Review: A Gathering of Lace

A Gathering of lace 9781893762244 by Meg Swansen is a nice book. Unfortunately, I was expecting to REALLY like it, but I only like it, so I feel oddly disappointed. Meg Swansen collected lace patterns from about 30 designers. There are quite a few patterns in the books: 5 triangular shawls, 2 rectangular shawls, 9 circular shawls, 3 square shawls, 2 shrugs, 2 vests, 6 pullovers, 2 jacket/cardigans, 2 hats, 1 doily, 1 “tabard”, 1 pair of gloves, 3 pairs of socks, 2 purses, 1 pinafore and 2 pillows.

However, few of the items are things I would actually like or could picture making for someone. At this time, shawls are not part of my wardrobe, so I am drawn to relatively few shawl patterns. I have also determined that I don’t like shawls made at a heavy gauge, but I’m also not sure I really like the very fine Shetland lace. However, even the socks failed to really grab me. They are nice enough, but they just didn’t yell “make me”.

I think DJ should look for the book in her library and see if there is anything that leaps out to her that also isn’t marked as really hard, because I could see making her something (like the Faroese shawl or the Picture hat or the Rose lace vest).

Rating: 3


Alphabet Blanket

About a year ago, CL had a baby. This was the first person close to me to have a child since I learned to knit, so I had to make a gift. Up until this point, I had only made scarves and only for my immediate family, so I hadn’t really followed a pattern, made a big project, worried about gauge, or worried to much about if the gift was good enough for the recipient. (My Mom got my first scarf, which I dubbed “a scarf only a mother could love” and thought by now she should be past getting refrigerator art.) I also hadn’t done any garments and didn’t really want to start with a baby thing (looking back, I have no idea why), which meant it was a blanket.

It took me a while to decide on a pattern. I didn’t want anything too cute. CL has much more fashion sense than I do and likes bling. I also didn’t want it to look like a grandmother blanket (nothing wrong with them, but I’m not a grandmother). I finally decided on an Alphabet blanket. I could tell the pattern would mean a lot of chart reading, but I understood the main section of the pattern. The edging instructions didn’t make sense to me, but I thought I’d deal with that when I got to it. Since I wanted it to go well, I made sure to buy the yarn called for in the pattern (discontinued, so difficult to find). I bought the amount it called for (11 balls) and cast on.

blanket 1b

Pattern: Alphabet blanket from the Baby knits book by Debbie Bliss
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Wool/cotton (50% Merino wool 50% Cotton, discontinued), color 701
Needles: US 3
Began: February? 2006. Completed: August 2006
Finished size: about 42’ x 47.5” (inside squares 37” x 43”)

I don’t recall for sure when I started it. I am thinking in February, but I can’t think of why it wasn’t January. I brought the blanket everywhere. On trips to visit my mother. To county/district/state conventions (the only thing that made them tolerable). On long van rides with co-workers. I was done with the everything but the edging by April 12. I know because I bought a book at a conference because I just wasn’t understanding the instructions for the edging. If I had just followed them without thinking it would have worked, but this was my first exposure to short rows and I was confused. I thought I was doing well since it meant following a 187 stitch pattern closely for 258 rows. Since the baby was due in May, I thought I would be able to complete it fine since I had a whole month for just the edging.

I completely underestimated the amount of time the edging took. And how tired of it I became. And that the baby shower would be in late April. I think I had one side done at that time. I may have had another side done by the time the baby was born. Since I had completely missed the shower and birth, I was no longer under any pressure to finish until family reunion in August when I would meet my new cousin. This meant that I finished the edging on the way to my sister’s house on the way to the reunion. I didn’t do a great job blocking it. Here is DJ’s cat helping.

blanket 1d

I should have done a gauge swatch. I needed to order more yarn (remembered, it was discontinued!) – I think I used 2 additional balls. I decided not to worry about dye lots (different of course). Ordering (and waiting for) more yarn also slowed down the edging. I obviously was knitting at a looser gauge than the pattern called for and I think the blanket feels a tad loose. But I still don’t feel too badly about it for a first real project.

Sunburn & Bruises (& Sweater)

I spent much of the weekend in the yard. I have a nicely sunburned thigh as proof. I am also a klutz and so have various bruises, including one on my right ring finger. I tried to take a picture of my legs, but the color didn’t show up well in the photo. I didn’t think of taking one of my hand because I only noticed it an hour ago. It isn’t subtle — red purple with a nice greenish edge. I better watch myself next weekend. I do want to try to look professional when I go to my conferences in early June…

In other news, we can sit on the front porch again because the birds have left the nest.

Back to the sweater. This is what is looked like at the beginning of the weekend.

This is what it looked like before the 400th episode of the Simpsons (I finished the last bit up during Dr. Who).

It is a bit easier to see like this:

Now I am back to the sleeves. The two sleeves were “done” which meant I have some errors to fix and I wasn’t convinced about the length. I was right that they are too short, so I need to add some length to them before sewing on. I hope the shape will work OK. It is really different than the design due to my gauge and making them longer. I think I will finish one and attach it before I move on to the other one in case there is a lot of ripping in my future.


This post is a week late in going up. Hopefully I will post again soon about where the sweater is now.

While working on the sweater, I am learning various things about myself as a knitter. None of them are at all surprising. First off, I like knitting math, so I find altering a pattern to match my gauge fun.. Second, my row gauge is variable, especially with cotton. To counter this problem I have chosen to alter the pattern to make it in one piece rather than having to get the side seams to match up and having the pattern being at all off. This leads to the last point, that I am a perfectionist. I will rip out vast quantities of knitting to fix an error. I have knowingly let some errors stay, but I know if I will see it very often, it will really bug me.

When you are knitting a 40” wide thing to become a cardigan and you notice an error an inch or two down, what do you do? I have been ripping it out and fixing. As I was moving along through the sweater, I kept trying to check carefully for mistakes. You would think I wouldn’t need to look so carefully, because if I couldn’t see the mistake easily, how bad could it be? No, I have to look carefully and fix what I can. Some of the mistakes are weird pattern mistakes I have made. More of them are where I have only picked up on or two parts of the ply. Because I think these are places that will lead to weakness in the garment, I am especially intolerant of these errors.

Last week I found two errors, and inch or two down from where I was. This would require a fair bit of ripping, but I was ready for it. For some reason, while talking with TH in the coffee house, I carefully checked the whole thing and found an error about six inches down. A pattern problem, not a place where I split the yarn. I decided I would live with it because I was not ripping that much out.

Each time I have been fixing the mistakes I have tried to rip out only the relevant stitches. For the most part, I had not been successful at fixing this way, and would end up ripping out the entire row. When I tried to fix one of the problems only an inch or two down, I figured out how to fix the errors in this pattern. So now I had a real problem. Do I rip out all the rows down to the mistake I was going to leave alone or risk not being able to put it back together and rip down 6-7 inches? You of course know the answer. I had to fix the problem if I could.

You can see the error here, just above the safety pin.

I don’t recall if these steps required dark chocolate or scotch as reinforcement. probably it required both. Here it is ripped down.

And now halfway back:

And here full back together! The tension is off, but I am hoping this will even out with blocking and wearing.

In other news, we haven’t been able to sit on our porch as much as we would like because this bird

has been unhappy about us sitting close to this nest on our porch.


105 – 7 – 1100

This weekend I finally got around to adding my fiber related books (broadly defined) to LibraryThing. There are a 105 of them – who knew? A lot of them don’t have cover images, so I now need to think about scanning book covers. It isn’t necessary, but it looks more cool with covers.

My Library at LibraryThing

I have made it up to 7 inches on my sweater. I stalled out last night when I found three errors. One will not be fixed. One was a split in the plies (they sdeparate easily) and I was able to pick back just the relevant stitches. The other wasn’t too far back and involved something wrong with the yarnovers. I tried to fix it by picking back but was not successful. So I ripped out several rows and continued to not get that area right (or maybe it was a different area). I think I am moving forward again, but now barely at 7 inches (I ripped out more than 1 inch)

My order from the Webs sale arrived, so I now have 1100 yards of Cascade 220 (5 skeins/hanks) to make the purse for DJ from Pursenality plus.

Review: Unexpected Knitting

I really like looking at Debbie New’s Unexpected knitting 9780942018226. Almost everything in the book seems far beyond my current skills, but there are some very interesting techniques and pictures of knitting I can aspire to. Knitty also had a review a few year ago.

New takes knitting across the line from craft to art with some of her work. I really like her Madonna and child, which is reminiscent of stained glass. Many pictures of her more artsy work are collected here. Her coracle, which appeared in Meg Swansen’s A gathering of lace, is also amazing.

The book also includes garments, some of which actually look possible for me to make and others seem more advanced than I am currently. I like the dishcloth vest. The construction looks very clever, but the knitting fairly simple, so I would like to try this, once I find the right yarn.

Scribble lace is also in the book. I believe New invented the technique, although it is also featured in the later Mason-Dixon knitting book.

I really like the swirl socks, which appeared on the cover of Socks, socks socks. The swirl vest is also really neat, but I don’t see making it any time soon (not that I think the socks will be made soon either).

I think the cellular automaton knitting is really interesting and may someday try it. I like how this knitting is based on rules that you choose and then build the pattern in that manner. The math geek in me loves stuff like this.

The ouroborus and labyrinth knitting is also fascinating, largely because of the construction of the garment. A labyrinth sweater is featured on the cover.

Rating: 4.3


There is a new thing starting called Ravelry that sounds interesting. Lickety knit has a good description. The bit that sounds the coolest to me is:

“And a pattern in your project queue is automatically linked to all the other people who have made that project and information about the substitute yarns they used.”

This of course will only be useful if other people knit the same pattern and those people are in the subset that heavy users of the web related to knitting and that people actually post.