Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weldon's 1904 Double Bordered Diamond Scarf

I've been behaving myself all weekend. Saving myself for the work week as it were. As a result, I'm surrounded by dust bunnies but have made great headway on a new project. Since I couldn't give the Hemlock Ring Throw to its intended recipient based on the blocking disaster I had with that project, I came up with an alternative.

After falling prey to a few skeins of Karabella Lace Merino at the Yarn Boutique last week, I did some pattern browsing and paired this yarn with the Double Bordered Scarf With Diamond Borders from Victorian Lace Today.  The pattern suggests a mohair which means well, some fuzziness. The Karabella on the other hand is plied, so it's not completely smooth and it's not fuzzy at all.  I really like the way it holds the stitches. Apparently a lot of people make socks out of it which I don't understand. Wouldn' t they quickly develop holes?

Anyway, I'm really enjoying the knit. It started slowly. I just couldn't grasp the instructions right away. In fact, I worked myself into a bit of a lather over them. It seemed to me that they were unnecessarily complicated and didn't obviously answer the question of whether you purl or knit on the wrong side of the fabric. I couldn't proceed so I went on to Ravelry to the VLT group and searched the board. Bingo. Knitters had discussed the problem and worked it out months ago. The best hint was from Janice61 who averred that the only purls in the whole pattern are on rows 1 and 11.

I was away and soon appreciated the way the pattern had been written out.  I've recorded all my other hints on my project page. When I began, I thought I'd have to make a mark every time I finished a row and that I'd have to constantly be looking at the charts. Not so. After a number of repeats, I've started to train myself to look away. First I did this for only the easy sections within rows, then for a whole row and then for several rows at a time. Now I've got it so that I have to look only three times during the 20 row repeat. This makes the knitting go much faster and is very encouraging. I like it when that happens during a knit. Here are the results so far. Couldn't resist blocking to see how many repeats I'll have to do to get a 60 inch scarf. Answer: about thirty.

Here are a couple of photos. Coming later this week: The Next Dickey.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sorry it's been so long!

Well, it's just been a few weeks, but it's been a hard month for a lot of people, full of challenges of all kinds.

It has been very cold, hasn't it? I had something bronchial, but am now on the mend and am back knitting.

For a while, I frantically knitted dickey's, the first of which I have hardly taken off since I finished it. It's a charming salmon colour. I like to think that it makes me look healthier.

I used Meg Swansen's variations on EZ's basic pattern from page 42 of Knitting Around. You knit a tube with the circumference of a tuque and then cast on extra stitches and knit a "surround to cover the top of your chest and shoulders. The "surround" hangs down about 3-4 inches. I love that book, it's like a printed blog, really. I never get tired of reading about Elizabeth Zimmerman.

A word on dickey's - they are detachable shirt fronts, collars or bibs per the Wiktionary. They've been supremely unfashionable and draw remarks like, "What happened to the rest of the sweater?" In the category of "what not to wear," the dickey is lower than the turtleneck. For some reason, this makes it appeal to me more.

Then I got creative with the pattern. I made the second dickey open at the front and extended the extended the "surround" out on a curve so that it became more of a shawlette. I used one ball of Koigu KPPM and 2 of Art Yarns Merino something or other. They seem like the same yarn and the colours blended nicely. I added a basic lace edging and i-cord for the buttonholes.

Here are a series of shots...

Marking the Change

Here's just a bit of garbled bit of translation that seemed to fit the moment. Knitting to resume momentarily...apologies to various Russian authors. H.

"The running on the stairs, the whirling, the screaming and the racket had reached it's peak.

At that moment, the clock on the tower struck.

"Bonng!" went the clock.

Shrieks and screams shook the pavilion. Assistants, consultants, experts and editors streamed down the stairs. There was a rush for the exit.

"Bonng! Bonng!" continued the clock.

Silence began to emerge from the corners. The keepers of the cast-iron seal, the managers of commas, the administrators and lieutenants were all gone. A messenger's broom flashed for one last time on the stairway.

"Bonng!" the clock struck for the fourth time.

The pavillion was empty. And only an assistant, whose jacket pocket had got snagged on a bronze handle, squealed pitifully and stamped the marble floor with his little hoofs.

It was over. A rooster crowed in a fishing village by the sea."

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hemlock Ring Update

I must say that I probably would not knit the Hemlock Ring again because of my experience blocking it. And it's still not perfect. I've resigned myself to weaving in the loose ends, applying the steam iron without mercy, especially to the edges and leaving it at. Perhaps when the warm weather comes, If I'm in the mood, I'll take it outside and block the dickens out of it one more time. I'll be able to spread it out in the back yard on a sheet and leave no loop unpinned.

Judith, thank you for your very sensible comment. I notice that on your project page, you talk about changing to a larger sized need for the feather and fan section. In my case this might have helped with the last 6 inches or so.

It really does want to be a bowl even if only a very shallow bowl. It will work nicely as an armchair cover.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

When your knitting makes you limp...

Now, it's all become clear to me. Why were people been asking me repeatedly whether I had blocked the Hemlock Ring and if not, when was I going to do so? Even my sister was been contacted by an old friend with this question.

Tonight, after supper, I thought I'd just run upstairs and get it over with and then get on with knitting the blue Twilley's cardigan. Ha ha. Very funny.

I almost panicked after my first try. I just couldn't pull it out flat. I thought maybe I mis-knit it somehow. Wasn't there something about an error in row 33 or 35. Maybe the yarn I used at the edging wasn't as stretchy as the main yarn. But it was the same Berroco Ultra Alpaca, just not the same colour.... A very unpleasant sensation. Fortunately, we have Ravelry for that.

Really, I had no idea what blocking this baby would entail. I was perfectly innocent. I had not seen the reams of comments on this subject on Ravelry. I had not seen the blog postings by people who gave up and renamed it the Hemlock Ring Bowl. I finished the knitting several days ago and liked it so much I even used it as a throw, leaving it unblocked during the current cold snap.

Just put in a few key words and voila, instant help. The encouraging postings by Susan of the Rainey Sisters were especially helpful. She has knit 3 or 4 of these things and blocked them all exquisitely,

I followed Susans's advice and went back up to block my throw on the spare bed. As advised, I started by pinning down the star in the center and then established the ray segments equally, working outwards massaging the feather and fan sections to eliminate all the ruching and make the thing lie flat. It got trickier as I got to the outer edges. I would pin down one point, then another and another and then the pins would start popping out of the first point. I ripped off my sweater. Ran out of pins. Started strategically removing them from the inner sections. Around and around. Over and over. I had to squeeze up against the wall. Then I pulled the bed out into the middle of the room. I tried something with rope. Kicked off my slippers. Bit by bit, the thing started to look like it is supposed to look. It took about 2 hours and left me with a limp. Totally unlike the woman in the video from the Scottish Screen Archive.

Anyway, all's well that ends well. Here it is before and after...