Sunday, 30 September 2007

How much yarn is too much?

(I know I said I wouldn't mention the 'L' word again but I have to say thanks so much for all the lovely comments! Despite all of my best efforts, none of my friends knit so hearing what knitters think means a lot to me.)

I've spent a fair bit of time this week photographing my lace stash for Ravelry. For those of you not yet on Ravelry, it includes a stash inventory, which includes all the relevant details (colour yardage, weight) and (if you care to supply them) photos.

I learned that I have a lot of lace yarn. A whole lot. Enough to get me through any future lace yarn shortage without too much trouble. But what are the odds that sometime in the next week I'll find a pattern or yarn that calls out for a yarn I don't have?

Next week I'll tackle the sock yarn.

A bit of cast on activity this week. I'm undecided on the colour and how it is knitting up so far. I'll finish this one and check it out with the owner of the intended foot. This is a modified Monkey. The modification is simply to replace the purl stitches in the pattern with knit stitches. I like the effect and it speeds up the knitting. Wahey!

To keep the spirally pattern I'll also replace the heel with an afterthought heel.

I couldn't stay away from Niebling toooo long so I've also cast on the large 'Oak' doily in the August 1985 Anna magazine. Another really lovely pattern from the genius Niebling portfolio.

This time I used Rosemarie's circular start which I really liked. (You can find her detailed instructions here.) The start uses a provisional cast on in scrap yarn which really helps to give the first few stitches some structure when you start knitting for real.

You then thread the yarn end through the stitches, cut away the scrap yarn and heh presto a very tidy starting circle.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Farewell to Lyra

Apologies to those of you (and I expect there are few!) who are thinking 'Enough of they Lyra already!'. You'll be happy to hear that this post bids farewell to Lyra -- at least until I report back on my Mom's reaction!

Obsessive to the last, I woke up this morning, put Lyra in the sink to soak, took a shower, got dressed and then blocked it on my bed before leaving for work.

And here it is.

It's fair to say I love it as much as a finished object as I did while knitting it. I think my mom will love it. It turned out a little smaller than I had hoped, which means I'll have to rethink what table Mom will use it on - but I'm sure we'll come up with something.

It was knit on 2.5mm needles, using Helen's Lace (Lorna's Laces) Natural. I used just a smidge over one skein (one skein being 4 ounces, 1250). That skein ran out on the last row! So I was very happy that I had bought two. (phew) (I bought the yarn from who always provide incredibly helpful service -- as they did in getting me this yarn when there was none to be found in the UK.)

The pattern is from the June 1986 Anna magazine, available on eBay from time to time.

The Burda charting style is different from what I'm used to, but once I was familiar with it I really liked it. I expect trying to chart this (what is the non-Burda charting style called?) (ummm I'll call it 'Vogue style') - anyway - attempting to chart this Vogue style would make the pattern look even more complicated than it is because of the irregular increases and decreases.

A couple of people have asked 'what next?' - well nothing too taxing for a few days. I need to get serious about my Innocent Smoothie hat production, and I've got to cast on for a pair of socks or two.

When I've caught up with my friends, some reading and the laundry I've neglected over the past two weeks I'll be ready for for my next project -- for that I've got a couple of potential Nieblings in mind......

Monday, 24 September 2007

Lyra Undressed (and who IS Niebling?)

Here she is in all her glory. I'll block it on my bed which means it is toooooo late to take that on tonight. (As Lyra obsessed as I am - a girl needs her beauty sleep!)

In the meantime a few people in the comments expressed an interest in learning a little more about the genius that is Niebling, so I've pulled together the little bit I've learned over the past few weeks into a Niebling Knit Bits.

Niebling Knit Bits

1) There is very little biographical information on Niebling. Apparently he started knitting when he was about 6, making gloves for soldiers in the war.

2) The charting of lace patterns (rather than writing out the knitting sequence) is often attributed to him.

3) The patterns can be quite complex and have a very different feel to them than the more geometric patterns found in books like Victorian Lace Today and A Gathering of Lace. (Both of which are fab by the way.)(Just different.)

4) His patterns have 'unusual' increase/decrease bursts - which give some of the fluid shapes -- but can mean the knitting pulls or strains. (If you look at pictures of Lyra you'll see that in the 3rd set of leaves.)

5) Many of his patterns appeared in Anna/Burda magazines. They don't appear in many other forms, making them sometimes quite difficult to get hold of. But don't despair - some tips on getting Niebling patterns follow!

6) Lyra appears to be the most popular Niebling pattern -- but there are many beautiful Nieblings to discover. Which is why so many of us are addicted to Niebling Knitting. Some of the links below will take you to Niebling maserpieces throughout blogland.

Niebling Patterns

Many of the patterns are out of print which is why many of us spend a bit of time each week on eBay looking for back issues of Anna/Burda magazines. A search on 'Niebling' usually uncovers some goodies. The good news is that most sellers will highlight a Niebling pattern in any issue they are selling making them easier to find. The bad news of course is that means other Niebling lovers will also be interested.

The magazine with Lyra in it is from June 1986. I'm not sure how much an English copy of the magazine sells for but I paid $38 for the German copy I have. German copies seem to come up every few weeks so don't go crazy with bidding - patience may work for you.

Other magazines with lots of Nieblings can go for more, and magazines with only one 'lesser known' Niebling can be bought for less than $10 on occasion. If you watch the auctions for a couple of weeks you'll see which patterns are 'hot' and what the going price is.

Happily the German magazines come (usually) with a supplement providing instructions for the chart symbols. And if you don't have one - there is an online resource at KnittingFools which provides chart translations for many charting styles including Burda.

A bit of Alta Vista Babel translation and help from some blogland will help with the non-chart instructions (casting on, off and any special instructions).

Lacis has 2 books of Niebling (Niebling school) patterns. (you have to scroll WAAAAAAAY down the page to find them) I haven't seen either so can't comment on them. (But they are on my Christmas list!)

Finally, DoilyHead has 2 leaflets with quite a few patterns that she managed to convince the Burda family to let her publish. I've got both of those (blame Jane) and there are some interesting bits and pieces in there.

EDITED 12 October: I've discovered another source for some of Niebling's gorgeous patterns. Glenda (aka Doilyhead)(I love that name!) - anyway Glenda has some single patterns for sale -- you can check out which patterns she has at her Flickr site.

Glenda refers to herself as a 'Niebling addict enabler' and when you see the patterns you'll know why!

Online Niebling Goldmines

There are two Niebling related Yahoo Groups (I don't belong to either!)(yet) - Niebling Lace Knitters for talking about knitting Nieblings, and Herbert Niebling Patterns whose focus is pestering Burda to publish the dang patterns!

Some Niebling knitting from the wilds of blogland (in no particular order!):

Rosemarie has knit up some beautiful Nieblings and has a great circular start tutorial.

OceanKnitter completed an award winning Lyra last year.

The Lyra Learning Group is just that - a group of knitters led by Rosemarie who tackled Lyra. Some gorgeous versions there as well as a few tips and hints.

Angelfire has quite a few pics of different Nieblings. Click on the small pictures to see the detail. It's well worth it!!

And of course there are Jane, Fleegle and Z's Momma - all welcome commenters on this blog and inspiring Niebling (and other styles of lace) knitters.

Right, that's everything I can think of about Herbie for now. Please feel free to add info/links I've missed in the comments and I'll edit the post to include them.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

I'd Rather be Niebling Knitting

Jane asked on her blog yesterday whether it was possible to be addicted to Nieblings.
As I've continued to use almost every spare moment this week to knit on this big blobby looking thing and as my pile of German lace magazines grows I'm going to have to answer - "My name is Soo and I'm a Nieblingaholic."

I'm still loving the Lyra pattern. The rounds are quite long now. The last time I counted was on round 126 and at that point there were around 900 stitches on the needle. It is challenging enough to keep my brain engaged and the time flies by when I'm knitting.

This reminds me -- I realised at some point this week that I had entirely miscalculated the number of stitches in Lyra. By my new reckoning it is over 105,000 for the round version, and a little more than that for the square one.

This photo shows one of the corners emerging.

It also occured to me that I haven't posted a picture of the finished Kaffe Fassett socks - so I'll tick that off my to do list and post one now.

I haven't matched the stripes as the recipient of these socks has declared that matching ones are lame. This view will ensure she has hand knit socks for the rest of her life.

It's a great yarn and I have ordered some of the other stripy colourways.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Pom Poms are Happy Things

Sure Mondays can be a drag. But even the bleakest, greyest Monday starts to look pretty good when you look at a bunch of pom poms.

The Caked Crusader has outdone herself on the pom pom production for Innocent Smoothie hats. So much so that I'm afraid I'll have to insist she make some more. I can't have some hats topped with this glory and others not.

(She's got to do something while those cakes are baking.)

I've sort of stalled on the hat making -- so I'll need to give them some attention this week.

Of course I've stalled because I've been obsessed with knitting the Lyra. It's moving along more quickly than I expected -- at the cost of actually doing anything else. Like laundry, shopping or sleep.

I'm becoming a convert to the German charting style - there are definite advantages, particularly when you have long stretches of plain knitting or a set of stitches to be repeated X times.

I'm also considering abandoning my beloved Addi Lace needles for KnitPick circulars. I used the KnitPicks for the early rounds and switched to the Addi's recently when the KnitPicks were too short. The smoothness of the KnitPicks and the super sharp points are sorely missed - particularly now that I'm attacking the mini cables in the flowers.

That's right. This Niebling guy has put cables in lace.

Cables. In lace.


Worlds colliding. Anarchy.

I can only imagine what else he has up his Lyra sleeve.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

The Challenge Begins

I've cast on for Lyra. Strangely I was REALLY intimidated by the pattern. I can not remember the last time I worried about tackling some knitting. But I was. So much so that I cast on and knit about 2 rounds and then took a break (bear in mind at that stage a round was 8 or 16 stitches). Then I knit another one or two and took a break. That pattern continued until I got to round 19 and came across an abbreviation that was not on my handy dandy English translation page.


Jane and Rosemarie to the rescue (I sent out a couple of SOS's) - they confirmed the meaning of the abbreviation and I was off again.

Tonight when I picked Lyra up I realised it was of course just a series of knits and purls and YO's all of which I had tackled a million times (probably more). The panic was gone and I was loving it.

I've just finished round 40 and I resent having to put it down. Sleep. Such an inconvenience. (And don't get me started on this working for a living thing.)

I can't stretch it out on this needle for a proper photo - but this one gives the idea. I'm using Lorna's Laces, Helen's Lace yarn (natural colour) with 2.5mm needles.

Yesterday I used my very rusty mathematics skills to estimate that the 179 rounds of Lyra will require around 64,000 stitches. 32,000 of those stitches will be plain knitting. The other 32,000 will be patterned.

To put it into other terms 64,000 stitches is about 7 - 8 pairs of socks (depending on size). Or in the terms that were running through my brain last night - a whole freak load of knitting!!!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

The Orange Thing Complete

The orange thing was indeed orange and thing looking when I cast it off. It was a pleasant project and quite a sociable knit when I got into the feather and fan section. (Well, I thought it was sociable because I was able to carry on a conversation while knitting - I have no idea what the other side of the conversation thought!)

The pattern is a vintage doily brought back to life by Brooklyn Tweed's suggestion of knitting it in chunky yarn.

I used 5x 100 gm skeins of Posh Yarn Amelia DK. I knit the yarn double on 6mm needles to get a chunkier effect.

As I had a limited amount of yarn (and no hope of getting more) I did lots of yarn weighing as I went along to determine when I should cast off. Luckily I'd got a bit lazy and decided against another repeat when I was on the last 70gm of yarn. The edging/cast off row used 5 times as much yarn (55 gm) as the previous row (11 gm)!

I blocked it out to 48 inches diameter. If I were to make the pattern again I'd add another foot on to that at least.

Superhero to the Rescue!

As they are born to do, a superhero (the Caked Crusader) has stepped in to save my Innocent hats from being too dull for exotic smoothies. Taking time away from baking gorgeous cakes, this superhero has volunteered to make pompoms for the hats. Wahey!!!

Friday, 7 September 2007

Pattern? Check. Needles? Check. Yarn? Check.

We have blast off! I arrived home from work today and found the much anticipated Lyra yarn had arrived. Eeeeeeeek!

I'll wind it up tonight and tackle casting on over the weekend. Those of you who kindly offered assistance with the pattern will no doubt be hearing from me sooooooooon.

The Orange Thing Resurrected
In the meantime the orange thing is once again on the needles. This time I'm knitting it double and that is much more the effect I wanted. Knitting it double also tones down the variegation but does still let the richness of the different shades shine through. Can you tell I'm much happier with this attempt? I also decided to use the Hemlock pattern Brooklyn Tweed originally used. I do still love the Azalea pattern from Modern Lace Knitting so expect to see it crop up here again.

Ravelry. Gadzooks!

And in other news I've now been added to Ravelry. I can see why it gets rave reviews but I confess when I logged in the first time I felt a little bit like I'd walked into a huge party that was in full swing and I did't know where to go or who to speak to or what the 'done' thing was. So I logged off.

Happily when I logged back in that evening a few friendly fellow bloggers had added me as a friend and I thought -- phew - eventually I'll find my way around here. But I hope this blogging community I've just gotten into continues despite Ravelry. Blogging and visiting blogs feels more like small gatherings of a few friends in my living room. Comfortable.

Just when you thought you'd heard the last of the Mystery Stole from me......
When I posted my Swan Lake Stole/Mystery Stole 3 picture someone asked how I would keep the stole draped over my shoulder. Well, I'm happy to report that the answer arrived yesterday. This beautiful swan pin from Romi was specially designed for the stole and I love it.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

In Which the Orange Thing Take a Step Backward

Last night I took a stiff drink....and this

became this.

But fear not fans of orange I've not given up yet! I'm going to try doubling up the yarn. This will give the thickness I'm looking for, and will (I think) help with the variegation of the yarn as the colours will become blended. (That's the theory anyway.)

Thanks so much to everyone for their helps to know others share your pain!

Tonight was a better night. I took my gorgeous goddaughter (is goddaughter one word?) to see

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat. This is perhaps not entirely knitting related but I thought I could include it as my Kaffe Fassett coat has always been fondly referred to as the coat of many colours (and many Joseph songs have been sung while knitting it as a result) AND I did a lot of productive knitting watching Lee Mead win the role of Joseph in BBC's Any Dream Will Do.

In celebrity spotting - Michael Parkinson sat 2 rows in front of us (for North American readers Michael Parkinson is the godfather of the celebrity interview here, anyone who is anyone gets interviewed by Michael Parkinson). G was most impressed when I confirmed that Parkinson had more than likely interviewed Justin Timberlake. I'm sure it was a highlight of Parky's career as well.

The show was a joy. I defy anyone to watch the finale without wishing they were up on that stage - they looked like they were having so much fun.

And finally in the world of socks. The Kaffe Fassett socks are almost done - just need to complete the afterthought heel on the second pair. I've attempted to outline in pictures the process, but for a better outline check out the Knitting Biologists explanation.

The heel can be knit in either toe up or cuff down socks. When you reach where you want the heel to be, simply knit 30 stitches (for a 60 stitch plain sock) onto a piece of smooth contrasting scrap yarn.

Then knit those stitches again with the sock yarn and continue knitting through the cuff or toe of your sock. When you are ready to work the heel you can either remove the contrasting yarn by cutting it and then pick up the stitches, or (if you are cautious like me) pick the stitches up before you cut the contrasting yarn.

I use a smaller needle to pick up the stitches (2mm here, the socks are knit on 2.5mm needles) which makes it easier.

Cut the contrasting yarn (I've used a seam ripper because I can't find my small sharp scissors) (sigh). Remove the bits of contrasting yarn from the stitches and you now have 60 stitches ready to shape into a heel.

Join your sock yarn, and start knitting across your stitches. You can pick up 1 (or more) stitches at each end of the needles if you are worried about holes. I'm a dpn sock knitter, so I'd spread the stitches across four needles.

The good news is that it seems that the standard decreasing used for toes works equally well for heels. Simply decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of needle 1, the end of needle 2, the beginning of needle 3 and the end of needle 4 every second row until you have about 24 stitches left. Here's one I made earlier.

Kitchener the stitches and heh presto an afterthought heel!

(Heel flaps are still my favourite.)

(But these work well for patterned yarn where you don't want to disturb the pattern for the heel.)

Right. It's late now, and I've sung all the Joseph songs so it must be time for bed. Any dream will do.....but one involving a handsome stranger and a lottery win would go down particularly well.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Good News and Bad News

Good news first. I found a local knitting group! I met up with them tonight and had a great time. Laughed a lot and even managed to get a bit of knitting done.

The bad news is that although I've made some pretty serious knitting progress on the orange blanket/throw I know it isn't really working. In fact I think I realised that quite a while ago (pretty much after the first pattern repeat) but as usual I go into denial about these things and just keep knitting in blind faith that somehow the extra knitting will sort out the problem.

This approach has never once resulted in success. It only ever means more wasted energy and more knitting to frog when I finally do admit the truth. But still, I cling to the hope. As there were so many stitches (over 500 by this time) it was a squashed up blob on my needles and I tried to blame all of my reservations on that. But in my heart....

When I got back from the knitting group I knew it was time to get serious about the orange thing. So I slipped the stitches onto some cable and pinned it out.


I hate being right.

The yarn is too thin for the effect I want, and the variegated orange just doesn't help. The pattern is fighting it and losing.

So, I'll leave it pinned out just in case by some miracle it looks more like I want it to in the morning (it won't) and then I'll frog it tomorrow night.