Sunday, February 5, 2012

A project for Cuba

Havana Cuba January brought a quick trip to Cuba.   This was a pure R & R trip.  With only seven days, the idea was to sit on a beach.  Oh, sure, I admit to having a weak, ill-thought out plan to find the bee hummingbird (the smallest hummingbird in the world) but once I saw the beach, that quest was put away for another trip. We did manage to drag ourselves to Havana for a short day where I found a group of women learning to knit, but then it was back to the beach and a couple of novels.
[PhotoA group of women
knitting in downtown Havana]
With hours of flights and just as many getting to the airport and sitting waiting for the plane, I decided I needed a project and since I am behind in my spinning homework, I thought it wise to pick a project that would get me a little further ahead in my homework.  For my major project this year, I have to spin a yarn and then knit or weave it into something.  From start (preparing the fleece) to finish (a usable product), the project should take 50 hours.  I have so far spent 25 hours sampling (1 hour), cleaning and teasing fleece (8hrs), blending and carding (4hrs)  fibres (40% mohair, 40% alpaca and 20% silk), preparing skeins for dying (2 hrs), mordanting (1 hr) and dying the skeins (4 hrs), plus 1 hour on calculations.  This was to be for a woven scarf, but at the end of all this work, my weft which was to be a soft pink turned into a rather gaudy, vibrant, purple.  I had enough purple for a scarf in itself.  I was still happy with the yarn a soft 2 ply suitable for weaving or knitting lace.  So if the planned weft was too harsh to go with the soft, subtle colours of the warp, then knitting would be a good alternative, except I can't knit anything more complicated than knit and purl and even then my knitting is questionable.  This I decided was the perfect time to learn how to knit and knit lace at that.
[PhotoMy first lace knit project]
So I 'googled' beginner knit lace and found this pattern from    Perfect.  The description says it is good for beginners.  that's all the time I had to read before printing the chart, downloading a 'How to Knit ' app for the I-phone (complete with how-to videos, and packaging my purple yarn off I went to Cuba.
I want to point out a couple of items of interest in my photo of my WIP (Work in progress).  First, note the turquoise thingy, it is a Knit Kit, advertised as 'never lose your knit knacks ever again'.  I bought it from Knotty by Nature on my way to the airport, and am so glad I did.  It has a row counter, crochet hooks for those darned stitches you drop by accident, stitch markers, tape measure and even scissors apparently approved for air travel (personally, I think it is because they fold so cleverly that the x-ray machine can't see the sharp pointy bits).  If you are a knitter, never leave home without it.  The second thing I want to point out, is if you look closely about an inch below my needle is a blue yarn sewn into the knitting.  It's called a lifeline and it is. My knitting has improved but I tore apart the first 3 inches probably a dozen times, and even now, with a seasoned 164 rows behind me, I knit three rows ahead and often rip five rows back.  The lifeline allows me to rip back to the start of my ten row repeat pattern.  Every ten rows I use the handy dandy darning needle which came withe the Knit Kit and darn through the row.  Then when I have to rip out a few rows to get back on track, I can rip away right back to the lifeline without having any lost/dropped stitches.
On getting back home, I went back to to re-read everything and that's when I realized this wasn't actually a 'beginner's' beginner's project, it was for advanced beginners who are ready to tackle something more difficult. As the instructions say 'So, once you've knit this scarf you can knit just about any lace pattern.'  
And it is true ....I think.


  1. Good for you, Liz! I've always thought that a lifeline seems such a great idea, but when I get going, I never seem to take time to thread one through.

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