SWIRLY!

People who know me know that I sit still badly.  I have to have something in hand to do when waiting, watching TV (or listening to music), or while on planes or trains.  Or on vacation.  Nothing says vacation to me like sitting somewhere beautiful and taking in the scenery, abetted by needlework. 

The past several weeks have been quite a rush, tumbling together major triage on our Pune apartment, pre-packing, relocating back to the US from India (sans The Resident Male, who follows next week); then having only a couple of days home to set things to partial rights, before heading out with the kids and a kid-friend for our annual week on Cape Cod.  Now it’s pulling up the reins on our primary residence and getting it back under saddle, fixing two years of little annoyances, putting the cars back into full health and legal compliance, and the mother of all spring cleanings to dispatch the carnivorous dust bunnies now lurking in every corner.

So who has time for knitting?  Well… I do.  It’s mindless knitting, but it’s a comfort none the less.

I present Swirly – my own off-kilter take on the standard 10-stitch modular concept.  Except that instead of one color, endlessly spiraling around itself in 10-stitch wide strips laid out in a base square, I’ve made some changes.

Swirly-3

First, I’m using two yarns, one multicolor (Poems Sock), plus one variegated green (Zauberball), using a US #5 needle to make a light and airy garter stitch throw – a perfect “small something” to have on one’s lap while reading.  For the record, both are machine washable/dry flat wool/nylon blend yarns, so laundering will be easy.

I started with the multi, working a 10-stitch wide strip, eyeballed for length.  Then, leaving my active multicolor stitches on a holder, I worked a four-stitch wide strip of green around three sides of the multi.  Then I put the green on the holder and switched back to the multicolor, working a short-rowed mitered corner, then two rows of plain garter, and another short-rowed mitered corner to establish one end of my center area.  Then it was marching down the length of the green-outlined strip to the other end, working across the end (with mitered corners where appropriate).  When I caught up to myself, I resumed the green, also mitering its mini-corners where needed.  And I’ve kept going ever since.

What you see here is almost two balls of the Poems Sock, plus almost one Zauberball – all I had left in India, the last of the sock yarn stash I brought with me.  When we got back to the US I managed to order more of each (lucky me – three more balls of multi, one more of the green!), so the blanket will continue to grow.  As is, at this point, the thing is plenty big enough to be a baby blanket, so if anyone is looking for an unusual shower gift for parents who are not enamored of traditional pastels or sex-assigned color sets, 200 grams of multicolor sock yarn plus 100 grams of solid color are sufficient, provided no edging or supplemental finish is desired.

I’m not sure how big it will become. It will be done when I think it’s big enough.  And I’m not sure how I will finish it off.  The slip stitch selvedge edge stitches are a bit flabby to leave all on their own.  I’ll either do I-cord all the way around, or invent (or find) a nice, simple edging to give it a more polished final appearance.

So far I’ve enjoyed this mindless bit of knitting immensely.  I worked on it in the evenings while I was packing.  I knit more on our flights back home.  It was already large enough to cover my lap when we were stranded in Heathrow and spent the night perched on chairs in the main International ticketing hall.  I kept going with it on the Cape, watching the tide march in and out, measuring the time intervals by garter stitch production.  And I’m still working on it, relaxing with it on my favorite chair each night.  (I missed that chair while we were away).

There’s no moral to the story here, other than suggesting that in uncertain and confused times, an anchor – even a soft fuzzy one – can keep one from drifting.

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SILENCE OF THE CLAMS

We are back home now after 18 months in India.  Packing and prep for this migration explains the lack of timely posts.  In many ways life there and here isquite similar.  But in others, it is worlds apart.  For example, it’s quiet here, outside of Boston.  Reaallly quiet.  That’s the first thing I noticed.

There are no beeping car horns sounded by drivers as they navigate by sonar or warn the cars around them of their presence.  There is no constant drone of thousands of diesel engines, idling in slow traffic.  There are no lowing urban cattle, clattering herds of goats, or the bells of camel harnesses.  The junk man (who has a foghorn voice) isn’t calling out to say he’s collecting discards on his creaky push-cart.  There is  no fleet of buzzing autorickshaws or three-wheeled minitrucks with tiny lawnmower size engines, laboring to haul their passengers or cargo around.  There is no swarm of putting two wheelers, flowing in and around the other traffic, filling all available space (sidewalks, lane markings, or opposing traffic patterns be damned.) There are no water-delivery tankers squealing their way up the street to keep the building supplied.  The world’s oldest contingent of lovingly maintained ancient bicycles is not creaking its way past our home.

There are no security guards tweeting their own whistles to stop cars or open gates.  There is no maid and mistress upstairs, arguing  incessantly and unintelligibly in their daily routine.  There is no symphony of venting pressure cooker whistles, as the entire building prepares its daily food in the cooler early morning hours.  The pre-monsoon wind is not moaning through what gaps it can find in the our windows, rattling the glass or shrieking behind the flapping curtains.

There is no bagpipe-enabled marching band rehearsing in a nearby field, or no fitness assessment tests directed by loudspeaker in the same arena. There are no wedding venues with nightly fireworks blasting music and incendiaries until 11:00pm, nor DJs at open air dance clubs playing top-volume music at night; and no tipsy patrons wandering back to their cars, smashing bottles and singing after the clubs and venues close.

There is no construction – no hammering from two apartments up, nor jackhammers attacking crumbling walls on the next block.  There are no gangs of pick-axe wielding laborers hauling baskets of earth around as they attempt rush road repairs before the rains come.

And there is no pack of pre-teen boys playing tag in the halls and elevators, nor feral dogs snarling and fighting over scraps dragged out of trash piles.

All I hear here in Arlington is birdsong, a few raindrops, the low hum of a car a couple of blocks away, and the tiny chirp of a passer-by’s cell phone.

It’s quiet.

DATING DILEMMA

Sorry folks.  This has nothing to do with anyone’s search for companionship.  Be warned, it’s all about embroidery, and this is a post that only a stitching geek will love.

As I fill out the last few pages of The Second Carolingian Modelbook, I’ve decided to take a stab at a design that seems to be everywhere.  Except modelbooks, that is.  I call it “Pelican with Harpies and an Urn.”  It is one of a set of patterns that crops up again and again  in museum holdings worldwide, most often as a fragment.  It’s clear that unlike many other snippets, these all came from different works, often executed in different styles or stitching media. I’ve posted about this before, but my collection of examples continues to grow, and with it, the general confusion level.

The dilemma comes in because (to my knowledge) there is no existing printed pattern to establish a point of temporal or geographic origin.  But there are lots of examples and they all express the details of the design slightly differently.  Now if there was an authoritative point source that became unavailable, one would expect later iterations to be less detailed, or details to become blurred, through succeeding generations of copyist errors.  We can see that with the oft-studied “boxers” sampler motif in Colonial American samplers – which probably started out as a cherub bearing a flower, but over time became less specific and more stylized, until what remained was a barely discernable chubby humanoid with a club fist. But I can’t arrange the Pelican/Harpy/Urn designs in an ironclad continuum of graduated detail.

Here’s the parade.  The thumbnails are not clickable, please visit the links to see the museums’ higher resolution images.

CH-1.  First is this example from the Cooper-Hewitt’s collection (Accession 1931-66-144).  They date it as being a 17th century work, but do not offer a provenance.  It’s done in silk on linen, with a characteristic tightly drawn background that produces the appearance of mesh, but does not involve withdrawn threads.   Details are rendered in straight stitches, and may include double running or back stitch (it’s hard to tell without seeing the reverse).  The museum acquired it in 1931, as a gift from Sarah Cooper Hewitt.

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CH-2.  The Cooper-Hewitt has another example (Accession 1931-66-142).  This one is specifically called out as being Italian, and is also dated to the 17th century.  It’s a particularly prime piece because it is a full span cut across the end of the towel, cover or cloth it came from. We see the orientation, the top and bottom borders, and how the slightly different side borders framed the work. The museum acquired it in 1931, also as a gift from Sarah Cooper Hewitt.

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HERM-1.  The Hermitage Museum has two examples.  This one is entitled “Valence Embroidered with a Grotesque Motif (fragment),” but the on line page has no accession number.  The full description calls out the linear stitching as being double running (Holbein), and the background as being drawn thread.  They attribute it to Italy, and the 16th century.  The museum got this piece in 1923, via the Stieglitz School, and ultimately from D. Flandin, an antiquarian dealer in Paris.

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MET-1.  Yet another example in the same style.  This one is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Accession 14.134.16a).  The MET cites it as being Italian, and 17th century.  Although this one is at a different museum, and is clearly not a separate piece of either artifact, there’s a connection with the two above. It was acquired in 1914, via the Frederick C. Hewitt Fund.

DP2573-MET

HERM-2.  On to another stitching style.  “Valence Embroidered with a Grotesque Motif” from the Hermitage also has no listed accession number. This piece is lacis (darned filet net).  It’s dated 16th century and placed in Italy.  Although filet work doesn’t allow for the linear details of the red examples above, it’s amazing how much fidelity to the design can be included. Like the other Hermitage piece, it entered their collection via the Stieglitz School Museum in 1923, but came from the collection of J. Kraut, in Frankfurt-am-Main.

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MET-2.  More stitched net, and not another piece of the one above.  This one is also from the MET (Accession 06.582).  It’s cited as being Spanish, from the 17th century.  This piece was acquired in 1906, via the Rogers Fund.

705-MET

 

My Opinions

First of all, I’d agree that the source for these was probably Italian, regardless of where the final objects were collected from.  I’d also agree that very late 16th century, but more probably the early 17th century is reasonable for the whole pattern family based on the style, usages, media, and iconography, plus parallels to other contemporary designs.

On to the motifs themselves.  The version with the most minutely rendered detail is CH-1. Here are close-ups of the birds/urns and harpies from the five, presented in the same order as aboveCH-1-birdCH-1-harpy

CH-1 presents the most detailed urn and pelican of the set. Both are encrusted with small linear features, although the placement of those features is not always symmetrical, nor is it identical from repeat to repeat.  Feathers on the harpy’s body are shown in neat rows, but her wing feathers are very stylized, using right angles rather than diagonals. I’m unsure what she’s holding – a cup or panpipes (perhaps a fancy on my part, to think of that flower as the music of the pipes).  From the patterning, it’s clear that the thing across her middle is her tail, wrapped up from between her legs.

CH-2-birdimage

It’s hard to see clearly, but there are lots of differences between the urns and pelicans in CH-1 and CH-2 (blurry pix above).  It’s clear that both have less detail.  But one of Mother Pelican’s chicks has moved up near her bent head, and another now floats over her back.  The nest detail seen in CH-1 is now symmetrical right and left at the top of the urn, instead of looking like leaves on one side, and scrolls on the other.  The sprouts on either side of the urn’s bulbous body have changed attachment points, and now hang down, instead of growing up as pomegranates.

CH-2’s harpy has retained her hairdo, but her wings are a bit more gracefully rendered, employing 45-degree angles to round off some of the shapes.  Her feathers are more evenly spaced, but her tail is less pronounced, and whatever small markings covered her haunches have been lost in favor of more, smaller feathers.  The thing she’s holding has lost its hatching, and now looks more like a cup than panpipes. She has also inherited another wayward pelican chick.

MET-1-birdMET-1-harpy

MET-1’s urn is in between the other two in terms of detail.  The nest/scroll unit at the top underneath the big pelican has transformed into a chick.  The stitcher chose not to fill in the background in the loop defined by the pelican’s neck.  There is something unidentifiable between the pelican’s legs, and her fathers are somewhat simplified compared to CH-1.  The lower ornament is again descending from the bowl of the urn as leaves, rather than rising from the base.

The harpy too has changed a bit.  In this case, I’d say the sipped/sounded thing has parted company from the hand, and now looks more like panpipes, vaguely supported rather than held.  She’s gotten a bit more balloon-like, and her breast feathers now march row by row.  Her wings however have gotten a bit stunted, and return to a stepwise rendering similar to CH-1, but slightly more clumsy.  The tail is suggested, and the haunches have been returned to stippling rather than feathers.

HERM-1-birdHERM-1-harpy

OK.  It’s clear that detail is going to be lost when you move from ornamented surface stitching to the negative/positive lacy mesh look of the all-white technique.  But even so, a tremendous amount has been preserved.  We see the plumage of Mother Pelican, and even some details on her brood (she’s managed to gather three of them together on top of the urn).  Her nest is symmetrical.  The urn preserves the shapes and proportions of the red stitched pieces, and has grown back the two small pomegranates that grow from the base.

The harpy too preserves a lot of detail, down to the proportions and shapes of its flight feathers, and a bit of the detail inside of the wing.  She’s lost some weight, although her hairdo is less detailed. Breast feathers are present, as is a pretty clearly defined tail.  Stippling on the haunches looks different from the breast plumage, and her feet are now nicely shaped lion paws.

MET-2-birdMET-2-harpy

The final example, MET-2, the Spanish piece, is a bit simplified.  The harpy is less prominent, and the largest space is given over to the urn and pelican, and to the foliate ornament between the repeats.  Mother Pelican’s brood is more suggested than rendered, although her feathers are nicely done.  The urn has the two upward growing pomegranates emerging from the base.

The harpy’s cup/instrument has become less detailed.  It’s unclear what it might be.  Her feathers have given way to geometric ornament, and her tail is suggested in shadow rather than being clearly defined.  Her wings are somewhat like the Hermitage example’s, though.  It’s worth noting that her proportions and body shape are more like CH-1 than the other examples.

One other thing that’s of interest is the presence of the little filled boxes that bead the motif’s edges.  You can see them along the curve of the pelican’s neck, along the harpy’s breast, and lower legs.  They give a lacier appearance to the composition.  I also find little protrusions like this to be extremely valuable as I stitch my motifs because they help me confirm counts and stay true to the design.  Note that they are absent in the other renditions.

 

Now, having our fill of urns and harpies, what can we say about them?

It’s obvious that there is an as-yet unidentified but unifying source for this design.  I posit that there might originally have been a broadside or model sheet that showed the composition.  I guess that it may have been on the count, and that its broad outlines were used to establish the placement of the main design elements.  But I don’t believe that it was followed exactly.  Instead I think each stitcher used it to establish the first iteration of the design, filling in the details and roughly eyeballing their placement, taking inspiration rather than ironclad direction from the model.  Once the first repeat was worked, subsequent repeats and mirrorings were copied from that, with no more call to look at the original.  That’s why the baby birds wander around, while the relatively easy to place urn decoration remains more stable.

Because of the different media and slightly different interpretations of the pattern (especially the pomegranates on the urn, and some differences I didn’t detail in the filler between the main motifs), my guess is that the same design branched into two slightly different but recognizable pattern “traditions,” which in turn spawned child works of their own.  One of those traditions (marked by the upward pomegranates) made the leap from surface work to darned net.

Now.  Which came first?  I can’t say.  On intuition alone I’d go with the fat, balloon-bodied harpy (MET-1) being later than CH-1, and the two white filet pieces belonging to the same “tradition” as CH-1.  That leaves MET-1 and CH-2 as child works of the other branch.

Which came first?  What chronological order can be used for these pieces?  Aside from these idle thoughts, your guess is as good as mine.  If you’ve managed to make it this far, please feel free to differ.  Without detailed analysis or forensic investigations into fiber and dye, we’re all just speculating, anyway.

IT’S NOT A MYTH

I know I’ve been promising for quite a while, but serious progress is being made on The Second Carolingian Modelbook:

book

The thumbnail shows the first fifty or so plates, plus their write-up pages.  There are seventy-five in all, well over 200 patterns, with each and every one linked to a specific historical artifact or primary source.

About two thirds of the patterns are specific for counted linear styles, or mixed linear/voided works.  The rest are solid block unit patterns suitable for background or foreground stitching.  They can also be used for knitting, crochet, marquetry, mosaics, or any other craft that uses charted motifs.

Right now I’m touching up a few of the pages, writing a similar number of comments, plus the intro essay, and cleaning up the bibliography.  I’m torn about including indices like I did in the first book. I don’t think they were of much use, so I am thinking of omitting them in order to get this puppy finished for once and all.

So that’s where I’ve been, and what I’ve been doing.  I promise to trumpet here when the book is available for sale.

NOT HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Whether you’re living abroad, in a dorm, newly moved to a new location, or spending time away from friends and family that you’d normally spend with them, there’s nothing like time zone and distance separation to make one feel disconnected.

It’s Passover time.  We generally don’t make a huge deal of it in our house.  Some years we celebrate the Seder with friends, or travel to Florida to do it with my mother and extended family down there.  But even if we are having a quiet year with minimal fuss, to me at least Passover foods and at the bare minimum – a special dinner – are sure signs of spring and the comfort of home.

I am sure that somewhere here in Pune, matzoh can be had, along with macaroons and other seasonal goodies.  There is after all a Chabad House here in town.  I haven’t found these things yet, but to be fair, I haven’t conducted an exhaustive search, either.  Instead, I improvised our own special dinner last night, roasting a tiny chicken in our Easy Bake Oven, making potatoes and onions, plus a sort of a ratatouille with the local baby eggplants.  We talked about the holiday and the special significance it has to us this year, as literal “strangers in a strange land.”

However I can’t let the holiday time slip by so unmarked.  To make up for that I present some stitched historical artifacts found in museum collections, with direct connection to either the Jewish community of the 1500s, or to the Passover story itself.

First up is this bit of stitching, a Torah binder in the collection of the Jewish Museum in New York:

The full citation for this object is here (accession F-4927; the photo above has been shamelessly borrowed from that website). In short, it is dated on the artifact itself – 1582/3 (Jewish calendar 5343), and was donated by a woman, Honorata, the wife of Samuel Foa, to a congregation in Rome. It’s unclear if she stitched this herself, or if she commissioned it, because the inscription can be interpreted either way: “In honor of the pure Torah, my hand raised an offering… it is such a little one.”

The pattern is so typical of its time: double running stitch (or possibly back stitch, we can’t see the reverse), counted, in silk on linen.  It might be modelbook-derived, although I haven’t spotted the exact source yet or found the same design on another artifact.  I will continue to look for it.  The museum does mention that the Sephardic community of Italy and Turkey commonly used secular design elements for devotional items, and that donation by a woman without a specific dedication in the name of a male child was also a normal practice.

Was this was in fact done by Honorata Foa herself based on a published or copied design?  Did she stitch this as the donation of a home-needlewoman; or was she somehow part of an embroidery atelier or other enterprise, and used her professional skills to make it?  If the latter – was the Roman Jewish community in the late 1500s involved in the production of counted embroidery as a trade?  Obviously, more research here is required.

I have graphed this pattern and will include it in T2CM.  I may also pull together a separate project instruction sheet for a matzoh cover using it and its lettering.

UPDATE:  YES! I knew I’d seen something like this before. This pattern is a very close cousin of the Large Grape Repeat with Matching Border, presented in Plate 71:1 of The New Carolingian Modelbook. It’s not spot on the same, but the leaf shapes, the berries, the crosshatched angular stems joining to a more organic trunk – they are very, very close. That one is also illustrated in Pauline Johnstone’s Three Hundred Years of Embroidery, Wakefield Press, 1986, on page 17. No modelbook or broadside sheet source yet.  Here’s my rendition of 17:1, on a sampler I did back in 1989:

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My stitched version of TNCM 17:1                        My rough plot of Torah binder’s design

One curious note on the Johnstone citation, she notes that the piece she presents was done in chain stitch on the reverse side, to give the appearance of double running or back stitch on the front.

UPDATE UPDATE:  Chris Berry of Glasgow, former Chairman of the Embroiders Guild has sent me a delightful note of clarification.   She has examined the artifact pictured in Ms. Johnstone’s book, and is convinced through close observation that the chain-like appearance on the reverse was in fact a by-product of back stitch. The point of the needle split the floss on the reverse as the back stitches were formed, giving the reverse the look of split or chain stitch.  But it’s back stitch, all the same.  Heartfelt thanks for this information!

 

Here’s the second share.  This is a series of Italian voided work panels depicting scenes from the Passover story.  They are collected at the Cleveland Museum of Art, dated to the 16th-17th century.  I’d guess from the inscriptions that they were not made for a Jewish audience.

The final plague, on the first-born (accession 1939.355):

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Preparing unleavened bread and crossing the Red Sea (1939.353):
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Baking of unleavened bread: (accession 1939.354)

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The Red Sea overwhelming Pharaoh’s army (accession 1939.352):

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It’s pretty obvious that these are all fragments of the same work or pieces made and intended to be displayed together – a series of panels with vignettes of the story, spaced out with floral ornament between.  As to technique, there were several ways to produce a voided piece.  One was clearly counted, with the design elements being plotted out on the ground cloth based on a full graph of some sort, and replicated true from repeat to repeat.  These panels weren’t made that way.  Not even the narrow borders are count-true.  I would hazard that the images were sketched onto the cloth, then outlined in double running or back stitch.  After the lines were established, the background was filled in using long-armed cross stitch. I would also guess that the lace applied along the bottom edge is needle-made, not bobbin lace.

So there you have it.  Pesach far away from home, enlivened by holiday-themed needlework.

Happy holidays, Chag Sameach! Enjoy.

IN WHICH WE BUY FURNITURE

On Saturday past, for something to do, we wandered out to visit several antique and decorative item shops nearby.  We’ve been looking for smaller items to bring back home:

chair

We’ve been looking for a second chair for our living room for a very long time. 

We found this in Just Antiques, on North Main Road here in Pune.  They specialize in pieces made from repurposed wood.  This piece is aged teak.  The back is a recycled piece of interior paneling or carved window screening.  The origin of the legs and seat platform are less discernable. 

When we get home we’ll lose the egregious purple foam cushion.  I’m now on the lookout for a length of embroidery, a small weaving or lightweight rug that can be used to cover a sprung cushion.  I think that a very thick knife-edge piece with a center button would look far better than the slab of purple cheese that’s there right now.  Perhaps next week’s trip to Kerala and the beach will turn up something appropriate.

We also got a small shelf/coat rack at Ra in Kalyani Nagar.  That is destined to go behind our front door, also in the living room.  It’s a simple wood shelf, with antique cast iron side brackets sporting pierced ornamentation, and a wrought crossbar below the shelf to which is attached four large wrought coat hooks. We have no front or reception closet, and it will be nice to have a place to hang guests’ coats when they visit.  I do not show pix today because it is securely wrapped for shipment, and I don’t want to undo its bubble-wrap cocoon.

SOME MORE SAMOSA

The Samosa Vest is marching along quite nicely.  I’ve done it entirely ad hoc – no advance planning, no writing anything down (which is refreshingly liberating, for a change).  It’s been sort of sculptural, with problems worked out on the fly.  Still – there weren’t many.  Here are the front and back views:

taiyo-vest-4taiyo-vest-3

You can see that I’ve finished the body strips, wrapping the three primary ones around the front.  I did some minor shaping on the fourth, to add a bit of of a bust dart to the general shape.  Then I filled in two little patches under each arm.  After that the front was substantively done.  The next step was to pick up and knit the next strip, which outlined the upper back.  I continued on from there, until the space in the center became too small for two mitered corners.  At that point, I winged it – filling in the center back with a smaller shape, partially contoured with short rows, and a center-back join.  The result is rather like a racer back, and is quite flattering on Younger Daughter (modeled pix when done). 

I grafted off or picked up and knit the shoulders.  Finally I worked an i-cord edging around the entire outer edge to give the body a bit more firmness, and for a more professional finish.  It’s much nicer than the flabby chain selvedge edge that was there before.

Now I’ve got one last problem – there’s a Romulan (or Fire Kingdom) point at the top of each armhole.  I picked out one side and re-knitted it, but the point remains.  Time for some more noodling on possible fixes.  Once I’ve got that repair done, it’s i-cord around the armhole edges, and I’m finished.

Suggestions for possible fixes would be most graciously accepted!

SAMOSA VEST PROGRESS

As you can see, I’m making quick progress on my Samosa Vest.  Right now it’s just a single confusing strip of garter stitch knitting, with a couple of mitered corners and some angles thrown in.  But when you pat it into shape, the concept emerges:

Taiyo-vest-1

Ignoring the confusing letters for the moment, you can see the basic outline – the vee-neck, and the bottom edge that defines the width of the finished piece.

I cast on 13 stitches at A.  I knit a garter diagonal band, increasing on one side of the strip and decreasing on the other every other row to achieve the angle.  When my neckline was deep enough (B), I switched to working straight – a plain old 13-stitch strip until I was about 2 inches shy of my desired length.  Then I worked a wrapped short-row miter, making the corner at C.  I then knit across the bottom edge of the front, across the entire back (unseen, from D to E), then back across the front to the center point.  Again, about two inches shy of the center point, I did another miter (F).  After that I worked straight up to point G.  I reversed the shaping of my initial angled strip to create its mirror image, from G to H. 

Then exactly as I did in my Motley blanket, I cast off 12 stitches, added 12 and proceeded to work the second strip, knitting it onto the established edge strip as I went along.  I worked miters again at points K and N.  You can see I’m past O, headed back up to the shoulder where I initially cast on.

I will continue in this manner for one more strip.  That will make the shoulders of the piece about as wide as the shoulders of the target tee-shirt I am using as my size model.  At that point I’ll have to figure out how to fill in extra bits on the sides and in the center of the back.  But so far the thing has come together exactly as I envisioned.  And quickly, too!

JUST BECAUSE IT’S ALMOST DONE…

…is no reason to rip it out because some other fool idea has wrestled you to the ground, wrapped yarn tendrils around your brain, and has refused to let go.

So.

I started making a Lightning Shawl, one of the 10-stitch variant family of patterns posted by Frankie Brown

deadshawl-1

I only have two skeins of Noro Taiyo Sock yarn.  That’s barely enough to make a skimpy shawl.  You can see I’ve got five strips done.  I have enough yarn to complete about eight pattern strips (and maybe a bit more) – a couple strips narrower than the ten strips specified by the pattern. 

You can see that I was pretty far along, well into my second skein, and the growing shawl looks pretty good.  The drape is nice too.  In fact I’d recommend this yarn for the Lightning Shawl, but preferably 2.5 or 3 hanks, so that the final piece is of generous proportion.  But I digress.

This afternoon after knitting on the thing for a whole week, I ripped it out.  Every stitch.  All that’s left is a pile of yarn balls and my two needles.

I’ve got this mad idea that I have enough yardage here to make a cropped, boxy vest type thing.  And I want to do it somewhat along the lines of my Taco Coat:

 tacofront-bigtacoback-big

Now this isn’t going to be as huge as the coat (that’s big enough to be a blanket with sleeves); and I probably will make it in one piece rather than a right and left, joined at the spine.  But it will use the same idea of the outside edge and in working logic.  The first strip will proceed from the shoulder into a wide V-neck, and down the front center, then mitered at 90-degrees, across the bottom of the hem and all the way around the back, returning to the front, climbing back up the front center and ending at the opposite shoulder.  If I do this right it will work out not unlike a Surprise Jacket, with the only seaming being across the top of the shoulders..

I have no idea if this is going to work or not.  Nor am I going to draft up a pattern before I begin.  I’m going to cast on for that outermost strip, and as I go, compare it to a t-shirt with the boxy fit I am looking for.  And then just wing it. 

If nothing else, this project (code named Samosa Vest*) should make for some entertaining reading here, with lots of Doh!-moments and a few painful lessons learned.

 

* Just because.  I am in India, after all, and a first cousin to the Taco Coat should also have a wrapped-snack-food name.

NOTHING IS PERFECT

And foremost among the imperfect is me.

Case in point:

red-lace-tragedy

Here you see my beaded red lace scarf.  I wanted to relax it a bit prior to adding on the deep lace edging, in order to make doing so easier.  So I began pinning it out for steaming.  Pressing it is right out because of the beads, but steaming should have set the acrylic nicely, smoothing out the selvedges for ease of access.

AAAGH!

It’s obvious that I as I was tooling along nearing the finish line I didn’t pay attention.  I missed catching all three loops of a tricky double decrease.  When I applied light tension with the pins, the unsecured stitches popped out.

The lace patterning is a bit complex here, otherwise I’d consider just mounting the fallen stitches on DPNs and re-knitting that little bit, securing the final stitch with a bit of darning.  But  I think that I’ll probably have to unpick the cast off row (here at the bottom of the photo), then unravel the final half motif or so, remount all the stitches, and re-knit.  Provided of course that this is the ONLY mistake of this type in the entire 5.5 foot long piece.

Moral of the story – overconfidence is bad.  Check your work.  Give a light tug every now and again to make sure your stitches are true.

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