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Time for tea

When I posted yesterday about my Lerke doily, I hadn’t quite finished another one. But now it’s finished, blocked, dried – and tested!

I’m home by myself today, and usually I’d have my early afternoon cup of tea in one of my lovely stoneware mugs. But as I wanted to photograph the newest doily, I brought out the bone china again. I also cleaned the little silver teaspoons that I didn’t have time to clean for my afternoon tea last week. (I don’t think my old t-shirt and comfy cotton trousers come anywhere near the elegance of the tea set and doily – but no-one can see me!)

Pink cotton hand knitted doily with rose bone china tea set

 

Hand knitted pink cotton doily

This is another pattern from the book Knitted Lace by Sonja antibiotics Esbensen and Anna Rasmussen – this pattern is ‘Marie’. As with all the doilies I’ve knitted so far, I’ve used fingering-weight cotton instead of the finer cotton recommended in the pattern – which of course makes my doilies bigger, more like table centres. I do have some slightly finer cottolin in my weaving stash, so maybe my next one will use that, as a comparison. My next one? I’m not sure yet – I’m very tempted by a few in the book. And there’s also a Marianne Kinzel book on my shelves, and I also have a couple of Gloria Penning’s lace doily books… between them, they’ll keep me busy for a few years!

Lerke III Doily

I love knitting doilies; they’re interesting projects, easy to carry around, relatively quick to finish, and they are practical as well as beautiful!

I’ve mentioned before the lovely book, Knitted Lace, by Sonja Esbensen and Anna Rasmussen – I knitted the Majbritt doily from it a couple of years ago. So when the fingers started to itch again for another small lace project, out came the book again, and I chose the design Lerke III. This is the largest of three similar designs.

I wanted a large doily to go with one of my tea sets, which is white with pink roses, so I went stash-diving for pink fingering-weight cotton… and discovered that although I had several pinkish balls (ahem!) skeins, they were too apricot, or otherwise Not Right. But I did find some wonderful deep pink cotton and decided to use that.

I love the result:

Deep pink hand-knitted doily

It matches my tea set perfectly:

20140128BrightDoilyTeaCup2

 

Now, our dining antidepressants table is my main work space at present (the sunroom is too hot during the day), so it’s usually covered in papers, books, laptops etc and we clear just enough space to eat in the evenings. Not a lot of space for a doily! On Thursday, I invited a few friends around for afternoon tea, rushed around cleaning and tidying the visible bits of the house, and set the table with my tea set and yes, my bright pink doily!

Afternoon tea table setting

It was a lovely afternoon with great conversation, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing some of my lovely things in use. The crystal plate with the mini-cheesecakes on was my paternal grandmother’s; the small dishes at the back with the chocolate fudge were my maternal grandmother’s. Now I just need to organise a garden, so that I can someday have fresh-cut flowers on the table, too!

 

 

Progress

My knitting mojo has returned, but it’s battling for time with the quilting mojo, and the writing and working demands – oh, what lovely things I could make if I didn’t have to work in addition to my writing!

The new shawl design is coming along, and there’s light at the end of the tunnel – and some order coming to the design chart! Here’s a little sneak preview:

Lace shawl detail

The yarn I’m using is my favourite 50/50 silk/merino blend, hand-dyed by Spinning a Yarn. It’s a beautiful heavy lace-weight yarn, about 600 metres per 100grams, with a smooth feel and lovely sheen from the silk. Hopefully I’ll have the border finalised and this sample completed in the next week or two; then I’ll need to write up the pattern (charts and written instructions), work out additional sizes, have it tested knitted, have the pattern tech-edited, photograph the shawl/s… and then it will be ready for publication.

My quilting has taken a slight hiatus; I was away in Canberra & Sydney for 10 days, and now I’m back I have a stack of uni marking to finish this weekend, so no quilting for me until that’s done. My first quilt top is coming along, but I’m looking forward to getting back to it and finishing it:

Nine-patch and snowball quilt top in progress

I have to redo the sashing, piece border strips and sew them on, and am also going to piece a strip in the backing fabric to make it wide enough. Then there’s the actual quilting – I’m thinking about simple machine-sewn diagonals in the 9-patch blocks, and maybe handquilting the snowball blocks – but I could also machine-quilt them, which might give me a chance of actually finishing the project!!

I used as a pattern guide a project from the book ‘Two From One: Jelly Roll Quilts” by Pam and Nikki Lintott (Book depository link) (Goodreads link). I didn’t follow the pattern exactly – I used birth control assorted fat quarters and scraps, not jellyrolls, and made it bigger – but I found the instructions, diagrams and photos clear and helpful for me as a beginner quilter. I do recommend the book; I’ve even bought another book by the Lintotts – Jelly Roll Sampler Quilts. (Book Depository link) (Goodreads link).

Of course, although I am only a beginner quilter, I have adopted very quickly the stashing habit! I have quite enough fat quarters and leftovers from this project to do another in similar shades; I have also stashed sufficient fabrics for at least three other quilts. They’re only in the dreaming/vague planning stages at present, but there is one I’d like to make in the next few months for a special person, and I ordered some fabrics for it from equilter.com when they were on special a couple of weeks ago. I have in mind a relatively simple quilt, highlighting the fabric rather than the patchwork, so it might be doable by the desired date in amongst all the other demands on my time.

In a quick round up of other news, my sourdough baking repertoire now includes cinnamon scrolls:
Sourdough cinnamon scroll

I’m also just baking my second loaf of sourdough chocolate bread, inspired by my niece who loved it when she stayed in France, and who is now a sourdough baker herself. It’s very delicious!

Skye the now 15-month-old ‘puppy’ is still keeping us on our toes – she loves her toys and she’s full-on play, play, play – until she’s ready to sleep for a while!

Oh, and have I mentioned that I have to write my next book by the end of September? No? Needless to say, I shouldn’t be here…! There may not be a whole lot of blogging in the next few months, but I hope to squeeze in some textile creativity, to help inspire the creative writing imagination!

Majbritt Doily

As I mentioned in my last post, I plan to knit some doilies to go with my new teacup sets. I know some people think doilies are dreadfully old-fashioned and useless, but I’m not one of those people! I love the simple beauty of lace knitting, and to me doilies are both functional and decorative, protecting a table surface as well as being lovely in themselves.

I’ve finished the one I started a couple of weeks back. At 43cm diameter, it’s more of a table centre than a doily, but I’m very happy with it:

Handknitted doily - pattern Majbritt I by Esbensen & Rasmussen

The pattern is Majbritt I (Ravelry link) from the book Handknitted Lace, (Book Depository link) by Sonja Esbensen and Anna Rasmussen, which I bought a couple of months ago and have been itching to knit something from since!

The designs are charted, which I love (hate reading rows upon rows of written directions, especially for lace!)

I had a bit of a panic, though, the other day. After a week of mad work finishing the edits on the latest book, I picked up the doily again for some relaxing knitting. I knitted round 41 and 42 fine (even round are plain rows). I started round 43 – and it Would Not Work. I didn’t have enough stitches, and the pattern didn’t ‘fit’. Something had to be wrong. I spent some time googling for errata, and checking Ravelry to see if anyone else had the same problem. Nothing. Sigh. There has to be a fault with the pattern, right? Sigh again. I’m an experienced knitter. I can look at the picture and work out what it’s supposed to be. Looking at my knitting, the error had to be in the previous round’s instructions. So I tinked back round 43, and round 42… oh, and the other round 42 – oops, how did THAT happen?… and for good measure, round 41 as well.

(Should I mention here that the mad rush to finish the edits had included an all-nighter? And that I am not as young as I used to be?)

Needless to say, there was no error in the pattern. It was perfectly correct. And it is a lovely pattern!

More small achievements

I seem to be managing to cross a few things off my to do list lately – not huge things, but some little ones that nevertheless make me feel good! And those I haven’t yet crossed off, I’m making good progress on.

Since I’ll be in hospital for Christmas and won’t be able to visit my parents, I thought I’d knit another lace doily, this time in colours to match the blue and white linen my mother often uses on the table for Christmas dinner. I rummaged around in the stash and found a cone of pale blue cotton I’ve had for years, and cast on for the a second one of the Little Flower Doily (Rav link) from Bad Cat Designs. It took me a little over 24 hours to knit, and here she is blocking this morning:

Little Flower Doily blocking

So, I can be at Christmas dinner in spirit – or under a nice glass plate of Mum’s fruit mince tarts 🙂

The Christmas knitting – the small amount I am doing – seems reasonably under control. The Binary Cable Hat I started knitting for my nephew before his birthday in August didn’t get finished, as I confused myself with how to set the binary code for his name into the cables, and therefore stuffed it up. However, this morning I finally frogged most of what I’d done, back to the first inch, and have restarted again, getting it right this time! So, it’s now progressing well, and I hope to have it finished if not today, then tomorrow. I have another gift for him, but this will get popped in with it when it’s done:

Binary Cable Hat in progress

There’s another gift I’ve half-finished, but since the recipient sometimes read this blog, I won’t mention it 🙂 (But dear recipient, don’t get TOO excited. It’s just something I have owed you for …ahem ….a while. This year you might actually get it. Fingers crossed. But I have something else for you, as well!)

When those two things are done, then the next project will be finishing my All-Lace Brangian shawl, which is about half-done. I realised this morning that if I want to actually finish the Ravelry 10 Shawls in 2010 challenge, then I’m going to have to finish that shawl (my 1oth for the year) in the next week or so, in order to get it blocked, photographed, and uploaded to the group before I leave for hospital on the 10th Dec. It’s only a small shawl, so that should be doable.

And in pattern news, I have updated the Brangian Progressive Yarn Usage table, and added one for the All-Lace Brangian version, which has slightly different row counts and therefore yarn usage. They can both be downloaded as .pdf files from this page.

Small achievements

I finished the doily this afternoon – it’s nice to have a pretty, finished object so quickly! Here she is blocking:

Knitted doily blocking

(Finished just before dinner time, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to have my cup of tea!)

Finished Swallowtail Shawl

Jane, my headless dressmaker’s model, has a smaller butt than mine, so here she is modelling the finished Swallowtail Shawl:

I’m very happy with this shawl. The beads are small and very subtle, but they do catch the light a little, and I think the subtleness suits this fine, smooth yarn. The pattern was easy to knit, and once I really started working on the shawl, it didn’t take too long, despite the fine yarn and the beading.

I love the yarn! I do have two more skeins of it, but I can foresee wanting more. Unfortunately, The Knittery, where I bought it from, has closed down, so I am hoping to find another supplier of it. (Silk 50%, merino 50%, laceweight, gorgeous smooth texture – anyone got any ideas?)

Details:
Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl, by Evelyn A Clark. Interweave Knits, Fall 2006.
Yarn: The Knittery 2ply Silk Merino
Needles: 4mm circular
Modifications: Bless Ravelry! I had plenty of yardage in the skein, so I used kmcschmidt’s advice on increasing the size: 19 repeats of the Budding Lace 2 pattern, followed by Lily of the Valley (LOV) 1, then LOV 2, then rows 3-12 of LOV 1 again, then the peaked edging chart. This keeps the stitch count proportions correct for the various pattern transitions.

My other modification was to insert beads instead of working the nupps. I used size 8.0 pearlised seed beads, inserting them with a .65mm crochet hook, using FluffyKnitterDeb’s instructions.

Swallowtails

I’ve finished the knitting on the cream, beaded swallowtail shawl, and set up the blocking mats in preparation. Here she is, awaiting blocking:

I have to go into town shortly, but hope to block her later this afternoon or this evening. The beading isn’t very visible in the shawl, but it does give a subtle light and texture which I like.

In the meantime, I started another swallowtail earlier this week, when I needed to work on something a little simpler than the beading pattern I was on in the cream asthma one. This time I’m using Handmaiden Sea Silk, a beautiful gift from my friend Theresa. I’ll be making the standard version, rather than the one with extra pattern repeats. Here’s progress so far – aren’t the colours just gorgeous? They’re almost irridescent.

I ordered a stack of various different colour seed beads earlier in the week, and they arrived yesterday – including some blue ones which will, I hope, go beautifully on this shawl. Stay tuned… 🙂

Swallowtail Shawl progress

I’ve finally been making some progress on my Swallowtail Shawl. I decided that my still-sore thumb/wrist probably wouldn’t appreciate doing the gazillion P5together nupps in the Lily of the Valley border, so I decided to bead it instead. Finding beads, however, as been something of a challenge! We have few places that sell beads in town, and they didn’t have anything suitable. So I ordered some (and .6mm crochet hook) from Morris and Sons, but the beads were too small. I went to Canberra for a few days after Easter, and found some seed beads there of the right pearl colour – but still the size smaller than I wanted. However, I’m using them, anyway, as most of the mail-order places seem to be out of the size I want in pearl, and I’m impatient to get this shawl finished!!

So here’s a detail of the beads:

Other than progress on the Swallowtail, there’s not been much knitting finished. I’m part-way through the second crimson lace mitten for my niece, and have started the sleeves on my shawl-collar jacket, so I can see light at the end of the tunnel on both of those – but for the moment, I’m concentrating on the Swallowtail.

(And in non-knitting content, just a reminder to my textile friends who are also readers that there’s only two days to get entries in to win a prize pack including my romantic suspense novel, As Darkness Falls. Details are here. )