Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

17. July 2009 08:41
by Jobo

Swallowtail: Before and After

17. July 2009 08:41 by Jobo | 3 Comments

July 16/09 Sometime in the Morning - the BEFORE

I finished the last bit of the Lily of the Valley section quite quickly and breezed through the last two portions.  I decided to follow the "written out" directions for this pattern (mostly because I am not as comfortable reading charts as I would like yet) and really enjoyed this knit from cast on to bind off.  If I had time to work on something like this steadily over a week or so I think I could have finished completely in a week… instead of the month it took me with all the breaks and periods of non-knitting in there. 

Surprisingly I only used one ball of the yarn.  This amazes me completely, because I thought for sure that 4 ounces wouldn’t be enough for any major kind of project.  This entire shawl was completed with TWO ounces of yarn.  Hmmmm something makes me wonder if I am calculating something wrong or missing some important observation to tie this whole thing together. 

Either way, I finished with NO modifications, and it looks to be fairly small laying on the coffee table.  I think this might be deceiving though, because when I stretch it out so that the lace opens up… the thing almost doubles in size.  I think I will be surprised to see how much it will grow during the blocking process. 

In a way I am kind of afraid to do too severe a blocking, which is what I think this shawl might need coincidentally.  Because it is made of singles I have this dread that maybe a thread might drift apart somewhere, or get weak from the stretching and pulling and make a weak spot in the fabric that could open and ravel.  I didn’t find ANY place along the yarn that felt too “loose” on twist, or felt like it might drift… but after all the knitting hours spent on Swallowtail, those things happening sound a bit like a knitting disaster.   

The plan is to soak her this weekend and then gently block her on the spare bed.  I have been trying to get my hands on some stainless steel wire lengths to use as blocking wires this time, but I am not having much luck finding any. For the straight portion along the top and spine of the shawl… I think this time I might try running a thicker string (aka braid or shoelace) between 2 pins to create a kind of wire like line… and see if I like the feeling of it.  The other thing that someone on the Ravelry do-it-yourself knitting tools page suggested was to open up plastic coated wire coat hangers and use those as blocking wires.  I suppose if you used decent quality ones and watched for rusting that this might work out okay too in a pinch. 

The other option would be to just bite the bullet and go out and buy a proper set of blocking wires.  The only thing that erks me about that is the fact that there are no stores around here that sell such a thing, and I’m not sure how ridiculous the shipping would be on a set of 36 inch long wires… maybe I will have to look into it more. 


I had planned on waiting until the weekend to block the finished shawl... but I just  couldn't help myself.  I stayed up a little later than I normally would... gathered the necessary blocking junk and got to work!


July 16/09 Sometime after 11pm - The AFTER

I had originally decided to wait to block this shawl until I had gotten to the metalworks store to buy my new blocking wires.  (1 lb of 36 inch long Stainless Steel Tig wires... approximately 30 pieces... for FIFTEEN BUCKS!  taxes in.  that's a score!) 

My impatience is showing again I guess, because although it was bedtime (6 am comes waaay too early these days)  I really wanted to see how big the shawl would grow when blocked... would the lace and nupps stand out proudly?  would the yarn drift apart and I would have to cry myself to sleep?  too many unanswered questions.

Because I had "wires" on the brain... I wondered if I had anything around the house that might act wire-like under the right circumstances.  I finally decided on trying doubled up worsted weight yarn, which I strung through the lace in the same manner you would thread wires, and then sewed the lines down into the edges of the mattress so I could pull them tight.  Then I used a combination of eyeballing and measuring to even out the distribution of the lace on the lines.

This half-assed technique actually worked better than I thought it would!  I can totally see how the rigid wires would take a lot of the fiddlyness out of stretching out the lace.  Because my yarn lines didn't stay perfectly straight (despite really yanking on them and tying them down quite securely) I did use more pins that you probably would have to if you were using wires.

Close up of my yarn wires and an overall view of the shawl

As for Growth... I was very surprised at how much everything grew after soaking and blocking.  Straignt off the needles Swallowtail was less than 40 inches from wing tip to wing tip, and less than 20 inches along the spine.  After blocking - 54 x 28!  I think that's completely amazing!  Here I was worrying that it was going to be so small that it was useless (who wants a shawl that's more like a big bandanna? seriously)  And after the bath and the stretch she is just perfect!  I am a fairly small person,  so I think the size will be just right... can't wait to get home tonight and peel it off the bed and try it out!

I am really pleased with the gentle stripes of colour.  I was nervous that the way I had spun this originally (to be one ply of a 3 ply worsted yarn... but I decided to try leaving it as singles last minute) would result in a displeasing distribution of colours.  My original plan was to take a coloured painted roving and just tear bits and pieces off of it in a random way and just spin it.  None of the stripes or colour changes were planned.  I guess my random colour placement wasn't as random as I thought, because just look at the stripes and ripples!  I'm not sure I could have planned it that well if I had been trying?

closeup!  trying to show several sections of lace...

closeup of Nupps!

Overall, another pleasing project!  and BONUS! I have enough of the same yarn to do it all over again if I want :P  (should there be Swallowtail Twins?)


16. July 2009 11:23
by Jobo

Still Jigging away... Swallowtail Shawl

16. July 2009 11:23 by Jobo | 0 Comments

I've been knitting away on the Swallowtail... and I finally finished the Budding Lace portion… 

In the end I decided not to mess with the number of repeats as I had been considering before.  I was afraid that increasing the repeats would result in a final stitch count number that would cause too much grief and tears if it didn’t match up with the required stitch count for the next lace section.


I figure if I want to mess with the pattern and take some artistic license maybe I should at least try making the shawl as written ONCE before I completely destroy it ;)


I think I have lots of yarn… at this point I am at around the 12th row of the Lily of the Valley section and have still not exhausted the first ball of yarn.  I did decide on doing the Nupps… Mostly because I had been too busy this weekend to go bead hunting, and because after some pondering I realized that the yarn was a little “fuzzy” and I wasn’t sure I could pull it through the beads with a crochet hook without potentially altering the strength of the single ply yarn.  So to play it safe / lazy… I just did the nupps anyways,


My tips on how to successfully do Nupps:

-          Think Loose… really loose. 

-          Try and make sure you pull back a little extra on each loop of the (K1, yo, K1, yo, K1) in the same stitch

-          When you reach the next row where you are purling 5 together… watch as you insert the needle… try and keep it straight in line with the needle holding the stitches and just gently slip it in

-          I like to hold back the YO after the 5 to be pearled together with my thumbnail as I am working the P5tog… to avoid any chance of it getting in the way.

-          No matter what you do, at least one of your nupps will end up so tight that your needle won’t be able to slide in.  Do NOT get discouraged - It happens.

-          Keep a smaller sized DPN handy and use it to pearl your stitch.  I found there was less swearing when I just used the DPN instead of trying over and over again to use the proper sized needle (square peg, round hole – ladies and gentlemen)

-          If you are really unsure – swatch first ;)  I just took some scrap yarn, cast on about 10 stitches, and worked a few rows in stockinette stitch… on the next knit row I tried the pattern stitch

o       YO, in same stitch work: (K1, yo, K1, yo, K1) YO

o       On the way back on the pearl side… see if you can recognize the YOs and the nupps… try the P5tog as you go across. 

-          Be brave J you can totally do it!

Here are some pics of what the front and back of a Nupp look like.... I know I wondered before I started...

Being that I DO have so much yarn… a whole skein that I haven’t touched yet…I am now wondering if I should do just one repeat of the Lily of the Valley lace or try and double it up?  (here we go again… it’s like my brain tries to work faster than my fingers, but then realizes it’s an idiot and shuts-up)  I think I will just get through this part of the pattern and see what it looks like before I make any rash decisions.


I can’t seem to decide if it will be big enough as is… I have the same problem with quilts!  I start with a size and then usually end up making it bigger and bigger (hey, if you are going to spend so much time on a project… shouldn’t it be big enough for ANY bed?) until I either run out of time or run out of fabric.  I have even gone out and bought MORE fabric to make something bigger.  For some reason I can’t seem to be content with a small quilt, though many people prefer to make them.

This particular yarn and pattern will really need a good blocking I think.  Some of the other patterns I have worked on practically lied flat without hardly doing anything to them.  It seems when I pseudo block it (aka pin it to my couch with some quilt pins and stretch it out a bit) that the lace really opens up, and will perhaps be bigger than I think it will be?  Maybe it will be just fine in size… I guess I just have to be patient and wait and see!  


Here are a few closeups of Nupps and the lace Detail...  Will be ready for blocking probably this weekend :)


13. July 2009 09:00
by Jobo

Swallowtail Progress

13. July 2009 09:00 by Jobo | 0 Comments

This was one of those weekends where crafting took a backseat to LIFE in general.  We are in the midst of trying to sell our house, so that means impromptu showings, open houses, and lots of prep work. 

We had been slacking bigtime on getting the yard work done before the wedding.  in fact Slacking may not even be the best word for it.  Marky and I both knew that the flowerbeds were starting to resemble an overgrown amazon weed pile... but neither of us had the will power to get off our butts and go outside and do something about it.  Well this weekend, we ripped out weeds and edged flowerbeds, moved things around, and generally removed the junk, reorganized what we had and attempted to make progress.  I must admit, the situation looked pretty dire in the beginning, but we really made a big difference in the end.   The vegetable garden had also gotten neglected this year.... we finally planted a few "fast growers" and hopefully in a few weeks we will have some basics coming up.  We planted mostly green leafy things (aka:  lettuce, spinach, oregano, basil, rosemary) which are edible before they are full grown anyways.  Usually, we do tomatoes but they tend to completely take over the garden (with mammoth efficiency) so we didn't plant any this year.

So basically... I had Really dirty fingernails... but didn't accomplish much fibery or knitterly this weekend.  I worked on my spinning a very little bit each day... just enough to not get kicked off the Tour de Fleece (it says spin each day... it doesn't say for how long!!)

In the evenings I did get to work on my Swallowtail Shawl a little bit though...

This is coming along quite nicely so far.  I haven’t had any segments of the yarn that felt like they would drift apart or like they were “weakened” in any way… despite being singles that are twisted the wrong way!


I have almost completed the “budding lace” portion of the body section… I’m finished of 13 of the 14 repeats of that chart!  Then the next section is a new lace pattern.  I’m not sure whether it is big enough though with just the 14 repeats – debating doing a few more, but I’m not sure the ramifications of whether the extra repeats will mess up the Lily Border or not?

I am also debating on whether or not to work the nupps.  I know that I have lots of resources to learn how to do them properly (I got a copy of Knitted Lace of Estonia while I was away off Island last month)  but I still kind of like the way that the beads look… and plus the added stress of worrying if I will run out of yarn!  Nupps apparently take a LOT of yarn to work… more than one would think, whereas beads are a pain to put in, but look sparkly and pretty… so many decisions so little time.  I have to either use the beads or not… which means I either have to go out this weekend and buy some, or take my chances with the nuppie things.

I am really enjoying watching the blue and grey and lavender shades fly by my needles.  The changes are subtle enough that sometimes I don’t even notice that I’ve moved through another colour… now that's relaxing.

I had been working on straight needles (since that's all I had in that size at the time) but recently switched over to a set of circs.  I'm really liking the feeling of the circs versus the straights for some reason... I usually hate circs!  maybe I'm coming over to the Dark Side?  shudder!

More later :)

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