Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Thank you for the kind words about Sam.

Judith, it would be funny indeed if other Strathardle knitters knit their own Sams, and he found himself in a flock. I thought of a much worse possibility yesterday: what if nobody else submits a Knitted Toy, and he wins by default? The knitting entries are never terribly numerous, and that did happen to me once long ago, with a pair of Men’s Gloves.

Alexander made me a wonderful Alphabetarium for my 70th birthday. The U page consists of a facsimile of that winning card (we save them all, of course) illustrating the phrase “up to a point”. I’d hate to have it happen to Sam.

So yesterday I went on practicing the Princess insertion. Here are the first three attempts, total failures, separated by garter stitch sections:

Then I tried again, and got it. It doesn’t look very impressive because it’s cast-off too tightly, but it's essentially right.

But it’s clearly not enough to have got through a 16-stitch swatch successfully once (although that’s a necessary first step). I would have to understand how each row relates to the one before. The stitch count changes seriously, several times, and it’s not at all easy to work out from the chart exactly what the row below should be doing (should have done) at the point where one is in the next one. For me, in fact, impossible.

So I did it again over more stitches. This time, I didn’t cast off at all. You get the general idea. It’s a totally different kind of knitted lace from all the rest of the shawl.

I had intended to practice insertion-knitting for a while and then go on to something else, but I decided at this point that I had better pick up the Princess herself, while the difficulties and their solutions were fresh in my mind. And besides, I was scared. Better get it done.

Helen and the Boys from Thessaloniki are due here on Sunday. Life will change gear for a while. There’s no hope of finishing the insertion before then – 19 rows – but I went ahead and started. The first few rows are the worst of the insertion pattern, anyway. If I can get it well started, it should be not too difficult to resume later.

Rows one and two went slowly but perfectly, and I’ve embarked on three.

My neck and shoulders are stiff and sore. It puzzled me in the night, but I understand why now. Sheer tension.

Kathy has resumed work on her Princess. She’s got her insertion done a fair while ago, and is now steaming along in the centre.

And don’t miss Franklin's account of his beautiful niece’s Christening shawl.


  1. Donna Wingfield2:18 PM

    I somehow missed reading about Sam yesterday. What a handsome ram he made even with his white horns!
    I'm attempting my first lace project, the Third Mystery Shawl from Melanie at Pink Lemon Twist. I'm rather intimidated; even though the pattern is given out in small increments weekly, I still can't master the swatch! I'm determined though. I can't knit lace without practice, and I learn something on every attempt.
    I love reading about your work on the Princess Shawl. Knitting that and others of Sharon's designs are goals of mine.

  2. I swore off knitting toys after my teddy bear experience, but seeing Sam finished is making me reconsider. Even in a flock he'd stand out the winner.

    I read your description of the Princess insertion maneuver and my eyes crossed. How does Sharon Miller even come up with these things?

  3. Good grief - you're knitting a single helix!!! No wonder your poor shoulders feel like you've done a number on them. Good luck with the insertion; I hope you'll be able to pick it up again during the visit of the Thessalonikis (?correct collective noun for the inhabitants!) to ensure it stays stuck in your mind.

    Sam should win on his own merits - beautiful knitting - so I'm with you and hope that there's a large crowd of other projects to compare him against. Have you decided about putting in his eyes yet?

  4. Sam is indeed a handsome ram, whether in a flock or standing alone on a dock. Though why he'd want to stand on a dock, especially with all the rain in your part of the world, is beyond me other than it rhymed. I, too, am having my first serious go at lace knitting with Melanie's MS3 and have made it almost to the end of clue 2. My eyes didn't cross at looking at your insertion practice simply because I haven't any comprehension whatever about what you're attempting. I'm too ignorant at this point to do more than say, wow, it's beautiful but it really looks hard!
    Hope your visit goes well and your tension oozes away as you get farther along in this part of the Princess.