Category Archives: Dragon Curtain

WORKING REPORT – RETURN OF DRAGON

I’m still plugging away. Here you see the finished top border and the start of the border on the bottom:

I think the framing contrasts are working nicely. At the current rate of production, I hope to have this puppy finished in two weeks. Three weeks, tops.

In other projects, a couple of people have asked what happened to the things I was working on when Dragon Fever hit. I’d been doing an entrelac project, and a raglan in a self striper. The answer is both are AWOL. I started Dragon just before our July 4th vacation, about two weeks before we moved to the new house. The bag with those projects in it was packed as part of the general relocation. I know that box is somewhere in the new house, but I haven’t found it yet. To be fair, we’ve got upwards of 30 boxes as yet to be unpacked. Most are books, waiting patiently until we can get bookcases.

The rest are miscellaneous and/or poorly marked boxes each?containing a grab-bag of whatever. Most of those are destined for storage in the under-eaves box rooms behind our closets, but we can’t move them there until after the roof is redone. We’re now playing the hurry up and wait game with the roofer. So the boxes (including the Mystery Box with my knitting projects in it) are sitting in out of the way corners, waiting for the post-roofing reassortment of storage.

Ahhh. The joys of moving!

DRAGON ANNOYANCE

Grrr.

As of yesterday, I’d finished the top edging, run the solid two-row strip down the left hand side, chained out to establish the bottom edge, and was three rows into the charted part of the remaining border strip.

Today I had to rip out everything done after Saturday. I had made the only absolutely fatal error there is on this piece. I forgot to work the last double-width eyelet hole on the top edge, so there was no way of putting the last inch of my curtain onto its curtain rod.

As of today I’ve finished the ripping back, have created the missing hanging hole, and am in the forever bands of solid double crochet at the leftmost edge. As a result I don’t have the nifty-looking progress shot I’d hoped to share today. Instead, in response to some requests for a closer look at the join between the old and new work (and provided my photog skills cooperate), I present a detail shot of the edging join area:

Remember – you’re looking at the piece sideways compared to the working direction. (Also as it turns out, from the wrong side, but that doesn’t matter). My working direction proceeds from the right edge of the photo to the left edge. There’s a schematic of the stitch logic for this join in a previous post.

One thing that may or may not be seen in the resolution-stripped photo above – the J&P Coats Royale brand name size 30 cotton thread I’m using has a nice sheen to it compared to most crochet cottons. I have to say I really like the stuff. It does appear to have limited distribution though. Even the Coats website doesn’t? list it. So far the only retailer I’ve found that mentions Royale crochet cottons?is the big-box crafts store, Michaels, and I’m loathe to shop there on principle, much preferring to patronize smaller needlework specialty shops.

DRAGON AND GEN III KNITWITS

More progress on Dragon.

I had hoped I’d have finished off the entire top border by today, but I’m three rows away from finishing.

A couple of people have written to ask for a more detailed explanation of how I’m managing the vertical join between the old and new parts. I’d posted some thoughts on this before, but then contradicted myself and said I was doing it another way. To top it off, I neglected to describe exactly how.

If I’ve got an two empty meshes stacked one on top of each other at the end of my row just before the join, I’m working my penultimate square as usual, then I’m working a horizontal half double crochet to connect the new work to the old. Then I chain up two, and work another horiztonal half double crochet. Finally I flip my work over and proceed back in the direction I came.

If I’ve got two solid meshes stacked on on top of each other at the end of my row just before the join, I work my penultimate square as usual, then work two DCs into either the stitches or the space of the row below. Then I join the last of these DCs to the established edge with a slip stitch. The existing edge of the old work makes the fourth stitch to complete the new square. To make the next row a bit more even, I do a backwards slip stitch into the stitch one before the stitch on my needle; chain up two, and work another slip stitch into the next attachment point. Then I do another backwards slip stitch as before. Finally I flip over my work and work two more double crochets to finish out the filled square that commences the new row.

Here’s a schematic. More or less. Apologies for the lousy picture quality. I’m wrestling with Visio right now. I installed Office XP Service Pack 2 (the big security update) and it messed with Visio. I then installed several layers of Visio upgrades to get it working, but the export to JPG feature isn’t quite fine tuned yet.

Mindless Kvelling over Gen III

The kidlets are captivated by knitting!? Who would have thought it, because before the Knit-Out neither one showed much interest. I myself never could sit still long enough to learn from my mom (Knitting Goddess, mostly retired). I’m amazed that they have come so far, so fast.

The Larger One sprang right from her initial "learn how" bit of garter in livid green acrylic to a garter stitch scarf done in a fuzzy yarn. She polished it off in two days, then went out and got more fuzzy yarn to do another for her friend. The Smaller One found a thick yarn and big needles easier to manage than worsted weight and size #7s. She knit a?6-stitch wide strip from a superbulky yarn, then asked me to end it off into an earwarmer. She began it Friday, and wore it to school this morning. Now that they’re comfortable with the knit stitch, this week’s lesson will be purling and casting off.

I may have created two monsters though. Both are now eyeing my stash and asking what they can make next. The Larger One is searching the web because she wants to do "a bag from that yarn that shrinks."? The little one wants to do a blanket for her favorite stuffed animal, and appears to have an affinity for hand-dyed variegateds. I’ll offer up pix of the proud knitters?once they’re home from school. Now off for a new experience:? Hiding Yarn From Children.

NEW YEAR’S DRAGON

So I lied. I said I wouldn’t post another progress picture of Filet of Dragon until I had finished the border across the top. But I’m writing this yesterday and dating it to auto-post today. (That’s an odd time-bending sentence.)? Today is?the Rosh Hashana?holiday, so I’m off doing other things.

I’m in the danger zone on this project now. As much as I desperately want to finish it and hang it on the front door, I’m thoroughly tired of this border. And I’m not even half-way done.

WORKING REPORT – DRAGON, DRAGGIN’ ON WHILE TREES FLY

Another in an interminable series of progress shots. This one shows more of the top border.

Although I was iffy about it when I first begain, I think that it’s working now. Yes, introducing another motif makes the piece?rather busy, but in spite of that – I like it. To be immodest, I’ve been scouring the web looking for filet crochet work, and I haven’t seen anything remotely like this – either for complexity of the motifs, or scale of the project. It’s going to look killer on the front door window.

Now to finish out the top and bottom edges. I promise no more incremental photos until (at least) the top edge is finished.

Tree Today, Gone Tomorrow

Some pix of my de-treeing. This majestic 35-year old spruce was certainly pretty from this angle, but it was planted?two feet away from the house. It was leaning on my walls and roof, and its roots were invading the basement. It’s sad, but?the spruce?had to go.


Before


After

(Sorry about the shot of my neighbor’s SUV.)?

Likewise two four-story tall Norway maples in the back yard were given honorable discharges. In their case, they were completely hollow – to the point where the remaining ring of their trunks was about an inch thick. Both?had canted, and were looming?over my garage and my neighbor’s house. They were disasters poised to happen.

The treeguy used a boom crane to extract them from a tight space, lifting the pieces up and over the house?and sparing injury to the surrounding trees. The eighth-of-a-tree?limb that’s flying here looks small, but once down on the ground it looked every inch of about 20 feet – larger than some entire free-standing trees. Given yesterday’s winds and the number of branches down in my neighborhood (the result of?the last anemic puff from passing hurricane fragments) I’m delighted that the hazard was removed just in time. Plus, I’ve still got?six healthy maples and locusts in the back yard, one?so?huge it dwarfed the two that were taken out.

TREE DAY

Today is Tree Day here at String Central. A crew of treeguys?is outside even as I type, taking down several large hollow trees that are looming dangerously over?our house, the garage, and the neighbor’s house. While I’m usually a tree-and-let-live person these did represent real risk, and had to go. I look forward to an airier, sunnier, safer yard. Also quieter, once the chainsaws, chipper/mulcher, and boom crane all depart. Before and after pix another day, once the leafy chaos has subsided a bit.

In knitting news, I have to ‘fess up now that June posted her blog entry about the DNA cable. I read her initial complaint, and thought she deserved a wedding present, so I redrafted her cable for her. I wasn’t going to say anything about it, but she was sweet enough to post a credit, and to leave me a Mysterious Present in my mailbox (it turns out we live quite near each other):

I’m thoroughly tickled by the mystery gift (in a favorite color combo, no less!). I’m now honor-bound to knit up this nifty June-dyed fingering weight so?I can report back to her?how effective her color placement strategy was in avoiding blobs. I think that it will be appropriate if I do up a pair of DNA cable socks with it.

It also turns out that I’m on the hook for a poncho. In this case, the fomer tween-ager Elder Daughter? has requested what appears to be the fashion accessory du jour. So I sigh, and like a good parental unit, will make one, no matter how boring. I’m still caught up in Dragon though, and I don’t want to be sidetracked from it. Socks I can make my portable project. A poncho however is another story. Hope I can complete it before fashion obsolescence kicks in.

On Dragon – not enough progress to warrant posting a photo, but I’m getting happier and happier about the twist panel at the top. With a few more repeats done, the design is easier to pick out, and the denseness of the new panel frames the lighter areas nicely. I think I’ll keep it.

WORKING REPORT – DRAGON’S KNOTTY PROBLEM

Fits and starts, but back on track. Here’s the beginning of the top strip:

I’m not quite sure where I got this pattern from. It’s in one of my sketchbooks, but the accompanying notes only?say "Dover," so I may have gotten it from one of the Dover collections of graphed patterns, possibly their booklet of Celtic-inspired designs. I know it has no absolute historical citation in any one artifact or early book. In any case, it’s four meshes narrower than my original choice. That’s eight meshes for the whole piece (top and bottom strips both).Eight meshes would have been enough to make the thing too big to fit on the stretcher bars at the top and bottom of the door’s window. The beaded looking bit between the solid edge and the knotwork strip is produced by leaving a double-wide mesh every five rows. Those double-wides are going to be the holes through which the stretcher bar style brass curtain rods?will be threaded.

On whether or not motif strip"goes" with the rest of the piece – I’m not quite decided yet. I picked this pattern because the knotwork was interesting, because the knotwork picked up the curves in the dragon piece and the floral border, and the interlaces echoed the knots in the side panel. Plus, I thought the solid-strip negative-space nature of this design might be a nice contrast with the rest of the piece, in which the filled meshes present the design rather than the empty ones. I do like the solid strip nature of this one as a framing device, but I’m not entirely sure that the negative-space interlace is easily discerned. I’ll do a bit more to see if more repeats aid in visual interpretation. If not, it’s rip out and start again. Again.

One thing of which I’m quite proud – look at the bottommost row of solid meshes that makes up the new top strip. That’s the one that fastens the new work to the old. Not bad for an afterthought join.

WORKING REPORT – DRAGON

Grrr. Apparently no effort of woman nor beast can nail down an exact reference to an item in the V&A database because linking is dynamic and is recalculated for each new session. Therefore if you really want to dig through and find the items I mentioned yesterday, you’ll have to search on their accession numbers yourself. Open any V&A search page, and enter these numbers:

CT55633 – to see the crocheted purse
CT59053 – to see the knitted purses
CT57667 – to see the sampler

Apologies for all wild goose chases that ensued.

Filet of Dragon

Progress on Dragon is both positive and retrograde:

?The good news is that thanks to advice so graciously shared by Vaire and Kathryn, attaching the side strips as I work them looks much better and more even than I hoped. I’m not using the exact method I posited in my last post. Instead, I’m doing a scrumbly combo of techniques. If the joining mesh is empty, I’m doing Vaire’s method of horizontal DC as bride. If the joining mesh is solid, I’m doing a combo of a technique Kathryn sent plus more advice from Vaire. I’m working that join mesh up to the point of the join (first leg, plus first "inside" dc), then on the second "inside" dc, I’m doing a slip stitch to mate it to the mesh leg of the existing work. After that I’m chaining up three, doing another slip stitch to mate the little chain to the old work, then working one "inside" dc plus another as the next mesh leg. The little chain up serves as the first dc of the "inside" pair. And there’s more good news in that the double-height empty blocks I am leaving for the curtain rods fit well and work great.

But all news is not good. See that little strip sticking up in today’s photo?? It’s gone. I’ve ripped it completely back and started again. It turns out that the original pattern I had selected for the horizontal strips is too wide (again the gauge problem). I am going to use an entirely different strip pattern, plus finish the entire thing around with two rows of solid DC to ensure a stable edge.

So there you have it. Dramatic progress, and dramatic failure. All in one day.

GALLERY

Remember two days agoI said I’d be delighted to show off any projects that other people did either from or inspired by my designs? I’ve started the blog category "Gallery" for just this purpose. First off, here’s a nifty example of a piece adapted from a stitching design in my book:

This hat is part of an Elizabethan costume made by a fellow participant in greater Boston, MA area SCA activiites. The stitcher’s SCA name is Lady Lakshmi Amman, and the recipient (and model) is Mistress Morwenna Westerne. Click on the photo for more detail shots ofLakshmi’s work, including graphs forher adaptations ofmy winged undine from Plate 75:1 of The New Carolingian Modelbook. (Lakshmi’s photo appears here by permission.) Because the piece was made to celebrate the artistic accomplishments of Mistress Morwenna, Lakshmi’s undines each carry something associated with Morwenna’s favorite pursuits. There’s an embroidering mermaid, a cooking mermaid, a performing mermaid, and several others. Very clever!

More on Crochet

I’ve gotten some more feedback and help on ways to attach edging and borders to pre-existing filet pieces; and advice on how to better keep 1:1 true square proportionality when forming meshes.

First, advice from Vaire, the Innocent Abroad onmaking my squares square. She says that try as she might, she was never able to achieve true squareness using the base-4 style mesh I’m using. Instead she switched to base-3. That’s one double crochet between the legs of the mesh to form a filled square, and one chain stitch between the legs of the mesh to form an open one (I do two of each right now). She said that this reduced the width spread of her squares.Vaire went on to suggest another method of increasing mesh size: using 3 ch betwen trebles, instead of 2 ch between doubles. This makes a larger, more airy mesh, and opens opportunities for partially as opposed to solidly filled squares (tr, ch, tr, ch, tr). Thank you, Vaire! Both are intriguing ideas, well worth experimentation.

My pal Kathryn also continues to ply me with great ideas too numerous to all list here. Several have been for methods of joining filet sections. There’s been a step-style join that makes a mitered corner. I need to try that one out before I can explain it better. At first I was afraid that my not-square squares would throw the miter off, but used in combo with Vaire’s base-3 idea, it sounds like it would work quite well. She’s also sent me quotations from pre-1920 books that discuss methods like overhand basting to hold sections together; and picking up and working an edging in another style of crochet.

Finally Vaire also suggests using double crochets as horizontal "brides" (reseau) to attach the new bit to the old. This is also a nifty idea, and one I considered, but I was doomed by a poorly planned design choice. I want a two-mesh strip of empty meshes all the way around the piece. I’ve already made that. To do the bride method, I’d have to have done only one, as the row of attachment would provide the second. Since I want most of the joining row to be solidly worked, were I to do it with horizontal double crochets I’d run afoul of the proportionality problem again. Again, thank you! A good idea for a future project, but I’ve pretty much painted myself into a corner on this one.

WORKING REPORT – FILET OF DRAGON

More progress.

I’m only three rows from being done with this side panel, so I turned my attention to figuring out how to join the top and bottom strips. I think I’ll end up doing something like this:

I’ll be working this strip the long-narrow direction, joining it to the side of the existing piece. I think the joins will be visible if you know to look for them, but they shouldn’t be too distracting because except for the first two and last two rows of the piece, the column of meshes thatis being attached are all filled in, and any additional heaviness should be visually lost in that solid line.

In the mailbag I had a couple of questions on why I thought that filet crochet is clunky and heavy looking. The people whowrote thought my piece was anything but. However, to me filet isheavy by comparison to Lacis – the style it emulates.

Lacis is worked by darning in the meshes on a hand-knotted net background. You start with a netted ground, then with needle and thread, weave in the meshes that need to be worked solidly. There’s a wonderfully arcane logic to designing one’s path of stitching so as to minimize ends. If you like themental excerciseof working double-sided blackwork or cross stitch, you’d really enjoy Lacis. For delicacy though, filet crochet just can’t compare:

This photo is froma photo catalog of household and decorative arts held by the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The book is in Russian and French, published in 1974. It identifies this piece as being Italian, 16th century, but says very little beyond that.

To my amateur eyes, it looks like this piece of lace was cut down for re-use, because not only are motif roundels rudely interrupted, both the tape at the top and the applied needle lace lappet edge at the bottom are sewn on to roughly cut edges that in some places slash meshes in half. Even so, look at the extreme contrast between the darned solid bits and the spiderlike open areas formed by ever-so-thin single thread mesh ground. Now THAT’S delicate! You can also see yet that the use of the borders and centralpanel areais yet another bit of inspiration that stewed around beforethe idea for mydragon curtain was birthed.

This designs in this particular pieceare on my "to-do" list to graph up for Ensamplio Atlantaea. My postulated but not yet realized sequel to The New Carolingian Modelbook. Little things are holding up that production – like the lack of a good graphing platform, not having a publisher, that so many other people are now plowing the same turf and I don’t want to repeat material others have issued.

How did I lay hands on the Russian decorative arts catalog? It’s amazing what you can findin the damaged goods deep-discount boxes at some Cambridge, Massachusetts used book stores.