FO

Bobbin Lace, Lesson 6

First finished piece of bobbin lace

I have now finished one whole piece of lace! Woohoo! This little edging was finished off during lesson 6, last weekend — I had to ask my teacher to show me how to stop or else I was just going to have to keep on until the end of time. You’ll notice a bundle of thread ends there; my teacher explained that if I was going to apply the lace to something that would be used, I would have to learn how to sew in ends and deal with them properly. That was enough incentive to just frame this, my first finished piece, for which I only have to thread those ends through my backing fabric, tie off to secure, and hide them back there that way. I won’t do anything permanent until I find the right frame, but I plan to back it with this charm square of Denyse Schmidt fabric.

I should’ve taken a close-up of just that corner, with the threads, but if you click through to the larger version on Flickr, you can actually see the improvement I made over the course of this project. The ‘heart’ directly below those loose threads was where I started, the ‘heart’ to the left is where I finished. My tension improved enormously as I worked, I’m so very proud! (By the way, the fabric in the center is a tiny piece of Liberty Tana Lawn, and the 20p coin is to show how very small this bit of lace is. The center is only 1.5″!)

First finished piece of bobbin lace
Bobbin lace bookmark WIP

Now I’ve started working on a bookmark in red and pink, with a different kind of fan along the edges. For this, I was given written instructions and told to try and follow them myself – I got a little confused at first, but kind of understood, and I’m proud to say that I managed to remind myself with the written pattern when I got home and had forgotten what to do.

Bobbin lace bookmark WIP

Again, I can already see improvement as I work here – I don’t know if you’ll be able to squint past the pins, but if you follow the red curves on the fan edges, you can see that they’ve become much less messy already. I worked the top left fan first, and those curves are all over the place; the most recent worked was the bottom right, which has much neater and, well, curvy curves.

Bobbin Lace tools

I’m also very proud to report that I have now made enough progress to have tools of my very own! My teacher was kind enough to lend me spare tools until now, to make sure I actually enjoyed doing bobbin lace before investing money into equipment, which was so sensible. I’ve done enough now to know for sure that I want to continue, so my teacher arranged some second-hand tools for me and I treated myself to the above tools from the very kind Paul at PDH Woodturning. Paul’s handmade tools are so beautiful and special, I’m so excited to work with them! Not related to lace, but maybe the handiest tool of the bunch is that little stand that my spool of thread is sitting on – I don’t know if these have a special name, but it’s basically exactly as it looks – it holds my spool handily while I hand-sew, and I’ve already been using it as I stitch the binding onto my now nearly-finished Mod Sampler quilt. More on the quilt very soon, but seriously, anyone with any hand-stitching to do should have one of these spool holder-thingamys in their sewing box!

Taking control of the WIPs.

About 10 minutes after I sent off my last post, I started to feel completely overwhelmed by the ridiculous amount of WIPs I had going. I didn’t even tell you about the lace stole at the bottom of my knitting basket (the one I only knit a few inches at a time every 6 months or so), or the socks I’m not sure I want to continue. Um, or the quilts and rag rug I’ve got started and not finished. Enough is enough. Every once in a while, I do this crazy thing to myself where I start a million projects for fun and then am almost immediately overwhelmed and bummed out by them. Fellow crafters, why do we do this to ourselves? Why?!

So I decided I better take back control of at least the knitting. I’ve started to work on new designs and the last thing I need is guilt from my knitting basket slowing me down. My usual method is to put aside the larger projects for the moment, and intensely focus on the things I can finish quickly and get out of the pile. So I haven’t knitted anything on Terra all week (though did luckily bump into someone destashing the exact yarn I’m using for that one, so now I should have plenty to make a nicely large shawl), or Umaro (which, unfortunately, hasn’t been so lucky – the long-since discontinued Debbie Bliss Merino Chunky is absolutely impossible to come by now, so it looks like I’m going to have to start over with fewer stitches to get a suitable lap blanket length), or my brother’s cardigan.

Instead, I focused my attention on my Primavera Socks, started back in my Christmas knitting binge. As is often the case, the second sock was less exciting than the first, and they’d been lingering too long. I took them to my knitting-at-the-pub group last night and announced that I wasn’t allowed to go to bed until the pair was finished. One repeat later, I really wanted to switch over to a new project. But The Knitters encouraged me to finish and so I did – before bedtime, even!

FO: Primavera socks

And so glad I can finally just wear them already. I’m totally madly in love with these socks – the pattern’s genius, easy to work but oh-so-pretty to look at, the yarn (Trekking XXL) is so warm and bright, and they fit absolutely perfectly. And even better, this was stash yarn, waiting for a use since 2007. Oy! I’m not officially stashbusting or anything, but I am trying to knit from it as much as I can right now. No particular reason, just trying to find the perfect uses for those yarns I loved enough to stash in the first place. It’s very satisfying when you finally find just the right project.

FO: Primavera socks

Also from the stash is the Big Herringbone Cowl I mentioned the other day. This Noro Cash Iroha was also stashed in 2007, bought during one of those awesome John Lewis yarn sales. I bought all they had, 3 skeins, which turned out to be a really odd amount. Not quite enough for most shawls, too much for most cowls. This project was finally the exact perfect one – it won’t be quite as huge as the original (I cast on 10 fewer stitches and I’m estimating it’ll be about 11″ wide in the end) but is a dreamy match for the pattern.

WIP: Big Herringbone Cowl

I’m concentrating on this one next, because I only started it Sunday and I’ve already started my last skein of yarn. I knitted the first two up in about one evening each, a little longer. It’s such a fun pattern, it just flies by once you get the hang of the herringbone stitch. So I’m not sure it’s totally possible, but I’m going to set a can’t-go-to-bed-until-it’s-done goal on this one today and see how far I get. Think I can do it?

Float On (FO)

Float On (FO)

Viola, it’s finished! There’s not too much to tell about this project, I did make an effort to blog whatever I could about the process as it happened. It wasn’t that interesting a process anyway – once I finally found the right thread, I just stitched away. The only thing vaguely worth mentioning was some trouble with my disappearing ink pen at the last minute – I don’t know the brand, but those ones with the purple top? I made some light corner markings to see where to trim for the frame, as well as some spacing for my little stitched signature. Five days later, the ink had lightened into a pale brown that wasn’t budging. In case you have a similar problem, a tiny bit of soap with cool water will do the trick. Stupid not-disappearing-properly pen.

Float On (FO)

I’ve added a signature in my little way – I do try to make it work with the rest of the project in an unobtrusive way, rather than just plopped in the corner – and you’ll see it’s not just me that worked on this one. I think it’s only fair that Modest Mouse get the credit they deserve for writing the line in the first place, back in 2004, in their single “Float On” (amazing video, by the way). I love this song because it’s optimistic, but in a realistic sort of way. It doesn’t say that everything’s going to be amazing and everyone will be happy forevermore. It says that things will indeed suck sometimes, but it’s not the end of the world. And I’ve always especially loved this line, which changes up the chorus just by a few words but in a way that really feels like things will be fine. It’s like it’s marching on in defiance. No matter how often I hear it, that one line always makes me feel like things will all work out ok in the end. And that can’t be a bad thing to have up on the wall, right?

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