20 December 2008


So ... looking over my Ravelry queue and my hardcopy projects-to-be (yeah, it’s a 3-inch binder with printed out patterns), I was zeroing in more and more on the Hanami stole by Melanie Gibbons (you can also find it on Ravelry). About 3 weeks ago I ordered some beads and teeny-tiny crochet hooks from the Beadwrangler – they arrived very quickly; and some Grignasco MerinoSilk from Woolworks, which also arrived promptly in the form of two gigantic hanks. No problem, I thought, I made do without a swift and only a yarn winder for years, so I hung it over the yarn winder to wind it by hand (I didn't have any suitable chair backs, and my husband is not patient enough!). Let me say here also that this is my first lace-weight yarn ever! Winding was slow, but I made reasonable progress – sort of (well, a ball of about 2 inches diameter after winding carefully (!) for over an hour), only the hank started to look more and more like a bird's nest:

With razor-sharp logic I concluded that I had to stop right now, before I made things irreparably un-entanglable, and get a yarn swift. Checking ebay, I found a guy who makes swifts himself; so I ordered one and it arrived from the east coast (I’m in California) in 3 days! In the description of his swifts he says they have the seal of approval from his wife. I heartily concur.

My new favorite gadget - a yarn swift

I was able to save the entangled partial hank.Here are the swift and yarn winder in action (unfortunately, the camera flash blurred the white part of the yarn winder and the white yarn together, but it's there!

Yarn swift and ball winder in action

And this is what I ended up with:

Hank of Grignasco MerinoSilk and the equivalent balls of yarn

The round ball is my own work (approximately 25% of one hank), the smaller, neato ball is the second 25% of the hank, and the large ball represents the other half of the hank. Winding 75% of the yarn using the swift and ball winder together took maybe 15 minutes – versus over an hour for my hand-wound yarn ball! I love my swift already! By the way that yarn is kitten-soft - you touch it and it feels like petting the softest cat you ever had!

So, after finally having the yarn in usable condition, I immediately cast on for the Hanami stole. Boy, the cast-on row must have taken me a good 30 minutes or more – you have to slip a bead onto every other stitch with a tiny crochet hook. After about 20 beads I had the technique down, but I still had to proceed very carefully.

This is the first time I am actually using lace-weight yarn, and I was constantly afraid to either tear it (I’m a tight knitter by nature), or that it would slip off my needles (slick Addis). Those first few rows were downright nerve-wrecking!

Can you see the beads in the cast-on row?

These are the cast-on row and the first 6 garter-stitch rows, with a lifeline after row 5. (The lifeline is the yellow cotton thread just underneath the cable and is thicker than the yarn itself. Ready for the basket-weave pattern.

And some good news: the lace-making retreat organized by the Lacis Museum will take place! You can now sign up for individual days, instead of for the whole retreat.

Take care!

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