Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Victorian Lace Today

More historical knitting! About 3 weeks ago I checked Jane Sowerby's Victorian Lace Today out of the Library. I love this book beyond all reason. Jane Sowerby draws on several historical sources of knitting patterns, offering as much biographical information as is available on the early knit wear designers. I like to think these ladies are as saucy as today's Harlot and co. The book shares a source with Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks-- Weldon's. It is so interesting to read about the trends in clothing and knitwear as the Industrial Revolution spread across Europe.

This book is ideal for your average lace loving history nerd. Plenty of informative text (which I have now read twice!) as well as tons of gorgeous patterns. Of the dozens of patterns in the book, there is only one I would not knit, and that is based solely on my prejudice against bobbles.

The patterns are marked easy, intermediate, and experienced. I decided to cast on for one of the easy shawls. I do have Shetland Triangle on the needles as well, but I really wanted a confidence building exercise in lace knitting. I know the Shetland triangle is supposed to be pretty easy, but the Shoulder Shawl in Syrian Pattern from VLT is downright simple.
Plus, I have an amazing new yarn to play with, which is always fun. Thanks to Saviche's birthday present to me, I have 925 yards of Fiesta Yarns Ballerina lace, an Aplaca-Tencel blend. I love it! So soft, so pretty and colorful. Because the pattern is so simple, I chose a more colorful yarn to add some visual interest.
This is my plane/vacation knitting as I head off to the Pacific Northwest tonight.

This weekend we did a bit of historical tourism here in SF, visiting the mission for which the city is named. It just so happens to be 5 blocks from a fabulous yarn store and 3 blocks from an amazing ice cream shop! I bought this lace yarn with my gift certificate, enjoyed a cone of salted caramel ice cream, and took in the history!

The Mission Saint Francis de Assis (aka the Dolores Mission), San Francisco

Monday, June 29, 2009

FO: Douglas Fir Lichens

FO time, before I head out for another week of vaca, this time up in Oregon. I finished the Lichen Ribbed Socks, washed and blocked them, and finally took some pictures! These socks have served me well as my go-to mindless knitting-- some soothing ribbed stitch for the car, where I don't like to tango with charts.
FO: Douglas Fir Lichens
Pattern: Lichen Ribbed Socks, Nancy Bush, from Knitting Vintage Socks
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepard Sock Solid, in Douglas Fir
Needles: Knit Picks US 1 Metal DPNs
N requested a pair of simple socks, and picked out the color of Lorna's Laces online. I adapted the pattern, written for a women's foot, to accommodate a men's 10.5 shoe size. I cast on 80 stitches instead of the recommended 60, and went up a needle size from 0 to 1. I used just under 2 skeins of yarn, and probably could have made each sock about 1" taller.

I loved using the metal needles! I have knit all my other socks on bamboo. This is WAY BETTER. I have a full set of bamboo needles, so I tend to use them for everything, regardless of whether or not the yarn and pattern are a good match for the bamboo. I broke a bamboo DPN a while back, and ordered a couple metal pairs on knit picks, for sock knitting. Best thing ever. So much faster and cleaner for picking up stitches, and doing decreases.

I loved this pattern and Nancy Bush's book. I loved learning a new toe and heel, and revelled in the thought that someone in the Victorian age used these techniques, so different from our usual, to make socks. I repeatedly and enthusiastically bored several family members and friends with my knowledge about sock construction from the 1850s. The book includes enough history to appeal to my history nerd side, and enough different techniques to keep me interested for a long while. A solid investment, indeed. A local yarn shop, Marin Fiber Arts in San Rafael is going out of business. I hopped over to their liquidation sale and picked up some worsted wool to have a go at color work. Fair Isle has been calling my name lately.
Some of San Francisco's more colorful buildings:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Picture sharing

Still trucking along on my lichen ribbed socks...not a ton of knitting time the last couple days.

Some lovely pictures, however:

Mt. Tamalpais

Mt. Tamalpais

Pride month in downtown San Francisco

Monday, June 22, 2009

Back from Vaca

Back from vaca! I have been knitting so furiously on my Lichen Ribbed Socks that I have two throbbing puncture wounds on my left pointer finger. The sacrifices we make for the art!

I blocked and photographed my second crocheted hat, a gift for a friend moving to London in fall.

FO: London Diva Hat
Pattern: Darling Diva's Snow Day Hat by Kirsten Kapur (free pattern, would be great for beginners!)
Yarn: Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Brush, 80% alpaca, 20% acrylic , color 109 (main color) and Malabrigo Worsted Merino in Cornflower (trim)
Hook: Good old Boye, size I, shiny magenta.

I had almost completed this hat, all but the last two rows crocheted, when I ran out of yarn. I rustled through the top level of stash, and pulled out the Malabrigo Merino I used for the Cornflower Beret. The colors match well, and I like the visual contrast between the wispy Alpaca and the smooth Merino.

I just love giant flowers! They have these in Union Square, and I always found them quite enchanting. Something very Alice in Wonderland about the giant size of them. You can see my vast quantity of vaca induced freckles in this picture!

Not too much to say about this hat, since it is the second I cranked out. The yarn is quite warm, despite the openness of the fabric. I think it will make a super cute fall accessory for my girls in Boston and London!

And a few vaca pictures to share on this Monday morning... I love the California Coast...from waterfalls to old growth redwoods to white sand beaches, dolphins, and art galleries, the coast seems to have it all :)
Jellies, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Coast Art Gallery, Big Sur

The Lone Cypress, 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach

Julia Pheiffer State Park

Nepenthe, Big Sur

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Star Toe of Three Points

The fun thing about Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks is being exposed to older methods of sock construction I just don't see in contemporary patterns. Here we have the Star Toe of Three Points. I had to modify it a bit, since I had more stitches on the needle than the pattern specified. I simply added in a couple more repeats of the decreases.

The decreases are formed by p2togs and p3togs, which are placed in a way that forms a star made of 3 diamonds.
I am hoping that the p3togs flatten out a bit with blocking-- unblocked they are a bit bulgy. Overall, I like the look of it, and the construction seems good. The final stitches are not grafted together, but closed up like a hat. I am not sure about the stability of that...if its a problem I will go back and graft.
I tried to get some pictures that showed the star pattern, but the toe was quite baggy on my foot, so here is the toe on a bottle, and on an apple! Not quite human-like, but they give a general idea of the toe construction.
I am off on a short vaca, back next Monday or Tuesday...until then, please indulge my love of sharing photographs! Like a good knitter, I packed more yarn than is sensible, and more patterns than I will have time to knit up!

San Francisco, from my roof:
Artsy shot taken by N at Ocean Beach:

Monday, June 15, 2009

FO: Cornflower Beret

I know its a bit early to be talking Christmas, but I am a bit of a slow knitter, and as the holidays ramp up, I don't do a ton of knitting. Here is my first Christmas FO!

Cornflower Beret

Pattern: Last Minute Purled Beret by Wendy Bernard (free pattern!)
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted Merino in Cornflower
Needles: US 9 bamboo DPNs

I knitted this pattern as directed, in the smaller size. The beret came out a bit less slouchy, as I subbed worsted weight in for Aran weight yarn. This is not altogether bad, since N's grandma seemed to want a not too slouchy beret.

She saw my megahuge Star Crossed Beret, and commented that she would like one that was smaller, and less bright. I found a gorgeous more muted blue, in the same Malabrigo worsted, and a less slouchy pattern. I think it will get the grandma stamp of approval. I really enjoyed the subtle variegation in the Malabrigo. In some skeins there isn't much variation, but this one has a really nice blend of blues in it.

Thanks to N for the after-work photo shoot on our roof :) I re-organized my stash last night from a bunch of disparate tote bags to two large rubbermaid boxes, and he was slightly stunned that I had so much yarn. Personally, I was impressed it fit into one large and one small rubbermaid box. Different perspectives....

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Welsh heel

Yesterday I turned a Welsh heel, from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage socks. The only heel flap I have worked before is as the Harlots directs in her Basic Sock Recipe. I thought it would be fun to try something new.

Please forgive the pictures...there was some degree of acrobatics going on as I tried to photograph the bottom of the heel. I nearly pulled something. Also, the sock is for a largeish boy foot, so the heel is baggy on me, which does not show the shaping in the most attractive light. No one likes sagging. Also, I did not want to force the DPNs too much, lest they bend, so the heel is not sitting on my true heel.

Anywho, the heel is a short row heel, with YO wraps-- a new technique for me. There is also a seam stitch running down the heel. I am not sure how I feel about the seam stitch. It did not bother me when the sock was on my foot, as I thought it might.

The YO wraps look really good and neat on one side, and really funky on the other. My tentative hypothesis is that this difference is caused by my YO technique-- I do YOs differently depending on if I am knitting or purling the next stitch. The YOs that are followed by a knit are on the neat side, while the YOs that are followed by a purl are kind of lumpy.

The lumpy side:
The lumpy side and the seam stitch:
The neater side:
A semi-look at the whole thing:
The seam stitch, and accurate yarn color:
Overall, I like the way that the stitches head diagonally towards the seam stitch. I like the look of that. On the other hand, this heel came out kind of square. Heels are not square. Thankfully knitting is stretchy. We will see how N likes the feel on his foot (for reference in the next pair. There is no way I am ripping back to re-do the heel.)

Happy weekend to all!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


My Boston friend, hat recipient noted below, recently commented to me how she misses the light in Northern California. Shortly after our conversation I took some pictures at dusk that perfectly exemplify what she is missing.

I love the light here, too!