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Last weekend I finished my third Brangian, in a deliciously rich dark red sock wool from Saffron Dyeworks. It was a bit of an experiment – I’ve put the yarn requirements for the small size in the pattern as 440yds (400m) but I wanted to see if the revised small size could be knitted with just 400yds (365m) of yarn. The answer? It can’t! I ran out of yarn two rows from the end, so had to cast off early without doing the picot row.

However, the other experiment with this one was to bead it, and I used dark red clear glass beads – and I’m very happy with the result!

Pattern: Brangian Shawl Yarn: Wasabi from Saffron Dyeworks

Pattern: Brangian Shawl (bead detail)

Beading instructions:
Use the crochet hook method to place beads.
Chart 2:
On rows 3, 11, & 19: Add a bead on to the K1 between the K2tog and ssk (ie at the beginning of each bud.)
On rows 5, 13 & 21: Add a bead on the 2 & 4 stitches of the k5 section. (ie on ether side of the bead in the previous row).

Chart 3:
On row 3: Add a bead on to the K1 between the K2tog and ssk (ie at the beginning of each bud.)
On row 5: Add a bead on the 2 & 4 stitches of the K5 section. (ie on ether side of the bead in the previous row).
On rows 7, 9, 11 & 13: Where there is a yo, K1, yo to form the columns, add a bead on the K1. Also add a bead to the centre K1!

Brangian wasn’t actually designed for beads, but I do love them, and I’m always looking for ways to incorporate them. Last night I knitted a sample swatch to see how beading might work on Brangian. I inserted beads in chart 2 – the alternating buds section – putting three beads at the top of each bud, with the idea that it might emphasise the way the buds alternate in this section. Then I also added beads in the same place in chart 3, and also in the yo, k1, yo columns in the last rows of chart 3. I’m quite happy with how it turned out:

Brangian shawl beaded swatch

I’ll be beading my next Brangian!

(ETA: Instructions for beading in this manner are now given on the Brangian page. )

However, in the process of swatch knitting, I did discover, to my horror, an oops! in the pattern. Prior to publication, I’d altered Chart 2, starting it with an non-column (‘B’) bud and reducing it by 8 rows so that there were only 3 ‘rows’ of buds – B, A, B. I did check that Chart 3 still fitted – but I overlooked that, because I’d reduced the design by the 8 rows, and this impacts on the placement of the buds relative to the edge, while Chart 3 fitted fine, it didn’t alternate with the last bud row in Chart 2. Not many people would actually notice at all, but I knew it wasn’t perfect.

Sigh. Cue panicked re-do of Chart 3, working out how to do the edging correctly, fixing up charts, uncharts, updating pattern files, proof-reading…. I uploaded the revised pattern to Rav this morning, and sent out a notice to those who’ve bought it so far, and to my test-knitters. Fingers crossed that everything is now fixed, and that no other errors have crept in!

My shawl pattern, Brangian, has been knitted up by several test-knitters, the pattern tweaked on the basis of their feedback, and it’s now available in the Ravelry store. It’s been a lot of work – but an enjoyable challenge! – getting charts right, creating ‘uncharts’ and checking them, playing with the layout, making sure the instructions are clear.

I incredibly grateful to my wonderful test-knitters, most of them from the Aussie Shawl Knitters Hangout on Ravelry, who have, in a few short weeks, knitted shawls and provided feedback on their experience – along with enthusiasm and encouragement! Thanks, Sue, the other Sue, Rachel, Tara, Kelly, Margaret, Bel and Ellie!

Extra special thanks to Tara, who lent her photography skills to the project and took some great photos, and to her friend Bella, who modelled the shawl.

Brangian Shawl detail

Photo copyright Tara Mitchell

I’ve created a page with more info on Brangian, a link ot the Ravelry pattern store (you don’t need to be a member to purchase it) and answers to what might be Frequently Asked Questions. There’ll be a few more bits of info added to support knitting the pattern in the next week or two.

Oh, and I’ve knitted a second Brangian, this time in Handmaiden SeaSilk, and in the medium size. It’s currently blocking, and taking an age to finish drying, as we have wonderful rain today:
Brangian Shawl blocking

I’ll take some better photos when it’s dry, and the sun is shining!
ETA:

Pattern: Brangian (medium). Yarn: Handmaiden SeaSilk

Brangian Shawl Pattern

I’ve designed a shawl 🙂

In the old tales of Tristan and Iseult, Brangian was Iseult’s faithful companion, who travelled far from her own land to serve her Princess. This shawl, with its textured lace columns, subtly shifting to form a border flowing into the scalloped edging, is not as stunning as some lace shawls, but like Brangian the handmaiden, she is quietly beautiful.

I’m very happy with the shawl, and have written up the pattern – it’s now being test-knitted by a few friends. Once that’s been done, and their feedback incorporated into the pattern, I’ll be making the pattern available through Ravelry (and possibly through this site).

Brangian Shawl - detail

I’ve thought long and hard about whether to make it available for free, or to sell it for a small cost… and I’ve decided not to give it away. One of my concerns over the years in the textile/fibre arts is that traditional ‘women’s’ crafts such as knitting, spinning, weaving, etc are constantly devalued – and that often, we are party to that devaluing. It’s for this reason that I don’t sell what I make, because the going prices for hand-made items do not reflect anywhere near the expertise and time that goes in to the making of them. I’m always saddened and frustrated when I see a pair of handmade socks selling for $20, or a beautiful woven scarf for $60. Subtract the cost of materials, and divide by the number of hours of (trained and skilled) work that goes in to the making, and you come out with a very low number. Try telling anyone else in an independent business – a plumber, or a computer technician, or your hairdresser – that they should work for $1 per hour!

I do give things away as gifts some times, to people who appreciate the value of the making and the giving. I’ve designed my own patterns before for various items, and there’s a lot of work and experience involved in making things work – and even more in doing it and writing it up in such a way that the pattern is repeatable by others. I don’t mind paying a few dollars for a pattern in recognition of that work, and I hope others don’t either. I don’t think anyone’s getting rich selling knitting patterns 🙂  (Okay, maybe Kaffe Fassett…)

Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s great that there are free patterns available, too. But I think that the choice to give away a pattern is each designer’s to make, for whatever reasons they choose to make it, and should not be an expectation. A design does have considerable value, whether bought or received for ‘free’, and that should be appreciated.  If ever I design more patterns, maybe some will be free, as a gift to a community that I enjoy being part of.

Anyway, the Brangian pattern will be available, probably in a couple of weeks, in both charted and ‘unchart’ form. It’s designed for fingering-weight yarn, and will be in two sizes, a small shawl, and a larger shawl. Now, I’d best get knitting and finish the larger version!

I haven’t been able to post about this finished shawl, as I made it as a gift for my sister, and I’m not sure if she reads this blog or not! However we had an early family Christmas celebration today, and I gave her the shawl.

It’s the lovely Aeolian Shawl pattern from knitty.com, knitted in Handmaiden Sea Silk. It’s a great pattern – it’s not particularly difficult, and quite intuitive to knit, as it’s easy to ‘read’ the pattern, but it looks so impressive! Here it is blocking:

Aeolian Berries shawl

And here’s my lovely sister wearing it:

Andrea wearing her Aeolian Shawl

Andrea wearing her shawl

I think she likes it 🙂

November has not been a good month for me. I headed down to Sydney on the 9th for surgery on the 11th, hoping I’d only be in hospital a night or two, but planning to stay in Sydney a few extra days afterwards, so I took some knitting with me. Unfortunately, the surgery (attempting to insert a stent inside the existing stents in my cerebral aneurysm) did not go well, and despite the best efforts of my wonderful doctors, I ended up with multiple complications – a small brain hemorrhage, some damage to the retina in my right eye, an abdominal bleed, and a tear in my femoral artery which gave me a large bruise/haematoma on almost my entire upper right leg. So, as a result, I was eight days in hospital, and had to have further surgery to repair the femoral artery.

Boy, was I glad I had my knitting! I did try some lace knitting on an Ishbel in the first couple of days, but my brain/eye coordination wasn’t that great, and I had difficulty relating the knitting to the chart, which is something I usually find easy. My lovely sister fixed up the row I stuffed up, but I put Ishbel aside for a day or two and instead worked on some socks, which were much easier. Many of the doctors, nurses, cleaning staff, fellow patients and their families expressed interest and asked me about my knitting. One of the young doctors mentioned several times that he’d love a pair of handknit socks 🙂 After I finished the socks, I picked up Ishbel again, and my brain and eyes were working much better so it went more smoothly – except a number of times I was one stitch short at the end of a pattern row. I fudged those bits, adding a stitch reasonably seamlessly in the pattern – and so the scarf, in a peppermint green wool/silk, got renamed the Peppermint Fudge Ishbel.

I finished her a day or so after I got out of hospital, but as I stayed on in Sydney for a few days as a precaution, I didn’t get to block her until today. Here she is, all pinned out:
Peppermint Fudge Ishbel

The pattern is, of course, the popular Ishbel by Ysolda Teague, and the yarn is a merino/silk fingering weight yarn from Lush Yarns. I used size 4mm needles, and made the small size in the stocking stitch section, and the large size for the lace section, working charts ABABACDE.

The socks are the Harris Tweed pattern, knitted in Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 4ply. The pattern was nice and easy to knit, so I could knit while writing – the knitting keeping my fingers from being distracted and clicking all over the internet, but easy to drop the moment any words came to mind. I suspect I’ll be casting on another pair soon, because I love these ones, but I’m giving them away as a Christmas gift. Sorry that the photo isn’t that great – taken in a hotel room, rather than my usual photography space at home!
Pattern: Harris Tweed. Yarn: Bendigo Luxury 4ply

Now I’m home, I’m working on my two Aeolian shawls. The blackberry one is getting closer to finished – I’ve only got about 10 rows to go, but as they’re looonnngg rows and beaded, there’s still a few hours’ work in it. I’ll post pictures when it’s done. The sea green/blue one is still only in the yucca section, so it has a lot more to go yet. But I’m thankful that, despite the medical problems, I can see, and knit, and I figure there can’t be too much brain damage if I can knit lace! It could have been so much worse, so I’m grateful that it wasn’t. I have to take things easy for a bit, and will go back to Sydney in mid-December to see the neurosurgeon and the vascular surgeon. There is likely to be more surgery on my aneurysm in the future, since this lot wasn’t successful. I’m not looking forward to that, as it’s always risky, but I’m determined to pull through it okay. After all, I’ve got a lot of stash waiting to be knitted up into beautiful things!

I seem to have multiple WIPs happening at the moment.

There’s an Aeolian Shawl, in Handmaiden Sea Silk, on which I’m only 24 (long!) rows from the end. I’m really enjoying the pattern; it’s well-written, intuitive, and it looks stunning. I’m doing the version with the narrower border, as I’m not sure whether I’ll have enough yarn. I’ve stil got just under 50% of the yarn left, but the edging does consume a heap of yarn, so I’m keeping m fingers crossed (and I’ve order another skein, just in case – because who can have too much sea silk??)
Pattern: Aeolian shawl. Bead detail.
(The colour is actually not quite as bright, and there’s a bit more purple overall than in this little sample).

I’m enjoying the Aeolian so much, that I cast on a second one, so I could knit the shorter easier first section rows when I don’t have time or concentration for the first Aeolian’s long, beaded rows. I chose a KnitPicks alpaca and silk fine lace yarn from the stash, in beautiful turquoise colours. I’ve ordered beads for it, and they should be here tomorrow.
Pattern: Aeolian Shawl Yarn" Knitpicks Shimmer Alpaca/silk

The Harris Tweed socks are 70% done – just have to turn the heel and knit the foot of the second one. No updated photo of those, but there should be a FO post soon.

I also cast on two other pairs of socks yesterday, as part of the Ravelry Sock Knitters Anonymous October Challenge – which includes socks designed for men. Since the menfolk in my family could do with some more hand-knitted socks, I started the two pairs before the challenge deadline of October 31. Now I just need to finish them before November 30!

The weaving has been slowly progressing. Because the warp has been on the loom for so long, and it’s very fine, I’m having a few broken warp threads. Here’s the view of the back of the loom:
Replacement warp threads

Yes, that’s 6 film cannisters tensioning replacement threads – and there were two more earlier on that I’ve already woven back in. I’m running out of film cannisters to use!

Yesterday, I bought a small camping hotplate on special at Big W – and today I used it to dye some yarns. I didn’t get quite the colours I was aiming for; partly because of my very un-scientific approach to dyeing, and partly because I simply didn’t have the dye colours I wanted. But I’m still happy with the outcome:
Dyed skeins

The little stove worked very well. The gas cannisters were on special for $5 for 4, and I only used 1 and a half for close on three hours of ‘cooking’ – so I’ll be dyeing more regularly. But I’ll need to order some more dyes in the colours I want!

I  finished this Shetland Triangle yesterday:

Pattern: Shetland Triangle Yarn: Bendigo Colonial 5 ply

Pattern: Shetland Triangle Yarn: Bendigo Colonial 5 ply

I used yarn that’s been in my stash for ages – a cone of Bendigo Woollen Mills 5ply Colonial that was left over from a weaving workshop a few years back. Some of the cone had been used, and as I didn’t have an empty plastic cone, I couldn’t determine the exact weight of what was left, although I guessed it was around 150 grams. As it turned out, it wasn’t quite enough –  I got as far as the end of row 13 of the 15-row edging, and had to cast off there – which I achieved, with only 2 metres of yarn to spare!

I beaded the last three pattern repeats, and the edging, with size 5.0 silver-lined beads:

Shetland Triangle - bead detail

Shetland Triangle - bead detail

I’m quite happy with the finished result, although the yarn is not quite as soft as I’d hoped after washing. This may be a Christmas gift.

As for other wips, I’m currently working on two pairs of socks – one is daylight-only knitting, the other I can knit at night. The daylight socks are the ones I’ve been working on for a while – just a very basic pair of stocking stitch socks in a dark blue-green Zitron Trekking yarn. I’m turning the heel on the second sock, so they won’t take too much longer to finish.

The other pair I started last night – a pair of Harris Tweed socks, in Bendigo Luxury 4ply in their ‘cork brown’ colour. The yarn s lovely to knit with, and the pattern suitable for knitting-while-writing – ie, relatively mindless, and easy to put down the moment the words strike! I bought three balls of the Luxury 4ply a few months back, and since each ball will make two pairs of socks, I’ll be knitting more socks frm this yarn!

Pattern: Harris Tweed. Yarn: Bendigo Luxury 4ply

Pattern: Harris Tweed. Yarn: Bendigo Luxury 4ply

I confess – I’ve also bought some yarn recently. Knitpicks was having a sale of lace yarn, and a few skeins found their way to me. Okay, quite a few skeins. Enough for seven shawls. Because I needed more stash to add to the stash I already have. Really.

Knitpicks Shimmer in Shallows

Knitpicks Shimmer in Shallows

Knitpicks Shimmer - Galaxy

Knitpicks Shimmer - Galaxy

And talking about stash, I also bought some weaving yarns from Webs. Even with the postage from the US (gulp – it was higher than the website quote), it still worked out to be a reasonable deal, compared to what the same amount of yarn would cost me to buy here – assuming I could find it amongst the few weaving yarn suppliers. So, I have some mercerised 10/2 cottons, some unmercerised 8/2 cottons, and some tencel to play with.

And yes – amazing though it may seem – I have actually been weaving. The black warp that has been on the loom for ages has finally progressed. After being totally indecisive for ages about what I was going to do with it, I made up my Libran mind. The first couple of metres are just plain black plain weave – trim for a jacket that I will make form some other handwoven fabric. The last couple of metres will be a scarf. I haven’t definitely decided which colour and yarn what I will put across the black warp, but it’s threaded in an advancing twill pattern and I will weave it in an overshot style. No photos yet, but there will be some soon.

Almost two months since I last posted?? I’m sure it hasn’t been that long…. but the date stamp doesn’t lie (well, not unless I change it, anyway, which I haven’t!)

In between writers conferences and festivals and new books out and book writing, there has been knitting – although some of the WIPs listed in the WIP stocktake in my previous post are still WIPS. But I HAVE finished a couple of things:

Pattern: Cleckheaton rolled brim hat Yarn: Bendigo Classic 8ply

Pattern: Cleckheaton rolled brim hat Yarn: Bendigo Classic 8ply

Pattern: Ishbel by Ysolda Teague. Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock

Pattern: Ishbel by Ysolda Teague. Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock

So, of the WIPS mentioned in my previous post, this is the status:

1. Daniel’s hat – finished, and given to Daniel (a young waiter at my regular café, who asked for a beanie).

2. Lauren’s fingerless mittens – not finished

3. Deciduous Lace Scarf – almost finished. I had to redesign the border so there weren’t stitch increases making it flare, and now I have to undo the first border and re-knit it to match the second.

4. Plain socks – one sock finished, second sock 40% done. the yarn is dark in colour, so it’s been hard to knit these at night.

5. Biance inspired jacket – no progress

6. Shawl collar jacket – I finished knitting the collar, and have sewn up two-thirds of the seams. I could have it finished with about half an hour’s more work.

7. Fisherman’s Gansey – no progress

New projects started:

Ishbel shawl (above) – started, finished, and blocked!

Venezia shawl – I started this with Sea Silk and 4.5mm needles, but think I will frog what I’ve done and try it again with a less-slippery yarn and slightly smaller needles

Pattern: Venezia Lace Shawl Yarn: Handmaiden Sea Silk

Pattern: Venezia Lace Shawl Yarn: Handmaiden Sea Silk

Shetland Triangle – nice and easy knitting, doesn’t take too much concentration. The yarn is leftover from a weaving workshop I  ran several years ago – I like the colour, and the beads I ordered to go on it arrived yesterday.

Pattern: Shetland Triangle by Evelyn Clark. Yarn: Bendigo Colonial 5ply

Pattern: Shetland Triangle by Evelyn Clark. Yarn: Bendigo Colonial 5ply

I confes that I’ve also done some shopping lately! I bought a couple of Japanese knitting stitch books from yesasia.com, and three knitting books from bookdepository.co.uk

Japanese Knitting Stitch Books

Japanese Knitting Stitch Books

Lace books - and Top-Down sweaters

Lace books - and Top-Down sweaters

The Japanese books are all in Japanese, with only a couple of headings in English. No, I don’t speak or read Japanese, but nonetheless, these are great – there is a chart for each stitch pattern, and a section at the back has illustrations for each chart symbol.

Sample page - photo plus chart for each pattern

Sample page - photo plus chart for each pattern

Directions for each chart stitch symbol

Directions for each chart stitch symbol

While some of the lace patterns are standard ones found elsewhere, the books have a huge range of patterns and an innovative way of putting them together – Japanese design styles are beautiful. There are no garment instructions in these books, but there are a couple of garment photos, to demonstrate some of the stitch patterns in action. I’m impressed with these books, and yesasia.com provided a good service, with the books arriving in less than two weeks… so I’ve ordered a couple more knitting books from them – these have garment designs in them – once again, all in Japanese, but with clear diagrams and illustrations, so I’m sure I’ll be able to figure it out! (And, if all else fails, they’ll be beautiful to look at!)

To celebrate the publication of my second book, and the contract offer for my third and fourth books, I ordered some lace yarn form KnitPicks. It’s coming via a US friend (Knitpicks don’t post outside the US), but she has sent it on, so I’ll be looking out for taht to arrive in the next week or so.

Oh, and I’ve done some sorting out in the yarn/fibre cupboard, tossing out and giving away some fleeces which I will never get to spin, and thus making room for the knitting and weaving yarn overflowing outside the cupboard, and for more to come 🙂 But I did keep two fleeces, and there’s still a box full of processed fibre of varying sorts, so when I get to spinning again, I’ll still have plenty to spin.

It’s confession time. I have too many wips. And some of them I am this >< close to finishing. So, I’ll list them here, and then see how much progress I can make in finishing off things in the next week or two three.

First up, Daniel’s hat:

To be honest, I only started this last night. But it has been promised for some weeks. Daniel is one of the waiters at the café I frequent, and having seen me knit there a lot, he asked if I would knit a beanie for him. We worked out an exchange (he’s studying graphic design, so will do a little work on an image for my writing website), discussed yarns and styles. While I was in Sydney last week, I found a Cleckheaton pattern book with a heap of different hats in it, and last night I found a couple of 4mm circulars and started knitting:

Yarn: Bendigo Classic 8ply. Pattern: Cleckheaton rolled brim hat

Yarn: Bendigo Classic 8ply. Pattern: Cleckheaton rolled brim hat

Daniel works at the café on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so my aim is to have this finished in time to drop in on Tuesday.

Next up: Lauren’s lacy fingerless mittens

I knitted the first one of these back in November – but I only had bamboo needles to hand, and me and bamboo needles are not the best of friends. I then started the second one on metal dpns, but have had a) ongoing worry that this will result in radically different tension from the first one, and b) ongoing anxiety about counting the pattern repeats correctly so that they end up the same length – the first pair I made her didn’t. After Lauren dropped a gentle hint about them when she was visiting a couple of weeks ago, I have pulled them out again and done a little more – I’m increasing for the thumb on mitt 2. I should just soldier on with them; and if it goes haywire this time, then I will redo them from scratch, knitting two at a time on two circs. (I’m working with 2 circs for the first time on Daniel’s hat).

Crimson lace mitten

Crimson lace mitten

Number 3: Deciduous Lace Scarf

This is the project that I’m itching to keep working on! The Romance Writers of Australia conference that I am going to next month holds a silent auction in aid of breast cancer research, and I am aiming to donate a basket including my new book and a beaded, lace scarf – this being the scarf. I’m adapting Evelyn Clark’s Deciduous Lace Shawl pattern to a simple rectangular scarf, as I wanted a border with scallop effect, suitable for beading, and I like the way the motifs in the shawl interact with each other. I will make the shawl later – for myself – but for this purpose a scarf if more appropriate. The yarn is a beautiful 50%silk, 50% merino, Carrera from Henry’s Attic.

Deciduous Lace Scarf

Deciduous Lace Scarf

Number 4: Plain socks

These are my writing knitting – plain socks, nothing fancy about them, but a lovely dark blue/teal yarn that will be great for everyday wear with jeans. I ike to have a simple pair of socks on the go to knit while I’m staring at the screen trying to write. They don’t take very much concentration to knit, can be put down and picked up easily, and keep my fingers from clicking on the mouse and wandering around the internet instead of writing.

Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL

Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL

Number 5: Bianca-inspired jacket

I started the sleeves for this while I was travelling in the outback in May. It has progressed no further since then. (The photo only has one sleeve, but I’m working both together.)

Pattern: Bianca's jacket adaptation. Yarn: Bendigo Classic 12ply

Pattern: Bianca's jacket adaptation. Yarn: Bendigo Classic 12ply

Numbers 6 & 7: Shawl-collar jacket and Fisherman’s Gansey

Okay, this and number 7 are ones that are all but finished – and have been that way for *ahem* a while. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate sewing up seams? The shawl-collar jacket needs about 20 more short rows of knitting on the collar, and then to be sewn up. I knitted the sleeves for it while travelling in May. The Fisherman’s gansey has sat, almost untouched, for about 12 months – because I need to sew the shoulder seams, then pick up stitches (almost as bad as seam-sewing, IMO) for the collar. I did, however, wash and block the pieces a couple of weeks ago. I don’t have photos of either (other then the boring ones on my Rav projects page). When will I finish these? Umm… maybe I should just break it down into small tasks. 1) Finish knitting collar of jacket within a week. 2) Sew shoulder seams and pick up neck stitches on gansey within 2 weeks. Then we’ll see how we go from there!

At least I have now finished the temporary “part-time” university job that sucked up my time and brain power for the first half of the year. Now all I have to do in the next few weeks is make significant progress on writing a book, write an academic paper, and put together a proposal for a small consulting job. Oh, and knit. And I might even make it back to the loom, sometime soon….

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