Not quite

A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

-Lao Tzu, 600-531 BC

The shropshire laceweight has spoken, and it is talking about an opus. A wonderful big work, an heirloom piece of lace, a real sort of undertaking. Clearly, this is where my knitting heart is right now, as I embark on the gansey and a big shawl all at the same time. My love for things that are challenging and huge has reared it’s head, perhaps as some sort of response to writing so much right now, perhaps as a response to the kids being away and me being able to devote some clear thought to my goals, whatever the reason, the 3000m of Shropshire thread-like yarn suddenly seems like a really good plan. (You may feel free to guess how long this mood lasts. I suspect that Rams and Rachel H. will be running a pool by now.)

(Icarus is fine by the way. Miriam had a look and we exchanged photos and it’s totally fine. I am a simple neurotic. I’ll keep going.)


I started winding the wool yesterday, and I’m here to tell you that winding 3000m of laceweight takes a good long time. Hours. You can’t go too fast or the wool is stretched as it comes off of the swift and into the ball. I experimented with speed a little and only discovered that winding quickly meant that I had stressed out tight little balls of yarn. That seemed an insult to the fibre, so those fast ones were re-wound. (That took longer than just winding them right the first time.) Wool that has been wound into balls that are too tight is stretched, particularly if it sits around for a while in those tight balls. Since wool has memory, this can mean that if you knit this stretched wool, that when you wash it after it’s knit and the wool returns to it’s original size, that you can have some gauge issues. Since I have enough gauge issues without being sabotaged by my own inferior winding, I decided not to wimp out.


I wound for so long that by the end of it my whole arm ached and I was inventing stories in my head that began with the immortal lines “It was in the days of the winding-time, and the moon rose and set over the whirling swift…”

As I wound I took breaks and consulted the Oracle, and he helped me to find exactly the pattern that I could see in my mind, as well as talking through some technical stuff. (Dude is a walking lace dictionary. Befriend him at your earliest opportunity.)


On the right is sample one, two sections of a square tablecloth in Marianne Kinzels First Book of Modern Lace Knitting. By only knitting two of the four triangles that make it a square, it’s pretty easily converted into a triangular shawl.

On the left is sample two, same exact pattern, but instead of increasing two stitches in the centre leaf by way of a M3 (Knit into the front, knit into the back, knit into the front again – two stitches increased, which naturally begs the question of why this is called a Make three when it clearly only Makes two.) I’ve increased two by doing a paired set of yarn overs around the increase stitch. (YO, Knit one, YO). It makes it much more open, and I may prefer it. ( I may actually love it with the burning fire of a thousand suns, but the jury is still totally out about which one I’ll choose.

Closed leaves…


Open leaves…


When I’ve worked enough of the whole thing to have a shawl, I’ve got a border that I’ve chosen to whack on there, and Bob’s yer uncle, I’ve got a shawl. (I am making this sound unreasonably simple when the issue of how to affix the border to the shawl in the proper mathematical way while still observing the balance of the thing has me a little freaked out. I went to sleep thinking about it last night. When I woke up this morning I decided to have faith. I’ll work it out when I get there.)


The astute among you will have noted that both swatches are “live” meaning that all I did was start the shawl twice, then put the live stitches onto a length of yarn (Note to self: cotton or silk would have been better than wool, getting them off of the sticky wool is proving harder than it needs to be.) and wet block them as is. This way, when I choose between them I don’t need to start over again, I’ll just pick up the stitches and keep knitting. Total cheat way around a swatch. I am feeling pretty freaking lucky that I’m loving the gauge and don’t need to change needle size, since choosing the wrong needle is really the only way I’d have to start over again. )


I love both of them and I am torn.

329 thoughts on “Not quite

  1. I really like the added interest of the “open” leaves, for what it’s worth. Is it engaging enough of a pattern that you’ll still be in love with it at the end?

  2. I think they’re both lovely, too. But . . . if you can only use one, I prefer the Open one.
    Any way you could alternate and therefore use both?

  3. I love both patterns too. What size needle are you knitting this lovely item on?
    And thank you for the info about the winding of the yarn. I was unaware of that and thus will be more careful in the use of my swift and winder.

  4. I like the open leaves, too.
    And I am just gobsmacked that I got here before there were already eleventymillion comments!

  5. Shite.
    Here I was feeling a wee bit guilty for not picking up any knitting for two days as I’ve been messing about weaving handspun on my DIY tapestry loom (I’m so bad at DIY, I even had to cheat it a bit), however, thought as long as I’m using the beautiful hand-dyed, handspun yarn Reesa produced for me, it was all good.
    Then there *you* go making a heirloom quality lace project.
    I need more wine.

  6. You love the open one more. You know you do.
    I’ll have to consult Rams about the pool. It seems a little crass for our usual standards, but done the right way it could be highly amusing…

  7. Couldn’t you use both and alternate them? I really like how they look in your last photo lined up like that. If not using both then I also vote for the open leaves. Very pretty work.

  8. The open, fershure! I could just kick myself that I didn’t go to Habu when you first posted about this yarn. It has been discontinued. Drat!

  9. I’m not sure you were soliciting opinions on the swatches but I’m gonna give you mine anyway. Open…all the way. To me the closed looks pinched and stern like a librarian in need of prune juice.

  10. From the look of the almost-swatches I’d go with the ones with YOs, it looks a lot more like leaves that way. On the other hand it created a lot more holes and disrupts very slightly the rythm of open/closed work. If your borders will have more YOs and be more see through, I’d go for the closed leaves to have a nice contrast.
    But then, yarn overs are so much quicker to work than a knit in front/back/front so if you want it finished before your grandchildren are born… πŸ˜‰

  11. I vote for open. In my opinion, the real “ooh and ahh” power of lace comes from its delicate nature (i.e., the more delicate it looks, the more we are astounded by someone’s ability to have created it). More open designs create a more delicate nature. In short, the more YOs, the better!

  12. Open leaves. Much better. Tells Rams and Rachel H I’m in on the pool – I loves me some gambling! The beer fridge misses you.
    Oh, and Bob actually is my uncle.

  13. I really love the look of the more open lace on the left, it looks softer and more intricate, and I think fits the yarn better.
    Because of your Icarus, Adamas, and now the tablecloth shawl – I have spent the entore morning searching for shawl patterns, instead of certifying student loans (SHHH! Don’t tell!)

  14. Open Open Open. Easy decision.
    or since you have 3000 yards (and I’m betting more could be acquired) go for it, make one of each.
    I’m a big help, ayuh.

  15. Stephanie – they’re both absolutely gorgeous! After due consideration, I think I prefer the open leaves.
    ps. How are the Ladies doing?

  16. I am dumbstruck. Opus? I’m not sure that word is sufficient to describe the project you’re embarking on.
    But I’ll say this–you totally need to do the yarnover increases. Far less hassle than knitting into the backs and fronts of stitches. And it’s undoubtedly prettier.

  17. I definitely prefer the second one.
    I understand the laceweight winding pain – I was winding cobweb cashmere and had a good amount wound, almost enough to break yarn and start another ball… and the whole thing went flying across the kitchen, pulling from the inside and outside as it went. I now have a very pretty very soft giant hairball.
    I’m glad I bought a 5000 yard cone. πŸ™‚

  18. First time I’ve stopped by, and not an expert Knitter yet, but I’ll presume to add my voice to the votes for ‘Open’!

  19. I like the open leaves also. I love this yarn – not too fuzzy but it seems to have a nice soft look. I’m looking forward to watching your progress.

  20. Definitely open. It’s what you like in lace – lots of little holes. Pretty yes! Airy yes! Faster yes! No speedbumps along the way that kinda pucker the leaves up. And doesn’t lace provides enough speedbumps without selecting an option that actually incorporates them in the design? Again I say – open!

  21. How beautiful! I love the open one…..
    Are you going to post a “recipe” for this? My first shawl is about to come off the needles and experience the miracle of blocking…so I’m of course looking for another lace project. This sounds very scary, but I’ve never let that slow me down….

  22. I’m going to vote for Open. Not only is it prettier (in my estimation) working 2 yarn overs is so much EASIER than the M3 (k in front, k in back, k in front again). Easier is often better. Go with the open ones.

  23. You are starting both. I am in awe. I feel like I’m watching a bit of history here with the starting of the knitting of the gansey.
    I think both are beautiful, but lean towards the open one too.

  24. I like the open one best too, plus it will look good at all times of the year, light and breezy in the summer and delicate like a snowflake in the winter!

  25. To me, the open leaves add a starry dimension; if you are taking votes, I would choose open. But whichever you choose, it is going to be gorgeous. Happy knitting!

  26. Not to beat a dead horse, but the open leaves get my vote. More delicate, more visual interest, more “leafy” and way easier than a make 3.

  27. Oh, definitely the open. I was admiring it in the photo before I even began reading the rest of your post. Though someone’s idea of using both seemed neat–could you transition from closed leaves to open, or would that look horrendous instead of good?

  28. Add another vote to the open pile. I also think the yarn looks gorgeous all wound up- quite a lovely photo of the wound yarn.

  29. well, if you need our opinions to cement the deal, I’d go for the yo/open one. Far lacier/prettier.
    BTW – would love an update on the fruit hats. I dutifully sent off 2 to each coast and wondered how many they got, how well they were received at their events, etc. Any news?

  30. Just a few minutes for prune-juice swigging before I go off to the afternoon library job, but, although it puts me in the herd, I absolutely agree about the open flower. Miriam was just showing off with that bizarre increase. Prettier and more sensible — a Jane Austen increase.
    Rachel and I will consult, but my impulse is for multiple pots, starting by giving five to seven that the edging-turning-the-point will cause Language again. Actually, the voting should be on number of uprobrious epithets uttered, but we’d need an in-house monitor. One who is good with large numbers.

  31. my vote is for the open one as well.
    it reminds me of fall, back to school, crisp days, coloured leaves..
    okay i’m rambling..but my vote is definately for open

  32. Both, alternating between open and closed on each row and then you can have things both ways.
    Who says you have to choose?

  33. Ohhhh – teeny tiny little bitty lacey stitches. It makes my head hurt. I’m glad you’re doing it, and will love seeing how it turns out. (I like the open leaves.) But oh, it makes my head hurt…..

  34. Absolutely choose the Open version. The leaves don’t pull in such a funny way as they do with the closed version.

  35. I’d go with the open one. Airy and pretty. My pool entry: shawl done in time to wear to a daughter’s wedding πŸ˜‰
    [I’ve got 4 Uncle Bobs – each parent with a brother named Bob and two aunts married men named Bob. And one of those aunts is my Aunt Bobbie………..]

  36. Open. Open. Open! It’s prettier, lacy-er, and less like a tablecloth (not that that is a bad thing, mind you).
    See what a week of quiet will do for you?

  37. My first comment here ever, and I just have to say (not that you needed another vote for it):
    (Also: love you, love the blog, love that you’re a canuck who is rocking the knitting world. Thanks, Harlot!)

  38. I am completely in the ‘open’ camp. It’s more detailed, therefore is way more impressive, and looks more like real leaves.

  39. I am all about the open. It’s beautiful.
    Also, I confess to coveting your ball winder and swift.
    And, as you are casting on for this shawl, I should tell you that I just purchased some Artfibers Tsuki for a snowdrop shawl, which I will be casting on for a cross country move, starting Monday.

  40. Not to tell you what to do or anything, but “open” for sure. Take advantage of lace — you know how beautiful it is!

  41. This will be such a gorgeous shawl. Thank you for the information on winding. I’ll be sure to file it away for future reference. I like both swatches, but I prefer the open one. I like the looks of it better, and Kinzel’s M3 is just not my favorite increase method.

  42. Am I the only one who thinks you should make a lace bikini or lingirie with this? To enjoy these warm summer days with… Open or closed leaves depending on how revealing you want to be.

  43. I love the burning fire flower/thousand suns design. ; ) Will it travel on the next leg of the tour — the leg upon which I just may be able, finally, to make your acquaintance? Will we see it??

  44. Always choose the guy on the left. Long story involving two guys and a saying they made up while barhopping in the 80’s. Unfortunately they never told me the story, and I chose the guy on the right, and we married and soon divorced. Then – testing the theory – I married the guy on the left, and everything’s going smoothly (16 years later). So – Always Choose the Guy on the Left.

  45. I am completely and forever smitten with the open leaves…( I think I heard the nickel drop).
    26 days.

  46. “I watch the ripples change their size.
    But never leave the bank for impermanence.”
    David Bowie
    Not to swim against the tide, I vote open too.

  47. One more vote for the “open” one. And by the way, what IS your needle size? I’m knitting with some very fine laceweight right now and I’m curious.

  48. You are one brave woman…both the gansey and an epic lace project. And when do the Ladies return? Anyway, I prefer the look of the open leaves over the closed leaves. I’ll be watching this project with interest since I’m beginning to think I’d like to design a lace shawl. Of course, my one attempt at a lace shawl (from a pattern) was extremely frustrating and I’ve never designed anything in my life, but what the heck. I’ve got to start somewhere, right?

  49. I like the open one, but I may be partial to it because I’ve knit several things with yarn over leaves like that.
    And, yay! Only one more month until my mom and I get to see you in Los Altos.

  50. I also love the one that you love with the burning fire of a thousand suns – and just about as much. Amazing what the addition of a few YO’s can do!!! I also covet that yarn – just too, too gorgeous. Heavier yarns may be pretty but nothing sets my heart to beating like abeautiful lace or fingering weight yarn.

  51. Open looks like leaves (very pretty leaves). The closed ones just look like some sorta diamond shape. OPEN OPEN (as if enough people hadn’t already chimed in on that one!).

  52. All that laceweight yarn is inspiring me to try some myself. Any advice to someone trying their first laceweight project? Should I make your snowdrop shawl? Is there a classic, laceweight yarn that every knitter should use in at least one project? I am wide open to suggestions from those who have gone before!
    By the way, my vote is for the open design, although both are lovely.

  53. The general consensus seems to be open, so my guess is that you’ll go with closed, a combination of the two, or another option entirely. Can’t wait to see which way you go!

  54. Funny, everyone seems to like the open leaves. But I prefer the closed leaves. Personally, I think they look more leaf-like closed! And it’s just a tad different from other lace work, which would be a subtle little thing to set such an heirloom apart. Honestly, not like there’s a huge crowd of other heirloom quality lace shawls out there. What am I saying?!? But I DO prefer the closed leaf.

  55. See me standing here with my nose pressed against the glass chanting “open, open….”

  56. I know what you mean about winding that yarn, because I’ve done it for a customer. We (where “we” = “commuknity in San Jose CA”) recently started carrying a yarn that’s put up in a hank of something like 3100 yards, and I wound one up for a customer. He came in a few minutes before closing one day and bought it, and I cheerfully (“stupidly”) said it wouldn’t be a problem to wind it.
    An hour later, we finally left.
    And then a month or so later, my perfect shade of deep purple came in and I had to have it. I still haven’t wound it though…I’m not sure my arm’s quite recovered.

  57. Me again. I thought some more about this and have concluded that the M3, which produces the closed leaf, has a definite place in the original tablecloth pattern. You would want a table cloth to have a some closer spots.
    The double YO would work much nicer for the shawl you are creating from the same pattern. Similar pattern, different uses, different increasing methods for each.
    Open leaves work better, IMO, for a shawl pattern than a table cloth and the reverse is also true.

  58. I like the open leaves. That caught my eye immediately.
    You amaze me, Steph. I have to send you an email to tell you something silly-ish. I’ll get around to it as soon as I recover from the heat.

  59. if you’re going to burn with the fire of a thousand suns, you better do the open one. open, yessirie.

  60. In a word, open.
    Any chance we can see the whole pattern. I like open better from what you have there, especially if you want it to look particularly leaf-like, with the clear vein down the center. And only if you think the extra eyelets won’t interfere with the design as a whole.

  61. Charity beat me to it, I was going to make a comment about using the closed leaves just because everyone is saying go open. Not that you’d be perverse like that or anything…

  62. Since my projects always include yarnovers, my first instinct was to say the left. But as I compared the two, I was struck by how one simple change could make such a difference. If you have enough yarn, my suggestion is to continue working on both, making the next pattern group similar but with a simple variance.
    It’s a chance to watch the “designer at work”. You could always stop one when it reaches lacy scarf size and continue making a shawl with the other.

  63. So, you not only envision lace patterns, you develop variations thereof? That’s it. I’m going back to crochet.

  64. Open. Because I like those increases better – the M3 increase stacked looks a little wonky to my eyes.
    It does make me wonder about the Open one where the YO’s are twisted in the next row to be slightly less open, though.

  65. solid. It seems crisper, more formal. The other one reminds me of all the leaf lace patterns – lovely, but looser, more jeans-y

  66. Open!
    Please make my head stop spinning!
    Say, did you ever finish the roundabout leaf tank?

  67. Personally I think your torturing Rams on purpose. Cruel knitting harlot that you are!
    I vote open, it’s more shawl like.
    And, this morning I found out Wisconsin made the tour! The little city I live in no less. How AWESOME is that. So this morning I ordered Koigu (in your honor), so my sock can say hello to your sock. I am so excited I won’t be able to sleep tonight!!!!! And as Knitting Guild Activities Director, I informed the entire guild we will all be attending!

  68. Am I the only one who thinks that the closed one looks more open (i.e., holey) than the open one? Either I am a lace novice or I don’t know my right from my left.

  69. With all due respect, and with the cruelty that only company-craving misery can deliver:
    That’s not an opus. This is an opus.
    What you have planned there, my dear Harlot, is a beautiful shawl, exquisitely knit out of gorgeous wool on fine, fine needles. But I suspect that if it’s an opus you want, you’re going to get bored on approximately the 28th repeat of the lovely lace leaf pattern (go for the open ones btw) and wish you’d picked something a little more intellectually stimulating. Why do things by halves when you can go wholly crazy?

  70. With all due respect, and with the cruelty that only company-craving misery can deliver:
    That’s not an opus. This is an opus.
    What you have planned there, my dear Harlot, is a beautiful shawl, exquisitely knit out of gorgeous wool on fine, fine needles. But I suspect that if it’s an opus you want, you’re going to get bored on approximately the 28th repeat of the lovely lace leaf pattern (go for the open ones btw) and wish you’d picked something a little more intellectually stimulating. Why do things by halves when you can go wholly crazy?

  71. Before you get stuck into an opus (which I presume is a Magnum one), remember it’s only 4.5 months until Christmas.

  72. Open – what does Miriam have to say about the possible pattern implications of the open leaves?

  73. Cannot tell you how relieved I am not to be the first person (merely the, um, fourth…out of 132) to say…
    If it were my project, that’s what I’d choose, because:
    1. The single vertical row that the closed increases create in the leaf’s center are a nice visual contrast to the double rows of increases between the leaves.
    2. The M3 may be more time consuming/annoying to knit, but it also creates a nice outline around the increases that, to my eye, contrasts (that word again!) pleasantly with the lacy openness of the holes.
    I’ve knit several of Marianne Kinzel’s patterns (the wool christening shawl, a couple of “Azalea” doilies, and a table centerpiece), and I think she’s brilliant. Your project will be beautiful, either way, but I think there’s a better visual balance to the closed version.

  74. Oh, come on, knit a bed spread already. (You have my e-mail address so as to more easily flame me later. Haha.)

  75. I like the more open one, FWIW. You might want to compare with your chosen edging, though.
    I also suspect that the open version will give you more flex when you’re dressing this piece of gorgeousness. Which might be a useful thing to have.

  76. I like the open one much more and the openess will probably give you more options when you decide to do the lace border.
    What size needles did you use?
    The wool is lovely and you are brave…

  77. I love the open one…too beautiful. I too sympathize with the whole winding bit…normally my daughter gets in on the fun but after about 10 minutes she whines and I end up feeling a bit like I am running a sweatshop if I tell her to continue. LOL.

  78. Another vote for open. In the closed version, the center “vein” of the leaf seems to disappear. I knit a wedding veil once upon a time. It only seems like it takes forever.

  79. I vote (if this is a democracy and you won’t just make whatever your heart tells you) for the open leaves. The open ones look like lace, like something you would wear and feel elegant in. The closed ones are solid enough to put a hot plate on.

  80. If I were knitting it I would absolutly do the pattern with the open leaves. So much more delicate looking.

  81. Why fight the majority? Think how many people you will make happy by following their advice. Also, think what a nice contrast the open lace will be to Joe’s gansey, due in 4.5 months.

  82. I feel that the open leaves are visually more interesting..Good Luck with the decision!

  83. I guess I’m a bandwagon kind of girl today, because I love the open leaves… and I must say, with such ambitious undertakings thou art truly a higher class of Harlot…

  84. The open one looks more ordinary to me, if such a word could be said to apply to such a breathtakingly lovely thing. It just doesn’t look unlike much of what you see pretty regularly in the lace-shawl-knitting corner of the world. I happen to love the solid leaves, but what I love even more is my mind’s eye vision of a shawl of solid leaves with occasional–dare I say random?–open leaves interspersed throughout.

  85. I vote open leaves. It was a hard choice, however, I notice that in that version the leaf shape is more regular and the open part echoes the open work surrounding the leaves nicely. It will give an overall lacey look where the other would be more of solids floating in lace which might seem a bit too heavy looking when worn…

  86. They are both lovely, but the open leaves is, imho, more intricate and has a stronger symmetry. Geometry teacher that I am, I love all things with symmetry.

  87. Open, for sure. It’s lace-ier and the fire of a thousand burning suns is pretty convincing.

  88. Oh help me Harlot. Shawls. Everywhere shawls.
    We just received heirloom knitting, the one from the UK. And about 4 other of the lady’s patterns.
    Stephanie, have you seen that lace? Lisa has. Yes, Lisa who knit the Lotus Blossom shawl as her first FO. She has patterns. She has Fleece Artist laceweight. I’m never going to see my wife again.
    Why does this matter? Well, because that book seems to be the Barbara walker of lace books – everything in the universe in easy read formatting. Including the math of the thing ( I think. My eyes were blurring)
    I like the open leaves best, by the way.

  89. I’m contemplating throwing a vote in for closed, just to be contrary, but I really do prefer the open. Go with your gut, Steph, and the burning of those thousand-whatever-odd suns. πŸ˜‰

  90. I’m with Sara – alternate open and plain. And just contemplating all of that lace knitting makes me feel all woozy and in sore need of wine. I’m knitting a baby blanket in the Lorina Shell stitch pattern, and have resorted to knitting off my #2 needle onto a #5 just before the row that says “knit 4 stitches together” because otherwise one ends up paralyzed after attempting to work the needle through the 4 frickin’ stitches umpteen times over. Anyone else out there ever have this sort of problem??

  91. I like the ‘open’ version slightly better, but my decision would probably be based on which technique flows better as I knit the pattern. I like my knitting to hve a flow – some stitches & combinations of stitches flow better than others. Either way will be beautiful!

  92. I go with the closed leaf school and agree with Stephanie’s rationale – no, not you, the Stephanie who is a few comments before me.
    For the person who asked about the fruit hats, I saw an article in my local paper last week that talked about the day of breast feeding and the hats and Stephanie ( From the Contra Costa Times

  93. I love the open as well, although I am like one of the much earlier commentors, and cannot (or have not?!) make anything lace, although seeing yours does make me contemplate it!!!

  94. I think I am going along with the majority here – but open, definitely open. Looks more delicate to me somehow. It will be freaking gorgeous no matter what!

  95. Well, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?
    And don’t listen to those troublemakers who say do both. That’s just asking for a screw up.

  96. I can’t believe I’m giving advice to THE Yarn Harlot but it’s clear; If you like them both, choose the EASIER one. Whichever that may be for you. Just saying.

  97. Definately on the Open bandwagon. I like how the more open stitches make it look like the veins and backbone of a leaf. I also agree it looks more lacey.
    I’d also like to predict that during the gray gansey/cream shawl progress, they will both be dropped in favor of something bright and colorful. (At least for awhile)

  98. I haven’t tackled lace yet either, but I vote for open. Definitely open. No contest.

  99. I like the open one too – there’s more of a “stem effect” running into the leaf, just like real leaves.

  100. the open approach is the only alternative. You have a need to “tweek” and thank you for doing so as it shows it’s alright to repeat a pattern but with parts of it you can point to and say “see, this is where I made it open”.
    Good luck.

  101. I’m no help deciding. They’re both stunning. Look forward to following your progress. And thanks for paying a visit to my blog yesterday to see my little gansey! I was tickled pink.

  102. My vote goes to the open pattern – what size needles are you using. Your knitting photos are, as always, fantastic!

  103. My first comment (although I’ve been reading faithfully for a long time)- definitely open! (The closed ones look like kites.)

  104. Open….definitely open.
    I wish I had an enormous blog readership where every time I needed to make a decision I could just throw it out there and have people decide for me.
    Should I clean and straighten my god-awful messy bedroom? Wait a second I know the answer to that one…..Heck no!

  105. Actually, Bob IS my uncle…and everytime I hear this phrase it cracks me up like an egg.
    I think you will be in the Bay Area in a month. So will I. Just sayin’

  106. Closed leaves for my vote. The open one is lovely too but I find it too formal looking . You knit fast enough to do one of both tho so no problem eh ? Good Luck and I’ll be watching for updates along with the others. By the way , what did happen to the roundabout ?

  107. I vote for open leaves. I’m partial to really open lace and YOs. But in the end, it’s all about what you’re going to be happiest with. πŸ™‚

  108. Oh wow – they are both lovely, but my fave is the open leaf swatch. Great persistence with all that winding! I think I would have needed to take a day-or-so break after only a few hours…

  109. How funny that you picked up that book just as I picked up my copy! I want to make the doily before “Azalea” as a shawl. What I realized about circular laze: You NEVER have to knit the wrong side! And I started to chart it, only to realize it was fully charted on the next page.
    As for your two triangles? How dull would it be to hear “open” yet again? Oops.

  110. Be very, very careful with the repeats on this pattern. At some point I got totally lost because Kinzel reduced the pattern notes so that there weren’t 4 repeats, but dozens overlapping. (You have to see the pattern, ’cause I can’t explain it.)
    On the positive side, it made a wonderful gift since I couldn’t stand to see it after I finished and noticed the error like, 50 rounds back.

  111. I like the open leaf swatch. It looks prettier. I have never knit lace, and probably never will. But I love the way it magically blossoms when blocked.

  112. One more vote for the open leaves…it’s just beautiful…can’t wait to see the finished product!

  113. If you were making the tableclothe, I’d say M3. For the shawl, yo k1 yo. Much more delicate…and shawls scream delicate.

  114. You amaze me. “Ho, hum, here I am in the middle of a book tour and writing another book. Think I’ll swatch for Joe’s gansey and knit an heirloom lace shawl. Who knows, maybe I’ll repave the driveway and put an addition on the house tomorrow.”
    I do a particularly big load of laundry and I need a nap.

  115. Oh, come on already …. the open one of course …. anyone can see that …. as long as it’s not their decision to make!
    But, (yes, I am starting the sentence poorly) the open version is much more pulchritudinous. I know you knew that from your Latin days, Sistahhh!

  116. open.
    open sesame. sesame street. street cleaner. clean socks. socks that rock. rock outside. outside tree. tree leaves. leaves open.

  117. Maybe you could alternate open & solid leaves as you proceed down the shawl, eh? A band of open, a band of solid, stripe-wise. Lovely lace pattern!

  118. I like the open, but I also kind of like the idea that if you deliberately do both randomly, then any little spontaneous changes to the pattern are just the randomness coming out. πŸ˜€
    For Mardi and anyone else: k4tog can be done much easier this way: First put the right-hand needle through 4 stitches as usual, then “accidentally” remove the left-hand needle from those four stitches; then put only the last stitch, the one that is at the right-hand needle tip, back on the left-hand needle as it was, and knit only that one. Then pass the other three stitches over the new stitch, one by one. Presto! four stitches knitted together.

  119. I like the open one, it just says “lace” to me more than the closed leaf. I do like the idea of a few random “closed” leaves though, that would look nice. Hurry and get going, I can’t wait to see it happen.

  120. A most others have voted, I too choose the open version, not because it looks “delicate” but it still looks like a leaf. In the closed version, the midvein is gone and therefore looks like a kite with a slight Dali-esque undertone. But this reasoning may only apply to those, like me, who are plant scientists and like to see nature interpretated in art.

  121. Eeeks! You’ve got over 200 comments…I hope this doesn’t get lost.
    I’m just starting to knit lace (a scarf). How do you know if your lace is too tight or too loose? I’m using a lace weight yarn and size 3.50mm needles (I think that’s what they are) which is what the pattern called for – it said gauge didn’t matter in the scarf.
    Anyway, I’m thinking the garter stich rows are looking a little loose – and I’ve only got a few rows of the lacy part of the scarf done (10 rows) so the pattern isn’t really there yet, but I’m just wondering if the stitches are too loose.
    Does it matter? Should they be kinda tight so that the “holes” for the lace look good, or should the stitches also be somewhat loose? Maybe I should just take a picture of what I have done and post on my blog so that someone can let me know…I won’t be able to do that for a few days though.
    Maybe I need a good book or set of instructions on lace knitting to help?

  122. Baaa! The open one for me! I’ve joined the rest of the crowd.
    Could you do one set of increases in a repeat open and the next closed? Would that look ok? Or would it look like you stuffed up?
    I bought a cone of laceweight but it only has 2500m on it….

  123. Ok on the bus this morning some man asked me what i was knitting.I said a sweater, held it up and said “see i’m starting with the sleeve’. He says “Oh that will take a long time”
    Quothe i ” A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”
    NS really i did! i’m gettin’ too YHarloty altogether lol
    laurie in victoria

  124. oh, i love the open one!!
    i’ve been wondering lately, i think i remember that you showed a shawl back in the winter called a snowflake shawl that i thought was SSOOOO pretty! i’m not buggin you to see if it is still UFO or anything like that, i just wondered if i missed its unveiling as an FOβ€”i really loved the whole idea of it and was anxious to see more . . .

  125. Both very pretty, and I prefer the open leaf. While the idea of interspersing a few closed leave in is intriguing, my inner accountant would have a major hissy-fit.

  126. Open. So You’re thinking of doing the gansey and a giant lace project? I just love insane ambition!

  127. I love them both, too. But I would go with the open.
    I admire your mind. You woke up this morning and thought….”hmmmmm, I think I will start an incredibly beautiful and complex shawl today…..just because I CAN!”
    You frighten me, but in a totally good way.

  128. Torn about what? Seems easy enough to me. Do you have enough yarn for both of them? If yes, make them both. If no, get more and make them both. QED
    As for getting the borders right – I am a certified maths geek – I UNDERSTAND the “Definition of a Polar Bear” joke and find it funny. If you need maths help drop me a line. In addition to Maths I also speak English πŸ˜‰

  129. Open.
    Btw way, I have just finished (for the second time, I have had a very stupid accident after blocking the first time) my first lace shawl yesterday night. Already itching to start the next (tonight? well, maybe I should wait after the moving. but wait a whole week? Aw)
    That whole lace thing is addictive, isn’t it?

  130. Go for the open leaves, your inner creative artist showed you the way. I’ve found those yarn overs much more effective for lacework. And it makes such a lovely sweep up the leaf.
    Still thinking over that ‘two triangles to make a triangular shawl’ statement. Wouldn’t one do? Still, it’s early here in Ireland so maybe my brain isn’t awake yet.

  131. No problem, pretty Harlot. You stitch **both** of them, one for you and one for me. See how easy it is to decide? Here, you keep winding and I’ll get you a beer and tell you stories as you work.

  132. I vote for the open version. And maybe some closed leaves here and there or in a row or two.
    BTW, thanks (I think πŸ˜‰ for making me go nuts about knitting socks and lace shawls. BTW, any tips on good laceweight yarn? I’m also a bit unsure about how the yarn should feel on the needles when knitting lace. Should it be looser around the needles than when knitting stockinette or should it be about the same? I find myself knitting lace very loosely (ok, I’ve finished one project and swatched another so I have minimal experience) and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to.
    Love your blog and your books, especially ‘Knitting Rules!’

  133. I’m with the other – the open is prettier, but both are beautiful and you really can’t go wrong. πŸ™‚ LOVE the pattern and totally feel your call to use that yarn!

  134. It’s hotter now in OK than it was when you were here. ARGH!
    I like them both, but the open sounds quicker to knit…and you are talking about a mammoth number of stitches.
    Hey, you didn’t tell us how many there would be in this project!

  135. yo oh hello,your yarn is waaaaay to thin, and the needles,waaaay to small.This is going to take longer then you think to knit it.And a gansy,and a book. We will have to form a Harlot cheering squad.
    go Harlot, go harlot now . I . want. pom poms. to.shake.
    Yo Rachel H. hoist me up on your back……..

  136. The open leaf swatch just speaks to me as something that will one day be a family heirloom, Stephanie. If I were knitting, there will be no question that I pick the open leaf swatch as my design.

  137. Open Open Open Open!!!! It is so pretty! I need to develop my patience so I can make pretty lacy things. I’m still 1.5 repeats into my knit olympic sock. I’m planning to try the jaywalker socks on vacation next week, maybe this will be the begining of something wonderful, where I suddenly develop the patience to make pretty shawls.

  138. I like the open one better. That said, I think starting with the more closed one for about a third of the shawl and then moving to the open one would be lovely. Plus, then the knitting won’t be quite as monotonous–I can see one motif for the whole body getting shoved to the side in a hurry. Not that you would do such a thing, but I know I would. Whatever you choose, I’m sure it will be beautiful.

  139. I would go with the open one as well. I think the closed ones look less symmetrical than the open ones. I’m hardly a lace expert, but I think the open ones would look nicer to both the educated and uneducated eye.

  140. Open leaves definitely! While both swatches are lovely I think the open leaves are much more visually interesting. I am lusting over that lace-weight – it is just beautiful!

  141. 1. Along with most of the other nearly 300 (?!) commenters: Open, definitely. The closed one looks comparatively boring in the pic of the two together. And good luck. Remember not to be drinking Screech or beer or anything like that when you’re sitting up late, squinting at the opus!
    2. Methinks we need to start an international dental PTSD club for knitters. One where we all get together, drink, and knit. Oh…wait…we already do that…
    3. Idea re Icarus, goofs, and trying to see them. (Not a lace-knitter here – yet – so this may have been suggested somewhere before.) But if it’s in variegated yarn, and you’re having problems seeing if there are goofs…Does your camera have a B&W mode? I think pix in B&W would help a lot in spotting mistakes.

  142. A dear friend of mine is a world-renowned quilter. One time when her children were away she spent the weekend designing a new quilt – when it was finished it measured 9 feet by 12 feet (!) and was quite astonishing (it told the whole story of the 12 dancing princesses). Eventually it was sold to someone who had the space to display it. So you are not the only one who embarks on these major undertakings as soon as it gets quiet. I guess it is a mom thing – I will let you know if it ever gets quiet enough around here for me to figure it out!
    Love the open leaves, by the way. – Karen

  143. I’m all about the open leaves. And thanks for answering my email so quickly! I’ll constantly be on the lookout to see if you’re ever able to get out to Edmonton!

  144. I think the one with the with the M3 is great for a table cloth, more closed and sturdy. But for a shawl I like the one with the YO, K, YO.

  145. I too prefer the open, but if I were knitting it, I might use just one repeat of the closed leaves at the edges for a bit of additional sturdiness.
    Whatever you decide, it’ll be gorgeous.

  146. The open one…. It just feels more LACY to me. Like, lace IS openwork in my head and the closed leaves just don’t quite match that feeling.
    Either way, it’s going to be a GORGEOUS shawl.

  147. Just for the record, some commentors are trying to kill you. With lace. Do both versions, indeed!
    …Although I do secretly love the idea of the leaves “opening” as you go. Maybe *I’m* trying to kill you.

  148. If you even make it down this far and really even need another opinion I love the open. But I like the idea of using both. Perhaps the closed leaves would be better at the beginning where most of the “weight” (as if there will be much with that yarn lol) will be hanging from so there is less of a stretch out on the shoulders. And then the open leaves will make it look even lacier at the bottom, more airy. Either way, it’s going to be stellar!

  149. I’m with the majority – open leaves just look lacier and prettier for a shawl. The closed leaves say tablecloth to me.

  150. As I’m comment number 290 (or more), you probably don’t give a flying rat’s behind for my opinion at this point, but I vote open anyway. You can keep the whole rat.
    I’m on the opposite side of the Great Knitting Wheel of Life from you right now, being between projects and trying to decide what socks to knit next and wondering if maybe whipping off a couple of squares for Grace and/or a warshcloth or two would get me back into a mood to tackle large projects. C’est la vie. The wheel always turns.

  151. Open leaves. Because they’re just more…open. How’s that for a reason?
    And I believe that your made-up stories are just the right start for your next book. I would like to read about “the days of winding-time.” πŸ™‚

  152. Okay. Okay. I now see why I MIGHT need a ballwinder.
    Maybe. Please don’t tell my nostepinne if I cave, okay?
    If you’re still on the fence about which pattern to continue, I could send you Philip Glass’s song “Opening,” and that might seal it. The beauty of the shape of a note, or a stitch, is in the way open space arranges itself around the edges. In other words…
    Rock on with the yarnovers, dude.

  153. Open leaves, definitely. The closed leaves look more like a tablecloth and less like a lace shawl.

  154. I almost feel bad leaving a comment, since you clearly have enough comments to read through, but I had to through in my opinion that I am hugely in favor of the open one. It is utterly gorgeous.

  155. I’m all for the open-leafed swatch, much like most of my counter-parts (or so it would seem, I only glanced over the so far 299 comments, which make it seem this is a terribly controversial topic, indeed!). However, they are both beautiful and we support you. Speaking of which, can you let Rams know that I’d like to join the pool? 3000m. Criminy.

  156. Thank you for the brief winding tutorial…I bought some Lorna’s Laces laceweight in Austin…(your fault, really! :)) and needed that information!
    By the way, I vote for the open leaf design, most definitely! Way, way more delicate! Show off that lace!

  157. If it were going to be a table cloth, I’d say go with the closed leaves. But since it’s going to be a shawl, I say go with the more lacey feel of the open leaves. πŸ™‚

  158. I’ve never commented before, but I had to cast my vote, along with many others, for the open one. I love the open stitch pattern, and it will make a most beautiful shawl!

  159. I vote for the open leaves, but, Sistah, I think you got the beginnings of one hot lace bikini there. Dontcha need a white lace bikini more than another shawl?

  160. Am I the only one who looked at the photo of both swatches and thought the Harlot was knitting a bikini?
    I prefer the open flowers to the closed ones, if that helps. Either way, it will be stunning, I know, but the open ones look nicer to my eye.

  161. Hm, Kinzel’s instructions are actually (k, p, k) in one, not (kf, kb, kf) in one. I think that would make the closed ones look a bit tidier, though for a shawl I do like the look of the open ones.

  162. I vote for one section open , one closed. that way you get to do both and I think the effect would be very eyecatching.

  163. If you only have to pick 1, then the open, because it would be easier to do. The wierd increase seems perverse, and I like the yarn over look. But that’s me.
    Here’s the real question.
    It’s suposed to be a table cloth. Which is presumably some sort of rectangle. Made up of four triangles.
    You’re knitting two of the triangles, which means you can do one of both.
    How are you going to assemble two triangles, to get one triangle? Or are you going for a square, and the table cloth is a longer rectangle? And in this case, why not make a single triangle larger?

  164. Open open open! The closed one looks unfinished.
    The Oracle is amazing. He’s encouraged me in my lace knitting adventures more than once. Someday I will meet the man and worship him as the lace god he is.

  165. Open. As in, not closed.
    More story, please. What happens to the Spinning Princess? Does she run off with the handsome young voyager who sails to the Isles of Indigo Sheep, or will her wicked step-father force her to marry the village’s lecherous but wealthy mill owner? When the Keeper of the Fleece comes to her village during the Winding Times, will she give the Princess a protective spell to cast? Will she knit a magic shawl to carry her to the Indigo Isles? Do go on!

  166. Open.
    Love the blog. You have been entertaining me this summer as I sit in my quiet academic library waiting for the students to come back (and sipping prune juice).

  167. I really love the open one the best – more holes. Go figure. I have been contemplating the Tina Shawl for some time and looking for just the right yarn for it (actually, not looking that hard, but using that as an adequate excuse for not starting it).

  168. I apologise for putting this up as a comment but hope someone can remember this:
    Stephanie gave a link to a girl, I think she was 23, who had a blog and was designing an incredible sweater I think it was. Fine aran and lace? Can anyone remember the URL? I didn’t want to bother Stephanie with this so I hope someone else can help. Thanks in advance

  169. Go with the open pattern – very nice detail! Congratulations on finding a way to improve an already lovely pattern. Enjoy…

  170. Oh, spinning – I love it. One of these days I’ll be able to spin like that. My new wheel has perhaps logged just 8 hours or so of use. Not enough time in the day/week. I am very impressed. Please tell me one of your books will have spinning stuff in it too (more anyway than others).

  171. Steph, i love the open leaves one.. just my two cents.. hugs.. that was canadian πŸ™‚ stay cool.. it was less than 48C here this past week.. i think you just chose the wrong week to visit:-) wish we could have “hooked” up πŸ™

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