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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
The Samosa Vest is marching along quite nicely. I’ve done it entirely ad hoc – no advance planning, no writing anything down (which is refreshingly liberating, for a change). It’s been sort of sculptural, with problems worked out on the fly. Still – there weren’t many. Here are the front and back views:
You can see that I’ve finished the body strips, wrapping the three primary ones around the front. I did some minor shaping on the fourth, to add a bit of of a bust dart to the general shape. Then I filled in two little patches under each arm. After that the front was substantively done. The next step was to pick up and knit the next strip, which outlined the upper back. I continued on from there, until the space in the center became too small for two mitered corners. At that point, I winged it – filling in the center back with a smaller shape, partially contoured with short rows, and a center-back join. The result is rather like a racer back, and is quite flattering on Younger Daughter (modeled pix when done).
I grafted off or picked up and knit the shoulders. Finally I worked an i-cord edging around the entire outer edge to give the body a bit more firmness, and for a more professional finish. It’s much nicer than the flabby chain selvedge edge that was there before.
Now I’ve got one last problem – there’s a Romulan (or Fire Kingdom) point at the top of each armhole. I picked out one side and re-knitted it, but the point remains. Time for some more noodling on possible fixes. Once I’ve got that repair done, it’s i-cord around the armhole edges, and I’m finished.
Suggestions for possible fixes would be most graciously accepted!
As you can see, I’m making quick progress on my Samosa Vest. Right now it’s just a single confusing strip of garter stitch knitting, with a couple of mitered corners and some angles thrown in. But when you pat it into shape, the concept emerges:
Ignoring the confusing letters for the moment, you can see the basic outline – the vee-neck, and the bottom edge that defines the width of the finished piece.
I cast on 13 stitches at A. I knit a garter diagonal band, increasing on one side of the strip and decreasing on the other every other row to achieve the angle. When my neckline was deep enough (B), I switched to working straight – a plain old 13-stitch strip until I was about 2 inches shy of my desired length. Then I worked a wrapped short-row miter, making the corner at C. I then knit across the bottom edge of the front, across the entire back (unseen, from D to E), then back across the front to the center point. Again, about two inches shy of the center point, I did another miter (F). After that I worked straight up to point G. I reversed the shaping of my initial angled strip to create its mirror image, from G to H.
Then exactly as I did in my Motley blanket, I cast off 12 stitches, added 12 and proceeded to work the second strip, knitting it onto the established edge strip as I went along. I worked miters again at points K and N. You can see I’m past O, headed back up to the shoulder where I initially cast on.
I will continue in this manner for one more strip. That will make the shoulders of the piece about as wide as the shoulders of the target tee-shirt I am using as my size model. At that point I’ll have to figure out how to fill in extra bits on the sides and in the center of the back. But so far the thing has come together exactly as I envisioned. And quickly, too!