Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Beads, Beads, And More Beads

I think that I now know why I have studiously avoided knitting a lace shawl that had beads as an additional form of decoration. It is bad enough trying to get the beads in the right place on the shawl without having to worry about how to get them off again when you discover an error several rows back that requires careful unpicking stitch by stitch to get to the spot where the mistake occurred.

The beads are applied using a very fine crochet hook; a hook so fine that it is almost impossible to see the actual hook. My beads, although small, have a hole large enough to allow me to use a crochet hook 0.75mm in size. The problem with this is the fact that the yarn, which itself is very fine, is still more than twice the diameter of the hook. Splitting of the plies of the yarn are a frequent hazard but so far I have managed reasonably well and as I am approaching the end of the second section of the pattern I have not incurred any major damage to the yarn which would require repair of the yarn with splices.

The shawl is being knitted in a very pale blue, something akin to the colour of a cloudless winter sky, while the pattern which forms the background to the shawl reminds me of the patterns of frozen water that would be seen on bedroom windows in the days before central heating. The clear beads with their iridescent centre are reminiscent of the appearance of snow which appear to be like diamonds in the winter sun. It is, therefore, probably no surprise to know that I have named the shawl 'Ice and Snow'.

I haven't progressed quite as quickly as I had hoped, partly because I am coming out of a period of depression and have not been able to concentrate in quite the way that I need to so that significant progress could be made each day. However, I am starting to feel much better and it is hoped that progress will now speed up so that I can move onto another project. I have a scarf that needs a little work on part of its pattern charts so as to enable me to finish knitting it and it is fortunate that when the pattern has been corrected, completing the scarf will possibly be as little as eight hours. Then there is the writing up of the pattern for a hat that has already been knitted and the drafting of the pattern and knitting of a pair of mittens to go with the hat. After that there will still be four more projects to be knitted; two with patterns already created and two which require an awful lot of work before knitting can even begin.

The hope is still that the book will be published before Christmas, but as September seems to be vanishing with alarming speed I know that this could still mean a lot of long nights with the needles and in front of the computer screen in order to meet the deadline. If you had told me a year ago that I would be working towards the publication of a book that contained things that I had designed I would probably have laughed at you. It's amazing what can happen in the space of a year.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Waiting For The Curry To Arrive

Sunday evenings have become curry night for me. Having found an Indian restaurant that delivers to my area, I now ring with my request just before I start my stint in the office and can then eat it while I am working.

Tonight I will be working at the computer while I eat. I have drafted the first part of another shawl pattern and managed to knit the part that has been drafted. Now I need to think about how the rest of the shawl will look so that I can draft the chart ready for further knitting. If I can work out what is needed tonight then the next few days should see me knitting at a frantic rate to see if I can finish another project for my book. That will see six items finished and another three in the pipeline.

The curry is ordered and I have moved my laptop to the office to work while I am waiting for it to arrive. There are a number of specialist computer programs for knitting designers and I have two of them. One would expect that such specialist applications would be very expensive, but they are, in fact, very reasonably priced. My more recent purchase has the accepted symbols for the specialist stitches to be used for Estonian patterns. The Estonian lace knitters use a number of stitches that are found nowhere else in the lace knitting world. Even Shetland knitted lace uses little more than a combination of increases and decreases to create the filmy fabric that the Shetland knitters are famous for.

My current work in progress uses an Estonian gathered stitch to form the background fabric for the shawl and the diamond-shaped insertions will have more traditional Shetland-type patterns within them with the somewhat unusual addition of some lovely little clear glass beads which have a slightly iridescent centre to them. Adding the beads does slow me down quite a bit but the finished effect is so beautiful that it is worth it.

So now you know what I will be doing this evening. Tucking into a delicious curry and trying to decide what pattern I am going to put where on my current project.

Monday, 12 September 2011

I Know That I've Said It Before...

I have of late become a very bad blogger. I keep looking at the blog and thinking that I really ought to write a post now and then but somehow something (usually knitting) always gets in the way.

Since I last wrote anything here I have spent all of my spare time designing shawls, scarves, hats and cowls, and then having designed them and created the patterns I have been knitting the various items. So far I have completed one hat, two scarves, one cowl, and one huge shawl. I also have two more shawls on needles being worked on morning, noon and night, a scarf that is half completed but needs a little bit of work done on its pattern before it can be completed, and a cowl which is being knitted by a friend. I also have ideas for a pair of mittens to match the hat, a large circular shawl which I have started to design and that I know how I want it to look but it is creating the pattern for it that is a bit more of a problem. I also have another shawl based on the four seasons that I have thought about but have yet to start on the design.

On top of this I am still teaching knitting and crochet classes and I'm due to teach some classes later in the year where the subject will be lace knitting. As this is a new set of classes for me I have yet to formulate what will be taught. One is for beginners to the art so that will require some careful thought and probably the preparation of a few slides to illustrate what we are doing. The second class is for more advanced knitters who already have some experience in lace knitting and will focus on creating a scarf or shawl to their own design so much of the three hour class will be spent actually creating a design and then test knitting it.

One of the shawls that I am actually working on at the moment has been on and off the needles four times over the last two days but I think that I have got it exactly how I want it now. This means that I can sit down to do a few more rows before going to bed and possibly getting to the stage where I am going to do something that I have never done before. I'm going to be adding beads to the shawl as part of the overall pattern. I know how to do it, I just haven't ever done it for real.

It's going to be a very busy month or so trying to get everything drafted, knitted, edited and then prepared for publication so that we can have the book ready for sale at the end of October. With that in mind I will try to sneak a few minutes every now and then and try to keep this blog updated. I might even try and sneak a few photographs of the various items into my posts so that you can see what I have been up to while I have been silent.