Friday, January 15, 2016

From Skein to Frame

In my knitting world, it all starts with the yarn.

Most all of us knitters go into a yarn shop and shop with our fingers as much as with our eyes.  We love to feel all the pretty yarn and different fibers on the shelves and in all the bins before we pick that special one that calls to us that day.

While we knitters love to support our local yarn store as much as possible, occasionally what we want is not available locally.  And that was true with this skein.

And while we have all the yarn we could dream of at the click of a mouse, thanks to online shopping, we knitters have a problem.  We can’t touch it, see it in person, or know exactly what we’re really buying until the deed is done.  (I think I need online yarn shops to post yarn colors with Pantone numbers beside them!)

So when I specifically wanted to try some mulberry silk yarn, I had to order it on faith. 

I have learned the hard way to order reputable brands and do not stray.  (Once bitten, twice shy.)

I have also learned the hard way that the colors on the monitor are deceptive. 

Strangely, the colors on my smartphone are truer and more accurate than the colors on my laptop monitor.  I won’t get into the technicalities on that one, but it’s good to remember.

When I found this yarn online, a gorgeous skein of mulberry silk named “Dusk” (a sophisticated neutral grayed violet), I bought the smallest amount available, just in case it was not as beautiful as it looked on my iPhone.  But when I got the package in the mail and tore open the tissue paper revealing the yarn, I was not disappointed.  It was gorgeous.  There’s nothing quite like the radiant luster of silk, and the color was, to me, breathtaking.  Rarely do I see violet rendered so elegantly.

Now it’s time to knit.

Here, in a series of photos, you can see the steps that I take to create one of my framed lace pieces.  It starts with the yarn wrapped in a skein.  Yarn looks better that way, so it sells better that way.  That’s why they sell it shaped like that. 

But before you can knit with it, you have to roll it into a ball.  
Or, like I do, wind it into a little cake with a cool handwinding tool.

Then I pick the pattern for my swatch and cast on.  
Here is the swatch with just a few rows knitted:

After the swatch is complete, it looks like a mess!  

My knitting lace teacher told us not to freak out, 
that all lace looks like a frumpy dishrag until it’s blocked.

To block a piece of lace, you wash it and towel-dry it, and carefully pin it out on one of a number of surfaces.  I have used a carpeted floor, a sewing cutting board (the cardboard kind that fold up like an accordion), and blocking boards. 

(To tell you the truth, the sewing cutting board is the most economical and versatile solution.  Less money, lightweight, and super easy to store.)

Then you leave it pinned out overnight to dry.  The next day when you get to un-pin it, it is the most glorious thing.  This frumpy dishrag of a thing has become as delicate as butterfly wings.  At least, that’s how it always feels to me.  It is such an amazing thing.  You place in on your hand and you can barely feel its weight.

Then, since this isn’t a scarf or a shawl but a small swatch, I love to frame these in an 8X10 frame.

Knitting swatches is a nice way to try out a yarn or stitch pattern, but instead of it being a dry exercise in self-control, by framing the swatch you are also creating a piece of knitted art.  A bite-sized gift of lace.  At least I hope so.  That’s how I see it, anyway.

And trying out the yarn in a swatch reveals things to you about how it behaves.  I had never knitted pure silk before, and I had no idea how much silk relaxes and opens up.  It stretches much more than the mohair-silk combination yarn that I usually use.  I also didn’t realize that you get such great stitch definition with silk.  I should’ve anticipated that, but I didn’t.  No wonder so many lace knitters use it.

Anyway, there you have it.  From skein to frame. 
My latest passion.  ♥

Lucky Dog

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