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Steller’s Jay Shawl

September 26

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of Stephannie Tallent‘s newest addition to her Wild West design series, Lace 2. I couldn’t wait to get the Steller’s Jay shawl onto my needles! I love the colors in the fingering weight Baah “La Jolla” yarn, Blue Iris colorway. They perfectly evoke the colors in the Steller’s Jay which lives in Arizona (and other Western regions) and that Stephannie took her inspiration from.

lace shawl, Steller Jay shawl, Baah Yarn

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I wanted just a bit more depth to the back of the shawl, and so added a few more short rows than the pattern calls for.

lace shawl, Steller Jay shawl, Baah Yarn

 

Here it is on the blocking board:

lace shawl, Steller Jay shawl, Baah Yarn

 

 

 

 

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Resources:

Stephannie’s Sunset Cat Designs blog

The Wild West: Lace 2

Baah Yarn

Read more about the Steller’s Jay

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Some Little Lace Tricks

September 2

I recently found myself away from home for several weeks, hence the dearth of posts here.

When life hands you lemons make a shawl, I say!

Fortunately I was armed with a pattern (more about that in future posts), yarn and stitch markers.

 shawl, lace tips, lifeline

I always put lifelines into my lace knitting, and I’ve never regretted that yet. Although I usually like to use a thin cotton yarn as my lifeline, some on-the-road dental floss was the perfect substitute. If you’ve never used a lifeline, its a thinner yarn in a contrasting color that you thread through the live stitches on your needle. That way, if (in my case WHEN) you drop a stitch, the lifeline will catch it and keep it from running an alarming number of rows. I like to mark the pattern’s chart or text at the point where I put the lifeline in so I know where to resume from if I have to rip all the way back to the lifeline. Another thing I learned the hard way about lifelines…be sure to go around – and not through – stitch markers.

It’s hard to tell in this photo, since they’re hidden inside the curled-up work, but I love to use stitch markers between a given number of repeats. In this case, the pattern repeat was 8 stitches, so I placed a marker every three repeats for a total of 24 stitches between markers. Here’s my philosophy…either I am going to take a little time to count stitches between stitch markers as I go, or I am going to find out at the end of a row (or even further along in my work) that I’m off by a stitch or more and spend a lot of time tracking down the mistake. There may be some superhero knitters out there who do not make errors in their lace, but I am not one of them. Given that I am going to goof, counting between stitch markers every time limits my mistakes to just those stitches between markers. All that counting pays off in peace of mind.

Before I flew out the door for my unexpected trip, I had the presence of mind to toss a pad of Post-It notes into my bag. If you’re new to charts, you may like to use this popular method for keeping track of the row you’re working. By placing the Post-It above the row I’m working, I can see the rows I’ve already worked. It allows me to “read” my work, so I can verify that the yarnovers, decreases or plain stitches are lined up as they’re supposed to be.

 

If you’d like to read more about working charts and other tips, you might like to check out my Tips & Techniques page.

 

Taygete

September 6

Taygete 2

An end of summer treat, Taygete was a fun shawl to make. The pattern’s garter stitch center made for good social knitting, and then the edges provided that kind of quiet-time knitting where I enjoyed concentrating on the lace.

Taygete 3

Anzula Squishy yarn is a dream to knit with! It’s soft with a good ply.

Now it’s time to put away the lace weight yarns and summery colors, and haul out some beginning-of-fall knitting. It’s hard to believe its that time already!

 

Resources:

Taygete pattern by Romi Hill

Anzula yarn

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Color Affection

July 2

A shawl pattern I’ve long wanted to make is Color Affection by designer Veera Välimäki . I’ve seen it on Ravelry in many gorgeous color combinations, and I love the interesting effect the short rows create.

Color Affection 3

I made mine with Swans Island Natural Colors Merino Fingering. As you can see, I was in the mood for some spring colors! I love the yarn – it’s what I call well-behaved - smooth, not splitty, soft.

I did have a couple of issues which I’ll keep in mind if I make another Color Affection….It ended up much smaller than the pattern’s dimensions call for, worked on US #6 needles. I’ll never disbelieve a gauge swatch again (ha, ha). It told me I should go up a needle size or two to get gauge, but thinking I didn’t want the stitches to get too loose, I ignored it. My shawl blocked out to about 72” x 16”, a far cry from the 94 x 22 in the pattern’s schematic. I probably should have used a size 8.

Nonetheless, this was a lot of fun to knit. It’ll be fine as a little shawlette-type accessory.

Bind-off: I tried going up two needle sizes and using the standard bind-off. It was too tight. I took it out and used Cap Sease’s “Suspended Bind Off Variation” from her book Cast On, Bind Off. It was perfect for the curved edge.

Color Affection 4

I want to thank my dear hubbie, the awesome Steve Ells, for taking these photos. I like the way the arch in the bridge mirrors the curved shape of the shawl!

Resources:

Color Affection pattern

Veera Välimäki’ designs on Ravelry and her beautiful Rain Knitwear Designs web site

Cast On, Bind Off by Cap Sease – please support your local yarn store and buy it there if they have it.

Swans Island yarn (made in the USA)

posted under Projects, Shawls | 2 Comments »

Ishbel

December 6

Ysolda Teague, shawl, shawlette, Swans Island, lace

Here’s Ishbel, a lovely shawl pattern by Ysolda Teague. I made the small version, and managed to get it done during two train rides across Pennsylvania, plus another hour or two. It was a quicker knit than I thought it’d be!

Ysolda Teague, shawl, shawlette, Swans Island, lace

 

I loved using the Swans Island fingering for this – it’s a well-behaved yet soft yarn. This is the Winterberry color, with just the right amount of tone-on-tone variation.

Ysolda Teague, shawl, shawlette, Swans Island, lace

Resources:

I bought the yarn at Ranch Dog Knitting a while ago

Swans Island Yarn

The Ishbel pattern can be found individually or in Ysolda’s collection Whimsical Little Knits 1

posted under Shawls | 3 Comments »

Sand and Sea Shawlette

September 19

I adore the book Coastal Knits by the incredibly talented duo of Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig. I couldn’t wait to make Alana’s design, “Sand and Sea Shawlette”. For one thing, its gorgeous. For another, its inspired by an area here in California’s Central Coast I know and love well – Morro Bay.

I made the shawlette from Madelinetosh’s Tosh Lace and Tosh Sock. The Tosh Lace makes for a feather-light shawlette body; I’d like to try my next shawlette in the slightly heavier Prairie, which is what’s called for in the pattern.

Alana Dakos, Coastl Knits, shawl, Madelinetosh yarn, Sand and Sea Shawlette

Sand and Sea is easy to make, and I love the super-feminine look.

Alana Dakos, Coastl Knits, shawl, Madelinetosh yarn, Sand and Sea Shawlette

I never tire of  Madelinetosh’s color Amber Trinket; different lighting picks up a whole range of subtle colors, from purple to rust to taupe and more.

Alana Dakos, Coastl Knits, shawl, Madelinetosh yarn, Sand and Sea Shawlette

I wouldn’t want to admit to being obsessed with this pattern or anything. But I already have the yarn to make another.

Er, make that two more.

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Seedling Wrap

May 29

Don’t you just love patterns that look all difficult and fancy-shmancy, but are really easy to make? That’s how it was with the Classic Elite Yarn pattern called the Seedling Wrap, designed by Tonia Barry. The pattern calls for Verde cotton yarn, but I substituted Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. With its merino wool and touch of cashmere, I think it will be a warmer choice for chilly California evenings (I know it sounds crazy, but even in summer it can be 100 in the day, and really cold at night!).

knitting, wrap, Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran

The lovely curves motif reminds me of waves and sand. A perfect gift my friend who adores outings to the beach!

knitting, shawl, wrap, Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran

knitting, shawl, wrap, Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran

This is a free pattern, which is all the better!

 

Starting Ishbel

March 13

I’m finally getting the chance to start a pattern I’ve been wanting to try for the longest time. Ishbel is a beautiful shawl design by Ysolda Teague. I’m making the smaller version, out of Swans Island fingering weight yarn.

Ishbel, Ysolda Teague, shawl, Swans Island, charts, how to knit

Every so often I get inquiries about how to work lace and/or charts. As a reminder, you can find an excellent (if I do say so myself) blurb in the Tips & Techniques section of my web site about how to work with charts. I like to use Post-It Notes to keep track of my place on a chart, but Ishbel’s chart is too wide. Highlighter tape comes to the rescue! I know some people like to put the tape right over the line they’re working on, but I’m so set in my ways, I put it just above the line just like I do when using the sticky notes.

Next comes the use of markers. Here’s my philosophy – either I can use markers, counting stitches as I go and fixing mistakes early on, or I can skip them, make mistakes way back in the work, then have to rip back to fix them when eventually I find my count is off, and be grumpy for an extended period of time. No thanks! I put markers every three repeats in Ishbel, giving me a manageable number of stitches to count. The pattern makes it so I have to shift the markers frequently, but that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. The coffee bean marker tells me, “Wake up – you’re coming to the center section!” The center is worked differently than the repeats.

Another anxiety reliever is the life line. That’s the contrasting color you can see in the photo. I’ve already had to rip back to the life line, and was very glad it was there! I’ll move it up at the end of the section I’m working on, so it’ll be ready to save the day again if needed.

If you’re new to lace and charts, or just needed a refresher, I hope you found this helpful!

Leaf & Trellis Shawl

February 25

It’s done!

Photo by Neil Kronberg

 

 

 

 

posted under Projects, Shawls | 4 Comments »

Holey Procrastination

January 28

I’ve learned a lot from my first big lace project. It all started a couple of years ago. (Yep – this is my longest-running UFO ever.) For my birthday, my friend gave me the fabulous book “Victorian Lace Today” by Jane Sowerby. I took a lace class at my LYS, made about a dozen swatches (and you wonder where I get the nickname Swatch Queen), and settled on a yarn I liked. I commenced to knit the Leaf and Trellis design… some would say obsessively. I was really getting the hang of this lace knitting thing! I completed the center and got a good start on the border.

Then I put it down for about a year, as I allowed Life and other projects to divert my attention. Big mistake.

When I picked the project up again, it was as if I’d never laid eyes on it, let alone contributed countless hours to its existence already. I studied the diagrams. I looked at my previous work. Still, the squiggles on the charts meant nothing to me. I previously thought that after knitting about 16,000 of the same stitch, I would never have to look it up again. But no. And I kept forgetting the silliest things, like doing the “pass over” part of “psso”.

I discovered some nifty techniques along the way that I thought I’d share with you. Maybe you’ll find them handy too!

One thing that helped me get back on track was my own chart I had created (and even saved – yay!) right in the beginning. I used Stitch & Motif Maker to replicate the chart from the book. As you can see in the photo below, I put little numbers in the stitch squares before a long-ish series of knit stitches. I did this because I found that when I’m following a chart and run into a series of blank squares representing knit stitches, I get hung up having to think about how many stitches are coming up. I can glance at any chart and my brain immediately registers seeing one, two, or three stitches in a row. But any more than that and I have to mentally pause, especially when it gets to be six or seven. Which is it? Six? Seven? Four?  The little numbers I put in the squares tell me “knit four” or “knit seven” – whatever the case may be. One glance and I can chug along without pause.

Another thing that made it well worth the charting effort is that Stitch & Motif Maker puts the stitch numbers along the bottom of the chart. Unfortunately, the charts in Victorian Lace Today do not include the stitch numbers. To me, it makes it cumbersome to keep track of how many stitches I should have on the needles at any given point. Making my own charts allows me to quickly see the stitches I should have; considering how frequently I make mistakes, this is a very good thing!

By making my own chart I could also make it plenty big enough to see easily. I print it on cardstock paper so it doesn’t slide around in my lap. The post-its I use to mark my place stick better, too.

To keep track of which stitches are to receive double and triple joins, I put two different colors of  removeable stitch markers in the stitches. I used turquoise to indicate a double join, and orange to indicate a triple join.

I’m determined to get this shawl completed before my next birthday, which is right around the corner. (Honestly, without deadlines I’d atrophy altogether.) With luck, I’ll be wearing this to my birthday dinner!

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