Monday, September 1, 2014

happy labour day...

It’s back-to-school time and, though it doesn’t really mean a lot to most of us anymore, some of us are lucky enough to have grandkids who are either starting school or going back.
I’ve had a great summer - even though you could mostly call it a non-summer, very cool, rainy, etc – it’s the first time in forever that I haven’t had a mile-long to-do list and not one single deadline!!! It’s been great – I’ve had family company and lots of outdoor activity to keep me out of the knitting room.  Early in July, my nephew Paul, (son of my brother Brian who was my male model in “Do It On a Double Bed”) who is also my godson, came up with his two kids and we had a great visit. His daughter Bethanie, 11 yrs old, going into Grade 6, was looking through some of my old magazines and spotted ‘Fringe Festival’ (Knitwords #43) by Ev McNabb which is a girl’s tabard-style vest, fringed to the max, along with a 18” doll version –  Bethanie loves her doll and I asked her what colour she would like it in – purple being her favourite colour was the answer. I put that in the back of my mind, not making any promises. So, it was especially cool and rainy this week and I thought, why not?
Ev’s pattern is written for a mid gauge machine with tuck patterning and I only have my LK150 in mid-gauge (manual patterning) and not much in the way of kid-friendly yarns, no matter what the gauge so I decided to make it on the standard gauge instead of trying to hand pull on the manual machine. The yarn Ev used is an acrylic yarn suitable for the standard gauge machine, but she used it double-stranded to make up the difference in the gauge and then also set the pattern up as a tuck lace using every other needle in work, so even thought the yarn is like a double knitting weight, the every-other-needle configuration lightens it up.
My first swatch was Honiburd cotton – I have a partial cone, about 350g of periwinkle, which has a purplish cast to it and I made a swatch single-stranded, T9, on the 4.5mm machine – it seemed a bit wimpy so I made a swatch double-stranded, T10, and it was too tough and nasty. I went back and searched my cupboards and what do you know, I did have a batch of purple hand knitting yarn – it’s Lion Brand Microspun sport yarn ( 6 – 2.5oz/168 yds balls) that a friend gave me several years ago – the perfect colour for Bethanie and most probably the same finished weight as what Ev used in the original. Will it be too heavy for the standard gauge? how much will I need? oh, nothing ventured, nothing gained…I quickly made a swatch – it knit up beautifully at T9 and I knit the entire ball – why stop halfway through the ball? If I need to re-use the swatch, at least it’s all in one piece. Now, of course, I am not trying to match the gauge – that would be too hard and the pieces are just simple rectangles, so a little math with the schematic will tell me the number of stitches and rows I need. I measure the area of the swatch and then figure the area of the size 12 yr garment ( length X width) to calculate the size of the total finished pieces and I should be able get the back and 2 fronts easily from 4 balls – I may even have enough to dress the doll! From my gauge/swatch calculations, I need 300 rows X 54-0-55 sts for the back  (and same again for fronts)and as I am knitting, the first ball runs out at about RC200 so this re-affirms that I will have more than enough.
I start off following Ev’s directions but the cast-on has me doing the chain cast-on, knit a row and then transfer to EON – hum-m-m - too much work! – cast on WY and ravel cord of course, then double-strand main yarn, chain across all needles, then drop every other needle – this cast-on makes a fixed edge, so it’s not going anywhere and I have the correct needles for my tuck lace in work – no need to have to transfer to EON! Thread up single strand, set to tuck and just knit! The back is a perfect rectangle, so just get to the top and remove the shoulder sts on WY and cast off the neck stitches – pretty easy! I get the fronts done, put it together and start the finishing – hum-m-m – Ev’s edging is that 3-st worm trim that takes forever – I did try a couple of samples and maybe because of the different yarn and gauge, I just didn’t like it so I used one of my own crochet-look edges (#5 Shinano from Band Practise or Single Crochet-Look Edge #2 from Mid Gauge Magic):
Added to selvedge edge:
Hold edge up to measure number sts required, gathering slightly.
1. Right/purl side facing, hang edge, picking up half outside edge stitch. Bring n’s out, work behind latches. Close latches.
2. MT, K3R.
3. Pick up bottom half edge stitch of picked up row onto EON.
4. Hand knit loosely across entire row. Chain off.

Much quicker and it looks nice both sides – a little steam and it lays flat! I didn’t put it on the hem edge because the double strand cast-on and the fringe will hold it just fine. Made the doll one and it’s so cute together I decided to make one for my granddaughter Rhiana, too! By this time, my Honiburd swatch has been washed and dried and it doesn’t look so wimpy – being 100% regular cotton, it shrunk and fulled enough to fill out the stitches a bit.
I did find it a bit of a challenge to get those slip cords threaded through straight so with this one, I wove a marker row where I wanted to put the cords through. The stitch pattern is a 3 row repeat with the third row being stockinette and the other 2 have tucking stitches. At the place I wanted the marker row, choosing the stockinette row in the sequence: before knitting the stockinette row, switch the cam back to stockinette/plain. Bring EON (which is every 4th needle) out. Put the weaving brushes down/engaged. Take a strand of mercerised cotton and lay it over the selected needles and hold lightly in place with anchor clips on the tails. Knit the row. Don’t forget to set back to tuck and continue. I did put two marker rows.
I know you’re not going to make either of these but I thought there are a few tips here that might help you out in something else you may make…the tuck lace is really pretty!

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