01 January 2004

Old Projects: 2004 Lace Knitting, Part I - Scarves

The Granny Smith Lace Sampler

I'd spun the yarn for this sometime in the course of my initial efforts to spin gringo-style knitting yarn, probably in the first half of 2004. It's a single-ply yarn made from a mystery wool dyed apple green, then blended with natural colour tussah silk.

At the time, I was resisting knitting projects on the whole, and doing regular battle with the Knitting Conspiracy (you know who you are), who insisted that despite my protestations, I would actually enjoy knitting lace. Not least among these conspirators was my father, whose parting shot in our lifelong game of textile-oriented "Oh yeah? But have you tried THIS?" was the gift of Susanna Lewis' book Knitting Lace.

By the middle of 2004 I wound up saying, "Oh, what the hell," and picking up some knitting needles which had come free with some discount yarn order or another, and looking through the stash for something I wanted to use up. Given that I stubbornly owned no knitting needles save for those freebies (in US sizes 11, 13, and 15 -- oh, the embarrassment!) and that I've always been a spinner who prefers to churn out fingering weight or thinner yarns, the whole situation was a bit of a challenge. I certainly didn't want to use anything good on such a project, but it also needed to be something I didn't totally despise. Even if I was going to be knitting whatever it was on the hugest knitting needles I had ever used in my entire life.

In the final analysis, the scarf came out fine once blocked, but I never really liked it enough. It felt fine, it looked fine, but it was riddled with stupid lace newbie mistakes, I was dissatisfied with the yarn on several levels, and when my wonder-realtor Margaret saw the scarf and loved it, I was thrilled -- and so it went to a good home with someone who likes it.

The Berry Patch Sampler

I think this was the second lace pattern sampler object. The yarn was a drum carder blending experiment featuring merino, tussah silk, and some random yak down. I had then proceeded to spin it fairly fine, but slubbed, and then ply it 2-ply. The resulting yarn was light, lofty, fluffy, fuzzy, and funky... and really nifty but... nothing I could see myself really having a good use for. So then I decided to see how it would take to being dyed in random colours.

Well, anyway, by that time it was pretty flagrantly a scarf yarn, so I bought some new normal-sized knitting needles and played my way through another sampler scarf. There were things about this one that I really liked, but, well, lacking the real need for a scarf, I gave this one away too, to my mother-in-law if memory serves.

Mohair/Acrylic Sampler

In this case, I'd spun this space-dyed mohair top that came from... I don't know where, and then plied it with a commercial acrylic binder, an extruded sparkly floss type thing. This was absolutely a yarn I could never imagine using for anything in real life! There's pink sparkly stuff in it, you see. That alone is a tipoff that it's not an Abby yarn, or at least, not a yarn that I can use.

So, you know, another sampler. In this case, I opted to almost halfway pay attention, and make sure I firmly grasped premises involved in balancing yarn overs and different slanting decreases and placing them here, there, or way over there.

Coincidentally, I noticed that the pink and teal were very close matches for some ribbon yarn I had in my stash for mysterious reasons. So, I killed another bird with the same stone, and threw in a little bit of the ribbon yarn.

I have absolutely no idea what ended up happening to this scarf, other than being positive I gave it away due to the princessy sparkly elements which would absolutely be too much for me to bear. Really, it was a nice-feeling flouncy pretty thing. Which is exactly why it had to go.

Feathery Scarf

Eventually, I did keep a scarf. Another blending experiment here, this was some middle grade brown merino, some so-so yak that happened to be the same colour as the merino, and some tussah silk noils. I spun it on the looser side and did up a 3-ply, and wound up with a yarn that I actually liked, but had only done a small amount of. It's really a sweater yarn, and someday I'll likely do a real batch of it and make a sweater.

I actually kept this scarf, and I even wear it from time to time. It's a good California kind of scarf, in that it's... mostly decorative, but in a pinch it can almost keep half my neck from freezing. But seriously though, I actually found that I liked this one when all was said and done. Unfortunately, I seem not to have taken a picture of it post-blocking! The 3-stitch garter stitch edge bit actually evened out pretty nicely. I've also since washed this scarf a few times, and it's held up brilliantly, softening and fluffing out, especially the silk noil bits, which initially I felt were just a little on the crunchy-feeling side.

Anyway, at this point, I had managed to use up a bunch of random yarn I'd had no idea what to do with, and get a decent handle on playing with basic lace knitting premises, and I was burnt out on scarves, but wanted more execution practice -- so for that, we'll need to move on to part II - Sweaters!


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