Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Clue 5: Egypt I

The Call of the Cashmere was answered
So here we are, in Egypt! Our heroes are peacefully gliding along the Suez Canal, a wonder of engineering in its time, on their way to the Indian subcontinent. As in every trip, some portions are peaceful and sedated, and even boring. Clue 5 is in itself pretty tame, but it does give you the opportunity to explore the look of different techniques for twisted stitches and twisted ribs. A full twisted rib, with all stitches twisted in every row, gives a sharp definition, while twisting every other row but keeping the ribbing gives a slightly subtler appearance. Finally, twisting and ribbing only the RS (or odd) rows/rounds but working all the WS/even rows plain gives a "broken rib" appearance, with just a little definition, and a more pebbly appearance that is in itself quite attractive as well.
Up to now I have worked a different version of clue 5 in each of my shawls, and I like them all. Of course, I have the advantage of having clue 6 added as well, so I can admire the final look!
Just to make things harder on myself, I have started a fourth shawl, using the Winter Thaw Hedgehog Fibers cashmere. I swear I could just hear it cry at night, feeling lonely and abandoned, after going through so much trouble to get it here all the way from Ireland. I just can't stand to see a good fiber cry. So it is up to clue 4, and I will pace you all with this one.
It is great fun to see the shawl in all its versions - the lofty, plump, wintry cashmere and the fine, tightly plied silk with gold beads are like the winter and summer versions of the shawl. The other two, a very fine ivory cash/wool and the moody purple/grey cash/silk, are like the bride/widow version, LOL. In fact, I am considering selling the finished white one as a bridal veil when I am done!

Mom Coat Update

My order of MadTosh Vintage arrived from Eat Sleep Knit. The color is called Bark, and it is a warmer color of brown with gold highlights than my photo. The yarn is very squishy and very tightly plied, and the stitch definition is out of this world. I think I have found my favorite yarn for cable knitting!
Here are some pictures of the swatches I will  be using:

Though the larger cable panel needs a little reworking with the spacing, the rest is pretty well set. The swatches, by the way, are not the original stitch patterns used in the original design, but some variations thereof; For instance, the cable was just a twist stitch pattern that I did not think had enough depth.
After a thorough read of the pattern, calculator in hand, I realized that the original coat is huge; In fact, it has over 8 inches of ease at the chest for my mom's size. This is in part to accommodate the lining that was sewn in, but also it is really made to be an outer coat worn over a full suit. The photo in the mag cover (which is also the only photo of the coat) glosses this very cleverly with a good modelling pose. There are also a number of other problems in the pattern, such as an odd shaping of the sleeve cap, and a complete and utter disregard for stitch counts.
On the good side, this totally bypasses the issue of copyright, since I won't use ANY of the original instructions.
So I poured myself a really large cup of coffee and took out my Shirley Paden Knitwear Design Workshop, and a few hours later had a pretty decent initial schematic. That, and the sketches, are the tools I need to do a complete rewrite of the pattern.
At this point I thank my lucky stars for all the work I put into designing Joe's sweater. Designing aran styles is a bit different than designing other sweaters because cables alter the size so much. So good swatches are of the essence.
My next step is to make a Master Swatch - a large swatch placing all the individual stitches together, in approximately the same sequence and size that they will have in the finished sweater. Elizabeth Zimmerman in her wisdom recommends to make a hat-swatch (waste not!), which is a great idea, and I went ahead and ordered a few more skeins of Vintage, two in the Bark (because I always fret about not having enough yarn) and two in a color called Cove, which is exactly the color of Joe's eyes (a bit blue, a bit green). And I will make my hat-swatch with the Cove.
Next step is, to write an outline of the full pattern with all the increases and decreases figured out, and then I can get to work.
For now I am pondering the eternal question: Side seams or no side seams?

Miscellaneous knits...
I am actually making some progress in the belted shell! I had to do a lot of pattern figuring here too, because it seems to be sized for ladies with big shoulders and narrow waists, which is clearly the opposite of my size (nice Mediterranean hips and narrow little shoulders). Making 59 inches of narrow garter stitch band was as close to knitting punishment as it can get for me, but once the stitches were all picked out, I was up to some speed. So speedy, in fact, that I did not notice I have made a big boo-boo : I was supposed to join on the round at 3 inches from the bottom, but I waited until 3 inches from the beginning of the band. A 2 inch mistake. Ouch. However, I will wait until it is all done and seam the extra 1-2 inches after I make sure I can actually get it over my hips.

One last word of caution: do NOT go over to Trish Moon's website. She is an evil woman. She knows I really don't want to buy any more silk, but she put on such a terrific sale of her natural-dyed silk I just had to get two more. Aw. I have no willpower.

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