Shawlette Blocking 101

Are you thinking about trying a sideways shawlette pattern but you’re not sure how to block it? Or, you’ve finished knitting one and you’re convinced that there is no way you can make it look like the finished photo in the pattern? Well, blocking a sideways shawlette is about as easy as knitting one.

These shawlettes are so easy. You don’t have to cast on or bind off a lot of stitches. You start with a few stitches at one end, increase to the middle, and decrease back down to a few stitches at the other end. My Sweet Summer Shawl starts and ends with 18 stitches. Lacy Lady Shawlette, with 14. And the best one yet is my Zigzag Diamond Shawlette which starts and ends with only 6 stitches. Another great feature is that these types of shawlettes are worked in one piece. The lace edging is knitted along with the garter or stockinette body. It isn’t added on later. Plus, these patterns usually only require one skein of yarn. Perfect for that single skein of luxury fibre or hand-dyed yarn, right?

Often, these shawlettes are knitted in a fingering weight yarn on larger needles. Both my Sweet Summer Shawl and Zigzag Diamond Shawlette were designed in SweetGeorgia Cashluxe Fine, a merino/cashmere/nylon blend, and knitted on US size 6, or 4 mm, needles. Using a wool or wool blend yarn and wet blocking it is the key to achieving the shawlette’s finished size and gauge, opening the lace pattern, and making it as light as a feather around your shoulders. We know that wool will conform to any shape you choose when it is wet. And it will stay that way after it dries (until it becomes wet again). So. let’s take a look at how it’s done.

Here is a ‘before’ photo of my Zigzag Diamond Shawlette, fresh off the needles:

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Weave in the ends, and then gather this equipment: a bowl (or you can use the sink!), water, some wool wash such as Soak or Eucalan, a towel to remove as much moisture as possible, and blocking tools. I will use pins and blocking boards to block this shawlette.

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Soak the shawlette in cool water and wool wash. Soak it long enough for the fibre to become saturated.

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Remove it from the water and gently squeeze the water out of it. Lay it flat on a towel and roll it in the towel, gently squeezing more moisture out.

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Now it’s time to start pinning it out on the blocking boards. Piece the boards together into a shape that will accommodate the finished size of the shawlette. You can do this on a tabletop, or the floor. Start by pinning the long edge to the finished length measurement.

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Next, pull the centre point down and pin it to the finished middle point measurement. Pin every third or fourth point, working your way toward each end, in the desired shape.

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Then, pin all of the points in between. You might also need to add more pins now to the straight edge if it is being pulled by the pinned points. Use as many pins as needed to get a straight edge. I use a lot!

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Here is what my shawlette looks like once all of the pins have been placed.

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Oh, and I almost forgot…. There is one more piece of equipment that you might need for this process before you are completely done. If you live with furry friends who love to assist you while blocking, a lint brush becomes a necessary tool!

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That wasn’t so hard was it? Remember that ‘before’ photo? Here it is again, beside the ‘finished’ photo. What a difference blocking makes!

Here are a few links to my favourite blocking articles if you need more info:

“Knit.101: Beginner Basics: Blocking” – http://www.vogueknitting.com/pattern_help/how-to/learn_to_knit/finishing/blocking.aspx

“How to Block Knitting” – http://knitting.about.com/od/learntoknit/a/blocking_knits.htm

“To Block or Not to Block” - http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEwinter02/FEATdiyknitter.html

Michelle

It’s a Spring Shawlette!

Here is a beautiful new pattern just in time for spring. It’s a light and airy shawlette: the Zigzag Diamond Shawlette. It is designed in SweetGeorgia CashLuxe Fine and is shown here in Riptide.

This shawlette is worked in one piece from end to end. The lace edging is knit along with the body of the shawl. Only 6 stitches are cast on to begin and increases are worked throughout the setup and increase sections. Then decreases are worked through the decrease and finishing sections to bring the final number of stitches back to 6. The body of the shawl is stockinette stitch and the zigzag diamond lace pattern is super easy to work.

One skein, or approximately 400 yards, of fingering or sock yarn is all that is needed to make this gorgeous shawlette. The size is adjustable though, depending on how much yarn is used. Weigh your yarn ahead of time, using a small kitchen scale. Half will be used for the setup and increase sections and half will be used for the decrease and finishing sections.  Use more yarn to make a larger shawlette, or less to make a smaller one.

Blocking is important to open the lace pattern and to achieve the finished size. If substituting yarn, choose a fibre that blocks well.

IMG_7706My test knitters have created beautiful shawlettes with Madelinetosh Merino Light, KnitPicks Stroll and Stroll Tonal, Malabrigo Finito, Vice Carnal, and SweetGeorgia CashLuxe Fine in Pumpkin. Check them out!

Michelle

It’s Been A While

It’s been a while since I released a scarf pattern. This one is perfect for these last weeks of winter and first weeks of spring. It’s my Cables & Lace Scarf.

This scarf is wide and not too long. The fabric drapes softly and the cable and lace pattern adds visual interest. The eyelets give the scarf a feeling of lightness and airiness while the cable pattern lends a bit of formality. Size is adjustable. Use more yarn to make a longer scarf. Or, add or remove pattern repeats to make a wider or narrower scarf.

Malabrigo Finito, a beautiful merino wool, is the yarn used for this pattern. It’s soft, light, and feels beautiful against the skin. The colour shown here is Aguas.

As always, this pattern has been tested by my fabulous testers: MDQuilter, nj2, RabbitEars, Kowleen, Sallygayle. Their projects are here.

I hope you enjoy this one!

Michelle

Meet Me At The Loopy Ewe

Want to know more about me? I was recently interviewed by Sheri at the Loopy Ewe. It was a lot of fun! Check out the interview here at her blog: Designer Spotlight. We talked about knitting, designing, my favourite pattern, and lots of other fun stuff. Check it out!

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 11.01.11 AMThere is also a discount code at the end of the interview. Gotta love that!

Happy reading!
Michelle

It’s Malabrigo March Promo Time!

It’s Malabrigo March  in the Malabrigo Junkies group on Ravelry. Seems like the perfect excuse for a sale!

These patterns are on sale for 20% off until March 15th. Use the coupon code MALMARCH2014. This code can be used while shopping here on my website or directly in my pattern store on Ravelry.

These patterns are designed for Malabrigo yarns:

Drawstring Mittens – Chunky
Boxy Cowl - Twist
Lacy Lady Beret - Arroyo
Lacy Lady Shawlette - Arroyo
Lacy Lady Scarf - Arroyo
Coco Cowl - Rios
Bestie Beanie - Merino Worsted
Just A Little Twist - Silky Merino
A Bigger Twist - Merino Worsted

… and soon to be released: Cables & Lace Scarf in Finito (currently being tested here).

The Sweet Summer Shawl pattern is beautiful in Malabrigo Sock. The Heavenly Cowl pattern is gorgeous in Silkpaca. The Boxy Slouchy hat pattern looks great in Arroyo and even Rios. Ocean Mist Socks and Meet Me In The Garden Socks could easily be knit in Sock.

Happy shopping!

Michelle

Like Me, Follow Me, Tweet With Me

I’m excited to announce my new Facebook page!

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Actually, there are two new developments in the ‘Communications Department’ at Leah Michelle Designs. The Facebook page is the first one. Be sure to ‘Like’ my page so that you can keep up with announcements, news, photos, and other interesting info direct to your Facebook news feed. You can also see all of the yarn companies, stores, designers, and other pages that I like and interact with. It’s a fun community of knitting related people and businesses. Plus I love to share great posts and info that I come across.

The second new development is my new email newsletter. You can sign up for my new e-letter to receive news direct to your mailbox about new pattern releases, promos, and all the important goings-on at Leah Michelle Designs. Sign up at the Facebook page by clicking on ‘Email Signup’, or here at the website. This link is also to the right on this page. Your information will never be shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

I’m still active on Twitter – @leahmdesigns. Let’s tweet sometime! There are always great conversations happening there.

I’m building a Pinterest following too – www.pinterest.com/leahmdesigns. I have collections of pins for knitwear, knitting accessories and tools, and I think you will find my boards of tutorials and techniques really helpful.

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And of course you can always follow this blog to stay up-to-date with news and info. If you’d like to contact me by email, click on Contact in the menu above. My email address is leahmdesigns@gmail.com.

Finally, join my Ravelry designer group for great conversation, pattern support, and test knitting opportunities. Come and meet the great folks in our group here.

Happy surfing!

Michelle

Working The Right Twist Stitch (RT) 101

I use the right twist stitch in several of my patterns. I love the look of it and it’s easy to work. You will see it used in these patterns:

Here’s a quick photo tutorial showing how to work this stitch.

Easy, right? The important thing to remember when working this stitch is that, even though you start by knitting two stitches together, this is not a decrease stitch. After following all of the steps you will still have two stitches in the end.

A Bigger Twist

Michelle

I Wish I Had Time To Knit This – my updated list!

It was over a year ago when I first posted here about my ‘I Wish I Had Time To Knit This’ list. This was my list:

I’m pretty flexible and I believe that any good to-do list is a work in progress. So, I think it’s time to revise the list. Oh, and I also believe in adding things to my to-do list that I have already done so that I can have the satisfaction of crossing them off and feeling that I accomplished something. So here it is:

That felt good! Now, here are two new additions to the list that I’m really excited about:

My new year knitting goal is to knit more sweaters for myself. It’s been more than 3 years since I knitted a sweater. I want to learn a variety of new-to-me sweater knitting techniques. Maybe this will lead to some sweater designs in my future? We’ll see!

Michelle

Grafting I-Cord Ends 101

The Royal Cowl pattern uses an i-cord cast on and an i-cord bind off. Each of these techniques gives a beautiful formal edge to the top and bottom of the cowl.

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To complete the sophisticated look, it is important to graft the ends of each i-cord edge together seamlessly. It’s kind of like doing the kitchener stitch. Here’s how.

When the i-cord cast on is complete, the pattern instructions state that the remaining 4 stitches be placed on a small stitch holder or a small piece of scrap yarn. Similarly, there are 4 live stitches left at the end of the i-cord bind off.

Step 1: Place the 4 live stitches on a knitting needle. Thread tail of yarn onto a tapestry needle. Bring the tail through the stitch on the right end of the knitting needle by inserting the tapestry needle through the back of the stitch (as shown below). Lightly pull the yarn through, taking the stitch off the needle.

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Step 2: Moving to the beginning of the i-cord, find the first stitch on the right hand side of the i-cord and insert the tapestry needle from right to left under the two legs at the base of the V of that stitch (as shown below). Pull the yarn through.

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Step 3: Come back to the stitch that was taken off the knitting needle. Insert tapestry needle into the top of that stitch from right to left. Continue to bring the tapestry needle under and through the next live stitch on the knitting needle (as shown below). Slip it off and pull yarn through.

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Step 4: Move back to the beginning of the i-cord and insert tapestry needle into the next stitch from right to left under the narrowest part of the V of that stitch, as in Step 2. Pull yarn through.

Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until all stitches have been worked.

Step 5: Insert tapestry needle into into the top of the last live stitch that was taken off of the knitting needle. Thread it through the cowl to the wrong side (as shown below), if not already on the wrong side. Secure with a knot on the wrong side and weave in the end.

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Repeat these instructions to graft the other i-cords ends together. The result is a beautiful, seamless i-cord edge.

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Michelle

A Touch of Royalty

It’s time for a new pattern release, just in time for the holidays. It’s the Royal Cowl pattern!

The Royal Cowl is made up of alternating cable stitches which creates a dense, textured, and warm fabric. The pattern also uses a new cast on technique and a new bind off. The i-cord cast on and the i-cord bind off each make a formal, structured bottom and top edge, making this a truly royal looking cowl! I love these neat and tidy, symmetrical edges. The pattern contains easy to follow instructions for the cast on and bind off. It also includes a photo tutorial for grafting the i-cords ends making the seam on each truly invisible. Watch for the tutorial on this blog in the coming weeks.

As always, it’s the yarn that makes each of my patterns. This time I used Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted. It is a wool, silk, and cashmere blend which is critical to comfort for anything worn around the neck, right? The colours shown in the photos above are Tart, Antique Lace (my favourite!), and Cousteau.

Thank you to my wonderful Royal Cowl testers: MDQuilter, JStockert, Birdsrus, NokNoy, HotCraftyGirl, meg7219, and nj2 – check out their cowls here.

It’s not too late to get one last Christmas knitted gift done – happy holiday knitting!

Michelle