Proto Gothika (research notes for a shawl)

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetI’ve been wanting to write a pattern for a simple triangular lace shawl for quite some time now. Having knit a Holden shawlette, and an Ashton, I was aware of the wonders simple yarn overs and paired decreases could work, and of the magic a vigorous blocking would impart to what was heretofore a crumpled mass of string and holes. I longed to make something of my own design, using the same simple, time-tested principles.
When I started, I only had in mind (and scribbled in my notebook) two stitch patterns I thought would look great together, since they were both reminiscent of Gothic architecture and carried promises of the kind of romanticism I was aiming for. So without further ado, I started knitting the shawl in Malabrigo sock yarn, thinking I’d write the pattern out once my work was off the needles, as a kind of recipe summarising what I had done.
Of course, as I now know, this is not really the best way of going at this. There are such things as stitch and row pattern cyclicity, that affect for instance the way your border pattern connects to the body of your shawl, that really should be planned beforehand. So while I was knitting a shawl I knew would be flawed in its design, I also started writing down a revised, more methodical version of the pattern I had started improvising months ago.

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I am now left with a beautiful, unique triangular lace shawl which I am very fond of, precisely because of its design flaws, and a more rationally charted pattern I still need to test out before I publish it. Fortunately, my dear friend Vinciane has agreed to help me out. If you too want to test knit the up-and-coming Gothika shawl, just send me a message on Ravelry.

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Let them eat brioche

The brioche scarf has been washed, blocked and fringed, and I must say I’m quite happy with the results. I’m still left with some yarn on the magic ball, and I am taking this as an invitation to add in more scraps as they come, and keep the never ending ball rolling.

In other news, I’ve decided not to start any new knitting before I’ve made satisfactory progress on the following three unfinished objects (I’ve been dragging these along for far too long now). This means:
– finishing the two sleeves of my Lopi sweater (I’m hoping that when this tedious part is done, knitting the yoke in stranded colorwork will be a reward in itself, and the whole thing will get finished fast);
– finishing my gansey scarf (can’t believe that thing was started 2 years ago!);
– joining a new ball of yarn on my seed stitch wrap.

We’ll see how that goes.

Having a ball

worsted140111aWell, another year has gone past, and I’m still knitting strong, and having a ball at it. That’s something to celebrate, I guess.
Speaking of balls: on Tuesday night I made myself one of these magic balls, from worsted weight scrap yarn I had lying around. The living room was full of coloured lengths of string, as I cut and arranged and assembled. I didn’t use the Russian join for attaching the scraps together (which was what the tutorial I was following suggested), but tried instead the double knot technique. It worked really fine (I’d say it’s perfect for this kind of project, but would probably not recommend it for less “scrappy” endeavours). I ended up with a nice big ball of yarn, from which I’ve started knitting a simple brioche scarf for my cousin’s young daughter.

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Now, let me tell you a few things about brioche stitch I wish I’d known way earlier (you’re probably aware of this, but me? fresh experience!):
– although it looks deceivingly like plain 1×1 ribbing, brioche stitch is something entirely else, both structurally and texturally;
– although there are whole sites and books devoted to that sole stitch and its many variations (including the mesmerizing two-colour version), there is nothing overwhelming about brioche. On the contrary, it’s real easy to knit (I’ll say that again: it’s easy). I don’t know why I was so hesitant to give it a try (if you’re in the same case, you might find this tutorial helpful);
– brioche stitch is fast (and I’d even wager that it’s faster than 1×1 ribbing), because, you see, all you’re really doing is slipping and knitting stitches (no purling).

In other news, I spent the holidays with my family in Mauritius, and tried to find some yarn-related stuff. Alas! Though the island has a thriving knitwear industry, it seems to devote no special place to handknitting. I couldn’t find any yarn store, nor any yarn, apart from the usual acrylic and nylon(!) balls on sale in supermarkets.
I did nonetheless buy myself a beautiful, warm men’s woven wool shawl. It was made in India, and is called a lohi (I’m guessing from the name of a sheep breed). I just love it!

Processed with VSCOcam with m2 presetAnd, on a final note: I regularly post my yarn-related findings on Flipboard. Do have a look.

Ashton Shawl

I’m slowly making progress on my unfinished knitting projects and using my stashed yarn, so I can feel justified to buy more.

ashton2This shawl had been sitting on my needles for ages (I started working on it while on Christmas vacation in Germany last year…) After a few sessions, it’s now ready to be packed and gifted. I do hope its recipient (my godson’s mother) will like it, and wear it. There are a couple of mistakes here and there, but I don’t think anyone will notice them.

Now, who’s next?

Stitches old and new

I’m starting this journal to keep a trace of my knitting projects, and the random thoughts that come and go in the process.

Right now, let’s face it, I’ve got a lot going on…

First, there’s this reversible gansey scarf I’ve been working on for almost a year now… It is knitted in the most wonderful royal alpaca from Blue Sky. I come back to it from time to time, but find it a bit difficult to concentrate on for long sessions in a row.

gansey scarf

Then, there is this bottom-up green sweater in Malabrigo sock yarn, which I started last June, and whose body I’ve just recently finished. Time to start the sleeves… This, when finished (soon, hopefully), will be my first knitted sweater.

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Then, we have this Ashton shawl, which I began a few days after Christmas, intended as a present, but which I’ve been neglecting for a while…

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At almost the same time, I started writing a pattern for a shawlette, which I was very excited about, but have not been working on lately…

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And, finally, a couple of days ago I cast on Stephen West’s Gyllis, using De Rerum Natura’s wonderful Gilliatt merino yarn, to which I intend to add a second color from Araucania yarns. The pattern is a pleasure to knit, and I think this might be the first project in the lot I’ll be finishing.

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