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!

26. January 2011 09:48
by Jobo
0 Comments

WIP Wednesday: Silver Strawberries Orenburg-Style Stole

26. January 2011 09:48 by Jobo | 0 Comments

russian stole markers are your friendI've been chugging along on my Silver Strawberries Stole... making some progress!

I've finally completed the first "diamond" pattern, which was actually simpler to work than I had originally thought.  I am getting more comfortable "reading" the lace, and just intuitively knowing where each element fits.  I definitely think that putting in stitch markers has helped a lot. By marking the edges of the different patterns, I am able to see exactly where the motifs fit, and I can tell right away if I've completed the proper thing within the correct number of stitches. 

russian stole jan 14 2011

As you can see, semi blocked, it looks like the stole will be at least the width of my couch cushion... so that's 20+ inches.  Now I need to decide how long I want the finished stole to be.  I think I'd like to do at least 4 - 5 repeats of the diamond, but I am not sure whether this will make the right length in the end.  I have enough yarn to make approximately half of the finished stole, so I will knit on, and make up my mind later! 

I can't wait to see what the stitches will look like after a final, more complete blocking either...  Even only semi stretched, I love the way that the lace opens up.  I wasn't sure that I would like the look of lace where the reverse rows were based on garter stitch.  I do like the simplicity of knitting every stitch on the backside (except for the doubled pattern rows of course!) and find it quite a lot faster than purling (for me anyways) but I was afraid it would somehow look less refined than other forms of lace.  Boy was I mistaken, it seems to have it's own charming appeal.  The garter stitch "bumps" that I thought might look frumpy or elementary actually look like little shining waves, and the garter nature makes the fabric feel thicker, like little accordion pleats holding the fabric off of a surface - like floating almost.  I suppose it doesn't hurt that the angora fiber is fluffing up as it is being knit, making a light little halo adding to the floatyness (is floatyness even a word?)

I hope to work more on this in the coming week :)

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