Back from our annual escape to North Truro, and reporting progress on the recently dormant Trifles sampler, being stitched for Younger Daughter to take with her off to college next fall. I decided that for my no-longer-little Steampunk (and Dr. Who) fan, instead of working lots of bands, the design for this one would feature gears. But I had a lot of problems hand-drafting up a nice set of them. It took a while, but eventually I hit on the idea of using a commercial stencil intended for airbrush work, then filling in the traced gear shapes with blackwork counted fills.
Here’s where I am now:
I’ve finished the main motto and the frame around the to-be-worked area. Minor brag: Note that having marched all the way around the piece without drafting first and using only counts of the border repeat to stay on target, I ended up even, perfectly aligned.
All of the fillings I will use on this will be from my free eBook, Ensamplario Atlantio. The ground patterns are stitched using two plies, mostly in double running, with lots of departures to accommodate the non-continuous nature of many of the fills. The outlines are plain old chain stitch, done in three plies of the same color as the gear filling. I am not taking any special pains to make the cam teeth totally square, or to make them mesh. I am liking the rounding and imprecision. Right now I’m thinking of covering the entire piece with gears in burgundy, brown, gold, and silver, relying on classic Four Color Theory to avoid making any two contiguous gears the same hue. Choosing fills for color in addition to density and form is adding a new dimension to this decidedly un-traditional yet somewhat traditional blackwork piece. And I may insert a surprise Trifle or two, just to emphasize the point.
On execution, I can report that I’ve managed to tame the extremely unruly Indian “silk” (in reality, man-made rayon) thread.
I occasionally wax the last inch or so of my silk threads to make threading easier and to help ward off “ply creep” – when one ply of a multi-ply threading is consumed faster than the others. But I usually don’t wax the entire length unless I’m working with linen thread. However this stuff is hellaciously difficult, shredding and sliding, breaking and fraying, and catching. Using shorter lengths wasn’t the answer – no usable length was short enough to use comfortably. So I moved up to waxing the entire strand, and when I did so, most of my problems disappeared.
I am very pleased with the results using the fully waxed threads. They don’t break. They don’t escape from the needle’s eye. They don’t shred. Both plies are consumed at the same rate. Double running is nice and crisp. A major improvement that’s increased the enjoyment factor of a project that might have been truly tedious.
And I’ve wanted an excuse to stitch up those griffon-drakes since I drafted them up for the book.
Two progress status reports today!
First is the Trifles sampler, in progress as a dorm gift to Younger Daughter, who will need such a thing in a year or so. (I have given myself lots of time for completion). As you can see, the motto is finished, using four different alphabets from Ramzi’s Sajou collection. I’ve played with them somewhat, working in the gold color accents, which are not marked as a secondary color on the charts.
I have also stitched in two small Daleks, to comply with her request, stitched in gold and off white silks. I am up to the surround now. I had originally planned to stitch lots of linear strips, patterns from my upcoming book, but as I alluded to before – I have been seized by Another Idea. The small stitched area just getting underway next to the T of TRIFLES is the beginning. I am going to make an interlocking and overlying mesh of gears of various sizes and configurations, each outlined in a heavier non-counted stitch, but filled in using the geometrics found in my Ensamplario Atlantio. I’ll be using coordinating fall colors for these – a bit of the brown and gold from the alphabet, but also cranberry, silver, and possibly a deep green. The total effect should be rather Steampunk, and a lot of fun.
However as much fun as this piece is, necessity intrudes. A friend of mine is welcoming a baby come the turn of the year. She’s expressed a fondness for traditional baby colors, so I am knitting up a small baby blanket for her. It will be car-seat and basket sized, not crib or reception size, so it is going quite quickly.
I’m using Encore Colorspun worsted, an acrylic/wool mix for maximum washability, this being a baby blanket and all. I’m knitting it on US 10.5 (6.5mm), which is relatively large for worsted in order to bring out the lacy stitch pattern. The stitch pattern itself is adapted from an 18-stitch-wide strip pattern appearing in Knitted Lace Patterns of Christine Duchrow, Volume I. I’ve chosen the narrow strip so that the gradual color changes pool, rather than speckling across the rows. I’ve also chosen to work the stripes horizontally because I only have four balls of this yarn. If I had run the piece the long way I might have risked running out before I reached a useful width. By fixing my width, I can keep going until I have just enough to do an edging, or I can find a coordinating pink or off-white Encore for the edging, if there isn’t enough of the graded color yarn. And finally, being a lazy person and not wanting to sew the strips together, I am using the long-loop join method I learned while working Fania Letouchnaya’s Forest Path Stole to knit the strips together as I march along.
Oh, and yes – those are massively long DPNs – about 12 inches long. I really like extra long DPNs for hats and sleeves, and generally don’t use circulars for anything less than 20 or so inches around. As a result I’ve got a collection of these admittedly unusual needles.