Friday, June 23, 2006


The waist shaping is coming along nicely and, thankfully, actually fits my waist. It's always gratifying when the swatch really does translate into real life.
I'm so pleased with how subtle the integrated shaping looks. Here's a close-up:You can see the fan going from 6 eyelets down to 4 without any fuss or puckering. The bodice is going to be tricky because that's the part where the knit needs to cling and support and this bamboo yarn is the least elastic fibre I've ever worked with, the Mystik DK (cotton/viscose) being a close second. I swatched some stockinette and then some 2x2 ribbing above it - the ribs just splayed out limply, disinclined to provide so much as a hint of a pucker. Clearly "drapey" will be the order of the day, but there's a fine line between drapey and saggy. Judicious application of crochet may be in order for the edgings. Also a careful search of the stitch dictionary for something purported to produce a "firm but elastic fabric." Fortuitously, I'm long waisted, so there are several more inches in which to ponder my next move.

Speaking of pondering, this is what's rattling around in my fevered brain at the moment:

Original designs:

  • DD's flaming coral dragon dress. Still working on the specifics of the dragon and refining the exact dimensions of the dress.
  • More Dulaan sweaters, experimenting with using my color wheel to choose combinations I don't normally work with. This will also be a good place to try out EZ's various in-the-round sleeve and neckline shapings.
  • A blue and cream Scandinavian cardigan, incorporating traditional motifs from my Swedish heritage, as well as original motifs reflecting the Whistler area, such as bears.
  • Something with wide knitted tartan borders. (The other half of my ethnic heritage is Scottish).
  • A cardigan utilizing the Baghdad Blue that recently arrived from Peace Fleece - with a complex two stranded mosaic pattern for the cuffs and borders, incorporating the two skeins of handpainted blue / green I bought to accompany it.
  • A cabled outerwear vest from recycled Sari Silk knitted along with grey wool.
  • More explorations into innovative cable and knotwork designs - resolve to thoroughly learn Elsebeth Lavold's techniques.
  • A traditional Fair Isle cardigan, with authentic Shetland jumper wool, utilizing a colorway chosen from one of my botanical photographs. Gnarled tree bark with colorful lichens comes to mind.
  • A black lace slip dress.

Patterns pending to knit:

  • The Roundabout Leaf Tank from Knitting Nature, in Estelle's aran weight silk. I'm going to knit this one as written because I love the design, but I envision dizzying possibilities for the theme of coiling a knitted strip up the body.
  • The cabled riding jacket from Loop-d-Loop. And possibly everything else Teva Durham has designed.
  • The Shetland Tea Shawl from A Gathering of Lace. Morehouse merino laceweight in charcoal gray - exactly the color of the mountain mist.
  • Debbie Bliss sweaters for the DD and the DS.
  • The big comfy cardigan from the cover of last fall's Knitscene - in a yummy dark blue.
  • The flouncy skirt from the Louet Sales ads. (This will be my first knitted skirt - I am fervently hoping it will not sag in the shape of my bum-print when I get up from demurely sipping wine on the sunny Val d'Isere patio.)
  • A big scribble lace scarf using that glorious skein of Fleece Artist thick/thin merino I've been hoarding.

And socks. Always socks.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


I realize, thanks to Charity, that I may have been overly cryptic about the origins of my most recent project. It was originally supposed to be this, from the current issue of VK: It was also supposed to be mostly in a variety of Louet Sales wools, (plus a bit of mohair and linen). I choose bamboo and cotton/viscose (as well as the mohair and linen): Pretty much the opposite end of the elasticity spectrum. I had my doubts about the pattern too, as it went along - the crocheted seams stick out quite a bit more than they seemed to in the photo, and to my eyes looked more lumpy and unfinished than fetching. I may be a purist, but I like the bumpy bits in my knitting to be stitchwork, like cables and such, not seams. If something is going to be patchwork, I prefer to pick up stitches along the edge to knit with, or at the very least graft an invisible join.

I persisted though, until I got to the bodice. Despite matching the weight of the recommended yarn, the pattern gauge had the bodice knit like armour.In retrospect, I think the printed gauge may have been wrong, because the bodice was also knitting up to be about right for a six year old. By that time, however, I was sick to death of the thing, and not the least bit motivated to do a bunch more swatching and calculating, so the bag went to the back of the stash and I moved on to happier things for a while.

Thing is, they are nice yarns, not overly cheap, and I still really wanted a sleeveless summer top from them. So I decided to design my own:

(Clearly, I have no training in fashion sketching, but you get the general drift). I chose a traditional Shetland lace pattern from Barbara Walker's first Treasury of Knitting Patterns and after playing with the swatch and the calculator for a while, worked out that I could start with the 18 stitch repeat as written, in the circumference of my hips, and by contracting the repeats down to 12 stitches, would attain my waist circumference. Like Eunny, I am presently fascinated with the idea of using stitch patterns to achieve seamless shaping.

And there you have it - I am presently working on the waist shaping. The bodice will be solid - probably plain stockinette, to contrast the busyness of the lace and to have the option of wearing it with just a bra on hot summer days.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Truly, I need a dress form. Because stretching my free hand as far in front of me as I can get to snap an upside down shot of my waist while the kids try to jiggle my arm is simply not as entertaining as it looks. DH believes there will not be room in our (admittedly small) new digs for a replica of my headless torso. I'm trying to think of this in a positive light - ie. he is clearly not pining to add a live-in mistress or a third child to the household. On the other hand, it sounds awfully like the wrong answer to the question: Do you think my torso looks fat? Think about it.

Nevertheless, it was clear to me that I have reached the iliac crest and am ready to leave the pelvis and head for the waist. I am accomplishing this by contracting the wave motifs from 18 stitch repeats down to 12 - this allows the flow and line of the waves to continue uninterrupted, and according to my swatch calculations will bring the circumference down to precisely that of my waist. The stitch pattern has so much give, I could probably get away with contracting them all at once, however I have elected to do the ones on the sides first, and move in towards the centre over the course of several pattern repeats.


A slightly belated Father's Day gift all the way from England. Who could resist a cheese recommendation from a guy whose dog knits?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

More Thinking

I was reading the Village Knittiot at work yesterday, and just about fell off my chair. And then had to shut down and leave it to read at home, because profound personal epiphanies are inconvenient things to have in the middle of a busy work day. I've been circling the same conclusion myself, just not quite ready to look it square in the eye in such a clearly articulated fashion.

This phrase: "sometimes when your path is so clear you don’t necessarily have to know your own self because you know your path" is absolutely, painfully true. In fact, I have used the certainty of my path as a substitute self. A great deal of badly needed external approval was generated by knowing what I was going to be, and mine was one of the "big three" success professions approved for the academically gifted. Growing up, I clung to the supposed superiority of having a certain destiny as a way to assuage my perceived lack of intrinsic worth, both spiritual and social.

It all leads inexorably to the terrifying question: If not for this, would I be Good Enough? And it follows logically that "until I am satisfied with just being me, I will never be satisfied with any path I take, because at that heart of it all, I am my path."

Speaking of restlessness, I am lately consumed with the notion of a little black lace dress over a pale cream silk slip. Crochet cotton? Fingering weight cotton with nylon for elasticity? Cotton with elastic? Handpainted silk? Wool/silk laceweight? Scribble lace a la Debbie New? Do I have time to finish it before the event? Until it gels, I can see this will involve a fair bit of staring blankly into space at random moments throughout the day.

Monday, June 19, 2006

So Far, So Good

Turns out that the Mystik DK has considerably better manners when knitted at a reasonable gauge. The stitch pattern will lend itself nicely to integrated shaping of the torso (took a bit of trial and error with the swatch to figure out how), and as for the bust - something will come to me. I have to see how the body looks before I'll know whether a fancy freeform bust section would be subtly avant garde or just plain silly.

Funny, I've avoided ripple stitch in any medium for years, because it reminds me too much of bad acrylic afghans, one of which, in burnt orange, harvest gold, and brown, I spent much of my childhood not finishing. They say overcoming your fears builds character.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ending and Beginning

Here, as promised, is the finished and modified tunic:
I have to admit, as boring and plain as the pattern was to knit, the sizing is exactly as it purported to be, and the set in sleeves fit like a dream. If I were to do it again (Not), I would knit it in the round and use EZ's false seam up the sides for reinforcement. I made flawless selvedged edges and wove them together in perfect alignment exactly as prescribed in The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques - and I still just don't like the way seams look on a hand knitted garment, no matter how well done.

As for the cuffs -

I decided in the end that the knotwork idea just wouldn't suit this situation, and since the remainder of the trim was crochet, I opted for a simple openwork crochet pattern. I'm really pleased with the effect - dare I say it - I think I prefer it to the original.

To keep the deeply slit neckline from gaping (I suspect my cotton / microfibre yarn is a tad heavier than the recommended cashmere blend) I added small loops to the trim and devised this double spiral in hammered sterling silver.

I think it harmonizes nicely with the overall effect.


That being done, I plan to get this other monkey off my back (both from VK - hmm.....) and since my other current design project (the dragon dress) must be laboriously plotted stitch by stitch on paper, I felt like something a little more fit-as-I-go. This will be a riff on waves and shells, and possibly venture into freeform a bit.

The yarns: Eden Madil (bamboo - lovely but it splits easily), Estelle Mystik DK (cotton/viscose - I hate hate hate working with it, but it's pretty and wasn't all that cheap), and a cotton/linen laceweight of uncertain parentage. I'm fervently hoping I won't have to frog all the little pieces of the ill-fated original in order to retrieve enough yarn - there's a fair bit as yet untouched.

Last, but certainly not least, since this is Father's Day I will take the opportunity to profess my undying love for my darling husband and incomparable father of my children (even if he is at this very moment nagging me about my Diaper Genie twisting technique.)