and now back to my knitting

Posted on Posted in designing, food and garden, lace/shawls, projects

when i last left off, i was contemplating this skein of briar rose stella merino/silk, which chris handed off to me at wooster, so i could design and knit a crescent shawl. the idea was to create something like our may club piece, wandering thyme, but of course, different.

i already had a short list compiled of things i would do differently in my next crescent design—mostly the kinds of things that are invisible and only of concern to me as a garment engineer, haha. but i also had to decide on the element that would be very visible and probably of more interest to others—the stitch pattern(s) and textures i’d incorporate.

i have several concerns here—first and foremost, i know i’m looking for something dramatic and gutsy. where wandering thyme is oh-so-delicate, linear, and airy, i wanted this one to be more earthy, curvy, and lusty; something that will match this colorway in scale.

so i’m thinking a larger motif too, because with such a wide, wide hem, this is a good opportunity to use one that won’t fit well into other constructions and won’t get lost. i found several that appealed to me and satisfied both of those goals, however i had a third goal i wanted to meet, which was that i wanted the pattern to be fairly easy to execute and keep count of, with no tricky maneuvers. the reason is, i want my friend chris (who is very new to lace knitting) to actually knit this piece! and i know she won’t do it if she thinks it’s going to be difficult.

this could even be a piece around which i could structure a beginning shawl project class—maybe we’ll even pattern it for both fingering and lace weight, to meet that goal.

anyway, i thought about all those targets while grazing through my stitch pattern books and did a bunch of swatches, most of which turned out nice. but this crazy thing kept happening—my mind’s eye kept coming back to a motif i used in a previous design which i’ve never felt i was done with.

this alternating vine pattern, which i used in my twinings stole design, has always tugged at me for more airtime. while i love how the stole makes use of the pattern’s dramatic vertical drop the contrast of its solid and sheer parts, i’ve always wanted to do something with it that makes better use of its quirky, ginkgo-shaped bottom edge and the sexy side-to-side sashay of it’s leaves.

normally, i try to offer shawl patterns in two formats, rectangle and triangle, so that those who like one or the other will have options. i don’t know why, but i never designed a mate for twinings. and now—all these years later—i think i’ve got the perfect canvas on which to bring all the right factors together for it. with far less depth to pull the eye upward, the shallow hem of a crescent shawl is a great place to feature this pattern in horizontal orientation, as tangle of curves and limbs.

by this time i was completely smitten with the idea, so i did a few quick calculations and cast on the other night. i even got through the setup row despite a couple of mistakes (haha, i’m starting to think that row should really be called the setback row).

i even got another row or two done so that now, i’ve got that little bit of fabric on the needle that makes all the difference.

usually when i cast on, i do a little more planning ahead of time, so that i’m pretty sure of what the complete design will be when i set off on knitting. and while i initially thought i’d just go with a similar construction to wandering thyme, i’m now thinking that maybe i’ll do a stockinette-based fabric for the top half. that’s all just conjecture at the moment, though.

i’ll work on this through the week, but i won’t be taking it to columbus this weekend—while there will be ample opportunity to knit in the evenings while visiting with colleagues, hotels are notoriously dark and i doubt this will be a good project for that lighting.

besides, i have plenty else i can take along to work on there.

first, i have my faithful cotton mitt project, which i keep in my purse to knit on whenever i have to wait a bit here and there. and as you can see, by doing this it actually does grow. i’m using ecobutterfly organic pakucho cotton lace yarn in colorway deep green. it’s now far enough along that i’ve separated the thumb form the hand and i can try it on—it feel heavenly. and once they are blocked, they will look as lovely as they feel.

i’m very VERY much looking forward to meeting stephanie and steve, the owners of ecobutterfly organics at TNNA; their booth will be one of our first stops.

i’m definitely taking along my caïssa sweater—which will be a great project to work on while visiting (big needles, relaxed fabric; i barely have to look at it). that is, it will be if i don’t finish it before i leave.

can you believe it, i’m done with that first sleeve already—i couldn’t be more surprised. i honestly don’t think i’ve spent all that much time on it but there you have it. (sorry, i just noticed that i photographed it wrong side out, oops).

i do remember now that the front pieces also went very quickly; it’s just that back piece that was rather large and slow going (and really, not all that bad; i make too much of it). anyhow the sleeve got added to my pile of finished pieces and without even missing a beat, i moved right on to start the second sleeve.

there’s nothing like a taste of the finish line the whet my appetite for an FO.

i’ll be sad to stop knitting with this holda yarn though—i have enjoyed every single stitch of it, from the hand to the color—purple haze—to the finished fabric. BTW, i’m knitting what will most likely be the medium size (which measures 45 inches around—remember, it’s a bathrobe sweater) and have used almost all of six skeins. sorry, i don’t have more exact information that that about the yardage, but hopefully you’ll find it helpful. the way i figured what i’d need was to get twenty percent more than i’d need for a regular sweater. that worked out perfectly for me, but your mileage could vary.

i sure hope i have enough leftovers to make myself a fartlek or slöfock—this really is the best hat color for me, i think.

ok, now, i promised myself i would work on two patterns today and if i’m going to meet that goal, i’d better skedaddle
(haha, am i the only one who can’t say that word any more without thinking of jeanette walls and the glass castle?).

17 thoughts on “and now back to my knitting

  1. The setback row…how true at times! It’s always fun to see a new design appear on your needles, Anne. 🙂

  2. Oh, what an amazing book that was!

    Love seeing the Holda sweater pieces pile up. The finished sweater will be so cozy you won’t want to take it off!

    Thanks for sharing your design process – so fascinating!

  3. I KNOW the Twinings pattern will be stunning in that colourway/wool because I did the stole in some lovely Fleece Artist wool in almost exactly the same colourway–will send you a pick of the finished stole. Can’t wait to see the shawl pattern!

    Cheers, Barbie O.

  4. Everything is looking so beautiful, Anne! I just love the shine that the silk gives to the Stella yarn and I think the shawl will be gorgeous in it. The holda sweater is coming along beautifully too, and it may be the next sweater that I make. I love big roomy sweaters that you can just wrap up in and I think this is going to be a good one for me. I was interested in how you made the collar come around the neck. Such fun.
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  5. Ooh, I am loving the swatch for that new shawl! (Those are so my kinds of colors, too.) Maybe you’ll need someone to knit this one? 🙂

  6. Anne, the new shawl pattern is GORGEOUS. I know I’ll want to knit this one. And I love the color. So pretty.

    I like your new term – the setback row. I feel that one.

  7. i adore the new shawl idea anne! this will definitely be on my list as soon as you get it up in the shop!

  8. I love the crescent shaped shawls as I find them mcuh easier to wear than the traditional triangular shape. They never seem to stay put with me! Are you sure that you want that Holda sweater? I think it might suit me better!!

  9. I agree with MMaine—and I thank you for sharing your design process with us. I still marvel at the cleverness of designers and wonder, “How in the world did they come up with that?”

    It is fun to have some insight into the process.

  10. “The set-back row”! What a gem of a phrase – from now on that’s what I’m calling it!

  11. I just finished my Wandering Thyme and I really love it, so I’m ridiculously happy that you’re doing another one with a similar shape 😀

  12. Hahaha – the setback row indeed!

    Though I always loved the word “skedaddle”, I have a whole new take on it since reading “The Glass Castle”.

Comments are closed.