What you need to know about penannular shawl pins

You’ve seen this video below, right?  It seems like every few months I see it making its rounds on Facebook.  It’s got over 35 MILLION views on YouTube for a reason.  There’s just genius simplicity in draping a rectangle of fabric around your body in so many ways.  There’s also something primal about it.  For so much of human history, that’s really all clothes were:  Woven rectangles draped and pinned around the body in different ways.  Just think about the toga, the sari, the sarong….

 

 

And what could be simpler to knit or crochet than a rectangle? If you keep it simple,  there’s no increasing or decreasing.  They can be fun simple design projects where you just focus on your stitch pattern and your yarn choice.  Even the most basic rectangular scarf or shawl can have a huge impact based on how you wear it.  

And that’s where the shawl pin comes in.  It’s about getting more mileage out of the projects that you make. You don’t need a shawl pin to wear your shawl or scarf in a ton of different ways. But using one (or more!) shawl pins definitely expands your options.  And my favorite shawl pins are penannular ones.  


Reasons to love penannular shawl pins

Here's why I love penannular shawl pins:

1) No fiddly parts that get snagged in your stitches.

 
2) The pin part is attached: It’s never going to fall out and get lost.

 
3) They come in a range of sizes and weights.  The smallest are best for securing even the most ethereal lace. The big ones make a statement with heavy, chunky fabrics.

4) They are absolutely timeless and will never go out of style. The basic design is a metal ring with an attached pin (Although you can get ornate ones).  It looks primitive yet modern at the same time.

I’m excited about the newest shawl pins we’re offering on the site.  We’ve got them in a range of sizes and styles, and they are hand forged and cast in the US out of brass or stainless steel.

According to Wikipedia, penannulars were invented in the Iron Age. They were worn by the Romans, the Celts, the Vikings, and continue to be worn today in the traditional dress of the Berber people in North Africa.  There was even an Irish law about how to wear them. It stated that if you injured someone else with your pin, you weren't at fault if the pin was worn pointing up and didn't project too far out beyond the ring.


Jamie Frasier wearing penannular shawl pin

I'm always on the lookout for penannular pins in costume design. Do you watch Outlander?  You may have noticed that Jamie wears penannulars, as do most of his compatriots….  (You haven’t noticed?!  Aren’t you looking at his costume design?!)  Looks like he's in violation of that old Irish law.


Penannular Shawl Pin in Game of Thrones

Another show with a ton of penannulars is Game of Thrones.  Take a look this outfit of Catelyn Stark with its magnificent Fish penannular.  (Westeros must have similar rules to the ancient Irish, the pin is politely pointed upward!)

Here’s a short handy video I found on YouTube that shows you how to wear one if you’re not familiar with their wear.



Want some inspiration on how to wear penannulars in a more modern way? Here are a few designs I've done that rely heavily on shawl pins for their versatility.  Only the last one doesn't feature penannulars, and that's only because I hadn't fallen in love with them yet at the time the design was published.


Andalusia worn upside down as top

Andalusia is a hairpin lace wrap garment I designed that can be worn a ton of different ways.  When worn "upside down" with 2 tiny penannulars at the shoulders, the wrap can be worn as a batwing top.


Asymmetric Redux

The Asymmetric Redux was my first Tunisian crochet design, published way back when I started Stitch Diva Studios.  Originally designed as a poncho, I did a sized redesign a few years back without sewing the seam and showed different ways to wear the garment just by using one or more shawl pins.  Great project for a Tunisian Crochet newbie.  Take a look at the pattern page for more wear ideas.


Baroque Jacket

 

The Baroque Jacket, or any cardi for that matter, works great with either a statement closure or a simple one.


Convertible Hairpin Lace Wrap

 

The Convertible Wrap is a free Hairpin Lace pattern. (Excellent for beginners).  Just a square of hairpin lace fabric that you can get very creative with.  This is just one of the different wear ideas I show in the pattern photos with penannulars.  Most useful with this design is a pair of smaller penannulars.


Endless Cardi Shawls

 

Endless Cardi Shawls - I designed are series of this basic shape cardi shawl in knit, crochet and broomstick lace.  The pattern photography on each design features about 10 different ways to wear each, some with belts, some just draped and some with shawl pins. 

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Check out all the Penannular Shawl Pins at Stitch Diva Studios.

Comments | Posted in Techniques & How To By Jennifer Hansen

Lucet Challenge Bracelet

Do you know about the Lucet Challenge I’ve been hosting?  All it takes is (7) thirty minute sessions and you will gain a new skill.

This is the kick off month and we’re at almost 1,000 knitters and crocheters who have joined up.  It’s a FREE 7 day challenge to learn how to lucet.  The coolest thing about the challenge is you don’t even need a lucet to join!  I show you how to make a lucet out of things you’ve already got laying around the house.

The challenge has grown into a community of fiber lovers and they are sharing their ideas online. (Links:InstagramTwitter and Facebook with hashtag #7DayLucetChallenge).  It’s been so cool for me to see people learning this ancient technique and making it their own. And there’s been such interesting project ideas as well!  One of my favorite ideas is using lucet cord to “cast on” for Tunisian Crochet. (Would work great in knitting as well!)



Lucet Challenge Bracelet

To help keep the energy going, I put together this bracelet. It uses variations on all the cords we learn in the challenge so you can apply what you've learned. It’s a great way to immediately practice all your new skills with a real project.

The Challenge Bracelet is a “graduation gift” I give to everyone who completes the challenge.  It comes as a fully-illustrated set of instructions.  You can use it as inspiration to do something with your own yarn and findings, or you can buy the yarn kit and make the same bracelet I did. The idea is to show how you can use a small set of yarns, seed beads and common jewelry components to create a unique statement bracelet.  This is a beginning level project so doable even if you've never tried jewelry before. And my hope is that it's a fun way to showcase your accomplishment: You've learned 6 new cords over the 7 days of the challenge!

The bracelet is just one of several project ideas you’ll receive after signing up.  Join us and not only learn to use your yarn and your lucet do new things, but also to make the knit and crochet you already do even better!

Want the bracelet?  Join the challenge!  It’s free, it’s easy, it's fast & portable, and it will expand your thinking about your yarn.  There really is no down side. :)

Lucet Cord Bracelet

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Comments | Posted in Techniques & How To By Jennifer Hansen

lucet with baby booties

 

With so many people making such great DIY lucets for the 7 Day Lucet Challenge, I thought I’d ask an expert for tips on what makes for a great lucet.  A number of participants have said that the lucet they made was not comfortable, or that they wanted to tweak the shaping of the horns. Some folks have thin, inexpensive lucets imported from China, and those can jab into your palm.  If this describes you, you might want to listen to Dennis’ perspective before you go back to the drawing board or decide that all lucets would feel the same in your hand.


Dennis Burges

 

Dennis Burges is the man behind Wool Tree Mill, and although they are a small family-owned, made-in-the-USA business, Dennis figures that Wool Tree is currently the largest manufacturer of lucets in the United States. (Admittedly, it’s a niche market!)  His lucets are known for their elegantly simple construction and their solid, sturdy feel in the hand.

Dennis was nice enough to share the story behind his lucets, why they are shaped the way they are, and why he offers the lucets in 3 different sizes.

Below is the transcript of my interview with Dennis. Enjoy!


Wool Tree Mill Lucets

 

Me:  Why did you start making lucets?

 

Dennis: Jena and I have been making hardwood tools for fiber arts since the 1970’s. We have designed some original tools, but have favored old traditional tools. A few years ago Jena ran across a drawing and a description of a lucet in an antique book that described craft tools. The book described the lucet as Norse in origin and dated it in some form back about 800 years.

Although the drawing was not very detailed, we made a first prototype model and started finding out how to use it. It was immediately obvious that lucets make better cord than i-cord. Gradually we discovered how to modify and improve on the design. The forks, for instance, should turn outward to control slippage while you are using the tool, but they can’t turn too much or they impede the formation of the knots.

We experimented with size until we had what we thought was just right for hand work. Later we added two additional sizes for other purposes. We decided to shape the handle so that you can distinguish what side you are on as you turn the lucet left or right.

Now our small woodworking studio is the yarn world’s largest maker of handmade hardwood lucets, making them for hundreds of shops.

(Footnote from me:  Having a lucet that is different on each side allows you to keep track when you are doing things like beading that you only want to do on one side consistently.)


More wool tree mill lucets

 

Me: How many prototypes did you go through before you settled on the current design?

 

Dennis: For the basic lucet, I'd say six or seven rounds and tests, not counting constant changes in wood selection--still going on. We changed methodology and tooling a couple of times. We're semi-likely to go to cherry only for lucets (production issues). We've sold over two thousand lucets now.

 

Me: Did you experiment with various thicknesses for the lucets? What kinds of factors did you consider in making changes to the basic lucet design so that it was "just right for handwork"?

 

Dennis: We tested thicknesses as thin as 1/4" and as thick as 1/2. After making many test laces with all thicknesses, Jena settled on 3/8" as having the best feel in the hand. Hardwood doesn't come in these thicknesses as lumber so we have to mill it to thickness as a first step. Fiber arts is all about the feel so we can't avoid the milling.

We needed to find the best distance between forks so that there is enough room to work with the knots. That said, we want a compact design--easily carried and packed. The amount of turn out on the forks and the turning point was another trial-and-error set of tests. The fiber has to stay put until you are ready to slip it off. Then it has to slip off readily.


Jena Burges

 

Me: Jena is your wife?  Did she inspire your career making fiber arts tools?

 

Dennis: Jena (she actually uses an accent over the a because that's where the emphasis is on a long a) is my wife. She is the fiber artist and has been all of our more than 42 years of marriage. She is also a capable woodworker (and a PhD in applied linguistics). She is almost always the one responsible for design ideas for our tools. She revises our designs until I get it right. She is an avid knitter (addict).

All of that said, she was the one who inspired my career in fiber arts tools. She had taken up weaving (we used to make and sell looms) and wanted a drop spindle, so I turned one. Then she wrote a short book on drop spinning and we included it with our spindles. Our basic trade at the time was as luthiers building classical guitars in Palo Alto. We were just hippie dropouts enjoying the anticipated American Renaissance. Good times.

 

Me: I love that you have been together so long and have inspired each other to do new things throughout your relationship!

One more last question that I get asked a lot, but I'm curious on how you would answer it:

You offer 3 sized lucets.  A customer asks you what size they should buy. How would you advise them?

 

Dennis: I would advise that they buy the original. It’s on the Stitch Diva website as "fine." We made the Teaching/Demonstration size next after several requests from people who were teaching lucet classes in their shops. Finally, we added the medium. A couple of local knitters said they had larger hands and would like to try a larger lucet. They liked them so we tried adding them to the line. They do sell, but in low volume. Jena doesn't like the medium. At trade shows she and I have both used the teaching size for demonstrations.

 

Wool Tree Mill Lucets are available on the Stitch Diva Studios website.

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7 Day Lucet Challenge

Learn How to Make Your Knit & Crochet Better With a Lucet!

Take the FREE 7 Day Lucet Challenge

 

No Lucet Required! Spend just 30 minutes per day.

Learn how to do more with the yarn you already have.

Join Jennifer Hansen, the designer at Stitch Diva Studios, in this series of daily email lessons to learn this ancient Viking cording technique. She'll teach you the basics of lucet work and how to make 6 kinds of cords.

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Comments | Posted in Techniques & How To By Jennifer Hansen

10 Genius DIY Lucets that will make you want to learn the skill

I'm having so much fun looking at all the DIY lucets people are creating for the 7 Day Lucet Challenge!

People are posting their DIY lucets to Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #7DayLucetChallenge, and the efforts range from super creative repurposing of found objects, to brilliant McGyver hacks, to masterful works of art!

Although none of these options may feel as good in the hand as a Wool Tree Lucet (Dennis spent years refining the design based on customer feedback), they all totally do the job.  Plus, they allow you to try out the skill before having to invest in a tool that you may not use after the challenge.

Below is a round-up of 10 of my favorite ideas so far for DIY lucets that participants have shared with the #7DayLucetChallenge tag.


First up:  FOUND OBJECTS

These require no extra work, just a little imagination in using something you already have in a completely different way.


Hairpin Lace Loom as Lucet

 

Hairpin Lace Loom Lucet

Amber posted her clever Hairpin Lace Loom lucet to Facebook and it got me thinking.  I use the AGeary Loom, and those lovely finials at the top of the prongs work really well for keeping loops on the tool!

 

Amanda's Weaving Shuttle Lucet

 

Weaving Shuttle Lucet

Amanda (acd101 on Ravelry) used a weaving shuttle to make her first lucet cord.  Absolutely brilliant!  I love it when a fiber tool can be used in more than one way!


Swiffer Duster Lucet

 

Swiffer Duster Lucet

Cordeliasbs on Instagram used the internals of a Swiffer Duster as a lucet!  It looks like those little tabs on the side would actually help keep the loops on the tool as well!


Extendable Camping Fork as Lucet

 

Camping Fork Lucet

Cordeliasbs also found these Extendable Camping Forks, and thought they might make a decent lucet.  I totally think they'd be worth a try, especially if you already have them around the house!  (Available on Amazon here - affiliate link.)

 

CLEVER HACKS

All of these solutions are cobbled together from other objects.  None of them appear to take that much time to put together.

Plastic Gorilla Lucet

Plastic Toy Lucet

Amber pointed out this wonderful lucet hack on Facebook.  This lucet was created simply by drilling the hole through the tummy of this plastic ape!!!  Totally whimsical and fun.

 

Twig Lucet

Twig Lucet

Here's one that will get you out into nature.  On your next hike or gardening session, just look for a twig you can cut down into a lucet.  Evelyn tried it and posted her results on Instagram. She says that she wishes it were more U shaped on top.


Ultimate McGyver Lucet

Ultimate McGyver Lucet

Kelly gets the prize for cobbling together the most awesome Lucet creation from common household items.  She used an inhaler, 2 crochet hooks, rubber bands, wire ties and a key chain ring!!!  (The only things she needs here is duct tape ;))


Sculpey Lucet

Sculpey Lucet

Sherry sculpted this awesome lucet out of oven bake clay. Such a great way to rapidly prototype different lucet shapes to figure out what feels best in your hand!

 

WORKS OF ART

These lucets are not necessarily simple and one of them requires very specialized equipment.  But they sure are beautiful. Big hat tip to the craftsmanship that went into them.

Laser Cut Lucet

Laser Cut Lucet

Laura at Croshay Design not only created a gorgeous prototype lucet on her laser cutter, she is offering the scalable vector graphics file so that other people with a laser cutter and replicate her design.  Just click on the link to access.


shrinky dink lucet

Shrinky Dink Lucet

Charlotte's shrinky dink lucet is truly a thing of beauty.  I just love the drawings she did on it.  I believe she used these instructions as a base for her pattern for anyone who would like to attempt a similar design, although she does say that she would have preferred flared sides.

 

7 Day Lucet Challenge

Learn How to Make Your Knit & Crochet Better With a Lucet!

Take the FREE 7 Day Lucet Challenge

 

No Lucet Required! Spend just 30 minutes per day.

Learn how to do more with the yarn you already have.

Join me, Jennifer Hansen, the designer at Stitch Diva Studios, in this series of daily email lessons to learn this ancient Viking cording technique. I'll teach you the basics of lucet work and how to make 6 kinds of cords.

 


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Comments | Posted in News Techniques & How To By Jennifer Hansen

Lucet Tip: How to figure out where you left off

 

I have been really busy getting together The 7 Day Lucet Challenge.  So busy, in fact, that I just realized that I hadn't blogged about it.

The challenge is simple: Learn to Lucet in 7 Days.  (Even if you don't have a Lucet!) I will teach you how to make 6 different kinds of cords. You will end the challenge with a new fiber skill in your bag of tricks.

The above tip is just one of the nuggets of lucet wisdom I'm sharing in the challenge.

I'm really excited by how many people have signed up and by the enthusiasm.  It makes me feel really good to know there are so many other people out there as excited as I am to learn and explore strange, niche tools!

The challenge only kicked off this past Saturday, so those who signed up the first day are only on Day 3.  Even though it is so early in the challenge, I have already seen such brilliant stuff. What I am totally loving are some of the DIY Lucets that people are coming up with!! 

A number of folks have posted their brilliant lucet hacks as comments or posts on the Stitch Diva Studios Facebook Page.  Please know that if you post like that, no one else can see it when searching Facebook with the tag #7DayLucetChallenge. You need to make a public post on your own profile with the hashtag.  Tagging Stitch Diva Studios in your post doesn't hurt though and it will also show up on our page.  

Take a look at what has been posted with the hashtag so far:


 

There are prizes that will be awarded weekly to folks that are posting with this hashtag.  If you are participating in the challenge, stay tuned for details in your inbox.

 

7 Day Lucet Challenge

 

Wool Tree Mill Lucets are available on the Stitch Diva Studios website.

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7 Day Lucet Challenge

Learn How to Make Your Knit & Crochet Better With a Lucet!

Take the FREE 7 Day Lucet Challenge

 

No Lucet Required! Spend just 30 minutes per day.

Learn how to do more with the yarn you already have.

Join Jennifer Hansen, the designer at Stitch Diva Studios, in this series of daily email lessons to learn this ancient Viking cording technique. She'll teach you the basics of lucet work and how to make 6 kinds of cords.

Tags:

Comments | Posted in Techniques & How To By Jennifer Hansen