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Sunday, September 1, 2013


Lady Windemere's Fan needed beads on that scalloped edge. Trouble was, again, the garnets had too small a hole for even my finest gauge crochet hook.  Plus, this design took a lot of knit-and-rip, knit-and-rip to get it right. Who wanted to mess with beads under those conditions?

But still, the finished garment called out for garnets. They were a Victorian favorite, after all; they do suit the color of the yarn ("Chocolate" Sea Silk by Handmaiden), quite well; they would add to the drape of this eminently drapeable shawl, I knew.

So I unwound a few feet of fine monofilament fishing line and I loaded that line with every garnet in my stash. Several knots in the loose end of the line anchored it to the right corner of the shawl; then it was a matter of lashing the loaded end at the proper intervals (two wraps, a bead, and two more wraps for each bottom loop of each scallop) and knotting off the final end at the left corner.

It's an almost invisible solution that saved the day.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Some Like it Garter

Among knitters, there's quite an appetite for patterns that use garter stitch a lot, or even exclusively. Something about  coming into that stitch back to front makes a lot of folks uneasy. 

Our ancestors may have felt the same way, for garter enjoyed great popularity among Victorian knitters. So did the ubiquitous yo, k2tog, the most basic element of lace knitting.

Well, here's a lass that makes a nod toward that heritage yet has her fashion solidly forward: Sheila Has-No-Purls.

The prototype, for lack of an appropriate model, spent a couple of weeks languishing in my craft room. Then Lori showed up to sell us some advertising. She was most elegantly accoutered—almost as if for an evening out, I thought, enviously—but green turned to gold when I realized that there was my appropriate model.

She was shy; I was persistent, cajoling. So, trusting me, she took those delightful strappy sandals out onto our lawn and donned Sheila while I snapped away. Later she told me I'd put her at ease, and that the shot that showed her smiling captured the real Lori.

See? The universe really does provide.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another Way to Bead

My newest original, On the Front Porch Swing, soon to be released on Ravelry, needed a test knit.

Not being one to thrive on repetition, I decided my second knit needed beads. And since I already had a finished model, it was easy to decide where the beads should go.

But this particular knitting project found me in the middle of a household move—not only a move, but a remodel. (Only those who have been through a simultaneous move and remodel will understand how completely disorienting the whole process can be.)

Now, the basic lace pattern for this design is Peri's Parasol, an engaging, scalloped-edge confection. It's not that difficult, as lace patterns go, but it does require focused attention. And wow, was my attention fragmented. A single row became a project in itself, to get it just right, never mind the beads.

So here's what I found myself doing: When I came to the row to be beaded, I left off the beads and focused purely on getting the stitches right. Then, once the row was correct, I went back over the entire row, slipping stitches until I came to the ones that needed beads, which I applied then and there from the loaded crochet hook carried in my right hand.

And you know what? Not only was it easier that way, but it really didn't take much longer, because I wasn't having to set the hook down and pick it up again. Plus, I was sure I was getting the beads in the right place.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

P2togtbl (Purl Two Together Through Back Loop) the Easy Way

Sometimes a pattern calls for p2togtbl (purl two together through back loop). It does this so the stitches to be knitted together will lie the right way, usually as seen from the opposite side, which is frequently the right side of the fabric.

But many people dislike working this stitch. No less revered a figure than Hansi Singh has called it "the most awkward stitch in all of knitting."

Fear not, for there is an easier way to accomplish the same effect. The answer lies in backward knitting (see previous post).

When you reach the stitches to be purled together through their back loops, do this:

1. Turn your work around so that the live yarn is on the left needle and the stitches to be worked are on the right needle.

2. Slip these two stitches to the left needle.

3. Insert tip of right needle through both these stitches, passing from right to left.

4. Catch the live yarn with the right needle, and pull a loop through both stitches, letting them slip from the needle.

5. Transfer this loop to the left needle.

6. Turn your work back to its original position and continue knitting (or purling, as the case may be).

Problem solved.