Sunday, August 19, 2007

Just a thought.

I've come to the conclusion that good finishing skills are a mixed blessing. It seems to me that the better job I do of finishing a newly completed knit the more likely I am to later decide to unravel it. So here I am in the midst of unraveling a lace tunic that I knit earlier (pre-blog) this year. To add to the fun of picking out the seams and the woven-in yarn ends was the fact of it being in 2 different yarns that I alternated with each other throughout the lace pattern.

So as the picture shows, as I unraveled I wound each yarn into a separate ball, using used my ball winder to wind the larger quantity (a hand-dyed silk noil yarn) and a nostepinne to wind the lesser quantity (a hand-dyed, cotton/rayon slub). I have learned the hard way not to just unravel the whole thing and then wind back into balls, unless I want to make a hopelessly tangled rat's nest out of my beautiful yarns.

And why am I unraveling this sweater? It was a 2nd attempt at making something with this silk noil that I bought at Pine Tree Yarns in Damariscotta, ME several years ago. The skein was about 800 yards but is a one of a kind item - if I need more yarn I need to add something else. So I added this Blue Heron cotton/rayon yarn that is beautifully blends in without exactly matching. They do look great together. But from there it went downhill, and while the sweater looked nice off of my body it didn't look so wonderful when I had it on. It was much too long, for one thing, and being lacy it felt summery but was heavier than I wanted to wear in the summer. So I'd been thinking about unraveling it to turn it into something like a shawl, but I couldn't decide what exactly I wanted.

And then I found the Pasticcio Circular Vest by Shelley Mackie at elann's website (look in the free patterns) and there it was. Something fun to wear, sort of shawl-like but different, lacy, and a good choice for variegated hand-dyed yarns. This vest is by the same designer as the children's circular Pinwheel cardigans I was making a while back, the difference being it uses a cotton yarn in an easy mesh openwork stitch, and has no sleeves.

So I've just gotten past the stage of needing double-pointed needles and have switched to a 16" circular needle (Knitpicks Options size 5 US). The beginning was hideous with all those points, stitch markers, and lace patts to manage but once I got a couple of repeats underway it got much better fast. As I had done on the now-departed sweater, I am alternating the 2 yarns - on the 4-row lace pattern repeat I'm using the silk for rows 1-3 and the cotton/rayon for row 4 (there's less of that yarn than the silk so I have to use them in different proportions). The pattern is written for a heavier weight yarn on size 9 US needles but I'm going on the philosophy that the shaping to keep the circle flat works equally well at smaller gauges. If I'm wrong there might be more unraveling to come but for now the future of this yarn is bright again.

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