Gone with the Wind

Hermione-style bobbly Hat and Mitts

Where did April go? It seems as if I just blinked, and missed it! There have been so many tasks that needed attention after my long illness, not to mention I’m still weak as a kitten, so here I am, a week late. However, as my brain has been functioning reasonably well again, I have some new designs to show off.

The Harry Potter films contain so many lovely knitted garments, I started with my version of the textured hat Hermione wears in the Godric’s Hollow scenes, in order to ease my way back into more complex designs (see the books on the bookcase by my left shoulder?). I know there are other versions of this hat out there, but I felt challenged to get closer to the original. Not to mention the fact that I needed new fingerless mitts, as my current two pairs are disintegrating after years of faithful service.

Hermione-style bobbly Hat

It’s contrary of me, I know: even though making a new pair wouldn’t take me much time or effort, I’ve delayed doing so because I’m so fond of the old ones (which are scandalously tatty). But a ball of Cushendale alpaca in my stash demanded to be knit up at last, so here we are- what do you think of the likeness? Either way, trying to adapt someone else’s idea to the materials available is a good design challenge, like flexing my mental muscles! Plus, it’s been a mainly miserable April, so I’m glad of the warmth.

Hermione-style textured Hat and Mitts

Ideally, I think a thinner alpaca yarn would be closer to the original, but my stash isn’t comprehensive (yet!).

Hermione Hat and Mitt set

Added bonus: this set only took one ball of yarn!

Cushendale Star shawl Beginning

Because the intense colours of Cushendale yarn always cheer me up, I decided to design a straightforward triangular shawl in their boucle mohair. The stitch pattern is a little complicated, though, so this is not for absolute beginners like the Hermione ensemble is (that’s so much easier than it looks, honest).

Cushendale star Shawl point

This shawl is finished off with crochet chains at the edges, to preserve the airy look, and I kept the spine ultra-simple to avoid fussiness. The flash has really bleached the colour out here, it should be a glorious sunshine/daffodil yellow…

Cushendale Star Shawl Edge

Those are centimetres on the ruler, by the way, not inches- it’s airy, but not a fishing net!

I was really lucky while I was sickest, in the sense that the school had Easter holidays during those weeks, so I didn’t let the children down by missing their knitting class. It’s great fun now, because about half the class is very enthusiastic and the other half does painting and similar things while we get stuck in. Many of them have finished their first fingerless mitts (constructed out of rectangles of garter stitch folded sideways around the hand), and a couple of the boys have graduated to purling. A few children got so carried away that their glove rectangles morphed into bags, neckwarmers and even scarves before they realised that it was possible to stop! It’s amazing how different their approach to knitting is depending on their personalities. Some of the shy, middle-of-the road students are blossoming as they discover an unsuspected talent, and some of the pernickety ones are becoming more relaxed about making mistakes (my motto: sew buttons on the holes, and avoid ripping back- it’s too disheartening).

I love their happy little faces and their creativity, it’s a pity I can’t show you any photos. Next Wednesday, we’re going to make a start on knitting some ghosts and zombies (the class has 3 boys to every girl, so when in Rome……)

Pensieve shawl Yeoman Janeiro

I think I showed you this photo before, or at least I planned to- there are a lot of details lost in the fever dream that was March-April – but anyway, this is the beginning of a simplified version of my Pensieve shawl, in viscose-linen (Yeoman). Now the original Pensieve shawl is circular, like Dumbledore’s Pensieve, but in general I am not a fan of circular shawls. They can’t really be worn spread out flat (except when draped on models who obviously have no intention of moving an inch), so they end up being folded in half, which obscures much of the lace pattern and leads to a large volume of scrunched-up shawl at the nape of the neck, if the shawl is to sit comfortably on the shoulders. Since the nape of the neck is usually an attractive part of the body, I object to hiding it unnecessarily. So this Pensieve shawl is more than a circle, with extra segments added so that it will drape around the shoulders when folded. Furthermore (tah- dah!! I’m especially proud of this), the top half of the folded shawl is so fine that the part on the lower half can be seen through it. I’m still trying to take a photo to show this properly, but it works.

Blocking Pensieve Shawl with tights (pantyhose)

Looking at this photo, I think I should have pinned the shawl out again on a dark background- oh well, next time. The dark blob you see here is a pair of tights (I believe Americans call these pantyhose, or is that something else?). In order to block a more-than-circular shawl without creasing it horribly, I used these tights.

Blocking Pensieve Shawl Detail

Once the shawl dried it was crease-free, and viscose-linen blends drape beautifully, so this smaller version with its narrow edging is a very satisfying quick knit- just what us convalescents need….

Now all I need is a summer to wear it in!

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Thank goodness that’s over!

Waterlily pattern

I’m referring primarily to 2012, which was a difficult year for me from start to finish and I am GLAD to see the back of it! My war wounds are still with me, but not acting up so badly, so fingers crossed…. And 3 cheers for 2013- I embrace it wholeheartedly. My Christmas tree has really cheered me up this year, so I think I’m going to be decadent and leave it up for a while. Yes, I know it’s 12th Night, but I’m feeling rebellious. Next thing you know, I’ll be knitting a “Born to be Bad” sweater and dying my hair purple…….

Waterlily Faroese Shawl

These photos show that the Faroese lace shawl has turned out nicely, even though I was making up the blocking procedure as I went along- remember I showed you it pinned up in a folded position? Well, the foldline just needed to be dampened and spread out flat once the rest of the shawl was done, and now it sits firmly on my shoulders and drapes really well, so no complaints!

Waterlily pattern

Another thing I really like about Faroese shawls is that there is plenty of lace at the front of the body, without having to pull it around from the back.

Christmas outfit

And this photo is just an excuse to show that I fit into my Christmas dress again- remind me to patent my yarn diet, it’s responsible for the shawl, too!

Despite the vicissitudes of the last few weeks, I managed to comfort myself with some more knitting- I just couldn’t lie down all the time.

Sock-weight wool

This stole is a belated gift for my Godmother. It’s a sock-wool version of the Lilac Leaf ¬†Shawl from Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush, which I really like as a beginner’s introduction.

Diamonds with nupps

Sorry, the focus isn’t great, but this shows the classic style of lace with a border and an edging, very luxurious- and makes for interesting knitting, as the centre piece doesn’t go on for ever! The border diamonds contain smaller nupp diamonds; again, great for a beginner who might be overwhelmed by the fine shawls with literally thousands of nupps.

in Coolree silk-alpaca lace

Remember my fabulous semi-solid coral pink silk-alpaca lace from Coolree? Well, since the waterlily lace stitch pattern in the green shawl actually looks like a strawberry, too, I decided to combine ¬†the two to make a shawlette (800g/100m hank, used it up). This is it, unblocked. It didn’t photograph well, but it actually looked so nice I was tempted not to block it. Before I made up my mind I had to fix two holes caused by dropped stitches which unravelled down several rows before I caught them and arrested them with safety pins. So here’s a mini phototutorial on mending lace:

Surgery needed for shawl

Prior to surgery: st is secured on safety pin. It unravelled down the side of the petal above, where it should have been caught into a knit-4-together, and wasn’t (I think the painkillers and related dopiness contributed here!).

Pick up st wih crochet hook

So here the wandering st has been reworked up the side of the petal with a crochet hook, and the blunt wool needle approaches with a length which had been used to tie the hank together for dyeing (with yarn like this, I save every inch, just in case, and this was one of the times I was really glad of it).

Mended lace

So here’s the mended st (needles are pointed at it). I used the blunt needle to sew it in place, then the sharp needle to secure the tail ends by piercing the knit sts on the wrong side (just weaving in isn’t secure enough, because yarn containing silk is slippery and the ends would work loose).

Wrong side after darning ends

This is the mended st on the wrong side- I don’t think it’ll show….

Strawberry  Faroese lace shawl blocking

I decided to block this after all. The shoulders are less tailored than in the green shawl. I must think of a better way to deal with the foldline, though. I think that sounds like a good excuse to design another Faroese shawl, as if I needed one!

Strawberry shawl neck and Faroese shoulder shaping

The neck details don’t show as clearly as I’d hoped, but I’m still pretty fuzzy around the edges myself, too!

Strawberry Faroese shawl in Coolree lace

Once it’s on, I’m delighted with it, though- they do look like tasty strawberries, don’t they, although they feel like angels wings. (Now there’s a name for the next shawl, don’t let me forget)

shawl Coolree lace

This shape wraps very well. The colour does not go well with the dress, but all my other gowns are at the cleaners, heeheee.

I read The Hunger Games recently (they’ve been on the reserve list in the local library non-stop since they were published, so I was curious). Anyway, there’s a lot in there about propaganda, creating an image and costume. I felt challenged to translate the iconic image of the fiery “Mockingjay”, since my flame-coloured yarn-diet cotton lace was pleading to be used, so here we go:

Oliver Twists cotton

This turned out quite wide, athough I only used 74g of Oliver Twists hand-dyed cotton. Mind you, it’s very fine (almost 1200m per 100g), so this represents approx. 880m of yarn.

Mockingjay tail feathers

I used Estonian leaf patterns for the body of the shawl, changing them to look more like feathers.

Mockingjay neck

The insertion at the back, plus a tiny bit of shaping at the neck, give a nice Faroese touch to help it stay in place- always a good idea with cotton, as it can be pretty slippery too, especially if mercerised, as this one appears to be.

Mockingjay lace shawl full size

Ready for take-off! I deliberately haven’t watched the film yet (and I don’t think the heroine would be wearing a shawl during her ordeal, anyway), but this is where my imagination took me….

Back detail Mockingjay lace

Now all I need are more gowns, and parties to wear them to- how’s that for a New Year’s Resolution?