Archives for category: Lace

Continuing on with the projects – today we look at The Laces! These are some of my favorites. There are two lace patterns included in the collection – one requiring a modest commitment, the other one requiring the Long Haul labor-of-love.

Meet the Laces!

Meet Bridgewater.

Bridgewater Shawl

A large lace square worked in a laceweight alpaca silk 2-ply - this was the first project I started last Fall and one of the final finishes in the Spring. Don’t get me wrong though – we had many, many happy hours together.

Bridgewater Shawl

Although I generally favor working lace projects with slightly heavier yarns that have a bit of body to them (mostly cause I like watching the architecture of the stitches play out as I work), there’s really nothing like a fine laceweight shawl after it’s blocked. Fine knitted lace has a way of taking your breath away when it’s whisping around!

Bridgewater Shawl

The piece is a perfect square, with the center garter stitch portion (okay, so I guess I got a little more garter in than I may have originally let on) worked first, back and forth with lots of satisfying, mindless knitting. Just when you’re ready to ditch the simple stuff you’ll work the second section of horseshoe lace, picked up from the square’s perimeter and worked in the round, working increases at each of four corners. The delicate edging is worked last and knitted-on in place of a bind off.

And, Willoughby.

Willoughby

Here we have our DK-weight lace contender. This piece is a true bit of luxury knitting. Marly, an incredibly light (even for cashmere) 100% cashmere will stop you in your tracks the first time you touch it. When blocked for lace, it feels even lighter – I couldn’t believe it!

The pattern provides two sizes – an average length (about 60″) and a long length (72″) depending on how much yarn you’d like to use. The final piece is wide enough to be considered a stole but can be scrunched down to be worn as a scarf just as easily. I love lace pieces that can be dressed down for street styling or classed up with evening wear. Versatility is always a plus!

Willoughby Stole

The stole is worked in two halves – starting in the center with a provisional cast-on and worked out towards the edges. The lace edging is worked concurrently and changes direction at finish to be worked as a knitted-on-edging in place of a bind off. The second half is worked directly off of the provisionally cast-on sts at center and worked outward in the exact same manner as the first.

Willoughby

As a side note – I want to take this opportunity to extol the virtues of blocking wires. I’ve been using them exclusively for a few years and have to say that they reign as one of my very favorite (and necessary) knitting tools. I’m a big believer in the magic of blocking – not only for lace, but everything – it can really be the key to putting that extra professional touch to your work. That said, I like square edges, sharp corners and even tension – which can be achieved with pins, but you may drive yourself nuts trying if you err on the side of perfectionism (neurosis) *cough*.

Blocking wires do all the hard work and leave your lace projects coming out perfectly crisp and symmetrical. The joy!

Extolling the Virtues of Blocking Wires

I’ll leave you with this photo – taken in early Spring as I was communing with camera, blocking wires and at-long-last-finished-shawl.

Lace knitters – I hope you enjoy!

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RAVELRY LINKS:

Bridgewater on Ravelry

Willoughby on Ravelry

*All patterns are now available as individual PDF downloads through Ravelry or through my pattern page here.*

Swatching does a funny thing to your productivity – you know you’re knitting a ton but feel like you have very little output. I really enjoy swatching, though — it’s the best way to really get to know a yarn, and I find that design ideas almost always reveal and shape themselves in a major way during that period. To me, the material makes a design, so swatching is a bit of a brainstorming session. Or maybe like a first date.

I’ve been doing a lot of swatching these past couple of weeks.

Hap Swatching

The Tweed Baby Blanket got me really hungry for a true Hap Shawl knitting experience with traditional yarns – so when I pulled out my burgeoning Shetland Stash and started pairing color groups, I really got into it. Shetland, with it’s unbeatable palette, lets me indulge my love of tonal color relationships. That, and my fixation on natural sheep colors and their endless combinations.

Shetland Browns

There are also mitten designs being worked on – lots of colorowork around here. I just can’t ever seem to shake that bug.

And a very special arrival came this week from Portland…

Shibui Kits

A gorgeous treasure trove of Shibui Sock — sent as a collaboration between the folks at Shibui and my sister-in-law (they’re practically neighbors) — kits and colors chosen by the Baby Mama herself. And let me tell ya, she has great taste — I’m certainly not complaining about these choices!

Shibui Oasis
I’ve already started knitting a pair of baby leggings with the golden colorway – I hardly ever knit with real SOCK yarn – so I’m enjoying the change of scenery for these. And they’ll be machine-washable too – something I can rarely say about my knitting. Good for new babies (or new parents, rather) for sure.

Tonight I fly to the West Coast – for a little work and a little play. I have a photoshoot in Seattle over the next few days then am taking some time with my family before a quick trip to SoCal for a short but real-and-true VACATION. I’ve packed knitting that satisfies needs across the board from the simple stockinette longies to fingering weight colorwork. That’s what I call travel security.

Is anyone else feeling the post-holiday-weekend-Monday blues? I escaped for a long weekend in the Catskills with friends – fireworks, bonfire, barbecue and knitting – lots of knitting! I thought about posting this pattern before the weekend and then thought it might be a fun pick-me-up for the aftermath. I hope it finds you feeling restored wherever you might be.

Tweed Baby Blanket Pattern Now Available
The pattern for the Tweed Baby Blanket (see my original post on this piece here) is now available for purchase in either my Ravelry Pattern Store or through PayPal.

The pattern — which I knit for my soon-to-be nephew (yes, it’s a boy!), arriving in October — was inspired by traditional Hap Shawls of Shetland. Here are the details:

 

Finished Measurements: Approx 38 x 38 inches square
Materials:
DK-Weight Wool in 2-colors — approx 585 yards of Main Color & 275 of Contrasting Color
Gauge: 4
sts and 4 ridges (8 rows) per inch in Garter Stitch after blocking (as for lace)
Needles: I used a US8/5mm 32″ circular for the whole project. I recommend one double pointed needle, one size larger for working the applied I-Cord edging
Notions: You’ll need 4 stitch markers – I recommend having one in an alternate color to be used to indicate the beg of round. Blocking wires or blocking pins – whatever suits your fancy for blocking lace-type pieces, and as always, a trusty, blunt tapestry needle.

Other notes: Pattern instructions for lace portion are charted clearly with corresponding legend. The pattern is written using 2 colors but I encourage you to experiment with more as you see fit. This is also a great stash-busting project for yarns you have lying around. If you want a larger blanket, work this up in a worsted weight yarn on larger needles. Price for the pattern is $5.75 USD

 

Tweed Baby Blanket Pattern Now Available

If you’re a
Ravelry member and prefer acquiring this pattern there, click on the Ravelry button. If you aren’t on Ravelry or prefer PayPal directly, click on the PayPal button.

Paypal Button Rav Pattern Button

I have plenty of knitting to show – it just needs to be
photographed. I’m closing in on my merino/cashmere pullover and having fun with new yarns and Shetland lace. Oh my!

The BT Design Guarantee: As always, this pattern has been test-knit and tech-edited in an effort to bring the most enjoyable and error-free process to you – the knitter! I have personally prepared all diagrams and charts as well as knit/photographed samples and designed pattern layouts – soliciting the opinions of knitters prior to publication in an effort to streamline this product. I have done my very best to bring you a pattern that I am proud to stand behind fully. I do my best to respond to concerns or comments as soon as possible and, as always, thank you for your support and encouragement. Happy knitting! -Jared

I guess I can say there was one benefit (and I can only say this in hindsight) from experiencing (along with so many others) a Christmas Airport Nightmare, thanks to unprecedented storms in the Northwest and concurrent, fun weather here at JFK. That benefit being that I got to bang out a few handknit gifts that weren’t in my original plan.

Montera Hat (in Pastaza)
 

Pattern: ‘Montera Hat’ by Pam Allen [Ravel it!]
Source: Classic Elite ‘Alpaca Stories
Yarn: Cascade Pastaza in #077 (Just barely one skein, not including swatch)
Needles: US 7/4.5 mm and US 10/6 mm

Started and Finished: 23 December 08


Montera Hat (in Pastaza)

I used up almost all of my leftover yarn from the Girasole – Pastaza is very similar to Montera
(the yarn called for by the pattern), and I think it was a good fit. (I also made one in Montera, which you’ll see very soon, for comparisons sake). The hat is so sculptural – I love it (surprise surprise, Jared likes knitting lace with big yarn.) And I so love that shade of mustardy yellow; I was glad I had enough to make something else with it, instead of adding to the already-ginormous ‘scrap’ yarn pyramid.

Montera Hat (in Pastaza)

The pattern is accompanied by a matching triangular shawl and can be found in “Alpaca Stories,” one of a few new and wonderful pattern collections put out by CE last fall. They’ve got a pretty rockin’ design team going on over there so look out!

I knit the hat with almost no modifications, other than popping down to a 10 from the suggested 10.5 needle, and reversing the direction of the decreases at the crown (I worked k2tog’s when instructed to ssk and ssk’s when instructed to k2tog). My reasons for that are completely arbitrary, other than that I liked the look of a more feathered decrease scheme on this particular piece rather than the bolder, relief-like one used in the pattern.

Montera Hat (in Pastaza)

I like this lace repeat because it has yarn overs worked on every row, rather than having a free round of knitting between every patterned round, which makes for a nice open fabric, and a more dynamic look to the size of the yarn overs. But then again, I’m a major lace nerd, so I like these things.

Montera Hat (in Pastaza)

It’s back, more or less, to business-as-usual (running around like a chicken with a severed head), and part of me has to admit that I’m glad. I was starting to miss all of my yarn. Even though I may not be using it all… it’s nice to know it’s right there in the next room. JUST in case.


As I said before, it’s kinda like the perfect project for people who love swatching, since that’s basically what it is. Introducing my Lace Swatch on Steroids.

Merino Chunky Throw
 

Pattern: Lacy Chunky Throw by Wenlan Chia
Source: Classic Elite WebLetter #63
Materials: Twinkle “Soft Chunky”; 7 skeins in “Mink”
Needles: 42″ Circulars in size US 17 (Broomsticks!)
Dimensions: appox. 54″ x 40″

Started: November 2008
Finished: December 2008


Merino Chunky Throw

I just realized that, with the exception of a few last minute Christmas hats, this beast rounds out my finished work for 2008. And let me take this opportunity to wish you all a happy new year – I think 2009 is going to be a good one.

Merino Chunky Throw

This was intended to be a quick knit to beef up the winter home lineup, since it’s been a cold one this year (which I love!) – and it was relatively quick, although not as quick as I had planned because knitting with broomsticks is a bit hard on the hands after a while. Speaking of broomsticks, the pattern calls for size 19 circulars, which I don’t have, so I just used my 17′s. I figured I’d knit a bit looser anyway, given the circumstances with this gigantic yarn.

Merino Chunky Throw

I had one extra skein of yarn than the pattern required (I had 7, the pattern requests 6), so I cast on 80 stitchess rather than the 76 called for. With a few added stitches, an extra skein and slightly smaller needles, my finished blanket came out just slightly bigger than the projected dimensions. Big enough to get under comfortably, but not huge – which is a good thing, cause it’s on the heavier side, despite the very open lacework (yarn overs every other stitch, every row).

Merino Chunky Throw

I really love the color – it’s almost silvery in the way it catches light. The yarn is super bulky, short stapled, and has a low-twist which means it fuzzes a lot…. but it’s so soft that I just didn’t even care. Yarn this thick becomes truly sculptural, which I enjoy profusely, so all in all, I’m very happy with how it turned out.

Merino Chunky Throw

The pattern is free, so if you happen to have a bunch of this yarn lying around, it could be just the thing. I think blankets and throws rather than garments are better suited to super-bulky yarns personally, but I’m easily suffocated in excessively heavy sweaters.

Merino Chunky Throw

I hope you’re all recovering well from the holiday period. I’m taking a much needed respite in chilly Portland, OR this week and reorganizing my life after a crazy couple of months. Enjoy the new year we’ve been given and as always, keep knitting!

PS Just cause I know some of you will be wondering – the sweater in the photos isn’t handknit. It’s just a reeeaally good thrift store find! Huzzah!

I’m so happy to finally be able to share this project with you all – I’ve been starry eyed for it for months, but didn’t want to feature it here until the pattern was all set with t’s crossed and i’s dotted. She’s all set now, though – and just in time for wintry knitting!

Girasole

May I introduce my new favorite thing to have on my person at all times. In fact, I knit this in August while I was in the PNW (summer knitting is bearable there), but only recently, since the cold weather has hit us hard have I been getting to indulge myself. You’ll see two versions shown here – the Blanket version (Yellow) is worked in an aran weight Wool/Llama blend (Cascade Pastaza) and the Shawl Version (Light Brown) is worked in fingering weight Shetland wool (Jamieson’s Spindrift)(Swoon). They’re both fantastic and so very different.

Girasole (Shawl Version)

I’m consistently fascinated by how incredibly important yarn choices are when we knit, and how, especially with lace, a project can completely change in nature solely based on yarn construction, weight and fiber. My goal here was to provide a pattern that could have flexible function – if you want a big woolly throw to keep you warm this winter – you got it. If you want a more traditional, Shetland lace shawl – light as a feather and shockingly toasty – you can have that too!

Girasole

The pattern is worked in the round with a traditional circular shawl construction – started in the center and increasing outward towards the edges as you work. A circular cast-on is recommended but not required – and if you’ve never tried one, I highly recommend it. You’ll never go back! [Great tutorials here and here] My favorite thing about circular shawls is, as you may have guessed, absolutely no purling(!) – and this one is no exception. Also, every other round is plain knitting, so essentially half of the knitting is mindless stockinette, and that’s always a plus in my book.

Girasole (Shawl Version)

The pattern utilizes a knitted-on edging to finish off. Because elasticity is a prized quality in lace, any and all bind-offs should be avoided like the plague. Knitted-on edgings are a completely wonderful solution to this problem – not only are they equally elastic as the rest of your knitting, but they look great and add an interesting contrasting element (worked perpendicular to the rest of the shawl) to any design.

Girasole

For you first time Knitted-On-Edgers, this is how it works: when you’ve reached the last official round of the center section of the shawl, you will no longer be working in the round. With the working yarn you cast on directly the number of sts for your edging (in this case 4) and begin working back and forth on those stitches in the edging pattern, joining the edging to your live shawl sts around the circumference as you go. It’s a fascinating technique and a whoooole lot of fun. Read more about circular shawl construction + edgings here [Thanks, as always to Eunny for these exhaustively thorough, wonderful lace compendiums].

Girasole (Shawl Version)

As with many of my other patterns, the bulk of the motifs are charted (I’m a chart freak, what can I say.) If you’re new to knitting from charts, or want to brush up your skills here is a wonderful tutorial with lots of visual aids that I find very helpful. The pattern includes yardage/dimension/gauge information for both weights listed above, but I always encourage creative yarn choices and love to see how patterns play out with different yarns. Gauge in stockinette for the blanket version is approx 4 stitches per inch, and 6 stitches per inch for the shawl version. As always, though, gauge in lace is variable and should always be determined by your personal preference for the finished fabric.

The pattern is available for 6.50 (USD) in my Ravelry Store, for Ravelry members, or through Paypal. Just follow the buttons below.

Girasole Preview
Purchase Via Ravelry Purchase Via Paypal

The Brooklyn Tweed Guarantee: As a self-publishing designer, I strongly feel that it is my responsibility to you to present a quality product free of errors that is pleasing both from an aesthetic and practical point of view. All patterns that are self-published here at Brooklyn Tweed have been test knit by multiple knitters using various manufactured yarns to ensure the most pleasurable and intuitive knitting experience. I have personally prepared all diagrams and charts as well as knit/photographed samples and designed pattern layouts – soliciting the opinions of knitters prior to publication in an effort to streamline this product. I have done my very best to bring you a pattern that I am proud to stand behind fully. I do my best to respond to concerns or comments as soon as possible and, as always, thank you for your support and encouragement. Happy knitting! -Jared

This season’s second hat is quite different from the first, but a fun knit nonetheless and an interesting shape and silhouette to spice up any handknit hat collection. Porom is a shapely hat worked in Shetland wool. The simple, elegant lace repeat and healthy dose of slouch make it a great Fall accessory.

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The hat is worked with approximately 190 yards of DK-weight shetland wool. This sample was knit with Jamieon’s Double Knitting (the 3-ply version of the ever-popular Spindrift) and I highly recommend it as the ideal yarn match for this particular design. Shetland is light and warm and hard to beat where woolie lace is concerned.

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The simple lace rib repeat makes for an intuitive knit, while still yielding an elegant and subtle texture with a great, light-weight drape. Shaping at brim and crown is integrated into the stitch pattern to avoid any unsightly visual hiccups.

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I’m really happy with how this project came out – the undyed wool and the stitch pattern made a texture I really like, despite it’s simplicity. It reminds me of coral or a bleached sea-urchin’s hollowed shell. The woolen-spun yarn traps air and is a super insulator, despite all those eyelets.

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A quick note about yarn choices – DK weight yarns come in a lot of shapes and sizes with a relatively wide weight-shift within their specific classification. Some DK weight yarns are slightly heavier and generally have a gauge of about 20 sts to 4 inches (Rowan Scottish Tweed DK is an example of this) – these slightly heavier DK weight wools are not recommended for this pattern. Gauge for this pattern is set at 22 sts to 4 inches and I highly recommend something on the lighter side of the DK spectrum for best results. Lightly spun yarns and animal fibers with great drape would look particularly nice. As a reference for stashbustersJamieson’s Double Knitting is a woolen-spun 3-ply yarn.

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The pattern is available as a PDF download and priced at $4.75. You can obtain this pattern in one of two ways – if you are a Ravelry member, Porom is available in my Pattern Store as a Ravelry Download. The pattern is also available directly through PayPal for non-ravelry members or for those who prefer to go that route in general. A preview of the PDF layout can be seen below, with buttons to both methods of download following. Pattern instructions for lace motifs are charted.

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A short disclaimer: As a self-publishing designer, I strongly feel that it is my responsibility to you to present a quality product free of errors that is pleasing both from an aesthetic and practical point of view. All patterns that are self-published here at Brooklyn Tweed have been test knit by multiple knitters using various manufactured yarns to ensure the most pleasurable and intuitive knitting experience. I have personally prepared all diagrams and charts as well as knit/photographed samples and designed pattern layouts – soliciting the opinions of knitters prior to publication in an effort to streamline this product. I have done my very best to bring you a pattern that I am proud to stand behind fully. I do my best to respond to concerns or comments as soon as possible and, as always, thank you for your support and encouragement. Happy knitting! -Jared

My knitting and I have been enjoying a long-overdue reunion over the last few days. Really, it’s more like a second honeymoon. I’ve been an absolute glutton with my wool and needles , choosing knitting over literally anything else (friends, laundry, eating… nothing is safe!).

I was doing so well taking care of languishing projects and cleaning up loose ends. I thought my annual spring cleaning of stash would help me get a realistic perspective on both current and future knitting, while giving me the sense and control to conjure a game-plan for finishing WIPs. Wrong. Quite the opposite happened, in fact. I uncovered many long-forgotten stash jewels, falling prey to many a fiber spell. I must have blacked out for an afternoon, because when I woke up I was surrounded by multiple new projects. I blame Ravelry. I always blame Ravelry.

I wasn’t even sure where to begin with blogging, there’s so much going on all of a sudden. And, I actually have time to tell you about it. I think I’ll take the haphazard route of random-project-photo-flashing?

The Garter Stitch Love Fest never stops around here. I’m still chipping away at the big afghan.

Halfway (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

I had to send for more yarn – this thing is a true beast of wool. This is EZ’s Garter Stitch Afghan from The Opinionated Knitter – pictured is half of the finished product, seamed together. The pattern is worked in 4 pieces. I’m about a quarter of the way through the fourth and final piece. With chunky yarn held double, I’ll be hard pressed to find a warmer blanket than this come winter time.

As for sweater knitting…

Texture Whore (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

I’m still plugging away on Na Craga, although it is truly slow going. Really, that’s no problem – it’s rare that I tire from having so much righteous cabel-ry around. I’m ready to start the sleeves, which caused a temporary pause in the process, allowing for a few new projects to wedge their way in. Projects that don’t require sleeves.

Striped Vest (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

When Vests Attack. I’ve never been much of a vest fan, but as has happened so many times before, knitting has slowly worn down yet another of my garment prejudices. The other day, I had an all-consuming urge to knit a vest. No idea where it came from, but when the knitting muse comes a-calling, I try not to stand in her way.

The vest sort of fell into place on it’s own. I had just finished spinning a bunch of Adrian‘s beautiful shetland and it was really burning a hole in my stash. I had more than enough for a smaller project, but not enough for a garment.

Low Country Cakes (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Mere days before, my sister-in-law sent me a thrifted wool tweed sweater from Ireland that she picked up in Portland for a whopping two dollars. As I was harvesting all that glorious Irish wool, I realized the weight was just the same as my shetland handspun. The vest bug bit and everything became dizzyingly clear…

I’m winging the pattern, knitting it in the round with steeked armholes and v-neck opening. And can’t put it down. I’m having a blast. You’ll see more soon.

Also, lace:

Smoke Ring (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

I ran across a discreet skein of fingering weight merino/tencel from Dave at Cabin Cove and started knitting this smoke ring almost immediately, which I find terribly beautiful. It’s the Flared Lace Smoke Ring from the folks at Heartstrings Fiber Arts and I’m loving every stitch.

Smokey (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The craziest thing is there are MORE projects. They’re everywhere. It’s a true case of knitting schizophrenia. I’m all over the place, and while this type of knitting behavior usually puts me on edge, lately I’m thrilled by it.

More soon. Very soon. (I’m neglecting my knitting)

Thank you so very much for all your comments on the Pi Shawl Blanket – it really is a special pattern and a very special knit to have around. I highly recommend giving it a shot with any yarn you have lying around – it’s very versatile. There were a number of questions that I received via e-mail about the shawl (mostly about the yarn and blocking) that I’ve done my best to answer at the conclusion of this post. I hope they are helpful!

And since we’re already in a lacey state of mind, I figure I’d exploit this opportunity to introduce a finished project that has been waiting for a little blog coverage for months. If you’ve followed my knitting for any length of time, you know I prefer knitting lace in thicker weight wools – I think the beautiful stitch work combined with something a little more heavy duty is a winning combination and I always seem to come back to it. My second swallowtail is no exception.

Swallowtail Shawl 2.0
 

Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn Clark [Ravelry]
Source: Interweave Knits Fall 2006
Materials: Queensland Collection Uruguay DK (70 ex.fine merino, 20 alpaca, 10 silk) [Ravelry]
Amount: about 4.5 skeins (approx. 225 grams/560 yards) in “Mint” (#10)
Needles: US7/4.5mm Addi Turbo 32″ Circulars

Started: April 2007
Finished: May 2007
Blocked: August 2007
Gifted: December 2007 (Phew!)

 

Blocked

The color in this photo is the least accurate – a touch too green. The other photos are more true to actual color


This is a wonderful pattern and quite a popular one. I knit my first one in October ’06 with lace weight and ever since wondered how those lacey bobbles would look in a dk weight. Of the two I think I prefer the thicker one, but they’re both beautiful and have their own unique charms.

Thicker yarns give a great stitch definition but don’t have as good a blocking memory as lace. I see this as an added advantage because it makes them that much more thick and snuggly. I’ll often add a couple repeats in the lace pattern if possible when working with thicker yarns to compensate for this.

Folded

The yarn is wonderful – I snatched it up from a WEBS sale last year and had a great time working with it. It’s not the wooliest of wools but it’s got a bouncy, soft feel and a light sheen because of the silk that provides both elegance and warmth.

This was gifted in December an I’m happy it’s getting some wear now that the daily temps here in New York are in the low 30′s.

Pi Shawl Queries: A few additional details about my Pi Shawl to answer e-mails I’ve received.

First, more specifics about the color of the wool. I received this yarn as a gift from a friend in Iceland. She purchased the yarn there in person. Schoolhouse Press does sell this yarn, but in a limited palette – which I should have mentioned earlier – and does not currently carry the color that I used.

The color of my wool is titled Sea Green Heather and listed as product #1422 on the Istex official color card – viewable here. You’ll notice they have a lot of wonderful colors! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In researching, we think that the best bet for possibly acquiring this yarn by mail order would be the Handknitting Association of Iceland, but can’t say for sure. All of their contact information is available behind the link. NOTE: it seems that the colorcard listed on their site is an older version and sites Sea Green Heather as #9736.

Blocking: Yes, blocking was quite a challenge in our hardwood-floored, tiny apartment. I was hoping to be able to block the shawl on the queen-sized bed but realized very soon that this would not be possible. After some creative brainstorming, we tried a rather unconventional but nonetheless effective way of blocking – involving the box spring. The picture says it all.

And finally – a few of you asked if I worked with the unspun Icelandic wool single stranded or held it double stranded. I worked single stranded.

I hope that helps – I’ll add this information as a post-script in the original post so everything is in one place. Happy knitting!

I know I said that I would be sharing small, Christmas knits with you first… but I finished this last week and have been too excited to keep it under wraps any longer. Of all my knitting projects, this one has got to be up there in my all-time favorites (despite it being my own personal Everest for the last three months). So good in fact, it’s keeping me warm while I write – it’s cold out there!

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)
 

Pattern: The Pi Shawl by Elizabeth Zimmermann (on ravelry)
Source: Knitter’s Almanac (July)
Materials: Ístex Plötulopi Unspun Icelandic Wool; just uner 6 wheels (1800 yards)*
Needles: 36-Inch US 8/5.0 mm Addi Turbo Circulars
Dimensions: 78″ diameter after blocking; 64″ diameter unblocked
*See bottom of post for additional details on yarn and blocking

Start Date: 19 October 2007
Finish Date: 9 January 2008

 

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Notes on the pattern: Of all the many genius ideas of Elizabeth’s, to me, the Pi Shawl is one of the most mind-blowing. If you aren’t familiar with the pattern I urge you to read it, for the pure enjoyment of how clever it is in all its glorious simplicity. Worked from the center out, the entire piece has no more than 6 (or 7 in my case) increase rounds total – meaning 99% of this shawl is straight knitting (save whatever lacey embellishments you’d like to incorporate) which gets major points in my book.

The other beautiful thing about the Pi Shawl is its endless potential for individuality. Spend a little time trolling the web for completed Pi Shawls (there are hundreds) and you’ll see what I mean. The beauty of the pattern is it’s blank-canvas-like nature – consecutive rings of set stitch counts (144, 288, 576, etc.) which just beg you to plug in any old lace motif that’s giving you an itch.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

If you aren’t feeling all that creative, or have your heart set on one of the versions EZ suggests (like I did) – that’s just fine too. There are two beauties already laid out for you in both Knitter’s Almanac and Knitting Workshop. I have always loved the straight forward and classic beauty of the ‘consecutive YO ring’ version and knew that I wanted to give it a go. This is basically a stockinette circular shawl with a *YO, k2tog* round thrown in every 6th row. I love how these “sham rows” completely camouflage the actual organic increase rounds. The shaping is invisible in the entourage of lace rings. So great!

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Elizabeth talks about how there is never a need to increase beyond the 576 stitch section, as the shawl will already be nice and big (she says something about not having a need to cover a football field?). I had a lot of yarn though, and really wanted to see how far I could push this, with the ultimate goal of having a big blanket for the couch. My calculations showed that I would have enough wool for about 22 rows into the 1152 stitch section (oh the horror), plus an attached (9-stitch) garter side-to-side edging.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The most miraculous part of the whole process is probably that I was able to keep a treacherous number of stitches on a 36″ circular needle. It got a little rough on my hands towards the end, but when that frantic finishing fever comes over you just about nothing can stand in your way, right? Having a huge round of knitting on a circular needle also makes it impossible to predict just how big the piece will be. Before working the edging, you have nothing more than a big rumpled sack of holey wool sitting in your lap that looks more like an oversized rasta cap than a lace blanket. Some days it took all my control to keep from bucking my calculations and indulging in the bind-off, just to be able to free the lace from the needles.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The edging of the shawl is the only section that got a little bit of fancy lace (not that fancy, but relatively). I think a little hint of laciness around the edge makes the simpler ring pattern really shine. After my final increase round I switched into a gull stitch pattern and worked 5 vertical repeats around before starting the attached garter stitch edging aaaaall the way around.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Some notes on yarn: Unspun Icelandic is a wonderful, wonderful thing. If you’re a fan of wooly things, you must get your hands on some (I received mine as a gift from a friend in Iceland, but you can purchase it online through Schoolhouse Press). Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a yarn you’re gonna want around your neck – it’s a far cry from merino – but it has its own unique qualities that I could go on and on about. First of all, because it’s an unspun, long-stapled wool, it’s as light as air and very warm. Even in a thin piece of lace full of holes, it works surprisingly well at trapping warmth. The blanket is huge and light and toasty -exactly the combination I was looking for. The other benefit is the yardage. Each wheel seems to go on and on and on – I made a blanket that covers a queen sized bed with less than 6 wheels of the stuff (it’s about 300 yards to 3.5 oz) on a US 8.

And if you fear knitting with something so “delicate”, you can get rid of that idea straight away. The wool staple is longer than the distance between your needle and your fingers, so while knitting it feels just like any other yarn, and if it does break coming out of the skein (rarely happened, unaided by dogs or human feet) it’s no problem. The yarn sticks to itself like velcro – so to join a break just overlap about 2 inches on each end and knit right past it. That’s the other bonus – no ends to weave in, and no spit splicing necessary. It’s like knitting an 1800 yard cone – carefree and seamless. And to dispell any rumours, the knitted fabric is just as strong as any other yarn out there on the market.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)
I guess this counts as my first official finished knit of 2008. It’s already taken some serious self-control to keep myself from purchasing more of this wool (the natural colors are amazing) and cast on for another. It became an immediate crowd-pleaser in my home, so another one might not be such a bad idea.

Edited to Add: The following information has been added to the post in response to questions I’ve received via e-mail about this project. I hope they are helpful.

First, more specifics about the color of the wool. I received this yarn as a gift from a friend in Iceland. She purchased the yarn there in person. Schoolhouse Press does sell this yarn, but in a limited palette – which I should have mentioned earlier – and does not currently carry the color that I used.

The color of my wool is titled Sea Green Heather and listed as product #1422 on the Istex official color card – viewable here. You’ll notice they have a lot of wonderful colors! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In researching, we think that the best bet for possibly acquiring this yarn by mail order would be the Handknitting Association of Iceland, but can’t say for sure. All of their contact information is available behind the link. NOTE: it seems that the colorcard listed on their site is an older version and sites Sea Green Heather as #9736.

Blocking: Yes, blocking was quite a challenge in our hardwood-floored, tiny apartment. I was hoping to be able to block the shawl on the queen-sized bed but realized very soon that this would not be possible. After some creative brainstorming, we tried a rather unconventional but nonetheless effective way of blocking – involving the box spring. The picture says it all.

And finally – a few of you asked if I worked with the unspun Icelandic wool single stranded or held it double stranded. I worked single stranded.