Sunday, March 28, 2010

On and Off the Needles

It's been a while since my last post. Of course, I will keep on with the Palatine though the third repeat, but I put it aside as it needs solitude and concentration. It's been more than a month since I posted. Spring has sprung in Western New York and the pollen has left me exhausted. I have not, however, been idle.

I have been working on a gift for someone who has been very helpful to our family. First, I knit the Alka shawl out of Stahman's Scarves and Shawls. I've had the book for more than a year and I'm only now getting around to using it. It focuses on patterns for shawls that are fitted to stay on your shoulders as well as on patterns for seaman's scarves. I used Cascade 220 for this project. It turned out well enough, but I have decided that it doesn't really fit the bill. It will go into the present drawer for later consideration.

Afterwards, I ordered 10 skeins of Karabella Lace Merino for a square shawl. I contemplated the Fir Cone Square from Oberle's Folk Shawls but rejected that pattern because it has a wrong side and also because I don't like the way that the fir cone motifs are oriented - just straight up and down. If you wear the shawl by folding it into a triangle, not only do you have to fold it carefully so as not to reveal the wrong side of the lace - your fir cones are all on a slant. I spent a few days pondering how to knit the center square with the fir cones on the bias and finally got it after several false starts. I'll post a picture of it in a few days.

In the meantime, finished another shawl from Stahman's book using some mystery yarn that I picked up at the Guild auction a year or two ago. After knitting with it for a few nights, I realized that it is yarn from an unravelled store bought sweater. I think it has a bit of wool in it, but not much. It is a nice enough colour - dove grey, but it reminds me the stuff that used to fly out of padded envelopes if you opened them up the wrong way, either that or the vacuum cleaner. It's funny how I find myself knitting this. Why did I get so far into the project before noticing that I wasn't enjoying working with this yarn? Another rhetorical question. This shawl will go to charity. Someone will appreciate it. I will definitely knit this pattern again, in wool next time.

I am also mid way through a baby blanket which has to be finished and arrive in Ottawa in time for the christening on May 9th. I just love this knit. Based on Sharon Miller's Cob Web Crepe pattern, I am using worsted weight yarn on size 5mm (US8) needles, so its going quickly. For the center, I'm using a vintage yarn that I acquired at the Guild auction this past week - Jarre by Pingouin. The yarn is a nubbly combination of wool, cotton and acrylic. It came with an enormous cone of pale pink lace weight mohair. Mmmm. So when I ran out the Jarre I switched to a combination of mohair and Cascade 220 for the feather and fan border. So soft.

Lastly, here is some local colour, including a photo of Athena, a feral cat who has been adopted by our neighbours. She has had all her shots, etc. but lives in their garage. She acts more like a dog than a cat and accompanies the family when they walk their dog.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hadn't I better keep going?

I managed to get through though last week by deluding myself that I was on the third and final repeat of the hundred row chart on page 38-39 of the Pine Tree Palatine pattern.

It's hellishly repetitive and without any of the usual aids that you find in lace patterns, such as bold or coloured vertical lines to help you determine where you are in the pattern, or numbers printed in the long runs of knit stitches. Russian knitters must view such devices as crutches to proper knitting.

I'm finally getting it though. You're supposed to glance at the chart and think something like, "Oh, for this row, I've got to knit past so many holes and when I get to the Nth yarnover from the row below, then I knit the next row of the Pine Tree motif." Or maybe, "If the Pine Tree motif doesn't start right after a yo from the row below, then maybe it starts right after one from 2 rows below." It's all about knitting the motif rather than about counting stitches. Mostly anyway.

It makes sense, when you consider that the people who developed this tradition were likely not big counters, never mind readers or writers. They were peasants who knit to keep warm and to earn their keep. It makes you think again about mathematics, doesn't it?

And by the way, I was completely deluding myself. I see now that I've only just finished the second repeat of the chart. I have one more to go and then I'm into the border. In addition, I'm on my last ball of the main colour - the "Morning Blues" shade of "Impressions" from "A Touch of Twist." I'm pretty sure it's easy enough to get more. I've run out twice in the past and managed to get more each time at the Hemlock Fiber Fest. Dye lots don't seem to exist with this yarn.

I must now decide - should I try to get more yarn to continue, or should I shorten the shawl by moving on to the finishing border now? If I do that, the piece will end up more or less square in shape. The current measurements, unblocked are 37 inches wide and 30 inches in length. Here's a picture that includes the edges. It makes me want to keep going.