Sunday, May 27, 2018

Update on Lucy Boston Blocks

I've finished a few more Lucy Boston blocks since I introduced the project. My obsession continues and there's nothing I like to do more than design and sew these blocks.

Since I was able to add to my fabric options in May when I visited a quilt store in Ontario
 with my sister and mother,
my options were newer, more numerous, and even more exciting.
Here are the newly sewn blocks, starting with pink flamingos:
A purple and yellow spiral block:
Grey Fade Llamas:
My favourite:
(Since these aren't actually my children, I can pick favourites.)

A blue on blue spiral:
A blue ring:
Love birds:
And here are all the blocks done to date:
And yes, they will all be in one quilt. It'll work. Trust me.

I have almost a dozen more designed and being sewn, so I am frightfully close to having half the blocks done. (How did it get so big so fast? It seems like only yesterday it was just a tiny pair of honeycomb pieces in my hand...)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Look Up to the Stars

Look at me....I'm a star. Or rather, I'm wearing stars. The Celestarium shawl I started for the Ravellenic Games in February has been finished!

The basic structure follows the "pi shawl" formula popularized by Elizabeth Zimmermann. Simply put, every time the diameter of the shawl doubles, you double the number of stitches. Since knitting is stretchy and flexible, it works to make a circle.

That is why the shawl looks like it is made of concentric bands. Each time you double the stitches, they are close together and make a dark section. As you knit out to the end of that band, the stitches are more spread out and the shawl looks lighter.

When the knitting was done, I wasn't sure where I was going to have room to layout and block the shawl. I finally moved all the furniture in the living room to the edges and laid the mats in the middle.

Weaving some blocking wires through the eyelets at the edge made it easy to pin the shawl into shape.
I put the wires in and pinned it when it was dry and then drenched it with a spray bottle of water. Apparently you don't want to over-handle silk when it is wet because it is much weaker. But pinning when dry and then soaking it does the trick. The shawl took to the shape beautifully.

As I said previously, I went with a fancier border than the original pattern. Someone had published an alternative edge that they used on their shawl and I went ahead and used her pattern.
I noticed afterward that some people blocked peaks in the edging (giving the shawl a scalloped edge) but I think the round shape works fine. Maybe next time I'll try the scallop edge.
The shawl is knit from the center out, so the rows go around and around the shawl. When the center part is done, you cast on a few stitches for the edge and then work those rows perpendicular to the edge of the shawl. All the shawl stitches are still on the needle and every other row you knit one of those stitches with the last stitch of the edging row. In that way you incorporate all of the live stitches into the edging as you work around the whole edge of the shawl.

In addition to adding interest by changing the direction of the knitting, this also solves the problem of how to bind off the shawl stitches. Most conventional bind offs are not stretchy enough and prevent the shawl from flowing properly.
Here is the star chart from the pattern which marks all the stars included. I have not looked to see how it matches with the picture of  my shawl above so I very much doubt it is in the same orientation.

As you may recall, the shawl was knit in 100% silk. It is very drapey and heavy for how thin it is (compared to wool especially).
It's warm but doesn't have that "cozy" feeling that fuzzy wool gives.
How to wear this thing?
I could fold just a bit of the curve under and then wrap it around my shoulders, securing with a wood shawl pin.
I preferred it worn shifted to one side instead of perfectly centered.
From the back, you can see a good part of the star pattern.

I could also wear it gathered around my neck with the ends wrapped back to the front.
Or gathered around the neck, but with the ends pinned at the back of my neck because the ends are too wide and thick to be able to tie them.
This does run the risk of some discomfort if the pin moves wrong!

A couple places you are unlikely to find this shawl just hanging out:

Project Stats
: 10 Feb '18
Finished: 21 Apr '18
Pattern: Celestarium by Audry Nicklin and Stellar Wave Edging by Kimberlee Johnson.
Materials: Dk/worsted weight silk raveled from an Oscar de la Renta sweater, 300 grams. Many size 6 clear silver-lined crystal beads.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Wool-Aid Vest

I recently finished a vest for Wool-Aid. I had a bunch of Lopi wool in all the same colour. (My sister actually found one ball in a second hand store for me and it happened to match a few I already had!)

I did some figuring and was not confident I had enough for a sweater, which was my first choice to put it to good use. I also didn't have any more of this wool in another colour, so I couldn't "stretch" the wool by adding some stripes or other colour work.

Finally it dawned on me that I could knit a vest instead. The simplest of solutions are so elusive sometimes!
I based the design on the sweater I finished last fall, which itself was based on the Steppe Ahead Sweater by Irina Makarow. I've made a few more changes so I'm not sure you can call this the same pattern, but I did use her percentage system.

The new thing in the vest was the armhole treatment. I knit the edging along with the body of the sweater to save myself from having to pick up stitches and knit it separately. I did it in garter stitch to match the collar and because garter stitch would "pull in" compared to the stocking stitch of the body.

But there is the issue of what to do about the armhole shaping. I wanted the edging to curve around with the rounded shape.
The trick is that you have to decrease several stitches on one row to get the flattened shape at the bottom of the armhole. I decided to try some short rows in the edging to see if I could get the right fit.
I knit the body in the round (front and back at the same time), so when I got to the armhole I had to separate the front and back to knit them separately. Before starting the front, I cast on 5 stitches for the garter edging. Then I did 6 rows where I knit to the body of the sweater, knitting together the last stitch of the edging and the first stitch of the body (decreasing 1 st of the front), and then turned the work and knit back to the outside edge

The three stitches marked by red were decreased with short
rows, making them all happen on the same row of the front
body. The orange and yellow decreases were made on
subsequent rows while the front was also being worked.
(Note that the stitch marked by the right red arrow is
"off the edge" and can't really be seen from this angle.)
That completed the 3 decreased stitches (red arrows) on one row of the front. Then I worked across the front. I did the same thing on the other side, and then when I came back to this side, I decreased one stitch the same way (orange arrow) before continuing across the front to the other side. I did that one more time (yellow arrow), and that took care of all the shaping.

Here it is from the side with the coloured arrows marking the same stitches:
When I started the back, I did the same thing, but instead of casting on 5 stitches, I picked them up from the cast on edge of the front edging (white line).
I think it came out very well. (If you want more detailed line by line instructions to try it on your own project, see my Ravelry project page.)
I still have a little more of this wool so I'm going to see if I can eke out a pair of mitts.
Project Stats
: 17 Mar '18
Finished: 3 May '18
Pattern: Loosely based on the Steppe Ahead Sweater by Irina Makarow
Materials: Lopi by Reynolds in 101 Teal (386 g)
Size: Chest: 32" / Hem to armhole: 13.25" / Armhole to shoulder: 8"

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...