Having finished this Waterlily top is a bit of a surprise as I started knitting it almost a year ago. Normally I’m an extremely focused knitter, keen to get every garment off my needles and onto my body. But this top, though I loved all the pictures in the pattern, I found a real slog to make. It’s made on fairly small needles with fine yarn. There are miles of plain stocking in the round. The Latvian braid technique was new to me. The lace, which I started before I made Rock Island, required too much concentration.
But all of those niggles fade away when I look at this garment on the blocking board. It is beautiful.
Another challenge was the fact that this is a bottom-up blouse, which means you can’t really try it on. I used my old trick of slipping half of the stitches onto another circular needle and trying it on, but it’s hard to tell what the tube of fabric will really look like. In the end, it was about right. The top is meant to be worn with a lot of positive ease, but this style swamps me. I made it fitted across the bust, which means that it should hang nicely over my tummy, and I added some waist shaping.
I think the blocking boards and T-pins I bought for Rock Islamd were a sound investment. Both were very useful in allowing me to get this garment to my desired dimensions.
Here’s how it looks on. As you may be able to see, the fabric has a lot of drape, so even though it fits loosely it still highlights ones shape in a mostly flattering manner.
Pattern: Waterlily by Meghan Fernandez
Yarn: Kettle Yarn Co Islington in Vestige
Ravelry project page here
I can’t believe that I actually made this stunning shawl. I have grown so much in confidence as a knitter over the past five years, I never would have imagined being able to make something like this even a couple of years ago. I’m hoping to get some beautiful modelled shots of my shawl in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime I’ll share with you some things I learned from making this piece of wearable art, which I hope will help others attempting their first piece of openwork knitted lace.
For comparison, here is how it looked before blocking.
Unfortunately I foolishly didn’t measure the size of my blocking mats before I started, so I actually need to re-block this shawl to the correct dimensions. I think that stretching the lace out will make it look even more beautiful. I also found out that I should have used blocking wires at the top edge of the shawl for a cleaner edge, so I will also do this on my second attempt. I can’t say I mind too much as it means I can do this post as well as one with some (hopefully) beautiful modelled shots of the re-blocked shawl in a couple of weeks. Silver linings!
I also think I squeezed too much water out of my shawl before I started pinning it out. It was drying out far too quickly, which means that some of the points aren’t as… pointy as intended. Threading the blocking wires takes time and the piece needs to be damp until you feel confident that it’s in the right shape.
Pattern: Rock Island by Jared Flood
Yarn: Violet Lynx Dyeworks Ariel (bought on etsy)
Ravelry project page including detailed notes.
Just a note, if you are knitting a shawl using a gradient yarn as I did, make sure the yardage of the skein is not much more than the recommended yardage of the pattern. I didn’t know this, which means that you really can’t see the gradient effect in my shawl. I don’t mind as I think it’s still beautiful, but I would have been bummed out if I had had my heart set on this being an ombre shawl.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I like a challenge. In knitting and in life, I tend to go for things 100%, to jump in with both feet, to act first and worry about consequences later (well, as much as a neurotic overthinker can). It was these traits that led me to select Rock Island as the first proper lace pattern I would ever attempt. I am actually crazy. THIS is what I am attempting to knit.
The pattern is Rock Island by Jared Flood. Look upon it and weep.
Maybe the theme of my year is go big or go home. I came into 2015 with my most complex ever knit, Little Wave, on the needles and I have managed to create a garment that I truly love. I also went all out with my birthday bake. Perhaps 2015 is my year to be bold, daring and take risks.
I now own blocking equipment. This just got serious.
Here’s where I was last week. I used my newly arrived blocking equipment to pin out the lace so you can see what it will look like finished.
One of the many scary things about knitting proper lace is that you don’t really know what it will look like until it’s been blocked- washed and stretched to within an inch of its life. Until I finish and block this shawl, I am acting on blind faith that what I am doing in some way corresponds to the incredible beauty of the sample picture above. Oh god of knitting, please bestow your gifts upon this humble madwoman!
I drew a little sketch to show how a shawl can be constructed from the long edge up. For any experienced lace knitters this will be old hat, but it’s all new hat to me!
Here’s where I am right now. I’m working the Rock Island lace chart and I can’t wait for it to be over. I am currently using a lifeline every two rows because if I drop a stitch, it would be beyond me to pick it back up. Each row currently takes over 30mins to knit so having to rip back would be pretty devastating.
Here’s a close up of the lace.
This project has really reinvigorated my love of the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup. This shawl is my Ancient Runes OWL- Ordinary Wizarding Level to any Muggle readers. To earn an OWL, Ravellers propose a project to the examiners, which they estimate will take around two months to make. You also agree a 50% mark for the project. You get 200 points for your House (Gryffindor in my case- go Lions!) in total, 75 for completing the midterm and 125 for the final exam. I am making this shawl for an event in April and I genuinely think that without the additional motivation of the Cup, I would not have persevered with this highly challenging project.
I have some kind of disease at the moment, I can’t seem to stop myself from casting on new large projects that I never seem to finish. In that vein, I have just started the Little Waves cardigan. The blogosphere is rammed with beautiful cabled cardigans and I had to get in on the action. This is a Brooklyn Tweed pattern by Gudrun Johnson. BT is incredibly popular at the moment and with good reason- their patterns are wonderful, both classic and up-to-date. I’m a fangirl.
Although Opposite Pole is a cabled cardi of outstanding beauty, I’m not sure if it will be comfortable to wear under a coat because of the massive collar. The yarn is Malabrigo Rios, which is very well reviewed on Ravelry. I can’t seem to capture the purpleness on camera, so try to imagine this looking slightly more dark violet than navy.
Here’s my progress on the beautiful Waterlily top. I got held up with working on this for a few weeks, partly because I was a bit worried about attempting the Latvian braid, and partly because I was coming to the end of my first skein of Islington and I hate winding skeins into balls.
For anyone knitting with Islington, I would suggest not using centre-pull balls. The wool is so soft and slippery that the ball can’t really hold its shape as you work from the middle.
Anyway, I managed the Latvian braid and I’m now a few rows into the lace section.
The blue and purple strands are life-lines. My magical new interchangeable double-pointed needles are designed to allow you to add a lifeline with no additional effort, which I think is pretty amazing. But then, I am a massive geek. Lifelines are particularly useful when knitting lace. If you make a mistake in lace, undoing rows and picking up the stitches and yarnovers is a complete knit-mare. With a lifeline, you know that you can drop down to your scrap yarn and all your precious stitches are securely held. Here’s a later progress picture. I’ve finished a full repeat of the lace pattern, so you get a better idea of what the final design will look like.
Rolling Rock now has sleeves! The pattern recommends blocking before picking up the collar so here she is.
I changed towels and flipped the jumper because the pink one was too wet and the table underneath was damp, which would have added several hours of drying time before I could start that collar.
I also spent about 2 hours on eBay picking out buttons. I hope the ones I eventually chose are going to look good…
I’ve been itching to knit a sweater for a few weeks now. I didn’t have a pattern or yarn on mind, but it had to be a jumper and it had to be altered so it would fit me beautifully. I spent a couple of weeks researching. First I found Rolling Rock, a beautiful jumper pattern from a company called Baby Cocktails. I think it’s named after a brand of beer because the beautiful pattern on the back is called bottle lace. I also like to think of the rolling rock that gathers no moss.
The search then began for a yarn that wouldn’t bobble after a few weeks of wear, and in the end I decided to try this gorgeous silk and alpaca mix hand-dyed in Scotland by Old Maiden Aunt Yarns.
Warning for non-knitters: Below the photos will be some semi-technical knitting exposition. Also WIP = Work in Progress.
I added a few mods to account for my non-traditional figure. I cast on in the size that was closest to my upper bust measurement, because I’ve read that this gives the best fit in the shoulders. I then knit different sizes in the front and back to accommodate my bust. I added four vertical darts just under the bust so the jumper would fit closely, then finished knitting in the size closest to my under-bust measurement. Yay knitting maths! One of the best things about top down patterns is that I could try on my jumper throughout the process and make adjustments.
Something else I learned about for this jumper is ease. Seasoned knitters will already know all about this, but ease basically means how closely the clothing will fit. Negative ease gives a tight garment while positive ease will give a loose-fitting or baggy product. I’ve had problems in the past because I didn’t understand this concept. I aimed for about 2 inches of positive ease with this jumper, which is a bit less than recommended in the pattern, but I know my figure and baggy clothing emphasises the fact that I am a bit top-heavy. I’m very pleased with how the waist shaping turned out too. I just started the bottom ribbing today. The sleeves will likely be a bit tiresome but I have to pick up and knit the Henley collar, which will be a bit scary but just the right level of challenge.
I can’t wait to finish this baby!