Saturday, March 03, 2007

Moving on to the next lace project

Well I'm moving on to my next lace project, the Hanami Stole by Melanie Gibbons at Pink Lemon Twist. I loved knitting her Scheherazade Stole as a part of the Mystery Stole 2 KAL last summer so it wasn't a difficult decision to purchase Melanie's newest design when it was announced a couple of weeks ago. I love her very clear charts and detailed directions, making Pink Lemon Twist designs wonderful even for newbie lace knitters.

I took this picture a couple of days ago when I had knit the 1st 32 row repeat of the initial basketweave section. I'm halfway through the 3rd of 7 repeats thus far and am quite happy with how the stole is coming along. I am using 2 strands of 2/28 laceweight silk yarn, color-Melissa, from Richard at ColourMart for this project and 3.25mm (US 3) needles. This is my project using 100% silk yarn and I must say it is so soft and well, silky! It can also be quite slippery so I have to be sure to keep my tension consistent, but that hasn't really proved to be much of an issue.

I cast-on using a pair of Bates Silvalume straight needles, thinking it would be easier than using Addi-turbos since I was also adding beads as called for in the pattern (more about the beads in a minute). But after I had a few rows knit and had successfully shed all the stitch markers, I quickly moved over to my turbos for faster knitting and more space to spread out my work to inspect and admir it :-) Then my goodie box from KnitPicks came in the mail yesterday, so I switched over to the new Options circular needle to give it a test drive. I quickly learned to not push the needles around with my fingertips on the points of the needles as I apparently always did with my Addis. But once I conquered that move, it's been smooth sailing. The cable join is very smooth, the cable is so flexible & forgiving, and the pointy tips are totally awesome! I'm glad I bought the size 2 & 3 circs in 2 lengths. I will definitely be getting the interchangeables when the budget permits.

The one thing I'm not all that thrilled with in the Hanami design is the beaded cast-on. I normally use a knitted cast-on so following that direction was no problem. But stopping to grab a tiny crochet hook and pick up and place a bead on a loop, then slip that loop on the needle every other stitch x 95 stitches, well.... what a PITA! It took me over an hour just to cast-on. That might not have beem so bad but I'm not all that thrilled with the final look of the beaded edge. The size 8-0 Toho clear silverlined beads that I used were the same beads Melanie used in her pink version (Mill Hill beads are manufactured by Toho), but they are barely visible on my pale celery green silk. The effect doesn't seem to be worth the effort, at least in this case. I don't know, maybe if I had use a bead with more contrast, such as a gilt-lined opal frost bead, perhaps I would have been happier. In any case, the only 8-0 beads that will work using Melanie's technique are Tohos or Delicas--all the others don't have a big enough hole. I recommend folks get 6-0 or "E" beads for this project as they will all work no matter who the manufacturer is. Besides, 6-0 beads are much more readily available in craft stores, for those who don't visit specialty bead shops (or have a big bead stash like I do).

Also in the goodie package from KnitPicks were the blocking wires I ordered. One of these days when I get a breather from my research project I'll wash and block the Hidcote Garden Stole, but I doubt it will be anytime in the next few days. I have *so* much work to do and time is terrifyingly short. My dissertation defense is schedule for March 26th so I'll be working like a mad dog to make it in time. But I'll still need time to do a little knitting to keep sane ;-)

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