Here I am!
The life that intruded last week was a spring break visit to Florida, featuring an official Dual Grandparent Visitation. We left last Friday morning, spent several days in the Aventura area with my family, then zipped up to West Palm Beach to visit my in-laws; then returned south for a splendiferous Passover seder. We flew home this morning.
Aside from making the standard "arms tired" jokes, I can say it was an enjoyable whirlwind of a week. The kids are suitably viewed, the grandparents accordingly pleased and proud, the weather was wonderful, and we had lots of fun doing tourist-type things. More on them later this week.
On the knitting end, I can report zero progress on Rogue. I didn’t take it. It was too big, with too many adjunct parts (magnet board, multi-page pattern, extra yarn, pouch of vital knitting doodads). Instead I took the Birds Eye Shawl to finish. But it is Birds Eye no longer. I like the gauge and needle size for the pattern. I adore the pattern itself. I love the yarn I used. But not all together. The more I got into the piece, the more I realized that the hand-dyed multicolor was fighting for attention with the graceful eyelet pattern. So I ripped back the entire thing – roughly two feet measured from the triangle’s tip. Instead I’m working the Paisley Lace Shawl from the Spring issue of Interweave Knits. Scroll down almost to the bottom of this page for IK’s photo of the thing.
I had worked on the Birds Eye shawl on the flight down, but grew increasingly unhappy with it as I knit. By the time I got to our destination, I was looking for an excuse to do something else. In a classic example of good deeds coming home to roost, I’d given my mother a gift subscription to IK this past holiday season. She pulled it out to show me a project she was contemplating, and I riffled past the Paisley. It would work. The pattern is mostly solid garter stitch on large (for lace) needles. The garter stitch is worked in a square from the center out, and is pierced by little flower-like quads of eyelets. The solid area shows off the colors of the hand-dyed quite nicely, and the eyelets provide just a hint of interest instead of major league competition. The flower eyelet center is ringed by a band of motifs that give the piece its name. The effect is sort of reminiscent of the pattern placement in a bandanna, but done in lace.
So far ‘m almost to the end of Paisley’s center section. I’ve got one more repeat of the flower eyelet chart to do. Then it’s on to the namesake pattern around the edge of the piece. I may have enough yarn in my Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace to work an additional bit of trim around the outside of the paisley section. Lord knows, I can’t just do a pattern as written – dire things might happen.
Pictures as soon as I find the digital camera. I packed it and took it with us.
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…
It’s growing on me. I like it more now that there is more of it done. I’m still not 100% pleased, but I’m no longer at the edge of the rip back and start all over mindset.
I think I made the right call by not continuing with the birds eye pattern uninterrupted for the entire piece. I’ve switched over to plain garter stitch for the center, ornamented with a coordinating band of eyelets marching up the spine.
For the record, I’ve made a slight change in the Birds Eye pattern that I think looks just a tad better. On the chart provided, on rows 3, 7, 11, 15, 19 (etc.) I work the ssk that forms the right hand corner of the big eyelet as a K2tog. This gives a slightly better definition to that corner of each ring.
I tried to abstract out just one column of eyelets from the main design for my spine, but I didn’t like the look. Because the original does that half-drop translation thing (staggered like brick walls are stacked), the eyelets ended up being spaced too far apart. Instead I used a similar design lifted from one of the edging patterns in Miller’s book. It’s from "Ring Shawl Lace Edging with Spider Insertion." I’m using just the Spider insertion strip. It complements the all-over Birds Eye pattern in that it’s also ring based, but it’s slightly different. Spider is one row shorter than the Birds Eye, and the eyelets stack directly one on top of each other. In BE, the slightly embossed eyelet rings all appear on the same side of the piece. In Spider, they alternate front and back. It’s still good looking and being airy, matches nicely, but the ring units ARE different.
Now I’m looking at my shawl and I’m beginning to think that with this growing plain garter stitch area something interesting floating in it might be quite effective. Or maybe not (that variegated yarn color problem again.) Hmmm…..
Just knitting along on the Birds Eye shawl. I’m not entirely pleased with the way the color interferes with the eyelet patterning. Perhaps I should rip back and make something plainer.
You can best make out the eyelets near the bottom point. For the record, I’m knitting on 2.5mm needles. Without the jumble of color, both th eneedles and the eyelets would be more visible. For all the complexity of the chart, the repeat is actually quite easy to? memorize. It’s 4 rows x 6 stitches, with a half-drop translation.
I’ve now worked into the spot where I’m modifying the pattern by inserting a region of plain garter. As soon as I have more of that done, I’ll take another photo to see if the difference in texture is worth the effort. Or perhaps I’ll throw in the towel and find or create another visually simpler pattern.
The blue poncho is done!? I had wanted to do something more elaborate with the crocheted border, but the Target Daughter reminded me that it being for her, I might like to hold off on the wild part. I had forgotten that as an early teen one wants to be different from everyone else in exactly the same way as all of one’s friends. Target Daughter thought that too much crochet would make the piece too frou-frou. and requested something simpler.
I ended up using the chain selvedge edges as my foundation, and working with only one ply of my de-plied yarn (in contrast, the knitted part is worked with two plies). Into each of the existing?elongated selvedge edge stitches I did?this unit:
2 double crochet, (chain 3 slip stitch in base of chain to make picot), 2 double crochet
I fudged as best I could along the cast-on and bind-off edges of the rectangles. This made a very simple slightly scalloped edge, with little picots marching along it. Using the thinner yarn kept it delicate and in proportion to the lacy bits made by the knitted drop stitch technique.
While this wasn’t my favorite project ever knitted, my dislike for this project was mostly due to the interminable un-plying. The piece itself knit up and trimmed out extremely quickly. I really like the post-wash softness of the wool I used, and the airy drape of the finished poncho. If you wanted to achieve a similar effect, use a yarn that’s thinner than the one called for in the original Classic Elite pattern. Although the yarn as a whole before I unwound the plies knits up like a heavy sport weight (not quite DK), my unspinning it made it alot more lofty My extracted single plies?are about a fluffy as opposed to hard-twisted?fingering weight in thickness, two of these fluffy beasts knit on conventional as opposed to the wildly large needles I used would knit up at standard DK gauge (22 st=10cm or 4 inches, probably on a US #5 or so).
Birds Eye Shawl
On to the next project. My Birds Eye shawl, done in Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace in purples, and adapated from the free pattern posted by Sharon Miller on her Heirloom Knitting website. I’m about?6 inches into the thing, measured from the starting point at the triangle’s tip. I’m having fun with it, but I think the variegated yarn is overpowering the eyelet design. Since it’s turning into massive effort for less of a return than I had originally hoped, as described before I’ll work a wide band of eyelets left and right, and a single eyelet column as a spine up the center back. The rest I’ll do in garter or stockinette. I’ve started on this modification, but have had to rip back a few times because I hadn’t quite gotten the math right on the pattern transformation. I was ending up with too many stitches because I was including some YOs that had no accompanying decreases. More charting is my next step. I’ll report back on this in my next post.
More on Blocking
A couple of people have asked where I do my blocking, or if I use a blocking board. I have to admit that I’m not that organized. Until recently I didn’t have a place to stow a piece of wallboard or a commercial blocking board. We have a mostly bare floors house, with?8×10-foot rugs in only a couple of the rooms. Two kids, but no free-range pets. Depending on traffic, whether or not the piece might bleed dye, I throw some beach towels over either the white Berber style rug (my bedroom) or blue fake oriental?rug (family room)?and pin out on the towels.
Aside from a couple of fuzzy narrow scarves in garter stitch, it’s Target Daughter’s first knitting project!? She used some bits of leftover Manos del Uruguay?from my stash, and we started with the Booga Bag pattern. I admit we didn’t actually follow it, but we did borrow its general idea – a rectangle of garter stitch, pick up around the edges and work a tube in the round, in stockinette. Make I-cord for handles.
In total I think there’s about skein and a third of the brown/paprika Canyon color, a third of a ball of dark brown (the bottom of the bag, plus the first three or so rows of the tube); and a third of a skein of gold (the stripe and the handles). It’s hard to give exact totals though as all was in little balls and I didn’t bother to weigh it first. We fulled?the bag?in the washing machine by tossing into two hot wash/cold rinse loads of dark colored towels.
Her next project is the one-skein Gusto 10 hat, and mastering double points and decreases. After that it’s on to purling, and wherever else knitting takes her. She’s muttering things about replicating sprites from her GameBoy games, so perhaps it will be Intarsia or stranding…
Is now blocked out, stitched together and is being edged. Here’s a photo mid-block:
I’ve pinned out both rectangles one on top of the other, using the same set of blocking wires in an attempt to ensure that they end up being the same size. You can see the lacy ribbed look resulting from the dropped stitch pattern, plus the variegated ended up doing a little zig-zag flash thing on some of the stripes.
The two pieces are now dry and sewn together. I’ve started crocheting around the neck edge for firmness. Since I did a chain selvedge, I’ll use that to my advantage around the neck. By doing one or two more double crochets than would fit flat over each chain selvedge loop, I’ll end up with a firm, scalloped neck trim, possibly with some picots thrown in. Pix tomorrow.
Birds Eye Shawl
In other knitting related news, I’ve started the Birds Eye Shawl available as a free pattern on the Heirloom Knitting website. I’m using Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace in mixed berry colors – mostly purples with some blue and fuschia thrown in. I’m not entirely pleased at the effect because the colors are overwhelming the texture pattern. I might make some mods to the pattern. I’ve gotten about eight inches into the thing. I may keep the birds eye pattern up around the edge of the piece, but switch to a plain garter stitch or stockinette center, possibly with a line of the birds eye ring motifs running up the center like a spine. More thinking is in order…