31 January 2011

One - Done

I completed Litla Dimun Shawl this weekend. Here it is:

(If you put your computer on the floor and then lie in your right side you will see this photo as it is meant to be seen! For some unknown reason Blogger has decided that even though I rotated this photo on iPhoto I must not really want it that way.)

No matter. I do love this shawl. In fact I've been wearing it all morning while straightening up my blog page a bit, since it looks like this outside:

Actually, it's a bit worse now, but I'd never get a good shot of it since the ground, sky, and trees are currently all the same color. We've been having freezing fog (I've never experienced that before this year) and drizzle.

No matter. The shawl is making me happy. Cheryl Oberle must be a tall woman as the photo of this shawl in the book hangs just past her waist, while on me it's down to my bum. There were a couple other issues with the pattern, like the gusset decreases on Row 151, and do you decrease 8 stitches in the main sections on Rows 151 and 171 along with the usual 2 decreases, or in place of ? No matter. I learned to just roll with the punches. Like "Shakespeare in Love":
"Strangely enough, it all turns out well."
"I don't know. It's a mystery."

With the weather the way it is around here, I was thinking about all the women through the ages who ran about town or farm wrapped in a woolen shawl. I wear a down jacket, wool hat, felted mittens, and bulky scarf, along with one of many pairs of non-skid Gortex-lined boots. It wasn't always this way. Once again, I am in awe of those who came before us.

So that got me thinking and I googled the Faroe Islands. Wow - they're really out there! Eighteen islands are floating smack-dab in the middle of the northern Atlantic, northwest of Scotland and their Shetland Islands, halfway between Norway and Iceland. Now...they may be the final stop for the Gulf Current, but still...I bet they get some interesting storms rolling in.
Take a peak for yourself, it looks lovely when displayed by the tourism board! Faroe Islands (Check out the Gallery, and the Icelandic sheep on the roof!)

So, on to Tvey, the Faroese word for two. This is the cast on and first rows for Stora Dimun Shawl. Once again, I'm using yarn that is listed in the pattern, Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill Silk Blend in color red trillium. The yarn looks very red in the book photo, but is actually a lovely raspberry. The pattern starts the same way, at the base, and with more stitches, but has a very different feel with 75% wool and 25% silk.

Knit through everything!


19 January 2011

Great Expectations, Lessened

I should know this by now. When it comes to blogging, I should never make promises. I have glorious great mediocre expectations for hammering out posts a few times a week, and well, it just doesn't always happen. Mind you, I have fairly reasonable excuses. My latest was babysitting Caleb for 3 days while Dave, Ashley, and Joy the Beagle drove 1400 miles across half the country with a car loaded with all their STUFF. I then flew with Caleb to Virginia to be in his "home" for the first time. (Now that was interesting: awake at 1:45 a.m. watching The Weather Channel as they showed a great blob of "mixed precipitation" heading directly to Omaha; up at 2:15 a.m.; waking Caleb at 3:15 a.m. for a bottle; plopping Caleb in his car seat at 3:45 a.m.; arriving at Eppley Airfield at 4:30 a.m. after a slow drive on the highways, keeping the sander trucks company along the highways; "wheels up" at 5:45 a.m. after being de-iced; land in Detroit 1 1/2 hours later to change and feed Caleb; take off for Virginia an hour later; hand Caleb to Ashley in Norfolk and breath a huge sigh of relief!)

We are all back in our proper places ("Take your seats, class) and ready for a new day.

I have been knitting (well, duh), though not as much as I was hoping. I'm now up to Row 95 on the Litla Dimun Shawl. I'm nearing the end of ball 3 on 5 of yarn, and the rows are coming along so much faster after all the decreases.

Interweave Press has had errata pages for Folk Shawls for years now. I'm assuming that the later editions have been corrected without need for looking for the errata. But as I was knitting along I found an issue that wasn't mentioned - and when I googled about it there was only one mention in 4 or 5 pages.

Okay, on page 25 of Folk Shawls there is a chart for the center lace pattern, or gusset, that travels up the back of the shawl. Beginning on Row 71, and then every 20 rows, you're to decrease one stitch each side within the gusset. But the pattern seems a little funky:

Look at Row 71. The first stitch is a k2tog followed by 4 knit stitches. My pattern wasn't working out, so I counted and recounted before noticing that the k2tog decreases the pattern by 1 stitch immediately, not in the next row. So, it should read "k2tog, k3, ssk, yo...". This happens on Rows 51, 71, 91, 111, 131, and 171. There are gusset decreases on Row 151 as well, but I'm going to have to work them out since there is a k2tog and ssk next to each other.

Am I looking at this correctly? I'd love it if you could check my thinking and let me know. Well, I've corrected the issue for myself and now the pattern is moving along without problems. Do any of you have a later edition? Does the chart remain the same as mine?

Thanks for checking. I know you will.

This is the right edge with decreases every other row. I can't wait to see it blocked when all the stitches relax and the yarn "blooms".

Take care. I'll have more to post about another completed shawl - not from this book.

11 January 2011

Do's and Don'ts

pick up your shawl midway through a row, look at the stitch markers to help you remember whether this is a right side or wrong side, think "ah, wrong side so I'll just knit to the end", realize that the yarn is on the wrong needle tip, turn the knitting, and forget to re-think the plan since you are now, obviously, looking at the right side, knit a couple hundred stitches before getting to the orange stitch marker (see previous post) to realize the dreadful mistake that will now cause you to spend 1/2 hour frogging a couple hundred knit stitches.

Photos - happy photos - to follow tomorrow, after a good night's sleep.

05 January 2011

Litla Dimun Shawl, Act 1

Act 1, Scene 1
Casting On - Faroese shawls are knit from the bottom up with borders on either side, two side panels, and a center gusset. I always feel that a shawl that will decrease it's stitches as you progress will be a happy shawl. Maybe that makes this a comedy. Anyway, 421 stitches cast on using the crochet cast on. Sloooooooow, but nicely flexible, and best of all...no guess-timates as to the amount of yarn needed for a long-tail cast on!

I used my friendly stitch markers every 50 stitches to keep my sanity as I really don't like counting and recounting large numbers of stitches as they twist around circular needles.

Then I set things up with different stitch markers as Cheryl points out. My modus operandi is a green marker at the beginning of the RS, since green means GO. Then an orange (for these particular markers) for the last marker of the row, since orange is almost red, which means STOP. Then there are 2 markers on either side of the gusset - green first, then purple.

Act 1, Scene 2
Knitting Begins - This is always an exciting time for knitters. A vast "unknown" lies ahead. Maybe there will be multiple repeats, yarn overs and decreases, maybe even double decreases. The mind boggles with the possibilities!

I begin the shawl with 190 stitches in each of the side panels and after 4 rows garter stitch I am decreasing at the beginning and end of each side panel until I have 170 stitches in each. I will have 12 garter ridges at this point, but I like to double-check that my numbers are correct, and I still hate counting large numbers of stitches. So, I placed two additional markers in each side panel, 10 stitches in from each end. (10 sts, 170 sts, 10 sts) When I'm through with these decreases all of the 10 stitches will be gone, leaving 170. No counting!

It's surprising that at this point I've used almost all of my first of five balls of yarn. 225 m each. I'm almost one-fifth of the way through, which is another beauty of from the bottom up shawls.

Technical Stuff
The Icelandic wool is interesting to use. It's not unpleasant, but is certainly a coarser yarn. Icelandic sheep continue, after 1100 years, as one of the pure breed sheep, lacking the cross breeding as with many other breeds. They are a dual-coated sheep with a heavier, outer fleece, or Tog, along with a finer inner fiber, or Thel. The Tog is used for rugs and other weaving, while the Thel is used for garments that touch the skin. When blended together, the fiber is called Lopi. (Ah-ha!)

We will now return to our previously scheduled performance.

01 January 2011


Well, Hi there, kids! Long time, no post...but I have been here, just as Mom and Grandma for a while. Knitting has been happening, without doubt, along with designing. It's the pattern writing and publishing that has been absent. BUT, I have had an excellent reason - Ashley and Caleb:

As much as I've loved posting and publishing, I learned that those take a backseat to holding a baby and spending time with one of my daughters. Dave and I have a lovely time traveling and spending time together as empty-nesters. That has all changed, however, with our temporarily/permanent house-guests. But, alas, all things must come to an end. Ashley and Caleb will be returning to Virginia shortly since Phillip will be ending his deployment. That is "the way of the world" (to quote Kermit the Frog) and I'm pleased that their little family will be reunited. I desperately miss all three girls (Anne, Allyson, Ashley) and their families, though I feel a connecting thread to them at all times. I'm always amazed that so much time can pass since I've last seen them, since I can picture and imagine every detail of their lives through phone calls and emails.

It shouldn't be surprising that I'm so reflective at this time. A new year always does this to me. I purchase my monthly desk calendar early October and then keep it, untouched, till January 1 when I sit down and finally write in all the birthdays and anniversaries. I may even enjoy New Years more than Christmas. The latter is busy, busy and so very tiring. New Years is calm, for me, and a chance to take stock of my life.

For weeks now, I've been waiting to write today and discuss my "2011 Knitting Plans". Just as I decide what direction my life will be heading, something happened to remind me that I am not the person in charge. It looks as if I may be getting a wish of mine to share my knitting thoughts and ideas with others. Suddenly, all my plans changed. Flexibility (and a good night's sleep) then lead me to decide that more IS better. I can tackle all of it! I am woman!

Okay, okay! Enough of this!!!

My original plans were to make 2011 the Year of Folk Shawls. For the most of a decade I have loved Cheryl Oberle's book, Folk Shawls. A little late in the year I realized that 2010 was the 10th anniversary of the publish date for the book. Rats. I missed my chance to knit my way through the book during a memorable year. Okay...rethink this...I'll follow through with my plans beginning at the 2nd decade of "the book's" publishing date!

As of this moment I have 3 hours, 56 minutes to cast on (55 minutes) the Litla Dimun Shawl. Begin at the beginning. I have my yarn, needles, book at the ready.

The yarn is a lovely Icelandic laceweight, ordered from Schoolhouse Press. Being an Icelandic wool, it's not the softest I've ever felt, but I want to keep this experience as authentic as I can. The next decision will be whether or not to re-knit the Aran Pocket Shawl, Wool Peddler's Shawl, Highland Triangle Shawl, Bird's Nest Shawl, and Sampler Shawl in more appropriate yarns. Only time will tell.

So, keep posted, boys and girls. I'll try to keep my posts current, and somewhat meaningful. No promises for either.

Happy New Year and happy knitting!