercise in futility also gave me a better feel for the pattern. From the sample, I believe it will look fabulous with a lace weight yarn and larger needles and will make a beautiful shawl. I am also intrigued by the pattern's construction; Niebling decreases the no. of stitches gradually over several rows towards the end of the first pattern set, which leaves the pattern not exactly round at the end of the 60 rows. Yet the picture in the Anna magazine has the table cloth blocked as a circle. I'm not sure whether or not this will be taken care of as the design progresses or if the type of material I have chosen affects the shape of the shawl. At any rate, I will know the outcome of this experiment when I have finished the shawl. Until then I shall knit on other projects until the new yarn arrives. "Knit on."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Ode to knitted socks


by Pablo Neruda (Translated by Robert Bly)

Mara Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder's hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.
I slipped my feet into them
as though into two cases
knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin.

Violent socks,
my feet were two fish made of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons,
my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.

They were so handsome for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit firemen,
firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
of those glowing socks.

Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere as schoolboys
keep fireflies,
as learned men collect
sacred texts,
I resisted the mad impulse to put them
in a golden cage and each day give them
birdseed and pieces of pink melon.

Like explorers in the jungle
who hand over the very rare green deer
to the spit and eat it with remorse,
I stretched out my feet and pulled on
the magnificent socks and then my shoes.

The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty,
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I've been spoilt!
I've joined the Dales of Norway Knit-Along, an offshoot of Knitting Beyond the Hebrides and found that, at least this pattern, is written more along European than American lines. German instructions are much more general whereas American instructions are more detailed. For example, the instructions on the back of Opal sock yarns go something like this : cast on, knit cuff, knit leg, make heel flap, turn heel, pick up gusset stitches and knit gusset, knit foot, decrease for toes. The Magic Stripes yarn, on the other hand, has detailed instructions on how many stitches are to be cast on, how to make the heel flap and turn the heel, etc.

Now you have to realize that the first time I saw written instructions for turning a heel, I had no idea what to do with them. I remembered how to turn a heel, but not with written instructions. In the meantime, I have been spoilt by detailed American instructions, even though I rarely follow them.

I decided to knit the Dales of Norway Kongle sweater and started with the sleeve, with the thought of the sleeve also acting as my swatch. Wrooong decision! The pattern is charted without the increases for the sleeve; the pattern designer just assumes you work out the increases yourself. Now I have knit for a long time, but colorway knitting in the round and increasing at the same time every fourth row and fitting the increases into the pattern freehand is more than I can manage and make it look good. I will have to take the time and chart the increases; therefore, I decided to put the sleeve aside and start on the body. So here is the beginning of the sweater. The original was designed for Dales of Norway Tiur yarn; however the recipient of this sweater is allergic to Mohair, so I am using coned Brown Sheep Merino yarn. The colors are similar to the ones shown on the leaflet. This is definitely slower knitting than the last sweater I made and won't be finished in a week. Ooh, I also get to practice steeking on this one. But that is an adventure for some future point in time.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Of Yarn and Top Down Sweaters

This was my first attempt at a top down Raglan sweater. In the past I've always knitted sweaters the "old fashioned way": four parts-- front, back, and two sleeves.
I used Paton's SWS Yarn. 70% wool, 30% soy silk. The SWS stands for Soy-Wool-Stripes. The yarn comes in vibrant colors, is strong, is spun with very little twist (almost Lopi like), and the swatch I knitted came out beautiful. However, the yarn has shortcomings which equal the good points.
The stripes are wide; therefore it is really not suitable for a top down raglan sweater. The stripes are rather narrow in the body of the sweater, but become wider as the Knitting gets narrower, such as sleeves. The yarn has too many knots, which I could deal with provided the color sequence would always be in correct sequence. Alas it isn't. Twice I came upon a skein in which the yarn seemed to be knotted together haphazardly. The mill must have run out when skeining the yarn and gave absolutely no thought to knot in the right color sequence. I have not attempted to felt the yarn as yet, but judging by the way the loose ends started clinging together, I would say it should do well and the colorway of the yarn may be best suited to items that do not appreciably change in width.
By the way, the no. of knots in the yarn seem to be in line with Noro, but the big difference is that I have not found a skein of Noro where the yarn was knotted together haphazardly with no regard to the color sequence. On the other side, the Paton SWS yarn is a lot cheaper, particularly since I bought it at one of the local discount craft stores.

Sweater Construction:
I had never knitted a top down raglan sweater and, therefore, I wanted to try one, particularly since my daughter had tried some, but does not as yet have the experience to adapt the top down sweater pattern for her particular figure. I followed Barbara Walker's instructions in her book "From the Top Down." The changes I made are for a person whose upper body is rather short, doesn't like anything close to her neck, and is heavy busted. I did not make the front increases as Barbara Walker suggested, but cast on all stitches for the front at one time--plus 1" of extra stitches--after knitting 3" of the back and sleeves. This gave enough room for finishing the neckline without choking her. When it came time to start the body of the sweater, I increased under each arm by 3" of stitches. I also knitted 1 purl stitch all the way down to make fake underarm and body seams.
So here it is, a sweater that can act as a guide for future sweaters from the top down. Thus I can excuse the uneven striping of the yarn.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Adieu, Auf Wiedersehn, Good Bye... a wonderful yarn, Froehlich Wolle. Froehlich was a Swiss sock yarn company that, alas, no longer exists. For me, it was a toss up between Opal and Froehlich when it came to commercial sock yarn. Supposedly Cascade took over the product line, but I have only seen one striped yarn that appears to be a duplicate of the Froehlich one. This particular jacquard pattern reminds me of Alpine costumes with its reds, Loden greens and grays. I was attempting to get enough of the yarn for a cardigan, but never could get my local LYS to get it across to the wholesaler that I wanted just this particular yarn. Oh well! As a consolation price I have enough left over for a pair of socks for myself. These were for my sock-poor daughter.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Amethyst Shawl revisied

OK folks have asked (bugged?) me for the pattern for this shawl. My tardiness was actually just a ploy for you to come and visit my blog. Here is what I came up with. It's the best I can do by myself. I don't have a chart maker or I would have charted the pattern. I designed and knit this shawl purely visual, i.e. I started out attempting to show my daughter how to continue with the candle flame pattern and then just kept knitting. Then I decided that the triangle shawl was just too boring and went on from there. If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them. In case you can't cut and paste the pattern and you really, really, really want to make the shawl I'll be glad to e-mail you the pattern. The only thing I ask that you not use the pattern for commercial purposes. If you have any suggestions on how I can improve the written instructions, I'll take all advice.
Amethyst Shawl
Yarn: Coned or skeined fingering weight Merino. 4.5 mm (US 7) circular needle.
Candle Flame Pattern: My piece of paper states that the following was written "as originally notated by Linda Clark". I no longer have the source of where on the Internet I found this.

Cast on 1 stitch then:
Row 1: (right side) (K, YO, K) into cast on stitch
Row 2: P3
Row 3: K1, (K, YO, K) into second stitch, K1
Row 4: P5
Row 5: K2, (K, YO, K) into next stitch, K2
Row 6: P7
Row 7: K3, (K, YO, K) into next stitch, K3
Row 8: P9
Row 9: K4, (K, YO, K) into next stitch, K4, cast on 3 stitches.
Row 10: P1, K2, P11, Cast on 3 stitches (the cast on of 3 stitches forms the beginning of the next flame)
Row 11: (K, YO, K) into first stitch, P2, K4, (Slip 2-k1-p2sso), K4, P2, (K, YO, K) into last stitch (this forms the beginning of the next flame on the other side of the triangle)
Row 12: P3, K2, P9, K2, P3
Row 13: K1, (K, YO, K) into next stitch, K1, P2, K3, (Slip 2 stitches knitwise-k1-p2sso), K3, P2, K1 (K, YO, K) into next stitch, K1
Row 14: P5, K2, P7, K2, P5
Row 15: K2, (K, YO, K) into next stitch, K2, P2, K2 (slip 2 stitches knitwise-k1,p2sso), K2, P2, K2, (K, YO, K) into next stitch, K2
Row 16: P7, K2, P5, K2, P7
Row 17: K3, (K, YO, K) into next stitch, K3, P2, K1 (slip 2 stitches knitwise-k1-p2sso), K1, P2, K3, (K, YO, K) into next
stitch, K3
Row 18: P9, K2, P3, K2, P9
Row 19: K4, (K, YO, K) into next stitch, K4, P2, (slip 2 knitwise-k1-p2sso), P2, K4, (K, YO, K) into next stitch, K4, Cast on 3 stitches
Row 20: P1, K2, P11, K2, P1, K2, P11, cast on 3 stitches

Continue increasing in this fashion until your shawl is the size you want it, i.e. repeat rows 11 through 20, always remembering that the no. of candle flames will increase and therefore, the no. of repeats across rows will increase as well.

When you have reached the size of the triangle you want, then reverse the process, instead of casting on three stitches, cast off three stitches. The three stitches which are cast off represent the top of the candle flame on the edge of the shawl. Decrease until you have one candle flame remaining. At the top of the candle flame, slip 2 knit-wise, k1, p2sso. You then end again with 1 stitch, the same way you started the shawl.

Inner Border:
Adapted from Rosedale Counterpane Pattern at Pick up the same no. of stitches on all four sides, plus 1 extra stitch at each corner.Place 1 marker each before and after corner. Make last marker a different color, indicating beginning of row.
Now work in the round instead of back and forth.

Row 1: Knit to marker. At marker, make YO, move marker, K1, move marker, YO and knit to next corner.
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: Knit, increase at each corner as in row 1
Row 4: Knit
Row 5: Purl to marker. At marker, make YO, move marker, K1, move marker, YO, purl to next corner.
Row 6: Purl
Row 7: Purl, increase at each corner as in row 5
Row 8: Purl
Row 9: YO, k2, (YO, slip 1 knit-wise, K1, PSSO) until end of first section, depending on no. of stitches, you may end up with either 1 or two stitches to be knit before corner YO, K1
Row 10: Knit
Row 11: YO, K2, (YO, sl 1, K1, PSSO) , K1 or K2, then knit corner YO, K1
Row 12: Knit
Row 13: YO, K2, (YO, sl 1, K1, PSSO), K1 or K2, then knit corner, YO, K1
Row 14: Knit
Row 15: YO, knit to next corner, YO, K1, etc.
Row 16: Knit
Row 17: YO, knit to corner, YO, K1, etc.
Row 18: Knit
Row 19: YO, purl to corner, YO, K1, etc.
Row 20: Purl
Row 21: YO, purl to corner, YO, K1, etc.
Row 22: Purl
Row 23: YO, Knit to corner, YO K1, etc.
Row 24: Knit
Row 25: YO, Knit to corner, YO K1, etc.
Row 26: Knit
Row 27: Count no. of stitches in each section, excluding corner stitch of K1. Then take pattern of Candle Flame (Rows 3 through 10) and decide how many purl stitches you want to place between each candle flame. The stitches between the markers must divide evenly into the no. of purl stitches between the candle flames plus 1 stitch for the base of each candle flame. (Remember you started out with one stitch and increased that stitch to 3?). You will want to manipulate your stitches, so you have may be 1 or 2 purl stitches before the YO for the corner. Once you have figured out how many purl stitches you want between the candle flames: YO, Purl 1 or 2 stitches; knit 1 (base for candle flame), purl X stitches (no. of purl stitches between the candle flames), repeat until you come to the end of the section and end again with 1 or 2 purl stitches; YO, K1 (corner)
Row 28-36: Continue with flame pattern.
Row 37-42: Repeat rows 9 through 14

Outer Border:
Adapted from Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls by Martha Waterman, Ocean Wave
Attach border sideways by knitting last stitch of right side row of border to one stitch of shawl. Only right side rows are attached. Ease border by attaching every 5th row to one stitch of shawl at corners.
That's all folks!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Sampler M is finished.

It's finished. Done. Completed. I realize more and more that I like to finish things rather than having them lay around. The picture shows the very bottom of the Sampler. To refresh memories, the Sampler Knit-along is a yahoo group which originates in Holland--not Holland, Michigan but Holland, Holland as in Europe. (There is a story behind this comment.)
As I understand it, Holland, Michigan was settled by Dutch settlers because the sandy soil was excellent for planting tulips. Since it's also on a bay leading to Lake Michigan, it probably also reminded the settlers of home. Holland also has the second largest festival, behind the Rose Bowl Parade, during the first week of May--Tulip Festival. Long ago, we went to a restaurant in Saugatuck, also on Lake Michigan. As I was washing my hands in the restroom, another woman and I started exchanging pleasantries when she asked me from where I was. I replied, "Holland," not giving it much thought. She came back with the comment, "Oh you're from Holland over in Europe!" This, of course, was partially true since I am German and therefore from Europe, but not the whole truth, so I simply nodded. I didn't think it was any of her business from where I came. Actually, what I meant was "I'm from Holland, you know about 20 miles north of here. "
The designer of the sampler is Carla Meijsen who appears to be a knitting expert in Holland and Europe. The sampler is a copy of an antique sampler that her husband found for her and she copied the patterns and shared them with the group, usually one pattern per week.
I have decided that I am going to knit this sampler again, but this time make it a little wider and then add a border around it. With the right yarn, this should make a lovely scarf/shawl, depending on the width.
I've tried to play with Flickr to convert the photos to HTML code and paste the series of sections on the blog, but to no avail. When I pasted the code into the text area as instructed, all I got was the code and no pics, so the rest of the photos of individual sections of the sampler will be in the photo album.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Afghan Nirvana

I am the grateful recipient of 15 Afghan books. Yippee! Just imagine 15 "books" of afghan patterns. The majority of patterns are for crocheted afghans, but there are quite a few knit ones as well. The photo shows two of my favorites. The cover in the middle left of the photo shows an afghan made in panels crocheted in afghan stitch and then embroidered and the afghan on the right is called Inishmore. This is an Unger booklet with no publication date, but it was priced at U.S. $1.50 which suggests that it's been a while since it was published. On the inside of this booklet is another knitted afghan called "Candlelight" which is also a candidate high on the list of afghans to be made one of these days. Thank you Kathy M. for such a lovely gift.