Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Little Grousing and Knitting Tip #4

Topanga is particularly lovely during the spring and early summer months as the mountain is covered with pretty wildflowers. These flowers are a pretty shade of grayish blue that I think tones well with my current yarn (Blue Sky Alpaca Royal "primrose"). I hope they are still in bloom by the time I'm finished! I also hope not to hear from any botanists telling me they are actually a weed. The royal alpaca is heavenly to knit with - sigh - and I can see more alpaca projects in my future.

I'm currently knitting the Swallowtail Shawl (free pattern link). For those of you unfamiliar with this shawl it has the distinction of being voted one of the top 5 patterns from Interweave Magazine (Spring 2008). High praise indeed and well deserved (mostly - LOL). I really loved this design, until I came to the nubbs. Weep, weep. Now I'm sorry I chose this pattern because I have found the P5Together stitch at best awkward and at worst downright painful! It is an ill conceived stitch that is only mildly ameliorated by executing a slip 2 P3Together instead. To my horror and dismay I've actually had the nubbs unravel before my eyes requiring me to tink back to reconstruct the original nubb a row back. And yes, I've tried forming the nubbs loosely but I don't care for the sloppy appearance of the stitch formed that way. But now I'm nearly through with the nubbs and it's smooth sailing from here on out.

Lace knitting is a nice skill to have whether you want a full lace shawl or just a small motif to set off a hat, sock, or sweater pattern. By in large you will find that lace stitches are simple to execute (mostly - LOL) and give stunning results. And seeing that I'm currently in the middle of a lace knitting project Mr Puffy suggested that this would be a good time to share one of my lace knitting tips. This lace knitting tip is geared toward the new and/or aspiring lace knitter. So, if that includes you, pour yourself a cup of tea and read on.

Knitting Tip #4. Knitting Lace - Read Your Resting Row Stitches

As a preface I want to define two terms.

1) Pattern Row. The pattern row is the row where you are following detailed instructions to perform various knitting stitches such as increases and decreases. This is also known as the "right side" of your knitting.

2) Resting Row. The resting row is where you purl all stitches across. This is also known as the "wrong side" of your knitting.

Generally, with most lace knitting projects, you alternate between a pattern row and a resting row.

With that preface here's a lace knitting tip: always read your stitches as you purl across a resting row. By this I mean you need to mentally track in reverse the pattern row you just knit and confirm as you purl across the resting row that all your increases and decreases are correctly placed. This is a great double check on your knitting and provides you with an early detection method to catch any errors that might have occurred on the pattern row you just completed.

I think is is also helpful to know that when knitting lace most mistakes are the result of either forgetting to make a yarnover increase (YouTube Video link showing how to create a yarnover increase) or making a yarnover increase where it doesn't belong. On the resting ("purl") row it is very easy to correct this mistake by either adding a yarnover or dropping a yarnover as you come upon the mistake.

This knitting tip does require a fair bit of concentration as you purl across the "resting" row. I want to emphasis that lace knitting is a skill that gets easier the more you do it. I also think that the mental exercise is a good thing as I consider knitting a pivotal part of my Alzheimer prevention program. I thought I was alone in this view of knitting and so I was amused the other day to see that Channon of Chan Knits similarly views knitting as part of her AZ prevention program. It certainly can't hurt.

Tea Break

Now that everything about knitting lace is as clear as mud, I think we could use a tea break! Here at Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog we primarily talk about afternoon tea and by that I mean a tea time where you sit down with a tea tray and enjoy a relaxing break in your day along with something to nibble on. But I like to drink tea all day long and I start every morning with a pot of tea. This morning I'm drinking French Blend which is a custom Lavender Lounge tea from San Clemente, California. It is a black tea with floral undertones that I would describe as a complex earl grey tea. In the picture below you can see that it has a variety of flowers petals mixed in with the black tea. Unlike most black teas I like to drink this tea without any milk or lemon added.

Have a great weekend everyone and be sure to take time to enjoy a cup of tea!


Theresa /t does wool said...

Claudia,the shawl is working up so very nicely...and that tea...I may just have to try some...

Monika said...

Oh no! Unravelling nubbs, that's awful! I'm glad you could catch it all. Your post was very interesting, and I loved the tea pictures.
Such pretty flowers can surely not be described as weed? I even like dandelion, and think not as weed of it, for all it's uses.
Have a wonderful weekend too!

Channon said...

P5tog? That's why I read patterns through and through before I cast on. That stitch would find me moving to the next item in my queue. It looks great though.

Only you would coordinate your flowers, knitting, teacup and tea! ;)

Bridget said...

The shawl is very pretty, and I'm glad you are post the nubbs ... ;-)

Oh that tea! I want some - NOW!

jillian said...

Mnnnn, royal alpaca, mnnnn. I will have to remember that trick for a p5tog, that does sound dismal! The shawl will be stunning and so lovely to wear around the neck!

And that tea sounds divine. I love Earl Grey!

Denise said...

It looks wonderful to me, although I wouldn't fancy doing p5tog either!
I have to say the tea looks very pretty too - I'm almost tempted (almost ;-)
Have a super weekend.

Hilary said...

THANK YOU for the great tip! I'm definitely still a lace newbie, and I think this advice will really help. And since my hypochondriac mom has had me thinking about Alzheimer's prevention since I was about 15, I thank you for pointing out lace knitting's value in that area too!

The shawl is looking gorgeous, btw -- can't wait to see more!

Sherry said...

The shawl looks lovely. The nubbs sound like quite the pain! I enjoyed reading your lace knitting tips. Reading lace knitting is not easy for me, I'll have to try looking at the purl row. Your advice on fixing missing/extra yarnovers definitely works. (Yes, I have had that problem).

Your tea & cup look lovely. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all sit down & have tea together?

I noticed you're posting your blog pics in a different way. Now they're not going thru Flickr. I miss seeing them on Flickr.

amanda said...

p5tog? sounds awful!! I remember one pattern I knit had a p3tog and I thought that was bad.

Tea breaks sound wonderful. I should try and fit more in. I love English Breakfast!

Marie said...

I actually want to thank you for discussing your trouble with the use of nubbs. I was contemplating using them in a stole I am working on since I love the way they look, but I will search for a work-around. I prefer to only knit items that are a joy to knit.

I go weak in the knees for alpaca too.

Silvia said...

The Shawl is beautiful- the color looks great. glad to hear you are done with the P5 tog. The results are great, though!

knitting dragonfly said...

Great lace tip. The shawl looks fab, P5 tog? Never done that, I can imagine it is awkward.
I think a cup of tea now would be nice, we just came in from working in the garden!

tiennie said...

It looks wonderful! Great tips!

Windyridge said...

Thanks for the tips. I love to knit lace but often make mistakes as I lose concentration or someone distracts me.
You have such pretty tea cups!

Alison Boon said...

The tea sounds divine, I adore earl grey. Thanks for the tips on lace knitting. It always pays to do a double check. I am loving knitting Ophelia at the moment.

Firefly Nights said...

The tea sounds great. You might also like the Victorian Earl Grey from Simpson and Vail or Chinese Flower from Harney.

Thanks for the lace tips. Unfortunately, I got my lace education from an Anne Hanson scarf pattern that had absolutely no resting rows in the pattern at all. Every row in the 12-row pattern was something different. I learned A LOT from fixing my mistakes over and over again. Really learned to recognize the different stitches, and learned to use a lifeline. Never did finish it, but it's fairly easy now. I work on it every now and then and will always keep it as an example of how much I learned from it.

I like your shawl, but my goodness, P5Together? Bet that really was a pain in the rear but you're so talented I'm sure you made quick work of it.

If you have time and feel so inclined, give us a tour of Topanga in the spring. It's nice to learn more about other parts of the country. I'm sure Mr. Puffy would volunteer to be in some of the photos.