Category Archives: Lace

Lace and Cognac

Today we got down to some serious knitting! This morning was lace.

Here is my whole goody bag for the week, the bright multicolour is 4ply weight, and we are using this to make a lace shawl. You can make a reasonable sized shawl from only one ball.


This is Fiona’s sample showing the finished shawl:


And another of her samples showing a variation using slightly different lace patterns and also adding beads:


This is my progress so far!


Everyone is progressing really well, especially considering that for some this is their first experience of lace or charts.

In the afternoon we gave our brains a little rest and went for a trip to Cognac, and had a really interesting tour of the Baron Otard distillery. They are in a building in which Francis I was born, and which has connections to Richard the Lionheart.


And also happened to have some fantastic doorways.


It was probably best that the Cognac testing came after the lace knitting!

Escadaria socks

The Great Sort Out is still coming along. I am definitely making inroads, but there is a long way to go still. I am looking forward to getting to the City and Guilds work currently buried on the dining table and making another good stab at that, it has been on pause for too long.

In amongst the sorting I have managed a little bit of slow knitting, a couple of rows here and there. It is surprising what can be accomplished with a few sessions of waiting for appointments, the odd 20 bars rest at band, and a bit of skyping to my sister in New York – ah the delights of hands-free phoning – and with the web-cam I can bore her rigid with my knitting too 🙂 Their weather sounds even more horrid than ours, the hats I knitted for my niece and nephew for Christmas are getting a good work-out 🙂

Anyway, I have actually finished some socks (shock horror!). I am finding socks to be a conveniently achievable size of project at the moment, and have the added bonus of being very portable, hence I do actually work on them.


The pattern is called Escadaria (I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce it), and came from Sockupied, Spring 2011, one of the eMags from Interweave. I made the middle size (9in circumference), used 2.25mm needles and the yarn is some 75% superwash merino, 25% seacell fibre dyed by Fluff n Stuff and spun into a 3ply by me. Conveniently I used almost exactly the whole skein – only a couple of metres were left at the end.


The pale flashes are bits of the seacell which I didn’t manage to distribute evenly when I was spinning.

The yarn has come out rather hard and somewhat inelastic, although it is mostly wool it feels and looks like a mercerized cotton. This is something I am keen to work on with my spinning in the coming months. I would like to be able to spin a more elastic, squashier yarn. I am looking forward to some practising!

Hopefully in this case the fact that the yarn is quite strong should be a help rather than a hinderance, and will hopefully make the socks wear better. Also the very smooth solid nature of the yarn shows up the lace pattern well. I enjoyed knitting these, although I wasn’t that keen on the little pretend-cable pattern on the leg, and I didn’t really like the way the heel was done – the joins seemed a bit messy. It is fun trying out some different patterns, and different ways of working heels and toes. I am getting a feel for which I like to work, and how well different shapes fit my feet.

Back to the sorting I think. This week hopefully should see me finish cataloguing the rest of my knitting books.

Christmas knitting

In a moment of over-optimism at the end of November about the speed of my knitting I decided that I would knit a little something for both my parents for their Christmas presents. I had had the yarn for both for absolutely ages, and had been meaning to knit them for a while so this seemed the ideal moment!

For Mummy I made the Eleanor cowl from Knitty, in Posh Yarn Marguerite, which is a 4ply weight, 50% cashmere, 50% silk. The colour is called celery.


I orginally bought the yarn thinking I would make socks, but the mixture of cashmere and silk is completely inelastic and would have made not terribly good socks. However I think it does make lovely lace.

For Daddy I made Ann’s Go-To Socks from the Simply Socks eMag from Interweave Press. They are a fairly standard sock pattern. I had to create an extra size two sizes larger than the largest one written because Daddy (like me) has rather wide feet. I used some Schoppel-wolle sock yarn for these.


The picture was a rather rushed affair because I finished knitting these on the day before they left after their pre-Christmas visit, while they were out visiting my Nanny. The picture was taken in the 5 minutes between casting off and wrapping them up 🙂

Luckily both presents fit (whew!).

Sleeves in my Pi

Another finished project! I know it is really quite shocking. Don’t expect too many more of them before Christmas!

We had a little photoshoot yesterday at my in-laws, and I proved once again that I am the least photogenic person on the planet.

I seem to be pulling a strange face and / or doing something a little odd with my arms in almost all the pictures (and we took several! ) My photographer / stylist did what he could with a difficult model, but the cardigan is lovely at least 🙂

The pattern is Sleeves in your Pi by Gayle Roehm, and was originally published in Issue 61 of Knitter’s magazine, then was also included in their collection book called Ponchos and Wraps, a Knitter’s Dozen. It is basically a big circular shawl with sleeves in.

I used 6mm needles and the yarn is my handspun, 70% alpaca, 30% merino in Cappuccino from John Arbon. After all the stressing about whether I would have enough yarn I actually used way less than the pattern called for. In the end I used about 480g which was about 915m (it is about a DK weight), even though I added an extra eight rounds to the main circle before the edging to make it a bit wider.

The cardigan is lovely and cosy without being too warm, and I am looking forward to getting a lot of wear out of it. The yarn is shedding a bit which I am a little worried about. I think I shall take it along to the next Show and Tell session at spinning group and see if anyone has any tips for how I could have spun it differently. Hopefully the shedding might stop after the first couple of times I wash it.

Swirling Petals Shawl

I realised that I hadn’t actually blogged about my final project for the City and Guilds Certificate, so time to rectify that!

I actually finished this back in October!

In the end for the real thing I used 3mm needles and 75% merino, 25% angora lace weight yarn from Uppingham Yarns.

I am very pleased with the way it has come out 🙂

As with all of my City and Guilds projects this one also did not escape the epic sampling. As you can probably tell from the picture with me in it above, the finished shawl has a diameter of about 1.5m. My first sample where I was trying out different ways of making the segments, and trying out different edgings, was nearly as big (though it did use thicker yarn):

The second and third samples were only a metre across each, so clearly I am becoming more reasonable in my old age (!?)

The second sample explored ways of doing the increases to create the petals, and also possible patterns for inside the petals. And also shows my chosen edging (a combination of two of the edgings I tried on sample one):

By the third sample I had cracked the edging, so this one doesn’t include a lace edging, but was testing out possible patterns for inside the petals, and for the segments between the petals before the edging.

At first I thought I was going to make the real thing out of a lovely 70% baby alpaca, 30% silk lace weight yarn that I had bought from KnitPicks, in colour spice. At first it seemed to be going ok, but as I got onto the larger petals containing the field of flowers pattern, the multicoloured yarn totally obscured the lace pattern:

So I went back to the drawing board and chose a completely solid coloured yarn. Multi-coloured yarn and lace can be a tricky combination. I think it works with a yarn which is not too jazzy, and with a lace pattern which is very simple, but when one or the other get more complicated you tend to lose the pattern completely.

Luckily after all that, the project passed, and I have passed the whole course! I haven’t got my actual certificate yet, but hopefully I shall do at the next class.

Leaf Lace Triange Shawl

Another finished project which had been on the needles rather a long time.

I started this shawl in May 2010 at Chris Williams’s lace knitting class at Fleet Library. It languished for a while after the small leaves section while I tried to work out how I wanted the rest of the shawl to go.

It halted again for a while towards the end of the beaded leaves while I thought about how to finish it off.

In the end I went for a simple sideways knitted garter stitch edging so that it wouldn’t detract from the rest of the shawl.

I used 3mm needles and 2ply machine knitting soft cotton from Uppingham Yarns. The beads are CC180F – TOHO BEADS 3MM TRANSPARENT RAINBOW FROSTED OLIVINE from E-beads, and I used about 30g altogether. The beads are added using a crochet hook so you add them as you go rather than having to thread them all on the yarn before you start. I managed to lose my 1mm crochet hook while waiting for a dancing class while I was working on this shawl. It was a bit irritating as this hook was part of a set I have had for ages, but luckily I managed to find a replacement fairly quickly which is not a bad fit for the set too.

I need to create more occaisions to wear shawls now 🙂

Another lace sampler scarf

Back in the autumn term last year Fleet library held another set of classes on knitting lace with Chris Williams, following on from what we had learnt in the first term of classes.

Again Chris designed a sampler scarf for us to knit to try out a variety of lace patterns. This one was a bit more complicated than the last one and included patterns where you had lace stitches on every row, not just every other row.

It was a fun project, I enjoyed trying out the different patterns. It is surprising how some patterns look very much like their charts, and others are quite different.

Here is the end of the scarf:

And the next section up:

And the middle:

After this the same patterns as before are used but in reverse order til you get to the end.

Apologies about the weird colours, I’m not sure what I did when I was taking the photos. The yarn is actually grey shetland 4ply from Uppingham Yarns, and I used 4mm needles.

A blanket for my niece

You may recall that I started a baby blanket for my niece a little while ago, and knitted quite a bit of the centre of it on my holidays. I finally finished it and my parents kindly stuffed it in their suitcase when they flew over to meet Jennifer at the end of October.

The pattern is a fairly traditional Shetland hap pattern from Chris Williams’s Lace Class. The inside square is garter stitch knitted on the bias. There is then a border of feather and fan pattern, and then a sideways knitted simple garter stitch lace edging.

It was very enjoyable to knit, and although Jenny is a little young to be expressing an opinion on these things her parents seem to like it 🙂

I used 6 x 50g of Sirdar Snuggly 4ply, 55% nylon, 45% acrylic, and 4mm needles.

The blocking was slightly scary. Being nylon and acrylic you have to be a bit careful with blocking if you use steam. However if you pin out your blanket and steam it very gently it will actually set the stitches so that it wont need blocking after subsequent washing. The careful part is key here since you have to be very careful not to totally melt your yarn! As you hover with the steam you can actually see the stitches relaxing (permanently!). A lie down in a darkened room is recommended after you do this.

It all went ok though, and hopefully this will save the blanket from needing to be reblocked while still being easily washable.

Scotland, Loseley, and the start of a baby blanket

Back at the beginning of September we had a lovely week’s holiday in south west Scotland, with a few days staying with my parents in North Yorkshire on our way up and back again. I have finally got round to downloading the photos from the camera and having a sort through.

The weather was a bit variable, but in general pretty good for the time of year, although it did rain on us horribly while we walked up Roseberry Topping whilst visiting my parents. You can see the wall of rain approaching from the distance in this photo. We had high winds and hail too! Luckily we also had somewhere to dry out and warm up once we had finished our walk, and that makes all the difference 🙂

One of the fields we could see from the top of the hill was full of fairly recent hay bales, and rather reminded me of beads on garter stitch, or possibly rib.

Up in Scotland we stayed in a lovely B&B in Castle Douglas. We had a lovely holiday, pottering around, taking nice walks, going to a few second hand bookshops, and visiting lots of Historic Scotland sites.

This is Sweetheart Abbey:

and this is Dundrennan Abbey:

We also looked round the gardens at Castle Kennedy, and saw this fantastic lichen, which made me think of Rosie 🙂

On the way back to my parents we stopped at Jedburgh Abbey, another spectacular building.

Then with my parents we went to Rievaulx Abbey.

Quite a cultured holiday 🙂

With all those busy days I needed some nice restful knitting for the evenings, so started a baby blanket for the new niece.

I am using Sirdar Snuggly 4ply and 4mm needles. It will be a hap shawl style, like the mini one we did in Chris’s Lace class, but square this time rather than triangular. The centre square is all garter stitch, knitted on the diagonal, and was excellent holiday knitting. Especially when it was small it was easy to pull in and out of a bag and work a row or two of even when I was a bit tired and brain dead. Since taking that photo it has grown a bit, I shall photograph it again when it finally stops raining! Around the garter stitch centre, there will be a feather and fan border, and then a simple zigzag edging. It is a very enjoyable project to knit, but progress has slowed now that it has got a bit big to drag around everywhere. Still I am hopeful I will get it finished soon, particularly since I am hoping to send it out to my new niece with my parents when they go to visit in a couple of weeks. Nothing like a deadling to give one a spot of motivation 🙂

Continuing on the theme of sometimes inclement weather we had a rather cold and wet day out last Sunday demonstrating spinning with the West Surrey Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers at Loseley Park, for their country fair.

Luckily Rosemary was a life-saver and dashed out for hot chocolate half way through the afternoon which did well to defrost us.

Due to the weather there were definitely a lot fewer people than there had been at the same event last year. Although one bonus of this was that we had more time to talk to the people who were there. I am trundling along with spinning the merino / silk. The end is definitely in sight!

Lace classes with Chris Williams

Back in May and June I went along to a very interesting course of classes on knitting lace with Chris Williams held at Fleet Library. The format was a two hour class each Thursday morning for 5 weeks. It worked really well giving enough time in the class to learn something new, then enough time in the intervening week to practise what we had learnt.

In the first class we looked at what needles and yarn to use, and went over chart reading. Chris designed a sampler scarf for the class to familiarise us with a variety of lace stitches. It took me more than a week to finish though!

I used 4mm needles and 4ply Shetland yarn from Uppingham Yarns.

In the second class we looked at different shapes of shawl, and Chris gave us a pattern for a small triangular shawl she had designed, but also encouraged us to have a go at designing our own. I decided to have a go at my own, although I think I may come back and knit Chris’s as well in the future. I have gone for a leaf pattern using 2ply cotton and 3mm needles, and am still working on it 🙂 I am contemplating whether to add beads to the edge, and for that matter what to do about the edging. This one will require a bit more thought.

In the third class we looked at Shetland hap shawls. Chris knitted us each a little triangle in garter stitch and we picked up stitches and knitted a feather and fan border and then a sideways edging.

Again for this I used 4mm needles and 4ply Shetland.

I really enjoyed this, and it is definitely on my list to make a full sized one soon.

In the 4th class we looked at shawls from different geographical areas, and different ways of constructing shawls.

Then in the 5th and final class we looked at designing our own shawls. I am attempting to design a Faroese shawl, but I haven’t got very far with it yet 🙂 It is still very much at the fiddling around with the graph paper stage. Chris is hoping to run another course in October so I am hoping I might have a bit more to show for it before then!