Monday, December 31, 2007

Warm and Cozy

My sister's Christmas present to us this year was a wonderful afghan that she crocheted. I especially like the little ruffled edge. It's a perfect cover during our cold and wet Northwest winters. The lamb likes it too.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


The yarn is left over, that is, from a vest I made for my husband. I had two full balls and most of a third ball. Thanks to the resources of Ravelry, I decided on the Irish Hiking Scarf.

The details:
  • Yarn: K1C2 Paint Box in color #12, Tandoor, approximately 130 grams, 260 yards
  • Needles: 4mm
  • Finished size: 8 inches wide x 50 inches long

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Blogger tells me this is my 101st post. That seems like a good way to celebrate the holidays — any and all of them — and look to the new year. Even though it is raining buckets here in the Pacific Northwest, I can celebrate with:

Blooms of paperwhite narcissus and Christmas cactus.

A Downy (or Hairy?) woodpecker enjoying Christmas suet.

Winter solstice at sunset on Hood Canal.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Knitting in Japanese

My first attempt at knitting a Japanese pattern was fairly successful. This is design #7 from "Knitted Lace Designs of the 'Modern' Mode" by Kazuko Ichida, also known among doily knitters as "the blue book." The knitting was straightforward doily knitting with familiar symbols and none of the hieroglyphic, twisted, upside-down-and-backwards Japanese knitting symbols.

The details:
  • Thread: Cebelia size 30 in a cream color. I think this is an older thread because the label is different than today's label. I used one whole skein and part of another. The
    finished piece weighs 66 grams, which amounts to about 750 yards.
  • Needles: 2.25mm, although I usually do the first six rounds or so in a size smaller needle.
  • Finished size: 30 inches in diameter.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pearl Knot, Not Knit Purl

I decided to expand my repertoire of craft skills with a pearl knotting class at The Bead Factory. I had some beads that needed to be re-strung and decided I could learn to do this myself. This became even more imperative when I learned that a local high-end jewelry store charges $5 a knot to string pearls. The class project was a string of glass pearls, hanging from my fig tree, right. We learned how to knot on silk and on nylon. I'm a silk girl.

With some remedial training — The Bead Factory employees are most helpful and patient — I my broken necklace, below, is now wearable again.

Then I wanted to re-do this jade or jadeite bracelet that I got in Thailand to make it longer. The holes in the beads were too big for knotting, so The Bead Factory employee suggested putting spacers between the beads. Perfect!

Jewelry-making can become as addictive as knitting. If you think you can spend some money in a yarn store, just walk into a bead store.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Paying It Forward

I recently signed up for Paying It Forward from Nurhanne's blog. I usually don't participate in chains or king-alongs or exchanges, but this one sounded fun. Here's the deal:

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

Pretty simple, yes?

Thursday, November 29, 2007


See the guy on the left with the hat? That's Tristan, a member of the University of Puget Sound crew team. Tristan traveled to England last summer. I asked him to bring me a 500-gram tin of Twinings Earl Grey or English Breakfast from the duty-free shop at Heathrow. He did. He also brought back lots more tea, lots and lots of lovely tea. He refused payment but was persuaded to accept a wool knit hat for those cold, wet mornings when the team practices.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A New Doily

This is design #5 from Lavori Artistici #11. I selected it because I like the cable. Lace and cable are a great combination; doilies with cables are even better.

I am not too thrilled with the spider web center; it doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the design. And, it was a pain to knit.

The particulars:
  • Pattern: Lavori Artistici #11, design #5
  • Thread: Vintage Clark's Big Ball, size 30, in an orchid color (it's solid orchid, not variegated as the photo might suggest)
  • Needles: US1 (2.25 mm), although I usually do the first six or so rounds in a size smaller needle, 2.0mm in this case.
  • Size: 12" diameter

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Heirloom

I recently had an opportunity to purchase an heirloom — a doily by Marguerite Shimmons. Marguerite works in size 100 thread. Size 100!

The doily is about 12 inches in diameter. I don't know what pattern it is. It's possible that it's a combination of one center and a different edging. Nevertheless, I love it.

Lacis in Berkeley, California, has a collection of Marguerite Shimmons doilies in its museum collection.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Big, Comfy Shawl

Everyone needs a big, comfy shawl. My latest is the Alix shawl by Myrna Stahman by way of Debbie Macomber.
  • Yarn: Mountain Colors Bearfoot (superwash wool, mohair, nylon) in Lupine, 3 skeins (I had about 5 yards left)
  • Needles: US7
  • Finished size: 46 inches center back
The pattern as written finishes with a seed stitch border. I decided to finish with the Catharina border from Myrna's "Stahman's Shawls & Scarves." (Not an original idea; I had seen a version with this border.)

Both the Catharina and Alix shawls use Myrna's variation on the Smiling Diamonds pattern from Barbara Walker's first Treasury. Catharina is a Faroese-style shawl; Alix is a triangle shawl. Catharina was the one of the first shawls I ever made, so I was familiar with the edging. The only tricky bit was adjusting the attachments at the center point to center the bottom scallop.

What's nice about this shawl is that you can knit it in just about any yarn. I've seen it in the finest lace weight to much heavier yarns. I've seen it in solids and variegated yarns. It's easy enough for beginning lace knitters but interesting enough for veteran lace knitters.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lovely Lunna

What better way to transition from summer to winter than with a lace scarf. This one is Lunna, a Jamieson & Smith pattern.
  • Yarn: Jamieson & Smith Shetland 2-ply, 2 hanks, 252 yards each.
  • Needles: US3
  • Size: 12 inches wide by 50 inches long
What made this scarf fun is that part of it has patterning on both sides. The less fun part was grafting 67 stitches. The yarn was a bit stiff and scratchy to work with, but softened up considerably after washing.

The scarf is photographed on my Japanese lace leaf maple — a lace scarf on a lace maple. In the summer, the leaves of the tree are dark red. In the fall, the leaves "catch fire" in a stunning flame color.

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Turquoise Angel

Sivia Harding's Angel Pearls beaded scarf, made with leftovers from Sivia Harding's Shetland Garden shawl (see September 17 and September 19 entries). My only difficulty with the pattern is that the purl and bead symbols on the charts look exactly the same. Fortunately the written instructions allowed me to mark where to place the beads — hooray for designers who provide both written instructions and charts.

  • Yarn: Nature Spun fingering weight, approximately 1 skein
  • Color: Hurricane Seas
  • Needles: US5
  • Beads: Silverline 6/0 Black Diamond (turquoise is darned hard to match, so I opted for contrast)
  • Pattern repeats: 13 repeats of the middle section
  • Size: Don't know; I gave it to my friend Liz before I measured it

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Playing with Color

Variegated and multicolored crochet thread has been around for decades. Remember grandma's hand towels with crocheted edgings in every color of the rainbow and a few more? Many of today's knitters think that using variegated or multicolored thread for doilies is a no-no. I think that with the right pattern, variegated and multicolored threads can work just fine. So began the experiment.

I started with some variegated green from my stash of vintage thread ("vintage" is code for "old stuff that's been kept around for no apparent reason"). This is about three-quarters of design #38 from Lavori Artistici 11, until I ran out of thread. I like the way the colors swirl.

Then I tried something a little bolder but still variegated for design #12, also from Lavori Artistici 11. Amazingly, this one won a first-place ribbon at the Western Washington Fair this year. Go figure.

Then I threw timidity to the wind and went for the "clown colors," one with a star-style pattern and one with a leaf-style with stacked double decreases. Both are from "Danish Lace Treasures" by Gloria Penning; one is Judith and one is Patricia. Not too bad. They might make fun sun-catchers.

As a result of these experiments, I think that variegated and multicolored thread can work for doilies with simple patterns. Would I do a Niebling with variegated or multicolored thread? No. But those who have supplies of vintage/old stuff thread can use it for doilies — and maybe even some crocheted edgings for hand towels.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Watching Lino

Master glass artist Lino Tagliapietra was in town last week, working at the Museum of Glass. Wow! Wow! Wow! Both his work and working style are contemporary and elegant. His show next February at the museum should be a stunner.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Surrounded by Talent

For the past several years, I have had the great opportunity to attend Myrna Stahman's lace knitting retreat in Boise, Idaho. I always come home with my brain overflowing with ideas. One of the many highlights of the retreat is seeing and learning from other people's beautiful, stunning work.

Doilies, for example:

And a quilt made with doilies:

And shawls:

And scarves from luxurious Buffalo Gold yarn:

Being in the same room with all of the talented people is amazing.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


My invitation to sign up for Ravelry finally arrived. Now I just have to learn how to use it. It's not entirely clear to me what I do with all of it, but I'll take it a step at a time. I created a profile (SueV), so I'm not completely helpless; mostly helpless but not completely. Maybe I'll go find some friends next.

Monday, October 08, 2007

I Met Scott Simon!

I met NPR's Scott Simon! He received the Krista Foundation Global Citizen Award on Sunday. He is just as intelligent and gracious in person as he is on the radio. He even agreed to a photo with me, but I cropped myself out because I looked like an idiot.

We have supported the Krista Foundation because we knew the late Krista Hunt Ausland and her husband Aaron. You can read more about Krista and the foundation at the link above.

I met Scott Simon!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Russian Lace

This is the Russian lace scarf from the July/August "PieceWork" magazine. Details:
  • Yarn: Alpaca with a Twist Fino, most of one skein, approximately 800 yards of the 875-yard skein. Wonderful yarn!
  • Color: Number 2000, Plum Wine. The color is darker and plummier than the photo shows.
  • Needles: US3
  • Finished size: 12 inches wide by 84 inches long.
This was the scarf where I learned Russian grafting to attach the ending border. Learning this technique required faith in the directions, like the first time I turned a heel on a sock. The written instructions didn't make sense unless and until I had the garment in front of me and did it, step by step. Harrowing, until it works; then the directions are perfectly obvious.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pretty in Pink

Debbie and I have been friends for — yikes! — 20+ years. She is a talented quilter crocheter and is quickly becoming a talented knitter. She inherits these skills, among others, from her mother, Jackie, a master of many crafts. Debbie, Jackie and I recently spent some time yarn shopping. Add shopping to their skill list.

Jackie kindly gave me a shawl kit with yarn and a matching pin. The yarn was five strands of pink, white and gold. I made a simple, garter stitch shawl to let the yarn shine. The increases are made with a yarn over at the start of each row. On US17 needles, it was a quick knit — instant gratification!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Purple Cables

One of my husband's finer qualities — among many fine qualities — is that he likes wearing hand-knits. This one is the British Schoolboy Vest from Cheryl Oberle's "Folk Vests." It's a handsome, traditional vest that I knit in a non-traditional color — purple.

The specifics: Wool Pak 8-ply wool in color Plum (it really is the color of a ripe Italian plum) knit on US4 and US2 needles.

I've made several of the vests in "Folk Vests." It's a great book.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Marguerite Shimmons

I've never met Marguerite Shimmons, but I know people who know her. And I've seen her breathtaking knitted lace work in person. Those who know her say she is as elegant and refined as her work.

Now others can see her work and art. She donated several pieces to the Lacis Museum in Berkeley, California. See them here. Lace lovers of all sorts are fortunate that she decided to share her amazing work.

If the United States had a program to designate Living National Treasures like Japan does, I would put Marguerite Shimmons on the list.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More Garden

I have had a few requests for a detail photo of the Shetland Garden shawl with its mirror decreases, so here it is (I hope the detail is visible; clicking on it will make it larger).

And, the shawl is 27 inches long down the center back, which is a good size for me.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Stroll in the Garden

A Shetland Garden, that is. Specifically, the Shetland Garden shawl from Sivia Harding. The yarn Nature Spun fingering weight, one of my favorite, all-purpose yarns. The color is Hurricane Seas (our sailing friends Michael and Nancy don't understand why one would deliberately choose anything hurricane-related but I seem to be in a turquoise phase). Knit on US5 needles. The shawl took only three skeins, about 930 yards.

The main body of the shawl — the daisies, ferns and leaves — is written with all of the single decreases as right-leaning (k2tog). With this yarn, I chose mirror left- and right-leaning decreases (k2tog and ssk). For most of the double decreases, I used the designated left-leaning decrease (sl 1, k2tog, psso). However, on the leaves, which have stacked double decreases, I used centered double decreases (sl 2 tog, k1, psso).

The rose trellis section is written with left- and right-leaning decreases.

This was a fun pattern to knit and, like other Sivia Harding patterns, is clear and easy to follow.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Baaaaaa! Bleeeaaat!

After I look at the knitting at the Western Washington Fair, I head for the sheep barns, especially the wool sheep (rather than the meat sheep). Unless you are holding some food in your hands, most of the sheep aren't interested in visitors. But it's interesting to see the critters that provide us knitters a lot of beautiful wool.

This little lamb wasn't at the fair. It was a birthday present earlier this month. He doesn't have name yet. In fact, I only recently decided he was a he. I'm open to suggestions for names.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fair Time

Five entries, five ribbons — one first, two seconds, one third and an honorable mention in the knitting and lace categories. I am delighted with my results at the Western Washington Fair in Puyallup. The surprise to me is how the awards sorted themselves out:

Blue ribbon in the lace category for doilies smaller than 12 inches in diameter. This entry was almost an afterthought. I was playing with variegated threads to see if the widespread belief that "variegated threads don't work well with doilies" was true. Apparently it's not. The pattern is from Lavori Artistici #11, design #12, knit in vintage Royal Society crochet thread, size 30.

Second place in the lace category for doilies 12 inches in diameter and larger. This is a possible Niebling design called Arum Flower, knit in size 30 crochet thread.

Second place in the lace category for a knitted garment. Fans of Donna Druchunas's Arctic Lace will recognize her Skeleton Scarf pattern. It's knit in a very fine merino wool of unknown provenance.

Third place for a man's vest made in Knit One, Crochet Two's Paint Box yarn in a color called Tandoori.

And, finally, an honorable mention for Sivia Harding's Diamond Fantasy shawl knit in yarn from Black Bunny Fibers.

One of the pleasures of the fair is seeing so much beautiful knitting, and to watch other fairgoers admiring the work.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Alaska Rainforest

Last October, I attended a class where we explored fagoting stitches and experimented with many cool things one can do with fagoting. Then in June, while traveling in Alaska, I purchased this lovely hand-dyed yarn from Rabbit Ridge Designs in a coloway called Rainforest.

The fagoting lessons came to mind while I was considering how to best show the lovely Alaska rain forest colors. Simple design, beautiful colors — it all worked (in my opinion).

The specifics:
  • Yarn: Rabbit Ridge Designs DK optim wool, two 50-gram skeins, 154 yards per skein
  • Needles: US 8
  • Finished size: 7.5 inches wide by 92 inches long

Monday, August 27, 2007

Thread Stash

Some days you just get lucky. A recent trip to a local thrift store resulted in a purchase of I'm-not-saying-how-many balls of Cebelia DMC thread, size 10, in four different colors, at 30 cents each. 30 cents! Most of this will end up at an upcoming knitting retreat.

Yes, I left some at the store.


I did.