Sunday, April 29, 2007

Celtic Knot Project Installment #4

Hearts and Loops

I knitted up three separate panels containing hears and left and right facing loop knots in this swatch. The central panel was illustrated in Sheila Sturrock's Celtic Knotwork Handbook, and I made panels of only left facing and right facing loop knots to go with it. They would be nice for symmetry purposes, on the right and left sides of a garment, for example. The central panel would be nice as a stand-alone panel, or put all three together - it's up to you! The chart is below: The chart is below:

Notes on the charts:

-To knit the hearts with right facing loop knots (on the left of the swatch), start with the set-up rows a.k.a. the upoward facing hearts, rows O1-O18, knit rows 1-22 twice, and then knit the finish rows a.k.a. the downward facing hearts, rows F1-F16.
-To knit the hearts with left facing loop knots (on the right of the swatch), follow the instructions above, but use the other chart.
-To knit the hearts with alternate left and right facing loop knots, start with the set-up rows for the hearts (they are the same for both charts), knit rows 1-22 once of the left facing chart, then knit rows 1-22 once of the right facing chart, then finish with the finishing rows, they are identical in both charts.
Also note that you can knit rows 1-22 as many times as you like, and the set-up and finishing heats can be omitted if you prefer.



I know it's practically summer (over here anyways), but I finally figured out what to do with some gorgeous yarn that's been sitting in the stash for too long.
It's Lorna's Laces Bullfrogs and Butterflies in the Black Purl colorway. I originally wanted it to be a lacy and cabled cardigan from the Holiday 2005 issue of Vogue Knitting, but I just couldn't get gauge. So I shoved it into the stash, and thought about it from time to time... 'could I get gauge today?' was the thought always running trough my head. Well, I give up on that idea (do I really want a cardigan with a worsted/aran weight yarn knitted on US11 needles? ) when I saw this ad in the Holiday 2006 issue of Vogue Knitting.
Click on it to make it bigger - that cardi is BEAUTIFUL and well suited towards handpaints because Alchemy Yarns of Transformation make beautiful handpainted yarns. [Sidenote - I don't think scanning a magazine ad is copyright infringement, because I included all the info in the ad, and, well, it's an ad. It's meant to get people interested in their product and I'm posting it for free. If I'm wrong, let me know and I'll remove it.] So I checked out the company's website (not having written down the name of the pattern) and I couldn't find it! Later, with the ad in front of me, I found it. I did not recognize it (the Naturalist) because the picture on the pattern was crap. Look at it on their website, or here. Click on the link for the Naturalist Cardigan and you'll get a bigger picture.

Same cardigan, same yarn, but it looks totally sloppy and unsophisticated in the picture! Why did they do that? I wouldn't buy the pattern, looking at THAT picture!! To be sure about the style I googled it and came up with a non-modelled picture form the designer's website. Here's the flickr picture. Again, it looks clean and sopisticated. So I'm going for it, but with only 2 inches of ease, and not the 4 or 6 modelled above. Even the sleeves look too big on her! Now I'm using a different yarn at a different gauge so I'll make it up myself, but this isn't IP theft, because frankly, no one can own the idea for a raglan sweater with waist shaping and seed stitch hems, collars, cuffs and buttonbands, and I may make it a v-neck. It looks sort of like a v-neck in the ad, because the top buttons are undone, and the scarf obscures the neckline, but I think I like it better anyways. But I won't cast on until the fall, so that's all for now.

I've gotten pretty far on the lace and cables capelet:
I knitted an applied i-cord on the right side, and have started on the collar. the number of stitches increases rather quickly, so it will be wider the area decreased by the v-neck shaping. I hope it looks okay, because I'm thinking about using a similar style of collar on an original project, and I have a lot to learn about collars, and finishing techniques in general. So I'm going to knit as the instructions indicate and hope that it all works out in the end. Note that I added the i-cord to tie in the black yarn with the red handpaint, it's not in the instructions. I'm thrilled about the placemet of the double decreases in the pattern, because it makes the capelet shoulder-shaped! Cool!


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Can we say procrastination?

I'm still plugging away at the lace and cables capelet, but it's so darned big, and the cables are kind of boring, so I've been seriously procrastinating. I put the mystery project on hold, and I'm halfway through swatching the next Celtic Knot Project installment. And I'm working on a top secret project, i.e. one I want to submit to an online knitting magazine in the future, so I can't blog about it in any detail, but the sleeves are p*ss*ng me off, so I'll probably have to recalculate and frog. Bah. So instead I'm procrastinating by planning future projects. I got row gauge (but not stitch gauge) for Delenn's gift using the Rowan 4ply cotton that just arrived in the mail, but that's really all I get to say because it's a gift. Oh, and I'll have to do some math, oh well. Thank goodness for fiber insurance! I learned my lesson with Menja.

I'm also planning what to do with some GOEGEOUS Hand Maiden 4 ply Silk Cashmere Delenn gave me for Christmas. Really, you're too kind! 340 meters of this beautiful handpaint.
I figure the best purpose for it is... surprise surprise... a lace shawl, specifically the Shetland Triangle Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark from Wrap Style. Take a peek at brooklyntweed's version - I must have it, and have been gifted with a georgeous yarn that should work with it. I like the way handpaints undulate with this style of wavy lave patterns. And two of my favourite colors together - Delenn you know me too well!

Now yardage may be a problem... I like my shawls as big as possible, and the beauty of this style of top-down shawl pattern is that you just keep on going till you are happy with the size... so I have decided that if I run out I can pair it with some Schachenmayr Nomotto DK weight Alpaka that has been sitting in the stash since the winter. Here they are nestled together.
I think it'll work! I can only cast on for this once I have finished that darned lace and cables capelet! Can we say finishitis? Well, back to the seminar I have to give tomorrow! Eeep!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Spring knitting

The local stitch and bitch held another knit exchange yesterday evening. The theme was spring colours and cables, and as usual there were some neat projects. I got a pretty felted clutch, which I'll photograph later.

For my contribution, it was a bit of a challenge to find non-garment, gender-neutral item to make.

The pattern is my own, which is basically a 13in x 13in square for the front and two rectangles for the back: one was 13in x 8in and the other 13in x 6in, each finished with a 2 stitch i-cord bind off. The back pieces overlap to make an opening for a 12in x 12in pillow form.

I used 100g of Araucania Nature Wool from Piper's Quilts knit on US 6 (4.2mm) needles. The stitches used are Moss stitch, Wheat Ear Rib from Barbara Walker's treasuries and Celtic Vine from Encyclopedia of Knitting. While knitting, I noticed that Wheat Ear rib has an interesting reverse side.

A few notes about Nature Wool: the manufacturer's suggested gauge of 4.5 stitches per inch is too loose for this yarn in most applications, washing caused a lot of colour bleeding and it pills considerably with friction. On the other hand, the variegated colours are beautiful and managed not to pool, and the final fabric is fairly soft.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Groan! It's another one...

You scored as Rupert Giles. You're very wise.
Though you've only recently begun thinking about yourself,
you're always there to help. Everyone around you holds you
in high regard. You've always pulled through.

Willow Rosenberg


Rupert Giles


Dawn Summers


Tara Maclay


Buffy Summers


Xander Harris






Which Buffy The Vampire Slayer Character Are You Most Like!?
created with
Yes, I took another online quiz, but I'm thinking of joining a Buffy KAL, so it's appropriate.
Now in honor of Willow (who I nearly got chosen as, which you can see on my scorecard), I summon Hacate to banish that awful petrol green yarn which is way too splitty and won't knit to pattern gauge! Begone! I call upon The Powers to bring me in the mail some nice non-splitty and slightly thicker Rowan 4ply Cotton (sorry Delenn, mystery color!) and that I won't have to do too much math to get the stuff to work in my pattern choice!


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Celtic Knot Project Installment #3

Right and Left Facing Hearts on a Wide Rib Panel

Here's the swatch.

I quite like this one, I think it would make nice panels on the sides of a sweater knitted in a fingering weight yarn so they're not so wide, or together as a center panel. On the left is the right facing heart panel, and on the right is the left facing heart panel. The right facing heart was charted from Sheila Sturrock's Celtic Knotwork Handbook, from a panel on page 28, chapter 3 panel number 2. To satisfy my deep-seated need for symmetry, I charted an opposite-facing panel as well. This sample was knitted in Wolle Roedel Soft Merino, and the charts are presented separately. Immediately below is the chart for the right facing heart panel,
and here is the chart for the left facing heart panel.

Refer to the legend link at the upper left (under the Celtic Knot Project sidebar item) to figure out what these symbols mean. Now for a few words on the charts:
1. These panels start as 18 stitches wide, grow to be 26 stitches wide with the increases on set up rows o1 and o3 and repeat rows 1 and 3, then narrow to 18 stitches with the decreases on repeat rows 19 and 20, and finishing rows F23 and F24.
2. Rows o1-04 are set up rows. Knit them once, continue through the pattern repeat rows 1-24 as many times as you like, but on the last repeat finish with rows F23 and F24 instead of 23 and 24.
3. The swatch above was made by placing the charts for the right and left facing heart panels side by side. I knit rows o1-o4 once, rows 1-24 once, rows 1-22 once, and rows F23 and F24 once.

Have fun swatching!


Current event snippet of the week...

My husband brought my attention to a story on Slate about the arrest of a six-year old in Florida for throwing a temper tantrum in class. When the police showed up, they also charged her with resisting arrest for crawling under a desk. This kid ended up being charged with 2 misdemeanors and a felony. And she's six. Six !!! It's crazy! At first I thought that this was one of those weird isolated incidents that could only happen in some parts of the USA, but after mulling it over, I googled 'arrest of six year old', and I hit multiple links to stories of arrested schoolchildren for doing kid things i.e. not murder or carrying a weapon or drug possession or anything serious along those lines. I found a story about a 7-year old boy arrested for leaning against his dirt bike on a city street (in a region where it's illegal to ride a dirt bike on a city street). I also found a story about a 12-year old girl arrested for eating a french fry on a public transport system, and another two about the arrest of a 5-year old and a 6-year old. Now I don't want to be preachy, but I think that something is seriously wrong with a society when this sort of thing happens. But what exacly is wrong is harder to nail down. Are children getting "worse"? Are parents not spending enough time with their children? Are schoolteachers lacking child management skills? Is it racial discrimination or a result of the ever-growing rift between rich and poor? These are not easy questions and have no easy answers... so here's some food for thought: a report on 'under 12 under arrest' and 'what's in a name'.

Now I'm getting off the soapbox and showing off some yarn...
This is Wolle Roedel Diamant, a fingering weight cotton, and the intended purpose for this stuff is a gift for Delenn, and she already checked out the colors on the yarn shop's website.
Hey Delenn, if you're having second thoughts about the color let me know, because I bought only one ball for swatching - the color is petrol green. I'm getting stitch gauge (on the 2 inches of my 4-inch swatch) but not row gauge so I'll have to do some math. Yuck. It's a fingering weight cotton, and the winning needle size from the swatching is a 3 mm needle. This stuff is composed of 5 strands of mercerized and gassed cotton loosely spun together, so knitting with it is really annoying. It's like knitting with 5 yarns (very very skinny yarns) held together. And it's very slippery, so it dosen't like to stay in ball form. But, all drawbacks considered, my stockinette looks fantastic!
Nice even stitches... what more could I ask for?


Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Celtic Knot Project installment #2

Two Hearts Facing Inwards
This panel was charted from Sheila Sturrock's Celtic Knotwork Handbook, from an illustrated variation of panel 4 from chapter 3, page 29. I have seen hearts connected on twisted cables before, like in the sleeve and side panels of Cromarty (see a lovely example here) from the Celtic Collection by Alice Starmore, but this one is unusual because the hearts face the other way and the cables swing out a bit before coming in again. And I think the increase technique I used is nicer because the heart-shaped knots are more angular, and dosen't pucker the fabric. Here's the swatch.

I only knitted one repeat, but you get the picture. The swatch was knitted from Wolle Roedel Soft Merino, an aran weight superwash merino yarn that is very soft and springy. Sorry, I think it's only available in Germany. Now here's the chart:

A few words are in order before you start knitting it up.
-Rows O1-O4 are set-up rows. Only knit them once, continue the chart as far as you desire, and when you are ready to finish the panel, instead of knitting rows 35 and 36, finish with rows F35 and F36.

-I had to put cable crossings across the no-stitch symbol on rows 3 and 31. I know it's a bit ugly, but it works the same as if those black squares were not on the chart at all. When you get to the black squares just keep on going. To be absolutely explicit, as an example, say you are starting row 3. Purl 8 stitches, slip 2 purl stitches to your cable needle and hold to the back, knit 2, purl 2 from the cable needle. Purl 4, slip 2 knit stitches to your cable needle and hold in front. Purl 2, then knit 2 from the cable needle. Purl 6. There, you're done row 3! Wasn't that easy?

-If you look closely at the swatch, you'll notice that the stitches immediately after the 4 stitch increases at the bottom (rows O1-O4) are crossed, and the stitches immediately before the decreases at the top (rows F35 and F36) are crossed. This is how the panel was illustrated in the book, and how I originally charted and knitted it, but I didn't really like it that way. Instead I charted it as a cable cross between repeats only. If you are willing to trust me on this, follow the chart as written. If not, knit rows 35 and 36 before row 1, and before rows F35 and F36, and you will end up with what I swatched.

Spring is finally here... capelet season is rapidly approaching! I pulled the Lace and Cables Capelet (from VK Holiday 2006) out of my UFOs basket, and started knitting the cables chart of the piece. Here's
a pic of the progress so far...
I think it's enormously wide, and not very long, but I suppose blocking will rectify that. And I'm liking the way the black Rowan Yorkshire Tweed looks with the mystery handpaint, so I resisted the urge to pick up 2 more hanks at the Easter Market. The burgundy flecks in the tweed pull it all together, so all's good, I hope. Here's a bad detail shot.
Now I'll probably put away the sweater knitting soon, and concentrate exclusively on lace for the summer months, so I have to balance the easy and hard lace projects, as well as the lace gift
(that will be unexpected by the recipient) and other knitted gifts. Woof! Too much! Must decrease the stash!


Friday, April 06, 2007

Inevitability, Ivanova style

Yes, I know it's tax time. Unlike Thrace, I procrastinated looking at the million and one tax forms for working out which country I owe what to, by breaking the yarn diet like I threatened to on the weekend. And I used my 'get out of jail free' card for 2 yarn purchases. Oh well, I guess that means I am a very bad girl. But, I am working my way through the stash, so I am not such a bad girl after all. Here are some photos of what I got...
This is what I got at the Easter Market, after I swatched it and determined it is NOT a sport weight like the vendor insisted, but a heavy DK or light worsted, probably a decent substitute for Lavold Silky wool, considering the quantity of her pattern books I own. It's natural, undyed, domestically grown and spun merino wool, and I think the blue-gray shade is fantastic. The vendor's web site can be found here if any of you want to look at her stuff, but all the descriptions are in German. Well, at least you can see what I have to look forward to next seasonal/holiday market!

I also went to the fancy LYS that sells Lana Grossa, GGH and Lang Yarns, and got some of this:
It's fuzzy, soft and gray as the photo indicates. It's Mohair Luxe from Lang, which is the closest substitute for Rowan Kid Silk Haze I've seen so far in this country. Now I've never taken a close enough look at how KSH is spun (because it's so bloody expensive if you're not in England), but I have looked at some substitutes, both low and high end. I made the Cobweb Shawl from MagKnits out of Crystal Palace Kid Merino, which is a very reasonably priced KSH substitute, but it has no silk so the price makes sense (less than half the price at my former LYS). It's spun with a fuzzy strand wrapped around a non-fuzzy core, and I found it split very easily which drove me crazy. Later on, I tried Madil Kid Seta, which I think would cost the same as KSH when you factor in overseas shipping costs and importing fees, and is an okay price for three balls considering it has the same fiber content as KSH. Have you ever noticed that patterns which use KSH rarely call for more than 3 balls of KSH? I guess even designers notice how expensive it is if you don't live in England, anyways I'm digressing. The MKS was a two-ply with a fuzzy mohair ply wrapped around a silk core. It split a lot and drove me crazy too. Thrace will have to report on how she found knitting with my leftovers, but this is the reason I parted with
that left over ball so easily. Now this stuff - the Mohair Luxe - is a two ply, but both plies are fuzzy, so maybe it won't split like the others. I'll let you all know once I get to knitting with it.

Now what are these fabulous gray yarns destined to become? I think the Mohair Luxe will become this (see another version here) or this (see another version here), or something from Victorian Lace Today. Indecisive much? The merino will become an originally designed sweater, most likely incorporating celtic knot stitch patterns (made up by me), which will make the pattern shareable. I'm still waiting for the details to mesh in my head, but I want something with feminine shaping, and not fussy, somewhat grown up and sophisticated that I can wear to work and not look like I visited Medieval Town and rolled a villager for her sweater on my way in. But, we'll see, won't we.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Waiting room knitting

It's time for another project spectrum photo, so this is a good time to show the waiting room mittens. I used a basic mitten pattern and leftover yarn.

Basic wool mittens
Originally uploaded by thraceknits.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Taxes: I don't mind paying my fair share, but WTF does the IRS and the CRA have to make the process so byzantine in it's complexity?

I've been putting off finalizing my returns by...

  1. Going out: here's a very blurry photo from last Thursday's TV on the Radio show.

  2. Knitting: the very best of procrastinating techniques.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Nothing to report on the knitting front...

Sigh. I was away for a week at a conference in a very old cute medieval town, so I was very busy and had no time to knit, except on the train. Instead of working on my two ufos, I instead cast on for a new project that should use up a decent chunk of the stash, and I got a fair amount done on the train, partially because of severe delays (German trains run on time? Hah!) but not as much done if I had been knitting at home every evening. And it's top secret, so I won't mention it again, except to maybe complain about a particular technique or yarn/needle related problem. This yarn had been hanging like a boat anchor around my neck (as my husband would say), and I'm so gad to have finally envisioned the *right* project for it, seeing as I couldn't get gauge for the intended project, and the recipient wasn't very enthusiastic (yes, it was for the husband, before we got married). So instead I will show some pictures of interesting stone and metal work that I found, some of which may be charted and knitted up into cables as part of the celtic knot project.

I found this in the catacombs of the BIG OLD cathedral. Yup, genuine celtic knots. The region was first settled by Celts, then the Romans came, and apparently the cathedral was built over an old roman site which was most likely celtic befor the the Romans booted them out. Nobody I was with noticed these, because they were at the top of two pillars which were otherwise unremarkable. The circle with lines crossing through motif (at the very top of the pillar) is definitely knittable, I'll just have to check that Lavold hasn't already done it.

This was some grillwork around the back of the same cathedral, and it looks contemporary to my intrained eye, but it's still very pretty. While the little swirls may not be knittable as a texture pattern, I think I may be able to do something with the intertwined hearts background.

I know this is a terrible picture (stupid sun being in the wrong place!), but I like the two separate flower motifs as well as the asymmetry. I could probably poach the flower design on the left to incorporate into a design or something....

This guy isin't knittable at all, but I like him anyways. I found him on the roof of a very old monastery (Roman, or built on a previously Roman site), and the tour book says the drew their inspiration for the statues on the front gate from "earlier Northern traditions" whatever that means. I think he's grinning like a cheshire cat, kind of like the way I was when I discovered the Easter Market when I got home this weekend. The Easter Market is pretty much the same as the Christmas Markey, yarn booth and all. So I'm using my 'get out of jail free' card. Now Thrace thinks I already used it buying two balls of Soft Merino to swatch the Celtic Knot patterns, but I disagree. The Celtic Knot Project is a gift that gives twice, first to all of you who choose to download and use these patterns. Cream wool shows texture patterns the best, and no one will use it if the swatches look crappy. Second, the swatches will all be sewn together when there are enough of them, and given to a friend for a very special occasion, so it really is a gift that gives twice, and I read the rules, gift knitting is okay to buy new yarn for.

The Christmas Market/Easter Market wool vendor has natural undyed merino at an absolutely fantastic price, and I was pricing out natural wool at various UK and American sources, this stuff is a fantastic deal. And it supports local yarn producers. So less guilt. I got one hank already to swatch, so there!