Having finished the poncho yesterday, I scuff around with what little yarn remains here in the house (my stash being stowed in the storage cubby pending our upcoming move.)

At theGore Place SheepshearingFestival last month I bought two skeins of hand-spunfine gaugeMerinofrom Greenwood Hill Farm. Each is around200 yards so I have about 400 yardstotal. In my opinion it’s more like a light fingering weight than a truelace weight. I bought them with a lacy scarf in mind. No pattern in particular. I thought I’d noodle out one on my own.

I’ve decided to make a piece with two fancy ends, a rather plain but coordinating lacy middle, andtrimmed all the way around with a killer edging.

I swatched on several size needles, and decided I liked the way that lacy stitches felt when knit on a US #6. (That’s an argument that this stuff is trulyfingering weight, because I like lace weight knit on #3s.) Gauge is hard to estimate because I haven’t decided on pattern stitches yet, but I’m not worried about making a scarf fit. The various lacypatterns I played with worked up at between 5.5 and 5 stitches per inch, so I know roughly how wide a pattern I should be looking for to make a scarf of around 5 inches in diameter.

To that end I started paging through some of my knitting books and stitch dictionaries today. I found several things that had elements I liked. First, I found a wide diamond band in Lewis’ Knitting Lace (pattern #42). Nice wide diamond frames, filled with a smaller diamond pattern in the center. It’s a 12-stitch repeat, with 2 stitches before and one stitch after the end repeats. That’s 15 total for one repeat. Narrow, but I’m planning on adding an edging.

To complement the diamond pattern, I’m looking at a couple of simple lace grounds. Right now the leading candidate is a mini leaf pattern from Walker 1 (p.215, #3 in the set), but I’m not sure it will work out. I’d like to use a divider to set this pattern off from the diamonds. I’ve always liked a plain row of YO, K2tog framed by garter stitch welts.

Finally we get to the killer edging. I’m looking at Heirloom Knitting by Miller, the Victorian Zigzag Edging on p. 125. That’s a WIDE piece as written – 20 stitches at cast-on, widening to 26. I might have to eliminate some of the openwork on the attachment side to slim it down some.

The next step is to swatch a bit with each of the given patterns. Before I do that however, I’m going to redraft them using a uniform symbol set and put all the patterns I intend to try out on one sheet of paper. It’s easy enough to adapt to each book’s ideosyncratic style of stitch representation, but it’s a pain to switch gears between systems and flop all those heavyvolumes around while I’m knitting.

I give no guarantee that this process will lead to an Actual Design. I begin two or three of these for every one that ends up as an on-the-needles project.

In the mean time just to have something mindless on the needles for last night’s and tonight’s weekend sofa movies, I took my other Sheepshearing Festival acquisition and cast on for another felted pillow similar to the one I did in Manos del Uruguaywool. This one is also done in the rustic Nick’s Meadow Farm yarn I’ve mentioned before. The pale blue, light moss green, and light butter yellow skeins together cost less than one skein of Manos.

The movies that accompany this excercise in autopilot garter stitch? Last night it was Master and Commander. Tonight it’s John Cleese in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. If you like either adventure stories or Jane Austin, you’ll enjoy the series of books from which the former was adapted. The movies skipped over the whole drawing-room/social manners side of O’Brian’s books, especially the rivalries in love that divide the two lead characters. As for the Shrew – it’s so non-PC it’s over the top, but it’s also one of my favorite plays. I’m really looking forward to seeing Cleese as Petruchio, and finding out how the actors cast as Katherine and Grumio stand up to him.

Back to knitting. Thumbing through my stitch books I lighted againupon Indian Cross Stitch (Walker I, p. 112), a variant on enlongated stitches. I used itinmy Suede T. It seems that in just the past three months, I’ve seen elongated stitches, including this oneand Seafoam (Walker II, p. 21 ) all over the place,including the latest Interweave Knits and Knitters, Berroco’s patterns, and Lana Grossa’s patterns. Given the long lead time of both magazine and yarn makers’ pattern development cycles, it’s always interesting to see the same idea hit multiple sources at the same time. Shadow knitting cropped up in parallel issues of IK and Knitters a while back. Lacy knitting featuring lily of the valley-inspired textures is another recurring theme (IK led the pack with Forest Path last summer).

About the only explanations for this parallelism I can come up withare that the designing knitting community is quite small; some things are natural fits (elongated stitches work well with ribbons, ribbons are hot right now); and many designers draw inspiration from the same fashion industry sources (deconstructed/slashed looks were big on the runways two seasons ago, and it takes a season or two for runway ideas to percolate into retailknitting patterns.)

So far most sources talk about doing the elongated stitches do them with the multiple wrap method. Can a revival of Condo Knittingbe far behind?

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