Monday, June 30, 2008

Dorothy Day Shawl

Knit on 500 yards of romney yarn, worsted weight, from Wool-E-Farms, color "Mae" (I think that is the name of the sheep) - natural color on #10 circulars.

Dedicated to Dorothy Day, another great woman.
Here she is reading at the farm in Easton, PA

I knit this as if it were 5 panels (but all at once, not sewn together). Three were almost the same except the front two had small crosses near the bottom while the center one had the large cross in the back.

Between them were the two candle panels, which made me think of Dorothy Day, because she is the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. I've lived in the Peter Clavier house in Philly and met my friends there who now run the House of Grace, where they operate a free clinic for the poor in one of the "bad" neighborhoods in the city, and are starting one up in Haiti for the desperately poor.
On TV if someone is Catholic, seems like sooner or later they'll be lighting candles for some reason!

The flame is a take-off on the candle flame pattern, which by itself makes a lovely shawl, but I spaced them out a bit and narrowed them some to make room for the candle sticks.

I'm still charting this one, it's not for the faint-of-heart but not too bad, the three similar panels are easy and the candle one is a lot of repeating of simple patterns, but easy to lose your place in.

Here's what I have so far and I'll update this as I get more time to finish it.

You can think of this shawl as 5 panels all knit at the same time (or maybe do it as a group project and each person knit one panel). The first and last panels are identical, or maybe mirror opposites, simply knit in a stockinette stitch with a small cross near the bottom. The second and fourth panels are the candle panels, and the center panel is very similar to the first and last except with a larger cross pattern centered on the upper part.

Candle Panels
This makes use of a "lifted increase" (thank you my knitlist friends for telling me the name of that one!) around the candle flames so there aren't any unsightly "holes" where we don't want them. It is an unusual stitch but pretty easy to do, especially on the purl ones, but make sure the needle goes into the stitch from the top down)

Row 1: p3, k, p3

Row 2: k3, p, k3

Row 3: p3, k3 into 1*, p3 *[k 3 into 1 = knit, yo, knit into the same stitch]

Row 4: k3, p3, k3

Row 5: p3, k, k3 into 1, k, p3

Row 6: k3, p5, k3

Row 7: p3, k2, k3 into 1, k2, p3

Row 8: k3, p7, k3

Row 9: p3, k3, k3 into 1, k3, p3

Row 10: k3, p9, k3

Row 11: p2, u*, k9, u, p2 *[u = pick up the "bump" of the stitch beneath the current one on the needle, purl that, slip it off, purl the current one as usual - makes an invisible increase]

Row 12: k4, p9, k4

Row 13: u, p2, u, k3, k3 tog*, k3, u, p2, u *[k 3 tog your favorite way, mine is to slip two stitches together from the hand side of the needle (not the point side) then knit the next stitch then pass the two slipped stitches together over the knit one - makes the center one come out on top]

Row 14: k6, p7, k6

Row 15: u, p, k, p2, u, k2, k3 tog, k2, u, p2, k, p, u (you should have 21 stitches now)

Row 16: k3, p, k4, p5, k4, p, k3 (still 21)

Row 17: p3, k3 into 1, p4, k, k3 tog, k, p4, k3 into 1, p3 (19 stitches)

Row 18: k3, p3, k4, p3, k4, p3, k3 (23 stitches)

Row 19: p3, k, k3 into 1, k, p4, k3 tog, p4, k, k3 into 1, k, p3

Row 20: k3, p5, k4, p, k4, p5, k3 (25 stitches)

***************THE REPEATING PATTERN STARTS HERE*******************

BLUE IS THE LEFT CANDLE PATTERN, BLACK IS THE RIGHT CANDLE PATTERN (which is the left candle pattern, reversed), AND RED IS THE CANDLESTICK PATTERN - Notice that there are two stitches between each candlestick once there are more than one of them - they are purled on the right side and knit on the wrong side.

Row 21: [p3, k2, k3 into 1, k2, p 2 tog], [ssk, yo, k, yo, k 2 tog], [p 2 tog, k2, k3 into 1, k2, p3]

Row 22: [k3, p7, k], [p5], [k, p7, k3] = 27

Row 23: [p3, k3, k3 into 1, k3, p], [ssk, yo, k, yo, k 2 tog], [p, k3, k3 into 1, k3, p3]

Row 24: [k3, p9, k], [p5], [k, p9, k3] = 31

Row 25: [p3, k9, p], [ssk, yo, k, yo, k 2 tog], [p, k9, p3]

Row 27: [k3, p9, k], [p5], [k, p9, k3] = 31

Row 28: [u, p, u, k3, k3 tog, k3, u], [ssk, yo, k, yo, k 2 tog], [u, k3, k3 tog, k3, u, p, u]

Row 29: [k5, p7, k2], [p5], [k2, p7, k5] = 33

Row 30: [u, p3, u, k2, k3 tog, k2, u, p], [ssk, yo, k, yo, k 2 tog], [p, u, k2, k3 tog, k2, u, p3, u]

Row 31: [k3, p, k3, p5, k3], [p5], [k3, p5, k3, p, k3] = 35

Row 32: [p3, k3 into 1, p2, u, k, k3 tog, k, u, p2], [ssk, yo, k, yo, k 2 tog], [p2, u, k, k3 tog, k, u, p2, k3 into 1, p3]

Row 33: [k3, p3, k4, p3, k4], [p5], [k4, p3, k4, p3, k3] = 39

Row 34: [p3, k, k3 into 1, k, p4, k3 tog, p4], [ssk, yo, k, yo, k 2 tog], [p4, k3 tog, p4, k, k3 into 1, k, p3]

Row 35: [k3, p5, k4, p, k4], [p5], [k4, p, k4, p5, k3] = 37

Row 36: [p3, k2, k3 into 1, k2, p 2 tog], [ssk, yo, k, yo, k 2 tog], p2, [ssk, yo, k, yo, k 2 tog], p2, [ssk, yo, k, yo, k 2 tog], [p2 tog, k2, k3 into 1, k2, p3] = 39

(this is one flame pattern on each side with three candlesticks in the middle)

Continue until there are 7 flames on the panel, then don't start any new ones and on each right side row do a u increase at the beginning and end, purl (on the right side, k on the wrong side) until you get to the candlesticks, and from the last candlestick to the end of the panel (don't forget the u increase at the end).

This will depend on gauge, but when you get near the end, like 3" or so, stop purling between candlesticks but repeat the candlestick pattern one more row (with two knits between each instead of two purls), from then on, just knit across on the right side, purl on the wrong side. That will set it up for the nice edge. I did 14 rows of candlestick pattern for the shortest candle (including the row that had knit between instead of purl).

This pattern is continued here:

Sunday, June 29, 2008

How to do the Navdanya shawl

Shawl - Navdanya, in honor of Vandana Shiva

Here's the Wikipedia article on Vandana Shiva:

I used less than 3 skeins of Peace Fleece's "Volgassippi Blue" Worsted Weight, Merino/Mohair yarn on #10 circular needles (29" I believe). You can of course use larger needles, I found this just a bit tight.

It is based on the Hemlock ring shawl, which is based on a doily from the 1940's that Jared adapted to larger yarn.

Isn't he brilliant??

Here's a link to the doily

And here's a link to Jared's site where he shows the blanket/shawl he made.

On that one there is another link to where he charted out the pattern from row 47 (of the doily - my row 38) on.

I had to tweak it a bit to change it from circular knitting to a semi-circle. In my tweakings I realized that I had somehow changed it from the 5/8 of a circle I was shooting for to just a half-circle, which one of my knitting mentors had said won't stay on as nicely. It doesn't!

I tried to fix this by going back and adding a 12 stitch border on each side. Simple is better - it was k, p, k, p, k4, p, k, p, k but a few inches from the bottom I added a little cross, VOILA! Now it feels like a prayer shawl!

Cross pattern, on 5 stitches:

Row 1: k, ssk, yo, k2
row 2: purl
row 3: ssk, yo, k, yo, k2 tog.
row 4: purl
row 5: k, ssk, yo, k2
row 6: purl
row 7: k, ssk, yo, k2
row 8: purl

Very astute people will notice that the knit part of the border is only 4 knit stitches in a row - on the first row I just knitted instead of the ssk so it got one stitch wider. Looks good that way, I continued the rest of the border one stitch wider. I put the cross starting about 4" from the bottom.

One thing about making and then fixing mistakes is that you sometimes wind up with something you like better! The plain border doesn't take away from the flowing beauty of the shawl, but does give it the tiniest help staying on!

The "staying on" issue will be fixed, but what I liked about it is that it gives it a really nice straight edge on the sides, before, no matter how I tried to block it right it had a bulge near the top. So I'm keeping the 12 stitch border (but let's knit right on instead of sewing it on at the end!) But to do a real fix, do 6 repeats of the hemlock ring pattern, not 5 like I did. That is how I'm going to write it up.

For the center part, cast on 48 (or 26 if you want to skip the border on the edges)

The border pattern is:

k, p, k, p, k4, p, k, p, k on the knit side

and p, k, p, k, p4, k, p, k, p on the purl side

and you do it at the beginning and end of each row.

So from now on, you know to do that and since it's always the same, every row, I don't need to keep telling you, right?

I find it very helpful to use knitting markers between the repeats and also to separate the borders. I learned from experience it saves a lot of ripping out! You can cheaply make some by using a contrasting color of yarn (contrasting feel is even better, in case you tend to knit without looking on the easier rows). Just tie the yarn around the knitting needle with a good knot and cut the ends relatively short so they don't keep getting in your way. Slip the markers from one needle to the other as you get to them, and you've got yourself a pretty good system of not losing your place (especially important toward the end on this one!)

Rows 1 - 6: stockinette - knit the knit side and purl the purl side (but do border pattern, too!)

Row 7: K2 tog, YO twice, ssk, repeat for a total of 6 times (if you're skipping the border just start and end with a knit stitch).

Row 8: p1, p/k 9 in the double yarn-over, p1, repeat. Here's how you do that tricky step: knit, purl, knit, purl in the first yarnover, then slip it off and knit/purl 5 more times in the second. If it's really hard, remember to keep the stitches loose so the threads can slide a little on there.

Rows 9 - 16: knit/purl for 8 rows (stockinette).

Row 17: (yo, k11), repeat 5 more times, end with yo.

Row 18: purl.

Row 19: (k, yo, k11, yo) repeat 5 more times, k.

Row 20: purl.

Row 21: K2, (yo, k4, k3 tog., k4, yo, k3) repeat 5 more times, on the last repetition, last stitch k2 instead of k3.

Row 22: purl.

Row 23: K2 tog., (yo, k1, yo, k3, k3 tog., k3, yo, k, yo, k3 tog) repeat 5 times more, k2 tog on the last repetition, last stitch instead of k3 tog. (for the k3 tog. you can do it nice ways if you like, like slip 2 knitwise, knit, pass the two slipped stitches but it looks good either way)

Row 24: purl.

Row 25: k1, (yo, k3, yo, k2, k3 tog., k2, yo, k3, yo, p & k in next stitch) repeat 5 more times, k1 in last repetition instead of p & k.

Row 26: purl.

Row 27: K2, (yo, k3 tog., yo, k, yo, k, k3 tog., k, yo, k, yo, k3 tog., yo, k4) repeat 5 times, k2 in last repetition, last stitch instead of k4.

Row 28: purl.

Row 29: (k2 tog., k2, yo, k3, yo, k3 tog., yo, k3, yo, k2, ssk) repeat 5 times more.

Row 30: purl.

Row 31: (K2 tog., k2, yo, k3 tog., (yo, k) 3 times, yo, k3 tog., yo, k2, ssk) repeat 5 more times.

Row 32: purl.

Row 33: (K2 tog., (k3, yo) two times, k, (yo, k3) two times, ssk) repeat 5 more times.

Row 34: purl.

Row 35: (K2 tog, k3, yo, k3 tog., (yo, k)3 times, yo, k3 tog., yo, k3, ssk), repeat 5 more times.

Rows 36 - 38: knit and purl (stockinette)

Row 39: (k2 tog., k2 tog., k3, (yo,k) 6 times, k2, ssk, ssk) repeat 5 more times.

Rows 40 - 43 purl/knit (stockinette)

Row 44: (P2 tog. 3 times, (p, yo) 8 times, p, ssp 3 times) repeat 5 more times.

Rows 45 - 48: knit/purl (stockinette)

Row 49: (k2 tog. 3 times, (k, yo) 10 times, k, ssk 3 times) repeat 5 more times.

Rows 50 - 53 purl/knit (stockinette)

Row 54: (P2 tog. 4 times, (yo, p) 11 times, yo, ssp 4 times) repeat 5 more times.

Rows 55 - 58: knit/purl (stockinette)

Row 59: (k2 tog. 4 times, k2, (yo,k) 12 times, k, ssk 4 times) repeat 5 more times.

Rows 60 - 63 purl/knit (stockinette)

Row 64: (P2 tog. 5 times, (p, yo) 14 times, p, ssp 5 times) repeat 5 more times.

Rows 65 - 68: knit/purl (stockinette)

Row 69: (k2 tog. 6 times, (yo,k) 15 times, yo, ssk 6 times) repeat 5 more times.

Rows 70 - 73: purl/knit (stockinette)

Row 74: (P2 tog. 6 times, p2, (yo, p) 16 times, p, ssp 6 times) repeat 5 more times.

Rows 75 - 78: knit/purl (stockinette)

Row 79: (k2 tog. 7 times, (k, yo) 18 times, k, ssk 7 times) repeat 5 more times.

Rows 80 - 83 purl/knit (stockinette)

Row 84: (P2 tog. 8 times, (yo, p) 19 times, yo, ssp 8 times) repeat 5 more times.

Rows 85 - 88: knit/purl (stockinette)

Row 89: (k2 tog. 8 times, k2, (yo, k) 20 times, k, ssk 8 times) repeat 5 more times.

Row 90 - 93: purl/knit (stockinette)

Bind off loosly.

Here it is with all 6 repetitions of the pattern and the edge knitted on (in recycled cashmere from Twice Sheared Sheep - ebay).

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cashmere and Tithing

If you're knitting a prayer shawl, you're going to give it away, for FREE, right? For the glory of God, as an extension of His love. "Blessed be those who mourn, for they shall be comforted". Two things occur to me about this. First, that if you're doing this as a ministry, the amount you spend on yarn could be counted toward your tithe. Second, that any joy you get as a result of knitting the shawl will be the right joy of doing God's good work.

About tithing. We give 10%. When I first got married this led to some lively discussions between me and my husband. I broke it to him that I believed in tithing, 10% of all income. He had a fair bit of income so that was a nice chunk of change for him to consider giving away! I told him my beliefs, that everything in the world is God's and only ours as stewards. That any things or money we accrue is due to God's love and protection and blessings. So although we can never deserve his blessings, which are freely given, we do owe Him a debt of gratitude and one way to show this is to give some on, to those less blessed but equally loved by Him. Then came the "Before or after taxes" discussion. LOL!

So if you tithe 10% you can easily afford good yarns for your prayer shawl ministry. When I think of something I'm giving to comfort a grieving person - a woman who found out her child or husband is dying, or lost a child in the war, I think cashmere. Pure cashmere. Good quality cashmere. Touching it is like touching puppies. It's warm yet light as a feather. It reminds me of an angel hug, or the breath of God. Not only that, but because it is so warm and soft, you can use lace weight for the shawl and wind up with a lot of coverage in a few ounces, so it becomes portable in a way a worsted weight shawl isn't.

That brings us to the next point. Knitting cashmere! Oh it feels so soft in my hands! It's such fun to "pet" it as the work progresses. It's fun to think of the joy it can bring the right person to own such a garment. If you've only knitted with cheap acrylic yarns, then knitting cashmere is such a wonderful treat! And doing God's work, working for God, should be fun, enjoyable, and all that great stuff. After all, we're not doing this for ourselves, but to give away freely, just as God gives us His gifts freely. But this is a ministry of love, not penance! Joy is right to feel when the heart is in the right place!

I hope when I make things from cashmere they get used and used, and don't get put away because they're "too nice" for everyday use. I hope the recipients use them all winter, for reading, watching TV, prayer, knitting, whatever.

You can buy recycled cashmere on ebay, just search on recycled yarn. People actually buy sweaters made of cashmere, silk, angora, etc. and unravel it (I've tried this before - it's a lot of work!) then make it into balls or skeins and sell it to be reused. Often they wash the garment first, too, so the yarn is nice and clean. Or you can go to your local yarn store and get some of that wonderful cashmere from the special place where they keep the neatest yarns. It may be $35 a skein or more, but often the fingering or lace weight is 400 yards or more to a skein, enough for a shawl. Remember, this isn't YOUR money you're spending, it's God's, and He cares enough to give the very best! :)

One thing about knitting cashmere, if you knit the lace weight on #10's it comes out looking more lacey - there are "holes" even where you've only done stockinette. But it blooms and believe me, it's warm anyways! Don't waste your money or time on cheap cashmere either. I've made that mistake. If it's cheap, too good to be true, it's probably the short fibers, which will pill and make an ugly product after a few uses. You get what you pay for.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Welcome to my new blog!

I want to post free prayer shawl patterns here and provide links to other knitting, prayer related, and social justice sites. When I first heard of prayer shawls, I thought there would be lovely patterns available with crosses or religious symbols on them. I was disappointed to find out that not only there weren't many easy to find but also that the ones people are giving out are sometimes a little on the ugly side, and made from man-made fibers that are polluting the environment.

I have a vision for something different - that when people make a prayer shawl, it will be made of materials that reflect their good will and Godliness - sustainable fibers that are worth something - a shawl that will be as beautiful 20 years from now as when it is given. A shawl that gives warmth and isn't just a token to show that someone is thinking of you.

I also want the patterns to be easy enough for those who have just learned to knit, those who are beginners at lace knitting, and those who have a lot of distractions in their lives! I've read that knitting creates the same chemical and biological changes in the body as meditation but is easier to learn and the changes can happen faster. I'm hoping that creating prayer shawls, with prayers knitted in and loving thoughts on the part of the knitter, will create a peace in the knitter, as well as do good for the lucky recipient of the shawl. I hope when people follow these patterns they take at least some time to read the Bible first (or whatever holy book they prefer) and spend some time knitting in silence to receive from God, as I did when I got the idea to do this blog.

It is amazing to me the wonderful human creativity that goes into some shawl designs, and although it might be easy to get pride from taking a ball of wool and a circular needle and creating a work of art, I hope people give the glory to God, who made wool and gave the gift of creativity to the wonderful artists who come up with the designs. Tho of course I will strive to give credit to the humans whose ideas I borrow as well!

I've just finished a prayer shawl, it's being blocked upstairs on my bed. I hope to get the photo and patterns up soon. I intend to dedicate this shawl to Vandana Shiva and her organization Navdanya. Vandana Shiva is one of my personal heroes, an Indian woman who tirelessly fights to protect Indias poor farmers from greedy corporations. The pattern I used is a modification of the hemlock ring, this time to make a half-circular shawl. I used a blue wool so the effect seems to me like water flowing. One of Vandana Shiva's battles is to keep corporatons from moving in and using up all the water, leaving none for the farmers downstream or in the same aquifer for their crops and personal needs.