beaded Citron, oh my!

I have almost completed my beaded bind-off with only a few more inches to go. On the 3rd row from the edge, I placed a bead 12 stitches apart. The math didn’t work out exactly, but who can tell? For the bind-off edge, I decided to do a K2tog, transfer the stitch back to the left needle, place the bead and then K2tog again. It’s looking pretty.

Manipulating the beads, the crochet hook and the knitting needles was driving me a little crazy. I decided a little prep time would make it all so much easier to manage. I took some heavy 20 gauge wire, made an end and then strung as many little beads onto it as I could fit.

It is easy to secure this ring of beads to my ott light setup when I’m done for awhile. My metal chart holder with magnets hangs from the ott light with some extra strong little magnets. I can preload as many as 5 beads on my crochet hook which hangs there nicely from the little magnets ready for the next bead placement.

With Black Sheep around the corner and the weather unpredictable, I may be able to wear it there and show off!

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Citron Beading Adventure

Has everyone knit a Citron except for me? Well, I’m almost finished with mine.

I would have finished it by now but I decided to add beads to the edging. Another challenge and a first. I know that it’s pretty easy and I know that most people just complain about how long it takes to do it. Afterall, there are over 500 stitches on that last row!

For a great tutorial  (thank you, Caro!) on binding off with beads: http://splityarn.com/2008/02/08/knitting-bind-off-with-beads-tutorial.html


Lace, ahhhhhhh

I finished Icarus, my first lace shawl project! The blocking process took some time and I can imagine how much longer it would have taken without blocking wires. Also, I’m lucky to have a spare bed for guests that can function as my blocking board. Everyone talks about the magic of blocking lace because it’s the first time you can really see the lace pattern. So true!

I’m happy with how it turned out and I think I will wear it. That’s just it – am I a “shawl person” – whatever that means? Lace is beautiful for all ages so how is it that old ladies and lace became such a stereotype? Shawls don’t have to mean ‘delicate and dainty.’ I love that sturdy lace shawl that Tasha Tudor wore and it really looks like a shawl to get down and dirty with farm chores. (Actually, the pattern was recreated by Nancy Bush and it’s sitting in my queue.) But she was an old lady so maybe that’s not a good example. What about all those young knitters that have embraced lace shawl knitting with a vengeance? According to Ravelry, Icarus, which has been very popular, now has been knitted or started by over 2,000 people! Clearly, lace shawls have become popular with all ages.

Well, knowing how to wear a shawl is the key to avoiding the old lady syndrome. I’m not going to start a new career as a supermodel, but here is an attempt at wrapping that looks pretty good to me–sort of flung loosely around the neck, ala scarf.

For great tips on how to wear beautiful lace shawls, check out this video from the staff of Knit Picks.


Lace, #@*%!

Lace knitting is not something that comes easily to me. I have done a couple of cardigans in lace that came out OK, but I’ve yet to finish one shawl. Shawls have been all the rage in the knitting community for some time and I think this fashion trend started due to the plethora of incredibly beautiful (and expensive) hand-dyed yarns. So many knitters had single skeins of these yarns sitting in their stash and soon patterns for gorgeous shawls needing just that much yardage were everywhere.

I just ripped out a poor attempt based on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Pi Shawl. This is a clever shawl pattern with mathematical logic and shawl lace knitting really doesn’t get much easier than this. Even so, I struggled to stay interested in the project; it just looked like a big brown lump of – well – something one might step in out in the field. Maybe a better choice of yarn would have made all the difference.

I have picked up another lace shawl project that’s been languishing as a UFO for quite a while, Icarus, and this time it seems to be clicking.  The yarn is Malabrigo, dyed a beautiful tonal color called “marine” and I can’t wait to finish it and wear it. Yes, I’m making mistakes as I go along that I have to go back and correct but it’s getting easier. Lace knitting requires constant vigilance, which means for me, a distraction-free environment, never working on it when tired, and no working on it while chatting at my craft group (or anywhere else).

Good online tutorials abound and Ravelry has many groups devoted to the subject of lace. At Knitter’s Review, you’ll find tutorials and links to all things lace: books, yarns and patterns.

Great info on proper cursing with symbols: http://fomagrams.wordpress.com/2008/05/14/how-to-curse/


off the needles – Napkin Rings

I was hoping this project, bamboo napkin rings, would be perfect for quick and easy sellable items for the upcoming Mother’s Day sale at Clay Space. Maybe I don’t run in the right circles since I don’t know anyone who uses napkin rings anymore. I like the bamboo yarn for these and the reverse linen stitch which gives them a nice texture with just a little sheen.  Martha’s site has many cute ideas for making them and encourages their use so I know many people out there must enjoy them.

I thought about slippers, but who wants to buy wool slippers in May? Then I thought about trying some knitting with fine gauge wire to make beautiful delicate jewelry. I even have a book that tells me exactly how to do it, Wired Beautiful. This book is filled with wonderful projects and clear step-by-step photos. Maybe other good ideas for projects will come to me in time.


Helpful Knitting Tools

Although I hardly ever knit domestic items, lately I’m drawn to them. There are so many great patterns for pillows, hand towels, spa sets, curtains, felted containers, napkin rings and the list goes on. One book that inpires me to knit homey items is Mason-Dixon Knitting. This is the first project I’ve made from it— Absorba, the great Bathmat—and I think it looks nice. I did use 3 strands held together which makes a very spongy, absorbant bathmat.

I also have been enjoying my latest knitting tool called a Huglight. It was mentioned by another knitter so I had to try it out. There are those times when I want to knit in the car at night and I’ve tried all sorts of lights without success. I know many knitters don’t need to see their knitting while knitting, but I’m not there yet.

Here are some other tools that are handy for socks: sock blockers and sock keepers.


Organize and Conquer

What in the world did knitters do to organize everything in the days before Ravelry? There are over a million members now, yet every once in a while I meet someone who has never heard of it. Jess and Casey, thank you so much!

Because there is so much to learn about Ravelry, I’ve been approaching it gradually–adding projects first, then stash, and now, I’m adding my library of knitting books and magazines. I’m learning that the more I put in, the more I can get out of it. I just love all the built-in tables that make linking projects to the yarn used and the pattern used super easy. You can even indicate that the yarn used for a project is in your stash and once the project is completed, you see the remaining yarn amount in your stash. The pattern table is easy to search by yarn weight or by amount of yarn needed or any number of variables.

Other features to love include a project queue and favorites so that while browsing you can easily come back to that pattern later. I organized my queue, which was getting out of hand, by creating categories and then adding tags. Did you know that once your knitting books and magazines are added, you can then easily add the patterns you want to knit from it to your queue? No more going back and rifling through all your magazines and books to find that pattern you intended to knit!

Recently, I added a non-electronic approach which was inspired by the contagious zeal of that organization diva, Kelley Petkun, on one of her early podcasts. I recommend those podcasts highly when you need some get up and go energy. I needed a way that I could easily see all my UFOs–no, I won’t say how many–and everything needed is together in one place to just grab and go!

I ordered these great little vinyl carrying bags and if they were just a bit bigger, I could zip them. I like that I can fit one in my handbag or knitting bag. The pattern, yarn and needles are already in the bag. If the pattern is in one of my books, I make a copy for the bag.