|My Grandniece snug in her Quill Blanket|
|My niece with her baby and the Quill Blanket|
After this project, I was still inspired to make another knitted lace item again. I searched the internet and ended up with another pattern by Jared Flood, the Hemlock Ring Blanket , a free pattern from Ravelry. I utterly enjoyed this pattern and was almost sad when I finished the project. I thought I would not be done for weeks but I enjoyed the rhythm of working on it so much that I finished it in less than 2 weeks. I think, when I knit a Hemmie again, I will make it larger. I used the suggested Cascade Eco Wool yarn in green (my husband's color choice, as I was knitting the blanket for him). The blanket itself reminded me of a large doily.
|My Hemlock Blanket in progress|
|Hemlock Block completed and blocked|
|Hemlock Blanket Detail|
|My husband keeping cozy with the Hemmie Blanket|
At this point, I am getting pretty proud of myself for being able to tackle these lace projects, including some earlier prayer shawls I made using the feather and fan stitch. I was thinking, I was now ready for more complicated stuff. Again, I researched on the internet and was struck by the beauty of Estonian lace knitting. I decided to buy the book Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush, who is, outside of Estonia, the leading Estonian lace knitter. The minute I got it, I was drooling over the different projects featured in the book. I decided to tackle one of the shawls and bought some yarn at my local yarn shop, Wool and Company in St. Charles, Illinois. The yarn I chose was by a Chicago company that specializes in hand dyed yarns. I selected a pink lace yarn from their Helen's Lace collection of beautiful colors. My husband was very supportive of my obsession for lace knitting and hand dyed yarns that he even got me a yarn swift and winder as a present.
|The yarn swift and ball winder in use with the Helen's Lace yarn from Lorna Lace|
I started out on the project pretty well until I got to the much talked about and dreaded "nupps". I had to take the project apart several times and finally had to shelve it. I promised myself I will conquer these nupps someday. If you are curious as to what a nupp is, here is a link on knitting nupps.
I couldn't waste good yarn, so once again I found myself browsing through Ravelry for another pattern so I can use my Lorna Lace yarn. The one I chose is called Utsukushi Wrap by Jennifer Dassau. This particular project used the Japanese Feather stitch and a Stockinette Wave stitch. I loved working with this lace yarn.
|Utsukushi Wrap being blocked. I bought a set of those children's alphabet foam jigsaws to use for blocking. I laid the damp shawl on a towel placed over the foam squares.|
|Utsukushi wrap detail|
All of these projects were knitted using charts, which I liked. I do not have a preference between charted or written instructions, but given a choice I would go for projects with both. After I finished knitting the blankets and shawls, I did block them. I found that this was an important step with lace knitting, as well as pressing with an iron on wool or silk setting, depending on the yarn.
Lessons I learned the hard way to make lace knitting easier:
- Read instructions completely before starting
- Put a stitch marker at the beginning of every pattern repeat. This helps in pinpointing where you are in the pattern.
- When knitting in the round, at the beginning of a row, I use two stitch markers or use a distinct marker from the rest of the stitch markers I used for the other pattern repeats. When I get to this marker, I know I am starting a new row.
- Count, count, count after each pattern repeat. This way you are sure you are working with the correct number of stitches all the time. It is easy to drop or add a stitch with all the increases using yarn overs (yo) and decreases with knitting or purling 2 or more stitches together (p2tog, k2tog, ssk)
- Use a life line, a waste yarn or thread inserted in a row of stitches. I usually insert a lifeline every few rows (depending on how complicated the lace pattern is) at the non-design or resting row (as I call it). This is normally the row where you usually just plainly knit and/or purl -where increases or decreases (yarn overs or knitting or purling 2 or more stitches together) are not predominant.. A life line saves you from having to rip out your work entirely.
- In the case where a particular row on the chart proves difficult to follow and no written instructions are provided, I will take the time to write out my own instructions for that particular row of the chart by using the abbreviation for each stitch. I always use the pattern key provided but if there is none, common abbreviations for each stitch are available on the internet. Double check and count the number of stitches on your own written transcription to ensure you did not make a mistake in transcribing.
I'm sure this is not the end of my lace knitting obsession and that I will be making more knitted lace items in the future, until I am confident enough to attack the "nupps" once again.
Thanks to the models: my niece Irene, my grandniece Mia and my husband.