My house smells like spring.
I’ve never tried forcing bulbs indoors before, but it was a really good idea. This hyacinth smells so good, and it really is wonderful to see something blooming this early in March.
There are also some tantalizing hints of spring outside. All of my spring bulbs have sprouted, and the overwintered alliums (garlic, chives, etc) are beginning to look happy and energetic again. We had 3 days in a row where the high was over 60 this week.
And a sure sign of spring in the knitting world? Lace knitting has returned! I’m seeing more and more Ravelry and Instagram friends casting on lace projects, and my own lace shawlette test knit is underway in my Rav group! If you’d like to join in, be sure to check out the link!
So you’ve already seen hints of the fabulously green sweater design currently on the needles.
But I’ve got some other goodies in progress too. Here’s a pair of hints for an upcoming e-book full of patterns that double as tutorials:
And then there’s the design that’s ready for test knitting! I’ll be posting a call for testers in my Ravelry group next week, but if you’d like to get in early on a little springtime lace knitting, please let me know in the comments!
So those of you who have worked with lace before probably know about those handy blocking wires that make blocking straight edges so much faster and easier. But what about knitting with no straight edges? What if you’ve knit a circle?
You can’t just…not block it.
Eww. Blocking lace is not optional.
1. Soak it.
This is pretty much the same as with regular lace. Give your work a nice, thorough soak in cold water. Then go and gather up all of your t-pins. Seriously, all of them. However many you think you need, I promise you will need more. Once your knitting is good an soaked, gently squeeze it until it no longer drips. Don’t wring; felted lace is a tragedy.
2. Pin the center.
Bring your damp knitting over to your blocking area (mine is a collection of cheap foam squares from the dollar store) and center it. Keep in mind that your blocking area needs to be much larger than the unblocked piece would suggest. Now, if your piece is pretty solid in the center, one pin may be enough. If it has a bit of a “belly button” like my example here, I recommend 4-5 pins to keep it from stretching more in one direction than another.
3. Pin every point and scallop.
Seriously. All of them. Even the ones that are nowhere near your edges. Start from the center and work your way out, always matching each pin with one on the opposite side of the knitting. This helps keep in symmetrical. If your edges don’t have any points or scallops, you’ll want to put pins in the edge every inch or two as well. Told you you’d need all the pins!
4. Walk away.
Make sure your lace is safely away from the reach of any pets or small children, and then walk away. Just go away and leave it for a day or two until it’s completely, beyond a shadow of a doubt bone dry. If it’s not totally dry when you unpin, the lace will just scrunch up again. After all the time you just spent pinning, having to redo it would just be a crying shame.
5. Unpin and enjoy!
Once your sure it’s dry, go ahead and put away all those pins. Doesn’t that look better?
So I suppose ya’ll are wondering where I’ve been lately, huh? Well, the biggest part of that answer is…work. Not the fun designing kind, but the (usually also fun, but currently exhausting) kind that pays the bills. I won’t bore you with the details. Instead, here are some more exciting things that have been keeping me busy.
The garden is in full swing, with newly ripe strawberries every day, and plenty of blossoms on the blackberries and peppers. My tomatoes always seem a bit behind the rest of the garden, unfortunately. Last night we had some seriously unseasonable cold (although not frost, thank jeebus) and I had to get quite creative covering the more tender plants, most of which have been in the ground a good two weeks already.
Here also is a peek at an upcoming shawl design I’ve been working on. It’s deliberately smooshed and low quality, but you can probably get a good idea of just how lacy it is. It’s quite an involved little sampler of a project. I’ve also been back and forth a lot lately with the publisher and tech editor of that pattern collection I worked on all last summer and fall. These sort of things take an obscene amount of time compared to self-publishing, but it’s in the final stages now!
Now that test-prep is pretty much done with and it’s really just full on test-mode for the rest of the school year, I’m not bringing home quite as much work and am thinking again about KALs. There hasn’t been much input in the polls thread, so if you’d like to participate in a Feel Good KAL, please chime in! Likewise, if you’re interested in donating a prize I’d love to hear from you too. I have a few possibilities in mind already, but more is never a bad thing!
Spring has truly sprung around here – it’s been in the 70s and sunny the last couple days here, and warm and stormy before that. This kind of weather is great for running and my garden, but for a lot of knitters, this is where the knitting stops. Being the addict I am, I can’t imagine not knitting for more than a day or two, much less a whole season. So if you’re like me, what do you knit this time of year?
Spring Projects for Spring
Many spring-like patterns knit up quickly and can be worn right away in spring. Socks are particularly great for this. Patterns like my Bel Air
and Flourishing Fields
are perfect for that stretch of time where “too chilly for bare feet” meets up with “still way too warm for sweaters”.
Bel Air Socks
If you want knitting that’s appropriate for both knitting and wearing in spring, small and fast is definitely the way to go. Lacier versions of your winter accessories, for instance my lace cowl Bâtonnage also help bridge that gap between hot and cold. You can further this effect by using fiber blends that retain less heat, such as cotton and bamboo.
Spring Projects for Summer
Spring is also a good time to start planning what you want to wear this summer. Yes, you can indeed wear handknits in summer. Knitting tanks in lightweight yarns and cool, silky fibers is a beautiful thing. Tanks like my Lovely and perennial favorite Catch are great examples of projects you’ll want to start soon if you plan to wear them all summer.
Lightweight cardigans and lacy shawls like my Leonardtown and tiny Sea Spray are also good for keeping the chill off in over air-conditioned restaurants and shops, without being so heavy and warm as to be unpleasant to knit now.
Spring Knits for All Seasons
Some knits have no season. I tend to think shawls fall into this category, and if you knit openwork ones like my Swept Away you won’t have to worry about the “blanket effect” having a denser shawl-in-progress in your lap can create. As large shawls can take a while to complete, you’ll be extra grateful for your choice come summer. One word of advice, though – trading your yarn out for a summery plant-blend is not a good idea for lace projects. They really need a fiber with memory, like wool, to hold their lace patterning nicely. Choose a pattern with a lightweight yarn instead.
Of course, you may disagree that shawls are seasonless, or live somewhere so hot that even the thought of a lace shawl in your lap is too much (this also applies for summer knitting). In that case, what about non-wearables? Household objects like my Aeration tend to be too small to create heat problems, and don’t go on your body at all!
So those are my favorite things to knit in spring. In fact, I’m currently working on a new top for summer myself. What do you like to knit in spring?
Last weekend we had a brief break in the cold before the endless snowing returned. I took advantage of the temporary warmth to air out my shawl collection and also take a few photos for an upcoming ad campaign. I thought a lot of it wound up pretty, and very refreshing after months of endless grey and white. Because I love you all, I am sharing. All photos can be enlarged by clicking.
A close-up of my shawls, all folded and ready for spreading
Almost overwhelming for the senses this time of year!
More beads and a bit of pretty light play.
Fish? Vines? Don’t care. It’s green, and I need green right now.
Hope these brightened your day a bit, as they did mine. For the interested, the shawls (in the order they appear in the fence picture) are: Clapotis, Swallowtail, Leonardtown, Sea Spray, and Swept Away.
Wow, I kind of disappeared there this week, didn’t I? Well, to make it up to you I’ve come back with a new pattern! This one will be familiar to those of you who read regularly, as I’ve posted about it all through its creation process. I am so thrilled to finally present to you: Swept Away.
Regular readers will know this shawl was inspired by a wedding I was recently in. In part it came about because my friend was getting married in late September on the waterfront (brr!), but in part also because I wanted something truly special and well-loved to remind me of her big day. This shawl is absolutely both of those things.
It is absolutely large enough to have kept me warm throughout the wedding day, but so delicate and translucent that it is clearly a fashion statement and a formal piece, not just a means of keeping warm. The beads don’t dominate the piece; they just add a bit of sparkle that combines with the shine of the yarn’s silk content for quite a sophisticated look.
Combined with the shawl’s drape and (lack of) weight, it is just everything I envisioned. It suited the dress, it suited the venue, it suits me enough that I will continue to wear it in the future – and I will never be able to wear this shawl without thinking of my friend’s wedding day and smiling. Swept Away is everything I wanted, and I hope it will be the same for you.
P.S. Check out a couple more awesome pictures of the wedding and shawl on my project page.