Monday, April 18, 2016

If At First...

Success in knitting, you see, is a relative thing. There are times when I "try, try again" because the pattern is rubbish (my own or someone else's even) and times when it takes me forever to finish because I'm just not feeling it.

It's not that I don't knit at a relatively decent speed, it's more that I keep remembering something my great-grandmother made or showed me how to make, stitches she used, cast ons and offs, the way she told me to hold my yarn -- these things are treasures buried in my memory. Lost for years, they tend to come to light half way through a project, changing everything.

Suddenly the perfectly fine way the modern pattern or youtube video says to do it isn't nearly as neat (Granny was strict about having a neat back and front to your knitting), or easy (you simply cannot beat years and years of accumulated tricks and tips that get handed down from knitter to knitter), or right as the way she taught me all those years ago. I become dissatisfied with the work, rip it out, and start again.

In the end, I want my finished pieces to look like they could have come off of her needles. Like they carry on the traditions she learned as a child at her granny's knee and passed on to me when I was a wee one at her knee. As though these American born designs of mine have that soft, slightly Scottish accent tying them to my heritage and the long line of talented women who somehow knit my DNA from their own.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

More Hand Supn

Variegate Dyed SW Merino, Hand spun and chain plied 
Then knit. Then frogged, because I liked it but ... somehow all the stripes (yarn and stitch) together just didn't thrill me. So yes, this is a photo of knitting that does not exist anymore.

Also: have you noticed how hard it is to capture some colors?
This lovely 2 ply skein of variegated purples (dyed in the wool) is so compelling in person but every time I take it's picture it goes sulky for the camera and won't photograph. I keep trying. You can sort of get the idea of the depth of color in the first picture, and the play of light and dark in the second picture.

Meanwhile, more lace swatches are being knit...

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

No Stole After All

Interestingly enough, one of the other things that swatches can tell you is if the person who wrote the pattern is capable of writing a pattern that results in the lace pictured in the photograph.

When the work in progress (wip) was not progressing, and I had "used all my lifelines" and it still wasn't coming out right. I gave in and swatched. The swatch didn't balance either. Now I will admit that my first thought was that I was doing something wrong. After all, how much lace have I really knit? Not enough to think myself an expert by any means. So I swatched again. Still wrong.

At this point I began to question both my sanity and the pattern. I googled for the supposedly traditional Shetland lace pattern by the name given on the pattern... yeah, not exactly the same. Having found a sample graph elsewhere (thank you Google!) my swatch from this second source's instructions turned out perfect the first time.

It is also worth noting that among the sample graphs of the new source I found several other patterns which I think I might like even better.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Swatching Lace

Garter Knit Arrowhead Lace Sample
Stocking Knit Gothic Arch Lace Sample 
From my samples I learned much. I need work on blocking, I like size 2 needles best with this yarn (Silk & Mohair 2ply lace yarn), I prefer the invisible cast on, and I don't think swatching for lace on something that has no real size (scarf/stole) does anything more than tell you if you can knit the pattern right.
So, I didn't swatch for the big project after all. I just plunged right in.
Yes, I have frogged (again) the Shetland Stole I decided to do for my first big lace project.
But as this will be my first "real lace" knitting and, naturally, I picked something traditional and complicated, I don't feel like that's a horrible thing. I am thinking though that maybe I will just run a couple life lines in before I even finish the repeat - I seem to go wrong in my count somewhere around row seven. So a life line in row 4 or 5 maybe. Better safe than sorry right? After all, you can only rip out your knitting so many times before the yarn turns back to fuzz, and some forward momentum would be nice.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Simon Says: Snow Day

Actually, right now Simon is saying nothing; he is too busy curling himself into comfortable positions on the blanket near the fire. He has positioned himself so that when the sun shines in the window it shines on him, and when the clouds blow over, while still nice and cozy, he can watch snow falling down on some of the other neighborhood dogs.

Simon does not particularly like the other neighborhood dogs, but on cold days he feels quite sorry for them being left outside. I have to admit there is occasionally a certain indolent smugness about him as he watches them through the window. He goes outside too, of course, but he gets to come back in. They have to stay outside.

Did I mention? It is snowing today! We woke on this April morning in the "sunny south" to a dusting of snow. The daffodils are blooming and nodding at the snow flurries as they fall, the veggies look a bit nipped around the edges after their cold night, and the cherry, plum, and apple blossoms threaten not to become fruit if it is going to be this cold.

Meanwhile, snug inside with Simon, I have finally downloaded pictures from the camera (as you can see) and am updating this blog, so you are looking at icy snowy pictures from February. Not really representative of today's light dusting and wind swept flurries, but that's okay, right?

Simon has moved to the couch beside me, curling up on a different blanket, still with a view of the window but with less of a draft. He knows I'm blogging about him. Stay warm out there, he says.

Love that the camera caught Simon mid-leap, as he was springing off the wall.