Monday, March 19, 2007

Moving Right Along

In a bid to ignore the fact that I’m still not feeling all that well (and I really don’t feel like going back to the doctor again to whine at him), I finished knitting the main triangle on the Cherry Leaf Shawl. It’s 5 repeats longer than the pattern but since I’m working with finer yarn and compatibly smaller needles, it wasn’t much above neckerchief size before I continued on. Now it’s quite a respectable size. I wasn’t that happy with the edging chart in VLT, so I went on a hunt for something else. I was looking for something lacy and pointy with a 12 row repeat that would lighten up the somewhat dense main part of the shawl. In Barbara Abbey’s “Knitting Lace” book I liked #19 Aspen Leaf Edging so I extended it two more rows and two more stitches wide to make a 5-row leaf. I think it looks nothing at all like an aspen leaf so I’m calling it Walnut Leaf Edging after my walnut tree in my backyard. So now I have cherry leaves and walnut leaves in the same shawl! I do love me some leaf shapes. Here’s the chart:

Begin with casting on 10. On row 12 bind off 10. Note that the + is my choice of Knit Visualizer’s symbols for “k tog tbl with next edge stitch on shawl”. I didn’t have the loop symbol that Jane used for that maneuver in VLT. Remember that the chart shows the right side of the knitting so on the even numbered (wrong-side) rows, the dots are worked as a knit stitch, the blank square as a purl and it's a p2tog. The grey areas of course indicate No Stitch. I did find a similar edging to this in the VLT book but with only 3 pairs of leaves. Jane used it on the Half Square in Trinity Stitch pattern. It doesn’t include the “faggotting” at the inner edge as on Barbara’s pattern. This was a common linear lace motif that Barbara abbreviates as “f” in her shorthand way of writing patterns. There seem to be several ways to accomplish it but her version is created by [yo, p2tog] on both sides and looks like a zigzag ridge with an alternating line of yarn-overs on each side of it. I think working a p2tog rather than a k2tog causes the yo to stretch just a little more making a slightly larger line of holes and the centre line is more knotted looking. Jane’s version (in the Stripes and Torchon Lace pattern) is stockinette-based: [yo, k2tog] on the right side and [yo, p2tog] on the wrong side rows. It looks similar but isn’t the same on both front and back. There are other versions of the Faggot (meaning "a bundle of sticks", not any of the other slang meanings of this word!) type of motifs including Herringbone (staggered yarnovers with the decreases on the outsides rather than in the centre) and Beading (yarnovers on top of each other with a plain row between). Because of their linear emphasis, they’re often used to divide more complex motifs or different sections from each other.

Here’s what the bit I’ve done so far looks like loosely pinned out so you can see it:

I was right that even though I didn’t make my selvedge stitches correctly it isn’t hard to knit them up anyhow. I poke my needle through the last stitch on the edging through its back loop, continue poking the needle through the edge of the triangle from the wrong to the right side, and then knit them together by drawing the new stitch through the shawl and the last stitch. This leaves a little row of V’s along the join on the back of the shawl but it looks very neat and stretches as far as it needs to. Then turn the work to the front and slip the first stitch with yarn in front as if to purl. It means a lot of flipping back and forth but I try not to flip the whole shawl, just the corner I’m working on. It’s kind of slow, but I’m enjoying it anyway. The pattern is very easy to memorize and to work. The only tricky bit is the joining stitch. I think it helps that my bamboo dpns have quite sharp points on them.

As you might have noticed, the edging pattern is directional (asymmetrical) so that as I round the bottom point the leaves will be facing in the opposite direction to the first edge and the bound-off edge will not resemble the cast-on one. But I don’t really mind. I’m always trying to fight my tendency to absolute symmetry. This is a good exercise for that! Once I’m done the edges I’m not really sure how I’m going to finish the hypotenuse of the triangle. I’m not sure I want to just crochet a picot edge as Jane recommends in the pattern. Too boring. Maybe I’ll use the mini version of the edging from VLT.

I think it’s pretty amazing how knitted lace is just a bunch of yarnovers and decreases but the way they are composed makes for some breathtaking beauty! Once you understand how the motifs are created, what the different directional decreases look like and how they affect the motifs, and how to put the parts together, you can make up your own designs pretty easily. Really! Cutting and pasting, whether using paper or pixels you can play with reversing, filling in, expanding, extending, diminishing, until you get something you like. You might need to test knit just to make sure something is going to work the way you expect, particularly if you messed with the original a lot. For example I found out that I had made 2 mistakes on my first version of the Walnut Leaf Edging which I didn’t notice until I tried to knit it. Then it was easy to see what I had to do to fix it. Of course my “swatch” was the first repeat on the real thing! I figured if it wasn’t looking right I could frog it or simply carry on if it was looking good. It was and I did. I’ll let you know what happens when I get to the point!

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