Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Did you ever hear a duck sigh quack?

Pity the family of the Australian knitter. What do you get for Christmas? Socks, when it's too hot to want to wear any. Or scarves, just when a cool breeze would be more welcome on your neck.

This is Mum's christmas scarf, made from 100% bamboo (Cleckheaton), something that has come as a very odd surprise to every non-knitter I showed it to. Lovely silky stuff, with no itch for Mum's sensitive skin. Mum's kind of colours - dry grassy green and the colour of inner avocado flesh. Yum.

Revisiting this project, I feel mildly bad about a recent whinge to K the other night about his lack of excitement over the new things I knit.

Sometimes I'm just so... excited - in my laid back way - about the things that I can make (or try to make...) and the new skills I learn, and I expect him to just get it by osmosis or something.

On this one, K was my design consultant and he saved me from settling for the wrong pattern, or at least plunging in and knitting half of it before changing my mind.

I knew I wanted something a bit lacy or holey, but the variegated colours in the bamboo meant it had to be something pretty simple. I started with this Swiss Cheese scarf pattern. I quite liked the overall effect and K did too. It was going to be unusual and probably something Mum would have liked - an interesting, funky textured fabric. But I was getting these big loops at the corners of the holes. This is partly because the yarn is very drapey and has no stretch. I know there would be a way to avoid this happening, but I didn't have time to go through a lot of trial and error. Oh, and it was in garter stitch so it was going to go through a lot of yarn.

I put it aside and moved on to the zig zag lace pattern of Palette from Knitty instead. I was quite set on this. I loved the fact that it was a lace pattern, but angular. Mum is really not a girly lace person. I was all ready to go, had worked out how many stitches I wanted to cast on, and I just really wanted to start. But K didn't really like it.

Now, don't for one moment think that I always seek his approval on my projects. Anyone who knows us would find that hilarious - we're far too independent for that to be believable. But he was quite engaged in the planning, and I trusted his judgement on this one. I forced myself to come up with another option, and ended up liking it so much better. I was trying to be too tricky for the yarn. Turns out it just wanted to be a nice, flowing mistake rib.

I couldn't help sneaking in a little bit of trickiness for extra texture by dropping columns of stitches here and there, a bit like Clapotis - yarn overs at the bottom, and twisted stitches either side of the stitch to be dropped. I put the columns where I felt like it and made them of different lengths, trying to make it look simultaneously random, yet balanced overall.

My brain loves this kind of knitting. It's a really simple mindless pattern, but has the added element of intermittent decisions - where to place the columns of dropped stitches. I actually didn't want it to finish (except that Christmas was coming and the goose was getting fat).

There was one odd thing about the yarn. I had three balls from the same dyelot. The first two were reasonably consistent in the way the colour changes played out in squares and rectangles. When you stand back and squint, there is almost a tartan effect. But the third one was quite different - the colour changes were much shorter. Luckily I didn't mind it in this scarf, but I imagine it could be really annoying in a garment.


Michelle said...

That's one of my favourite KM-H songs ever!

I love the scarf. I think you (and K, as design consultant) came up with a good design for that yarn. The loose stitches thing drove me absolutely bonkers when I was crocheting a boteh scarf out of it!

Duckie said...

Sigh. Well done Mr K.
I like the swiss cheese too you know. Nice and holey and Swiss cheese is so tasty. I bet Mum looooves it.

Rose Red said...

I really like the swiss cheese pattern - glad you've pointed out the issue re the holey bits (heh!) so I won't use the yarn I was intending to when I make it.

Djaughan Zelmonde said...

I must disagree - don't lament the summer Christmas....embrace the EXTENDED Christmas, where a lucky few can pull out an "Olma Original" and revel in a Christmas in July!!!

I think the design you settled on is - simply - perfect. Don't know why but I don't actually warm to the swiss cheese design - but what would I know - I cross stitch by numbers!!!

kms said...

great story, great scarf. and i too would love to have a knitter in my family who gave me beautiful thoughtful hand made things for chrissie!

Donna Lee said...

I didn't knit for Christmas this past year but am planning for christmas 2008. I need to start early, I knit slow! For us, Christmas is the perfect time for handknits. Everyone wants something soft and warm at about that time. I did make a puppet for my niece that she wears all around the house.

Jejune said...

I really love this scarf, and the random element in it. Brilliant!

I got myself 6 balls of the same stuff (same colour too) just before Christmas, and haven't quite figured out what to do with it yet :)