Category Archives: shawl

Abide with me — and my shawl.

I was working on yet another Abide, (designed by the talented Kirsten Kapur) in my regular knitting class this week. This version is my fourth, I love this pattern.  (Photo below is by Gale Zucker.)

AudKnits snowflake scraves

People in class were taken with it, but there was a lot of eye-rolling at the idea that it was at all easy.  (From Drop Dead Easy Knits, of course!)  The projects in DDE were not necessarily designed to be beginner projects, but projects that are easy to work on and follow.

What makes lace drop dead easy? Symmetry for one thing.  And no shaping on wrong side rows.  Here’s how that works in Abide. (I’m using Wollemeise Pure in the color Cassis. )

Photo May 25, 7 53 50 AM

It is a simple long triangle. Easy. Regular increases along one side. Easy.  Except “regular ” does not exempt you from knowing  what the pattern means by regular. For instance, I got careless and started increasing every right side row instead of every other right side row. (I was watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  This is playoff knitting.  Go see what Natalie thinks is playoff knitting — a Herbert Niebling doily!  For real.) So the class got to watch me rip it back. It is always fun to see your teacher brought low, isn’t it? I also think watching me rip out helps less confident knitters to see that every one rips back.  Every one of us.

I was initially skeptical of the long triangle look, but I really like it.  It is very wearable.   I’ve worn the version I made in Malabrigo Sock quite a bit.  Kirsten even demonstates how to make it into a cowl in our silly video.  And look how cute it is on this model, in Quince and Company Finch:


Abide begins at the narrow end, and you complete several of the leaf edging repeats in fairly short order, so the pattern is memorized easily, or at the very least you become really familiar with the chart in no time at all.

knitting, book, hand knit, models

Plus, the leaf pattern itself is symmetrical. You can see the shape you are making, so you know right away if you haven’t done a decrease you were supposed to. I missed a decrease the other night, too, so I know it is easily spotted.

And the picot edging? If you can cast on and bind off, you can make little picots. I don’t care for bobbles, but those picots are pretty darn cute!

I think I convinced them. I mean, other than the edging, it is all garter stitch!


Basic Black

I have recently finished two tedious projects in basic black. The World’s Most Boring Socks in black stockinette for the spousal unit. That’s what he likes. I can sometimes do ribbing, but no color. I do usually put a contrasting reinforcement color on the toes for ease of matching when doing laundry. (Which he does. No complaints there.)

The next project was a stole I planned to donate for a Silent Auction for a scholarship fund at a conference. I decided something black and mindless would be just the ticket. Everyone loves black. I love having a Soothing, Relaxing, Mindless (SRM) Knitting project. Well this did not turn out to be the SRM project I envisioned. I decided that a scribble lace stole with one skein of Kidsilk Haze for the thin yarn and for the thicker yarn, some black boucle mohair. Both were in my stash. Those experienced knitters among you are already snickering at my naiveté. Last time I did a Scribble Lace* stole for a friend, it was Kidsilk Haze and a lovely smooth ribbon. Anyone who has ever knit with mohair boucle knows how grabby and sticky it can be. Couple that with Kidsilk Haze – lovely, fine, sticky kidmohair and silk. Plus, Kidsilk Haze on the giant needles used for scribble lace required a fair bit of attention to grab each stitch. I was never so glad to be done a project. Even if it meant weaving in the extra ends of mohair that I cut because I got too frustrated trying to untangle it properly. There are knitters out there who have figured out how to turn after each row so that yarns don’t tangle. I imagine I could, too, if I paid attention, but I never do. It’s a pattern in other areas of my life, too. You know, like if I folded my laundry and put it away immediately, I wouldn’t end up with a pile that seems too big to deal with till I have a big chunk of time. Which means about one a week. (Mr. Guy does the laundry, but says he won’t go into my closet without backup.)


At any rate, here is the stole, unblocked, hanging up against a window to show the open stitches. The finished project did raise a fair sum of money, and was purchased by a new friend I met at the conference. Karen was standing by the stole so no one could outbid her. I stopped to chat and she went on and on about how beautiful it was and how it would go perfectly with a dress she had. I said thank you and she looked at me weirdly. Then it dawned on her. “Of course you made this. You’ve been knitting through all the sessions. ” One speaker on an affordable housing topic had said something about “Mo Money! Mo Time!” A crew of sillies began chanting by the stole, “Mo Money! Mo Time! Mohair!” And they weren’t even knitters.

*Scribble Lace was introduced by Debbie New in her amazing book, Unexpected Knitting. The Mason Dixon gals also wrote it up. Scribble lace is beautiful, combining a very thin yarn with thick yarn to produce a fabric with an unusual and rather interesting appearance. The stole weighed almost nothing, yet was surprisingly warm. If you see it wandering around Salt Lake City, say hi.
Here are the basic steps:
Use a LARGE circular needle – I used a 15US.

A very thin yarn (I used Kidsilk Haze) A very thick yarn.

With the thick yarn, cast on desired number of stitches.

Switch to the thin yarn, knit one row, purl one row, knit one row.

Slide the the stitches down to the other end of the circular needle, carry the thick yarn loosely up the edge of the work and knit back.

Purl one row, knit one row, purl one row.

Repeat until you run out of yarn, are happy with the end results, or are bored out of your mind.

Playing the Lace Card

I have recently finished two lace projects for patterns with shop models. The Fir Cone stole in Kidsilk Haze,


and the Feather and Fan scarf in Malabrigo Laceweight.


I wanted to write up some patterns that were simple enough for beginner lace knitters, but not too boring. I loved working the Fir Cone pattern. I didn’t want to put a complex edging on the stole, in part to keep it simple, and in part because I like the cleaner line. I’m not a ruffle-y kinda gal. I did add a little yarnover selvedge to make blocking easier. I threaded the wire right through each hole before pinning out. (Sorry it’s so dark.)



I went with Feather and Fan for the Malabrigo only after several failed attempts at using other stitch patterns. The color I chose, Alpine Pearl, is more strongly variegated than some of the other Malabrigo laceweight colors. Feather and Fan really works with multicolors, in my opinion. The other stitch patterns I swatched just didn’t show up very well.
These projects were fun, simple knits, but working with a fine laceweight like Kidsilk Haze is fairly slow going, even in a simple pattern like Fir Cone. The finer yarn requires more attention. I have to look at what I am doing much more closely than with a heavier yarn. This is why I’d recommend a first time lace project to be worked in a slightly heavier yarn. It is easier to see and to feel what is going on. It is harder to accidentally knit a yarn over into the next stitch on the wrong side row. (Not, of course, that I didn’t do that.)

Several posters asked me for recommendations on good patterns for beginner lace knitters. Here is one I’d definitely suggest. It must be one of the fastest knits ever – the Forest Canopy Shawl, by Susan Lawrence. I was looking for something to do with the one skein of sport weight singles from Plain and Fancy Sheep and Wool Company that I bought in Virginia. After the Fir Cone Stole, moving on to a sport weight singles on a size 5 needle felt like I was turbocharged. Even without caffeine.

People often ask how long it takes me to knit a particular item. I can’t generally say, it’s bits of time here and there. But this triangle went so fast that here’s an estimate on this small triangle. At the point in this photo, it took the US Open Women’s tennis match and A Streetcar Named Desire, featuring an amazingly young and svelte Marlon Brando.


Here’s the finished project, un-blocked, which took an additional neighborhood block club meeting, an old Star Trek (the one where Spock goes into heat) and two 20-minute truck trips hauling horses to a trail ride. That’s my measure of time.



The question I am asking myself now is this: see how much yarn is left? Should I rip back the cast off rows and add a few repeats? I think the shawl/scarf might be nice a bit bigger, and what else will I do with this small amount of yarn? Anyone made this? Thoughts?


“You knit? I can’t picture it.”

OK, those of you who wander by are looking for knitting. But last night, on the most beautiful evening we’ve had in months, Holley and I visited a local cross country jumping course and had about the most fun you can have on horseback. I am not a thrill seeking daredevil. I’m old enough to know that broken bones are painful, and that the fun of having your cast signed wears off quickly. I only go over the little pony club jumps. Even those seem scary at times to me. I just have to say, that doing something you have wanted to do since you were a kid really brings that little kid back to the surface in a good way.

There is a knitting connection here – a few weeks ago Holley and I did our first team sorting. She was ranch raised and loves working with cows. I grew up in NJ, where only cops and rich people had horses. We make a great team. In fact, she pretty much likes any kind of work. Kim, my friend and riding instructor extraordinaire always says Holley has such a great work ethic that if she were human, she’d be German. This day was intro to team sorting and we set up the teams ‘boys against the girls’ – not one human was a day under 35, and most were over 40, but the cry of ‘boys against the girls’ brings out the playground demon in all of us. I was sitting watching the boys fail miserably (well, not really) and one other ‘girls’ trotted over and said “Hey, I saw that picture on your blog of Momo (the cat) sleeping on Holley’s back. It’s sooooo cute.”


I know this picture has appeared before, but it is cute.

I’d been outed. How did one of my barn buds discover I had a knitting blog? It was almost embarrassing, and I’m not sure why. Then another woman said “You knit?” She looked at me like I was a giant nerdy weirdo. (OK, I may be.) “I can’t picture it.”
Last month a community event I attended for my job was held outside. I mentioned to a city staffer that I should have brought my horse. “You have a horse? Really?” Yes, I do. “Do you RIDE it?” “Um, yeah.” “You ride? I can’t picture it.” She gave me that same look that the barn babe gave me when she discovered that I knit. Like I’d just showed her my feet and they each had 7.5 toes.

I wrote this the other day and didn’t post, then saw the Yarn Harlots ode to knit buds, finished with a quote from C. S. Lewis: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

I know I am not the only knitter out there with a horse, another one of the Yarnery teachers rides. I also found Anne’s site, How the West was Spun. She is currently offering her own hand-dyed yarn and the Bee Fields Shawl as a kit and it’s selling out. Her site is full of equine goodness, too. I wonder if she hears “I can’t picture it” in the way I do.

I was in Richmond, Virginia, recently for work. I went shopping with my friend Linda, who lives in Seattle and I see once or twice a year at meetings. She beads, I knit and we have a great time together. I spent time hanging with her in a beautiful bead store, then she went with me to the Yarn Lounge. It’s a really nice shop, well laid out, friendly staff. And it has a clever logo.


I explained my dilemma. I work in a yarn shop, so I get to see and buy lots of yarn. While I love seeing a wall of Rowan, I can buy that at home. The owner, whose name I didn’t get, immediately led me to a yarn she found at Taos Sheep and Wool. Plain and Fancy Sheep and Wool Company in Henderson, Texas. They don’t even have a website. But they do make some kick-ass- hand-dyed-with natural-colors sport weight yarn. Of course I bought it. The colors looked just like the jasper, and agate, and petersite I’d just been fondling, plus there is 400 yards in one skein. I bet they have horses around all that yarn on the outskirts of Henderson, Texas, too.

Isn’t it funny how people see us? I don’t usually give it much thought until I have a juxtaposition like those described above. My husband, on the other hand, laughs and says it’s interesting that I teach the young girls I know 19th century skills to prepare them for life in the 21st — knitting and horseback riding. What better way to prepare, I say! Cowgirl up with them needles. You never know when you might need to do both.

Alexandria Stole

Well, I think I finished the ******* chart for this. (Yes, I know I did it the hard way.) So now I just need to knit another sample to check it for bugs. Oh, joy!

Here’s the stole. Lovely, soft yarn. Hope to move on soon.


aran stole

Cable chart woes and old friends

I just finished a cable stole out of Misti Chunky alpaca. It feels like baby kittens and knits up quickly. In fact, I think I knit it faster than I’m going to be able to chart the cable. I’m really an amateur at charting, so I’m using Word and tables. Yikes! Let me just say I was up until 2:30 last night (this morning) slogging down the learning curve. You guys have any good charting program suggestions?

Here’s another shawl I just finished out of KidLin from Louet. Love the drape! And it’s great for this drop stitch pattern. And it doesn’t need a chart!

knit shawl

But the cable charting crisis was balanced by earlier in the day. I had a wonderful evening with an old friend, Whit Robbins, from my Atlanta days. We spent 3 hours catching up with life and knitting, while my husband and hers talked trains. I am totally psyched. The energy of the Atlanta Knitting Guild is phenomenal and Whit has a lot to do with that. The guild brings in people like Alice Starmore, Barbara Walker, etc. and they are hoping to bring me! down to teach sock knitting. What an honor. Hi to everybody in the Atlanta Knitting Guild. If you live down there and aren’t already a member, check it out.