Yes, please

By JC | September 16, 2014

One of the best parts of Knitty is the Cool stuff! page. It always alerts me to stuff I want to check out further. Case in point: Everyday Lace by Heather Zoppetti. Jillian’s review had me popping over to Ravelry to check out the book’s patterns.

I like the Manor Ridge Shrug, though I don’t know where I’d wear a shrug. Still, I’m tempted to knit one. Maybe then I’d figure out where to wear it.

I like the Bellemont Cardigan, though I’d probably raise the neckline, shorten the body, add waist shaping, and change it from a raglan to a set-in sleeve garment (seamless, of course!). Oh, and I might change the lace panel too. I guess what I’m saying is that I like the idea of a lace panel flowing out from the base of a square neck opening.

And I like the Pequea Shell. Lace straps on a tank? Yes, please!

But that got me thinking. Wouldn’t be fun to have a solid panel behind the lace? In a contrast color, so it would peek through the lace? Ooh, I have just the yarn in my stash:

Twisted Sisters Essential

Twisted Sisters Essential

It’s Twisted Sisters Essential, a fascinating 60/40 blend of hemp (breathability, durability) and silk (shine). Purchased on sale (I admit it, I’m a sucker for sale bins), it’s been stewing in my stash for… two years? more? just waiting for the right project. Imagine: lace straps in purple, with lime green popping through. Or maybe not just the straps of a tank, but the entire upper front of a short-sleeve V-neck. With the trim in lime green, of course.

Vine Lace sample

Vine Lace, always a favorite

Yeah. That could be fun. But I don’t dare get started on it. Sheesh, you wouldn’t believe the number of UFOs I already have piled up.

Elizabeth

By JC | September 7, 2014

Remember the stitch map I showed you the other day for the Elizabeth edging?

Elizabeth edging

That stitch map prompted this swatch:

Elizabeth edging

I think I prefer this edging over the Coronet edging; as it turns out, I’m not terribly fond of its giant eyelet. But if I were to design a crescent shawl? I might have to audition a few other edgings first. Hmm, maybe if Coronet’s giant eyelet were replaced by a cluster of yarn overs, like Elizabeth’s cluster of five yarn overs…

Instant inspiration

By JC | September 5, 2014

This morning I read Hunter Hammersen’s blog post on Everyday Lace, and do you know what caught my eye? Not the eloquent account of the book’s virtues. Not the pictures of the pretty projects.

It was the trim at the bottom of the purple tunic. With a biased sort of lace mesh and a sawtooth edge, it might’ve been knit as a sawtooth edging from which stitches were picked up for the body of the tunic. (Who knows? I haven’t seen the book yet.) But looking at that trim, what grabbed me was this thought: What if you used the Channel Islands cast-on, and arranged its picots under the decrease lines of a lace mesh?

I’ve long been a fan of the Channel Islands cast-on – so stretchy! such wonderful sproing! And it looks fabulous under k1, p1 rib, with the cast-on’s picots arranged under the k1 ribs.

Channel Islands CO and rib

But lace on top of a Channel Islands cast-on? It needed to be tried immediately.

Channel Islands CO and lace mesh

Yup. I think it looks pretty sweet. I gotta file this trick away in the “use this in a design someday” category.

Coronet, addendum

By JC | September 4, 2014

The original plan was to map a doily pattern and convert it to a wedge shape. But once that was done, I found I couldn’t stop fiddling.

Looking at the stitch map for the wedge, I noticed that it would be possible to knit Coronet in the round without ever having to shift the beginning-of-rounds marker. Consider this highlighted section:

Coronet in the round

The “gotcha!” is that, on three rounds within the hex mesh section, you’d need to keep the beginning-of-rounds marker in the middle of a double yo. That might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Ooh! What if the repeated and extra sections were defined differently?

Coronet wedge, v2

Ha! A lot of the wedge’s funkiness goes away.

Coronet wedge, v2

Also: what about using the last few rows as an edging, say, to a crescent shawl?

Coronet edging

Mm, yes, that could be fun.

Coronet edging

Coronet, step 2

By JC | September 3, 2014

Okay, this was the fun part: color-coding the in-the-round stitch maps for Coronet, using one color for the repeated stitches and another for the “extra” stitches needed to balance the pattern when working it flat.

Coronet, part C, color coded

Coronet, parts A and B, color coded

I went the high-tech route, exporting the stitch maps as PDFs and tweaking them in Illustrator. But low-tech routes are possible too: saving a stitch map as a PNG and annotating it in any drawing program, or even printing a stitch map and having at it with colored pencils.

Was this color-coding really necessary? I suppose not, but it helped with the next step of the process. And, like I said, it was fun.

Next up was creating a new stitch map for use flat, as a wedge. Using the color coding as a guide, and entering each row in the form of “*repeated stitches, rep from *, extra stitches,” I did fine through row 32.

CoronetWedge-v1

At row 33, I ran into a hiccup. To get all the stitches to line up nicely, it had to start one stitch further to the right. Fine, fine, so I added selvedge stitches to the wedge, then continued entering the remaining rows.

Coronet wedge

And ta da! Okay, so the final stitch map is shaped kind of funny. It looks too narrow in the first few rows. Would the extra-large eyelets created on rows 10 and 11 “balloon out” and let the final fabric take a proper wedge shape? Or would the initial rows need to be modified? Swatching would give the answer, of course.

Coronet, step 1

By JC | September 2, 2014

Over the weekend I was seized by the need to map a lace doily pattern and convert it to a wedge shape. (You know, because I just can’t get enough charting in my life.) I chose Coronet, from Marianne Kinzel’s First Book of Modern Lace Knitting.

The first step was converting the lingo. Kinzel uses “K.1B” for “knit 1 through back loop,” Stitch-Maps.com uses “k1 tbl;” Kinzel uses “M.2” for “knit into front and back of next st,” Stitch-Maps.com uses “(k1, p1) in next st;” blah, blah, blah. Actually, that was about it for abbreviations. Really, the most substantial substitution was using “*yadda, repeat from *” rather than “[yadda] 6 times” so that Stitch-Maps.com could draw a variable number of horizontal repeats.

Entering just a couple rounds at a time so I could catch my goofs along the way, I started building up the stitch map, paying close attention to the double yo: Kinzel could just say, “on following rows, knit into one yo and purl into the other,” but that language doesn’t fly at Stitch-Maps.com. So I carefully entered phrasing like “Round 26: *K6, p1, [k3, p1] 4 times, repeat from *.” Yeah, it was tedious, but I was liking the results:

Coronet, parts A and B

Until I got to round 33, where Kinzel instructs the knitter to move the beginning-of-rounds stitch marker one stitch to the left. Whoops. Stitch-Maps.com doesn’t handle that sort of thing. (I’m gonna have to re-think that limitation.) So I cheated, creating two stitch maps for Coronet: one for Kinzel’s parts A and B, shown above, and another for part C:

Coronet, part C

More fun ensued, converting these stitch maps for knitting a doily in the round into a single stitch map for knitting a wedge shape flat. But that’ll wait for another blog post.

New Vintage Lace

By JC | August 26, 2014

Have you seen New Vintage Lace? I love this book! Andrea Jurgrau takes vintage doily patterns, lifts out and rejiggers their intricate motifs, and reinvents them as stunning hats, scarves, stoles, and shawls.

It’s a fabulous idea, really. Those vintage patterns contain motifs unlike any in today’s stitch dictionaries: starbursts, overlapping petals, and lush leaves, often placed on a backdrop of open mesh. They’re really quite spectacular… and yet, until New Vintage Lace, I haven’t seen many contemporary designers making use of these motifs.

What can I say? I’ve been inspired. I’m itching to go through some of my vintage pattern books – like Gloria Penning’s Danish Lace Treasures – and see the doilies as stitch maps. More to the point: to tease out wedge shapes that could be used in wedge shawls. Ooh, wouldn’t that be fun?

I’ve already fiddled around with a couple patterns from New Vintage Lace, creating wedges from the Peaseblossom Doily:

Peaseblossom wedge

And the Sand Dollar Wrap:

Sand Dollar wedge

See those double yo on rounds 3, 5, and 7? It seems a lot of vintage patterns use them instead of today’s more typical yo, k1, yo. You get a very different appearance! One large eyelet, instead of two little ones flanking a skinny little k1 column.

New Vintage Lace also has me thinking about taking the last several rounds of a doily pattern, and using them as the slightly flared edging of a stole like Jurgrau’s Cherry Blossom Stole, or as part of a crescent shawl like her Diospryros Wrap. Consider he final rounds of the Elizabeth doily from Gloria Penning’s Knitted Heirloom Lace III:

Elizabeth

Wouldn’t that make a lovely edging?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some more fiddling around to do.

A change of heart

By JC | August 25, 2014

You know how I said Stitch-Maps.com would throw up its hands and say, “I can’t do that” when asked to draw a cable cross on a WS row? Well, I’ve been convinced of another approach. Tech editor extraordinaire Karen Frisa has pointed out that a cable cross abbreviation can be interpreted in a couple ways.

I had been planning on interpreting them like other knitting abbreviations – namely, in terms of what-you’ll-do, regardless of whether it’s a RS or WS row. This affects the appearance on the RS, hence my WS conundrum.

But they can also be interpreted in terms of what-you’ll-see. If 2/1 LPC means “do what ya gotta do, such that on the RS you see two knits crossing up and to the left over one purl,” then 2/1 LPC will be worked differently on RS and WS rows… but you’ll get the same appearance on the RS, so the same symbol can be used on both RS and WS rows.

Privately, another tech editor – one that I respect greatly – concurred with Karen. And so Stitch-Maps.com will accept cable abbreviations on both RS and WS rows, without any silly “We’re unable to work whatever on a WS row” error messages. And its key will define how to work cable crosses on both RS and WS rows. I figure this approach ought work well 99.99% of the time, if not more.

Still, interpreting some abbreviations as what-you’ll-do and others as what-you’ll-see gives me a slight case of the heebie-jeebies. But that’s just because I’m a nut for consistency. Don’t worry, I’ll get over it.

The WS conundrum

By JC | August 21, 2014

Cable crosses are typically worked on right-side rows. But what if Stitch-Maps.com is asked to draw a cable cross on a wrong-side row? What should it do then?

Take 2/2 RC, for example.

2/2 RC

It’s defined as “Slip 2 sts to cn and hold in back, k2, k2 from cn” – that is, knit all the stitches. That’s why the symbol contains four little vertical lines: each is meant to represent a knit stitch.

But if 2/2 RC is placed on a WS row via written instructions like these:

Row 1 (WS): K4, 2/2 RC, k4.

Then the symbol doesn’t make sense anymore. Knitting on the wrong side creates purl stitches on the right side. If you maintain that symbols ought to show the right-side view of each stitch – as I really, truly do, because that’s how you get charts that resemble knitted fabric – then the symbol you’d need to display would look something like this, which uses dots to stand in for purl bumps:

2/2 RC on WS

So far, the approach I’ve taken at Stitch-Maps.com has been to define symbols for representing both the right- and wrong-side view of each stitch. In many cases that’s been pretty easy, because many stitches come in RS/WS complement pairs: knit is the flip side of purl, M1L is the flip side of M1Lp, and k2tog is the flip side of p2tog.

RS/WS complements

In a few cases, I’ve had to invent some symbols – for example, to represent Japanese cluster stitches like yo-k2-pyo when worked on the wrong side rather than the right side.

Yo-k2-pyo symbols

But is this the right approach for cable crosses? Does Stitch-Maps.com really need right-side and wrong-side versions of 48 cable cross symbols? I have to imagine that having 96 cable cross symbols – half of which would rarely, if ever, appear in a stitch map – in the key would make the key unbearably long and difficult to wade through.

So here’s what I propose. For starters, Stitch-Maps.com won’t try to draw cable crosses on wrong-side rows. Rather, when asked to do so, it’ll display an error message like this one:

screenshot

If this proves too limiting, additional symbols can be added to the key later, on an as-needed, case-by-case basis. In the meantime, if anyone really wants cable cross symbols to appear on both odd- and even-numbered rows, it would be possible to enter the stitch pattern as a series of all-RS rounds, not alternating right- and wrong-side rows.

Your thoughts?

Where to draw the line?

By JC | August 19, 2014

With hundreds of possible cable crosses, where should Stitch-Maps.com draw the line? Which cable crosses should it support, at least at first?

To figure this out, I pulled a dozen stitch dictionaries, reference books, and pattern books off my shelves. Which cable crosses did they use?

The results were interesting, though not too surprising when you think about it. The most commonly used cable crosses appear to fall into just four categories.

1/1 and 1/1/1 crosses of all sorts

1/1 and 1/1/1 crosses

Lots of delicate and detailed textures are possible with these tiny crosses.

Crosses with 2-stitch strands on top

2/1, 2/2, and 2/1/2 crosses

Crosses with 2-stitch strands have always been my favorites: plenty of texture without the bulk of a three-stitch strand.

Crosses with 3-stitch strands on top

3/1, 3/2, and 3/3 crosses

Bold crosses with 3-stitch strands don’t appear in cabled stitch patterns as often as those with 2-stitch strands, but they’re common enough.

Wide but plain crosses

wide crosses

On occasion, you’ll see a really wide but plain cross, typically for dramatic effect.

So I figure these are the cable crosses that Stitch-Maps.com will support for starters. More can be added later, if need be.

That’s 48 crosses, by my count. It seems manageable to me. Does it sound reasonable to you?