Author Archive: kbsalazar

WHEN IS MORE OF THE SAME NOT MORE OF THE SAME?

Another post that only a stitching history nerd will love.

The last post explored some differences between modelbooks that looked like they featured the same patterns, but in fact were not printed from the same plate.  This one looks at one of the most widely reprinted and well known modelbook authors – Johann Siebmacher, and three of his works, all available in on-line editions.  All of the excerpts below are from these three sources:

  1. Schön Neues Modelbuch von allerley lustigen Mödeln naczunehen, zuwürcken unn zusticken, gemacht im Jar Ch. 1597, Nurmberg, 1597, – the source work for Mistress Kathryn Goodwyn’s Needlework Patterns from Renaissance Germany
  2. One reprinted in 1886 as Kreuzstich- Muster: 36 Tafeln des Ausgabe, 1604, that calls out Siebmacher as its author.
  3. One indexed simply as Newes Modelbuch with him as author, possibly 1611, but unclear from the source

Many of the designs in these books seem to repeat edition to edition.  Some are unique to only one.  Before we begin, it’s worth remembering that these books are survivals.  Long use and reuse over decades have resulted in page loss.  None of the editions are complete, as in “all intact in one original binding,” and some may have been re-composed at a later date from other partial works.  But we do what we can with what we have, and Siebmacher’s editions have title pages in them, and distinctive numbering and framing conventions that can lead to a reasonable conclusion that they were from the same printing workshop.

All of the books show graphed designs suited for reproduction using several techniques, including various styles of voided work on the count, lacis (darned knotted net), and buratto (darned woven mesh).  Twp of them also include patterns that would be suitable for other forms of lace.  Over time these patterns went on to be executed in weaving, cross stitch, filet crochet, and knitting, too. The descendants of these designs ended up in multiple folk traditions and samplers on both sides of the Atlantic.

In addition to the longevity of their contents, Sibmachers books are among the earliest that seem to indicate execution of the design using more than one color or texture, a feature not common in the black-and-white printed early modelbooks.  Here are examples the first two books.  But I don’t think that these pages were originally printed two-tone.  I think they were hand-colored to add the darker squares, either at the time of manufacture or later.

1597 The possibly 1611 edition
sib-1 sib-2

Obviously, the two samples above were printed from the same block. But the pattern of the darker squares is different, and if you look closely, the some of the solid squares looked colored in, as opposed to having been originally printed that way.  I can say the retoucher who did the 1597 was a bit neater.  I don’t think these were colored by the book buyer, because every single edition of Siebmacher’s works that I’ve seen have included multi-tone pages like this.

Here are other single- and multi-tone blocks that repeat between these two editions:

1597 The possibly 1611 edition
sib-3 sib-4
sib-7 sib-8
sib-9
sib-10The brown ink on the G near the talon matches the color of the hand-drawn designs at the back of the book – post-publication additions.

The 1604 edition has similar pages that sport two-tone presentation:

sib 11

But these books are not the same.

That 1604 edition…  It’s curious that there are no blocks that are in the other two Siebmacher works that are also in the 1604 edition, yet all three books are clearly signed by him.  And the majority of the block labels that show stitch counts for the repeat, or pattern height in units – they are curiously different between the 1604 and the others, too.  But still, there evidence of style affinity across the works.  Zeroing in on some specific pattern features:

A very familiar stag, that shows up on some of the earliest samplers, with descendants on American Colonial samplers, all the way up to pieces done in the 1800s.

1604 1597
 sib-11 sib-12

Similar, yet not the same.

Here is a set that’s confounding.  First the hippogriff and undine from 1604:

sib-13

Compare the item above to these two designs – a winged triton and an undine, each from the 1597 work:

sib-14 sib-15

Lions rampant?

1604 1597
sib-16 sib-17

Even the geometrics are close but not duplicates

1604 1597
sib-18 sib-19

All this aside, even the seemingly close 1597 and possibly-1611 versions have significant differences between them, although they do have exact page duplicates between them. Not so with 1604 – it’s unique when closely compared to the other two, even though all three have the same author attribution, and very similar styles.  This is VERY odd considering the vast amount of physical labor that had to go into producing these blocks.

So.  What’s going on with the 1604 edition?  Why is it so different from the other two?  Has anyone read an academic work that examines this issue in more detail, or corroborates these findings with other editions that are not published on line?

So many patterns, so many questions, so little time to do in depth research.

ONE DESIGN’S MIGRATION

Early stitching modelbooks.  They so often look the same, page after page. Where did I see that design before?  Why is it oh, so familiar?

And so we launch again into a post that only a stitching geek would love.

Early European modelbooks produced by sixteenth century printers in Italy, Germany and France often include similar patterns.  Often the same patterns.  Sometimes patterns SO much alike that one would think they were printed from the same blocks.  In some cases, especially if one printer did successive editions of work, that’s entirely likely.  In other cases, where the same block appears in works from different shops – that’s not entirely clear.  Especially if the workshops of the various printers were separated by geography and/or time.  However it happened – trade in blocks, plagiarism from printed copy, whatever – it is clear that considerable cross-pollination did occur.

Here is just one example.

This is from Niccolo d’Aristotile’s (called Zoppino) Venice-published Ensamplairo di Lavoiri, 1530/1531, as redacted as Volume I of Kathryn Goodwyn’s Flowers of the Needle collection (left).  At right I show the same page from an original (unredacted) copy of the same book in the Gallica BNF20 collection, to remove doubt about any assertions I made below being artifacts of cleaning up for reprint.  Watch those two center designs:

FOTN-1-zop zoppino-2

1530/31, Italy is pretty early, right?

Well, there’s this.  Johann Schonsperger the Younger, from 1529, published in Augsberg, Germany  This is from Ein new getruckt model Buchli auf außnehen, vnnd bortten wircken..., in the collection of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, #0S-1473-kl, as presented via Bildindex.

Schonsperger-1

Not surprisingly, Johann Schonsperger’s earlier work, Ein new Modelbuch auff auaußnehen vnd bortern wircken.. from 1526 (also from Augsberg) has the exact same page.  Also from Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, #0S-1472, as presented via Bildindex.

Schonsperger-2

So we’ve traced this panel back to a 1526 edition, published in Germany.   But were all of these printed from the same blocks?

I’d say that the two Schonsperger pages were certainly produced from the same blocks.  They have the same curious features and mistakes.

compare-1

By contrast, here are the same sections from the Zoppino work, with the same areas highlighted:

Compare-2

Yup.  The little crescent is missing, and the lower arm of the fleur-de-lis type detail with the clumsy header is gone entirely – the design is truncated, leaving it on the cutting room floor.  There are other differences – mistakes made in one version of the design but not in the other, that you would only notice if you were trying to redraft or stitch from each pattern.

So in this one case,  I’d posit that a copy of a printed page from Schonsperger in Augsberg – either as part of a book, or as a broadside – made its way to Venice, where it was seized upon and re-rendered for inclusion in Zoppino’s collections.   Which is pretty much counter to the intuitive argument that I’ve seen many make – that these counted patterns all originated in Italy and then spread north.  Of course there may be another printed copy even earlier than Schonsperger…

Oh, and this design in particular?  I’ve always been fascinated by the narrow border with its strong directionality. I posited in The New Carolingian Modelbook, that based on similarities to examples of Tiraz band calligraphy done on the count, as appearing in Richard Rutt’s book A History of Hand Knitting, 1989, that this motif may have been copied (possibly without knowing what it represented) from an extant piece of stitching, rug, or other textile from an Islamic workshop.  If that’s true, it would make the design’s peregrinations even more impressive.  Somewhere in the Islamic world, to Germany, then to Italy.  And on from there…

 

 

BUSY BUSY BUSY

I wish I weren’t but it’s been so, and for a while.

Sadly this means that not much substantive is getting done on any of my main projects.  I feel quite badly about this because I promised a pair of Octopodes Mittens to a niece.  Thanks to the ungentle hands of the Philistines at TSA, during my trip to Florida, my on-the-needles project was unceremoniously dumped out into my checked baggage, the needles were pulled out of the work (and one was lost); the magnet board I was using was bent, the magnetic strip that marked my place is missing, and they broke the yarn to remove and lose the Strickfingerhut knitting thimble thingy I use to make stranding easier.   So progress has been stalled while I replace the needles, Strickfingerhut, and magnet board.

Here is the barely-begun first mitten prior to TSA’s pillaging:

E80DE046-1E8F-44E7-85A1-0A9AFAC842B5_medium2 (1)

Back to Square One on that project.

In the mean time, my mindless “briefcase project” socks march on.  These require little to no thought, and are done in stolen hours while waiting on line at the post office, in large group meetings at work, and the like.  The ankle patterns are improvised on the fly. Since January, I’ve done 3.75 pairs – all toe-up, quick knits on 76 stitches around, (US #00s – big as logs…)

Starting with the blue pair with red accents, yarns used were blue striped Cascade Heritage 150 Prints, with Kroy Sock toes/heels/ribbing; orange Cascade Heritage 150;  Plymouth Neon Now (it really does glow under UV light); and Berroco Comfort sock, in pastels – which is an acrylic/nylon blend with no wool in it at all.  The last one is an experiment, we’ll see how it feels to wear, and how well it holds up in regular sock rotation.

20180409_094755.jpg

Now that I have the requisite replacement materials, it’s back to the Octopodes Mittens.  Winter 2018 may be almost over, but I have a feeling the niece will appreciate them in 2019.

ALTERNATIVE ALPHABET RESOURCES FOR INCLUSIVE STITCHERY

Lately I’ve seen a couple of resources for embroiderers who wish to make samplers or other stitchings to honor friends or family who are differently-abled.  I post them here for general reference.

First is this alphabet from type designer Kosuke Takahashi.  It takes a linear construction alphabet, and overlays Braille dots on it, to form a construction that can be read by those familiar with both type forms.

A full description, and downloadable files for the font can be found here.  Note that it is free for personal use.  If you want to compose an item or design for sale, you would need to contact the designer to license the font.

Second is a linear stitch interpretation of the sign language alphabet.

cross stitch sign language alphabet by lpanne

The source is Deviant Art board poster and cross stitch designer lpanne, and is under her copyright.  Again, if you create anything from this for sale, please take the time to contact the artist and ask for permission.

Although this last item presents text in a non-standard way, for most of us it makes it less rather than more comprehensible.  But it’s a nifty idea for the nerdy-minded among us.  Artst Sam Meech knits up scarves using ASCII coding, represented by two colors (one for 1 and the other for 0).  He’s able to include entire quotations and text passages in his Binary Scarves.  He sells them at his site below.


(photo shamelessly lifted from Sam’s site)

You can read more about Sam’s scarves here.

If you want to create your own binary string, tons of text-encoders abound.  I used this one to translate

STRING-OR-NOTHING

into

01010011 01110100 01110010 01101001 01101110 01100111 00101101 01101111 01110010 00101101 01001110 01101111 01110100 01101000 01101001 01101110 01100111 00001101 00001010

If this is new to you – each eight digit “word” is in fact a letter.  “N” for example is 01101110.  The binary scarves work like early paper punch tape, stacking each octet one above another.  So the word “STRING” would come out like this:

01010011 = S
01110100 = T
01110010 = R
01101001 = I
01101110 = N
01100111 = G

There was a time in my distant past that I used paper tape, and could recognize and read the octet patterns by sight.  But that was long ago, in a technology forgotten by time…

 

WHERE DID JANUARY GO?

Here I am, resurfacing after a very hectic holiday season, and a flu-filled January.  But I haven’t been idle.  I can report on several bits of progress.

First, the annual holiday cookie bake – ten kinds, plus.  They are all long since eaten, but since I list the kinds each year (and often look back in succeeding years to remember the ones we liked best), here we go

Top row:  Chocolate crinkles (aka Earthquakes); Sugar Cookie Stars; Gingersnap/Lemon Sandwiches
Middle Row:  Raspberry Rugalach; Classic Tollhouse; Peanut Butter Suns; Coconut Macaroon, Chocolate Dipped; Buffalo Bourbon Balls
Mezzanine Row:  Both are fudge rolled around a whole roasted hazelnut
Bottom Row:  Sugar Stars with Lemon Filling (I had extra buttercream); Mexican Wedding Cakes; Hazelnut/Ganache Sandwiches (aka Oysters).

25627196_10155090880951892_2380566955185184834_o

The next accomplishment was a set of six mythical beasties crocheted placemats, which had their debut when family came to dinner for New Years Eve.

25550174_10155081931326892_7974601795076318281_n

As I described before, the designs are all from Dupeyron’s Le Filet Ancien au Point de Reprise VI, itself an on-line offering in the Antique Pattern Library’s filet crochet section.  I used a large cone of unmercerized cotton cordage, roughly worsted weight, that I bought aeons ago at the old Classic Elite Mill Ends Store, when it was in its original location, in the mill building itself.  I ended up having to unravel some experimental swatches I had knit with the stuff before, in order to have enough.  I still have one piece of the set unfinished – a small center runner to go with the mats.  I’ll pick that up again in the warmer months.  Note that the patterns for these beasties are from a matching set of squares – 35 units x 35 units.  Filet crochet with this stuff, at this gauge, using this hook, by my hand is NOT square, but the resulting rectangles are perfectly useful.  More on this project is here.

I also finished the Bee Socks, but younger daughter took them back with her to school, so no pix of both done at the same time. However, they are both complete.

22688002_10154937804386892_5814061380743841088_n_medium2

Moving closer to the present, it was freezing here in Massachusetts in January.  Although one could argue that knitting a cozy, warm, oversize sweater in the Fall would have been better timing, the weather did inspire me to knock one out in January.

cable-2_medium2

I’m quite pleased with this one, although in real life it reads more as maroon than blue-purple.  I used Melissa Leapman’s Men’s Cables and Ribs Pullover, and knit it up using most of two stashed bags of Debbie Bliss Glen. It’s a very soft merino/acrylic blend ragg single, with a soft spin.  It’s luscious stuff, but it is extremely splitty and difficult to handle, which is probably why it ended up at my late, lamented, local yarn shop’s remainder sale.  The striping effect was a surprise, but I like it.

The only thing I did to adapt the pattern was to stop knitting the sleeves after I accomplished the bulk of the increases.  At that point I sewed the front and back together, and finished out the turtleneck.  Then I tried it on.  I knew that the drop shoulders would be VERY wide, and being a men’s pattern, the sleeves – if knit to the original specifications – would be way too long.  So with the unfinished thing on, bib style, I measured the length of the run from the edge of the drop shoulder to my desired cuff termination point.  Then I completed the sleeves to that dimension for a perfect fit.

And now we are caught up to the newest project:  Octopodes for Niece Frankie – a bespoken project by special request, just started yesterday:

E80DE046-1E8F-44E7-85A1-0A9AFAC842B5_medium2 (1)

The pattern is Octopus Mittens by Emily Peters.  I’m using Cascade Heritage 150, a fingering/sport weight yarn, but doubled to get the DK thickness recommended in the pattern.  And you can see, I’m using my Strickfingerhut knitting thimble/yarn guide thingy to assist with the stranding.

So far I’ve gone down a needle size from the pattern’s recommendations.  I may end up ripping back and going down another size.  We’ll see.  For the record, the solid yellow bit at the bottom is turned up and sewn in, to make a double-thick cuff.  Had I read ahead in the pattern, I would have used a provisional cast-on, then grafted the section later on.  At least I had the foresight to use a half-hitch cast-on, to allow for maximum stretch.

And a final note.  Younger Daughter is an octopus-fiend.  I suspect she will see this post, and wild with desire, demand her own pair of Octopus Mittens.  In her own colors, of course.

DOUBLE RUNNING STITCH LOGIC 104 – A REVIEW

Based on private notes of inquiry and discussions on various historical needlework-related boards and forums of late, I see that people are still confused about the working logic of linear stitching.  In specific, how to determine if a design can be worked entirely two-sided.

First off – the two most popular historical methods for working thin linear designs are double running stitch and back stitch.  The big difference between the two is the appearance of the reverse.   Done meticulously, with care paid to invisibly terminating threads, double running stitch is almost indistinguishable front and back.  Almost because a few people do produce a slight difference due to differential thread tension on each of the two passes required to produce a unbroken line, but that difference mostly settles out over time.  Back stitch on the other hand produces a public side very much like double running, but the reverse of the work is heaver, and depending on the stitcher can look like outline or stem stitch, or even like a split or chain stitch if the needle pierces the previous stitch as a new one is made.  Of necessity in back stitch there is twice as much thread on the back of the work as there is on the front.

double-running back

Double Running.
Front (top) and back are identical

Back Stitch.
Looks the same as double running on the front (top), but different on the reverse.

Double running stitch takes two passes to accomplish because it first lays down a dashed line, with the spaces between the dashes being filled in on the second pass.  A back stitch line is completed in one pass, with no need to revisit areas previously stitched to complete the line.

Many people prefer back stitch because there IS no going back.  They like the certainty of knowing exactly where they are at all times, over the pretzel logic of calculating how not to be caught in a cul de sac while retracing steps in double running.  Personally, I prefer double running, and follow double running logic even if the piece I am working will not be seen on both sides.  I find that path planning to be fun, and I appreciate thread economy, especially when working with more costly or difficult to source hand-dyed silks.

But for some one challenge of double running is knowing which designs can be worked in that stitch such that both sides can be made totally identical.

It’s easy.  Any design that has no “floating elements” is a prime candidate.  If true double sided is a total goal (including invisible termination of thread ends), any piece that has a floating element large enough to allow that burial is also a possibility.  It doesn’t matter how complex a design is, so long as elements are all branches and detours off of one or more main baselines, they can be stitched double sided.  And yes – there CAN be more than one baseline in a design.  More on baseline identification is hereThe logic of following detours and returning to the baseline is hereHow to break up a large design into several smaller baselines is here.

Identifying floating elements

That’s easy.  They are any ornament or detail that is discontinuous from the main line of the design.

Here are several that I’ve done in double running, based on one or more continuous baselines, with no floating element deviations.  In these designs every part of every work is attached to every other part, at one or more points.
imageimage image

  image

image image
imageimage
The last one has additional embellishment in long-armed cross stitch, and the final one includes two edge borders, each done as their own “line” separate from the main motif.

By contrast, here are several that have those “floating elements” called out.

image image

The knot element in the all-over at left is not attached to the main pomegranate frame.  It is however just large enough manage thread-end-hiding.  So while its presence makes this a tedious and difficult pattern for double-sided double running stitch, it is not a deal breaker.  However those little accent diamonds are deal breakers.  Too small to hide the ends, and detached from the main design.   The ladder element in the arms of the repeat at right is broken from the main design, and is too small for end-camouflage.

There are often short lines or sneaky little floating accents hidden in both simple and more complex repeats.  Strawberry pips are notorious for this, although I haven’t any stitched examples to hand:

image

My dragonbeast, however lovely, has quite a few floating elements, making him a problematic choice for a fully double-sided work. (Eyes and faces are almost always difficult).

image

And this bit, stitched from a Lipperheide book, is the absolute poster child for discontinuity.  I didn’t mark them all, but you get the idea.  The spaniel and possibly that center bundle thing are the only bits large enough in which to bury the ends, if a fully two-sided result is desired.

image

Here’s a tricky one.  Look closely at the bit on the left.

image image

It looks continuous, but it’s not.  There are in fact FOUR separate double-running baselines, AND a discontinuous element in the motif.  He’s in the red circle on the right.  Like the round knot in the first example this might be done double sided, provided that the stitcher was willing to terminate separate ends for that relatively large floating element.

So in short – it doesn’t matter how complex a design is, so long as all elements are continuous it CAN be stitched fully double sided, in double running stitch.

FRACTURED SYMMETRY and TEMPLE OF BEAUTY

Today I brag not about my own products, but about those of the Resident Male.

Friends and family who know Fernando know that he has been writing for as long as I have known him.  His first letters to me were filled with tales of his own devising.  Over the years he’s continued, writing short stories, novellas, and longer works. 

I have had the joy of being his Audience of One – he reads them to me as they develop, and I hear his voice on every page.

Now you can read them, too.

41M4si6eAkL

In his own words, from the book’s blurb:

Blair MacAlister is an expert at Judo, a credible AI hacker, and a certified pilot of craft atmospheric and interstellar. Her favorite weapon is sarcasm, or failing that, her ever-present blaster. Her boss is Terendurr the Black Stone: technical wizard, expert in the ethnography of myriad races, fancier of rare foods and wines, and even rarer fractalites. An Entharion Quadromorph, exiled from his homeworld and under constant threat of assassination, he is also somewhat irritable.
Together they investigate mysteries based on science, in a setting that brings them into contact with all the main races of Civspace: The mysterious Junn, the affable but biologically intense Raylics, the chaotic and powerful Oro-Ka, the commercial minded Keret, and the cynical Phair. At the center of their cases are transformative genetic therapies, unlikely fossils, the linked neurology of symbiotes, and more.

I am biased of course, but Fractured Symmetry is a strong collection of short stories and novellas about the same investigative team; mysteries that turn on both points of science, and insight into individuals and cultures.  It’s got action, adventure, aliens both threatening and endearing, devious antagonists, and a kick-ass heroine.  Plus a goodly dash of sarcasm and wit. 

It’s available from Amazon for download for Kindle readers on all devices (including KindleUnlimited); and in hard-copy paperback.

He’s also got another collection of short stories on Amazon, also available for Kindle readers and on KindleUnlimited:

51lyuwQIOiL

The Temple of Beauty is a bit more of an eclectic story collection. Its stories are retro-inspired, and include both SF and fantasy, ranging across a wide variety of tones and subjects.  More aliens, stealthy killers, high camp wandering heroes, and the clash of class and ideals.  Some played for ironic amusement, some less flippant. 

So, if you are planning an Icelandic style book-Christmas, looking for something to entertain and amuse, or planning a mobile book-hoard to get you through holiday travel and visits, please consider adding these.  I guarantee you’ll have a great ride, even if it isn’t on a giant saber-toothed rabbit.

CORDAGE FILET AND FINISHES

Over the holiday weekend, I found myself between projects, with a yen to play.  The summer adventure in yarn-bombing was the first time I’d touched crochet in years, and left me hungry for more, so I decided to try something off-beat.

I had a large cone of a rather industrial heavy cotton cordage.  It’s about worsted weight equivalent in thickness, but is much, much denser than regular cottons of that weight offered up for hand-knitting.  I got it at the old Classic Elite mill end store, when it was still co-located with the mill itself, before it moved into a location a few doors down from the mill, and long before it migrated down from Lowell.  I’ve used this yarn to model various lace knitting problems, relying on its size and durability to help me figure out the problem section before I tried the same bit in the fragile lace yarn being used for my main project.  But I’ve always wondered what else could be done with the stuff, so I decided to experiment. 

My first thought was a market bag, done in filet.  So I picked out a simple 35 unit square from Dupeyron’s Le Filet Ancien au Point de Reprise VI, itself an on-line offering in the Antique Pattern Library’s filet crochet section.  It quickly became apparent that my gauge with a 3mm hook for this yarn wasn’t square.  I didn’t like the look of it for this style with a larger hook (filet should have a strong contrast between the solid and meshy areas), so I kept going, in spite of the skew.  In a fit of serendipity, while my finished proportions were way off for a bag, and I doubted I would have enough yarn for an effective throw, what I ended up with was perfect for a placemat (mug shown for scale).

Placemat-1

This crocheted up quickly, in one weekend.  I plan on doing as many more as my cone of string will allow.  A set of four for sure, probably six, and remotely possible – eight or four plus runner.  Oh.  With the wealth of 35×35 squares in the book above, each mat will be a different design.  Mostly mythical beasts.  Possibly some other motifs if I tire of those.

And I also have several finishes to report.  The most important is to finally post the baby blanket knit for new niece Everly, born to Jordan and Paul (the Resident Male’s brother) last week.  I had finished it some weeks ago, but I hesitated to post pix lest I spoil the surprise.  Yes, I did end off the ends and wash it prior to sending.  🙂

IMG_1111

A home-grown pattern, based on the Frankie Brown 10-stitch garter spiral concept, and an original edging previously posted here.  It’s knit in Bernat Handcrafter cotton (pink and cotton were special requests), a washable worsted weight yarn.

The other finishes include two pairs of socks.  Younger Daughter’s Bee Socks, plus a pair of “briefcase project” socks of my own. Pix of those when they are out of the wash, having already been integrated into our wardrobes. 

There’s also this scarf for me.  This one is based on Sybil R’s Little Rectangles pattern.  I changed the proportions of the blocks a bit to better suit the very short color segments of the Madelinetosh variegated merino fingering.  Note that the original called for two skeins of yarn (about 780 yards/722 meters), but my variant (about 5 inches x 80 inches/12.7 cm x 203 cm) used every scrap of just one skein, making it a spectacular but economical gift item.  Gauge is about 9 stitches = 1 inch; each little block is about 1” x .75 inch. 

Apologies for the blurry photo.  Artificial lights at dawn aren’t my forte.  The second detail shot is not color-true, but shows the garter construction a bit better.

 Berry-Confetti-3 BDD02E71-3B1C-4EB5-808E-4DF315C6AC06_small2

STARTS AND FINISHES

A couple starts and finishes here at String Central.

First – a scarf for Elder Daughter.  She favors autumn colors, and the last scarf I made her about five years ago was due for a replacement.  I had a ball of Zauberball Crazy in my stash, that was way too nice to waste on socks that won’t be seen.  Something that demonstrative is better out in the open rather than hidden away in shoes.  But she wanted a strip-style classic scarf, not an abbreviated shawl or wing-shaped piece, so one ball of fingering weight yarn wasn’t going to be enough unless the chosen stitch was very lacy.  But it’s hard to make the color gradations pop in a lace design…

The most obvious thing to do is to eke out the fancy multicolor yarn using a solid – either a component color of the multi, or something contrasting.  So I went stash-diving.  And I came up with another problematic yarn that fits the mission envelope.  Lister Lavenda fingering weight 100% wool, circa the late ‘60s.

20170928_105043_medium2

How do I come by such a superannuated yarn?  Easy.  I stole it from my mom.

To be fair, “stole” is a bit of exaggeration.  She let me have it, from her own stash.  My mom has been a prolific and talented knitter as long as I can remember.  She tried many times to teach me when I was a kid, but I didn’t actually pick up needles until after I was out of my own.  BUT I did crochet quite a bit as a kid and teen.  Mom let me stash dive on occasion.  This particular mustard color wool was part of a vest project she began for my dad, long, long ago.  I’m not sure why it was never completed, but mom had a huge bag of the stuff, well over a dozen little one-ounce pull skeins.  I adopted them and have used them slowly over the years.  Pretty much any gold/mustard yellow accent in anything I’ve knit from fingering weight has been mom’s Lavenda.

The yarn itself is quite nice, a bouncy, spongy 100% wool,, but fragile.  It fulls if you so much as look at it with damp, warm eyes.  It rubs through in socks all too quickly, even when reinforced.  So scarves and hats are the best use.  I had four skeins left, a bit over 100g, all told.  About the same amount as the one Zauberball.

I used a free pattern on Ravelry, Christy Kamm’s ZickZack Scarf.  I used 3.0mm needles (about a US 2.5), and did the recommended eight repeats of the 12-stitch garter stitch pattern. swapping the multicolor and mustard yarns every other row (each garter stripe).  Every row was the same – as such it was the perfect totally mindless piece to work in the evenings, even while watching subtitled movies.

Here are the front and back:

zauberscarf-front zauberscarf-back

Note that they are close, and both are pleasing, but they are not identical.  Nor could they be.  Garter stitch produces identical TEXTURES on front and back, but when you change colors, the appearance of the row is different front to back.  If I had knit 3 rows of multi, then 3 rows of solid, the two sides would look more alike, BUT I’d end up having a lot of long floats up or ends to work in because my other-color yarn would always be on the wrong edge of the work when I went looking for it to change.

And the finished piece:

zauberscarf-finished

Lessons learned:  If I had to do it all over again, I’d only do six or seven repeats across, to make the thing just a bit narrower, but longer.  The recipient loves it, but I prefer narrower scarves.  Also, the design benefits from not being worked loosely.  If you attempt this one and are a loose knitter, go down a needle size or two for best effect.  All in all though, I’m quite happy with the piece, and offer thanks to pattern source Christy for thinking of adapting this traditional heavy-knit blanket zig-zag to a light weight scarf.

And the other start – Bumblebee Socks for Younger Daughter

This project also started off with the yarn.  Long time pal Wendy has embarked on a yarn dyeing venture.  She brews and experiments, and when she’s accumulated enough inventory, offers it up on line or at knitting festivals, via Facebook or her Etsy page, under the “Strings N’’Strands” imprint. As such it’s sporadically available but worth waiting for.

Last month she posted that she’d just finished dyeing a black/yellow combo, and posted pix.  It sang to me:

bee-yarn

Younger Daughter has a thing for bees.  She adores them, and advocates for bee-preservation causes.  This yarn would be perfect for a pair of socks for her. 

So, a new conundrum.  How to use a variegated to best advantage in socks?  Not every hand-dyed variegated works out well in-project.  Sometimes the colors flash in an inopportune way.   Sometimes they don’t flash at all, and end up muddy.  And how to work in the bee theme….

After some experimentation, here’s the end result:

bee-sox-1

Entrelac!  The little entrelac segments are like a scrum of fuzzy, striped bumblebees.  And the periodicity Wendy dyed in worked out perfectly, making a nice, even self-stripe on my toe-up foot.

For the record, this is improvised as I go.  I’ve knit several entrelac projects at this point, both in the round and flat, so I’m pretty comfortable with the base concept.  It does tend to be less stretchy than flat stockinette, so some fudging of count was required, but it all worked out.

This particular pair of toe-up socks uses a Figure-8 toe, and short-rowed heel.  I am knitting on five relatively large US 0 needles (four in the work, one in hand) – on 72 stitches around (18 stitches per needle).  I worked my standard no-think sock until I was two rounds past the heel, then broke into entrelac on 6-stitch groups.  Although the math works out perfectly to have six entrelac pattern units , doing so makes a tight ankle (see above), so I fudged my start-up triangles to end up with 7.  That’s working out quite nicely, to make a comfortable, not quite slouchy sock.

I’ll continue on this ankle part until the sock, when folded in half along the heel diagonal that part is equal to the length of the foot, then I’ll do 20 rounds of K2P2 rib to finish. 

Thanks Wendy!  Your yarn made this project, and will go on to make Younger Daughter buzz with joy.

RIPPLE!

As folk here knew, I’m one of the 57 contributors to the Ripple group-knit yarn bomb project, sponsored by the town’s art entities – the Arlington Commission on Arts and Culture, the Arlington Cultural Council, and Arlington Public Art.

Artist in Chief Adria Arch and Project Leader Cecily Miller did a fantastic job herding us cats (distracted as we all were by balls of yarn).  At the project’s reception on Saturday we learned that a tiny whisper on Facebook netted them 70 volunteers, 57 of whom stuck with the project and worked with the palette and overall direction they established, to create individual pieces to clothe the trees in the bike path grove that Adria and Cecily picked out.  The original plan was to garb about 6 or 7 trees.  I believe the final count was something like 14 were outfitted.

And clothing the trees wasn’t easy, either. With constraints against harming them or affixing the pieces using tacks or staples, Adria and Cecily worked out an ingenious suspension system that relied on Velcro bands around the tree trunks, and used plastic cable ties to hang the knitted and crocheted pieces in place.  The installation is to be temporary – up for just a few weeks – so there are no concerns about girdling or constricting the trees.

Even with the suspension system worked out, there were more challenges.  The grove is located on a steeply sloped bank in between the Minuteman Bike Path and the town’s Spy Pond athletic field.  The grade there is steeper than 45-degrees, making moving from tree to tree almost an act of mountaineering.  Adria and Cecily engaged a local tree company to help.  The arborists used ladders and climbing tackle to get 20 feet up on the trunks, to hang the artwork.

The result?  Magical.  In a dark area with dense canopy, colors bloom!

IMG_3092 IMG_3100 IMG_3104

IMG_3096IMG_3109

IMG_3101 IMG_3105 IMG_3108

IMG_3109 IMG_3102IMG_3109 IMG_3091IMG_3233 IMG_3106

Amusingly enough, after these pieces were all installed, someone (as yet unknown) came by and added adorable mushrooms – as if the art has spontaneously reproduced:

IMG_3098

Which pieces are mine?
These two.  I’ll leave you the fun of spotting them among all of the others.

21106751_10154795107996892_7129454385511720139_n 21231188_10154811298646892_6175282119186218956_n

All in all, a ton of fun.  Thanks to the organizers, the sponsors, and to my fellow crocheters and knitters.  Also thanks to dear family friend Jean Clemmer, who would send holiday presents to the kids using yard-sale yarn as dual purpose “packing peanuts” and as a gift to me.  Over the years I’ve used it to make Fishie Hats for my daughters, nieces and nephews; baby blankets for friends and family; and donated lots of it to Seniors’ day activities programs, and elementary school crafts closets.  Some of the last of it went into these two pieces – the green, pale yellow, and lighter orange I used along with the group-issued blaze orange, magenta, pale turquoise and white.

Photo credits for all but the last two shots go to Alexandra Salazar, who unlike me, knows which end of the camera is which.