Monday, January 7, 2008

Lacy scarf

I made this little beauty with Boise Karabella yarn. At 50% cashmere, 50% superfine merino wool, it was a tactile pleasure to steal time away from studying to hold this yarn and make lace.

The pattern was surprisingly easy to follow once I got started on it, and because it was easily condensed into a 5 line chart, it was pretty portable as well.

One of my favorite things with new patterns is successfully learning new knitting skills. Perhaps my favorite new thing from this pattern was the ssk. A one-stitch decrease, the ssk stands for slip slip knit and simply means: slip one stitch (as if to knit), slip another (in the same manner), and then, insert the left needle into the two slipped stitches (so when the needles are crossed it looks like a normal knit insert), and then knit as usual. I really liked saying S S K as I completed this stitch, and while the k2tog remains a more direct decrease, I will look forward to using the ssk when I want a left leaning decrease.

The other fun thing with this pattern was using a stitch chart for the first time. I'd seen (and tried to create) intarsia charts before, but the knit chart was an intimidating creature. Though I wouldn't claim to have memorized all of the symbols and their meaning, I did enjoy feeling like I was interpreting a kind of hieroglyphics.

The other thing that I really learned how to do with this project was rip out rows without ripping out the entire project. Normally when I make a mistake, I just knit over it or try to fix it in the next row. However, when every increase and decrease and yarn over changes the shape of the lace, that method doesn't really work. Thankfully, the Karabella yarn wasn't too fuzzy for the ripping out to be confusing or sticky, and I managed to figure out which way the stitches should face on the needle. A demonstration follows. (Please feel free to say: "But that is not how I knit!" Clearly there are differing methods.)

Oh no! I slipped a stitch instead of knitting it! Alas! (This picture is actually a perfect example of why I think it can be ok to knit over mistakes. When you can't tell they are there...)

Let's say I have to take out a row and a couple more stitches on the next row to fix this mistake. For this scarf, I would take each stitch off and pull the yarn out of the loop and fit the old stitch onto the left needle one at a time.

Here are two possible ways that the old stitch could be placed on the left needle. All of the knitting in this mini-example was done in straight knit, so the first picture would be correct.

From another angle. Here the second picture is correct.

These pictures aren't the best, and in fact, an easier way to think about it might just be: "don't twist the stitch" but I find that when I've been staring at knitting (which, really, is just loops and twists) that words cease to describe anything useful and having a picture in my mind of what the stitch should look like is the most helpful thing.

The pattern for this scarf is found at


Emily's Mom said...

This looks great! Lace is fun, and much easier than it looks. One of the great pleasures of knitting for me is the feel of the yarn in my hands and the delight of colors and textures. I think it's really worth it to indulge in great yarns - and even cheap if you look at it as a substitute for therapy! (That's the ONLY way it's cheap.) I went on a real scarf jag for friends and family this Christmas and plan to post pictures as soon as I can pull them together (in a few cases that means trying to retrieve the scarf from the recipient temporarily because I forgot to take the picture.)

HEB said...

I'm glad this scarf was so pleasant to knit, because it is certainly a pleasure to wear! The scarf is even lovelier in person and Wamper's lace work is really impressive. I have been delighted to show it off in New Haven. Thanks, Wamps!