Thursday, May 20, 2010

Helen's Lace

Time to get back on the horse with my posts about the different yarns we dye, methinks.

I remember when I hatched my little scheme to blog about all of our yarns, I thought I would get through them in a few weeks. There would be great continuity and you would think it was all very fascinating. I am nothing if not optimistic. Here we are five months later and I'm on yarn number 4. Oh well, the best laid plans.

I've decided to go all crazy on you and walk away from my original scheme of alphabetical order. I'm going to skip Grace (mohair boucle) and Glory (brushed mohair) and jump right into Helen's Lace. I hear that there are some parts of the world where the weather is getting warmer and people might want to knit lace rather than mohair. Here in Chicago we're still wearing winter coats, but that's a story for another day.

Helen's Lace is named for Lorna Miser's maternal grandmother, Helen Oberheu. Lorna has great memories of standing over her shoulder watching her knit beautiful lace doilies and learning the basics of knitting. Her grandma didn't think of herself as a teacher but in reality, her day to day work provided all the instruction Lorna could have asked for.

I wasn't so lucky. My dad's job had our family moving every year or so and I never lived close enough to my grandparents to learn from them. Even if we had, my maternal grandmother was more interested in running my grandpa's office and my paternal grandmother was more of an embroidery/crewelwork person. There is an extraordinary piece she did when she was 95 of a bluebird in a cherry tree that has had pride of place in my mother's home for many, many years.

So, back to the yarn. Helen's Lace is a two ply, 50% silk/50% wool blend. It comes in big ol' 1250 yard hanks. With a few exceptions, that will give you enough yarn to make most lace shawl patterns you might run across.

The inside of the label features a free pattern, the Pie Wedge Shawl. I like to think of it as being a gentle introduction to lace. It's really not much more than garter stitch and some short rows on big needles but it looks lacy and it gives you the opportunity to get the feel of working with laceweight yarn without the pressure of nupps and YO's and K2Tog's. It's shown here in a classic Lorna's Laces colorway, 34 Tahoe.

I can't begin to count the number of wonderful Helen's Lace patterns that have been written over the years. Here are just a couple that come right to mind.

This one is the Cold Mountain Stole designed by Kieran Foley. It's from the Summer 2009

The geometric design really appeals to me here. There's a precision to the straight lines and hard angles that I like. Somehow it seems kind of funny to talk about lace in those terms, but not all lace is flowers and leaves. I have to remind myself of that from time to time. Especially since I tend to be more of a hard angles person.

Here's one last great stole. It's from Miriam Felton of Mimknits fame.

This is her Juno Regina Stole. It comes in either a wrap or stole version. This is the stole version. It's shown here in our 2ns Manzanita.

I could go on for days about choices you have with this yarn. Interweave did a great crochet shawl in their spring issue, here in 204 Daffodil. Or the Tallin Sunset from BadCat Designs. And then there's....

Yikes, gotta run. I have in-laws for the weekend. Wish me luck!


woolwoman said...

Thanks for posting a few favorite shawl patterns for Helen;s Lace - I've had a lovely skein stashed for a long time that begs to be used. I think Juno Regina might be it ! BTW - I have Ysolda Red in my hands and am starting Traveling Woman with a LYS KAL group on Saturday - TO DIE FOR ! Thanks for all you do - Melody

Lorna's Laces said...

Fantastic! I love Travelling Woman. It was a favorite recent knit. I may gift it this weekend.

jayayceeblog said...

I love that it's 1250 yards - I hate weaving in ends!