Tag Archives: Nymphaea Shawl Retreat

Lace, blocking, SSK

I always say that blocking is magic. Especially with lace. But even then, I’m always astonished at the transformation.

Here’s my Nymphaea shawl, right off the needles, no blocking, no weaving in the ends. It’s pretty small, 48 inches across the top eyelet edge, 20 inches at the wide end, not including the lace edging in either measurement.

I wet blocked it; it pinned out to be 60 inches across the top eyelet edge, and 30 inches across the wide end, just above the lace edging. Where it was once thick and chunky, it’s now ethereally and diaphanously lovely. It’s almost as big as the sample I knit last fall with the mini skein gradient kit, just nine repeats instead of ten.

Zigzags 4 evah

Lacy border, this time with beads

I knit this in Bumblebirch Heartwood, 75/25 superwash merino/nylon. The colors are Atlantic and Hellebore, the same colors in my Tumbling Leaves, but reversed. I love it, and I love the beads, too. Depending on how you look at them, they’re blue, or green. Perfect.

I’m going to knit one more of these, a sample with a Fierce Fibers 650 yard continuous gradient, and a semisolid contrast color. This is in preparation for our Fall Shawl Retreat in November. Registration opens August 1, and the price will include yarn and beads for a knit or crochet version of Nymphaea.

While knitting this shawl, I started thinking about my personal rules for SSK. When I first learned SSK, I did them conventionally, slipping both stitches as if to knit. The result is a left leaning decrease, exactly the same as SKP: Slip one (knitwise), knit one, pass slip stitch over. The passed stitch could sometimes be stretched out and unsightly; Barbara Walker invented the SSK as an improvement on the SKP.

Eventually, Elizabeth Zimmermann figured out that slipping the second stitch purlwise instead of knitwise made this decrease lie flatter, and mirror the right leaning K2tog better. It’s less zigzaggy. I learned this from her daughter Meg Swansen in a class oh so long ago, and adopted it as my go-to SSK. For me, it’s quicker to execute (don’t have to pull left needle out of the second slipped stitch before ktbl).

But! When I was designing my Meander Cowl, I noticed that this SSK looked wide and bumpy when it met up with a YO on its left side. It’s because the right leg of the stitch shows a bit more prominently behind the left leaning stitch on top. Subtle, yes, but there.

So, my personal SSK rule: Slip the second stitch as if to purl when working stockinette. But if there’s a YO to the left of the SSK, slip the second stitch as if to knit. Try them both, if you like. You’re the boss of your knitting; as long as you get the result you want, you’re doing it right! Here’s a video on the whole thing.

How do you SSK?

Madrona wrap up, fall shawl retreat coming

It’s been a wildly knitterly month, and I’m just now coming up for air. Madrona Fiber Arts Festival, Rose City Yarn Crawl, Lantern Moon Retreat, and a side trip to Skamania in between, whew!

Back to the beginning: Madrona!

Lovely as usual. I took one class and taught three.

Above, my swatch from Tuck, Twist, and Roll with Candace Eisner Strick. Lots of fun bits to add to dress up your knitting. I especially liked the twisted cast on, a little different than the one I’ve used before.

I taught a class with my Athena Entrelac Cowl, and mini classes on sassy novelty stitches and blocking. I love designing knits that are relaxing and zen to knit, with just enough excitement to keep your interest. Dressing up knits is fun!

But Madrona is more than classes, much as I love them. I saw glass artist Carol Milne in the Rotunda, and she was finger knitting with wax loops, the first step in her knitted glass pieces. I saw how she first wrapped the wax around a knitting needle to form the loops, then looped them together to form knitted fabric. From there it’s cast in plaster, wax melted, glass poured, and then broken out. It’s quite a process, but the resulting work is so beautiful.

I was really looking forward to picking up my new project bag from ChickenBootsUSA. This size, the Double Double, is great for a 2 cake project, and I love the Blue Kitty fabric. The clear bottom means I can tell which project is in the bag (I’m a big bag swapper). The interior pocket keeps my notions separate from the knitting. Perfect. This is my fourth, but probably not last, Chicken Boots bag.

I got to visit my Nymphaea Shawl at the Bead Biz booth. I designed this for Bead Biz last year. Laurinda Reddig designed a crochet Nymphaea at the same time.

Side note: Laurinda and I are teaming up for a Nymphaea Fall Retreat, Nov. 9-11 in the Columbia River Gorge. Come knit or crochet your own beaded shawl with us! Details at this link.

Back to Madrona, also very striking in the market: Tammy Burke’s scarf using planned pooling. What a cool thing to do with a variegated yarn! Briefly, you make a swatch to see how many stitches you get from each color in your repeat, and then plug the numbers into this planned pooling website. Play around with it and figure out how many stitches to cast on to make your colors pool into an interesting pattern. Tammy’s scarf is crocheted, but you can also do this with knitting. We’ve been having an interesting discussion via Instagram. I love the connections made at Madrona, and how they carry through during the year.

Someday (hopefully next year) I want to take a class from Galina Khmeleva, Orenburg Lace master. She is both funny and wise.

Kate Larson was one of our speakers, and she shared her journey of art, fiber, and farming. She shared some of her Border Leicester locks with me; they just want to jump into being yarn!

We had a grand time! I love dressing for Madrona, too. Having the right things to wear with your knits is important. And no, I’m not taller than Franklin Habit, but I was trying to capture his legs. Extra legs. (He brought them to show off some new leggings he designed for Skacel.) I do love his sartorial sensibility, too.

OK, back to my knitting. More blogging soon. Have you been to any knitting events lately?