Category Archives: Cashmere Lace Shawl


Shawl. Unpinned, spread out and patted flat. My final size prediction was spot-on.

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As you can see from the before picture – blocking lace is A Good Thing.

Now only one challenge remains. Where the heck would I wear such a thing? I’m not a shawl-wearing type person. They tend not to go with work boots, jeans, and polo shirts (my standard uniform). Which is the origin of today’s title. Name for the shawl itself? “Woven Diamonds” has been suggested.

It has also been suggested that I publish a real pattern for Woven Diamonds. I’ve got working notes and I’ve already charted the stitch designs, but writing up a full pattern would be a challenge. For example, describing how to fudge the ease around the corners on the edging, or how to do the final graft – neither would be easy. Given that I wouldn’t recommend this as a first lace project, I’m unsure how much previous lace experience I would have to assume any knitter would have.

Would you make such a thing? What level of detail would you need in a pattern?

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I stole a bit of time today to get my brown/gray shawl pinned out and blocking. Lace is INCREDIBLY stretchy – or at least if knit from a good wool, alpaca, or other animal fiber – it should be. Here it is in an optically challenging presentation thanks to the rally check sheets I use as an alignment aid:

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The checks make it very hard to see, but you can make out a bit more of the pattern now in the detail shot. I promise more pix tomorrow, and I’ll take those on a plain white background.

Now how stretchy is lace? My unblocked piece was approximately 39 inches across. See those checks? They’re 2 inch squares. My shawl is pinned out to be a square of approximately 60 inches on a side. My guess is that it will spring back somewhat after it’s dry. I’ll probably end up with something closer to 54 inches on a side (about 4.5 feet across).

We also made significant progress on the final stage of our bathroom renovation this weekend. Here you see The Resident Male exercising his inner artist. Before you write to me with safety tips, please note that we’ve got about 2 inches of closed cell camping mattress pad topped with another layer of bath towel underneath the no-slip tarp in the tub. The ladder is stable, and won’t mar the surface beneath its feet. Plus the ceiling is so low that no one has to climb above the second step to reach it.


As to the color – I don’t know if you can make out the difference given the variability among monitors, but the ceiling is bright white, and the walls are barely green. Not mint, not pistachio. Think three gallons of milk with one drop of food coloring. It’s my hope that they will contrast nicely with the white tile underparts and fixtures, echo (just barely) the green tile accent stripe, green stone sink top, greenish tint of the glass shower door, and make the green (rather than the yellow) in the stained glass window pop out more.

Even though it’s shrouded in protective plastic, you can see that the refinishing of the window and its replacement in the wall have both accomplished. A special merit badge for chemical management (with scrapers rampant) to he who did that work. Goodbye ugly mustard yellow enamel paint! And good riddance.

Comments Problems

We’re having intermittent problems with the comments feature that screens out automatic postings. Sometimes if you go to enter your comments the little “type what you see here” box isn’t displaying. If you want to leave a comment please scroll down and make sure that you can see that box before you begin typing. If it’s not there, try reloading the screen. We’re not quite sure what’s happening, although we’re working on it. When he’s not elbow deep in brushes and rollers, The Resident Male (website plumber par excellence) is busy applying his biggest software wrenches to wiseNeedle’s pipes. Apologies for any/all inconvenience.

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Lead a Horse to Water Department

Reminder – every NYT file I posted a link to earlier this week is free-for-view to people registered at the New York Times website. I didn’t pay a cent to look at any of them. If you are getting a paid access message it means you are not logged in. Go to the main NYT page and register. It’s free. I’ve been a member since the site went live and not once in all that time have I received spam traceable to that source.

Cashmere Lace Shawl

It’s done! Here it is in the not-so-harsh light of a cloudy morning, unblocked but patted flat on a white rug:


It measures approximately 100cm (39 inches) square in this state. I’m sure blocking will add another couple of inches as it stretches. Some detail shots, too!

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The patterns were adapted from charts appearing in The Knitted Lace Patterns of Christine Duchrow, volumes I and III. I’m pleased with the way my corners worked out. They’ll display better under blocking, but the designs meet up at the corners without truncation. The edging is a bit narrow to be in proportion, but I think that blocked it will also display better.

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Progress on my shawl!


I’m finishing up the edging along Side #3, in preparation for Corner #3. Then it’s the mad dash along the final side. It’s taking a little over week per side, so I expect to be done by the end of next week. Then the sorry thing gets added to my blocking pile, which has itself become an embarrassment.

Now is the part of any project that I find the hardest. No new challenges, just more of the same, with the siren call of other things beckoning me away. For example, there’s the Resident Male’s Galaga hat. I need to finish that before cold weather sets in. And the quickie strip scarf out of black Merino Lace. That was begun as an interim project until I could finish the big shawl. There are other half-finished things from The Chest of Knitting Horrors(tm) that I really need to finish, too. Like my dragon-skin Rogue. Older Daughter is looking pained about it.

But (and I’m sure my fellow flitterwing knitters will understand) there’s something that’s calling to me. In the back of the Duchrow #3:


there are six hand-drawn charts included as an appendix. They’re not well documented, and use slightly different symbols than the more formal repros in the rest of the book. The key and few accompanying notes are not only in German, they are a medium-quality photocopy of the pattern author’s hand-written script. That makes them very difficult to decipher, especially considering that I don’t read German. Marginalia names the author of the appendix charts as Gertrud Weywod, a “contemporary of Christine Duchrow.” I’ve done some cursory searching for more info on her, to find out if anyone else has worked these patterns up; and to see if any of her work was ever published professionally in her own day. So far, I haven’t turned up anything, but again – I can’t read German and don’t have access to much in the way of German-language libraries. If you’ve heard of this pattern author, please let me know. I’m itching to find out more.

As you can tell, these patterns fascinate me. Several are floral rather than geometric, and most of them are very complex. One of the simpler ones reminds me strongly of some double running stitch and counted band patterns from patternbooks published in Germany in the 1520s.

I think I’ve deduced what most of Weywod’s graph symbols mean. Using those assumptions I’ve translated one of the graphs to modern notation. I’m proofing it now – doing the calculations to see if given each row’s stitch counts, increases, and decreases, whether or not my assumptions are knit-able. I’ve also got some lovely sage green laceweight – another gift from Friend Dena. So it’s pretty much a given that by the middle of the fall, I will have fallen to a new challenge, and will be hopelessly fuddled working out the Weywod patterns.

But first I have to finish my shawl, and that hat, and all that blocking…

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First some administrivia. This site has been under massive attack by comment and trackback spammers. As a result, we’ve totally disabled the trackback feature, and limited comments to the most current three months of entries. We have also instituted a protected comment system to prevent automated spammers. But since the crowd that visits here doesn’t appear to be particularly chatty, that shouldn’t be a problem. We’ve also updated the software that runs the infrastructure of the blog. Whenever a set of changes of this magnitude is undertaken, it’s going to take a few days before the bugs are ironed out. Apologies if you tried to consult these pages and received error messages. We’re working on the remaining nits as fast as we can. Special thanks to The Resident Male – website plumber extraordinaire for the hours he’s put in wrestling with these issues.

In the mean time, knitting here continues. Friend Dena was amazingly generous, giving me more of the gray/brown laceweight (also lots of other goodies destined for some more over the top lace projects). Ten thousand thanks! Armed with more yarn, I’ve been able to work more on the big shawl. I’m rounding the second corner and on the back stretch. No pix today though. It looks much as it did last week – a frothy gray/brown object too unblocked to see well.

It turns out that this blog serves a major purpose that I didn’t really appreciate. I am not good at cataloging what exactly I do as I fudge my way through a project. I was careful to note the pattern and mechanism I was using for the framing area of my shawl, but I hit on the edge pattern during the time I was stretched thin and didn’t have time to write up entries. Therefore I didn’t make a written note of where that edging pattern came from and what I did to adapt it for this piece. Since I also set the shawl aside when I ran out of yarn, I had lost my thread of continuity on it. It took me a couple of days before I located the edging that I was using and figured out what I had been up to. It’s from the first volume of Duchrow reprints compiled by J. and K. Kliot:


I now present it here as much to keep track of what the heck I’m up to for myself, as for others to play with. The pattern I’m using appears on Page 35. The original stumped me a bit because I couldn’t make the last three stitches work out correctly. According to the book, every row should end with a SSK, K2 – but I find that working the “uphill” side of my triangular dags, I have room for a plain K3, and on the “downhill” side as the dag narrows back, I have room for a K2tog, K3 – but need to cheat, working the first stitch on the wrong side return row as a P2tog to preserve the visual line of the narrow strip at the outer edge of my border.


The pattern page (click on image above to get a readable version) presents both the original from the book, translated into modern notation; and my adaptation.

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O.K. Where have I been? Here, but totally snowed under at work. In the corners of time between deadlines, some progress on the home front was made.

After a series of two steps forward/one step back mishaps involving subcontractors (all made good by the general contractor at no cost besides delay time, and the extra effort of a bit more repainting than we planned), the bathroom renovation is now 90% done. All of the fixtures and tiling is complete and the room is functional. I’m particularly pleased with way things have turned out, in spite of the delays.

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All that remains is finishing the woodwork and painting the upper part of the walls. We’re doing those things ourselves, including stripping paint from our door and stained glass window (both missing in the photos above), staining both to match the rest of the room’s wood. At this point, we’ve finished staining and finishing the in-place part of the cabinetry, plus the window frame and the frame around our mirror. We’ve done the first pass stripping on the door. The window is stripped and sanded, and has been stained. The upper cabinet’s doors and shelves have been stained and are awaiting finishing, and we’re in the middle of staining the doors and shelves in the lower cabinet.

On the knitting front, I’ve got a ton of things I need to block. I finished the baby blanket, am almost done with the gray/brown lace shawl, and finished a small lacy doodle. I also have quite a few projects from earlier this year to pin out and/or block. Here’s proof that the baby blanket is done, although not yet blocked or mailed.


On the lace shawl, as predicted, I ran out of yarn. But Friend Dena has graciously offered up a some more to complete. As you can (sort of) see below, all I need to do is finish the final edging.


The doodle was to try out a pattern in one of the lace books I gave myself for my birthday – Old World Treasures by

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I am not a big fan of prose directions, but although unorthodox these are pretty clear. However I did note that the photograph of the piece that accompanies the pattern I tried is not a literal representation of the pattern as written. The photograph clearly shows a much deeper section of the final petaled shapes, involving at least four more repeats of the design as written, with some sort of accompanying increase to account for the ever increasing diameter of the piece. Although my unblocked lace doodle is difficult to make out, you can see that the final petals between the two orange lines appear to be less tall than same area in the book’s photo. Obviously blocking is in order here, too.

I’m now doodling with some black Skacel Merino Lace, trying out some of the patterns from the German Language Kunst-Stricken (Knitted Lace). In this case, the patterns are graphed, using a block and triangle system that’s not standard, but not difficult to read. I find them easier than the typography based system used in the Duchrow books. Duchrow’s numeral 1s and German lower case letter ls are particularly confusing to me.) The charts in Knitted Lace however are particularly tiny. The visually challenged might like to either regraph or use photo enlargement. I chose to regraph.


Here’s my progress from last night. I’ve chosen an insertion pattern (shown in the book as dual insertions meant for use on a decorative linen pillowcase), and a simple zig-zag lace edging used in the book as a handkerchief embellishment. Needless to say, I just started with the insertion, but I’ve played with the pattern somewhat. I changed the side to side framing, and I chose to tinker with the diamond centers. Rather than doing all in the heavily eyeleted lower style, I’ll either alternate that with the one above, or figure out a bunch more variants as I progress. My goal is to make a scarf about 8 inches wide and about five feet long, or as long as I can get out of my one 1375 yard skein of Merino Lace.

I’m not entirely sure I’ll keep this intact. I’m leaning towards reworking the thing on a larger size needle to make it a bit more lacy.

Oh. My advice on knitting lace from black thread-weight yarn?


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I posted a correction to the companion border for my shawl, previously posted a couple of days ago. To minimize confusion, I’ve updated the files on the original page, rather than re-post them here. I’m up to Row 15, and in working it – spotted an error mid-row. All fixed now.

On the home front, we’ve got walls and the beginnings of a tile floor now in our new bathroom. Everything is working along swimmingly. I’m happy just seeing the fresh hex tile on the floor in place of patchwork scuffed, curling, mustard yellow vinyl.

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Next step is grouting and sealing the tile floor, then it’s on to the tiled wainscoting and built-in storage cabinet (on the partial wall, dead ahead in the left hand image, above).

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Some (minimal) progress on my lace shawl, knitting from the framing area chart presented in my last post. Other than that – a quick post in passing, because I’ve been stacked at work with little time for knitting in the evenings or weekends.

So far, the corner miters appear to be working. The blue marker below indicates a corner point. There’s one plain knit stitch on either side of it, making a column radiating diagonally out from the center basketweave area. Moving away from the marker, the yarn overs immediately adjacent to those two stitches are the ones highlighted in my chart. The green YO coming just before the corner, and the blue YO right after it.


You can also see the double YO insertion between the basketweave area and the more solid areas above. I like that detail, too.

Once work chaos clears, expect a sojourn in blocking land, because I’ve got a totally full to-be-blocked basket. Also reports on the baby blanket still in swatching stage.

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The shawl continues to grow. My center is very busy. I thought that the final piece would look nice if I used a complementing frame of a more solid appearance. After paging through lots of lacy knitting books and pattern treasuries and finding nothing that sang to me for this purpose, I decided that I needed to make up my own design for the framing phase of my gray-brown shawl (curiously gray in natural light, and tobacco under artificial light).

I came up with this (click on it to see it full size):



I’ve taken the center diamonds that fill the interstices in the basketweave and framed them with an interlace two “lace bars” deep (the basketweave sports lace bar elements that are four deep. I’ve got the thing charted out alternating solid centers with the diamond centers, but I am not sure if I’ll keep that or fill all of the centers with diamonds. Also, no I didn’t make a mistake. I deliberately cut off the pointy tips of the outermost lace bar unit. I charted it out both ways, but preferred the snipped tips. I think that one tiny detail adds to the horizontal focus of the piece.

A real challenge in doing this was to come up with something that would work well both with my established stitch count (upped one to 52 per repeat to aid symmetry, with the required stitches to make the repeat count and corner picked up on one plain knit row just before commencing), and that would play nicely with a mitered corner. To do that, natural YO diagonals had to figure somewhere in the pattern, where they were (mostly) unaccompanied by a corresponding decrease. If they were coupled with a decrease, my stitch count for that round would not increase the required 8 per round needed to keep the piece flat. I’ve marked those lines in blue and green on the chart above.

By placing my mitered corners at the indicated points I minimize the need for fudging counts – almost all of the green and blue squares bear a YO anyway (those that don’t I’ll work as one on the corner-most repeat). There are a few rows that might pose problems. – 27, 31, and 35, also 61 and 55. On each of these a blue or green YO needed to form the mitered corner is paired with an immediately adjacent decrease on the “will be worked” side of the diagonal establishing the miter. I’m not quite sure what to do about them, and will experiment when I get that far. Right now I suspect that I’ll need to do a double YO at that those spots in order to maintain stitch count.

So I will continue knitting along, working my framing chart until its completion. After that I might work another row of double YO beading to finish off the section. And then comes choosing (or devising) a suitable edging.

If anyone out there has done this – designing an original lacy knitting mitered corner on the fly – and is now experiencing a forehead-thumping moment because I’ve missed something obvious, please let me know. Your input would be most appreciated!

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No, I haven’t forgotten about the ongoing projects here. I’ve been a bit buried in the usual tumult of work-related deadlines, but progress is being made.

First, on the lace shawl, I finished the center square. When that was done, I picked up stitches all the way around the edges – taking care to pick up the same number of stitches on every side, and indicating the corner points with stitch markers. Then, taking a riff from the Spider Queen, I worked two knit rows, then a purl row, a row of wide eyelets [(K2tog, YO, YO)repeat], followed by another purl row (with P1,K1 in the double eyelets) and two more rows of knit. I interrupted that patterning with a standard odd row – YO, K2, YO/even row – all knit corner centered on each corner marker. I did this not only because I like the framing look of the big eyelet bands, but also because that row is good for disguising any oddness necessary that might arise in forcing equal stitch count pick-ups along all sides.

I’ve now got four equal sides, each 153 stitches long, with clearly defined corner points. Since it’s now on one big circ, it looks vaguely snood-like:


I’ve also got another conundrum. what to do next…

As I knit the center part, I was thinking of what borders might complement it. Because the basket weave was so geometric I wanted something that had similar lines, but that added a different movement. I found this in the new Duchrow book:Duchrow-3.jpg

At first glance I thought it was knit from edge to edge, rather than longitudinally. I based this on the mirrored center. I thought that with a little play, I could map it to my project. But closer examination of the chart shows that it’s knit strip style – the long way. That’s one problem. Even though I wanted to work this bit center out, I was willing to bend the paradigm and work this pattern along the edge.


But there’s a second problem The graph offers up the repeat, plus a piece that makes the turn backs seen at the strip centerpoints (green indicator on photo above), but offers it for only one orientation – knit beginning at the center turn back and working back towards the corner. I can’t just take the graph and invert it to make that mirrored center. The spots where increases and decreases are formed are not direct cognates. For example, you can’t use a double increase in place of the K3togs that form the top points of the angles if you’re headed in the other direction. It just doesn’t look the same.

It may be that in the accompanying German there are directions on either how to get that flip, or instructions to knit eight half-strips, then sew them together at the centers and along the mitered corners (orange indicator on photo above).

So I’m back to thinking on what I can use on this next project stage, riffling through my stitch pattern and lace books. I think though I’ll end up rolling my own. I’ve played with lace and texture pattern design before. My design elements are pretty simple (four-stitch moving bars, interlaces, diamonds filling the interstices). Maybe I’ll be able to pull some of the elements from the Duchrow longitudinal piece and apply it to mine, but knit it side to side.

On the bathroom project, it’s one step forward, two steps back and recover. The crew had framed in the shower, but did it to the wrong dimensions (there would not have been enough room for the bathroom door to open next to the sink). Luckily we trust but verify, and pointed out the error in time for it to be fixed.


Moral of the story: I don’t care if they’re professionals. Confirm all measurements yourself as the project progresses. Ask for explanations if you note discrepancies. If the crew’s mumbles seem specious, escalate the issue to the foreman. And if answers are still mushy – to the business owner.

Next big interruption – another spate of work-related deadlines, plus a baby shower gift I didn’t realize would be needed so soon. Perhaps another Oat Couture Curlicue blanket… Stay tuned.

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