Where have I been? In Pune, but now home in the US for a brief visit. What have I been doing? Mostly wallowing in ennui. For whatever reason, I have not been motivated to do much, not working on projects, researching, or writing here.
I can report that aside from the transoceanic trip, we did do one major thing. We hosted a “happy hour” party for 25 of The Resident Male’s coworkers, holding it at the apartment. I did all of the prep and cooking. I made samosas, falafel, hummus, guacamole, and Chinese scallion pancakes (adding some minced hot peppers to the scallions). I also improvised a mixed olive salad, and paneer with a Thai-style peanut sauce. Everyone had a good time, and using consumption as a barometer – the snacks were well received. The scallion pancakes in particular were prime, and a do-again, for sure!
There is some minimal progress on my latest shawl. I test-knit a new MMarioKnits product, but others were far speedier than me. Most of the corrections I found were posted by others, and my finished project was not completed in time for photography for the cover of the pattern. The main reason for this was a major lace disaster. While photographing the piece, I managed to drop upwards of 90 stitches, and needed to ravel back to a solid point and re-knit. After coming in so slowly for completion, I decided to punt the official as-written, minimal bind-off treatment, and add a knit-on lace edging. I selected a simple one from Sharon Miller’s Heirloom Knitting, picked both for complimenting the lines of the shawl’s main motifs, and for being a multiple of 12 rows, and began. I’m about two-thirds of the way around my circumference, and hope to be done soon.
However, just because I’ve been a slouching, IPad/browser game playing slacker, doesn’t mean the rest of the world stands still.
I’ve said before that I get an enormous kick out of seeing what people do with the patterns and designs I post. Occasionally, folk write to me to ask questions, or send me photos. Other times, I track links to my pages back to the point of origin. If I stumble across something I ask the owner if I can repost their work here, with links or attributions as they desire. Here are the products of two people who sent me pix of their stitching this month.
Elaine from Australia delighted me with these two projects that include filling motifs from Ensamplario Atlantio:
Both were presents for friends. I’m not sure which one I like more – the piece for the Kiwi audiophile, or the one for the Lovecraft aficionado.
Meanwhile, Jordana in New York used two of the Ensamplario designs for the cover of a charming two-sided needle case. Here are her photos of the work in progress, and the finished item:
Well done to Elaine and Jordana! Special thanks to both of them for making my day!
Well, here I am on row 157 of Dozen, with about another 20 or so to go.
It’s a wild zaggedy thing, for sure. I also have to say that this is the last picture I’ll be posting of the thing spread out until I’m all finished and bound off. I lost 30 or so stitches in pinning this, and am not relishing going back the five or six rounds I need to now, in order to rescue them.
The directions end with a plain bind-off. I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m planning on knitting an edging onto the live stitches. Which one, I’m not sure yet. It needs a very solid element in order to frame all this wild zappage, along with some sort of coordinating triangle or dag to carry the theme forward. I may end up having to cobble something together, or design my own to work with the last row’s stitch count.
Am I pleased with the result so far? Yes and no. I’m having fun knitting this, but I have to say that I now that I see it all expanded, I think that the outermost 20 or so rounds shown above are too textured, and detract from the star-like center.
Off to perform CPR on those 30 stitches…
First, for Davey – the wildly loud sofa pillow covers to coordinate with the wildly loud rug:
I picked the blue, red/orange stripe, and turquoise/gold from memory, and they work, even in spite of my equivocal photographic skills, and the flash-wash that makes the red pillow look paler than in real life. There are six pillows in total, two of each fabric.
Moving on, here’s progress through Row 103 of the Dozen shawl that I’m test-knitting:
It’s growing into a feral, interlaced dahlia of a design, which you can begin to see in this rough pin-out. Additional width will be more of the same.
And then there’s the Sarah Collins sampler kit, upon which I’ve started but have made no real progress:
Maybe I’ve ridden at liberty for too long, working at whim instead of direction. Maybe I’m too much of a tinkerer to do a stitched design laid out by someone else, or I have a touch of compulsive perfectionist in my soul – but for whatever reason, this kit is already driving me nuts. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a complete kit, thoughtfully laid out and as a reproduction, extremely well documented. The unruly element is me.
For example, it pains me to mindlessly duplicate the mistakes laid down by the original stitcher. See that twist column to the left of the frame? That’s verbatim to the pattern’s directions. But I tried, and tried, but just couldn’t let it sit that way. See the twist inside the frame, with the completed centers? I **had** to do it. I’ll probably pick out the offending imperfect twist and re-do it to match the edited bit.
There’s also working up the double running for this panel in two colors of sienna. The blue flower doesn’t bother me, I find that adorable. But using two threads for the framing spiral, alternating colors is maddening. It’s clear to me that dear Sarah might not have marled and finger-spun her threads properly, or perhaps ran out of one of the two shades, and that’s why the panel is done in alternating two-tone. It’s all I can do to grit my teeth and work as directed, because if I don’t, I risk running out of a color before the kit is done. Getting more matching thread, especially here, would be difficult in the extreme.
And then there’s the format of the charts. They’re huge, and orchestrate a stitch for stitch path, with every single one numbered. There are sufficient map pages in the thing to chart one’s way from Boston to Mumbai by rail (including the sunken parts via Atlantis). Paging through them is an exercise in where-the-heck-is-page-2b-left-got-to-now?” – then finding it under the sofa.
I’m also not fond of the indicated stitch logic. The paths described are not the ones I would choose. I tend to key off established bits, so that I can proof new sections against clean counts as I work. There’s too much “where no man has gone before” in this piece, with extremely long runs worked in advance of the growing body of work, and no way to confirm fidelity as one progresses.
Is there a moral to this story? Perhaps, not. But I have to admit that today’s post reveals that I’m a ruthless stickler for detail, caught up in color matching from memory, precision adherence to knitting patterns (where forays into originality are better left for after one has grokked the source design); but temperamentally incapable of similar fidelity to oh-so-obvious stitching directions. Mark it up as another character flaw, pass me a glass of wine, and move on, please.
Well, having finished the Dragon Stole by the prolific MmarioKnits, I thought it would be helpful if I gave back a bit. So I decided to test-knit one of his newer patterns. Mmario appears to design on paper, spewing out lace patterns like rain from a garden sprinkler, in dazzling abundance. Then a coterie of the faithful test-knit the patterns. Their efforts provide the photos that accompany the designs, and they catch errors or discrepancies in the directions. I chose “Dozens” – a 12-panel shawl, for which I saw no prior testing effort. Dozens isn’t available yet on Ravelry – just on the MmarioKnits test-knitting group on Yahoo.
Here are the first 60 or so rows, roughly spread out on two circs and pinned so you can see the detail:
I found a correction, dutifully sent in and now present in the pattern’s master. I am hoping that I haven’t committed any mistakes yet, although I do see one awkward bit that I’m hoping will block out (the stitches are correct, just bumpy). I’m another 20 or so rows past this point now, so additional pix will follow soon.
I’m enjoying this – knitting up a “mystery project” for which I have no prior pix is fun. I find myself looking forward to seeing what each new pattern segment adds to the growing pile.
For yarn, I’m using Elann.com Peruvian Baby Lace Merino – a gift from Long Time Needlework Pal and Co-Enabler, Kathryn. The Tapestry Blue color rather more of a medium blue than the light Wedgewood it looks like in the flash photo above. I chose it because I had plenty, it’s a very nice, stretchy, uniform, two-ply laceweight, and will photograph well, unlike the mass of black and navy lace yarn I also brought. (Aside: I’m saving a huge 4189 yard hank of Jaggerspun Main Line 2/20 in black for the Sharon Miller Princess Shawl. I bought that pattern a while back, and have saved it for The Right Knitting Moment. I’ve got it here in my India survival kit, too.)
For aids, I’m working with twelve small markers, and have the PDF on my iPad, where I’m making annotations as I go using PDF Max Pro. It’s one of may PDF annotation apps. I happened to luck into it for free via the AppsGoneFree app. Other PDF reading/management apps occasionally appear there, too.
In other news, I have now golfed here in Pune. No holes or flags need fear my approach shots. The Resident Male however was quite deadly on the course this weekend past.
LATE BREAKING UPDATE: CHART FOR VARIANT SHOWN BELOW IS NOW AVAILABLE IN THE KNITTING PATTERNS SECTION OF STRING, ABOVE.
It’s finished. Not blocked, but done.
I can’t block it here – there’s no place for me to pin it out, the floors being marble and the beds being too small. I had a lot of fun with this, both working from the original MMarioKnits design, and adding in the center mermaid, from the Renaissance graph that descended to MMario, via his Victorian era source.
Finished pre-block dimension: approximately 90 inches x 22.5 inches (228.6cm x 57.2cm). With very little coaxing this will block out to at least 100 inches x 25 inches.
I can’t give an approximation of yarn consumption. I worked from a cone of Valley Yarns 8/2 Tencel. I have more than half the cone left, although I don’t have a scale to weigh it to confirm the quantity. I enjoyed the yarn – it was smooth, evenly spun, shiny and well behaved throughout. It never kinked or came off the cone in tangles. Although most people use it for weaving, I’d recommend it highly for lace knitting, for its lush, silk like luster; its handling, and finished fabric texture; and for its excellent value. I’d buy it again, for sure.
I’m not sure what’s next. I saw extremely little interest in my offer to graph up and possibly re-knit the doodle scarf. That’s a lot of work, so I will probably skip it unless there’s an outcry of desire.
I may play more with this style of filet knitting, mess with something from one of the lace books I brought with me. I may take a side trip into filet crochet, do some stitching – or I may do something else entirely. The possibilities are endless. Or at least as deep as my box of refugee’s needlework supplies. Stay tuned!
And more progress on the stole. As I said before, we’re on the downhill leg of this journey – the challenges are all now put to bed, and things are just sailing along:
Here’s the whole thing, folded on the bed, just to prove that I’m not unraveling from the beginning end. This is a king-size bed, so you can imagine how long the thing is now!
I anticipate finishing up by the coming weekend, latest. Blocking however will have to wait. I’ve got no soft surfaces in this apartment large enough to do it, since pins don’t stick well in bare marble floors.
To do that I’d need to roll up my sleeves and figure out what the heck I did. Also do the graphs. I adapted this from designs in the Duchrow books, and considerable reinterpretation into modern notation was necessary. But what I won’t have would be yarn quantities – the scarf is at home on the other side of the world.
So the question – would a pattern without yarn quantities be useful? Would you be interested in knitting up something like this?
I’m in the home stretch now, well past the line of reflection in the center. The figures at this point are straight repeats of those already accomplished. Plus I’ve long since aged off the line by line prose instructions. It’s far easier – for me at least – to keep track of where I am and spot check my progress against a visual chart than a mass of line by line directions.
And here’s a close-up of the center mermaid for Kathryn and Hastings:
The first shot above was taken with the stole patted out on my bed. It’s worth noting that it’s a king-size bed, and the stole as it is right now stretches almost entirely across. I don’t know how I’m going to block it here because I can’t pin it to the marble floors. I might have to wait until we get a rug, provided of course, the rug is large enough.
In other news, India continues to delight and baffle me. A new found friend gave me a flyer for a western-style bakery that does home delivery. Tired of supermarket bread and my own feeble attempts at roti and parathas, we chanced it. “Look! Bagels and Danish!” Here’s what we got:
The Danish were nice – flaky, but very sweet. These are fruit. The cheese ones were also flaky, and being less sweet, even better.
The bagels though were open to wider interpretation. As a toroid breakfast bread, they were fine grained, more like a pierced Pullman loaf than a bagel, clearly made from a raised dough with more butter in it than the bagel standard. Also they were neither boiled nor crusty. However they did go nicely toasted, with butter and cheese. The verdict – o.k., certainly a better start to the morning than the local equivalent of Wonder Bread, but are perhaps an bagel incarnation informed only by pictures, conceptualized and baked by someone who has never eaten one. But labels are only labels. I say pass the “bagel” – tomorrow’s will go great with Nutella.
Rolling right along with my amended Dragon Stole. I’m now officially past the half-way point. Everything from here on in mirrors what has happened before.
The undine turns out to have a rather small head for all that body, and a face and gesture rather like that of Mr. Bill:
I guess, surrounded as she is by two rather formidable hippocampi, she’s caught in the middle of saying “OHHH, NOOOOOO!”
A semi-quiet weekend here at String.
First, progress on my Dragon Stole, which I’ve modded to include the central undine from its pattern’s ultimate ancestor:
Mods include the star above the beastie’s eye, the large flower in front of it, and beginning of the mermaid at the right.
You can see that my spool of Valley Yarns Tencel 8/2 has been barely diminished by all this knitting. The tencel is quite easy to work with, a bit slippery compared to cotton (which for me is a good thing), but less slippery than rayon. It doesn’t roll back on itself to kink, even coming off the cone. Being about half done at this point, I estimate that my cone, claimed by Webs to have 3360 yards on it, will be ample for 8-10 shawls of this size. At around $25 for the cone, I’d rate it as a very good buy. Aside – if you’re budget challenged or packing for an extended stay somewhere, consider taking up lace knitting. Lace offers the most knitting satisfaction per dollar invested on materials, and per square inch of suitcase space.
Then, coincident with the Indian nation’s Republic Day, Younger Daughter’s school had their annual field day – a morning of track and field events pitting the Indus International School’s various houses against each other. Phoenix, Orion, Hercules, and Pegasus have vied all year for points in academics, debating, deportment, and sporting events, just like at Hogwarts. Field day is the culmination of the annual competition.
Assignment to the houses appears to be pretty arbitrary, no sorting hat here. Younger Daughter was shuffled off to Hercules on the whim of the admitting administrator. Hercules took first place in the day’s marching. Here they are, behind their blue flag:
Perhaps the most fun of the day was the kids vs. faculty tug of war, where (no surprise) the myrmidons of the massed houses triumphed over their long-suffering teachers. Younger Daughter’s sense of triumph is palpable:
Phoenix house won the 2012 house trophy. I hear the kids are already plotting new domination strategies for 2013.
Progress on several fronts here. Slow, for sure – but progress.
First, my MMarioKKnits Dragon Stole continues to grow:
Both Long Time Needlework Pal Kathryn and I were convinced we’d seen this beastie before.
Sure enough, blessed by the local resource fairy, and well versed in Siebmacher’s oeuvre, Kathryn managed to dig up the original, from the 1603 edition of Siebmacher’s Shon Neues Modelbuch. I got in touch with MMarioKKnits himself to ask if he used the Siebmacher when he drew up his pattern, or if he remembered some other secondary source that was his inspiration. Many of these designs were re-collected in the mid 1800s, when counted work went through a major renaissance, some of which was inspired by actual Renaissance pattern books. I suspected that one of these mid 1800s collections was the source in question.
MMario confirmed that he indeed started with a mid 1800s work, but he didn’t remember which one. He pointed me at the Antique Pattern Library (more on this below). I’m pretty familiar with their inventory, but wasn’t able to find his secondary source either.
There are some differences between the MMario version and the one from 1603 – as one would expect in a multi-century game of garbled pattern transmission telephone – but the main motif, a hippocampus (not a dragon) is spot on count for count the same. Why do I think it’s a hippocampus? Because these designs were highly thematic, and a mermaid would be more likely to keep company with a mythical sea-steed than a dragon.
I’ve got official permission from MMario to post some quotes from his graph in order to put the changes in context. The black squares are the same in his rendition and the 1603 Siebmacher version. The red squares are from 1603, and are different from his design. The majority of the beastie is the same in both.
This center panel – a dual tailed undine similar to the one used by Starbucks in its logo – can be used as a drop in, inserted right into the MMario piece to make a wider stole.
The other modification is in the tail. MMario’s beast has an elongated tail swirl with a nifty trifoliate tail. But in the original we see instead a smaller, tighter spiral sweep, a large quaternary flower, and the implication of a bridged mirroring putting two hippocampi tail to tail, centered around a second “bounce line.” Please note that I’ve not included the whole dragon repeat in order to keep from stepping on MMario’s pattern toes. You’ll have to visit his design to get the rest of it.
I’m going to attempt to introduce the center mermaid into my Dragon Stole. Wish me luck!
Aside on Antique Pattern Library – this is a non-profit, volunteer effort to scan and preserve out of print documents and ephemera related to needle and domestic arts. They have a huge collection of public domain embroidery, knitting, crochet, tatting, sewing and crafts books and leaflets dating from before 1920. A large proportion are from 1860 through 1910 or so. They even have a couple of early Modelbooks thrown in! As a reference, its invaluable. As an archive of women’s history, even more so. I strongly urge everyone to visit, to sample some of the freely available resources there, and most important – to donate to sustain the collection. It’s no secret that they live hand to mouth. I’d truly love to see them do so a bit longer.