Monday, May 27, 2019

Row on Row of Poppies

This project plan began to form when, in late 2018, I decided I wanted an afghan to go with my planned bedroom decoration, which is to have a poppy theme.

I searched Ravelry for an afghan pattern that would accord well with the poppy print linen fabric I'd bought for my new curtains and bedskirt, and eventually settled on Floret, by Norah Gaughan. Gaughan hasn't specified which species her floral motif is meant to resemble, but I think that even if it's not a poppy it bears a very passable resemblance to one. The pattern is for a lap-sized afghan, but of course given its paneled construction it would be dead easy to enlarge it to the size I wanted.

Next, I chose the worsted yarn. After much looking about, I decided on Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash, in Provence (shade 1975). I would have preferred a cotton yarn, or even a cotton blend, but there didn't seem to be a cotton worsted in the warm poppy red I wanted in existence. I also had some difficulty figuring out how much yarn I needed for my sized-up version of this pattern. I first bought 11 skeins, and then once I got some squares done and became alarmed by my calculations as to how much yarn I was going to go through, I went back to Romni Wools to get two more skeins. In the end I used just under 12 skeins (1200 grams), and will be returning the thirteenth skein I bought for store credit.

And here's the finished afghan. It went together pretty quickly as I was able to knit a square a day. As you can see, I did not use the garter stitch border Gaughan's design calls for, but instead went with a seed stitch and eyelet border. I got the idea as well as some very helpful instructions from this project page after I spied the Ravelry user's lovely mulberry-coloured version in the list of projects for this pattern. I quite agree with her comment that the seed stitch echoes the seeds in the middle of the floral design, and it certainly is a much prettier edging than the original flat garter stitch border. When I blocked the afghan (on my guest room bed mattress, and I had to hope I wouldn't have any surprise guests for a few days!), I put a pin in the point of each scallop, allowing the edges in between to assume their natural curve.

My version has 15 floral squares in it, and since I made the border as wide as that twelfth skein would hold out for, the finished result is roughly 4' x 6', which is perfect. I make all my afghans 4' x 6' as, at that size, they are large enough to comfortably cover most adults and yet small enough not to be cumbersome.

I finished this project with just 10 grams of yarn to spare, which as this project involved new yarn bought specifically for this project, means a stash increase of 10 grams.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

'Mo Mohair

This project began when I decided to take apart a sweater I'd made years ago out of 125 grams of Debbie Bliss Angel and never worn.

The original sweater was this one, made from the Lace Cardigan in Eyelet Pattern, designed by Margaret Stuart. It's undeniably a beautiful piece, but I never once wore it. At first I didn't have any clothing that looked right with it, a problem that I sometimes ran into back in the day before I began making it a rule to plan how to style an item when planning to make the item itself. Eventually I bought a lace camisole-type top to wear underneath it, and made a few coordinating skirts and trousers that should have made the cardigan wearable. But I still didn't wear it because I didn't like the way it looked on me. No matter how I styled it, it looked frumpy. In 2018, I decided to bite the bullet and rip it down and get some good out of the yarn.

I searched Ravelry for a suitable laceweight pullover pattern, and came up with the Shirley sweater, designed by Snowden Becker. It has such an elegantly casual look.

And here's the result. This sweater took me something in the neighbourhood of eight months of on-and-off effort to make this, unusual for me because I normally finish knitting projects within a month, or two at the outside. This was partly due to the fact that laceweight lacy knits are slow going, and partly because I wasted some time in trying to figure out what to do with the neckline. You'll notice that my version of the Shirley sweater doesn't have a scarf tie. I lengthened the sleeves because the three-quarter length isn't flattering on me, and then I had less than half the yarn I needed to make the scarf tie, and given that the yarn was bought over ten years ago, it was impossible to get more to match it. So I had to settle for a basic ribbed neckband. Such a shame, because omitting the scarf tie turns a distinctive design into a much more ordinary one, but sometimes one must knit one's sweater to suit one's yarn. It is still a very decent-looking piece, and I am looking forward to finally getting to wear it with the camisole and other pieces I made that will go with it. It may not have a scarf tie on it, but it will look pretty with a certain peridot and gold necklace that I own.

The remaining reason this project took so long was that the pattern has a number of errors and lacks clarity in places. There were so many errors and my efforts to figure them out were so fraught that I didn't document them, but I can tell you that for one thing I lost hours of work in the repeated attempts I made to get the lace pattern to work out around the bottom of the sweater, and that I eventually resolved the problem by adjusting my total number of stitches in the round so that there were no extra stitches and I could just repeat the lace pattern non-stop. I left a comment on the Ravelry pattern page circa December 2018 asking if there was errata available for the pattern, and received no response. I see that other Ravelry members who have made this pattern have complained on their project pages about the errors and confusing directions in the pattern, so this designer has been informed of these mistakes, and yet they remain in the pattern.

Please note that I'm not blaming this designer for having errors in their work. Mistakes happen, even in Vogue Knitting, where the patterns are checked by professional proofreaders. What I do blame this designer for is their lack of good faith response to complaints about the errors. If a knitting designer receives complaints about errors in a pattern, they owe it to their customers to make a reasonable effort to fix them. Not doing so shows a lack of respect for the time and effort that their present and future customers, who have paid money for the pattern, will waste trying to figure out how to make the pattern work. Regrettably, I won't be buying any more of Snowden Becker's designs in future, or recommending them on my blogs.

This project used up 125 grams of what was effectively stash yarn. I had just a few scraps of yarn left when done.