Tag Archives: lace weight yarn

A Walkthrough In Blocking Lace – Dahlia Shawl

dahlia_shawl

Dahlia Shawl - Interweave Crochet, Spring 2011

First, the Crochet Garden now has its own official page on Facebook!! Many announcements (including tutorials like this one) will be announced there. Check out the Crochet Garden Facebook Page!

Since I started designing lace shawls, I have come across discussions on blocking. Now, I do not say this is the best and only way to block. I only say this is the way I do it. This is also for both crocheters and knitters alike. I pretty much learned blocking as a trial and error kind of thing, and I will discuss with you what worked for me and what didn’t, and why. I hope this helps you. Some of the points you may agree with and some not. Please let me know what you think as this will only help everyone and even me! :)

First, why is blocking so important? In some patterns it plays a large part in how the project turns out, namely, lace patterns. In some crocheted garments, it is mostly evening out, and if gauge is off a bit, to stretch out just a bit to the correct size, etc. But with lace, this is when your shawl comes alive. A little bit of magic happens. I have noticed when crocheters are making their first lace shawl, they are tempted to use a very tiny hook (due to the nature of the crochet beast – lace being so fine) or a large hook, because they are dismayed their work in progress is not looking like the finished project.

Dahlia Shawl- Blocked

Dahlia Shawl- Blocked

Dahlia Shawl- Unblocked

Dahlia Shawl- Unblocked

As you see with the Dahlia Shawl; which was most recently published in Interweave Crochet, spring issue of 2011, look at the unblocked photo. Notice how bunched up the stitches are. It does not have that open airy feeling of the other photo. Closely look at the edging. The unblocked photo, the stitching looks so much thicker and dense, not as flowing and almost translucent as the blocked photo.

My List Blocking Items:

Towel

Tub/bin for soaking

Wool wash or scent (while soaking)

Spray Bottle

Yard Stick / long wood measuring stick

Measuring Tape

Regular pins

Blocking Wires

T-Pins

Step 1: Soak (All small photos can be clicked on for more detail)

Gently take a tub (you can even use your bathtub) or any container, and fill with water. I always use lukewarm to room temperature water. Gently place your lace into the tub with the water. Do not agitate your work. It could felt up on you. Gently press down the work in order to immerse it. You will see little bubbles come up, and that the air coming out of the yarn.

Dahlia Shawl soak Dahlia Shawl soaking Dahlia Shawl soakingSoak Shawl

Some people recommend soaking for 15 mins to 30 mins. I always soak mine for an hour at the least. Usually, I give it a 4-5 hour soak- but mostly because something else taking my attention away (haha-  always more crocheting to be done )…

During this time, do not be tempted to stick your hand in and feel it. You really do not want to move it once it is in an soaking, especially if made of wool. The yarn is just so delicate and fragile, and you do not want to chance any tearing, or making weak spots in your work. Just let it be.

Step 2: Remove lace from tub- have towel ready.

Remove Shawl gentlyfold towlFold towelroll towel

Ok, next it is time to remove the shawl.  Be sure to have some towels ready. Gently remove (with 2 hands- my excuse was holding camera) from the tub and place within towel. I like to wrap up or roll up my lace within the towel. You do not want to wring or twist your work to get the water out! I simply role mine up without adding any friction, and then apply pressure to the rolled lace while enveloped by the towel.

Step 3: Unwrap and block

Insert wiresinsert wires

Insert blocking wires by weaving them in and out of stitchery every inch when there are not definitive outer points. If you do not have blocking wires, I would recommend getting them.  Do not skip reading this and Step 4, as it is still important. Blocking wires help with symmetry and getting that professional, extreme beautiful look. When there are definite points, like in the edging along the two sides where the bottom center is, then you will want to insert wire from front to back or from back to front at same place in each point. Always keep things consistent when blocking.If you do not have wires, then place regular pins, every inch, or at every point, and use a yard stick to make sure it is level/straight.

Insert wire in tips

Step 4: Use T pins to straighten your wires.

This is the part where you spread the shawl out.

tpinT pins

T pins are used to anchor your wires. You will need something sturdy to push them into. In this example, I used my bed. There is however a multitude of things you can use. The  most important thing is making sure it is strong, and you can pin into it without the pins moving. When I first started, I bought a ton of those rectangular pieces of Styrofoam.  They were not that practical and easy to work with, but they did the job until I discovered the bed. But now, I use mats. They are like those foam ABC mats that look like puzzle pieces for kids. They work beautifully. I will have to get a photo later of it (sorry).

One tip I can give, is that your work will be wet, and thus your bed soon will be as well. You may have to use the water bottle and spray it down some if it starts to dry out. If doing this on a mattress, or anything else really for that matter, put down some sort of waterproof barrier. For the bed, you can get one of those toddler bed covers that are waterproof. You can also use plain old garbage bags. Just cut them open to take advantage of the surface area. For my mats, I use a sheet. The mats are pretty good at taking dampness. I would put something over the waterproof barrier, only because the water from the bottom will pool there. I usually use a cotton sheet, which seems to work pretty well at giving me that level wetness I desire.

Anyway, you want to have as many T pins as needed to keep the wires straight. I have found these at my local store in the sewing section, as I did not get enough with my blocking wires kit. I also, depending on the pattern measure my distance between points. Now, there are some people who recommend folding the shawl in half along the vertical axis, lining up the edging from each side, and pining while folded. I have tried this and do not recommend it. This by the way was my second time blocking. The first time I tried the folding method, and it did not turn out well. I could not stretch out that center, and a vertical shading appeared right down the middle (you can see this in the photo).

If you think about it, this possibly could be prevented by having the wire inside the fold, held together with T pins, and then stretched out by the edging. But because of where the pressure points of stretching are, they will not be  the same near the center as they are in the Body, so I would still see this having a chance of happening. I find laying the whole shawl out prevents this entirely. I now use a meter stick to make sure the scallop on one side is level with the reflecting scallop on the other side of the shawl. And also, I use a tape measure to make sure the distance between points is the same.

Measure distance between pointsMeasure distance between points

There is hard blocking and soft blocking, and I suppose every kind of blocking in between. These are terms I refer to the types of this process as. There may be some technical term for it out there somewhere, but this works for me, and hopefully for you too. A hard blocking would be where you really stretch out the projects quite a bit from its initial measurements. I know quite a bit if subjective. But you will see how the lace relaxes. Stretch out all sides 1/4 of an inch. Not much happens right? That would be a soft blocking. Not much happen, or only a little happens. Many times a super soft blocking would be used to straighten out a garment to match the schematic perfectly.

Now keep stretching and stretching and stretching- magic happens. It really opens up a lot. I think this is where a common misconception occurs. I have seen many crocheters going up a lot in hook size as they are puzzled why their work is not looking like the finished piece. More on this later, with before and after photos to show the magic.

If your edging consists of scallops, or some sort of valleys or hills, always start out and work your way in. So first pin the outermost point that you can see. Then work your way toward the body of the shawl.

Step 5: Begin Pinning! This is where the fun, or maybe torture begins.

I usually have at least 2 containers of pins- I just never know how many I will need.

The Pinning Begins!2The Pinning Begins!

I like to use the long strong high quality pins. It just makes life so much easier- and well when I can spoil myself with little things, I indulge! Yeah I get excited seeing pins in the store. I especially like the little ones with the flowers on the head! Now, when you grasp a point, where you pin, is there it will stay. Here is a tip- and also will work with the T pins. When you go to pin, put the pin in at an angle away from the work. This will help keep wires in place, as well as the points where you want them to be.

Note: Wherever you pin, is how it will be. The work will relax some, but not much. So you want to be sure every point is even. If you get tired, take a break. Get a spray bottle and re-wet it later. Take your time, and do it as perfectly as you can- the results will be worth it. Every place you put a pin, that is where that specific point will be. Use the yard stick to check for symmetry and evenness. If you find while blocking – as this could take even 4 or 5 hours, that your shawl is drying out, keep the spray bottle going.

I allow my piece to dry for at least 24 hours. Sometimes it is hard to tell from the touch if it is still wet, because it does tend to be cool. Just do your best and unpin a little. If it retracts greatly, then it needs more time.

Before I brought up about a common error crocheters make is switching to a significantly larger hook. They often feel there is something wrong because their garment is not turning out like the finished picture. This is a whole new world- this blocking madness, or divinity I may call it. Something really magical happens when you mix fine yarn, wool  and blocking.

To make that fear subside- that your project is not going to turn out like it should, try this.

Pinned

While you are working, take some Styrofoam, and pin it out some. I call this a “Dry Mock Pinning”. Take a look at the gauge in the pattern and pin it to the same gauge as listed. Most patterns give a blocked gauge. However, if only a pre-blocked gauge is given, then still do this. Take your measuring tape, and stretch it out to the point that it looks like the finished garment, or to when it suits your liking. Write this gauge down. When you go to block, this is what you will use, and this is how your shawl will look once blocked after being wet and pinned. If the gauge does not state if it is a pre-block gauge or after-block gauge, get in touch with the designer. In fact, I think for now on I am going to give both the pre-block and after-block gauge in my patterns. Now for some before and after photos:

block-stairsblock-after-stairs

Close-up of Edging Tip before and after:

block-b4-stairsblock-b4-after-stairs

More before and after:

s160bs160

More before and after:

block-before-edgeblokc-after-edge

When working your project, do not fret that it is not turning out like the finished project. Grab some Styrofoam, or even use your bed mattress, and grab some measuring tape, and do a dry mock blocking. See what it looks like. This is the magic of blocking. This is the sparkle of wool. This is the whole new world of lace.

Now go make some magic happen!

Dahlia Shawl – Interweave Crochet Spring 2011 Published!

Dahlia Shawl - Interweave Crochet, Spring 2011

Dahlia Shawl (Prototype) - Interweave Crochet, Spring 2011

I am so excited – as I am sure you all know, the Dahlia Shawl has finally made her entrance into the world. These snapshots I took right after blocking, to get the shawl straight into testing. So  while this is the complete blocked shawl, these are not necessarily the final staged photos :)

Unlike the Midsummer, this one does not have a striking definitive border. I wanted the body of the shawl to flow almost seamless into the edging, as if it were a gradient effect. While working on the edging, I think I ripped about 18 times, to redesign. Sometimes things come to me right away, and other times its a wrestle with the design beast within. However, this is mostly due to my insane need for perfection- side effect: the crazy look mad designer.

Each time, I uploaded another photo to my test team. How about this one? Do you like this one? This super need for approval from them thank goodness has not made their excitement wane. They are all still there, giving their opinions as thoughtful as always!

Here is a few snapshots of the edging in progress:

coreal-edging-003food-edging-shawl-020

These, obviously did not make it into the final piece. While designing, I actually take my lace, and pin it out on styrofoam to get an idea of what it most likely will resemble. This closely resembles blocking, so I refer this as a “Quick Dry Block.” I then hold it up, photograph it, and then ask for opinions from the Crochet Garden testing team. You can also do this while working on a lace pattern- just to soothe that dance your mind does when wanting instant gratification.

This prototype was made using Jaggerspun Zephyr which is a 50/50 wool blend. This particular color is Lady Slipper, and I purchased it at Webs. (I love love love that place- I should really take out stock).

The final shawl, as shown in Interweave Crochet, Spring 2011 issue uses Manos del Uruguay Lace distributed by Fairmount Fibers.

For those on Ravelry- Here is the Dahlia Shawl Link On Ravelry!

dahlia_shawl

Dahlia Shawl - Interweave Crochet, Spring 2011

Maybe tomorrow or this weekend, I will post the photos of the blocking process- I actually happened to take photos in each step, as this shawl was originally going to be on the Crochet Garden website, with a blocking tutorial. So keep an eye out on that, and you will see how this shawl and other really come to life.

Also, there are a couple more shawl lace patterns in the works!! :)

Maia Shawl- is now released!

Maia Shawl

The Maia Shawl is now released. I had started this shawl so long ago, and then between surges of other shawl ideas and such, I finally finished this one. The edging took a few tries. The first couple, I would  work out, take a photo and show the testers, and would get yays or nays. Well, the third one was a charm- and it fit. It complements the body so well!

EDIT: I am editing this to let everyone know that Cerdeb of Ravelry has started a CAL for this shawl! Click here for Ravelry Maia CAL!

The yarn I used was called Jaggerspun Zephyr. It is 50% Merino and 50% Tussah Silk. While it has a low plush-factor (which is my term for billowy, stretchy, plushy), which is due to the silk, it lends itself well to this stitchery. It comes on a cone, so if you are thinking of getting it, at least where I got it from – Webs, so you will not need to worry about having to wind it on a ball winder using a swift. The yarn blocks incredibly well. So well, I purchased about 8 more cones of this yarn! (Shhh more shawls are on the loose). In the gallery of photos below, you will see photos before blocking, and then after. You will see, that it is normal for lace yarn to have the *crumpled* look, as I call it. It is bunched up.. and as usual, only has a small resemblance of the final piece.

The magic is in the blocking! I think of blocking like hairspray. Remember the 80s? I am an 80s child. I do not think my hair resembled anything like it did before an evening of hairspray :) And this is also where a little bit of art comes in. I know how lace behaves. So when designing, I will make little peaks and valleys, which will be my points I know I want to emphasize. After a good soak in lukewarm water, for say a couple hours, I gently take my shawl out, wrap it in a towel (never wring or make any friction – you may felt your work)! Unwrap it, and then stretch it out. Weave in wires along each side. That the work of setting the spine for the shawl. Now the detailed part of the work begins- pinning all of the points.

So you look at the before final, and say hey! I do not see the lovely fine points like I do in the final photos. That is because they are blocked out. That’s the hairspray. If you want a certain point to stick out, take a pink, stretch it out to where you want and pin it down. Do this do every single point (the pinning is hairspray)! Allow this to dry at least over night. (Note: Do not use *real* hairspray)! Once you take your pins off, you will see each point is where you pinned it- magic! It may be hard to grasp, until you have actually blocked a piece of lace yourself. If you look at the gallery photos of the shawl being blocked, you will see I first run 2 long wires along each side of the shawl. I then pin out each little peak, because I purposely want those to come to a point. You do not necessarily have to do this, but it sure makes it look gorgeous. Look closely at the before and after photos, and look where I placed my pins. Isn’t blocking amazing?

When I want to create an edging, I usually sketch it. I know what I want it to look like. See the nice fans in the edging? They have a convex shape. Same with the flowers in the innermost part of the body. They too are convex. I could have gone too with a convex like edging, but I wanted something that would stand out. So what I did, was used the little flower *spokes* like the innermost part of the body, placed them too in the edging, but made triangular scallops with them, and then made little sharp points in the trim. And voila, we have a striking ensemble of stitchery. Well, to my eye that is.

I do not yet have a stitch chart available for this pattern. But I will! I switched over programs, and am quickly trying to grasp the ways of the new program. As soon as this is done, there will be a chart available for this. If you purchased this pattern at the Crochet Garden, then all you will need to do is go into your account and download the pattern again. I will make an announcement here, as well as in a newsletter, so be sure you are subscribed!! If you purchased the pattern on Ravelry, you will receive a note saying there is an update available. If you purchased this pattern on Etsy, or through some other venue, be sure you are subscribed to the newsletter at the Crochet Garden. All you will then need to do is drop me a note with your receipt number, or whatever information you have from your purchase, and I will email you the updated pattern.

There is also now a Support Forum for the Maia Shawl, in case anyone runs into trouble, or wants to post their photos!

I really hope everyone enjoys this shawl!! Please let me know what you think. Also, I am on a lace binge – do you have a favorite lace yarn you like to use? Please do let me know about it, and I will see about getting my hands on it and create more designs in lace weight yarn! :) Thank you too, for the fantastic response to this shawl. I really hope it meets your expectations. If you find anything that would make my patterns or designs better, please, please do let me know. I design for all of you!

Something New, This Way Comes…. (shh)

sneakA while ago, I mentioned that I had been working on more lace shawls. Since the Dragonfly, and now the Midsummer Night’s Shawl… I will be releasing a new lace shawl, but on the Crochet Garden website. The only thing waiting, is a name. I am so pleased with how this came out! This is one of the numerous shawls I began working  on since my move. In a surge to feel and touch every lace out there available, and to really explore the properties of all the different fibers with crochet lace, this new shawl and yarn used met my expectation, and then some! I will be able to tell you more, as well as blocking photos I have, once I release. I really need to figure out a name, so that I can let this baby free! Hmm, Baby Free?

Cover: Midsummer Night’s Shawl, Interweave Crochet, Summer 2010!

Interweave Crochet, Summer 2010

Interweave Crochet, Summer 2010

The cover! My first :) I am so exhilarated my Midsummer Night’s Shawl made the cover of the Summer issue of Interweave! I had no idea, no clue. I was also wondering when I sent it in, how it would fair. It would be up against the Dragonfly shawl. Not in the sense each one competing with one another.. But I always compare my work- what do I like about this one, and how is this compared to that one. What would I do differently… etc. When choosing what pattern to make, the decision is almost always from comparisons. In a sense, this shawl had a lot to live up to!  How would it do?

EDIT: CLICK here for the CAL thread on Ravelry!

Since the move, I kind of went into hibernation. However, during that time, I began an affair with lace weight yarn. I blame the Dragonfly :) It was as if it came to life, flew into my window, and sat upon my shoulder and commanded nothing but lace! My checkbook got a workout from lace orders :) I wanted to try every fiber, every brand…

Naskrent-3

Midsummer Night's Shawl, Malabrigo Yarn Lace

Naskrent-1

Midsummer Night's Shawl, Malabrigo Yarn Lace

Naskrent-2

Midsummer Night's Shawl, Malabrigo Yarn Lace

This affair revealed something else though –I have always had a fondness for lace, and this brought that love back to the surface.  Here is one result of this path I am exploring- The Midsummer Night’s Shawl!

midsummer3

midsummer4

Knit Picks Shadow Kettle Dyed, Altutide Kettle

midsummer1

Pattern Body: This is shawl simpler than the Dragonfly. It consists of a 4-row repeat. The stitch pattern is remarkably simple.

If you can make clusters, sc, and chains, you will have little, if any problem with this shawl. In fact, if you are an expert at crochet and have always wanted to try lace, this is a great way to start :) Once you have the pattern down, it is a nice project to work in front of the TV. No counting.

Construction: The construction works like the dragonfly. You begin with a miniature triangle smaller than the palm of your hand. You then work across in rows, from corner, to center tip, to next corner. Then turn, and work present corner, to center to tip next corner, and so on. So working as long / wide as you wish is doable.

Yarn: The model (the shawl in the magazine) for this pattern uses Malabrigo Yarn Lace (100% baby merino)  The color is #98 Taureg.

The prototype (the project sent in for consideration) I used Knit Picks Shadow Kettle Dyed yarn (100% merino wool), in color Altitude Kettle. Unfortunately, this is being discontinued, as I really love this color!

Prototype, Knit Picks Shadow Kettle Dyed: Altitude Kettle

Prototype, Knit Picks Shadow Kettle Dyed: Altitude Kettle

Marcy Smith, the editor of Interweave, found the Malabrigo Yarn. Both are a lovely deep blue, and both have a very, very subtle changes in color depth – not enough to take away from the lace pattern, but just enough to enhance it.

For the past 6 months or so, I have been playing around with so many lace weight yarns, and getting a feel for the properties of each brand, each fiber. This has really helped cultivate my process when designing in lace, to really achieve what I want a design to become.

The Malabrigo yarn is very soft – definitely not an itchy wool. I have super sonic sensitive skin, and had no issues working with this lace. For example, some lace I have worked with it almost feels like I have a continuous feed of splinters infiltrating my skin when crocheting. With the Malabrigo – no problems of this kind whatsoever.

Before blocking

Before blocking

Before blocking

Before blocking

Before blocking

Before blocking

I would say the Malabrigo is a “sticky” yarn. Yes, I have my own little language and terms I associate in my mind to properties of lace. Sitcky, meaning, you have to be careful if you have to rip. It likes to stick to itself.

I would not say it is a nightmare if you need to rip out – perhaps somewhere in the middle ground. Some yarns, especially many those with fuzz and halos are hazardous to my mental well-being if I have to rip. Those yarns I just cut, and attach anew – and save insanity for those midnight hours of designing when I talk to the moon :) Some lace weight yarns, no problem ripping out.

With this, I would advise to rip slowly. Kind of like the sheep over the fence, the more you think about the more they all come over at once? Well, this, the more you pull, the more stitckies, and then, the ultimate stubborn knot. So just go slow, pull gently, and stop at the first indication of any struggle.

Blocking was beautiful. Thirty minute soak in a water bath and I began to pin. It kept its shape well, and did not relax anymore than any other lace yarn I have blocked with. Blocking is essential, as that is truly the magical part of lace shawls. I only wish I still have the model in my arms. Luckily, I still have the prototype!

I hope you enjoy making this shawl. And for those who were afraid of the Dragonfly, please give this one a try :) You are all on an adventure with me! Please do let me know if you make this, what you like, what you do not like. The more feedback I get, the better my designs will become for you!

If you have a favorite lace yarn you like to work with – let me know! I am hungry for more lace :) I want to design in every lace weight yarn there is available. Drop me a line too of your favorite colors in lace!

Thank you for sharing this magical time with me!

Also, want to make a note, another lady, Nicole, at Superior Creations, interviewed me. She posted my answers to her questions, and is having a Giveaway on her blog- a $25 gift certificate to the Crochet Garden! You can find it here: Superior Creations Blog. The Giveaway only goes until midnight Tuesday, so hurry!

Lace, lace, I want More.

Fire Child with the yummy goods, from Knit Picks

Fire Child with the yummy goods, from Knit Picks

Yesterday I spoke about lace weight yarn… I ordered some from Knit Picks not too long ago, right when I knew for sure I wanted to experiment making more garments with lace yarn. Fire child is happily displaying the goods. Water child was at swim practice, so he was unable to see the treasure.

Alpaca Cloud Lace, from Knit Picks, in a shade that is discontinued (The line of yarn still remains in different colors)

I was really torn when ordering. I wanted it all. Can’t I have it all? I suppose I could, and then would have the credit card companies after me. Everything in life after all is within reach, it’s merely a subjective opinion to what degree of good or bad one finds the consequences to be. And since I am looking to buy a house come spring, we needn’t go down amassing all the lace weight yarn possible! Yes, looking to buy a house.. more on that later.

This yarn rocks. I have already begun working with it.. swatching. I have 2 swatches that will make kick-hiney lacy shawls. One of them is really unique, and I am on the hunt for some beands to go with it. It will definitely be very earthy looking.. Not necessarily trendy, maybe a tad, but I definitely do think it will be something in the closet one can back to again and again.

Shadow Lace yarn

Shadow Lace yarn, "Oregon Coast Heather," from Knit Picks

This was actually my second time ordering from Knit Picks. About 4 yrs ago or so, someone gave me a gift certificate to use there. I finally used it, maybe a year or so later (Knit Picks certificates do not expire), and since this was in the infancy of my career, I did not really know what I was ordering, or what to do with it. I think I primarily purchased it based on weight and color. At that time, (and still for the most part) I like finer weight yarns (though at the time I did not know just how find this would be), and the color just blew me away. Something about those pale, icy-like colors.

It was the Alpaca Cloud Lace I had ordered, in a pale baby blue (a color that I love but has been discontinued), and then some Peppermint Heather (which they do still have). I must have had good taste. It is 100% baby alpaca, and oh so worthy being next to the skin. The Peppermint Heather I used as my experiment for the prototype of the Dragonfly Shawl. I love, love love the Alpaca Cloud Lace yarn. When ordering from Knit Picks this go around, I wanted to try some different lace… Take a look at the close-ups of the winners. As always images are clickable!

The first one is from their Shadow Lace yarn line, in the color “Oregon Coast Heather.” It is 100% Merino Wool and is very soft. It is definitely not as lacy/stringy as the Lacey Lamb that I used for the Dragonfly Shawl (I did love that about the Lacy Lamb), but I loved this just as much in its own way. It is though just as springy as the Lacey Lamb, and I can tell right now it will block just as beautifully too.  It would definitely lend itself a different way in design, making a personality all its own. This is the yarn I am using for one of the swatches that will eventually turn into a shawl, and the one I am the hunt for the perfect beads for. I will be using, at this point, wooden beads for this, hence, the earthy look. Even the stitches chosen for this shawl, though somewhat lacy, complement each other nicely contributing to the character of this shawl in its final form. Oh, I cannot wait!

Shadow Lace Yarn, "Snorkel Heather," from Knit Picks

Shadow Lace Yarn, "Snorkel Heather," from Knit Picks

Another I ordered out of this same line of yarn is the color “Snorkel Heather.” I LOVE this color. Can I say that again? I LOVE love love this color. First, I am NOT generally one to like variegated yarn. (This is not a variegated yarn, by the way). The only reason I bring up variegated yarn is that one may think in general if a person does not like variegated, he/she would not like any yarn with color changes of any sort.

I am very very choosy when it comes to yarns that have color changes, but I definitely have an attraction to these kinds of yarns. I think the affinity comes from  all of the gorgeous, hand painted yarns appearing with the advent of Ravelry, and of course the growing of Etsy. In fact, it is on Etsy I am hoping to find the “perfect” wooden beads for my shawl with the Orgeon Coast Heather lace… Let me know if you are a bead maker, or know of any nice wooden beads!

The color changes in this Snorkel Heather are in perfect harmony. Which though is why it is called a “heather.” If you click on the photo, you can really see how beautifully blended these colors are, one just melting into the next. I think for this shawl since the heathered look is not stark, but simply subtle, and will lend itself to a beautiful, open lace garment..

I can just see this being worn as a shawl, or even sarong, at sunset when walking along the boulevard, or even the beach…. a gorgeous, alluring lace, with these deep rich colors that accent the ocean. Now, if only I had an ocean by me, I could photograph it there! Oh wait, we have snow. Hmmm. Ok, well, we will figure something out.. still have yet to design with it! Can’t you see this being a very popular color this year? I can.. the deep rich colors of teal, turquioise, etc. I do not follow color trends too much, I just sort of go with what seems right for me at the time, and thankfully, the color choices always have been in sync with the times!

Shimmer Hand Dyed Lace Yarn, "Cumulus," from Knit Picks

Shimmer Hand Dyed Lace Yarn, "Cumulus," from Knit Picks

Ok, the third lace weight yarn is Shimmer Hand Dyed Lace yarn, from Knit Picks, in the color “Cumulus.” This color speaks serenity to me. Very calm, endearing.. I can see a beautiful, intricate lace pattern with this.. Maybe some small, hint-of-shimmer beads. I can see this being very elegant, or casual enough to be worn with a white tank and vintage skirt, with a gentle wind sweeping by. Can you see it?

See, I am a nut. When I see a yarn, it talks to me. Yes, it talks to me… I begin painting pictures in my head of what comes to me.. out comes the sketch book, and scratch notes about the “inspirational yarn.” I will draw what I envision in my head.

Though I am very logical, I am quite emotional too. Not in the sense I am a basketcase, quite the contrary, but in the sense that I am super empathetic, and so in touch with what I see and feel that it conveys itself through my writing, through my art and through my designs.

So anyway… time to get moving on this Saturday, get some cleaning and work done. I will leave you with a little sneak peak of something that is in testing… Happy weekend! Oh, and if you are in Level 1 on the Testing Forum, this project is open to you!

Sneak Peak

Sneak Peak

Lace, anyone? Dragonfly

Ice on a bush by driveway

Ice on a bush by driveway, ice storm 12/19/08

My mind has been going in numerous directions this past week. First, I need a new sketch book. Last one is now filled… I am being cheap though, and so a 10 cent spiral notebook will have to suffice. The ideas blasted me so much that my once white, pristine sketchbook is now laden with pencil drawings and scattered notes, rampant with eraser smudges.

Everyone grows, changes, adapts as careers continue… after designing that Dragonfly Shawl, it happened. I can feel the fire within, just like it has at times before. That’s the it – in essence, the slight loss of control. You see, often I go off on tangents… especially when the “new idea” comes. On a side note, I can still hear my brother saying to me when we were little “Oh no… another one of Lisa and her big ideas…” with the roll of the eyes and a swift walk the other away. I think it was that loneliness coupled with my unelected solitude in grade school that in some way formed some crazy “idea” neuropathways…. I can always remember doing something, somewhat insane.

So this past week was a sudden surge, almost implosion of ideas. After working with that lace weight, I am in love…. The Dragonfly was my first time working with a lace yarn. Now, as stated previously, I have worked with size 10 thread, even size 30 thread before. But lace weight yarn is a whole new breed….

The magic is in the blocking… I now have a set of nifty blocking wires. Once opened, will get a photo for you. Oh, the things I want to design with more lace weight.. Must, must get my hands on more. I have now been searching at all the different types of lace yarn out there… Which to try next? I want to try them all…

So please… Lend me your thoughts or observations… What should I try? What do you like? Is there anything particular that you have come across?

Since I do not have access to lace weight in town, I cannot go out and pet some lace weight… It will have to be ordered, so if you have any ideas, let me know! In the meantime I will continue my hunt of which lace weight to try next. Will let you know what it is!

Well, it is midnight… Sorry so short! Happy Friday everyone…

I leave you one of my new workout songs of ’09! Don’t know about you, but this song always puts a smile on my face and gets me dancing in the living room……..

Song on YouTube.

PS, here are a few more photos of that ice storm we had right before the holiday, and a video… Ice storms, so incredible, yet so destructible. (Clickable twice)


Dragonfly Shawl – Published, Interweave Crochet Winter 2008

The Dragonfly Shawl has now made its appearance in the Winter Issue of Interweave Crochet. I have been cautiously waiting for its release. Why cautious? I think perhaps it is more a reserved excitement… as I do not think this creation has completely made its way through my brain that it is complete, that I finally finished it.

And here it is, the Dragonfly Shawl. For some, here is the Dragonfly Shawl on Ravelry. Each time I look at it, and I know it sounds bad since I am the designer, but each time I look at it, I wish I still had it with me to wrap around and admire it. I have always had a love for little winged creatures.. whether butterflies (and yes, butterflies especially), dragonflies, ladybugs…

And while I am quite frightened of dragonflies, I admire them from afar. Kind of like when you admire something or someone that intimidates you, but not in a bad or condescending way, but in a way in which your admiration is due to a longing of finding yourself and really honing in on what you would like to become. No, I do not want to become a dragonfly…

The beauty, the grace – that is what I wanted in this shawl… I wanted it to sway in the breeze effortlessly with grace off of one’s shoulders… I wanted the beauty to be delicate, yet strong. I wanted it to portray the passion – the flight of the dragonfly, to flutter, then soar right past and leave one’s heart pounding. I hope it does just that…

Dragonfly Shawl

Dragonfly Shawl

This design was a DIP (Design In Progress – how I refer to them as) for 6 or 8 months. I really admired knitted shawls. There are some pretty fantabulous (yes, another Lisa word) shawls out there in crochet! But I wanted something that would literally, take one’s breath away, for a moment… At the same time, I did not want it to be so difficult, that not even a master crocheter would not be able to do it. Then, there was also the task of keeping the pattern at a relatively decent length (that will be another post, length of patterns).

A very early protoype, which was soon ripped and not part of the later infant prototypes. The striations were a go, but how ti shape and mold them into the beloved dragonfly?

A very early prototype, which was soon ripped and not part of the later infant prototypes. The striations were a go, but how to shape and mold them into the beloved dragonfly?

I had to constantly think ahead (and yet again, thinking ahead in pattern writing, due out in another blog post), because the action of what I do in one row could effect greatly another row and its wording, and thus the domino effect.. before you know it, your pattern cold be 10 to the 10th power pages long (well, not literally, I hope), but you get the meaning.

I also do confess.. this was my first time ever working with a laceweight yarn. I am not a stranger though to size 10 thread, or even size 30 thread. The only wool I had ever been in contact with was Lion Brand Wool-Ease (worsted weight blend which I dearly love) for my Rugged Mountain Hat & Mitten Collection and Schoeller + Stahl Baby Micro (fingering weight wool -a dream to work with), that I used for the Stone Path Hat, Interweave Crochet, Winter 2007 issue.

So, though I have worked with wool before, and I have worked with everything from a size 30 thread with a size 10 steel hook through a wool fingering weight.. I had never worked with a laceweight wool before, except for what I was swatching that shawl with. The yarn used for the Dragonfly Shawl was a dream to work with – Jade Sapphire Exotic Fibres, Lacey Lamb. Talk about an induction into laceweight yarn… Silky soft.. the yarn glided and moved with hook harmoniously… I will be making many more shawls now that I have had a taste of laceweight yarn, and Lacey Lamb will be at the top of my list. What colors??

While working on the Oxford Town Bag for Interweave Crochet (Fall 2008 issue), here is the infant shawl in the background, still in its infancy stages. To get a chance of pace from the tote, I would sometimes work on the shawl before putting it back in the DIP pile.

While working on the Oxford Town Bag for Interweave Crochet (Fall 2008 issue), here is the infant shawl in the background, still in its infancy stages. To get a chance of pace from the tote, I would sometimes work on the shawl before putting it back in the DIP pile.

So.. how did this shawl really come to be. I never thought it would come to be anything. I had it as a DIP for a long while. I would take it, only to put it back in hibernation until I felt the urge to play around with it again. I was emailing Kim Werker (Editor of Interweave Crochet) some photos of possible propositions of submissions. (I intended to send in a swatch later if any were remotely interesting). That is enough detail on that. So.. here I am rummaging through my computer of my DIPS. It was quite late, maybe past midnight. I sent numerous photos and every so often I would email her saying, I do have a *partial* shawl DIP.

I did not send it. I sent a couple more.

Again, I said I do have a photo somewhere of a shawl I have been sort of working on, but it is a piece of art that has been in the works a LONG, long time. *Sent off a few more photos of other DIPS.*

Then, I cannot even find the photo of the shawl on my computer.. Yes, me and my scatterbrainedness (a Lisa word). Finally, I find it. Now, this shawl had been in the works for many many maaannnyy months.

Shawl in infancy

Shawl in infancy

Do I dare send it? I am sure it would illicit no response. What the heck. So I send her this goofey photo. Unblocked of course, showing no detail of the possibilities it *could* have.

I cannot tell you how many times this shawl was ripped out and reworked. And I will say, laceweight is not always that easy to rip out. I really needs the gentle touch… Kind of like with a toddler, you need to be gently, but firm. Too gentle, and nothing changes.. too firm, well, you may have throbbing ears for a while from that resistant one :)

I also had a photo up against the miniblinds in my kitchen. This one at least showed a bit more detail. But still, nowhere near the vision I had. It was still all crinkled up. Since the photo was only for my own benefit, I never bothered to smooth out the progression of the shawl, or “what could be.”

Shawl in infancy, photo 2

This photo though was the one that did it. Kim was interested. She saw something alive there. She saw the potential. It was like she immediately read my mind and knew what I was trying to do with this shawl. I credit her eye for detail, her gift for seeing the beauty beneath the chaos… her ability to envision the possibilities… So, it was a done deal after all was just that, said and done. She asked, can you hash out this design on such and such tight deadline? “Sure I said!….” After that, shaking my head but not surprised.

Sometimes I need a good kick in the hiney to get a project off its feet. This one had been in the works much too long.. it was time for it to be developed. I was

Sun pic! Taken on porch.. Not sure if I was trying to fly at the angle this photo was taken??

Sun pic! Taken on porch.. Not sure if I was trying to fly at the angle this photo was taken??

worried, but excited. Excited to finish it, worried of how I would in such limited time. I work pretty well both under pressure and at leisure.. And if I knew myself, I knew that I would still churn out a quality design.. I just wondered, am I sure this time I would?? After all, it has been a design under my desk since dawn of the last creepy crawlers.

Before Edging

Before Edging

Yeah, can you tell I love my clothespins?? I swear, those things are the GREATEST invention.. In a pinch they are wonderful for pinning hair up in a bun for a midnight run to the corner store.

You see, working up a pattern is much, much different, or well, takes less thought when not in pattern-writing mode. Basically, it is almost like free-form.. You are following a guide (say your guide may be a triangle shape) and you just continue crocheting and working and trying on as you go etc.

When writing a pattern, for me at least, I am always thinking one step ahead. As I said earlier, something done in Row 5 can have a cascading effect in Rows 6-30. This shawl works not from tip, not side to side, but begins with a mini triangle. Think of a triangle having 2 tips and one point. The point is the central part (see bottom of shawl in photo) with a tip at the other 2 corners of the shawl (by one’s arms). So this shawl worked from one tip, to point, to next tip. That way, one can work until length and width are as desired.

So anyway… You see the diagonal heavy lines, and then the open airy diagonal lines? Those coincide with the stacking diamond spine. If you look closely, a heavy line occurs at the center side of each diamond. This is where the writing became tricky. When space is a concern, I HAD to take into account and somehow form a repeat. This was VERY difficult and well, think I went through major carb overdose with the amount my brain neurons were firing… See, the shawl is symmetrical.

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press

So, going up one side of the shawl, to the point, and then going back down the next side, this increases the number of heavy lines and airy lines each subsequent row. When writing one side before the point, I had to be careful that the rebound (the side on the other side of the point) would not take up too many words.

I really tried to get it so I could eventually say rep rows “X through Y” until such and such. Getting distance between X and Y a minimal number was a task.. with instructions on one side along with different instructions on the rebound, and getting all of those rows to eventually repeat themselves so as to not have a 20 page or more pattern, was a whole new endeavor.

This pattern really refined my writing skills. Not only did I have to make this pattern’s instructions compact while designing it, I also had to keep in mind clarity for crocheters. It would be nice, if I could have had nested repeats (a repeat within a repeat, within a repeat), but alas, I would definitely end up with many upset crocheters :)

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press

Then came the edging. And I say, then came the edging. I looked at my shriveled, decrepit looking piece of “art,” wondering how I was going to pull the edging off without it being a mountain of a pattern.

You see, I had a thing going.. my dragonfly theme. My plan was a play on negative space. See the strong striations coming from the diamond spine? At first, I was thinking of doing something overlapping.. And then I thought, do I want there to be a division line between the body of the shawl and the edging? I played around, but a stark division line would ruin my idea of having the negative space aspect to it….

So I had the heavy striations meet, creating wings… then between those slender wings, would again, be wings, with a pointy scalloped tips. I am not sure how long it really took me to come to this decision, but it was a lot of sketching, a lot of ripping, a lot of redoing, a lot of stretching, all the while praying I would not break the yarn too many times.

A contemplated edging. I was on to something I though as I continued to experiment and try different things... Photo taken right on my knee, so in case I ripped, I would have a moment to refer back to :)

Now my next quest was, how to get a REALLY lacey-but soul-grasping lace effect? Something not done before.. Something different. Something that would leave a wing-print, so to speak…

Well, you will need to see and work the pattern to see the technique I came up with to really cultivate a lace that cannot be deciphered solely upon a simple glance. It was fun trying to figure this out… Almost like a challenge was bestowed upon me, where the prize would be the intrinsic satisfaction of knowing that I figure out how to put in hand and yarn what I envisioned in my mind.

Blocking, take 1. It did what it needed to do, but of course, blocking wasn't perfect. Soon transferred onto a blanket on floor.. Worked much better. Now what to do with all of this strofoam??

Blocking, take 1. Blocking soon transferred to a blanket on floor. What to do with all the styrofoam?

Designing this shawl in laceweight yarn has opened up a whole new realm for me. I now want to design a whole case of shawls in laceweight! I was hooked at the start.. but for some reason, it felt wrong if I were to design a laceweight shawl before this coming out… I am not sure why, but I did not feel right. So, to satisfy my eagerness to design more shawls, I sketched. So now, I am unleashed!

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press.

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press.

I will let you know, this pattern is not for those who are seeking a quick and easy pattern. This pattern will challenge the intermediate (though in a good way), and will give those advanced crafters something different to work. This is a piece of art you are making… This is not your sit in front of the tube and work mindlessly.

This is an heirloom project. Not only will the material be delicate, but it will take a careful and watchful eye. I am always here to help.

When working up this project, think of it not as just that- a project… Think of it as a path to the dragonfly within you, whatever your dragonfly is.