Monday, May 14, 2007

Back to my Knitting Roots

I’ve been having a difficult time with sock knitting for the last couple of weeks. After turning out so many good pairs since I first learned “how to” in December, I have come to expect successful results. I have been quite dismayed (… ok, “dismayed” is not really the word I want to use … but I’m trying to stay away of foul language here) with the fact that I’ve knit and re-knit the jaywalker socks twice now and I’m still not happy.

I decided to try something else to take my mind off the problem and started a toe-up sock since I’d never done it before. I was having the same problem here – a gauge problem. I knit with circulars. I use KnitPicks in either size 0 (2mm) or size 1 (2.5mm). The problem I’ve been having is that 2mm is giving me a too-tight fabric while the 2.5mm is too loose … way too loose. I kept on knitting anyway – I didn’t see the point of ripping back immediately since I didn’t know how I’d do on the heel part. Well, I don’t like round heels, so I ripped this sock out too.

It seems to me that what I need are 2.25mm needles. I found some HiyaHiya needles online. They make 2mm, 2.25mm and 2.5mm. I ordered some of the 2.25mm and I am hoping that the “in between” size will solve my recent problem.

This whole sock knitting frustration was getting me down this weekend. I was sitting there aimlessly, looking at the accumulated stash of sock yarn and wondering what I was going to do with it all if this trend didn’t come to an end.

I needed to feel successful again. I could have gone back and finished that cotton baby blanket that has been sitting there, halfway done, since last year; I could have assembled those two baby cardigans which have been in-waiting since … em … so long ago I can’t remember when; I could have finished the child’s Weasley sweater I started only two weeks ago – but the “fun” part (the front with the letter “H”) is done and only the boring plain back and sleeves are left. None of these choices appealed to me. It was now obvious to me that what was needed was to cast on something new.

A shawl! I haven’t knit one of those in months. I went looking through my stack of “must knit” shawl patterns and right there at the top of the pile was Shui Kuen Kozinski’s Moonlight Sonata Shawl (a free pattern at Elann). Since this whole knitting fiasco trend seems to have culminated with the last full moon, I thought it might be able to break the spell with a full moon shawl. I dug out some of my favourite Elann Baby Cashmere yarn and cast on. Not too far along, but I’m loving it:

There is really nothing like knitting lace! My first knitting project was a lace shawl. Well, I’m not counting the pre-requisite scarf I knit when the nuns at catholic boarding school taught me to knit when I was 9 or 10. I learned, I knit, I thought I’d never do it again … until, as a 17-year old catching the tail end of the hippie-dippy era, I came across a pattern for a triangular lace shawl and decided I must have it. I bought yarn (I don’t remember what it was, but I remember it was soft and a dark peach colour) and needles and taught myself how to knit again. I was already living on my own, so there was no one to ask if I was doing it right (both my mother and grandmother knit), but I relied on the pictures and instructions in the pattern book. I remember that the shawl was knit from the bottom of the triangle up and that I started it many, many times before I finally got through it! I had no trouble re-learning to knit, but I didn't "get" the logic of the lace pattern and I remember quite well that I just couldn't be interrupted in the middle of a row or else I would never be able to tell where I was in the pattern. I am nothing if not persistent, and the shawl was beautiful when done. I kept it for many years until I finally gave it away to a friend who admired it. I just wish I had a photo of it.

I went through my Barbara Walker books to see if I could find the stitch pattern and I’m pretty sure this is it:

Would you recommend this to someone as a first project pattern?

While I was in a shawl mood, I decided to block the Gracie shawl (from Stahman’s Shawls and Scarves) – modified so it would fit my extra extra large body. I finished knitting this months ago. I’m glad I finally blocked it because this morning was perfect shawl-wearing weather. It was fortunate that my office neighbour was wearing black today and agreed to model the shawl … as long as I didn’t show her face. This shawl was also done in Elann Baby Cashmere. I can't remember what the colour was called; it is a mocha shade which is not in stock at the moment. On my monitor, the back view photo shows the true colour.


Grace Yaskovic said...

ohh I love the Gracie shawl, I have that book and I must make it, can you share your modifications since I have a larger then average body (much larger) thanks, and your moonlight shawl looks very pretty too!

Ghislaine said...

Grace, I haven't yet figured out the best way of replying to comments - so I am doing so here. I'll be happy to share my modifications to the Gracie shawl. Since I finished the shawl quite a few months ago, I'll have to go digging for my copy of the pattern on which I would have noted the changes. I'll do that this weekend and I'll get back to you.
I'm really liking the moonlight shawl too ...although it won't be for me ... I didn't have the patience to figure out how to make it fit me.

junior_goddess said...

You know, your 'learn to knit' project looks a lot like Kiri.

Addis are available in 2.25s, but in DPNs. Here's the link-

junior_goddess said...

Oh, BTW, I couldn't get my groove on with Jaywalker either.

jayne said...

Hi ghislaine, I came here the other day and you could have knocked me over with a feather after I saw all your amazing finished socks. Wow!


I love your avatar. Are you a Southpark fan? Doug and I love the little foul-mouthed critters.

I have a Moonlight Sonata on the go, and a bunch of other things. The MS is a cool shawl for sure. Takes a lot of concentration for me.

Thanks for linking my shop!

benne said...

Ghislaine, the Stahman shawl is gorgeous! Glad your knitting mojo is back, wish I could find mine. I think it's in the baby duck pen. ;-} The stitch pattern for your first shawl is one of my favorites. The Moonlight Sonata will be fabulous in the baby cashmere. You're off to a great start. Will you keep this one for yourself? I would. ;-}

smariek said...

Your shawl is beautiful! Looking forward to seeing more of Moonlight Sonata...