Levelling Up: Lace Workshop Session One

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“The air was sultry. The day was bright. The oppressive sun seared our skin as we set out across the market town of Mansfield in search of knowledge. A challenge had been set to learn to knit the fabled Cherry Leaf Shawl. The lace shawl is an intricate, delicate design that has set many a heart on fire. This blazing day, six intrepid ladies traversed the cruel temperatures on a quest to acquire the knowledge, the skill and courage to make the mythical garment. But there would be tests of technique they would need to pass….

Pass they did.”

 

Woollyelly, designed the pattern expressly for the Yankee Yarns Workshop Series. June 17th was the first of three in the lace knitting series. As with any fabled quest, there were three milestones we were meant to pass. Woollyelly (who will from now on be known as the Bridgekeeper) guided us through each of them.

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Woollelly aka Ellena Kirk

The Colour : The first hurdle we had to surmount was which colour we needed to choose. The price of the workshop included two 50g (210m) skeins of Superba Premium Superwash. It is a 4 Ply Yarn. It is 75% Virgin Wool,  25% Polyamide. It’s great for socks and typically you would use a needle Size of 2 – 3mm. But we used 4mm circular needles because we are working with lovely large holes. The stumbling block was really deciding on the colour. I changed my mind six times before finally using the red as is shown in the pattern. I thought I would be kicked out of the shop for vacillating between colour choices. When I jumped this first hurdle, I felt my energy level up and I was ready to tackle the next round which would be a contest of skill…

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The Technique: The finished shawl is a top-down shawl design and starts at the centre where the shawl would rest on the nape of your neck. Rather than casting on in a regular way, the cast-on technique is not so much started as it is “realised”. The name of this bit of sorcery is The Garter Tab Cast On. We began at the centre back, with 3 stitches wrapped around a diaper pin stitch marker. knitting off the stitch marker, it lengthens as it grows in a rectangular shape and then morphs into a lovely curved design. This technique ensures the start blends seamlessly to form the top horizontal line of the shawl. The effort not only is worth the effort but gains you valuable XP and street cred.

The bonus skill is the Yarn Over. To make lovely big holes, we learned the most efficient way to YO. Three of us were doing it backwards making holes that were far too small and would have compromised the beauty of the finished product.

“Only three rows in and already it is so pretty,” remarked Angela as she passed that crucible. “It’s RIDICULOUS!”

The Count: Spellweavers, magic users, conjurers of lacy things… this was our destiny. But we had to be mindful of our craft. We knitted four rows that made up the foundation stitches. We set off on our course to knit rows three and four for a total of 66 times until we ended up with 70 stitches. We had to stay on the path so out came the “runes”.

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Our time had been suspended in magical clicks of needles and discussions of all good things. But the sands on the glass ran out and we rambled out into the night on our individual side-quests…

 

… and to prepare for the next level at the second workshop.

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Of Knitting Circles, Eclectic Abyss & The Project of Shame

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Il Knitterati, IlumiKnitty & Knitting Knijas logo Sponsered by Yankee Yarns Stitch & Bitch courtesy @BakerHobbies

You would think one would be satisfied with being a member of one crafty club. After speaking to several of the ladies in my milieu, I realised I am not alone in the fact that sometimes one circle is not enough. Most of the ladies belong to spinning guilds, sewing bees, craft groups as well as regular knitting circles. The ladies I know may as well create some kind of logo inspired by the olympic rings with all the clubs and organisations they belong to! The knowledge and inspiration that comes from such associations are truely mind enhancing.

“I think my next thing is to get a loom,” said Rachel Williams of the Knitting Kninjas and W.I. I never thought about using a loom until just that moment. Rachel talked a bit about it as she crocheted, ruminating out-loud on where she would fit a loom in her house. Lizzie Vershowske, member of the Knitting Kninjas and The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers said she often thought of getting a loom. 20170215_185215However, as the owner of four spinning wheels and a handsome stash of yarn, she would not know whether she would be able to compete for space in the house she shares with her husband (who has his own sizable hobbies). These ideas flowered in my head rendering me into an eclectic stupor as I sat knitting my third pair of socks. The conversation meandered into knitting and crochet holiday destinations like Cornwall, Scotland and France. I snapped out of a dreamy trance, as I enthusiastically shouted “Let’s do this!” as if I was on some kind of adventure party. Roll that dice, we are on a side quest!IMG_20161019_142611

Of course not all the ladies were present that night. Sometimes life with its endless tug of responsibility does keep us from our crafts. One very lovely lady (who shall remain nameless and blameless) had a credible excuse for not being able to attend. She and her partner were to go car shopping because they have been cruising with the devil in their deathtrap of a car. However, she did drop in the fact that she hoped to attend the next months session with a different project and not the one that she has been working on for the last three knitting circles. Her Project of Shame is the one that she just cannot seem to finish for one reason or other.

“It’s only the tiniest of jumpers and I have only got this far,” she said indicating a measure of about 40 rows using her hands. I think we all have a project like this. Mine is wallowing in what I can only describe as My Project Oubliette.

So many of us work on multiple projects. The thing is, eventually we are meant to finish them. I know that many of the ladies I know actually DO finish their projects to perfection. But then, here is me who has been working on the same sparkly gold Christmas jumper for the last three years. It has languished in my Project Oubliette all but forgotten as I go on to buy more and more interesting skeins of yarn and print out all sorts of someday projects. Yes. I have a Project of Shame.

I think it is time to go down into the dungeon and pull out the sparkly Christmas jumper and get working on it again before I start any more projects. I currently have three on the go as well as looking for time to knit poppies for November. I am now resolute to finish it at my weekly knitting circle. If you would like to check up on me and my progress, do come to Yankee Yarns on Mondays at 7:30.