Sunday, 30 December 2012


I have decided to move my blog over to wordpress, so go check it out here.

This blog will remain here, but this will be my last post.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

A Labour of Love Part 2 - Lifelines and Keeping Track

I meant to publish this blog post a looong time ago, but as often happens, life got in the way.  So here is the second part of my post on what I learned whilst knitting the Princess Shawl.

I have previously blogged about using lifelines on the Princess Shawl.  I used a vertical lifeline whilst knitting the edging, which really helped when I came to pick up stitches for the border.  I didn’t use a vertical lifeline when knitting the border however, as these stitches are picked up individually as you knit the final edging and using the technique given in Heirloom Knitting, I found this easy to do.

In a project this extensive, it is imperative to keep track of where you are.  I used post-it notes to mark my position on charts and to keep track of row numbers.  One really simple tip I read on PrincessDiaries, is to put a post-it note above the row you are working on instead of below.  When I first read this, I didn’t see what difference this would make.  However, once I gave it a go, I realised that this enables you to not only see the row you are on, but those that have come before, thus allowing you to ensure your current stitches line up with those below.  In this way, I could always spot mistakes straight away as my stitches would not line up.  I did not use horizontal lifelines when knitting the Princess.  In fact, I never have when lace knitting.  Being an impatient knitter, I could never be bothered to put one in!  There were a couple of times where I did have to rip back, but never more than a row.  If I dropped stitches or made an error, I would sort out the problem in that area rather than ripping everything back.  I have become quite good at knitting surgery! I also used markers between each repeat on the feathered border so that I never had far to rip back.  I didn’t use markers on the centre as the row repeats were so small.

Towards the end of the project, I was knitting at least 2 – 3 hours a day exclusively on this (as well working full time of course!).  I had such an important and immovable deadline and as the date of my wedding loomed I was genuinely worried that I would not finish the shawl.  At this point, I did not particularly enjoy knitting on it and just wanted it to end!  My hands ached and my husband thought I was crazy for knitting so much.  In fact, during our wedding ceremony, he even vowed to always be there to rub my hands for me after too much knitting!  However, although I found it stressful having to knit this to a deadline, I do wonder that if I hadn't been making it for such an important occasion, whether I would have even finished it by now!

Looking back six months hence, I am still amazed every time I look at it and I feel so proud of what I accomplished.  However, I am really enjoying knitting whatever I choose to and the instant gratification of working on small projects.  I feel though that the experience has given me a huge amount of confidence in what I can achieve in knitting and that I have learned nearly all there is to know about lace knitting.  So I am ready to move on to new challenges and techniques.  From my current spate of projects, I think 2013 will be the year I master colourwork and stranded knitting.  Watch this space!

Monday, 7 May 2012

A Labour of Love Part 1 - Tools

There were times when I didn’t think I was going to make it, but here I am with a beautiful finished shawl.  And I love it!  My Princess took me 1 year and 16 days to knit, but a further 2 weeks passed before I had grafted, blocked and woven in the ends, just 2 days before the wedding. I plan to do a series of blog posts now that I have finished, reflecting on some of the things I learned during this time and what I would take into consideration if I was ever to make another shawl like this.

Very early on, I realised that I was going to need specialist needles for this project.  I knit the edging border on 2mm metal straights, but I found these very slippery with the cashsilk.  I persevered, but once I reached the feathered border, I needed a circular.  I bought a cheap 2mm circular on ebay but I found that the stitches were catching in the join between the needle and the plastic.  It was so bad that I had to lift each stitch over the join and with 800 plus stitches on the needles, this was not practical.  

After some research, I found Fleegle and purchased one of her specially adapted bamboo circular needles.  The joins have been reset and coated with superglue and the points sharpened.  They also have holes in for those who wish to easily thread lifelines through their knitting and the bamboo made them 'grab' the yarn.  These needles were so much better to use and lasted me the whole of the border until I snapped one whilst travelling.  I bought a second one and managed to snap this too after only a few weeks!  (Again, it was my fault – these are very delicate needles.)  At this stage, it was too late to order another one as they come from the US, so I made do with the metal circular to knit the final edging as I did not need to move the stitches over the join.

In summary, make sure you have the right tools for the job before you start and take care of them!  They make the project much easier and quick-moving, but remember that needles at this gauge are fragile (though superglue does wonders!)  Part Two will follow in the next few days and will be on lifelines and keeping track.