Stora Dimun (This Knitter Stinks At Lace) Shawl

This is Stora Dimun, Cheryl Oberle‘s rendering of  a traditional Faroese Island shawl. Actually, this is a not-so-close approximation of Stora Dimun. And, no, I don’t know what Stora Dimun means either. I royally flubbed the easy lace edging. That’s too bad because, other than that, this came out quite nice. It is knit in Blackberry Ridge silk blend sport weight. That’s a 75% wool, 25% silk mix. I generally steer clear of silk because I don’t like yarn to be dry in my hands or squeaky on my needles. But this blend was nothing like my prior experience with most silks (Noro Silk Garden being another exception).

I learned a lesson from the wide expanse of wannabe lace worked over 449 stitch rows. Even on an easy pattern, put stitch markers across the row to mark the repeats. Unfortunately I didn’t learn that lesson until I had moved beyond the lace. The beginning rows of the lace took 30 minutes each to knit and and an hour and a half each to unknit. I did that, the unknitting part, twice before I gave up and just decided to press on.

The good news is that this shawl is too sloppily knit for me to be even tempted to give it away. I will have to keep it and wear it in dark theaters, sitting around the fireplace in dim light, and in places where no other knitters lurk. This is supposed to have a beautiful zig zag lace border. Mine is, well, mostly free form. But with just enough not free form to look all screwed up.

It is an easy pattern despite my difficulties with it. Cheryl’s Folk Shawls book is a wonderful collection of traditional shawls.  This was the first I’ve knit from the collection. More are likely in my future, including another Stora Dimun or its little sister Litla Dimun.

This will be a warm, but lightweight, comfort shawl.

Hillman, Michigan: Finch City

The weekend brought wonderful bird watching to our Long Lake feeders. We had red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and mourning doves galore at the feeder. And, hoards of finches. At the sunflower seed feeder above there are three goldfinches, one male purple finch (that’s the red guy) and three female purple finches (they are the mottled brown ones with the white streaks and white tracings around their eyes).

Cornell’s ornithology site has detailed info on purple finches. Here’s what they sound like. Purple finches are often confused with their look-alike, the house finch. But I think we’ve definitely got the purple finch ID’d here because this guy is surrounded by the females that make him easier to identify. The purple finch sighting was a special treat because this was the first time we’ve seen them at our feeder. Their migration is irruptive, which means that it doesn’t follow a seasonal or geographically predictable path. Some years you’ll see them and some years you won’t. For five years, until now, it’s been a won’t.

Oat Couture’s Curlicue Coverlet

This was a fun, satisfying knit. Oat Couture says, “This beautiful coverlet is not for the faint of heart, but experienced knitters will enjoy exploring what can be done with short rows.” Exploring what can be done with short rows sums up this project perfectly. Each wedge is knit onto the next, with short rows used at both ends on the inner star of five sections. The wedges that touch the outer edge use short rows on just one side. Most clever. Most cool.

It’s smallish. Perfect as a large baby blanket or a small lap blanket. This one is knit in worsted weight at a gauge of 22 stitches per four inches. I had extra yarn so I didn’t sweat the gauge too much, but this is basically true to gauge. The stitch pattern is 4 rows: knit the first, purl the second, and knit the third and fourth.

Some knitters leave off the last four sections and end up with a really nifty shawl.  Some knit each wedge in a different variegated shade. Noro Silk Garden creates a stunning look. Others knit the inner star in one color and the rest of the sections in a complementary color. Still others have figured out how to use a two-toned treatment on that inner star. And knit up in one solid color, the changing direction of the pattern creates a quietly beautiful piece.

The photos are pre-blocking. Skeins on Main helped me out with the blocking by steaming the piece. Steaming smoothed out the curling-under outside edges and settled down a bit of bumpiness in sections of the inner star.

This is knit in a hand-dyed superwash. Rose dyed the yarn. That’s all I know about it (and her). Except that it is a beautiful colorway. I do wish I hadn’t had to consider taking out a mortgage to buy the yarn. But given the finished piece, it was worth it. Well done, Rose.

“Eclectic Ethnic Dolls” a/k/a Sonny & Cher

Admit it . You agree with me.  They do look like Sonny & Cher. Or, at least, she looks like Cher. It’s not just the hair. It’s that somewhat vacant “come hither” look in her eyes. Well, maybe I’ve just been living with this pair too long. They sit among my knitting books.

They are “Eclectic Ethnic Dolls,” a copyright 1992 Kristin Nicholas pattern released by Classic Elite Yarns. My pair used to be a large pile of Classic Elite Tapestry yarn, kitted up with the pattern booklet, all tucked into a wicker basket and wrapped in cellophane. The booklet says it’s “an adventuresome knitting project worked in Tapestry Wool Mohair from Classic Elite Yarns for experienced knitters.” Nicholas encouraged what she called “adventuresome” knitting and departure from patterns before lots of designers encouraged that. My bit of adventuresome was to add a colorful shawl. And the wild “Rasta” hair, complete with braids worked in. The earrings were my idea too.

In those days, Classic Elite had many of these kits, almost all worked up in Tapestry. They were all Nicholas’s signature colorful knits.  In my stash of patterns there’s: Peruvian Ch’ulla, Ethnic Gift Collection (Christmas stocking, farmers, chicken, cow, sheep and pig), Inspired Interiors (pillows and bolsters), Moroccan Fedoras, Vivaciously Vibrant Vests, Magnificent Mittens, Wild Wooly Headgear, and Whimsical Tea Cozies, Tea Box Covers, Trivets and French Press Coffee Cozies. I managed to work them all up, except for the vest and the pillows. In fact, I still have about 6 skeins of Tapestry in my stash from one of the kits. For many years my mom or her sister Joan would buy me one of the kits as a birthday or Christmas present.

All Nicholas’s booklets offer this back page advice: “Please do not photocopy these instructions. By doing so, you would jeopardize the employment of fellow knitters in yarn companies and in yarn shops throughout the U.S.A.” Good advice then, and now.

All fun knits. Fun memories too.