New directions

Winter inventory was completed long ago. I live in the northeast which has had a notoriously snowy winter. Many an hour has been spent in snow removal, few hours knitting anything “new”. I have completed some hand knitting projects, and as one, I attempted re knitting a lace shawl successfully completed multiple times before. Having trouble tracking its complicated pattern, I journeyed back to taking “another look” at machine knit lace. Multiple transfer lace on the machine can be slow, tedious, and requires patience in original set up, as one must have yarn that tolerates transfer across fixed metal parts without breaking and the “perfect” weight to allow stitches to knit off properly. Though I like designing my own stitch patterns this is not anything I am ready to do in lace.
The first foray in my explorations resulted from a discussion on a knitting yahoo group I belong to with regards to a lace chart published at in 2 parts.

Below are images of the resulting fabric:

purl side

knit side

The wonders of blocking

Blocking is one of those knitting preferences that can arouse strong pro/con arguments, and goes the range from casual to nearly compulsive with wires, pins, and assorted tools used to achieve desired results. My shawls continue to sell well: the photos below illustrate part of the process and 2 of the most recent in their family. All shaping and joining are achieved through the knitting process; the shawls are reversible, may be worn and draped in a  variety of ways.

before steaming and pressing

unblocked1

detail shot after steaming/pressing

blocked1

one way to wear, purl side facing out

shawl1

To block or not to block

Pattern repeats are sorted out, out of work needles correct positions critical, many false starts, then onto yarn crankiness. Two “shawls” are now knit, approximately 16 inches by 64 inches,  one in off white cashmere, the other in over spun wool. They are large enough to drape around shoulders, lightweight enough to wrap for warmth as scarves.  Both required washing to remove sizing, are now very different in body and touch.  My favorite way to “block” laundered items is air drying on a wool rug after a couple of spin cycles in the washer. I use pressing/steaming if appropriate to fiber, do have blocking wires,  but they have only ever seen daylight as substitutes if I “lose” ribber cast on comb wires.  Next in this family will be a shot at knitting this item with thin ribbon. Here are the completed drying twosome with their purl side public face. Knit side is interesting as well, duplicating the hand technique swatch exactly. Yarn weights used are pushing boundaries for KM, knitting is extremely slow after design/yarn problems are all sorted out. Though this online post follows camera documentation that began yesterday, the actual process has occurred over the past 2 weeks.

A shawl tale

I have always been interested in mock crochet stitches executed on the knitting machine, have done a bit of experimenting in the past. The ones that are the most interesting to my eye are usually double bed, often making them reversible, which in turn may require hand manipulations. Browsing through old knitting magazines I came across this baby sweater, and became determined to produce a similar fabric, in a manner that might be more manageable for production. In this instance the back locks are changed in sequences of 3, 1, with button changes, they yarn is fine. First sample I produced was following the pattern stitch instructions.

The fabric as a hand technique, dropped stitches included

The challenge: creating a downloadable stitch pattern that will automatically select appropriate needles and duplicate this texture. Yarn used will be varied and different weights. Pusher/needle set up both beds critical, then there must be an edging…more to follow.

Gris-Gris

I recall as a textile student doing research cross cultural references in fibers, the image of a horse blanket literally covered with gris gris obtained by its owner from the local shamans in the course of his travels to insure protection on his life journeys. Over time gris gris have been dolls or images of the gods, small cloth bags containing herbs, oils, stones, small bones, hair and nails, bits of written spells, pieces of cloth soaked with perspiration and/or other personal items gathered under the directions of a god for the protection of the owner. In Voodoo, gris-gris are charms or talismans which are kept for good luck or to ward off evil. Here is my personal interpretation. This amulet bag measures 10 inches long, approximately 5 inches wide, the cord 28 inches long.

Love in an uncertain world

A new/different direction from other neck pieces, my first with a “story” open to interpretation; it is composed of coiled, knit, crocheted, and stitched telephone and magnet copper wire, assorted beads, a couple of acupuncture needle covers, the cut/ partially frayed “heart” of an unfinished spirit doll, and a screw closure. It is also considerably more of a “burden” than the feather weight magnet wire cousins, weighs in at 3.5 oz./88 gms.