Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sock anatomy

I've been playing around a bit with shaping in pattern for socks—not incorporating shaping into the areas around a pattern, not shaping encroaching into a patterned field, but drawing a chart in the right shape and filling it in with a pattern devised to fit. These plainish socks are the first result of the experiment:

A pair

The "shaping in pattern" part is a twisted stitch cabled panel on the back of the leg that grows out of the ribbed cuff and narrows to a sliver:

Calf panel

The purled column on the back of the leg beneath the cabled panel continues to the bottom of the heel flap, where it's swallowed up by the heel turn. Like a seam only seamless.

Like most very tiny ribbing-like cables, the pattern looks best when it's stretched sideways, as for example when you put it on your leg and it stretches to accommodate your shapely calf.

On the hoof

The socks also have their gusset decreases on the soles instead of placed at either side of the instep stitches, which I am counting as "shaping in pattern" because of its effect on how the handpainted yarn knits up. (It's okay to cheat if you are the one who invented the rules.)

A heel

Gusset decreases make little angled lines across the knitting, which interrupts the flow of whatever pooling or striping the yarn is doing. Putting them on the bottom of the foot leaves the instep undisrupted. This might not always be an advantage, but it is definitely a good trick to have up one's sleeve. (I am also operating under the assumption that the top of the foot is more 'public' and visible than the sole—your mileage may vary!) It definitely worked well with this yarn, which has only shortish runs of each colour. I'm pleased with how the columns of picked-up stitches from the sides of the heel flap continue uninterrupted to the spiral toe.

For fun, the toes spiral in different directions.

Spiral toes

The yarn I used is pretty interesting; it's an 8-ply fingering-weight superwash merino that Dale of Light Brown Hare dyed in the most outstanding browns. I can attest that it is very round, which makes even these tiny cables look full, and the stockinette fabric is smooth and has a springy texture that feels wonderful on the foot. I wish it weren't almost July so I could actually wear them for more than five minutes!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Frills and flowers

Internet! If you go find the July/August 2011 issue of PieceWork magazine and flip nearly all the way to the back, you'll find a short article I wrote and a pattern for a frilly Victorian accessory.

A collar and a magazine

The article is a quick walk through Home work: a choice collection of useful designs for the crochet and knitting needle. Also, valuable recipes for the toilet, which is as it sounds. It was published in Toronto in 1891 and contains many, many knitted and crocheted edgings, a number of small garment patterns, and a modest collection of horrifying recipes for unguents to rub on your face. (The full text of the book is available online here, though the quality of the scan leaves something to be desired and most of the images are difficult to make out.)

The frilly accessory is a collar (No. 110 – Vandyke Collar), instructions for which begin on p. 335 of Home Work. I made a few minor adaptations, including changing the central motif to make it symmetrical, knitting it at a different gauge (no gauge is specified, but the pattern text implies that it should be tiny!), and charting the whole thing for concision's sake. There are a lot of short rows involved in its construction, which was a lovely surprise. If you knit it out of cashmere and add a row of pretty buttons up the front like I did, it turns into an elegant little wintry piece to wear underneath your coat.

An update on the last thing I posted: after knitting about a thousand rows of edging, picking up five hundred stitches along its straight edge, and knitting about 40 rows, I concluded that the centre line of the triangle was really an ugly disruption to the elaborateness happening on either side of it, so I unknitted it all. I am recycling the pattern thus far into a rectangle, which is probably better suited to it anyway. It includes these very stylized flowers:

A flowery swatch

I learned about them from this picture that edithcone posted in the Heirloom Knitting group on ravelry. The shawl in the picture was knitted by Joan Thomasina Williamson in Shetland, and edithcone did a great service to humanity by visiting it and taking a picture. I think the flowers are too amazing not to borrow, so I have charted them (and a couple of variations with different motifs up top—different species? should they have different leaves, too?) and will fit them into a zigzagging background of smaller stylized plant motifs. Not the zigzags pictured above; different ones, with more plain garter stitch "white space" separating things.

You can tell that the flowers are awesome because I am not disappointed about tearing out this much knitting: it just means that I get to knit them all over again!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

wordless Wednesday

It begins

Pictured: 50" of green Shetland lace edging, coffee, distracting book, and lemon-cognac pound cake.