Tag Archives: Garland shawl

Blocking lace tutorial: magic!

Blocking is magic for lace knitting. You may think that your project is finished once it’s off the needles, but that’s when the fun really begins. The true beauty of lace doesn’t show until you go through the finishing step of blocking.

Some of us are finishing up our Garland KAL shawls. I’m blocking Garlands for a couple of my local KAL knitters, as well as my own. Here are a couple Garland Shawls before



and during blocking.








I thought I’d walk you through blocking on blocking wires, if you haven’t done it before. If you don’t have blocking wires, it’s also possible to do this using string in place of the wires (I’d use mercerized cotton, or linen), but I prefer the stiffness of the wires. Don’t weave in your yarn ends until after blocking. There’s going to be a lot of stretching going on.

Let’s get started!

First, I soak the knitted garment in the kitchen sink with a little bit of Soak, my favorite non-rinse wool wash. Use warm water and allow the garment to soak for at least 20 minutes to relax the fibers.


The garment is really saturated and stretchy at this point! Support it from underneath, and squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands. Do not twist or wring. Next, lay it on a folded towel, fold the towel over that, and walk all over it. Really. This will get most of the water out.

The next step is to thread the straight edges onto the blocking wires. I put the wires along the top edge, going over and under the garter ridges. If you have an especially long edge, you would use two or three wires to cover the length, but overlap the wires by an inch or so at the place(s) where they meet. I know that you may consider this top edge to be a curve, but it works fine to block it straight, and it’s much easier to pin out this way. Triangle shawls are straight along the top; heart shaped shawls can be blocked straight along the top, too. Crescent shawls like my Webfoot or Filigree? I like to pin them all around, no wires.


Now the fun begins. Stretch out the garment so that the lovely laciness shines! Use the metal t-pins that came with the blocking wires to hold the wires in place. You’ll need to be working on a surface that can take your pins. In the summer, I’ve been using my old Dritz cardboard cutting board on a table outside. The cardboard is getting tatty after being pinned a bazillion times, but it still works. In the winter, I block on a futon sofabed in the basement. There are also blocking mats that you can purchase specifically for this purpose, and I’ve seen knitters use foam interlocking alphabet blocks, too. (A useful child’s toy, but be careful, some of the colors may transfer to your yarn.) Knitter’s choice!

If you’re pinning out points, you run the wires through the points like this,


or you can pin each point out separately, like this center point.


I pinned out each point of my peacock green Garland, but only because I forgot that I could run wires instead! Wires are much faster to set up.


Let the garment dry completely, and then un-pin. Sew in your ends. The result? Instead of a crumpled wad of knitting, you have a diaphanous piece of gossamer loveliness.

Do you block your lace? Aggressively? I hope so!

Garland, Garland, Garland…waterfall!


I bound off Saturday night. Blocking to follow. (And I wish I could capture the awesome super-saturated bright blue-undertoned green of this, but I’ve tried, and apparently I can’t.)


Cathy sent me this picture Saturday night. She’s on her last repeat. This color is called Madge. Love it!


I saw Claudia at church yesterday. She bound off Saturday, too. I offered to block for her. Pictures soon!

You may think that I’m just sitting at home knitting, cooking and jamming, but it’s not so. We went for a family hike in the Columbia River Gorge on Saturday. The weather was spectacular, and so were the views. I think that’s the peak of Mt. Adams across the river in Washington.


The destination Saturday was Upper McCord Creek Falls. These are twin waterfalls, but the one on the left is just a trickle at this time of summer.


I saw a picture from early June, when both were full, on this hiker’s site. Maybe next year.

Nearby is Elowah Falls.




How long until this rock is eroded away?


A pipe that used to carry water down to a sawmill, long ago.


We stood looking out over this ravine, watching hawks ride the thermals. They spiraled upward without flapping their wings. We also saw swallows? swifts? flitting about. Much more work for them. So cool to be above, looking down on the hawks. And I love how you can see that the gorge is laid down in strata over time.


I’m not sure what the function of this is. A pipe goes in from the back, and it’s overflowing at the top and leaking at the side. But it’s cool looking. It’s right at the trailhead.

It’s hard to believe that this is just 45 minutes from home. If you’re local, you might find this gorge hike guide useful. I always pick the easy ones!

It was a beautiful day! I hope you’re enjoying your summer, too.

Garland Shawl cast on options

I’m planning my cast on for the Garland KAL. My prototype shawl is very wide and shallow. I’d like to make my next one deeper, like test knitter Rachel’s, but also as wide as it can be with the amount of yarn I have. I was conservative with Rachel’s test knit to make sure the deeper shawl would be wide enough with about 400 yards of yarn, even though the Cashy Lite was 495 yards.

How do you know if you should make the wider, shallower shawl, or the narrower, deeper shawl? Part of it depends on how you like to wear your shawl.

If you have about 400 yards of yarn, your deeper shawl will probably be most comfortable worn centered on your back. The ends don’t provide a lot of overlap for wearing this like a scarf. Rachel’s shawl took 390 yards at 6 st/inch.

Photo May 13, 3 47 06 PM

Photo May 13, 3 26 34 PM

If you use those 400 yards to make a shallower shawl, you’ll get more overlap at the ends.

If you have 450 yards or more, the shallower shawl will be super wide like my prototype. This one took 455 yards at 5 st/inch. (I’m planning to aim for 5.5 or 6 st/inch next time, for a slightly firmer fabric.)

Photo May 13, 3 27 36 PM

Photo May 13, 3 29 09 PM

It’s luxuriously wrappable, but I don’t know that I’d wear it centered on my back. Maybe if I were taller…

I’m planning to split the difference this time and go deep *and* wide. How?

The pattern instructions tell you how many repeats wide to make your shawl, but you can easily customize this for the amount of yarn you have. This is because the shawl is knit from side to side. You start at the right end, increase towards the center back, and then decrease to the left end. With a little math, you can easily adjust the size of your shawl without fear of running out of yarn.

You’ll need a kitchen scale, one of my favorite knitting tools. Weigh your yarn before you begin. Half of this yarn will go to the increase section of your shawl, and half will go to the decrease section. Weigh your yarn after every 24 row repeat. (Weigh your yarn in grams, because it’s a more precise measure on the scale.) This will show you how much yarn each repeat takes. The amount increases gradually with each repeat, because you’re increasing the number of stitches with each repeat. You’ll need to figure in enough yarn for the center repeat, which has no increases or decreases, but the center repeat will weigh about as much as the repeat before and after it. When you are halfway through that center repeat, you need to have at least half your yarn left for the decreases! (You don’t really need to start weighing your yarn until the 7th repeat, but it doesn’t hurt to know the numbers.)

If you don’t want to do any figuring or customizing, go ahead and knit according to the pattern directions.

So, deep or shallow? What’s your Garland going to be? Beads? No beads? I’m going for beads! I like the bling, and the little bit of extra heft and drape they give the fabric.

I’m looking forward to getting my yarn, Knitted Wit’s Cashy Lite in Peacock. She’s dyeing today! Did you order yarn from Knitted Wit, or are you using your own? If you ordered from Lorajean, I’m tucking in a little goodie for you with your yarn.

KAL stitch markers

Looking forward to casting on, June 10!

Planning a KAL; knit Garland with me!

Thanks for the warm welcome for my new Garland Shawl pattern! It was even on Ravelry’s Hot Right Now list on launch day. I happened on it late that night, so who knows how high it went? It was a special thrill to see this!


I’m really looking forward to hosting the Garland Shawl KAL. I’ve picked my yarn color. I thought I’d be knitting a narrower version of Garland in the same Spring Green as my wide version, but I changed my mind and will be knitting with Knitted Wit’s Cashy Lite in Peacock, another lovely green with blue undertones.

I’ve shopped for beads. There was an impromptu trip to Shipwreck Beads in Lacey, WA (quite the mothership of beads) last week. I was hoping for size 6/0 or 8/0 Delica beads (they’re little tubes), but they only had size 11, which are too tiny for this project. I bought 6/0 Czech seed beads instead. I’m hoping one of these two colors work. And I bought a few other things, too…


I’ll be using my Bead Aid to place beads in my Garland. I like this method so much better than the crochet hook method because I don’t accidentally split my yarn while pulling it through the bead. Here’s a chance for a lucky someone to try Bead Aid: Sarah gave me a set of two to give away on the blog. If you’d like a chance to win them, tell me in the comment section. I’ll pick a random winner on May 31. If you don’t win, there’s still time to order some from her; we’re casting on June 10. You don’t have to be part of the KAL to enter, but I’d love it if you’d knit along with me!

I’m planning a blog post on how to get the most mileage out of the yarn yardage you have. And I’m hoping you’ll join my PDXKnitterati Ravelry group; it will be easier to have back and forth discussion over there rather than on the blog. We’ve already got the ball rolling over there. Come join the fun! Not a Raveler? I’ll still answer questions here, too, but it feels like a party on Ravelry.

If you’re ordering yarn from Knitted Wit, you should know that orders are due by June 1. We’ll ship on June 5 for a June 10 cast on. I’m planning to make some stitch markers to send out with those orders, just for fun.

Not sure about knitting shawlettes? Mary Mooney gives you seven good reasons to knit one. Hey, we’re a trend!

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you’d like a chance to win the Bead Aids. Or comment on anything else you want to discuss. Knit on!

Garland Shawl and Knit Along

Presenting my newest design, the Garland Shawl!

Garland is a crescent shaped shawl, knit from side to side. The lacy border is knit at the same time as the garter stitch body, which increases from one end to the center and then decreases to the other end. Optional beading along the leaves’ center veins adds sparkle and weight for drape. This shawl can be knit as a wide, shallow crescent, or a deeper, more traditionally shaped crescent. Knitter’s choice!

Photo May 13, 3 28 23 PM (1)

Photo May 13, 3 29 09 PM

The wider shawl is like a big hug. This one is knit in Spring Green, a special order color for the upcoming KAL.

Photo May 13, 3 47 06 PM

Photo May 13, 3 26 34 PM

The narrower shawl sits comfortably on the shoulders when centered, and looks good at a jaunty angle, too. This one is knit in Golden Delicious, and was test knit by Rachel Nichols. Thank you, Rachel!

The shawls are knit with fingering weight yarn. I used Knitted Wit‘s Cashy Lite, a wonderfully squishy blend of 80% merino/10% cashmere/10% nylon, 495 yards/115g/4 oz. Charts and line by line instructions for the lace edging are included.

Photo May 13, 4 00 02 PM

To celebrate Garland’s release, Lorajean (Knitted Wit) and I are having a knitalong. Place yarn orders with Knitted Wit by June 1st; orders will ship June 5th in time for the June 10th cast on. You’ll receive one skein of Cashy Lite, 80/10/10 Merino/Cashmere/Nylon, 495 yards, and a coupon code for $2 off the pattern on Ravelry. Visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/knittedwit/sets/72157633152678746/ to see all the yarn colors available, write in the color name when checking out. If you want the same color I used for the wider shawl, ask for Spring Green. It’s not in the flickr set; it’s special for this project because I love it so much, I’ve convinced LJ that we should do it. It’s a great color, fresh and lively, and not too neon or acid. Think happy new growth green!

If you’d like to participate in the KAL with your own yarn, use the code GarlandKAL and you’ll receive $1 off your pattern purchase, now through June 10, 2013. Note: In order to use a coupon code, you need to go directly to the Garland Shawl pattern page on Ravelry to make your purchase.

Let’s knit! Leave a comment and let me know you’re in!

I’m Blocking in Sunshine, oh oh

Apologies to Katrina and the Waves. But that’s the song that popped into my head as I was blocking test knitter Rachel’s shawl this morning. Another gorgeous day here.


Rachel’s is the Green Apple version lower in the picture. My original wider shallower prototype in Spring Green is above it.


I met with Rachel at Pearl Fiber Arts last night for the pickup. Cindy, PFA’s owner, loves the extra length on the shallow version, but she’s a lot taller than I am! Photography is set for Monday. I was hoping to do both Garland and Filigree, but see where I am in my Filigree knitting?


Frogged the whole thing and started over. I forgot one of my self-imposed rules for crescent shawls: I always want an odd number of repeats, so one motif will be at the center back. As I began working the crescent, I noticed that the center was *between* motifs. D’oh! Do you think I can be done and blocked by Monday afternoon? Knit like the wind!

I’m enjoying these Signature circular needles. The tips are nice and pointy, which is great for lace. The stitches flow smoothly over the join between cable and needle. I usually knit with wood, which is a bit more grippy, so I’m concentrating on not losing my stitches off these slick metal needles. The cable is more flexible than I’m used to; I may have to give magic loop one more try. All in all, it’s been an enjoyable experience, and I get to do it all over again on my frogged shawl. Good thing I’m having fun. The needles were a gift from Sarah when she was here in town. Sarah is one of the fastest, most prolific knitters I know. She’s very talented. I was floored by the gift, but I’m not giving them back!

What are your favorite needles?

Coming soon: Garland Shawl and KAL

Spring has arrived in PDX. The trees have gone through their pink and white blossomed glory, and are settling nicely into green. My knitting has, too.

This is a sneak peek at Garland, my upcoming design. I was inspired by my awakening garden, and by Sivia Harding’s Sideways Lace Shawl Design class in March. Put the two together, and the result is a leafy lace border on a sideways crescent shawl. Optional beads along the leafy ribs add a bit of bling.


I am so happy that I finally found the perfect use for this gorgeous skein of Cashy Lite from Knitted Wit. It had been through two previous design starts. The first was nearly done when I saw a nearly identical shawl at my LYS. The second will require two skeins, and I only had one of this very special color from Lorajean’s first CSY in 2011. Third time’s a charm! And the yarn has held up like a champ, even after two froggings.

The pattern is written and is going through a final test knit. I’m hoping to publish it next week after photographs. And best of all, Lorajean and I are planning a June KAL. I’ll have a discount coupon code for participants, and an extra special coupon code if you’re ordering yarn from Knitted Wit. More on that next week, when the pattern goes live.

Place orders by June 1st, orders will ship June 15th in time for the June 21st cast on. You’ll receive one skein of Cashy Lite, 80/10/10 Merino/Cashmere/Nylon, 495 yards. Visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/knittedwit/sets/72157633152678746/ to see all the yarn colors available, write in the color name when checking out. If you want the same color as mine, ask for Spring Green. It’s not in the flickr set; it’s special for this project because I love it so much, I’ve convinced LJ that we should do it. It’s a great color, fresh and lively, and not too neon or acid. Think happy new growth green!

I love the added sparkle that beads give to this design. They remind me of dewdrops on morning leaves. I started by using the crochet hook beading method that I learned from Sivia way back at the first Sock Summit. It’s pretty efficient, but I tend to split my yarn with the tiny crochet hook while pulling it through the bead about 20% of the time. My knit nite buddy Sarah sent over some of her new Bead Aids to try out. I am a convert! I have not split my yarn at all since moving to this new method. It’s a great tool, and I highly recommend it.

I’m looking forward to publishing the pattern next week. Do you want to knit along? Have you ever added beads to your knitting?