…the saying goes, must come to an end.
So goes the summer of 2012.
One sure sign of summer’s end is retrieving one or more kids from Roads End Farm, the summer camp they both love. As ever, much fun was had. We’ve found there’s a direct correlation between how dirty they are at pick-up, and how great the summer was. Let’s just say that this year we transported a little ball of filth with a big smile. Here’s that same smile, up on Yuma.
Dante, star of the pix below was having a bad leg day, and was returned to the paddock rather than being pressed into service:
That’s Sue in the background, riding instructor extraordinaire. However you’ll note that Dante is sporting a fashion accessory. It was a very fly-filled season, and to give the horses some relief, they have been wearing fly bonnets. However in the farm’s price range for pre-made, they only come in one-size-fits-all. I don’t have a shot of Elliot, REF’s largest horse, but at well over 16.5 hands, he towers over the farm’s 76-horse mostly Morgan herd. Stock fly bonnets would not fit him – not easily. So I made him one, custom:
He was turned out to graze the morning we visited, otherwise I’d have a shot of the thing being modeled. I used the crochet pattern from Nordic Mart, picking up stitches after the crochet was done to knit the ear socks. I used some old Austermann Record 210 remnants and a size 4mm (US G) hook, approximately 4 skeins total.
For those who have asked, the dragon panel pattern from the Siebmacher modelbook I regraphed for The New Carolingian Modelbook has been posted over at Bibliodyssey.
Apologies to anyone who wondered why this was posted three times. I’ve had problems wrestling with the “post away from home” feature.
Done with the reposts! I hope. Here’s something from String, first appearing on 27 June 2004.
INVESTIGATIONS – FILET KNITTING AND CROCHET
More investigations on filet knitting and filet crochet have convinced me that while filet knitting will be worth doing, provided I use very fine threads and 4/0 (1.25mm) needles or smaller, it’s not going to work out for my dragon panel.
I’m having gauge problems working my design into the desired dimensions, even if I eke out the too-narrow dragon motif band with additional borders top and bottom. For the record, my design is something like 43 units tall by 135 units wide. I’ve got a space to fill that’s 19 inches tall by 30 inches wide (although I can go over a bit on this). That means for the width, I’ve got to hit something like 4.5 rows per inch. Now in filet crochet, looking at a series of filet patterns with gauges found at the Stargazer site, I’m seeing gauges the smallest gauge I see (size 30 crochet cotton) is something like 10 rows = 2.3 inches. That’s about 5 rows = 1.15 inches. My 135 rows at this smallest gauge would be something like 31 inches wide. By contrast, the smallest I’ve been able to do so far in knitting is 3 squares = 1 inch (that’s about 14 or so knitting stitches per inch). At 3 squares per inch, my 135 units turns out to be 45 inches wide. I suppose I could hunt down longer size 5/0 or 6/0 needles (or make them) and finer threads, but I’m not inclined to do that right now. Interim verdict: Filet knitting is certainly worth further experimentation, but it’s not suitable for this project.
I think I’ll have to fall back on filet crochet to do my door curtain. I think I’ll take it and my Crazy Raglan with me as my official vacation projects.
Crochet Dragon Panel Pre-Project Calculations
Using these theoretical base calculation points for two thread sizes, I posit these rough dimensions and yarn consumption factors:
- Base for Size 20 cotton – 10 squares x 10 rows = 2.2″ x 2.4″; a piece that’s 100×50 squares or 21.3 inches x 12 inches will take 519 yards, using old US size 9 steel crochet hook.
- Base for Size 30 cotton – 10 squares x 10 rows = 2.1″ x 2.3″; a piece that’s 100×50 squares or 20.4 inches x 11.5 inches will take 485 yards using old US size 11 steel crochet hook.
Doing the math for Size 20 cotton (and working across the height instead of across the width to preserve sanity), that means my piece of 43 x 138 squares would be 9.16 inches x 33.12. Since my piece is 5934 squares total (138*43), and the original was 5000 squares, mine is roughly 19% bigger. I’ll round up to 20%, and I come up with a new yardage consumption estimate of 519 *1.2 or roughly 623 yards. I’ll add 10% to that for a fudge factor and round up – 686 yards. Repeating the operation for Size 30 cotton, I get an estimated finished dimension of 8.8 inches x 31.74 inches, and an estimated yarn consumption forecast of 641 yards. Remember that these yardage estimates are for the base dragon strip alone. I need to make it taller because the window space I need to cover is taller. With height estimates of 9.16 and 8.8 inches respectively I’ll need to either find or design complementing border strips that roughly double the project’s height. That means I need to double my yardage estimates – 1372 yards or 1282 yards for size 20 and 30 cotton, respectively. These estimates are VERY rough at best, but with luck should be good enough to get me started.
Now on to crochet hook sizes. The circa 1919 instructions on which I’ve based these calculations specify size 9 and 11 steel crochet hooks for sizes 20 and 30 cotton. According to various authorities (very few of whom agree), an 11 can be as large as 1.1mm, and as small as .75mm; a 9 can be as large as 1.4mm or as small as 1.25mm. My modern Susan Bates set goes from 0 to 10 (2.55 to 1.15mm). I’ll have to play and see what I can achieve using those sizes.
I haven’t decided which size thread or hook to use yet. Much will depend on what I can find locally, and on what size hook I can dig up without staging a raid on the storage cubby where all my tools and goodies are stashed.
So apologies. This knitting blog is going to take a side trip into crochet. But since I’ll be doing it during a forced blogging hiatus, I’ll only bore you with a couple large gobs of progress rather than by reporting in inch by inch.
Answer to a quick question:
Can the Fleur de Lys motif shown yesterday be used for knitting?
Sure. Like anything graphed, the fleur can be knit, but with a caveat. In cross stitch, the individual units that build a motif are square. They have a 1:1 aspect ratio, as wide as they are tall. Likewise, needlepoint units are (mostly) square. They’re worked on a square grid, but if they’re in tent stitch the stitches themselves are a diagonal spanning that square. Therefore the edges of color areas don’t always appear as neat and trim as in cross stitch. This graph is composed of square units, and is intended mostly (but not exclusively) for stitchers.
Knitting presents a different challenge. It’s rare for a knitting stitch to have a 1:1 aspect ratio. Knitting stitches are usually wider than they are tall. It’s not uncommon to have a stitch gauge of 22 stitches = 4 inches, but a row gauge of 30 rows = 4 inches (that’s the standard for a classic DK weight yarn). That works out to an aspect ratio of 22:30 or 5.5/7.5 if you simplify the representation. That’s NOT square. If you knit up a graph that’s been drawn out on a square ratio grid in this aspect ratio, you’ll end up with a motif that’s somewhat squished looking north/south direction.
There are several ways around this. First is to choose designs that have a bit of north/south spread in them to begin with. They’ll look different when compressed, but if they’re elongated enough to begin with, they’ll end up with a reasonable set of visual proportions. My lion graph, shared eons ago for people who wanted to do lion sweaters as described in the Harry Potter books is this kind of design. It’s got enough "natural" height so that it looks o.k. if worked verbatim in a somewhat squashed aspect ratio.
The second is to graph out your design on a grid that has an aspect ratio that matches your knitted gauge. If you want to do this, the English language Japanese website ABCs of Knitting features a very nice graph paper generator. It’s listed among the tools on the page’s lower right.
A third way to get around this problem is to blow up the design. Very simple motifs can sometimes be made quite dramatic by reading a unit of two knit stitches by three rows for every square on the grid. Not practical for larger gauge knits, as even a small motif could outgrow the area intended for display, but occasionally useful none the less.
A fourth fix is more of a fudge. Depending on the complexity of the motif you want to knit, you can take a plain old square unit graph and by repeating every third or fourth row (depending on your gauge), you can stretch it out to compensate for aspect ratio squish. Obviously, this works best for simple motifs rather than complex ones, and at finer gauges. I’ve done it in sport weight yarn or finer, and it has worked well enough, with the duplication fading into the overall look and not being evident. This method can be problematic though for things like graphed letters adopted from cross stitch samplers, and for ultra-small geometrics whose motifs are built on single square units. For the latter, I might be tempted to use the third method, above.
Of course one can always ignore the problem all together, placing the borrowed motif so that the stretched dimension becomes a design feature and not a bug. This is what I did with last year’s crocheted dragon curtain. I worked across the narrow dimension of the curtain rather than starting along the bottom edge, in part because the non-square nature of my filet crochet blocks would distort the motif too much if worked in the latter direction. You can see the original proportions of the graph, and the finished piece.
If you look the knight, you’ll see that in my crochet he’s taller and a bit squashed east/west compared to the original. But if I hadn’t called out the difference, I’d bet you’d not have noticed.
Rogue progresses. I’m another two inches or so into the body. Not much more to show beyond yet another blurry photo of a slightly larger blue object, so I’ll hold off until I can post pix with more content. I can say that in spite of competing demands on my time reducing the total amount I can spend on the thing, now that I’m past the pockets and my multiple mistakes, it is fairly flying along. I am looking ahead to the next set of complications – alterations to the armhole area and beginning of the hood’s frame that might be necessary due to my gauge re-computation.
I’m beginning my prep for my upcoming sock knitting class, reading up on and trying out the Magic Loop technique. It may be heresy to admit, especially for someone who is going to be teaching a workshop on this method, but I find it to be fiddly and (for me) much slower than using DPNs. But I realize that there is a legion of DPN-haters out there who view this method as being their ticket to finally making socks. So I’ll persevere for their sake.
The plan is for a three-hour workshop, during which I’ll hand out an original pattern for a very abbreviated small cuff-down sock – roughly baby size, but with sadly truncated ankle and foot parts to save time. The idea is to walk the class through that ENTIRE sock in the given time, from the cast on, through the heel, and finally down to the toe. A normal size sock would be too time-consuming to get far enough for a meaningful experience, especially around the heel, so I’ll cut back on the plain old stockinette areas, leaving in just enough to get familiar with the manipulations of the needle(s). I’ll also hand out an original pattern for a normal size sock that the class can take home and use for practice.
One further complication – I prefer to teach on socks knit at DK or worsted gauge – again, fewer yet larger and easier to see stitches. But the extra-long circs for the Magic Loop method are in short supply, and are quite expensive. Likewise for the two circs needed for that method. I don’t think it’s fair to ask the class to come equipped with needles in a size that they (probably) won’t be using for their regular sock knitting, so I’m going to do the thing using standard issue sock weight yarn.
I’ve taught knitting classes before, mostly on toe-up socks, basic crochet, and on beginning knitting. I’ve been told I pack too much detail into the time alloted. In this case I will have to agree. Ideally I’d do either single oversized circ or two circ socks, not both. I do intend the choice to be either-or, as the methods are largely compatible. Learners will get their choice of working one or the other, and except for needle manipulation the basic sock-making steps should be the same for both. Obviously more thought on this is in order. If any blinding insights of clarity and nuance suggest themselves to me, I’ll post them here. Otherwise, it’s just more socks.
It’s the last day of the year, and like everyone else I should be looking back over the year past, and ahead to the year future.
Lessons Learned for 2004
First and foremost – blogging is fun and (I hope) less of an imposition on people than is?writing interminable posts to the knitting-related mailing lists. At least the audience here is self-selected. Plus I’ve never kept a knitting-specific journal before. I find myself going back and looking up what I’ve written before to see how or why I did something in a specific way. Who knew?
I learned a lot this year about the periodicity and use of variegated or hand/dyed yarns. Although the projects on which I employed them aren’t completed yet (Crazy Raglan, Entre deux Lacs Tee, and Birds Eye Shawl), I did spend lots of time figuring out how to get the color effects I wanted given the color cycle repeat lengths. This remains a fascinating topic for me, and as each skein of hand-dyed offers up new challenges, won’t be an area that becomes boring any time soon.
Filet crochet. I’ve done piddly little things in crochet before. Even blankets count as "piddly little" because they are generally very simple in motif and technique. Snowflake ornaments, a table-topper round cloth of simple design, several blouse yokes in the ’70s, a couple of ill-conceived faux Aran style kids’ sweaters, but nothing as complex as the filet dragon curtain. It turned out to be an even bigger project than I thought, and consumed the better part of five months. Lessons learned include the fact that no two companies’ crochet hooks are the same size (even if so marked); the effect that near imperceptible differences in hook size can make on gauge; how to do a near-invisible join on adjacent strips of filet crochet; and how well the old graphed patterns for Lacis and other Renaissance needle arts can look in filet.
Along the way to the filet crochet project I learned that none of the methods of filet knitting I tried worked particularly well, nor were they fine enough in gauge to handle the complexity of the dragon graph. I’m not through with this subject yet. I did do some experiments in alternate techniques that were less cumbersome than the methods I had read about. I’ll probably revisit this in the future.
Entrelac is much faster if you can force your fingers to knit backwards. I’m still no speed demon at left-to-right knitting, but I’m faster at it than I am at knitting and flipping at the end of each mini-row. Especially when those rows are only six stitches across.
I also learned (via my Suede Tee) that novelty yarns can bring a world of interest to a simple, well-drafted pattern, but at the same time can be a *(#@ to knit. Side note:? I am also not that pleased on how the Suede is wearing. The microfibers do tend to be grabby, and catch on even the slightest roughness.
I learned several methods of knitting a lace edging directly onto a piece, rather than making it as a strip and sewing it on later. The most fiddly but most satisfying came via the Forest Path Stole. I used it again on my Spring Lightning Scarf:
Under "miscellaneous," I learned a nifty I-cord trick that applies a band of cord to both sides of a strip of knitting (apologies for the blurry photo):
I also used?a highly trendy but extremely boring to knit kiddie poncho to experiment with double width I-cord treatments to help tame edge curl in large stockinette pieces.
And finally, I learned an important lesson about something to avoid in the future. If any of you have ever looked at a loosely plied yarn like the Paternayan’s normally sold for needlepoint, and thought about how nice only one or two of those plies might be for lace knitting – take heed. Spare yourself. The yarn for the Larger Kid’s simple drop-stitch rectangle poncho took longer to de-ply than it did to knit up. For this one, I still bear the scars…
Who knows. If you’ve been reading along, you’ll have noted that I’m more of a whimsy knitter than a planner. Projects leap up and seize my interest. Sometimes that interest wanders before I finish, but I (almost always) go back and work to completion. Eventually.
I’m finishing up a couple more unanticipated last minute gifts right now – more socks, and a pair of quickie Coronet hats from Knitty (one hat = one evening). Then it’s back to the Birds Eye shawl and the Crazy Raglan. While I don’t as a rule knit to deadline, the Raglan is for The Small One, and the one thing certain about 6-year olds is that they’re a moving target growthwise. The shawl is a present that I really should finish by the summer. Unless another killer project like the dragon curtain ambushes and drags me off first…
As you probably figured out, I posted a couple of days of entries in advance. So to get back to feedback from Monday, thank you all for your kind words about Dragon. I hope (if nothing else) I’ve proven that projects like this that look overwhelming when done are worked in stages – everything is possible given time and determination. Pick up a favorite chart and try out filet crochet. There’s no law that says you have to do it in teeny string to start. Size #20 or #10 cotton will give nice results and will both go faster than my piece. On to questions:
What did you use to block?
The same hardware store brass tubing I used to block the Forest Path stole, and my daughter’s Waterspun poncho. The stole write-up describes them They’re described in more detail at the bottom of this post.
Why are the edges rippled?
As I wrote, I was a bit nervous about how much the piece had contracted in the wash, so when I blocked it I blocked it to the full north-south dimension. I shouldn’t have been so aggressive. I ended up with a piece that’s not under tension north-south in spite of being threaded on stretcher bars. The next time I wash it I will go for east-west stretch instead because I could stand to gain an inch in that dimension, and go for the on-door mounting bars to provide the requisite tension. That should elminate some of the looseness at the left and right edges.
How did you know how big to make the holes for the curtain rods?
After I’d done a couple of rows I tested them out with the bars from the curtain scrap left behind by the previous house owners. They fit. If they hadn’t I’d have figured out an another way to hang the curtain panel.
Are you afraid the curtain rods will discolor the panel?
Not very. It’s true they’re brass, but they’re quite old and the tarnish doesn’t rub off. I don’t intend on polishing them (I don’t want to get polish residue on the curtain). The curtains will get dusty over time. The thread I used is machine washable. In fact,I tossedmy Dragon in the light color/warm water wash just after completion, before blocking. After an entire summer and early fall of being dragged around accumulating hand-dirt, sunscreen, household dust, and the odd fleck of wine it seemed like a good idea.
Did you steal the dragon pattern from these towels?
http://hometown.aol.com/noramunro/Perugia/showsseveral beautiful set of woven towels by Alianora Munro (another member of the SCA). The last set shownhas a very familiar dragon on them. She used the same ultimate source as I did: Johann Siebmacher, Schon Neues Modelbuch, published in Nurnburg, 1597. My version is the one I graphed up for inclusion in my book The New Carolingian Modelbook: Counted Embroidery Patterns from Before 1600. There’s also a nifty drafting of the original in my friend Katheryn’s reissue of patterns from that work under the title Needlework Patterns from Renaissance Germany. (Both books are hard to come by these days, but occasionally surface used or on eBay.)I have also seen at least one commercial chart for a counted thread sampler that has a simplified version of the same motif, but I can’t find it on line right now.
Can you send me the pattern?
No. Why is at the bottom of this page.
Washing machine!! You put THAT in the washing machine?
Well, yes. The string is marked as being warm water machine washable (no dryer, no bleach). I had a load of white and light colored t-shirts with no buttons, zips or adornments to melt, snag, or run, so I put the curtain in along with them for a normal warm water/cool rinse wash. I took it out and blocked it wet. Was I nervous? Not particularly, but I had already made and test-washed a swatch, so I knew that the yarn would survive the process.
I’ve only seen the Paternayan yarn in cut lengths ready for needlework. Where did you find whole skeins?
I lucked into it at Wild & Woolly in Lexington, MA – my local yarn store. I don’t know if they had it left over from long, long ago when they might have stocked needlepoint yarn, or if they had it more recently, but by the time I found it at one of their legendary semi-annual sales all that was left was a heavily discountedmixed bag of blues – a refugee from at least two prior mid-winter sales events. I have however seen other retailers on line selling the stuff in large uncut hanks. A quick Google search on "Paternayan wool" will turn them up.
How big will you make the poncho’s rectangles?
I don’t know yet. Probably something like 13 inches wide and 39 inches long each. That’s a nice eye-pleasing 1:3 ratio. When I get up to that point I’ll cut out some paper and tape it together to make sure the target child approves of the size.
Why not? I have to admit that right now I’m on a bit of a yarn diet, constrained by new house expenses to using up yarn from my stash before buying new. The target child saw the bag of mixed blues and fell in love with the color. I knew thatat the fullthree plysI wouldn’t have enough yardage, and that she wanted something lacy anyway. So I began unplying…
Why do you do everything the hard way, figuring out your own patterns or just starting stuff without a good idea of how it will be accomplished?
Again, why not? People knit for different reasons. I enjoy confronting problems, figuring out solutions, and making my own way. Yes, it’s not the most productive method of working as there is more two-steps-forward-one-step-back motion than most people prefer. To me though learning something on the journey is more important than the end product, however nice. So I make a mad plunge forward on almost every project. Sometimes I shelve them for greater or shorter lengths of time. Sometimes everything falls into place and I finish. Usually I do learn something along the way, even if the thing at hand ends upvacationing inThe Chest of Knitting HorrorsTM.
What about the Crazy Raglan and the entrelac piece? Are you going to finish them?
Both were in the same bag and went AWOL during our move. I finally found them over the weekend and will (eventually) finish them. In the mean time, I’ve got other obligations lined up. After the poncho I’m on the hook for a triangular knitted shawl for the sister who didn’t end up with the Forest Path lace stole. I’m thinking of the Heirloom Knitting Bird’s Eye Lace free pattern, done in Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace in purples and blues. Possiblyadding a border strip to the long top edge of the triangle. But if I think too much about that project I’ll get derailed from the poncho, and those sad puppy eyes brook no delay.
And the Cursed Socks?
Those I AM working on right now, in between winding yarn for the poncho. After all, I can’t schlep the swift and ball winder with me to appointments. I’m about half-way through the heel of Sock #2, and hope to be done in the next couple of days soI can write up the pattern for wiseNeedle and post it along with the pattern for the Summer Lightning lacy scarf in time for people looking to knit holiday gifts.
What do you call those nifty lookingcross-hatchedwindows next to the door in your house?
My friend Kathryn (who knows lots of neat stuff) tells me that the proper name for a window divided into small panes is "mullioned." Mullioned windows appear to come in many types, including ones with lead as well as wooden dividers. Lozenge is the name for a diamond shaped pane, so I guess I’ve got a circa 1912 Arts and Crafts style two story bungalow (bungaloid?) with casements featuring mullioned lozenge transoms in the living room and dining room. Which is a long winded way of saying "old house with nifty windows that are a pain to dust."
The dragon blocked, finished and mounted. From the outside:
Close up from inside, showing the brass rods running through the top and bottom double-wide meshes:
Signature (KBS, ’04)
As you can see I was a tad overly aggressive in blocking north-south. I noted that it had shrunk a bit in the wash (yes, I machine washed it), and stretched it severely. I needn’t have because the stretcher bars that are used to mount the thing would have taken care of that.I could instead have stretched it more east-west so that the edges don’t draw in so much. The next time I wash and block my dragon panel, I’ll do just that.
Am I happy with it? You bet!
A lousy picture, to be sure:
But I’m finally finished. Dragon has been washed and is now laid out with my blocking wires. Trapezoidal distortion is an artifact of standing at one end and photographing at an angle, then presenting the photo rotated 90-degrees.
Oncemy panel isdry I’ll darn in the ends, embroider my initials and a date in the corner, and hang the thing on the door. Why am I waiting to darn in the ends until after the initial blocking? Mostly because I knew that blocking would stretch the thing out considerably. I was afraid that if I darned them in before that stretch I’d risk having a puckered area where elasticity was hampered. I do have a little bit of a ripple along the edge of my original cast-on row, (along the tree behind the knight) but I’m hoping that it will settle in over time.
I promise one last picture of Filet of Dragon once it’s hanging up on the door.
The unplying continues. And continues… I can report progress though. I’ve almost got enough to begin swatching, and the Target Daughter has picked out a couple of stitch patterns that she likes from other things I’ve knit and from my library. Leading candidates include "Lace Ribbon Stitch" from Walker II (p. 284); K3, P3 rib; and a mock cable. Both are true lace stitches in that they have YOs, and decreases on every row, with no intervening plain rows. I’ve also got three colors of blue to play with. I’m thinking of running them side-by-side Intarsia style, withthe colors corresponding to the lace orribbing panels used. It may be just another poncho, but who says knitting it has to be boring.
More on this tomorrow, too as I get more of the initial swatching and drafting done.
I can now safely agree with everyone who has ever told me that I wasn’t in my right mind. The proof is in the venture I embarked on with my daughter’s blue poncho.
There’s no ponco yet. There’s not even a gauge swatch. What there is is this:
This is one skein of three-ply construction Paternayan RN1685 Wool, after it has been de-plyed into a two-strand and a one-strand ball. While this stuff is most often sold in short lengths used for needlepoint and embroidery, it is occasionally sold in larger hanks for knitters and weavers. Time expended? Just under three hours. Sanity factor, considering this is just one of seven hanks? Nil.
Still, a promise is a promise and sad-child puppy eyes brook no delay. I’m midway through the second skein. Once I get one of each three colors, I’ll begin swatching. With luck by that time ponchos will still be in style.
People In Other Countries have asked for more description of the #30 crochet cotton I’m using for the dragon panel. Here’s the scoop straight from the label:
J.P. Coats RoyaleExtra Fine Size#30 Crochet Thread. 100% Mercerized Cotton. Article #160; Color #226 (Ecru). 500 yards per ball. Weight unmarked but registering around 100g on my Kitchen Scale of Dubious Accuracy.
Recommended crochet hook – .75mm/#12. Machine wash delicate cycle, 40-deg C/104-deg F. No bleach, ho dryer, may be ironed on hot. Blocking recommended.
Made in Hungary. Distributed in the US by Coats & Clark, P.O. Box 12229 Greenville, SC 29612; Distributed in Canada by Coats & Clark Canada; Mississaugua, ON Canada L5T 2T5.
While the Coats and Clark website is also listed on the label: http://www.coatsandclark.com, don’t bother looking for Royale there. It’s not listed. Royaleis definately shinier and silkier thanCoats Big Ball Size 30. I’ve never seen Coats Opera thread, so I can’t say how it compares to the Royale. I bought mine at evil big box craft store Michaels. Their own listing says that the stuff is exclusive to their stores.