Laelia

I finished my Laelia cardigan almost a month ago but haven’t been able to get photos taken until today.

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When I first bought this yarn, I pictured it as a zesty, spring-y splash of citrus orange to liven up a summer sweater; something silky and lacey to slip over a sundress and wear with orange heels.   And even though it is most definitely a summer sweater, and will look great next summer over a cute dress, I can’t help but think it looks pretty nice against the brilliant fall foliage here at the back of my house.

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The pattern is by Hanna Maciejewska and the yarn is the luscious Merino Silk Fingering by The Uncommon Thread.  I can highly recommend both pattern and yarn.  The two together make for a very serendipitous pairing.

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(I have a terrible cold; thus the somewhat pained expression on my face.  Or it could be that I am all smiled out after jumping and whooping for joy today – Go, Trudeau!)  You can see how beautifully this yarn showcases the lace pattern.  I made two changes to the pattern.  First, as I’ve adopted from many other Ravellers, I’ve had the two cascading lace patterns “meet” at the back of the sweater.  In the pattern, they are separated by a laddered lace detail; this is done to accomodate the many sizes.  You need to do some fiddling with the numbers to make this work, and it won’t be appropriate with every size.  Second, I’ve knit the sleeves without any lace.

I had both bad and good timing with this one.  Bad timing because I finished it just as the cold weather is settling in, and it will have to sit in a drawer until the spring comes.  Good timing because no sooner had I finished it, then I developed hand and wrist problems which have prevented me from knitting.

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Lace knitting and knitted lace

I am starting a new job this week.  The rush to finish up everything at the old job, and the stress about starting up something new, means that my attentions have not been on knitting lately.  Nevertheless, I’ve managed to accomplish a bit.  I finished up the knitting on my Laelia cardigan (designed by Hanna Maciejewska) and gave it a wash. I had hoped to bring you modelled shots of the cardigan this past weekend, but that was not to be.  I still have the finishing to go (ending off threads in lace!!!) and because of the delicacy of the fabric, I need to do this in a bright morning light when I have plenty of time to concentrate.  This may not happen right away.

The yarn, Merino Silk Fingering by The Uncommon Thread, reacted beautifully to being washed, and the lace opened up without being stretched or pinned into place.  Here is a sneak peak:

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I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the lace in this one.  I adore the way the lace patterns keep extending across the front and back of the cardigan to meet up at the back. (This, by the way, is a variation of the pattern, in which there is a separate laddered lace pattern between the repeats at the back.  I had to fiddle just a bit with the stitch count to get it to work out this way.  This isn’t possible with every size.)   I think the “cascade” of lace that is produced is really pretty.  But the lace pattern itself has always struck me as a bit fiddly.  First of all, it combines both lace knitting and knitted lace.  The former (and, to me at least, most common) consists of a lace pattern where every other row (usually the purl row) is knitted plain (or purled plain, as the case may be).  Knitted lace, on the other hand, incorporates yarn overs and decreases on every row of the fabric – front and back.  The lace pattern used in Laelia is a 20 row repeat of which 8 rows are knitted lace and the other 12 are lace knitting.  This is a bit difficult to get used to, especially if you are not accustomed to incorporating a lace pattern on the purl row, where it is difficult to “read” the knitting. I found that I always kept the chart at hand, never feeling as if I had truly internalized the pattern, despite the many repeats.

The other fiddly bit has to do with the visual impact of the lace, which is a bit of an optical illusion. Hanna says on the Ravelry project page “Laelia is a beautiful subtropical orchid with petals that fan out into stars.”  I found when knitting it that sometimes your mind sees the orchid shapes and sometimes not, depending on whether your eye is drawn to the petals, which are shaped by the decreases, or to the holes in the fabric, which are shaped by the yarn overs.  Now that I’ve washed it, and the lace has opened up, I can see better what Hanna had in mind.  It is definitely growing on me (perhaps because I am done with all the work of knitting it).

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Hopefully, I will be able to bring you some modelled shots of this soon, especially as it is by now definitely autumn here, which means that I am yet again a season behind in my knitting.  Alas.

In addition to the Laelia cardigan, I cast on for a new project.  This one is intended to be a gift, and so it’s a surprise.  After the fingering weight lace, all of this stockinette in DK weight is growing rapidly.  One little photo shouldn’t give away the surprise:

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I’ll tell you about the new job in another post, once I have settled in and have a chance to relax.

Sleeves and a test knit

I usually hate knitting sleeves, especially when I’m knitting in the round.  For some unknown reason, I powered through the sleeves for my Laelia cardigan.  Here it is without sleeves two weeks ago:

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And here are the sleeves:

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The pattern calls for lace on the sleeves as well, but I decided that I preferred them plain.  I am very happy to have finished the sleeves, but there is still a lot of work to be done.  This is quite a long cardi, and as you knit down, the lace pattern continually expands around the back.  I find that I cannot knit this particular lace pattern with my mind disengaged, and that limits when I can knit it.  I have about ten more inches to go, I think.

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That ten inches might take even longer, however, because in the meantime, I agreed to do a test knit for Claudia Eisenkolb.  The test is for a lovely tee made out of linen.  I have seen a lot of patterns for linen tees lately, but this one drew me in because it struck me as very elegant and perfect for work.  (No pattern photos while the tee is in test mode.)  I am using the stunning Shibui Linen in the colour Bordeaux.

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I love the way the yarn picks up the light.  It is so rich and luminous.  The yarn has an unusual chained structure, which you can hopefully see in this photo:

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I am so far finding it a little rough to knit with – the linen is quite stiff – but I very much like the crispness of the fabric.  I think that once washed a few times, it should be perfect.

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I am spending quite a bit of time on the train this month, and this is a much better project for train knitting that the Laelia, which has grown a bit awkward.  To demonstrate, here I am trying to untie knots in the yarn while Doug patiently waits to take photos.  (The knots, by the way, are not in the skein, but result from having too many live threads going at once and getting it all in a tangle.)

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Have a lovely Sunday!

Too lazy for words

Today I find myself in a rather strange position: I am too lazy for words.  I would like to tell you all about my slow but steady progress on the lovely Laelia cardigan, designed by Hanna Maciejewska.  I would like to wax lyrical about the magical qualities of the Merino Silk Fingering yarn  by The  Uncommon Thread.  I would love to describe in glowing detail the luminosity of this particular shade of orange.  But today I am lazy.  I want to knit, and drink my coffee, and empty my mind.  So today, dear readers, you must be satisfied with photos.  As luck would have it, Emma is home, and she kindly snapped some shots for you.

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Happiness is orange yarn

My orange yarn finally decided what it wanted to be when it grew up.

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I bought five skeins of this beautiful silk blend from The Uncommon Thread back in February.  As I wrote in this post, the yarn has a mind of its own and I had to wait for it to come to its own conclusions.  We finally decided on Laelia, a lovely, lacey cardigan designed by Hanna Maciejewska, of Hada Knits.  (Thank you, Laril, for sending me a link to your beautiful Laelia; it definitely helped us decide.)  I’ve had my eye on Hanna’s designs for a while; she’s got a really great style.

This cardigan has a cool construction technique.  You start with a provisional cast on at the back center neck, and knit the lace for a bit; then, you unravel the cast-on, put the live stitches back on the needle, and knit some more lace in the other direction.  Now you have a rectangle with live stitches at both ends.  You pick up along the long edge, and – voilà – you get this:

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Isn’t it clever?  I love it!  Then, you start knitting, incorporating raglan increases as you go.  This is where it stands as of this morning:

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As you can see, the lace pattern runs down the front edges of the cardigan, while the back and the sleeves are in stockinette stitch. The best part about the design is that there is almost no finishing involved.

Here it is, molded into the actual cardigan shape (as much as is possible given the limitations of the needle length):

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In the photo below, I’ve held it up so that you could get an idea of the shaping at the front edge and shoulder, and also so that you can see the lace pattern better.  (Ignore the pesky hose that wanted to be in the photo.)

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I love everything about this one so far.  Happy pattern!  Happy yarn!  Happy knitting!