Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cautious Optimism

Yeah, I probably shouldn’t even mention it — but I might actually be feeling a little better today. For the first time in months I’ve had enough energy to change the bed, do 4 loads of laundry and even take down the bedroom curtains for a very-much-needed wash. They’re handwoven white cottolin in a Bronson lace pattern that I designed. At least they’re supposed to be white. Right now they’re kind of yellow and dusty. Ick. I’m washing them in very hot water and lots of soap and hopefully that will help. I can’t use bleach because I’m really sensitive to the smell and we don’t have any in the house at the moment anyway. I plan to do my usual ironing while damp and will get them back on the window to finish drying. Can’t get ready for bed without curtains! Our bedroom is on the main floor at the front of the house facing the street. Can you say “fish tank”?

Breaking news — they are finally putting gutters on the house next door after a year of listening to it dripping! I haven’t mentioned recently how the renovations were going because they pretty much weren’t going at all. Now there seems to be somewhat more of a push to get it finished. They only started back in September of 2006! It’s been a long haul. There are lots of things that we are unhappy about. For instance they don’t seem to want to replace the fence between our properties. There is only a partial length left and it is beginning to fall over. It belonged to their side! They put up a couple of lengths of high blank fencing across the back but it’s not complete. And they planted trees that will grow very large (a “peeling” white birch and a sweetgum) right next to the property line where they will interfere with the power and phone lines to both houses and will overshadow our vegetable garden. Pooh. The one good thing they did (and it was at our direct request) was to gravel between the houses right up to our siding. They destroyed the flowers and ferns we had there before but at least now the mud they left doesn’t splash up onto our basement windows. Without the fence and plants there we get more light on that side but it’s also more open to public view. No wandering around the basement in my netherstocks!

So back to things crafty. I haven’t gotten much farther than my last photo of the Twilight Queen. It turned out that I’d missed several of the yarn-overs while putting on the beads. The yo’s escape so need to be done after placing the bead and before knitting the stitch it’s on. Plus I need to check that they’re all there before going on to 3 rows of garter stitch. I didn’t discover they were awol until I tried to do the next fancy row, necessitating frogging back to the last bead row, fixing it and knitting back up again.

I have started the Nana Socks and are they cute! My reduced cable is adorable, see?

I’m using a broken piece of bamboo needle that I sanded a new point on the broken end for a cable needle and it’s working well. Here it is in action:

It’s about 3” long. I know everyone has their favourite cable needle shape but I prefer a wooden or bamboo one that is straight, not too short or too long, and either the same size or a little smaller than the needles used for the rest of the knitting. None of those fancy ones with a WOW or a U in them for me! And although I’ve tried cabling without a cable needle, cabling with one is actually faster, at least for me. I can do simple one-over-one twisted stitches without a cable needle but everything else needs one. I just poke it securely into the body of the knitting when I’m not using it.

I’m hoping to get Nana’s socks done by her birthday because B-Bil is throwing her a party for her 80th. The Auntie whom I made the gloves for awhile ago decided she did not want in any way to have a big party to celebrate her 90th birthday (right before the invitations were sent out) so we’ll be sneaking in some cards and prezzies for her during Nana’s party. Nice try, hon’ but you can’t escape us that easy! You’d think she’d be proud of her age instead of trying to avoid thinking about it. It seems to be a big year for birthdays ending with a zero: Auntie 90, Nana 80, O-Bil (yes, that’s Older Brother-in-law) 60, and my DIL (aka The White Lady, mother of Princess KiKi and Stargazer and wife of The Ninja) 30. The rest of us are just regular numbers. Heh.

Well, it’s the last day of January and the lovely snow we had is melting into the usual soggy goop. The sun is out but I don’t think it’s going to stay that way. We need to go get some groceries later because Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard is pretty darn bare. I’m getting tired of trying to figure out what to cook for dinner using 2 freezer-burned pork chops and a limp stick of celery. (Oh wait — I had the celery for lunch with peanut butter on it.) Though we haven’t starved to death really and it was a great excuse to use stuff up. Plus I always have lots of condiments. Condiments can make boring food yummy. And I’m not just talking about ketchup.

Off to put my bedroom back together before I run out of steam.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

End One, Begin Another

I finished the B-Bil Socks yesterday and got them washed and blocked. So here they are:

Baby Brother-In-Law Birthday Socks

Begun: January 20, 2008

Completed: January 29, 2008

Yarn: Lana Grossa Marmi, 80% wool, 20% polyamide (nylon), 100g = 420m, colour 7004 (purple/mid-grey with faded denim allover spots), dyelot 24815.

Needles: Addi Natura 6” bamboo dpns, size 2mm

Pattern: Damselfly’s Standard Socks on 68 sts, 8.5” before heel flaps, 8.25” before toe decreases, toe to 24sts, dog-ear reduction before grafting.

Comments: Nice yarn that I haven’t used before. Knit up very well. He asked for purple socks. Hope he likes these! BTW, most of the orange dye from the Rusty Socks wore off the needles before I finished knitting so they’re almost back to their normal colour now.

Now I’m on to the next pair which are due February 10. It’s my mother-in-law’s birthday (aka Nana) and she’ll be turning 80. She loves my handknit socks because her feet are always cold so she’s really easy to knit for. I asked her if she’d be interested in some overdyed sock yarn in a deep burgundy colour because there’s only 75g which is enough for small socks like hers. She was happy with that idea and I found an interesting pattern at Posh Yarns for cable and rib socks based on EZ’s No Tears Socks. I have had to reduce the size somewhat though because they are on 72 sts which is a lot for her tiny feet and even for my more normal-sized ones. (Some people must like looser socks than I do.) Even though the cables draw it in a bit the ribs are stretchier than normal st st. So I reduced the cable size down by taking a purl stitch off each side of the reverse st st background and a stitch out of each side of the cable, thus making a 2/2 cable instead of a 3/3 cable with 2 purl sts on either side of the widest part of the cable. I also shortened the 6 rows in the centre of the larger section to 4 rows to keep it in scale. This works out right and segues nicely with the k2/p2 ribbing if I begin the cables on a different row than specified. This cable pattern:

becomes this smaller cable pattern:

Now to knit it up and test it out! I kept the 6 ribs on each side of the cables which are situated at mid-back and front of the sock. The rest is just sock knitting as usual. The pattern shows a plain st st heel flap but I think I’ll use an eye of partridge st which is much nicer and more durable. Regular heel st looks like 1/1 rib which kind of clashes with the 2/2 ribs on the rest of the sock.

I used Knit Visualizer to create these charts. I love this program and it’s soon to become even better when Version 2 comes out. If you’d like a preview, download the new PDF manual here. I can hardly wait! Colour! Proportional rectangles instead of squares! Custom symbols! Good stuff. I truly need a program like this because I tend to chart things out that aren’t already charted. I also like to mess with previously designed patterns, as I did above. And I like to make my own designs, moving and tweaking motifs to my heart’s content. Having a nicely printed chart is helpful for my notes too and you can make them bigger (for ease of reading) or smaller (to get a large chart on a page) if you wish. I’ve used Knit Visualizer even more than I had originally thought I would when I downloaded it a year ago. Yes, it’s pricey and there will be an upgrade charge for those of us who already have the earlier version, but IMHO it’s worth it. Remember it’s not like this is software created by teams at Microsoft or Adobe or Corel — it’s just Nancy at home with her computers and her knitting! It’s self-publishing to a limited market. She deserves to be paid for her time, hard work and expertise. At least that’s my take on it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


“There is no end of craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore, acquire contentment.” Swami Sivananda

So far my Year of Contentment isn’t going so well. I’m not at all content with still feeling crappy. Sorry, I’m sure you’re tired of my whining about it. I’m tired of my whining. I think if I just felt a little better so that I could get the idea that it might be going away eventually then it wouldn’t be so bad. But I have better days and then worse ones. Like yesterday when my throat was even more sore than usual. Bleh.

Also on the Lack-of-Contentment front, I’ve been craving stuff. I’ve already bought way too many books, some of which I really don’t need. And sock yarn because I was getting low on options for the gazillion pairs that I need to knit this year. I’ve got at least half of the year’s supply now. Am I content yet? Probably not. But I’m behaving myself for the moment anyway.

On the Stash-Reduction front, I did give away my Addi Turbo circular needles for a token donation of $10. These are quite old and have a much stiffer cable than the newer ones. I hope they are still at least somewhat functional. I will never use them. Turbos are too blunt and too slippery for me. I have lots of other needles that I don’t really want also, but I’m afraid that there really isn’t too much of a market for vintage Aero cable needles. I particularly loathe the bent tip ones and the cables are awful and stiff. The points are fine though. Not to mention all the straights which I never use any more. Some of these needles were from my cousins’ grandmother who died many years ago. I inherited them because I was the only crafty person in that side of the family. And some are from my late adopted mom. I didn’t inherit any of my grandmother’s needles or hooks because one of my sisters, who actually was closer to her, got them first. S’okay by me. I have more than enough! Interestingly all 3 ladies were in their 90’s when they passed away. Does knitting help you live longer?

The needles that I really prefer are bamboo dpns (sets of 5, not 4), Addi Lace circulars and Denise for anything the lace circs don’t cover. Right now I’m starting on the Ice Queen smoke ring/wimple/cowl from Knitty — in spite of all I could do to put it off until I’ve finished more socks or gotten further on Hepburn Cardi. Yes, I got bit by Startitis. My version is called Twilight Queen due to the colour of the logwood-dyed SeaWool handspun and the transparent blue-violet beads with a lovely silver sheen. Here it is so far.

The colour is somewhat more accurate than in the last photo of this logwood-dyed yarn. I’m doing option B (garter stitch and lotsa beads) and it’s actually a very easy knit, though the chart is a little confusing about when to add the beads. It starts with a provisional cast-on and I used my favourite crochet-directly-onto-the-needle cast-on with some cotton weaving thread. You know, if I’d thought ahead I could have wound off enough yarn before I started to do the picot bind-off on that end without having to rejoin the yarn. Too late.

I’m nearly done the last toe on the B-Bil socks. Then it’s just grafting and the ceremonial bath and they’re finished. Now I don’t feel so bad about starting the wimple. I still have more socks to work on but that’s ongoing forever. I don’t want to totally stall out on the Hepburn Cardi though. I want to be able to wear it when the weather gets a bit warmer. Right now it’s snowing and looking very winter-wonderland-ish out there:

I’m content that I don’t have to go anywhere today! But it sure is pretty. Until it starts to rain at least. It’s amazing how much brighter it is in the house with the reflected light from the snow. I don’t have to turn on nearly so many lights today to see what I’m doing.

Monday, January 28, 2008


In case you think I’m overly critical of the books I’ve been reviewing, I’ve now found one I can actually gush about: “Intertwined: The Art of Handspun Yarn, Modern Patterns and Creative Spinning” by Lexi Boeger (aka Pluckyfluff).

It just came yesterday and it’s absolutely wonderful! I haven’t read it all yet but I’m totally impressed with its combination of beautifully produced hardbound book, delicious photographs, personal writing (including guest spinner/writers) and multitudinous ideas for wonderful art yarns and ways to use them — or not. There is a lot to think about in the philosophy presented here. For someone like me who spins fairly fine and relatively boring yarns to an end purpose and who’s been doing it for a very long time, this is a revelation. That a yarn can just be…yarn. No purpose necessary; an end in itself. Art. Totally mind-boggling really.

I never got a copy of Lexi’s self-published first book “Handspun Revolution” mostly because it is a thin book, expensive at US$36 and not available through my usual book pushers…er, suppliers. I wasn’t sure whether it could tell me anything new. Maybe I’m changing my mind on that, though I’d still like to see a copy first to evaluate. Lexi herself considers the new book a continuation of the first one, without overlap in techniques. It definitely doesn’t have room for the detail this second one has though.

This book is not for the rank beginner spinner, though I’m sure they would get a lot of encouragement out of it. There are no basic how-to-spin lessons and the directions specify wheel rather than spindle. (Not that you couldn’t use a spindle for most things if you wanted.) There are specific techniques explained like tail-spinning, add-ins, crescents and lots more which could probably be undertaken by someone who at least knows how to make good continuous yarn and how to ply. They really have the advantage over me with this since they don’t have a lot of ingrained spinning habits yet! For instance, it’s really hard for me to spin fat and lumpy. I always find myself smoothing out and going finer and finer if I don’t concentrate totally on what I’m doing. Heading for my “comfort yarn” which is somewhere around fingering or laceweight. My handspun is often mistaken for commercially spun yarn. I’m not sure that’s a compliment? Maybe, if that’s what I was aiming for. However I’m planning to try to shake myself out of this rut. This might be the book to do it.

Included are specific recipes for yarns and patterns for using some of this unusual stuff, including knitting, crochet and even rudimentary weaving. But in keeping with the philosophy of creating your own versions, they are all quite adaptable to alternatives. There are also lots of hints and tips and techniques you won’t find described anywhere else. Spinning with fabric, how to attach all kinds of odd items, working with combinations of things you would never have thought of to make yarn with, and lots more. This book is going to take me awhile to digest. I think I’ll go read some more now.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dye Daze

On Friday I bribed myself to finish the housework by dyeing my mordanted skein of SeaWool at the same time as I vacuumed the basement dye studio area. As I originally planned, I did end up using logwood extract at 3% of the weight of the skein and a teeny little not-really-measurable bit of cochineal extract. I don’t have a lot of experience with botanical dyes but I have to say it was the weirdest experience! Before I put the skein in, the dyebath was kind of a lovely Bordeaux wine colour. When I entered the skein it instantly went golden brown! The dye was brown and the skein was brown. I was thinking I did something wrong but continued to raise the temperature of the dyepot and stirred and as it got hotter the yarn got more and more purple. Guess I didn’t do anything wrong at all. At that point I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to add a smidge of cochineal which made the yarn a slightly more reddish colour. I’m quite happy with it now but I’m having trouble figuring out which beads go with it! It also is surprisingly difficult to photograph accurately. This is as close as I can get:

Yesterday Milady Daughter and her friend Y came over to play in my dye studio. But first we went to the wool shop for some yarn to be used to weave Milord some bright plaid trews. Yes, SCA garb. But a change from her first plan of a tunic for herself and in finer yarn than she was first thinking. In Birkeland Bros’ backroom stash we found an old and very large cone of what we think is merino 2ply at about 2,450 ypp, according to the McMorran yarn balance. It weighed over 2 kilos and had enough yarn on it to weave both trews and tunic. Good stuff! Dusty and dirty and linty but useable especially since we were going to dye it and she got a good price deal. After a lot of skein winding, we went to work with the dye.

Y dye-painted (or more like dye-splashed) all her yarns and used up a lot of my acid and Lanaset dye stocks that had been sitting around. She only had to mix one more stock in a colour that she ran out of. She got the big worktable and the steamer pot all to herself and made some wild wool skeins that hopefully will become a Rogue Hoodie and some socks.

Meanwhile MD and I weighed out her skeins and I plied the calculator to figure out how much yarn, mordant and dyestuff she needed for the trews. We got the alum/cream of tartar mordant pot on to simmer and started measuring out her madder. She wanted a deep orange-red so I went with a doubled amount of this nicely powdered madder root (that she bought from Maiwa Handprints awhile back) at 40% of the total weight of the 4 skeins of yarn. I did 3 dye extractions and was really concerned because the first extraction boiled which you are warned never to do with madder because it brings out the browns. Didn’t seem to spoil the colour at all though because we got a brilliant deep red that is the best colour I’ve seen from madder. Gorgeous! Then I did 3 extractions from osage orange chips at 50% of the weight of the single skein. It was a brilliant neon yellow but unfortunately picked up a little of the madder staining the enamel pot (we didn’t scrub with cleanser like I usually do between colours) so I added 2 cups of the madder exhaust to it to tone it down and blend in the blips of red. It’s still a really pretty golden yellow and the stains are less obvious and more “interesting”. Crisis averted.

I also calculated and weighed out the rest of the dyes MD wants to use on the remaining 3 skeins: cochineal bugs and logwood extract. Plus we bagged up the right amounts of mordant for some wool roving that she also bought. She can carry on doing the rest at home since none of this is toxic so no worries about doing it in her kitchen. She has a pot to dedicate to dye which is the important issue. After the staining with the madder, you can see graphically why it’s so important to keep a dyepot separate from regular cooking pots! Even if it’s not poisonous you don’t want to eat it, even in small quantities. I’m sure it’s much easier for her to dye in my dye studio, but she lives an hour away and it’s sometimes hard to schedule time. They both helped clean up everything so that was nice. Here’s some of the results:

The yellow skein is the osage/tiny bit of madder and the red skeins are the madder. The rest of them are acid dyes. Purty, huh? And here’s the exhausted dyers, Milady Daughter:

And Y, sitting on the concrete floor in front of the furnace and knitting:

They left at 4pm for the long drive back to Surrey just as it was beginning to snow! Luckily here at least we didn’t get more than a light dusting. But even so T-Man decided we should take the Mini to his work’s big party downtown last evening. That worked out quite well — no waiting for taxis or buses and I was really grateful for the heated seats! Just before we left I finally decided what to wear: a funky combo of brown short dress with long sleeves, Kashmiri shawl, black leggings and black lace-up granny boots. I was right about there being all levels of fancy and non-fancy dress at the party so I wasn’t at all out of place. It was enjoyable but there was a lack of tables and chairs so we stood for most of the several hours we were there. Not too many people to chat with since T has only been working there for 3 years. He doesn’t hang out with his coworkers socially (most of them are younger than our kids and have different ideas of fun than we do) and it was a very large crowd of hundreds of employees, most of whom were strangers to both of us. The drinks were $7 but the wine was even more pricey at $7.75 per glass! (I had 2 of them but T only had one. He was driving.) The rest was on the house and there were lots of things to nibble and nosh on. My fave was the maple-glazed spicy salmon kebabs. Yum! The band was a bunch of old guys playing vintage blues, somewhat too loud so I had to take off my hearing aids to avoid painful reverb. (Yes, I do see the irony in that last statement. Heh!) We didn’t win a raffle prize. No surprise there. We got home at about 10:30pm which for us is very late. And we slept in all the way to 7:30am this morning!

This afternoon I met my fellow Raveler, Lauren, and we went to The Grind hoping to meet with more knitters. But I guess the snow that was falling to the east (but we were in the sunshine) stopped everyone from venturing out. It was just we two and we had a nice visit. I hope more show up next time. It would be a shame if this isn’t working as a group. We shall see.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What The Dickens?

While I’m madly knitting birthday socks, of late I’ve also been indulging in some Dickensian pleasures. You know — the author Charles Dickens? He’s one of my all time favourite writers. I love the complex characterizations and the language and the glimpses into another era. Milord and Milady Daughter lent us their set of the BBC Dickens films on DVD which were made anywhere from the late 1970’s to more recently. As you might expect the quality of the productions vary somewhat (some are more “play-like” in the scenes and some have annoying music) but the actors, whether famous or not-so, are perfect for their parts. The clothing and props are very good as well, though if there was something really anachronistic I probably wouldn’t be able to tell. Can we bring back the handsome frock coat for men, please? We can skip the huge skirts and silly bonnets for ladies though. I’ve read most of Dickens’ works in the past and it’s fun to see it all come to life.

At the same time, I’m also listening to the CraftLit podcast’s serialization of “A Tale of Two Cities” which is a book I’ve read several times. We haven’t watched the BBC version yet. I’m running somewhat behind on these great podcasts. The story begins on episode 43 and Heather is now up to episode 83 and Shelley’s “Frankenstein”. I listen when I can. Nice thing about podcasts is they will wait for you, unlike normal radio that is gone the minute it’s broadcast unless you record it. I have a harder time concentrating when it’s just sound rather than sound-plus-images. And I do better still reading the words myself except that it’s harder to knit at the same time. Not impossible, just harder. So currently here in Damselfly’s pond it’s all Dickens all the time.

Speaking of knitting, I’m up to the gussets on both the B-Bil socks. They’re coming along nicely. His birthday is tomorrow but we plan to invite the family over for dinner sometime later in the next few weeks. That’s when I’ll present them. This weekend is going to be very busy with Dye Day with Milady Daughter and her friend Y tomorrow. MD has planned a very large project that she wants to weave for her SCA garb but first has to get the wool yarn and then dye it in natural dyes. We’ll be going over to the Birkeland Bros first to see what yarns they have available. Since she needs nearly 5000 yards to make a large just-past-the-knee length tunic, that’s a lotta wool! I thought about going over myself ahead of time but decided that first, I’m too tired after cleaning the house while still feeling crappy and second, it’s not my job to do it for her. But the old mommy habits die hard, eh? Always trying to help out and smooth the way. Must control the urge. I have enough on my plate at the moment.

Then tomorrow evening we’re going to a party for T-Man’s work at an expensive downtown hotel. What do I have to wear that’s anywhere near acceptable as “cocktail” dress? Yikes. I don’t own a “little black dress” or anything remotely resembling it in any colour. I don’t own a pair of pantyhose either. Or heels. And wouldn’t wear them anyhow. I’m consoling myself with the fact that he works with a bunch of younger computer nerds who will have their own interpretations. If I’m dressed oddly enough maybe I’ll blend in. At least I’m old enough now not to really care what anyone thinks. I’ll just try to have a good time and to keep my eyes open past 9pm. At least we won’t be drinking too much when the no-host bar reportedly will be charging $7 per glass.

I’ve got time to sleep in a bit as Sunday afternoon is another Ravelry meetup. I’m looking forward to that as always! We have such a good time yakking and knitting or spinning or even weaving. We’re back at The Grind so it’s just a little hoof up Main Street with my neighbour, who is a very fast walker.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Stuck In Viral Purgatory

I went to see my lovely doc yesterday and the office was running uncharacteristically behind. Luckily I had the B-Bil socks to work on while I waited over half an hour. After apologising for keeping me so long, he said “Oh, you were ok with your knitting to pass the time!” Knows me too well, that man. Unfortunately after hearing my long tale of woe and checking me out, he concluded that I have an opportunistic hanger-on virus that jumped in right after the flu. Hence the reason why the antibiotics didn’t affect it. And there ain’t nothing we can do about it but wait until it goes away. Pooh. Meanwhile my throat is sore (but I don’t have strep) and my upper airway is congested (but I don’t have bronchitis) and I cough some (but it doesn’t keep me awake) and I’m a little tired (but not nonfunctional). So I apologised for wasting his precious time but he said better I should come in when he can’t do anything for me than NOT come in when it could be more serious. He’s so sweet. I lurve my doc.

I also finished spinning a lovely skein of plied yarn yesterday.

Spinning: SeaWool

Fibre: 30 g of SeaWool, 70% merino/30% SeaCell, purchased at Birkeland Bros. Wool.

Preparation: doubled combed narrow tops, unusual prep.

Drafting Method: short forward draw

Wheel: Tori (Louet Victoria)

Ratio: singles – lace flyer 20:1, plying – regular flyer 13.5:1

Plied twist angle: 15º

Plied twists per inch: 9-11

Plied wraps per inch: 24

Total yardage: 240

Yards per pound: approx. 3600

Yarn classification: laceweight

Comments: I can’t count the tpi in such fine singles yarn! So I count the bumps when plied instead. Good enough for my lackadaisical spinning records.

This is the first project on my new lace flyer. I had some difficulty with the wheel wobbling but T fixed it by tightening up the bolt that holds the upright in place. It’s a little more difficult to fold but it doesn’t wobble nearly as much. The wheel is also warped somewhat and it was occasionally throwing the drive band so he sanded down the side of the groove a bit so the rubber drive band doesn’t ride up the rough composite material as much. So far so good!

I do like the new lace flyer though. T-Man made me a new and better hook to thread with. It has a custom-length wire hook that will reach right to the end of the tubular flyer arms. It’s a big improvement over the ugly and dinky one that came with the flyer.

I also fudged a fix for the lazy kate so that I could wind off the singles into a ball for plying. I used one of Mummy’s old aluminum knitting needles through the bobbin and through the hole in the centre of the kate and then into the dead-end hole at the end. Pressure against the other upright holds it in place and it works fine even with two bobbins in it. See?

I plan to mordant this yarn and dye it with botanical dyes so that it will dye both the protein and cellulose contents. I’ve been thinking perhaps deep logwood with maybe a teeny bit of cochineal to make it more purple and more colourfast over alum and cream of tartar mordant. I’ve got some great purple beads to go with it for the Ice Queen cowl. This yarn is not nearly as fluffy as the called-for Kidsilk Haze, but it has a bit of a halo and a nice sheen. Samples will ensue. I should mordant the yarn today ready for Dye Day with Milady Daughter and her friend on Saturday. Or maybe I should dye it tomorrow while I clean up the dye studio so I’ll be ready to assist.

Meanwhile I’ve started on the marigold yarn that I’ve been neglecting for the SeaWool, this one on the regular flyer. Tori is much more pleasant to spin on now that she doesn’t wobble nearly as much. I also am at the heel flaps on the B-Bil socks. In my head I hear that as Bee-Bill so that’s what I’m calling them. If you’ve forgotten, it means “baby-brother-in-law” and it gives me my new nickname for him too. Heh! He’s so gonna kill me if he finds out. But I’ve known him since he was 12 (which amazes his teenaged kids!) so I’ve been thinking of him as my baby brother decades before I met my actual half-brother, who is only a month older (and not at all inclined to be referred to as “baby” anything). Complicated family I’ve got. Remind me to tell you about it sometime.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sunny & Cold

That’s our weather forecast for the next few days. I love seeing all the light! And it’s not too cold, only down to -4C at night and above freezing during the middle of the day. Unfortunately I woke up this morning with a throat that’s even more sore and lumpy than it has been so far so I finally broke down and got an appointment with my doctor tomorrow. I could have seen a different one today but this time I want my own! I trust him to fix whatever’s wrong with me. Though he’ll probably give me a hard time about not coming in sooner. Guess he doesn’t like to be considered The Last Resort, huh?

We went to The Ninja’s birthday party at his mother-in-law’s last evening and a good time was had by all. Except maybe granddaughter KiKi who was kind of tired so she was pretty crabby towards the end. It was late anyway — past my bedtime and hers. I’m betting she fell asleep in the car on the way home. Both kids were all jammied up and ready to be popped into bed the minute they got home, which is a wise move. Anyhow, The Ninja was so impatient to get his socks that he opened them first and put them on right away! They fit and so far didn’t turn his feet orange. Here’s hoping I’ve fixed whatever the problem was.

I think I’m getting everyone in the family expecting socks for their birthday’s now. Yes, I’ve got you on the list, Nicole hon’. Good thing you’re in July! As is Milord (aka Milady Daughter’s hubby). That spreads it out some. Whew! It seems like I’ll be beating last year’s record easy.

I also gifted Milady D with the Miao sewing case and she was thrilled. Now she has to figure out how to pack her stitching supplies in all the little folds. Heh. A few leftover Christmas gifts from absent family members were also finally passed out to the grandkids. That spreads the impact out some especially for the little ones who don’t have a sense of time yet. And they didn’t have to be envious that their daddy got all the gifts! And their was only one candle on the cake so we didn’t burn the house down.

So, back to the book reviews. I hope nobody minds that all my reviews are not totally positive. I think that sometimes it’s a good thing to be critical, but in a gentle way and backed up with logical reasoning. Some people live by the “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” philosophy and some “reviews” are more of a sales blurb than a critical review. But I don’t think that’s very helpful if you’re trying to assess which books you should spend your hard-earned money on. I just calls ’em like I sees ’em and you can feel very free to disagree if you want! After all, everyone does not share the same taste — thank goodness — or this world would be very boring indeed.

OK, the book is “The Yarn Lover’s Guide to Hand Dyeing: Beautiful Color and Simple Knits” by Linda LaBelle.

This one is a hardcover and pricey so you’d better assess carefully before forking out for it. I couldn’t resist because it has photos of people I know personally in it! Karen Selk of Treenway Silks and her dyers, Mary & Cheryl, are old acquaintances and I’ve bought silk and taken weaving classes with Karen who is a really fun and informative instructor. And they live on Salt Spring Island which is one of my favourite places. So of course what I like best about this book is the photos and the personal stories of the featured indy dyers. The techniques and patterns themselves are so-so, mostly not bad but not fabulous. Does one really need a pattern for a garter stitch scarf? And there’s a crocheted one that’s just as simple. You got that right. Yes, there are crochet patterns in here too. Good for the bi-craftual! Also, again the instructions for the dyeing are both too specific and not specific enough — calling for very specific yarns and dyes but not saying why they are necessary or what else you could use if you don’t have those. (Although there are commercially dyed substitutes for the patterns included, just in case you don’t want to dye your own.) Certain chemicals such as thickeners and Reduran for removing dye off your hands are called for but no explanation as to what they are and why they are recommended for a particular situation. It does cover quite a lot of territory as far as different types and brands of dyes goes, including dyeing with eucalyptus that you can get from your florist which is kind of intriguing. And there are a number of ways to apply these dyes to yarn, including a few that are very painterly and deliberate (as opposed to the haphazard way that I splash dye on things). This book doesn’t seem to be aimed at handspinners because there are no unspun fibres included. Though obviously a spinner could use some of the techniques to dye their yarns after they’re spun up or once familiar with how-to’s, adapt them to roving or whatever. I would rate the dyeing instructions beginner to intermediate level and the knitting/crochet patterns as mostly rudimentary with only a few needing more experience. Pretty yummy photos though. Makes you want to go live in some gorgeous rural place with a big garden and lots of sheep and a view. If you don’t already.

Monday, January 21, 2008

First Socks Of The New Year

I’m on a roll to complete at least as many pairs as I did last year. Count One!

Rusty Socks

for The Ninja

Begun: January 10, 2008

Completed: January 20, 2008

Yarn: Sisu, 80% superwash wool/20% nylon, 160m = 50g, 2.25 balls Grey marl 1438, over-dyed with acid and Telana dyes in rusts/oranges.

Needles: Addi Natura 6” dpns, 2mm

Pattern: Damselfly’s Basic Socks on 72 sts, leg 8.5” before heel flap, foot 8.5” before toe decreases, down to 24 sts total, dog ear reduction before grafting.

Comments: Done just in time to be dry for his birthday party! As I suspected, I ran out of yarn in the middle of the toe decreases so the extra small ball of yarn was a necessity though there was still lots left over. For some reason the dye colour crocked off on my hands and needles rather badly. After the socks were completed I rinsed many times with still a wee bit of yellow coming out. Hopefully they won’t crock more on his feet! The first half dozen times they are washed they’ll have to be washed carefully with items that won’t discolour, just in case.

Next I started on the pair for my baby brother-in-law on special request. He wanted purple so this is a “manly” purple-grey. I’ve gotten this far in one day:

Note that the orange is not wearing off my bamboo needles. At least this is my favourite colour so I’m actually quite happy about it! As long as it doesn’t rub off on anything including me. Now I’m having cravings to start a shawl but I’m controlling myself. I have 2 more pairs of socks to do in the next short while and my Hepburn Cardi to finish before it’s too warm to wear it. I’m trying to keep the WIPs down to only two: one portable and one not. We’ll see how long this will last.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunny Day – So Why Am I Inside?

I’m still not feeling tiptop and it’s been nearly a month since I got the flu. I’m vacillating on going back to the doctor. One minute I think I ought to and the next I think it’s a waste of time. Gotta get myself in the middle of a coughing fit at the same time the doc’s office is open. Maybe. I walked right past there on Friday. Missed one easy opportunity. The problem is that I don’t feel all that bad but the cough and the congestion in my upper airway is just not going away 10 days after finishing the course of antibiotics. It’s not bronchitis but just at my throat and a little below. I definitely don’t have that “stepped on by an elephant” feeling that I get with bronchitis where it’s more work to get a breath. Do I really need more antibiotics? Geesh, I don’t know! Won’t it go away by itself eventually?

So I’ve finished the Rusty Socks just in time for them to dry before The Ninja’s birthday party tomorrow evening at his MIL’s. I soaked them for several hours in many changes of water but they are still leaking a bit of yellow dye. Not enough dye came out though to account for turning my fingers orange! Don’t know why they were crocking so badly but I hope they don’t turn his feets orange too. Heh. I’ll warn him anyway and warn his lady wife to be cautious when washing them for the first half dozen times. They should give it up eventually. I like them though — they’re actually a very attractive colour in a not-quite-solid with the dark charcoal ply throughout to give it a bit of tweediness. I’ll give you the full stats with photo tomorrow.

Now my Addi Natura needles are tinted orange and I wonder if it will wear off or not. I’ve already started the next pair of socks on them in Manly Purple for my favourite brother-in-law’s birthday which is next week. I don’t think I’ll get them done in time but I won’t be seeing him for a couple of weeks anyway so there’s time before then to complete them. He specially requested purple and I found a very nice ball of Lana Grossa Marmi (80% wool/20% polyamide in a purple/grey mix with tiny spots of denim and light grey. Purple but not TOO purple, if you know what I mean. I was originally going to dye something for him but this is much better. I’m kind of wary of hand-dyes right now even though I usually don’t have a problem! I’ll show you when there’s more sock to be seen. These ones should go a little faster since they’re the same size as his brother T-Man’s and not as honking huge…er, big as our handsome son’s are. The Ninja’s feet are the largest ones I knit for though they’re not overly large compared to some I’ve seen!

I have several more pairs on the Birthday Socks list but they are going to be later because I can only knit just so many socks in a given time period. However, the next pair will be a bit fancier because they’re for Nana, my MIL, and also because I need something a little more of a challenge for a change rather than plain socks. Unfortunately if they’re fancier I can’t read at the same time so they take longer to knit. Her feet aren’t much bigger than my granddaughter’s though so it shouldn’t take too long! I’ll have to remember to ask her tomorrow if she has a colour preference. As long as it doesn’t dye my Clover Takumi dpns too. I just bought a new double set because the old ones are wearing out on the tips. Now that my Addis are orange I can tell them apart at a glance!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Quickly-Stitched Page

I saved this to blog about after it went to the recipient. Just in case she reads my blog. I didn’t want to accidentally spoil the surprise.

Begun & Completed: January 11, 2008

Size: 8” wide x 8.75” tall – to fit on 9” x 9” book page

Materials: Main – piece of cotton fabric (painted with Setacolor and metallic fabric paints, scrunched), iron-on heavy-duty stabilizer. Accents – images printed on HP Iron-On T-Shirt Transfer paper and applied on cotton fabric, various scraps of fabric-painted and stamped raw silk fabric, all backed with Lite Steam-a-Seam 2. Pen – Pitt drawing pen in sepia. Thread – Sulky 12 wt. variegated cotton, size 100 needle, regular cotton sewing thread in bobbin.

Comments: I originally planned on making this 8 x 8 but apparently I can’t measure properly. I experimented with the transfer images first (I’m sure you’ll recognise the images!) and they worked rather well although the results are somewhat stiff. Sure wouldn’t want a t-shirt with this unless it softens with washing! I ironed the stabilizer (like heavy non-woven interfacing) onto the main fabric piece. All the scrap fabrics and the transfers had the Lite Steam-a-Seam2 stuck on. This stuff is different than Wonder-Under or the like. It’s sticky on both sides and you don’t iron it at all until it’s in place where it will be permanent. You just peel off the one paper layer and hand-press it on then cut out shapes, peel off the other paper and hand-press them in place until you’re ready to iron. I think it’s rather sticky to sew through so when this is gone, I won’t be getting more. Then I wrote the words on with the Pitt pen. Even though it’s not recommended for cloth I’ve tested and it lasts pretty well even if it gets wet. I’m obviously not very good with the free-motion embroidery yet. Kinda sloppy but not too awful. I had trouble getting the exact right tensions on top thread and bobbin. Tried and rejected brighter rayon thread and instead used the heavy cotton. I ended with a close zigzag around all the edges.

I’m pretty satisfied with this piece considering I didn’t give myself very long to do it! Only one day. I used several materials that were new to me and got some more practice in on the FME. This page was inserted into the gift book that was presented to Chisako at her going-away party at the Silk Weaving Studio where she worked and sold her lovely naturally-dyed and handwoven scarves.

The wording says:

January 2008

Dear Chisako,

May your heart always be light.

May your threads never tangle.

May your dyes always be brilliant.

May your shuttle always fly.

May your colours sing.

Best wishes from Damselfly


Your friend Louisa

She received the completed book with pages made by many of her friends in different styles and techniques: paper, cloth, weaving, and even a tiny knitted sock. It’s quite a treasure! The small shop was filled to capacity, proving that she will definitely be missed by the local textile arts community. I hope that their move to Japan will be all that they wish and they will find that special place that fills their hearts and becomes home.

Meanwhile and continuing on the Japanese theme I have two more books to review, this time on kumihimo. Both of these are not available through regular sources but I got them from Braidershand and they are both focused on the Hamanaka disk and plate, inexpensive and portable tools to braid on. First we have the world authority on kumihimo, Makiko Tada, who has worked with the manufacturer to develop the foam Hamanaka disks. The latest in her series of Comprehensive Treatise of Braids published by Texte in Japan, is “VI: Kumihimo Disk and Plate.”

Makiko shows how to make round, flat, zigzag, curled and braids-within-braids. She also shares her secrets of how to make jewelry with the shaped braids. The text is in English and Japanese but there are many diagrams that should make it easy to follow once you familiarize yourself with how to decipher the diagramming system. Braidershand also has several smaller booklets available for the disk and plate but they are in Japanese with a small supplement in English from Janis Saunders, owner of Braidershand. Some of the braids are the same and some are different and one might clarify the other, so it’s not a problem to have them all. Which brings me to the next book, or rather booklet:

This one is by my friend Carol Goodwin from Seattle, published by Braidershand, and is titled “Braiding on a Kumihimo Disk – Volume 3: Beaded Braids.” Note there are no Volumes 1 & 2, yet! At 21 pages it’s a slim volume but Carol has developed some really interesting ways to incorporate beads in braids. If you already have Jacqui Carey’s “Beads & Braids”, Carol’s techniques are quite different. And fairly easy to accomplish if somewhat slow compared to braiding without beads. You can also work these braids on the marudai as well as the disk, which I prefer if I don’t have to consider portability.

The Hamanaka disk and plate are made from high-density foam with slots to accept your threads. The foam holds them quite well, much better than the cardboard ones I used to teach braiding on! And they hold up well under regular use. The reason there are two shapes is that some braids are easier to do on one shape over the other. The flat zigzag for instance is much easier to accomplish on the square and Kongo (round spiral) is easier on the round shape. Not that you couldn’t fake it if necessary but they are pretty inexpensive so I would get both, or indeed several so you could have more braids going at once. Besides, chances are you’ll be giving them away when others see how much fun it is!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another Day

And another book review! This time, in case you think I’m overly critical of every book, I’ve chosen one that I absolutely love: “How We Felt” by Carol Huber Cypher.

This is such a fabulously beautiful book! It’s even better than Carol’s first felt book, “Hand Felted Jewelry and Beads” which I also adored. This one features the work of many felt artists and covers a number of different items, from purses and hats to capes and vests with slippers and scarves and even vessels in between. I’d be happy to own almost every one of them! The techniques are wide-ranging, including felting over a ball, resists, nuno and embellishing with beads and needle-felting. The colours are delightful and each technique is quite carefully spelled out with plenty of illustrations. Each artist’s particular style and methods are discussed and there is a lot of variation in the way that they work to achieve their particular results. In the back there is a gallery section with even more eye-candy for inspiration. This book is not really for rank beginners at wet felting but there is a section in the very back on the basics and there is a list of sources for equipment and materials, both general and specific (US) companies. However, I would suggest experimenting with some basic felting first before diving into the more complex pieces described in this book. I do love to see things taken to the next level though. There are far too many beginner books out there on every subject but not enough on a more advanced level for when you have developed your skills and want to go further. Not everything needs to be “quick & easy”!

This is a short post today because I’ve just been reminded that I must take cookies to the weavers’ guild meeting tomorrow, plus extras because of my friend who’s still in hospital and who was supposed to contribute. Gotta go do that right now, assuming I can find the ingredients. I rarely eat sweets and only bake when I must. Not that I won’t eat them if they’re around! Which of course is the reason I don’t bake.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Blown Away

The windstorm yesterday afternoon and last night was pretty fierce. We had to close our bedroom window because the roaring sound kept waking us up. It sounded like it does on those old movies! Interestingly our side fence which was leaning inward and resting on our pieris shrubs is now leaning outward in thin air. It never did that in all of the bad winds we’ve had in the last few years so it must have been both strong and from the west this time. Hopefully T-Man will be inspired to get this fixed now even if he doesn’t want to do it himself. There’s small branches all over the place and I heard that downtown some plywood fell from a building site and smashed into the cars below (luckily nobody was hurt) and 2 large glass windows fell off one at a time from a highrise so that the street had to be blocked off until they could get things secured. Of course there were power outages and trees down blocking roads and bridges and all the usual stuff. Too exciting.

Anyway, today it’s sunny and we have pictures. Here’s my FO from Saturday.

Miao Sewing Case

Begun: December 8, 2007

Completed: January 12, 2008

Materials: special handmade mulberry paper from Paper-Ya (local shop), Chinese rayon brocade fabric from Mostly Silk, silk kumihimo braid (made by me), Opus PVA glue.

Pattern: Tomoko Torimaru’s pattern from Maiwa Symposium workshop

Comments: This case took several days of cutting and pasting and drawing little designs. My decorating is not nearly so elaborate as the original versions are! All the different pockets, particularly the “flower” pockets really appeal to me. Note that there are pockets underneath the “flower” pockets and a large pocket under it all.

Unfortunately I don’t do embroidery (well, hardly ever) so I have no real use for this item. Rather than it gathering dust, I may gift it to Milady Daughter who does cross-stitch and other types of fancy stitching. I’m sure she can pass it off as SCA “period” if she wishes.

I’m up to the heel turns on the Rusty Socks which are of course still turning my fingers orange, especially the nails. I almost don’t notice anymore! I’ve also been spinning but not on my Backyard Dyed Wool (remember the madder, marigold and walnut?) but Seawool (merino wool and Seacell) using my new lace flyer. I think it will become an Ice Queen. Though I’m not sure what dyes would work with both protein and cellulose. Perhaps indigo would be nice or maybe one of the other natural dyes like logwood. It’s only going to be about 25g or so in total. Maybe I should pick the beads first and decide what colour the yarn should be from them!

Another book review, this time it’s “Creative Spinning” by Alison Daykin and Jane Deane.

I really wanted to like this book. There are so few good inspirational books on handspinning out there. This one has lots of pretty pictures but that’s about it. Unfortunately it has problems, big ones, and I just can’t give it a thumbs-up. First of all, the authors are British, which of course isn’t a problem except that they have different fibres available than we do in North America. Since the whole second part of the book is “recipes” that are very specifically spelled out, it might induce some pretty serious frustration if you were trying to locate Portland wool or something of the sort to copy the yarn in the book. I’ve not only never seen any but didn’t recall hearing of this breed! Getting out my trusty copy of “In Sheep’s Clothing” I find that it’s considered one of Britain’s rarest breeds so chances of being able to purchase any without considerable effort and expense would be rather slim. And that’s just one of the fibres. There are others that might be nearly as difficult to obtain and some are even required in specific colours, both natural and dyed. There are no sources at all listed in the book, though there is an index and a small glossary of terms.

Backing up, the front of the book contains the requisite beginner spinning lessons, illustrated by drawings rather than photos. Since I’ve been spinning so long, I can’t really tell if one could actually learn from these, but my impression is they are rather rudimentary. One big error I found is where the authors state that for worsted yarn you pre-draft combed fibres to the thickness of the wanted yarn and then just apply the twist with spindle or wheel! Yikes! Wrong, wrong, so wrong. There are several other spots where the instructions are fuzzy. One tip is to test for balance throughout your plying without telling you how to do that. And there unfortunately is more of that kind of thing in this section. I can’t recommend this book as a learn-to-spin textbook.

As I’ve mentioned, the majority of the book has lovely inspirational colour photos. A two-page spread includes the colour scheme and theme plus the spun yarn and a knitted sample swatch in stockinette along with the instructions to re-create the yarn. At first blush this seems very lovely and the yarns reflect the inspiration quite well. But looking deeper the instructions are at the same time both too specific and not specific enough. “Spin a fine z-spun singles” without ever telling you what exactly is meant by fine, medium-fine, thick etc. My “fine” is definitely not their “fine”! And what is meant by “medium twist”? In my opinion nearly every yarn shown is what I would consider very under-plied. The authors are purported to have many years experience in spinning but the yarns shown are very primitive, like a fairly newbie spinner’s work. Which may be what they were aiming for but I would be embarrassed to show some of them to other spinners if they were mine, far less publish them in a book. I like to think that after 30-some years of spinning the techniques should improve! There are some interesting ideas but they’re just not that well executed, at least to my eye. For these types of fancy spinning techniques, a much better book is “Spinning Designer Yarns” by Diane Varney which has been reprinted by Interweave Press. Perhaps I’m too much of a perfectionist and am missing the point here? If that’s the case, please enlighten me.

I think it would be a better exercise to take the same inspirational photos and make up your own yarns using your own stash or available fibre sources. That at least would be more of the “creative” part that the title suggests but doesn’t really deliver on. I’ll be waiting for Pluckyfluff (Lexie Boeger) and her new book “Intertwined” to see if she gets a better handle on this subject. I already have it on order and it should be available soon. For some reason I like her funky yarns much better. They are even more creative but the execution is superior.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Busy Weekend

I’m feeling quite tired and still not well today, even though I finished up my antibiotics on Friday. My throat is still funny and I’m coughing more to clear it. Probably should go back to the doctor but gee, this is getting old! Plus it’s dumping rain bigtime today. I’m not going anywhere.

On Saturday my Spectrum Study Group descended upon one of our number who had a recent hip replacement (the second on that side) which didn’t go as well as the doctors could have wished. She has been stuck in hospital since 4 days before Christmas and will not be home for maybe another week. She can’t put weight on her hip for 3 months so she’ll either be in a wheelchair or a walker until then. They can’t even do physiotherapy until it heals well enough first. Complicating the whole thing is her other leg has a fused knee from an old car accident so that it doesn’t bend. Makes it rather more difficult to get around than it might be otherwise. She’s very chipper and upbeat though and has lots of handwork that she can do in the meanwhile. Though no weaving because her studio is downstairs. Her poor husband meanwhile is attempting to put a wheelchair ramp up their front stairs and having all kinds of trouble with it. These two are both in their 70’s but doing their best to deal with a difficult situation. We gave her a copy of Andy Goldsworthy’s lovely coffee table art book to keep her occupied for a short while at least. She was sure surprised when 8 of us showed up in her room at once!

Then we repaired back to another member’s house for an afternoon of cutting, pasting, folding, braiding and drawing on our Miao sewing cases. Mine is finished but I can’t get a good picture until it brightens up outside. I’ll blog it another time. At dinner time we had our spouses show up (including the hubby of the one in hospital) and had a potluck dinner party to say goodbye to our member who is leaving for Japan. We presented her with her own copy of the same Goldsworthy book and she was thrilled. (It was her suggestion in the first place!) and we had a lovely visit with everyone. The husbands found lots to chat about (they mostly know each other anyway) over drinks and the food was even better than our usual spectacular presentation. It always amazes me that we never plan, just bring what we want and it always works out to be a very complete and delicious meal. We got home well after our usual 9pm bedtime.

Yesterday I went with my neighbour and fellow Ravelry member to meet up at Home Craft Imports. They were quite happy to have 6 knitters at once who were busy enabling each other into purchases! I even bought 2 more 100g balls of sock yarn and another set of Clover Takumi 5” 2mm. Now I can either use all 4 sets for 2 pairs at a time or switch over to the new ones. I already recently bought one set and started eliminating the most worn out ones. I have one old and one new set going at once on the rust socks and they are likely permanently dyed orange! I think I can no longer tell which ones are which anyhow. Might as well use them until the tips start catching the yarn. That’s how I can tell they need replacing.

Right after I got home from Raveling my birth mom and sister came over for a quick visit. This is the sister who lives in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) and she has headed over to Victoria today for a work-related seminar. It was nice to see her even if it was only for an hour or so. Got caught up on family doings and talked about her “other” job as the SPCA for QCI. She has been investigating the places down here in the Lower Mainland where her excess kitties are sent when they can’t find homes for them on the islands. She wanted to make sure they were properly housed and taken care of and she was happy to find in the affirmative. My sister manages three different careers: she and her husband run a B&B (though he is mostly in charge of that part), she works for Parks Canada and runs the only SPCA in QCI. All that along with a pre-teen son who has been partly home-schooled. Whew! And she still manages to look healthy and laid-back. Gotta love ‘er. It was making me feel like going back to visit Haida Gwaii sometime in the near future. It is such an amazingly beautiful place: moss and muskeg, cedar and spruce, ocean waves and sea shells, mist and tiny island deer.

Switching the subject to things a bit more crafty, I got several books in the mail that I ordered so I guess I should do some reviewing. I’ll start with the small book from Evelyn A. Clark on Knitting Lace Triangles published by Fiber Trends.

At 70 small pages spiral-bound with a separate heavy cardstock cover, it’s really a booklet rather than a book. However there is a lot going on inside. Evelyn has an elegant method for creating triangle shawls. I’m not sure if this is a traditional method from somewhere or whether she came up with it herself. I learned how to do it while making the Swallowtail Shawl: it starts in the middle of the hypotenuse (long edge) with a tiny strip of garter stitch and then stitches are picked up on the ends and one side of this piece. The rest of the triangle is worked outwards from there with a line of increases down the centre. The final border is worked straight outward from the sides so there is no picking up or attaching stitches. The beauty of this method is that you can work as many repeats of the lace as necessary before working the border and it will still automatically work out correctly. The whole thing is in one piece from beginning to end. The drawback is that there are really only a few border variations that will give you nice lacey peaks and you must be sure to bind of loosely enough. The results though are quite lovely and are deceptively easy to work once you understand how to get that tricky beginning started.

This booklet takes 4 relatively simple lace patterns with the same repeat number (flower, leaf, medallion and ripple) plus one edging and puts the individual pieces together in different ways to create seven different shawls in either stockinette or garter stitch and in different weights of yarn. The author even supplies a 2-page chart to help you determine how large your shawl will be with the different-sized yarns and how much you will need to knit it plus the number of beads if you decide to add them to the edging. For those who like words or charts best, both are included, though there would be much flipping of pages needed to follow any of the patterns since information is kind of scattered around. The best use of this booklet in my opinion is to think of it as a workbook to help you plan a shawl the way Evelyn does. In which case a good charting program or experience with something like Excel would be invaluable. You could definitely expand the knowledge gained and combine it with a stitch dictionary or two to come up with your own beautiful shawl variations.