Saturday, October 03, 2009

Two Days Disappeared

That’s how long it took me to complete a small block for a comfort blanket. Two days of my life that just went poof! Of course, I had a few problems. First I couldn’t decide which block to make so I went on Ravelry and checked out 20-some pages of pattern options. One caught my eye but there was no way that it was going to work with my sport-weight yarn, which was a spindle-spun two-ply mish-mash of purples and oranges from Aurelia Wool called “Retro Topaz”. Guess I can’t complain about this colour blend since it was all my idea! Andrea liked it and had it made up in New Zealand to add to her line after the original Topaz was discontinued. It does have the unfortunate aspect of hiding complex knitting in its busy-ness though.

But back to the pattern for a square. An 8” square. Do you realise how hard it is to make something exactly to size? Not so hard when you make a gauge swatch, cast on the correct number of stitches and then knit until the piece is the right height, bind off and there you go, but that wasn’t the direction I was going in. For whatever reason I wanted to work from the centre out. When Ravelry didn’t pan out, I got out my copy of the late Mary Walker Phillips’ “Knitting Counterpanes” (apparently now rare and expensive) and there it was: “Lily”, an eight-section pinwheel design. I liked that the sections were alternating plain and corrugated divided by yo, ssk, yo lines and then made into a slightly wonky square by adding points to the corrugated sections. I thought I could just begin the shape on appropriate sized dpns and then stop when I got to 8” in diameter and then add the points. Was I wrong!

First I stopped where I thought was the right place but then after knitting one point it looked way too small (but actually wasn’t). So I frogged the corner, spliced my yarn back together and knit on. When I finished the whole pattern as written I measured and it was…wait for it… too big. Much too big measuring 10” instead of 8”. But here’s where I made a really big boo-boo. Did I frog back partway again? Nope. I looked at those gazillion (ok, 9) ends sticking out and figured it was too much work to frog. I could just full it to size. What was I thinking? After getting out the scrub board and working it in hot soapy water the piece became incredibly soft and cushy felt. But it was also only about 1” smaller. I was losing the lovely textured pattern in the fuzz and of course now I couldn’t frog it because it was felted irrevocably! Dumb. Stupid. Doh. This piece is going to get a border crocheted on and become a hot mat. When I stop being mad at it. Or myself.

So I started all over again. One more time with feeling! And this time got up to the same place where I stopped the first time and right away added all the corners to complete the square. It was too small like I had thought it would be but only a little. Here’s where I got smart (finally!) and picked up the stitches all around and knit a corrugated border (2 rounds knit, 2 rounds purl, repeat these rounds and cast off in knit) increasing in the corners every other round with a k1, yo, k1 (or purl instead of knit as the round dictated). I blocked it and NOW it’s the exact right size. And looks a lot better with a border on it too. It will be easier to stitch to other squares with straight edges. I know you want to see. Shhhh…it’s a secret! I’ll show you later.

KnittingCounterpanes Now I would like to comment on Mary Walker Phillips and the book from which this pattern came. She had been asked for the pattern for an antique knitted counterpane that had appeared in a photo in an earlier book she had written. When she found that there were no directions for it, she began a study of extant pieces and old pattern books that culminated nearly 20 years later in this book, now sadly out of print. Subtitled “Traditional Coverlet Patterns for Contemporary Knitters”, it’s printed completely in black and white. That’s not a drawback at all however since the original counterpanes were almost invariably white as were all the samples that Mary knit. The modern eye sees plenty of scope for adding colour if desired!

My only negatives about this book are that there are very few charts, only for knit/purl patterning, and the fact that Mary uses her own set of abbreviations for the row by row instructions. I found reading “RLD” instead of skp or ssk and “LRD” instead of k2tog confusing. So I got out my trusty Knit Visualizer program and charted it up. It was so much easier to follow. The second time I knit it, I didn’t even need the chart after the first few rounds.

Yes, I know I have several other FOs that I haven’t shown yet. Soon. Promise. Meanwhile I’ll leave you with another random photo from our holiday, this one from the Gifford House museum and store in Fruita, Capitol Reef National Park. Pardon the funky “artistic” angle:TwinedRug One of the volunteers demonstrates twined rag rugs and they sell Bobbie Irwin’s book on the subject. This is her frame with an almost finished rug on it. Unfortunately she wasn’t there the day we were. The little museum/shop is also famous for the yummy pies made from the bounty in Fruita’s orchards. We got an apple one and it was indeed delish!

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