Jobo Designs

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

24. March 2011 10:25
by Jobo
2 Comments

Silver Strawberries: Finished!

24. March 2011 10:25 by Jobo | 2 Comments

Finally... after many months of work...

Ruttiger and Silver Strawberries Stole

My "Silver Strawberries" stole is complete!  The finished shawl is so light and soft... just like the Bunny it was grown on!

Strawberries Stole floor folded JPG

I guess I should start back in the beginning:  The yarn.  When Ruttiger was a baby, and going through his first Molt I was obsessed with keeping as much of his first coat as possible.  Many people say that the baby fur isn't much of a yield, so it isn't worth keeping really.  I was unbothered by this though, and carefully kept every wisp of fur off of the brush and plucking carefully stored away in a box for safe keeping.  In the end, I didn't have that much of it (maybe 2 - 3 ounces) but I really wanted to make something special out of it some day.

bowl of battsAfter doing much research about Orenburg lace, I thought maybe this might be a good way to use it up.  Traditional Orenburg lace is made from a specific breed of Goat's down, spun by hand cobweb/gossamer weight, and sometimes plied with silk for strength.  I know Angora is no substitute for mohair or goat down, but I *did* have an abundance of it, so I thought maybe I could try it anyways? 

I took poofs of Ruttiger's fur and lightly carded them with pinches of steely carbonized bamboo and creamy soft Merino wool, hoping that those few pinches of longer fiber would lend some strength to the delicate angora strand.  I'd estimate that those small bits of bamboo and wool would amount together to no more than 5% of the total weight combined.

imageFor added strength and shine, I spun a very fine single of pure white Tussah Silk.  I've learned that I absolutely love spinning silk on my Golding Dragonfly ceramic inset spindle.  It's just the right weight for spinning fine yarns - 0.7 ounces - and is perfect for portable spinning too.  This little guy tucks perfectly into my purse! 

The plying process was a bit challenging for this yarn... I thought doing it on the wheel made more sense, but I found it really difficult to apply the correct amount of twist.  My first ball of yarn was quite underplied, though I thought I was probably twisting way to much.  I decided to ply the second and third balls of yarn on a heavier Golding spindle.  This was surprisingly much easier, and actually faster too.  Those two teensy plies took a lot more twisting than I would have imagined.

Once the yarn was completed, I decided to hunt for a pattern.  I had purchased Galina Khmeleva's book Gossamer Webs Design Collection, but the patterns in that book are quite large, and a lot more complicated than I wanted for a beginner Orenburg project.  I saw online where another Ravelry user had drafted a chart for a beginner stole with some traditional stitch motifs.  Basically it was just a chart, no instructions.  Since I had the book to use as a reference, I decided that it would be a learning experience... and just went for it! 

The pattern can be found here:  Orenburg Stole: Just a little strawbery by Russian Lily

In retrospect, I really don't think anyone could work this shawl from the schematic-style pattern alone.  You would need some help, either from a real live Russian knitter, or a book of some sort to be able to make sense of it.  Having said that though, it was a very enjoyable knit, and I learned so much doing it!  I know that someday I want to try one of those super-large gossamer wedding ring shawls.  I think I need a bit more practice at gossamer spinning, but I will definitely make one some day!

Now for the shawl itself!  I love it.  I adore it. I am so freaking impressed with myself!  I know that isn't the most humble thing.  I love it so much that I almost don't care!  *wink wink*

 

Strawberries Stole floor edging

Let's start in the beginning... the edging!  Orenburg shawls are knit with the edgings in one piece.  You begin the piece by knitting the bottom edging, turn the corner and pick up stitches back across for the main lace panel.  Then you knit the edge all the way up both sides as you go, then finish the piece off by working in the body stitches into the border as you go across.  It sounds devilishly complicated, but is quite straightforward if you follow along with a reference like the Gossamer Webs book.  Apparently most Orenburg Gossamer Shawls use a "5-hole" tooth border.  Mine was the simplest version... but you can count above... 5 holes in, then 5 holes out.  repeat.

Strawberries Stole diamond

The main body of the shawl features several traditional lace stitches.   Orenburg lace is knit in "garter" stitch.  Unlike other traditions where the "wrong side" rows are mostly purled across, when working in garter lace, you actually knit the wrong side rows.  This felt quite weird at first, but was easy to get used to.  I wasn't sure how I would like the finished look, but after blocking, the garter opens right up, with a quite pleasing finished appearance!

The other thing I was surprised to learn was that in Orenburg lace, there are no directional decreases.  All decreases are done with a simple K2tog, or K3tog.  This is a big change for me after making so much Estonian style lace.  Directional decreases are much more important apparently when working in stockinette lace (where the wrong side rows are purled)

Strawberries Stole halosee the halo?

As the name would imply, this stole features the "Strawberry" motif for the edging and the little flower-looking parts inside the graphic diamonds.  The other main features is a "peas" pattern - which actually has a pattern stitch on both sides of the piece.  This took a little getting used to, but was fun to challenge myself to pay attention to both sides of the work.

Strawberries Stole floor folded

The finished shawl blocked to 24 x 55 inches and only weighs 1.8 ounces!  Wearing it feels like wearing a cobweb around your shoulders.  It is so light and airy... but with the silk it's stronger than it looks.  I've been wearing it around a bit, trying to gauge how well it will last.  I don't want to wreck it, but at the same time, I can't bear the thought of it hiding in a box forever either!

Strawberries Stole windtossed 3

Trying to photograph it... the light wind was enough to toss the stole in the wind!

Strawberries Stole windtossed 2

I love the way it fluttered along in the breeze.  See how the sun picks up the silk shine?

Strawberries Stole whole 

All in all - another successful lace project.  I learned a ton, and plus the stole is extra special because it's made with my Baby's fur!  That makes it an extra special item.  This is the first project where I've raised the animal, prepared the fiber, spun the yarn, knit the stole, and completed the entire thing myself!  Yay Me!

2. February 2011 10:13
by Jobo
0 Comments

WIP Wednesday: Still on the Stole!

2. February 2011 10:13 by Jobo | 0 Comments

strawberries feb 2 2011I've been working back and forth on various projects... but consistantly making the effort to do a few rows on the Strawberries Stole every few days.  I'm finding that if I work on it regularly, I keep my brain and fingers nimble to the style and pattern.  I think if I waited for months and months, I'd have to go back and really read my reference book again for the border (which I am doing completely from memory now)

I am trying to decide how long to make the stole in the end... with some difficulty.  I've never actually worn a *real* stole.  I've worn other scarves in a style like a stole (draped around my shoulders) but I've never really seen what a proper one feels like.  At this point, unstretched, with less than 2 of the diamonds completed the stole is as high as the back of my couch!  I am thinking I might do 3 complete repeats and then pseudo-block and see how much length I am getting (i.e. pin it to the bed, unwashed, and just see how much it will stretch).  The width of the stole nearly doubles when stretched a similar amount to what I think I will have to do when blocking... so will the length double also?  I'm thinking it will likely be at least another 50%?

You can see the ball of thread in the bottom right of the photo... I just joined ball number 2 (about 10 rows ago) and it looks like I have a lot more than I originally thought I would.  The yarn is so thin, that the size of the ball is misleading.  I didn't bother to skein up the second half this time.  I just spun, plied, and then balled up the yarn so I could knit with it right away.  I didn't wash the first bit, so I figured there was no point in washing the second bit either!  with Lace, the wash and block is so important, I know that process will finish the yarn anyways.

If I keep up this progress rate... I might have ole "Strawberry" completed by the end of February!

2. November 2010 08:25
by Jobo
2 Comments

Replies to the Peanut-Gallery!

2. November 2010 08:25 by Jobo | 2 Comments

A reply to Kim... who was asking

October 26. 2010 15:44  "What is a Orenburg Lace shawl, Jolene?  Why so coveted?"

Orenburg lace is one of the craziest and most beautiful lace styles I've ever seen... These shawls are made from very very finely spun goat down and silk on tiny little spindles.  The goat down is specific to the Orenburg Region in Russia, where the climate and elevation is just perfect to prompt the goats to grow a very soft airy down undercoat that is harvested by hand at a specific time of year.  The lace is then knit on tiny (2 mm long needles) WITHOUT a pattern, featuring motifs full of history and significance.  Young girls would learn to work each motif without following a pattern, they just "know" where to put the holes to make the design work.  The designs are geometric and romantic all at the same time, with picoted edgings that are knit at the same time as the center panel, or the stitches are picked up and knit on...  The finished shawls are huge, but so fine and light that they can be pulled through a wedding ring.  The one at the conference was pewter colored, and as gossamer as a spider's web.  You could see through it like you can see through a light snoflakey frost on the windows in February.  The goat down has a light gently fuzzy shimmery halo, as soft as a butterfly landing on your hand and fluttering it's wings.  The silk in the yarn lends strength, but also the glint and shine of spun metal.

I thought I could appreciate the beauty having only seen photographs... then I saw and touched a real Orenburg shawl.  Unbelievable!  I had already purchased several books on the topic, acquired a russian spindle, and started practicing making superfine laceweight yarn with cashmere and silk... Now I know that I must someday give this a real try. 

Another talented blogger I follow (Rebecca over at Doilies are Stylish) showed some photographs of a similar shawl in her private collection... which can be seen here.  I tried to find Photographs that showed these shawls... but was sadly disappointed by the lack of adequate pictures that show the true art.  Go and See Rebecca's photos... they're great!

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