Sunday, January 31, 2010

Adventures in Lace KAL: Casting On...

One of the the knitting techniques which I've decided I need to explore during my second year of knitting is lacework. So it was perfect that Kate over at Lazy Kate Creates suggested a little virtual lace knit-a-long (KAL) to help us all get through the final weeks of winter and to get me to cast on a project. (Click the little Adventures in Lace button in my side bar for more info.)

Official cast-on date is today...though I jumped the gun a bit and cast on yesterday because I knew I would probably need a bit of un-rushed quiet time to get started. Earlier this fall I had decided my first lace project would also be my first scarf having fallen in deep like with the Juliet scarf out of Knitting Little Luxuries. I'm knitting it up in my 171 yards of Merlot handspun merino I got in Nebraska last spring.

The first cast-on was doomed from the first round of lacework. First off I was YOing wrong (which I didn't realize being as I've only practiced on a small swatch of eyelets once last summer) and then I dropped a stitch and couldn't figure out how to pick it up. So I frogged and CO again. After the second CO I got about 4 rows into the lacework when I decided what I was creating looked nothing like the picture in the book. After consulting a technique book I discovered my incorrect YOing and so...frogging #2.

CO #3 was going along splendidly and I made it all the way through one repeat of the lace pattern (12 rows) at which time I had to put down my knitting to bathe the girlies and prep dinner so we would be all set to catch the Grammy's. For some crazy reason when I sat down after dinner I thought I could both switch to using the lace chart provided with the pattern (vs the written instructions) AND pay attention to the Grammy's. Somewhere in about row 6 I again dropped a stitch, tried to fix it, knit a few more rows, realized the whole pattern had shifted one stitch to the right, got totally frustrated and frogged AGAIN!

Before I cast on for the 4th time I decided to switch needles. Originally, being as I think the yarn would technically be considered worsted weight, I had planned to use my size 9 10-inch straights from KnitPicks. But then a couple weeks ago I won a collection of vintage wood needles in various sizes on eBay (because...well because I simply thought they were cool...and I seem to be slipping deeper and deeper into love with all things knitting/fiber related as time goes on) and since I don't knit many projects that use straights I thought it would be nice to use a pair for my scarf. I chose a pair of size 8 needles that have pretty nice points, but as you can see most of my new vintage needles are 14-inchers...

Which, while beautiful, are a bit of over kill for a 7 inch wide scarf. I decided the extra length of needles was adding to the whole awkwardness of this new undertaking and switched to my originally planned, shorter needles. It was a good switch. Not only are the shorter needles easier to deal with (which is also making my writs happier), the slightly larger size opens up the lacework a bit resulting in a lovely airy drape. I'm now 2 1/2 repeats into CO #4 and all is going smoothly. I've decided just to stick with reading the written directions as I seem to be able to follow them better than the chart at this point. I'm also finding out that lace knitting is good therapy for my tight knitter syndrome. Lacework really isn't fun to work when your stitches are I'm going to maintain control of everything in my life even if it kills me tight. So I'm working on loosening up a bit.

The original pattern creates a short scarf pinned to a close with a knitted rosette. I'm planning to just knit to the end of my yarn and skip the rosette all together for a little longer finished item. I'd love to have Juliet knitted and blocked by the end of the month so I can wear it out for my birthday in March! I think it's just about the perfect blend of feminine lace and blue jean casual that I can see it becoming a much loved accessory in the coming years.

And how lovely when Yarnica! falls on a Monday! Waiting on my doorstep after my noon yoga class was a box from Webs. Inside: 10 balls of Italian light gray superwash merino for my next new to me knitting adventure...a sweater! (Interestingly enough I chose a pattern that has a bit of lacework even before I made sure this lace thing was gonna work out OK. I guess one could call that self confidence...or total foolishness.)

I'm off to knit!



Kate said...

I'm glad you're finally on a roll! I'm so excited to see how that yarn works up- it's just so pretty and special. I'm glad you've jumped into knitting lace! And a lacy sweater? I'm sure it will be beautiful!

Marie-Jolie said...

That sounds like just too much fun over there. I'm a big fan of lace knitting, though I'm all too familiar with the zillion cast-ons (especially when one is preoccupied!). So when is your birthday in March? Any chance it's around the time that we'll be meeting?