Monday, September 28, 2009

A Lesson or Two

Thank you for all your kind comments on the baby jacket. I'm still working on the pattern as there are all sorts of knitting manoeuvrings in it - I try my best to get them right and that takes lots of time.

All my knitting life this past week was around the little jacket and the sock yarn stash gave me a lesson ore two.

I thought that I knew my stash through and through and was aware of its possibilities. Choosing the right combination for the jacket number II should be easy, I thought. But it was not.

The jacket has vertical striping and that is very important feature in it.

I picked my first combination with my left hand and the result was that I lost all the vertical striping. There was no rhythm and the fabric was just a blurred combination of color that worked together well but did not bring out the best in the pattern.

For the second combination I chose two opposites, I decided to underline the striping and used deep and full colors and they ended up fighting, the outcome was hard and bold and cold and certainly not suitable for a baby cloth.

I realized that I had a problem and that it was time for a time-out with the stash, time to start looking and understanding. Okey, so I needed to have an interesting striping pattern.

I found this Trekking Tweed from the stash; it is not beautiful or cute. It was yarn that has been staring at me from the stash for a while, and somehow I felt that this yarn was like a kid that is never chosen for a team. When I got this picture in my head, I could not get rid of it and I started to feel sorry for the poor yarn. I just could not put it back, it definitely was his turn to play at last.
At first I though that it is greenish and quite dirty and so it needed something to make it cleaner - if you see what I mean. It needed a wash. I tried pale greens and blues - no, nothing worked until I came across some Lorna's sock yarn in color chino and that was the perfect companion for the tweed.By this time I was so tired of looking at the yarns that for the gusset color I took the first red that I came across - a safe choice. I decided that it was good enough, one had to draw a line at some point and get to knitting. And I knit on, not too happy, something was still off. The whole time I kept thinking of yellow. I was missing yellow, longing for it and made up my mind to use some yellow for the embroidery. But why was I thinking of yellow? Maybe it was the amount of yellow in the yard that was playing a trick on me. All the birch trees outside were dressed in golden glowing yellow.

Then the tweed yarn showed me his true color. It was not green, it was more like a member of the pale violets. I took the yarn outside and spent a long time looking at it and sure enough, there was plenty of violet. No wonder I was longing for yellow, my eye was searching for the contrasting color. The red was out and some violet for the gussets was in. Lesson number one was about looking and seeing.
Lesson two was about the quality of the yarn. I don't know how did I escape from the fact that there are BIG differences in sock yarns, even when the fiber content is the same. I have thought of my sock yarns only as sock yarns as they did not even count as a part of the stash. But there is huge variety in them and this group is very fascinating and refreshing. Less than few weeks ago I tried my best to stay away from the self-striping and variegated wonders thinking that they were not my cake but today all I search and look for are these sock yarns. There really is a world of them.

Lorna's and this Trekking felt quite similar when being knit, they felt a bit like cotton even, smooth and soft but with lots of strength. The nylon contend is 25% in Trekking while in Lorna's it is 20%. When knitting these two as a couple I had to concentrate on making even fabric, they were not forgiving, but they behaved beautifully as long as I knew what I was doing. I knit the gussets with Araucania Ranco, totally different from Trekking, even though the fiber content is the same. Ranco felt woollier and more forgiving.
I don't dare to call this fingering group as sock yarn group any more; it is full of strong individuals and should be treated and handled accordingly.

October is just around the corner. I wonder if the lake is going to freeze and if the winter will be marching in the next month. The fall has been so warm that it is difficult to believe that it will be happening soon. The world will quiet down little by little. First it is the leaves, some of the trees are already naked, the wind can't play with them any more. Then in some cold morning, the lake is frozen and the sound of the waves is gone. The very last ones of the migrating birds decide to head for the south and shout their farewell. And then, once again, it is the arctic winter.

And I am sort of looking forward.

Wool with you,


  1. Oh, to have even half your insight and understanding, Lene! You are remarkable.

  2. Slowly but surely, we find our way. Always more to learn. Lucky for us!

  3. I love to follow along with your creative process! Thank you for sharing.

    It begins to smell like autumn here, too. In the wetlands, the leaves have turned; elsewhere, just beginning here and there, as if individual branches ave been touched with a paintbrush. Saturday was the perfect day you wish would stay forever; now we have four days of cold and rain...
    and so much to do before the snow.
    More knitting time soon.

  4. The lavender really seals the color combinations! I look forward to the pattern.

  5. I love reading your thought processes and hearing your 'voice' coming through it all.
    Love this little jacket.
    I'm also looking forward to Winter although I have a much longer wait.

  6. What a wonderful post. The more I knit (and it has been decades), the more intrigued I become by the mysteries of color and texture. Your description is so articulate -- thank you.

  7. I love your intermixture of very technical design talk with the spiritual and creative thoughts that accompany all that. It's a wonderful window into knitting design and your mind in particular.

    Getting colder here, too, although since I live in one of the less temperate areas of the United States, it is strange to hear from someone whose region makes mine sound balmy by comparison!

  8. marjorie02:08

    Lene, I enjoy your posts so much and really look forward to them. You are inspiring! We here in the Midwest of USA (Illinois) are in the midst of a late fall, which is not surprising since our spring was late, cool and rainy. Not a good combination for us corn and soybean grain farmers! So, now harvest is really delayed. But, this cooler weather has the kntting calling to me. It reminds me one must seek the 'postives' in life and be thankful for them. I think you do that all the time.

  9. annie05:54

    To paraphrase, you make me a better knitter. Always learning from you. The little sweater is lovely.

    Here in Colorado we have had some snow and now it is warm is like Mother Nature is looking for the right colors too.

  10. Your little sweater is becoming and beautiful. Your patience with projects is inspiring to me. I tend to start and abandon too many projects.
    My home is in Northern Ontario, Canada, above the Arctic Watershed. The geese have been flying for a couple of weeks now, with a group of perhaps two hundred stopping by the river behind us for the last two days. Honking fills the air. That is the most wonderful aspect of fall for me. We are expecting snow tonight. I do not look forward to winter as fondly as you.

  11. That was such a beautiful description of fall into winter.

  12. Pssst. I gave you a blog award.

  13. Cskin99@nventure.com13:59

    Your knitting makes my mouth just drop! Oh my. You are my inspiration dear woman. WOW. Maybe I need to move North to have more time to knit! Much Love. Cindy

  14. Anonymous08:15

    I would love to knit lilliput for my granddaughter two years ols. Would you have one that size? Adore y
    The design