Sunday, May 18, 2014

I' m halfway around round 97, of the borders of the Unst Bridal Sawl. It's another slow one, with multiple k3tog's. But they are at least simple and straightforward k3tog's in which all the stitches to be operated on, were knit in the previous round. It's incorporating yo's into k3tog's that gives me trouble.

Kate Davies has published a new pattern, a hap shawl designed as a retirement present for an old friend and mentor. It's a stunner, in that elongated triangle shape which is so useful and versatile. The yarn is from Old Maiden Aunt, and looks lovely and cosy. Kate describes it as a “heavy laceweight”. I think I'd better get the pattern and lay it aside.

I heard from Kristie yesterday – she had fallen even harder, and ordered both pattern and yarn. (Do you have to pay duty in Canada on yarn imported from Scotland?) She's now wondering whether she has the capacity to do it. I'm sure she does. 

The yarn is finer than she's used to – one's fingers soon adjust to that. Her biggest problem with lace, she says, is not being able to fix mistakes. I know what she means. I've never had any luck with lifelines, either. Getting one in would take three times as long as knitting the stitches – and the thought of trying to recover stitches from a lifeline doesn't bear contemplating.

Hazel Carter in her excellent “Shetland Lace Knitting from Charts” says that it is when you stretch a shawl out to block it that you see all your mistakes. And also says that nobody else will notice.

I'm a bit worried about my Unst shawl in this respect. There was serious trouble at the stage where I was picking up stitches from the centre and beginning to knit the borders outwards. I had difficulty recovering the stitches from the provisional cast-on. I had that accident where the end of the circular needle separated itself from the cable. Stitches flew everywhere, and they weren't very neatly recovered. And there's the Messy Corner, where I achieve garter-stitch-in-the-round by turning and knitting in the other direction.

(I've started wrapping the pivot stitch at that corner, inspired by my own words in that virtual lace seminar we were talking about the other day. It's much neater, although distinctly conspicuous.)

My comfort is that the outer part of the shawl – the part I'm knitting at the moment – is going to be fairly good, barring another disaster. Maybe that will carry the eye. And maybe there is a charm in imperfection. I started knitting a Mourning Shawl for our niece in the last days of her mother's (my husband's sister's) life. The evening after the visit to the hospice which was the last time we were able to speak to her, I completely messed up one of the edging points. I was about to rip it out and try again – you can get away with that, on an edging, because so few stitches are involved. And then I thought no, I'll leave it, as a permanent, visible token of distress.

Well, I'll go on thinking about all this. For now, I must get on with Sunday.


  1. One of my first lace projects years ago had that edging and was in a similar shade of green. It is full of irregularities and the friend I gave it to still keeps it draped on a chair in her house. Fortunately, draped in a way that it hides some of my shame.

  2. I had no idea you also have trouble fixing mistakes in your lace knitting, Jean. Somehow this boosts my confidence considerably. If you can produce the lovely, complicated pieces you do in spite of the fact you struggle in this area, maybe there's hope for me. And I like Hazel Carter's observation. It probably holds true for most knitting errors, lace or not. We notice, but the Muggles do not.

    As for duty, I have only once been charged duty on yarn coming from the UK. Technically any parcel with a value over $20 is supposed to have duty charged on it. The reality is most of the time they are let through at no charge. I'm hoping this one slips under the radar.

  3. Randi5:08 PM

    Hi Jean,

    There is no duty on yarn from the UK, but the parcel may or may not be flagged for payment of Canadian taxes. I have recently had quite expensive parcels arrive without any tax being charged.

    1. This is interesting Randi. It must have been taxes that I paid, not duty. Like you, most of the time my parcels arrive without any charges being added.

  4. I am led to understand (tho haven't tried it yet) that that odd little hole on your circular needle, just before the join, is meant to thread a very fine lifeline through and pull along as you knit.