Foggy Sunset

Foggy Sunset
Photo by Aisling Doonan

Monday, 29 July 2013

A Princess's Progress - Part One

Ok, so the Princess (The Princess Shawl by Sharon Miller) is a very patient shawl.  She has led a very quiet and unassuming life up to this point.  Mostly ignored, hidden away from view at the very bottom of my knitting bag, tolerantly waiting for me to pick her up and give her some much needed attention.  My poor Princess, she doesn't ask for much.

So why have I left her languishing so bravely in the bottom of a cotton sack?  I cast on in 2009 with about half the knitting and lace experience that I have now.  I had needles that I wasn't comfortable knitting with (the threadlike gossamer would stick stubbornly to the gap between needle and cord and I would get frustrated and sweaty fingered trying to rectify it) so every row felt like it was a million times longer than it actually was.  I kept having to stop to sprinkle talcum powder on my hands to stop the slickness from the sweat sticking to the yarn and having to jump every stitch over the hump that lay between needle and cord was insufferable.

I did swap needles a few times, from Prym to Addi to Addi Lace (which I know know I have a slight reaction to nickel and the smell of the brass needles drove me to distraction) but nothing felt right.  I even added a blob of superglue to the prym needles to close the gap between needle and cord and this worked for a little while, though knitting still felt like work.

Finally after reaching row 39 of the border I gave up and stuffed the poor Princess into a bag :(

Every now and then I would take her out to have a peep and see if she was ok.  She would stick her little Princess nose in the air and ignore me.  I felt so bad.  Back in the bag she went.

Finally after two years of promising myself I would wear her to Christmas dinner (and failing!) I have taken her out, begged her forgiveness (of which she is having none of) and commenced knitting.

This time around I am better equipped.  I have knit and more importantly *finished* several gossamer thread projects, I now have the *perfect* needles (Chiaogoo Red Lace in 2mm, the joins are smoother than lacquer and they are pointy and joyful to work with.  I bought mine here.) and 800+ stitches per row is a doddle!  Ha!

So I am currently at row 87 of the border and moving quite swiftly through the rows.  On a *really* good day I can manage 10 rows but the average is about 7.  I hope to finish the borders in under 2 weeks and then I can begin the Laurel Leaf insertion.

I'm going to do weekly progress reports from now on as this project has been something of an opus for me and I want to share every step of the way.

Anyone else knitting an opus?

So far so good!

Happy knitting



  1. Needles are always an issue aren't they? Am knitting the Love Darg (my first 1ply)and had to give up the Addi Lace ndls about halfway through the border--too slippery, and the brass too glinty for 1ply (they make my eyes tired really quickly), and the cable too transparent. Ordinarily they are one of my favorite needles (the other being Signature Arts).

    I am now knitting the Love Darg with "Knitter's Pride dreamz". They are wood with a black cable. Each size is a different color, 3mm happens to be caramel colored. They have a long taper and a sharp point, and the wood feels satiny and oiled. It is not slippery, not glinty, and the black cable is perfect for white 1ply.

    I like the Chiagoo with the red cable, but the points are not as tapered and sharp as the Knitter's Pride.And they are metal, so glinty again!

    Knitter's Pride also makes a needle called Karbonz with black needle and cable, which come in lacewt sizes, but not as sharp as the dreamz.

    So that's my 2 cents worth....

    Let me add that one of the needles on my dreamz circulars (I have two pr) was not as sharp as the others. I took a piece of 600 grit sandpaper and filed it gently to a nice point. Then I stuck it in my hair and "oiled" it up again by rubbing it through a thick hank of my hair. Perfect!

    I got that tip from a Raveler who does that to her Addi Lace needles when they've sat around too long and gotten a little sticky and tarnished. Dirty hair works best--LOL

    You can also do the sandpaper trick on bamboo needles that have an unpleasant rasp to them. Bamboo is a grass and made up of hollow cells. Sometimes when the needles are made they are just turned the wrong way and cells exposed in such a way to rasp against each other. Sandpaper them out, they'll feel better.

    You can also stick bamboo needles in a good pencil sharpener, only sizes 5-6.5mm seem to work. Others are too small or too big. Be careful though, that you you don't get yourself too sharp of a needle point tip! That's uncomfortable to work with....

    1. I have tried and been happy with a variety of different needles over the years, but I find that when you are using 2mm or smaller every little nick and mark is exacerbated and they become impossible to use. Thankfully there are some really good smooth needles with perfect joins and my favourites are the Chiaogoo red lace and the hiya hiya bamboo.

      Brilliant tip on the hair! I'll definitely remember that and use it, thanks :)