Wednesday, April 20, 2016

getting started: birth of a Big Lacy Thing with Beads

I started with the enchanted and enchanting belly button cast on. Well, no, I started with the dreaded disappearing loop cast on, but after working it seven or eight times with unsatisfactory results and before heaving yarn, needles, pattern, and laptop out the window, I decided to stop tormenting myself and switched to the belly button. It worked on the first try.

I think I've learned my lesson. I'll do the belly button first from now on.

the perfect purple belly button

For the uninitiated, this piece is started from the middle and worked outward. "Casting on" is what you do to get those first stitches onto the needles. When you start from the center, you start with a very few stitches arranged around four double-pointed needles, and use a fifth needle to work them. All of this is managed with two hands. And now I feel some math coming on....

Five needles > two hands, and when you factor in fine yarn, tiny stitches, and skinny little needles that slide out of the tiny stitches, the end result = language I wouldn't share with my mother.

sad, sad disappearing loop cast on heard all the bad words

The belly button solves all this. You use a nice  heavy yarn, get it started on just two needles, then work in the round for a few rows 'til you have a nice firm tube as a foundation. Then change to your project yarn, leaving the end hanging, and just keep going. You remove the belly button later and tighten up the central stitches with that dangling free end. VoilĂ ! A perfect in-the-round cast on.  I love the belly button.

deceptively fast at first
Progress seemed fast at first. I zoomed around that central star, placing my oh-so-carefully chosen beads as I went. Then I put stitches on hold on three sides of the central star while I worked double leaf motifs back and forth going out to the side, until I had a total of fifteen (including the central ones). For the sake of symmetry, I repeated the process on the opposite side. At about the fourth repeat on the second side, I realized it would have looked just as symmetrical with three or four fewer repeats, but there was no turning back. Besides, fewer repeats would make a shorter stole, and I want to be able to wrap it around my ampleness a couple of times.

a zoomed-out view. 15 sets of leaves on each side may be excessive

But now it's a few days later. I've finished all the pesky leaf motifs and moved on with my life. I picked up nearly 500 stitches (yes, that's a five followed by two zeros) along the long, long, 15-motifs-long side pieces, scooped up the live stitches waiting on the sides of the central star, and now I'm knitting this whole long skinny rectangle in the round! Of course, a long skinny rectangle is a far cry from a circle, so this presents its own set of challenges (no bad language was required), but now that I'm 10 rows in, it's getting easier...and I have a beautiful blue baguette to show you.

blue baguette

Yeah, I know, it doesn't look like much. The thing with lace is that it requires blocking to be at its best. Blocking is done to almost all knitting after it's finished. It involves soaking the item in water, then stretching it gently to the desired shape and size. With lace knitting, the stretching is not gentle. You pull on it in every direction until it can't possibly be pulled any more, then pin it down and let it dry. It's a near-miraculous transformation. But for now, we're going to be deliriously happy with the beaded blue baguette.


  1. Kim, I no you knit lots of beautiful things, but this absolutely amazing

    1. Thanks, Catherine! This is a fun one :)


Thanks for writing! I love hearing from you.