Sunday, 22 January 2012

Laceweight Knitting

It's not many years ago that finding 2 ply yarn was incredibly difficult, we all knitted in DK or aran as 4 ply or under had fallen out of fashion in the 70s.  My Mum is currently knitting her first ever project in 4 ply!  But now, lace is all the fashion and laceweight yarns are common.  I've really got into lace knitting recently, and enjoy the challenge.  So I now have two lace projects on the go.

The first is Dulcie, from Fyberspates.  It was originally knitted in a Fyberspates silk, which is very nice but I decided instead to use Rowan Fine Lace, a new laceweight yarn this winter.  It's lovely, with a slight halo and very soft.  The pattern called for 2000m, since the original yarn only comes in 1000m skeins.  A bit naughty, I think, as it was clear that based on the skeins/sizes provided there was no way I'd use all of the second skein.  A good way to make extra cash for the manufacturer, though.  So I guessed at 1600m and bought 4 balls of the Rowan.  I suspect it may take only three.

The shell pattern is at the bottom of the body,  the short sleeves, also up the centre of the front, and it's knitted in the round until the armholes. I struggled to get the tension and ended up on needles 0.5 smaller, in fact I'm knitting it on a set of long dpns I got in an antique shop a few years ago.  I have so many needles I really hate buying new ones!

Anyway, I've finished the bottom pattern and am just about to do the last shaping decrease on the way to the armholes.  Looking good so far.
My next choice is a pattern from a 1940s book, Knitting for All Illustrated.  It's a great book, with lots of patterns of all kinds and ideas for adapting patterns and colours.  The pattern is called "Afternoon Blouse", and is originally designed with a deep ribbed waistband, which I'm not using.  Instead, I did a few rows of garter stitch onto which  I will add an edging I think.

Being an old pattern only one size is given, so I had to do some sums to enlarge it from a just under 36 in actual size to a 40 in.  According to the tension given, I needed an extra 14 sts on both front and back.  But the pattern repeat turned out to be 20 sts +5 (I had to work that out with pen and paper, they don't tell you!) so I had to add 20, which will make it around 41 ins in total.  I will also need to make it a lot longer, not being a devotee of the short, nipped waist design!

The final problem was the pattern itself.  Unaccountably it uses the abbreviation M1 instead of yo.  I read the pattern and saw "M1" throughout, but the photograph showed a lacy pattern clearly constructed from yarn overs.  So I checked the glossary in the back of the book, which described M1 as "M=make.  Making a stitch may refer to any of the three methods mentioned below.  The method depends on whether the previous stitch is knitted or purled."  A little further down the page it describes three abbreviations, wool forward, wool round needle and wool over needle.  So the mystery was solved, since the lace involves only knitted stitches it's a straightforward yarn over for me.  The wrong side rows are all purled, which is nice.

The picture above shows one repeat of the pattern, it's not too clear but it consists of open diagonal lace which switches direction every few rows, together with a more solid panel which is kind of a geometric leaf shape.  The yoke is knitted in the diagonal lace only, so will be more open.

The yarn is actually a machine remnant pure alpaca.  I have a full cone of it, cost £20 and should be able to get several garments out of it!  Handily it is a perfect handknitting laceweight, so hit the tension exactly.  Very shiny, and a dream to knit.

These projects will keep me occupied for a while.  I did finish a pair of socks for Ol' Big Foot (as the cat has named him), but they ended up on his feet before I could get them to the camera!

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Addictive Knitting

After spending a solid three months knitting for other people, I decided to make something for myself.  What could be nicer, I thought, than some relaxed knitting now the Christmas rush was over?  Big mistake. I picked a pattern - Framboise - by Sarah Hatton (published in The Knitter a few months ago), and I should have known better.  The last design of hers which I knitted was the Bayberry Wrap, and I couldn't put it down, it became an obsession.  As did this.  I don't know what it is about her designs, I just have to keep at it, one more row of the chart, then I'll stop, I thought.  I never did.

There are similarities between this pattern and the Bayberry Wrap, both are designed from the middle outwards.  In this case I knitted the top on straight needles rather than circs because I didn't have a big enough circular and I'm trying to stop keep buying needles.  So it was knitted straight and seamed along one diagonal.  The photo doesn't really do it justice, it looks a bit uneven in places but really isn't, just isn't designed to be hung on a hanger and gingerly balanced on a sash window for the purposes of photography.  It flatters the figure well, the diagonal increases creating a slight flare at the hips and shoulders. 

By pure chance the yarn I chose happened to be the one recommended.  I tend to have list on my person of "x000m 4 ply, x000m DK", often without a note of what the pattern actually is.  So when I found myself in my local wool shop fingering the gorgeous new SMC Select Alpaca/Wool 4 ply, I had no idea that this was what I was going to knit with it, or that this was the very yarn used in the pattern.  But it has worked very well.  As my Other Half said last week when he saw me knitting and enquired what it was, "Well, you can never have too many sweaters, can you?"  I think he was making some kind of point, not quite sure what...