Monday, April 24, 2017

some cheats....

There I was, all anxious to get going but I didn’t want to waste the yarn or the time to make a swatch (kids, don’t try this at home!) but I knew that would be incredibly foolish. With the angora, I had cast on 20 stitches and knit a few rows to get the tension that I wanted – slightly loose but not too loose - to make the yarn go farther and have the resulting fabric drapey and thinner - angora will be quite warm anyway and I didn’t want it to be like a quilted vest! I settled on T7. I unravelled that so as not to waste a drop!
 I had some alpaca that looked like the same thickness so I made a quick swatch with it. Technically, for a swatch on the LK150/6.5mm machine you want to measure 30 sts by 40 rows with the orange gauge, so I cast on 16-0-16 stitches wide and knit one full pattern repeat which is 28 rows – I was using pre-knit yarn from a previous practice swatch (😉). Pinned it out, steamed it, released it and then measured it, roughly a 6-inch square, to obtain a starting point, of 18 stitches and about 22 rows to 10 cm. So, I plugged that into my KR11 knit contour and found the mylar sheet with my original half-scale schematic from 1999! I’m ready to knit for real! I get going and I’m planning to mark my stitches on the real thing to be able to do an actual gauge as I’m knitting the back – (see ‘cheating at swatches’ I’m not sure if I ever told you this but how do you hang yarn marks on the 16th needle on each side of 0 when one or both is out of work? You just count over to the next needles that are in work – on this particular row, #16 left is out of work (I pulled the #16 needles out for this photo so you could see) and looking at the right, #16 is in work but then there are two needles to the right of that out of work, so I need to count over 3 needles to the right on each one to find a working needle each side that will mark the 30 needles (NOT stitches) required for the correct measurement -OMG, hope that makes sense! Then I take a yarn tag, tie a knot in it so it won’t inadvertently pull out and hang the loop over the needles I want to mark – don’t pull this through or it will spoil your piece – you want to be able to cut these off the inside without loosing a stitch after you’ve done your measuring!
I hung my stitch tags on row 19, 40 and 61 so I have 40 rows from bottom to top for the row gauge. At row 70, I took the whole thing off on waste yarn and let it rest overnight before measuring for the final, more accurate gauge and oh my! Just like the professional I am, it is 18 stitches by 22 rows! 😉
Oh, and one more thing, on this pattern, I have set it up so when my carriage is at the right, the transfers are done, check that the correct needles are in or out of work and then two rows knit. If you are stopping to take a break, stop when the carriage is at the left. That way, you won’t make the mistake of just knitting two (more) rows before making the transfers! This is not exactly a fun pattern to rip back 20 rows because you didn’t spot the error sooner ;-(.
Hope you’re coming to Raleigh to see this thing – it’ll be your only chance!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

what's a shrug?...

Have you ever had one of those times when you’ve regretted that generous offer you made to do something for someone? Well, it’s not like I am begrudging my time or efforts but I was seriously concerned that I wouldn’t be able to come up with something she’d like. Let me backtrack a bit and tell you the whole story. Manfriend’s son is getting married and I thought, it’s kind of like family and seeing as how I’ve been making things for the brides in my family, I could offer to make something for Shannon. She showed me a photo of her dress - it is beautiful with an illusion neckline and a plunging back. The wedding is mid-June and I know it’s going to be cooler in the evening at least and the venue is an old barn/farm setting that isn’t likely to be heated. Her dress was called blush but it isn’t really – the lining is blush but the lace overlay is ivory. When I made the offer, I thought I could dash off a rectangular stole easily – my thought was thread lace - and use it as a sample in one of the classes I am teaching at the Carolinas Guild Seminar (May 4, 5/17 in Raleigh, ).
I got out all my white/ivory/ecru/beige yarns and asked Shannon to come over and pick out the yarn. And the thing is, for some strange reason, I included this cone of French angora that has been on my shelf for at least 15 years and it’s a mid gauge thickness, 3/10– all the rest were standard gauge weight. I had a couple of garments near to show her choices of tuck lace, lace carriage laced, thread lace and my hand-transferred lace Church Cardi, done on the LK150. Wouldn’t you know, she zeroed in on the angora and the leaf and Battenburg stitch patterns of the Church Cardi and then I had to make it worse by saying that I didn’t really like shawls anyway because you have to hang on to them and it might be nice to have something more like a cape style that could be buttoned at the neck and leave your hands free. Cripes! I’ve been sweating for the past two weeks, worrying about how I was going to do this. First of all, I have only 10 ounces of the angora and I’m already worried about running out. Then, I’m thinking, sideways knit, okay but these stitch patterns are not really going to look that great sideways and add in some shortrowing and I just wanted to throw my hands in the air and say I give up!
But, you know I’d never do that… and then, yesterday, in a flash of brilliance, I remembered this cool shrug from way back in Knitwords #9, summer of '99 – I called it ‘a different shrug’ and it was knit in one piece and could be the perfect canvas for any of those lacy patterns – the cast-on edge at the lower back is curved and drapey, there are darts at the shoulder to create a cap sleeve and omg, I’m so excited! Now, if I can pull this off! ;-)