Sunday, June 14, 2009

More Thinking About Knitting than Than Actual Knitting

Here is a picture of the recipient of the domino square He's the son of a colleague. The colours are so unbabyish that I still can't quite believe that he likes it, but apparently he can't put it down. Well, I guess if you're going to haul around a big knitted square, it may as well be one that you can sew into a cushion cover later on. What a sweetie!

There's not much progress to show on the Mystery Einband. I've been knitting a surprise for someone, sort of. I'm not as far along with it as I'd like to be. Busy with work.

After reading Fleegle's post about purl decreases, I got to thinking. If I knit the ssk's the way you're supposed to - ie. slip 2 stitches knitwise and knit them together through the back loop rather than simply knitting 2 stitches together through the back loop - will it result in a more pleasant knit on a lace pattern like the Small Trees? Turns out that it will!

Remember how I said that the Small Trees pattern was driving me mad? How I said it was boring? Well, it was also hard. Hard to catch 2 stitches together for some of the ssk's and k2tog's. D-mned hard when one stitch is a yo and the next is a knit stitch that has been done on top of a twisted yo.

I tried knitting more loosely - really relaxing - and that helped to some degree, but I just wasn't getting the lovely flowing experience that you get with the Russian patterns where it's all knit all the time.

I'll admit that in the past, I've scoffed at the need to do complex decreases when you're knitting with such thin yarn. It seems to me that nobody except the most eagle eyed knitter will be able to see the difference. OKAY, I do accept that sometimes you want a stitch to be lying to the left or lying to the right, but I couldn't see why you'd care exactly how you get it that way. So it twists the stitches, big deal. Who's going to be able to tell the difference on a yarn that is 50 wpi?

Well, after some thought and experimentation, I learned what millions of lace knitters before me must already have known - IT MAKES IT EASIER TO KNIT THE NEXT ROW!

Yes, I had seen Mim's tutorial on Directional Decreases and I had seen Knitterguy's super post on different kinds of decreases too (can't find it now - drat!) but I had gone on knitting the ssk my own lazy way.
Will it look different? Well. Since I did the first border and the center of the shawl the wrong way and am now doing the second border the correct way, it will soon be clear. I'll be able to pin the two sections up to the window valance and peer at them closely. I'm betting that the difference will be minimal and won't be a problem aesthetically. I may be wrong. I'll let you know.

In the garden, the critters have eaten all the lettuce. The strawberries are doing well, but as soon as one ripens it's carried off to be neatly consumed on the top of the picnic table. I know this, because whoever or whatever is doing it leaves the tops behind. I'm probably growing fruit and veg for a squirrel and then cleaning up after it.

Fortunately, what/whoever is not interested in my other offerings - radishes, cilantro, cucumber, tomato or rhubarb - at least not yet.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Field of Nupps

It turns out that the Trinity stitch produces a field of nupps. Massed together, like plants in a garden, I think it looks very good. Knitting this stitch is great practice for knitting the nupps in the Estonian lace knitting patterns or in the Swallowtail shawl. You have to relax and knit loosely. And look at this Icelandic yarn - even though the shawl is very fine and light, the fibers have bloomed. When you hold it up to the light you can see how this increases the warmth of the fabric. Click on the photo to see the spaces between the stitches up close.

Here, you can see how far I've gotten with my Mystery Einband. It's definitely going to be a stole rather than a curtain. When I couldn't knit a another row of Small Trees to save my life, I knit a few plain rows, then a row of holes and swtched to the Trinity stitch for the centre. Then when that got boring and I thought I'd better check on the length, I soaked and stretched it out again. The border is 25 inches and I think that the centre will be about 20 inches so the whole thing should be about 70 inches long in the end. It's still about 20 inches wide.

The Trinity stitch is on page 49 of Martha Waterman's Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls

I'll finish the centre very soon and put it on a spare needle. Then I'll cast on for the other border, knit it up and graft the two pieces together.

Jean, if you don't mind, I'll just pretend to myself for the time being that you might actually borrow this to wear to the wedding. With this bit of self delusion, I'll have a better chance of actually finishing it and not setting it aside like the poor Pine Tree Palatine (I swear I'll get back to that soon) or the Wedgette cardigan. I carry huge feelings of guilt about the Wedgette.

The weather here is still on the cool side for June. The shawl has been warming my lap as I knit and I continue to wear my renovated Lopapeysa. The cool temps mean that the tomato plants are very slow to develop though the radishes and lettuce seeds have sprouted, no surprise there. And I really do prefer the cool weather to the heat.

Let's see. What can I really complain about - oh yes, my neighbour used his power washer for 12 hours this weekend. It was non stop yesterday - just to take the finish off his deck. Then four more today. Plus, we had to arrange to return our new fridge because it makes an unrelenting and piercing high pitched noise as well. Not to mention having to select another one. And rather than try to do it all over the phone from the comfort of my own home with the machines in the background, I went to Sears twice. Grrr. 'Nuff said.