Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Sick note

Apologies for the light posting here of late - after I promised another bit of Midsummer help and a post about that big bag o'fleece, no less! Instead of blogging, I've instead been spending time with my favourite companion of the last six months, a chest infection. Which means I feel like this;

But much less decorative. In fact, no, on my best days I hope I feel like that, and actually feel like this;

I've been given some serious antibiotics to combat it this time around, and the side effects, as expected, are fantastic. I was expecting nausea and stomach cramps, as per usual, but instead I seem to be on an hour-long cycle which goes something like this;

1. Overwhelming hunger (30 seconds)
2. Overwhelming nausea (30 seconds)
3. I will never eat again.
4. Overwhelming thirst, think may have dessicated - drink pint of water through both mouth and nose for maximum fastness.(30 seconds)
5. I will never drink again.
6. Note lack of motor dexterity.
7. That was exhausting. I shall sleep now.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I have found something that might alleviate my symptoms, though - I may send my maid for some of this, later;

 I bet that takes the edge off.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Upcoming attractions!

Just a quick update ahead of a bigger post later. I'm currently working on a great project that I can't wait to share - in fact, when I told Mr Mongoose what the project was, he said "You've got to blog to hell out of that!"

So here's a teaser - the project involves this;

Warning - items on your desk appear half actual size

And what I did with it.

Also getting ready for FIBRE EAST! OH YEAH!!!! Next weekend - lots more exhibitors than last year, including Ashford Wheels so they're going to be the first stop. Mr Mongoose will be joining me, lured by the prospect of sheep and goats and shearing. My Mum, of course, will also be there - I say of course because this, in our particular worlds, is bigger than Christmas. If you're in the East of England, pop onto the website and see what you could miss if you don't go - there's a big red button on the top right of the blog which will take you straight to their website.

I've re-issued Midsummer Night, the shawl I was blogging below, with a new and much (much) simpler border, making it a lot easier for beginners but still beautiful. After spotting an error on row 34I had a sort of transport of common sense and realised that square things are easier to stack. I know, obviously, but it seemed like a revelation. I blame the amount of Lego I had as a child, which forces me to think of all stacky things as rectangles. My story, and I'm sticking to it. The second part of that tutorial will be next week!

And on the needles, apart from Mystery Project, I've got a sock from Hunter Hammersen's Silk Road Socks - Mood, which is really peaceful and zen-like to knit. Which is what I need at the moment. For reasons which are not unconnected to that huge bag.

Right, off to thrash the Mystery Project into submission. Back, back I say!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Midsummer Night tutorial - Part One; Setting up

As I mentioned in the previous post, I had a request yesterday for some help and advice for someone knitting her first big lace project. She'd chosen Midsummer Night, which is a top-down triangular lace shawl I designed about a year ago. When I was writing the pattern I actually did two versions - one for people new to that sort of triangular shawl, and one for people who had done it plenty before. 

After mulling it over for a bit I thought I'd post the tutorial up on here to save it for other people who may want to do their own first shawl and would like some pointers.

Basically, I'll be working step-by-step through the shawl pattern and giving some extra explanation, pictures, and advice that you normally can't fit in a pattern. If you'd like to knit along, you can download the pattern here for free on Ravelry; linky

So, without further ado, let's dive in!

Midsummer Night tutorial part 1 - Setting up

If you've never done a triangular lace shawl before, or much lace, it can be pretty daunting. But it's actually a very simple shape to work with, once you understand how it's made. 

The shawl shape I used has increases in four places. The right edge, two either side of a centre stitch, and the left edge. By increasing at the same four places every time using a yarn-over, you make two triangles back-to-back. To keep the edge neat, you also have edging stitches - three little garter stitches that run up each edge keeping things nice and neat, which are always worked in garter stitch. 

Here's a picture of what that basic shape looks like;

You can see really clearly there a centre stitch, the garter stitches, and the edges. Those little stocking-stitch areas are where the lace goes. 

So that's the shape we're working with. Do bear that in mind as you work through the pattern

Cast on - the Tab cast-on

Now let's cast on. Here's what you do to make an invisible little join at the start of your shawl

Cast on 3 stitches 
Knit 7 rows in garter stitch, and you have this;

 Now the cool bit.
Row 8; Knit 3, Pick up and knit 3 stitches from the edge of the piece from the three garter-stitch ridges - like this; I've just threaded my needle tip through those three bumps, and I'm getting ready to knit across.

Now, once you've done that, pick up and knit 3 stitches from the cast-on edge.

Now you have nine stitches on your needle.
 Row 9; Knit 3, purl 3, knit 3.

You’ll now be working up to the point at which you can start the charts

Row 10 (Right side); K3, YO, K1, YO, K1, YO, K1, YO, K3
Row 11 (Wrong side); K3, purl until last 3 stitches, K3. Repeat on all wrong-side rows

 Can you see what you're doing here? You're actually making three edge stitches in garter stitch, one stitch at each side, and a centre stitch. Let's carry on a couple of rows more so you can see it appearing. Remember that wrong-side row always stays the same!

Row 12; K3, YO,K3,YO,K1,YO,K3,YO,K3
Row 14; K3, YO,K5,YO,K1,YO,K5,YO,K3
Row 16; K3, YO,K7,YO,K1,YO,K7,YO,K3
Row 18; K3, YO,K9,YO,K1,YO,K9,YO,K3
Row 20; K3, YO,K11,YO,K1,YO,K11,YO,K3
Row 21; K3, purl until last 3 stitches, K3

You should now be able to see the centre stitch, and two little plain stocking-stitch triangles either side, like this;

 Neat, huh? That's your shaping. 

Now, as we go on to the lace, you'll see that the charts include that yarn over at each edge and in the middle, but don't show the centre stitch (that little line of one stitch in the middle) or the three garter stitches at the side. It also doesn't show the wrong side rows because they are just plain, which I'll show below. 

Don't worry, as you work the charts you'll become very familiar with this and soon you'll hardly notice. The best way to see how this works it to simply do it! 

Here's the lace. 


I'm using Knitty.com's standard abbreviations, and the grey squares there are just to break up the pattern (no stitches) so you can see the repeats better.

You can see this much better in the paper pattern, so I encourage you to download a copy rather than work from the picture above! You can download a copy here; link

All charts are read from right to left, and remember that it doesn't show the centre stitch or the garter-stitch edges. Let's go. 

 Knit the three edge stitches. 
Now we're working across that lowest row of the right border chart. Yarn over, knit one. 
Now we're on the pink bit - the main repeat. That's SSK, K3, YO, K1,YO,K3, K2TOG, K1. 
Now the left border chart, which is just YO. Now you should be at the centre stitch. Knit it.
Now we're on the right border chart again, still reading right to left, we repeat the whole thing. So that's yarn over, K1 again, then the pink repeat, then the YO of the left border chart.
Now you should be at the edge stitches, so knit three. 

Well done.That was the hardest row. From now on - plain sailing. Let's do the wrong-side row - knit three, purl to the last three stitches, knit three.

We're ready for another right-side row. Ready? Same as before.

Knit the three edge stitches. Work the right border chart, then the main repeat, then the left border chart. Knit the centre stitch. Right border chart again, then the main repeat, then the left again, then knit the last three edge stitches. 

Do the wrong-side row again - knit three, purl to the end, knit three. This will stay the same throughout the pattern.

You should see the lace appearing in the middle, with your centre stitch and those edging YO's just like before, when you were knitting plain. Here's what your knitting should look like!

So, work through to the end of this chart, which a wrong-side ro.

Here's my knitting at the end of row 54 -

Then we'll be ready to move on to working thos repeats for the rest of the shawl, and we can talk about how the pattern works in more detail, and you can see how my knitting is coming out too!