Wednesday, March 01, 2017

So -- that's one day of Lent down. The rest should be easy enough.

Helen has been given a grant by Creative Scotland to go to a mosaic-orientated conference in Chicago at the end of the summer. I think it has to do with mosaics as public art, mosaics for the community, but now I must find out exactly.

I must be about two-thirds of the way across the Kitchener’d seam that binds the final edge of the centre of Mrs Hunter’s shawl to the bottom of the fourth border piece. It’s looking good, although garter stitch grafting doesn’t have quite that magic quality of st st, where you can see a row of knit stitches emerging from your needle.

I think what those garter-stitch-grafting instructions mean, is that for the lower needle, having knit the previous row, you turn the needle as if to knit the next one; whereas for the top needle, having knit the previous row, you don’t turn. But I’m not exactly prepared to maintain that thesis in a court of law. I’m not even absolutely sure that I’m doing it right, but it looks neat and feels flexible.

I’m sure you’re right, Chloe, (comment yesterday) that people make themselves unnecessarily anxious about grafting. It doesn’t help that the first couple of stitches can be loose and awkward, before you see the magic happening.

I remember – this isn’t entirely relevant – the first time I knit a pair of socks. They were for my father, and I was probably 14 or 15. I had got the idea, from casual references in books, that turning a heel was about the most difficult thing you could do in knitting. I can still remember my surprise when I did the first one. I just followed the instructions, and there was a heel.

The shawl seemed rather wee, when I finally laid the two to-be-grafted edges together and shook out the whole. Blocking will help, of course. I wasn’t absolutely sure, until that moment, that I hadn’t, after all, twisted the stitches around the needle when I reached the centre and finally joined them into a circle. But that’s all right.

I’m no further forward, thinking about the Fair Isle vest. Lisa, yes, I’ve got the Shetlander’s Fair Isle graph book. It’s delicious. I had better get it out tomorrow and add it to my pile of resources. Also have a look at that yarn I bought at Jamieson & Smith that day, so see just what colours I have so far.


  1. Anonymous3:04 AM

    One of the Rainey sisters has posted photos of Carol Sunday's "Nancy's Vest" today.

    Looks like potentially a very useful item!


  2. Well done, Helen! What a great opportunity!
    re the vest: Why not just plunge in? With the general plan and the colour scheme already chosen you do not have to chart out the whole thing in advance and can make it up as you go along. The only problem might be making your chosen 11 row pattern fit the stitch count. But I suspect that traditional knitters just fudged this as well. I might try a tiny, twenty stitch, swatch to test out some colours but otherwise, go for it.

  3. I've always thought that turning the heel of a sock is the closest thing to performing magic.

    The Unst shawl is 94% complete! What an accomplishment.

  4. Woot on the shawl! And imho, the hardest thing about my first sock wasn't the heel, it was the spikey mess of DPNs (first time I'd used 'em). I will never forget the gentle laughter when I suddenly had a 3 needle cuff instead of a 4 needle one and was quite confused. Good thing I had the sense to start in the knitting shop with loads of other knitters to help the newbie!

    I think the heel thing comes from a combo of stuff. There's a ton of different ways to do heels, unlike a toe it's not as obvious what you're doing, and a first-timer needs a clear pattern/instructions and to more or less follow 'em blindly.
    Heck, a sock can end up being a ton of new skills for a knitter. Knitting in the round, knitting magic-loop/dpns/two circulars, short-rows, picking up stitches, grafting...

  5. =Tamar8:44 PM

    Heels can be done many ways, and I think some of the ways were guild secrets. That may have been the source of the reputation for difficulty. Non-guild members were making perfectly good socks for hundreds of years before the guilds were set up, but existing guild-made socks have some odd ways to adjust the fit, and some strange heel methods.

  6. How wonderful for Helen! I have lived in the Chicago suburbs for over 40 years now. If she would like some company while here, let me know.
    The Chicago Cultural Center has an amazing room totally done in mosaic. I love stopping in there when I am in the area, and I am sure it will be part of her conference experience. I look forward to hearing what she thinks of it.
    Here's a link to my blog post about it from several years ago:
    Jane from Illinois