Tag Archives: Inspinity lace wires

Stephen West Lakedale Shawl

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This beautiful wingspan shawl is called Lakedale Shawl by Stephen West, available in Malabrigo Book 3. There is an errata on the pattern which I wasn’t aware of until completing and uploading to Ravelry but I worked it out that the pattern must have been wrong :-/

It’s not the largest of shawls but could be knitted slightly larger, I do have about 10g of the main colour left and 60g of the contrast so enough to grow the main body slightly and make a longer frill.

Knitted in Malabrigo Sock , the perfect yarn for this kind of project. When knitting with the yarn it feels very springy and soft, it floats through the needles with grace. The initial impression of your work is that the finish is far to springy but blocking ‘completely’ transforms the work, the springing of the rib pattern in the shawl gives way to a fabulous open stitch giving a gorgous transparency.

The edging of the shawl is done in a contrasting colour, I used Stonechat for the body of the shawl and Light of Love as the contrast, I spent much time deliberating the contrast colour but I’m happy with my choice now it’s finished. The edging is pretty simple, the contrast yarn is worked in stripes and the main yarn is worked as a slip stitch so it lies across the contrast….so effective. The edging is increased quite rapidly giving a serious amount of stitches for the last few rows….but it’s worth it! 🙂

At £13 a skein and using 2 colours you may be considering a cheaper yarn alternative, seriously, I wouldn’t recommend it. Malabrigo Sock is 100% Superwash Merino, it is unbelievably soft and as there is no strengthener, the term ‘Sock’ is slightly misplaced as I wouldn’t knit socks in it without knitting in a strengthener (which I do stock…they’re just not on the website yet!). The properties of the yarn make for easy blocking….I did mine with a steam iron! Knowing how well it blocks, I can imagine that I would get an even better result from wet blocking with lace wires and a blocking mat but the iron was out and I was feeling impatient!!

All in all, I love this project, I will be doing it again…next time in Eggplant with Ravelry Red to contrast I think!….I just need some cooler weather now to wear it!

😀

What is blocking and why do it?

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Blocking is the process of making your garment or knitted piece the right shape and size by either wetting and re-shaping or pressing with a steam iron or a steam iron and a damp cloth (formerly known as ‘pressing’).

Blocking makes your knitted piece look so much more professional and helps make it fit right, sit right and drape nicely.

Smaller projects are easy enough to block with a steam iron on an ironing board but for larger items such as shawls, it becomes a litttle more awkward.  You can use towels laid on the floor and wet block, pinning the work to the towels where more intricate shape detail is required or when the work just won’t lay flat or you can invest in a blocking mat, my favourite blocking mat is the Block ‘n’ Roll, it is teflon coated, measures over 1 metre square and has grid markings on so you can see straight away if you are lined up correctly.  Nicely padded you can pin to it and you can either wet block or steam iron block straight on to the Block ‘n’ Roll and leave to dry or cool before removing the work.

Here is a picture of my Ishbel Shawl before blocking………

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………There isn’t any great stitch definition, the lace work is bunched up and difficult to make out but worst of all is the horrible curled up edge.

Here is Ishbel after blocking…….

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……….So, you can see the difference, we have gone from a piece of knitting to a work of art!  Now, I blocked this with a steam iron and pins to the ironing board….with someone else lifting the iron as it might be ‘too heavy’ so soon after my hysterectomy and the reason I blocked it this way is plainly because it was killing me seeing it unblocked!!  It would definately have been much easier on the blocking mat and the results may have even been a little better with the definition on the points as I could have enhanced the points with the use of blocking wires and ‘T’ pins.  The yarn I have used in this shawl is particularly good to block, it is Malabrigo Sock, I have used colourway Indiecita which has hues of purple, blue, yellow and green, it is 100% Merino which is fairly unusual for a sock yarn as most do have a percentage of nylon for strength so for socks, you would definately benefit from using reinforcing thread (we sell it for 80p a reel but it’s not on the website yet!) but for garments and shawls, it’s fabulous!!!

One cautionary note about blocking though is that the yarn you use does make a difference, some yarns just will not block.  This is particularly the case in cheaper yarns of poor quality fibres or particularly high acrylic contents, they just tend to spring back and curl up no matter what you do to them.  When you use a fine yarn, you will see the creativity of your work come to life when you block and you will slowly convert to a ‘yarn snob’ 🙂

Ysolda Teague’s Ishbel

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Well, I’m feeling very proud of myself right now, I’ve kept to my target and finished my Ishbel Shawl by Ysolda Teague, from the booklet Whimsical Little Knits which contains lots of gorgeous ‘little’ knits for £12.00 or available as a download from the Ysloda Teague website for £3.75.  I started it very soon after my Malabrigo delivery arrived (about March), I was smitten by the irridescence of the kettle dyed merino sock yarn and couldn’t wait to cast on…..needless to say…..I didn’t wait and ten minutes later, we had another W.I.P !  (Work In Progress)

As per usual, I was soon distracted by other UFO’s (Un Finished Objects) and new yarns coming in so more projects cast on and even more UFO’s and W.I.P’s!!!

I think when I went into hospital last Friday, they put something in the mix of the anaesthetic that has given me a new found determination to finish some UFO’s and I decided I would finish Ishbel, my pact to myself was to not pick up any other knitting until Ishbel was finished and I did it!!!

I have heard that Ishbel is a good shawl for a first time shawl maker due to the fact that it isn’t huge and based on a simple spine with garter stitch borders and a good amount of stocking stitch before any lace work begins.  I have to say, the lace work was not the easiest I had ever attempted, I couldn’t seem to get my brain to find any logic in the pattern, at no point could I work out what the next row would be without the pattern.  Usually, I’m pretty good on lace and cable and once the pattern is set, I can do it without looking at the pattern albeit for the occasional reminder and reassurance, but Ishbel had me baffled, I think that’s why it got so far and then sat without progress for a while!  The lace work is only worked on the right side rows so some saving grace there but for every lace row, I needed the pattern.  The pattern has both written instructions as well as a chart.  Usually, I like to follow the written instructions for lace and cable and use charts for colour work, plainly because you can see what’s coming with colour work.  Lines, circles and dashes have never done much for me and so my reason for following written instructions.  However, I broke my rule with Ishbel and thought I would break out of my mould and follow the chart, I think it does us good to push our boundaries, it’s how we learn!  Needless to say, I think now I’ve done lace from a chart, I will definately choose chart over written in future…..it’s so easy!  Lot’s of people say to me that they can’t follow charts but once you have mastered the square per stitch, and the follow the chart in the direction you are working for the right side – from right to left, and then on the wrong side work the chart back across from left to right, you can’t go wrong!  It’s always a good idea to photocopy the chart so you can mark off where you are and if you are technical enough you can even enlarge it!  An absolutely fabulous piece of kit when using charts is the KnitPro Chart Keeper, they come in 2 sizes, basically to hold either A4 or A5 sheets, they are magnetic and have a magnetic strip to use as a marker on the row you are working so your eyes don’t wander, small magnets hold the corners in place.  It comes with a pen holder and marker pen, it is solid board covered by lovely black jaquard and nylon so is very durable.  You can use the press stud to clip it open like an ‘A’ frame so it stands on a table and you can fold it back together and press stud it closed for travel and keeping your chart safe!…..Indispensible!!!

After saying all that about how I stuggled with Ishbel, maybe for a beginner on lace, one who is needing to follow the pattern, Ishbel may well be easy!  Basically the only stitches making up the lace are yarn forwards, yarn overs, knit 2 togethers, and slipping stitches to pass over……..it’s just the case of doing what the pattern tells you!  My problem is that I like to work out what is coming and not be reliant upon the pattern………not an option with Ishbel for me!

I now have to block my Ishbel, I’ll take some pics and post them later but I might struggle to block it myself at the mo as being only 9 days post op from an abdominal hysterectomy, getting on the floor to pin her out may be pushing it!  Any willing volunteers???  I’ve got some fabuous new blocking mats, called Block n Roll, they are a bit like those teflon silver ironing board covers you can get so you can iron directly on to them with a steam iron if you prefer to block that way, they are well padded to take the pins and at over 1 metre square, they are ample size for most projects and you can leave them to dry on it!  How did we live without them!  I’ve also got some lace blocking wires from Inspinity, very flexible memory wire with the ‘T’ pins so shawl blocking suddenly becomes much easier!!!……it’s getting on the floor that’s the problem….

Anyway, that’s all for now, I’ll be back with pics later one way or another 😉