Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mathematix shawl, knit again

These two shawls are enough to give a gal double vision. The optical illusion created by the slip stitch chevrons coupled with the slight difference in color intensity makes the first one look like a shadow of the second.

Now that I've knit two near-identical shawls, I'm ready to answer the obvious question ("Why?") along with the less obvious ones. As I knit the second one, following my Mathematix pattern, I was checking the pattern, looking for errors and possible modifications. I started with an easy mod by choosing to knit the eyelet section with a single strand of lace weight Alpaca 1 by Isager Strik.

As soon as I saw that some of the projects on Ravelry are knit in fingering-weight yarn, producing a lighter, more delicate shawl, I was envious. I reasoned that since lighter looked nicer, maybe lightest would look nicest.

The result is a lace section that sharply contrasts with the heavier slip stitch portion. Visually, it almost disappears. The blue Alpaca 1 is doubled stranded in the rest of the shawl so that it matches the weight of The Sheep Shop's Wensleydale Longwool, a fingering weight, woolier yarn quite different from the dk-weight silk and alpaca blend I used for the original.

It is crispier, with just enough drape to curve nicely around the neck. The itchiness is a little different in feel, but both shawls are itchy to my sensitive neck. However, I enjoy a little scratchiness on a cool day and find both shawls comfortable and nicely warming. The main difference between the two is the actual weight of the shawls. The dk version is heavier, drapes more and tends to slip and slide around. The wool/alpaca version is lighter, stiffer and stays put. Neither is bad, just different. I like the feel of the silk and alpaca version as much as I enjoy the lightweight warmth of the woollier one. I'll admit that I find the original more attractive. It has a wonderful sheen and color. However, I'm fond of the second one because it helped me work through several questions about the pattern. Thanks to the second shawl and the Knitty editors, the errata was incorporated into the pattern.

Even though I started this in a hurry, using what I could find in my stash to get right to checking the pattern, I slowed my pace after the first repeat of the chart. Since I was basically through checking the pattern, I began re-thinking the design as I knit, intrigued by the changes I saw other knitters make as they knit this shawl. Another point of view can certainly open doors, as well as raising questions.

The biggest puzzle for me in the slip stitch portion was how to include new stitches into the pattern. Originally, I didn't see a lot of options there. Since other knitters have gotten into the pattern, I realize there are options even when following the 24-stitch repeat, mostly in determining when to slip stitches--right next to the yarn over, one stitch over from the yarn over, or only when two stitches can be slipped together at least one stitch away from the yarn over. Although I handled them a little differently in this shawl, trying to move the new stitches into the pattern more quickly by slipping a single stitch one stitch away from the yarn over, I'm not sure that I don't like my more conservative approach in the first shawl better. My intention there was to only slip stitches if I had a pair to slip. The result was fewer of those "eyes" you see at the center of the shawl in the first photo here, and longer stripes at the edges and center.

Actually, if you look closely at either of the shawls, you will see I wasn't totally consistent in my decisions. I mention that only to show that this shawl will have a dramatic impact even if it isn't totally perfect.

Once I was finished with the repeats of the main pattern, I moved on to the transition rows, which are designed to allow the pattern to flow into the vertical stripes of the border. I was pretty happy that the movement of the pattern is obvious.

However, as I knit through it again, I saw that I might be able to improve it. I think moving the slipped stitches over in rows 3 and 4 would produce a more consistent line of vertical contrast. It would mean moving the stitches that form the cross in the center of the A shape to the sides of the A, leaving a vertical line at the center and connecting the short verticals into the A. I'm not completely sold on that approach. As I said, it is a question of design.

Another niggling detail has to do with the border.

I first knit the turn of the border around the point of the triangle with just 16 rows. Then I ripped it out. It was very obvious that it requires a minimum of the 20 rows I specified to allow it to lay flat. In fact, once I had knit it correctly, I ripped back again. I squeezed in a few more rows off the point to make sure this wool, which had plenty of elasticity, would turn the corner well.

As I knit the shawl, the elasticity of the longwool convinced me that it would never be as big as the original. Happily, I was wrong. They are the exact same size.

Mathematix shawl pattern is published in Knitty.com

My Ravelry page for this shawl project

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mathematix Shawl, story and notes

For my regular readers who probably haven't noticed yet, I have an announcement--I'm published! I'm very pleased that a pattern I wrote was accepted for publication in Knitty. It is a shawl pattern that I developed after my trip to Cambridge this past spring. Below is a photo I took of it last Memorial Day weekend.

I'm so grateful to Emily for being such an excellent model. I had to provide photos for my submission to Knitty and was lucky to find someone to model in the short time frame. I had been trying to knit a shawl from this yarn for a while. I knit a smaller shawl with it in December, but ripped it out. It didn't show off the yarn very well and was really too small to wear. The yarn deserved a better effort. After I came back from Cambridge, I started swatching.

Once I'd put those two patterns together, I was off and knitting. I thought if I finished knitting it before Memorial Day, I would be able to get some photos of it on a trip we had planned for the weekend. Since writing the pattern was taking up some of my knitting time, I was never sure that I would meet both deadlines--shawl finished and blocked by the holiday and pattern submitted by June 1. Now that it is all done and published, my concern is that anyone who has questions or problems has a place to look for answers. I am truly concerned. This is not a simple pattern.

That's why I'm posting this entry to my blog. I plan to add to it as needed to address any questions, make suggestions, or provide any other information about the pattern.

Unfortunately, there were errors in the original Knitty pattern. Corrections were posted November 12, 2011. As a matter of housekeeping, the errata was:

Under DIRECTIONS, Section 1, there should be a row 4 following row 3. It should read:

Row 4: [WS] Purl.

Under Section 2, omit the second sentence regarding starting the first repeat on row 3 of the chart. Start with row 1.

The Left Side charts are wrong. Until I can develop a correct set of charts, the shawl can be knit by working from the Right Side charts, simply reversing them for the second half. To do this, follow the Slip Stitch Pattern -- Right Side chart from right to left, work the center stitch in stockinette, then follow the same row of the chart from left to right.

The wrong side rows of the main color stripe in the border are purled. I mistakenly specified the fourth one, row 8 in the pattern, to be knit. Although this was simply a mistake I made in indicating the wrong row numbers in the "repeat row.." language, I am now a little curious as to how it would look if all the wrong side rows in the border were knit instead of purled. It would be something to try if you like garter stitch.

Also, when starting the border pattern, I began with row 3, letting the cast on stitches count as the first two rows. I'm less sure I like this now that I'm looking at it again. It works, making the colors in the border line up with the shawl colors. However, if you are inclined to finesse a pattern, you might look at handling it differently. My way, the first stripe of CC in the border is missing one row. It is possible to work the beginning and ending stripes of the border with 5 rows, although you would have to cast on an additional stitch.

Other questions have arisen that I consider design issues. For these questions , there is not necessarily one correct approach. In these areas the shawl can be knit according to the preferences of the knitter.

The first question has to do with the number of stitches on the needles at the start of the slip stitch pattern. There's not enough stitches to complete the two repeats on either side of the center stitch. As I knit it, the center two repeats are 1 stitch short. That didn't bother me because I knew I was adding a stitch on either side of the center stitch. The repeat would be complete on the next right side row. I was much more concerned that the blue decreases in the first section flow into the blue slipped stitches of the slip stitch portion.

Even though being 1 stitch short didn't stop me, I'm afraid that it might look strange to another knitter. The unusual stitch count might seem to be an error. It is not. The pattern does provide for the shorter repeats, since they are included in the charts. To further reinforce this, I'm providing below the language I used when I drafted the pattern, before the charts covered the center repeats:

With MC, begin slip st pattern [Chart B], aligning pattern so that MC sts slipped on previous rows are knit on the first row of Chart B. The repeat before the center st will be 1 st short. Following this repeat, the center pattern is: yo, k1, yo [k4 sl2], resuming row 1 of the slip stitch pattern. Worked properly, the slipped sts will all be CC. All wrong side rows in Charts B and C are purled, slipping the stitches slipped on the previous row purlwise with yarn in front [wyif].

I have made my remark about the center repeat bold. Actually, the chart is a much better explanation, but I have included this earlier version here just in case it offers a little more clarity. Often I find that what I write as I am knitting a pattern makes the most sense. At least, it does reflect my thinking when I was the closest to it.

All that being said, I think it should be possible to add another stitch to each side of the shawl in the transition row and start with complete repeats. I would like to make that change when I knit the shawl again to see if it can be done easily without changing the flow of the pattern.

Another question was raised about the edge stitches in Section 2, the Slip Stitch Pattern section. As I added a stitch, I worked it in stockinette on the following row. I didn't include it in the pattern of slipped stitches until I had added several stitches at the edge. As a result, there are stripes of stockinette on the edges that are 1 to 3 stitches wide. At the center, the new stitches in stockinette meet with the new ones on the other side of the center stitch to form a different pattern. It does not matter how the new stitches are worked into the pattern, as long as the pattern meets properly at each repeat. The edges and center can be worked to suit the knitter.

The one suggestion I have is to make the point that the new repeats at the right edge and to the left of the center stitch are worked in from the left edge. You have to count backwards from the left edge of the 24 stitch repeat to determine how to knit the new stitches.

Here's another suggestion regarding the slip stitch section. The pattern pulls in a great deal. Even though I added some stitches and blocked it hard, that section is still proportionally smaller than the other two. The shawl fits well as a kerchief. If I were to knit this as a larger shawl, I'd try increasing on both the right side and the wrong side rows, at least on the ends, in the slip stitch section. That would make the tails longer. Of course, it would add a lot more stitches and a few more repeats, as well as expanding the edging and requiring more yarn.

Please let me know if you have any other questions regarding this pattern. I'll be happy to address them here as well as on Ravelry. For those who haven't seen it yet, the pattern link is: Mathematix. If you like it, please click on this Ravelry link, Mathematix Shawl, and give it a fave!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Perfecting Ribbed Hand-knit Socks

Here's a little Christmas in July.

I actually took these photos a few months ago, setting a theme for my latest sock pattern, the one with the princess foot. My inspiration for this pattern started with a pair of socks I was knitting as a Christmas present. The giftee required princess-soled socks, ones with the knit side turned inside. I didn't like knitting the first pair; hated having to purl the sole. When I had to knit a second pair with princess soles for the next Christmas, I devised a method of avoiding the purling.

Last fall, I found that the purl bumps on the soles of my socks were making my feet sore. Suddenly, I was motivated to perfect my method and write a pattern. Actually, I've written two patterns. I think they will make great gift socks.

Cuff Down

Uses Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock, Patons Kroy FX, any similar weight yarn.

Toe Up
The cuff down version has a heel flap and gusset. The toe up version has the boomerang short row heel that I used for my Burning Stripes socks pattern--minus the colorwork.Both patterns explain how I turn the sock to the other side to avoid purling.

There you have it, Christmas in July. Super-comfy socks for your friends and family, or if you are like me, for yourself. Daylong Socks, Both Ways -- $3.99
You get both patterns for one price. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Knitting Shopping Socks

No, not shopping for knitted socks, knitting socks to wear while shopping! Really comfortable hand-knitted socks, socks that keep my feet from hurting (much) after a full day of walking--that's my goal.

Towards that goal, I knit a pair of socks from a plain, durable yarn. They're the first of my Perfect knitting projects for 2011. I confess, I finished them last month, but I haven't blogged about them yet. Since I feel I could "pat them and call them perfect", as per my last post, they qualify as my first perfect project.

I hope no one was expecting something spectacular. Even so, there is something about these socks that marks a new level of knitting success for me. The stripes match--almost perfectly. It wasn't easy, either. I had to cut the second skein of yarn into three pieces to get the repeats in the right place. I also fussed a good deal with the fit of these socks, changing the pattern of the ribbing to adjust the fit, wider at the top, narrow at the ankle and tapering at the toes. Since the number of stitches is the same throughout, they slip on very easily. I have other socks that I knit to fit my ankle tightly--those are a little hard to pull on over my heel. Not so with these.

Besides the shaping, there's another feature that makes this pair of socks perfectly comfortable. Much of the foot is purl-side out. That means sensitive soles and toes are soothed by the smooth knit side of the stockinette.

Although I have knit socks with Princess soles before, I found purling the entire sole much harder than just knitting the foot. I constructed these socks to avoid a lot of the purling. With so few knit stitches in the foot, it was easy to knit these socks inside-out after the heel flap.

Besides the smooth, ready-for-shopping foot, and the ribbed shaping, I also like the tubular cast on I used for the 1x1 ribbed cuff. Absolutely perfect.

I'm thinking of writing a pattern, but doubt it will be very popular at this point. These plain socks aren't attracting any attention. Instead, I'll just keep knitting all my socks with inside-out feet. They feel wonderful. Maybe after I blog a few pair, this construction method will catch on.