Sunday, March 28, 2010

A knitting Coterie

Coterie -- an intimate and often exclusive group of yarns* with a unifying common interest or purpose, as taken from Merriam-Webster, except that the definition actually refers to a group of "*persons".

My latest creation arises from my laziness, to be self-critical. In more generous terms, it sprang from my love of simplicity, my quest for the Zen in my knitting. Basically, I looked at a very cute scarf pattern and was appalled to learn that it required seed stitch, intarsia and fair-isle, all in the same row. On top of those techniques, which can be difficult and tedious for me, the pattern called for a knitted rectangle that could then be folded and worn as a triangle. It's a good pattern, thoughtful, well-written and charted, that has produced lovely finished projects. I really like the scarf, but I'm too lazy to knit it.
I've knit this one instead.

Its name is Coterie, for the little group of exclusive yarns that I've come to know intimately. They've been crocheted, knit, ripped, reknit, and re-ripped over the course of the years they've been in my possession. Lovely stuff, really, nine-tenths of it fingering weight alpaca, almost all from Peru. There's one from a local alpaca ranch, hand-spun and kool-aid dyed. They're so nice, but they are unlucky. They fell into my hands and became appalling things. I'm sure this coterie is grateful their ordeal is over. Now they only need tolerate being wrapped around my neck, tucked into my jacket, or laid over my shoulders, my chaise lounge, my dining table and any other object that stands at the ready. Once I've knit something, I find it hard to put it away in a drawer. I often leave the new knits out where I can pet and play with them for a couple of weeks.

While this shawl does look similar to the scarf I've linked, it is entirely different in construction. Obviously, it is a triangle. Less obviously, it doesn't use either fair-isle or intarsia and the seed stitch is kept to a minimum. It's got a nice i-cord edging which is knit right in, not applied afterwards. There is seed stitch, but just a little at the edge. I made so many changes, I wasn't sure if it was even going to lay flat. Once off the needles, it curled, puckered and ruffled.

 Blocking did the trick, expanding the size to near perfect for a small shawl or kerchief. It's just the size of my Citron. Perhaps a bit larger would be preferable, and would have been relatively easy to achieve, had there been more yarn.

Now that I've got it all done, I'm thinking of writing up the pattern. I've made a few notes, but am concerned about copying another knitter's concept. This is one of those things, like plagiarism. It's difficult to draw a line between "inspired by" and "copied from" when the same idea is expressed by different means. I'd rather be cautious and have contacted the designer and am waiting for her response.

ETA:  Which was negative.  That's that, then.

For an even prettier shawl, see my Mathematix pattern.  The link is in the sidebar under My Patterns.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Seedless Slanting Gretel Tee

Mark the March sweater done. This one was easy.

Slanting Gretel Tee from Fall 2009 Interweave Knits, Interlacements Cheyenne yarn in Olive, size 5 needles

In fact, I made it much easier by eliminating the seed stitch. I knit 8 rounds of garter stitch for the hem and changed to reverse stockinette between the cables. Since that portion is still a little "ruffly", I can only imagine how loose it would be in seed stitch. (My seed stitch is loose.) After reading comments in the projects for this sweater on Ravelry, I was concerned about how wide the hem would actually be. I cast on for a size 32, which had a 37" width at the hem. Mine is over 40" at the hem.

After completing all the decreases, I began increasing again at the bust, adding 12 stitches to get to the count for the size 35. It is barely 35" below the sleeves. I could have used that width about 4" earlier. Other knitters recommend negative ease in the bust for this sweater. I surely achieved that. I blocked it very lightly, but will take a heavier hand with it the next time I wash it, trying for a little more width in the bust, less in the hips (though I want some) and more length.

Not to say that I don't like it. It's soft, it's flattering, it's green. I love it. I really like the A-line shape. Now the weather needs to warm up so I can wear it without a jacket.

 There's one more shot of it on my Ravelry project page, in which you can see a little more of the undesirable ruffles at the bottom of the sweater, and read my detailed comments.
ETA:  Since I wrote this, I gave up trying to incorporate this sweater into my wardrobe, ripped it out and reknit the yarn into a shawl.
Finishing this sweater left me with only one project in progress. It's a conglomeration of ideas, coming from the desire for another small shawl, admiration for a vintage scarf pattern that relies on intarsia and stranding (simultaneously!), a compulsion to use up yarn on hand, and my constant wish to simplify the knitting.

I'm calling this one Coterie, for the little group of mostly alpaca yarns united in this project.

There's purple and lavender (kool-aid dyed!), but the colors meld together so well, they are hard to distinguish. One more stripe of gold and she's done. Don't worry, that doesn't mean that my needles will be empty. I've already started my April sweater.

At the same time, I'm writing up a sock pattern. More on that soon, I hope.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More yarn expected

The Ravelympics project went well. Energized and motivated by the contest, I finally cast on for a huge stole in cashmere and silk Superior laceweight yarn.

One ball later, it was obvious that it won't be huge with the yarn I have on hand. What's more, The intended recipient, a picky (aren't they all) bride, doesn't approve. This project has been put into hibernation to be brought out when I figure out what to do with a longish rectangle of fluffy lace. It might become a scarf, the back of a sweater or a pillow top.  Either way, more yarn is needed.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Greening the knit

My knitting seems to be stuck in a green phase. Maybe I wish it was spring?

Green no. 1:

Mark one Citron shawl finished. If you've been considering this enormously popular shawlette pattern, you should cast on. The pattern is a wonder of simplicity and style. The Kami bison yarn is a marvel. A marketing marvel, mostly. It's primarily bamboo, with merino and a little bison fiber to fuzz it up. I'm glad there was enough in the single hank I bought to make a Citron. I didn't have to buy the brown yarn to finish it out per the pattern. Once I added that sixth repeat, though, I needed the brown. Since it brought out the brown highlights in the Kami, using it was better than not.

The brown is a made-in-China bargain, an extremely thin (even thinner than the laceweight Kami) merino and (oh!) acrylic golden brown yarn with bright green bits, the aptly named Ethereal. The the shiny green bits are probably the acrylic. It's a bit of an odd mix, but no stranger than the bamboo in the Kami.
The result is a light, drapey shawl that wraps well and stays put, except in a high wind.

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