Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Valentine's Day is almost here and the Hallmark ads are coming fast and furious!  While I was looking through a variety of materials for my upcoming article on Charitable knitting I came upon a project that I thought would be ideal for Valentines Day.  It is one of 12 designs included in one of Debbie Macomber's "Knit Along with..." series:  Knit Along with Debbie Macomber - Back on Blossom Street. 

Debbie Macomber is the author of the popular Blossom Street fiction series that you may or may not already be familiar with.  Her stories often include knitters (she herself is an avid knitter) and projects which she has followed up with a series of books of patterns inspired by her stories.  Tidbits about the characters in her fiction stories are sprinkled throughout her "Knit Along with..." pattern books which makes it kind of fun.  The Project book patterns are well written and the supportive instructional diagrams are good.  In addition to the project I chose, there are patterns for throws, shawls and some baby items.

The project that caught my eye is named "You're Invited" and it is an edging embellishment designed to affix to a Wedding Invitation.  With a very minor change (color of ribbon woven through it and, of course, the card) I think the project would be ideal for either a Wedding Invitation or Valentine's Day since the two events are closely related, and it sports a heart motif.

With Valentines Day drawing near, I got out my tiniest of needles and my teeny tiny thread  (can't even call it yarn!) and set to work.

Here is a photo of the tiny size #1 needle required for this project.  I put it next to a pencil so those of you who are not knitters can have a relative idea of how small it is.  Kind of like knitting with toothpicks!

I started out using my circular needle, knitting back and forth on it as I would with straight ones, because it was the only size #1  needle I owned.  However, the cable kept getting tangled with the thread (there is not much weight to hold the piece down) so I ended up borrowing some straight needles from my friend after this photo was taken.

There are two rules to remember when working on this piece...

First Rule: wash hands.  I found that having absolutely clean hands was important  because any oil or dirt will transfer to the piece you are working on and this is a white item (there's no hiding dirt in a white item)! Of course, the item in the book was crafted with Ecru colored thread and I chose to use White, none-the-less, washing is important. This proved to be tricky because with our cold weather my hands are very dry.  Invariably I put moisturizer on just before I sat down to work and when I leaned forward to resume my knitting I realized what I had done and repeatedly needed to delay my start. 

Second Rule:  don't consume vast amounts coffee prior to working with teeny tiny needles and teeny tiny thread.  That's all I have to say about that!

Here is how it looked after the first full set of row repeats. You can see the heart on the right side.

Although this is lacework, the smallness of this piece meant it was a relatively quick project to work up.  Also, even though the pattern incorporates a number of slipped stitches and yarn-overs, it was fairly easy to follow. This is due, in part, to the fact that there weren't any "repeats" of the motif in which to lose my place, but it is also because every row (wrong sides as well as right sides) is written out which I find makes it simpler to follow than a pattern that instructs the knitter to do such and such on every wrong side row.  You may remember from one of my prior posts, that I use a copy holder to hold my pattern instructions near eye level, sliding the clear bar down the instructions row by row as I proceed.  It is easier for me to remember where I am when every row is written out.  I am less likely to lose my place when the phone rings, for example, or when I realize that, once again, I have spent too much time knitting and not enough time getting ready for work!  Here is what I am looking at when I am working on lacework pieces:

This brings another helpful hint to mind...when you are working on lace, many books and experts advise the knitter to thread a "lifeline" through the stitches on your needle now and then.  A lifeline is a yarn of contrasting color that holds those stitches as they were on the needle when you knit them - if you make a mistake farther along that requires you to "rip back" (take out) your stitching, this lifeline provides a row to "rip back" to. It is a safety net. I didn't do this on this piece because it was so small and shortly after I took that first photo, I began to daydream and made a mistake.  I ended up ripping it all out and starting over.  Not much of a problem with a small piece - real annoying with a big project!

Eventually, dry handed and caffeine deprived, I finished the embellishment.

I wove a pink satin ribbon through the left edge stitches (it doesn't show up too well in the picture, sorry) and affixed it to the card I made.

Since the project was initially designed for use on a Wedding Invitation I decided to work one up so you could see that as well.  I wove a white satin ribbon through that one.

Here is a close up of the weaving since it is so hard to see.

Once the event the embellishment was made for has passed I think it could have a nice life living on as a bookmark. It is the perfect size for a bookmark, especially if the border were to be replicated on the right hand side so the motif were framed (which, with a bigger yarn might also make a nice scarf...stop me!):

It also might be interesting to search through some stitch guides for other motifs that could be used in a similar manner for other occasions...I'm thinking of teddy bears or rattles for a Baby Announcement or Shower,  fir trees or holly leaves for a Christmas card.  I could go on but I think you understand my train of thought!

Happy Valentines Day everyone!!