> To Knit is Divine: When the yarn speaks

Saturday, September 16, 2006

When the yarn speaks

Sometimes, you just have to listen to the yarn. A couple of days before I left on my trip I stopped by my LYS to purchase yarn for the ISE. Since I wanted to start working on the scarf during the trip, I didn't have time to order anything on line, so I had to go with something that the store carried. I wasn't planning on doing a scarf in laceweight yarn (wanted to go with the quick knit, don't you know). But, well, see, they had just received some Misti Alpaca laceweight and, well, see, they had this incredibly beautiful red Misti Alpaca laceweight and, well, somehow it ended up getting purchased. So, I figured, I'd double it so it would be a bit of a quicker knit than single.

Then came the fun of trying to decide on a patten. I started looking through the Barbara Walker books to get stitch pattern ideas. I had a very clear plan. I wanted something that would be fairly mindless knitting (for the long flights, you know), that would look good on both sides, and that would have some sort of connection to where I live or to where I would be travelling. I imagined using a couple of different stitches, perhaps one in the centre and another on either side, separated by cables or twists or something.

As I looked through the books, I came across the Rose Trellis Lace pattern (page 226 of A Treasury of Knitting Patterns) It was beautiful, but not what I wanted. The description in the book says "This extraordinarily beautiful lace pattern is a joy to work even though the pattern rows are numerous." Numerous, she says. Yup, I'd say. It's a multiple of 20 stitches (+2) and a 44-row repeat. 44. With nary a "same as Row 4" to be found. At least all the wrong side rows are purl - so there's really only 22 different rows to work. Uh-huh. A joy to work she says - I wondered if Barbara and I have the same meaning of the word "joy".

Even though it wasn't what I wanted, I decided to swatch it (cuz there's always another project, right?, and I get sidetracked easily). I swatched it with the laceweight, single strand, on 3.25mm needles. Two problems quickly emerged. One - the written instructions were kicking my butt in a serious way. I kept missing yo's and without seeing on a chart where they were supposed to land, I made a mess of it very quickly. And two - the stockinette parts were too loose on the 3.25mm needles. So I ripped it out without getting far. Besides, it wasn't what I wanted.

Sometime on Wednesday morning, between blocking the baby sweater and packing, I took out my graph paper and charted out the pattern. But not for the scarf, see, because it wasn't what I wanted. I still hadn't decided what pattern to use, so I packed the Barbara Walker books in my carry-on, and a couple of different sized needles, and left for the trip.

After I finished the sweater, I started swatching. I swatched 3 or 4 things, with the yarn doubled, on 3.25mm needles. But the yarn clearly didn't want to be any of those things. At 9:30pm in the Zurich Airport, after a sleepless night flight and 4 hours of sleep during the day, and discovering that my flight would be an hour late and not leaving until 11:30pm, I pulled out the 2.5mm needles and cast on 50 stitches (2 repeats + 2 + 4 stitches on each side for a garter stitch border). Forget the swatching business - time for action. I figured that if I didn't like it, or if it was too difficult, I'd just rip the whole thing out anyway. I did a few rows of garter stitch (not enough, in retrospect, so I'll be taking out the cast-on and adding a couple more rows of garter stitch), and then started the pattern, following the chart. That made all the difference. It took a couple of tries to get the first row right (since I couldn't base it on the row before and since apparently I have trouble counting to 50 when I'm exhausted and don't know what time zone I'm in). But after that I was sailing.

My apologies to Barbara Walker for doubting her. She was right - it is a joy to work (though I highly recommend working from a chart). And it is extraordinarily beautiful. And most of all, although it's not what I wanted, it is clearly what the yarn wanted.

(The colour is a bit dark here - it really is a lovely shade of red)

Best of all, the yarn is happy now. I hope my ISE pal will be too.


Anonymous Paula said...

That is so lovely your pal is going to cry. I saw the Misti at the store too and I am sure that some of it will be finding its way home with me before long. I'm a sucker for that green.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Dr_Leonesse said...

Oh! It is so beautiful! Your pal is going to be delighted.

7:55 AM  

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