Too Many?

Yesterday I decided to take a closer look at the contents of my knitting basket that has long been overflowing and slowly taking over the entire living room. To bring some order into the mess I put everything on the couch and the number of WIP is shocking!

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How did I ever get to this point? Let’s see one by one:

1: Else Johnsens Store dug. This is a very beautiful cross stitch tablecloth that I started working on last fall. I’ve been wanting to make it ever since I was a child and having a little extra cash I made my dream possible.

2: The Princess shawl. This one has been going on since 2004 but always with steady progress. I’m still working the center which is kind of boring more repetitive than the border.

3: Grignasco Merino Silk. I don’t know if this is really a WIP but I’m still making lace swatches in this wonderful yarn. One day I may use it for a shawl.

4: Hairpin Lace Scarf: Hairpin work is related to crochet and very easy to do. The only tricky part is right at the beginning when it can be difficult to keep the work taut. I only need to weave in the ends but when will that ever happen?

5: The fair isle vest. This one is at a complete standstill for the time being. I took another look at the swatch and decided that it was too tight but I’m not in the mood for colourwork right now so another swatch will have to wait.

6: The Madil Merino Extrafine. One hank has been wound into a ball and I’ve started swatching. Using 2mm needles it makes a very fine lace but it may be a bit too open. When it has been dressed I’ll put up a picture.

7: The Butterfly Dress. This one had a flying start but then I got bored. That seems to happen a lot but once I do decide to work on it, I always make good progress.

8: The Alien Scarf. This scarf is just too cool! Now you see it, now you don’t. It was started for trip to Italy because it’s such a portable project, especially because I’m using the Grignasco Bambi and 3.5 mm needles.

9: Diamond Shawl. This shawl was started last fall and well before Christmas I got bored with and tucked it away. Then about a month ago I remembered that it might be useful for the winter and continued chucking away at those long final rows. It looks a lot like this shawl but is made by a great Danish knitter Åse Lund Jensen (link in Danish) who died too soon of cancer.

10: Murersweater. This is the one thing that really deserves to be called WIP. It used to be a sad tale about a yarn that couldn’t meet the right pattern and was lingering alone in bag for more than a year even though it was supposed to be a birthday gift for a very special person. Then finally the right pattern came along and somebody stopped asking about what happened to his birthday sweater.

11: Socks in Trekking. Never be without a pair of socks in progress. They save your life while riding trains, waiting in airports and every other situation where you can do nothing but resign yourself to wait. I came across some Trekking by coincidence and while it’s not a very soft yarn it’s very funny to knit with. It does the self-striping-thing but in a nice discreet way without any ugly pooling. I’ve actually cast on for the second sock!

12: Crocheted bedspread. This is my regular on-the-go project. Whenever I have to go by train this gets worked on. As I usually go everywhere on my bike or by the bus (I suffer from motion sickness but not in trains) it hasn’t seen much progress. It’s made of hexagons which in the end are crocheted together. The center part of the hexagon is a bit complicated and this also causes slow progress.

13: Tatted edging. This is probably the one thing you can do on an airplane without getting into trouble, that is, if you can do it without the help of a crochet needle. It is needed if you want to connect picos. I once got admonished by a steward for using a metal 1mm crochet needle that had passed two security checks…

This is only what I keep in the living room. I also have a stash but let’s not go there…

Yarn Shops

I didn’t want to let this much time pass between two posts but a combination of being ill, Typepad not working and a trip to Italy, it simply hasn’t been possible to post and the knitting has suffered as well. However, I did come across a couple of yarn shops which were both located in zones where I couldn’t avoid finding them. Normally it can be quite hard to find yarn stores in Italy, in particular ones that are pure yarn shops. Often yarn is sold from a Merceria which is a shop specialized in underwear, stockings and haberdashery but nowadays, especially in the bigger cities, it only sells underwear and stockings. The shops I found were both right in the center of small towns so it was impossible to miss them.

Here’s a picture of the shop I came across in Ferrara on a very rainy Saturday. I don’t remember the name of the street but it’s in an arcaded side street quite close to the square with the cathedral. I only had a quick look inside but it did seem to have a decent selection. It did carry a lot of lace weight yarns which I suppose are meant for machine knitting but probably can be used for lace knitting as well.

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The other shop I found was in Ravenna, right in front of the cathedral!

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It was double the size of the other shop with a big section dedicated to the machine knitting yarns. I don’t really know if there’s a difference in the way these yarns are made, to me they seem like regular yarn, just thinner. I bought two hanks of a very thin merino yarn to see if it’s usable for lace knitting.

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In total there’s a 100 g running 1200 m per 50g(2/48). That’s enough for a shawl but I need to swatch it before I know how it works. It’s treated to be unshrinkable (irrestringibile) but still requires hand washing. I paid €9.50 which to me is very good price.

The Little Things

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that keeps you going. Like making lace swatches that have no practical use whatsoever just because it’s such a pleasure to watch that pathetic shriveled little piece of cloth transform itself from an ugly little duckling to a beautiful swan.

Hulstrik Hulstrik_1

All of these swatches are made with the Grignasco Merino Silk on 2mm needles and the patterns can all be found in the book Heirloom Knitting. The top right edging is from the Princess Shawl but it is also in the book with the exception of the spider insertion on the right hand side of it.

Ever so often I dream of designing my own shawl and even though Sharon Miller’s book is fabulous I also want to see lots of pictures of the antique shawls. Luckily the Shetland Museum (see the link in the sidebar) has an incredible website with hundreds of pictures. Just do a search on lace shawls and the most beautiful shawls you can imagine pop up. Right now I’m completely taken by this particular shawl. The overall design is near perfect and I just love the arches with stars inside them.

Another swatch that is done is the one for the fair isle slip over. It looks awful in some parts but at least I’ve been able to identify the problem which is my tension. Normally I’m a tight knitter but it seems that fair isle makes me loosen up quite a bit, at least where the motive is more complicated. I’m happy to see the colours are working out and in a few days I’ll adjust the pattern to my gauge so I can begin knitting.

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