Sunday, September 30, 2007

Variations on a theme

In one of Yahoo's knitting group I belong to, Knitting in Japan, Silvia threw us a challenge to try out a leaf pattern and see how we interpret the different knitting symbols. (By the way, check out her blog when you have some time. The posting on September 19 cracks me up every time, just look at her cat supervising her garden work.)

Anyway, it seems that I have some serious trouble following given instructions. While the pattern produces some small leaves, I wasn't too happy with the end result. So, I went the whole hog and knitted a 50-gram-ball of Bouton d'Or's "Mango" into a series of leaves. And a note to myself: never, ever start knitting cables with this yarn! It's 50 % cotton, 50 % modal and has no give whatsoever.

Knitting started quite innocently...

but as it progressed, I found several spots where I'd make some alterations. Just for fun, turned one of the leaves to point to the left. The consists of twisted stitches (RS: knit through back loop, WS: purl through back loop) but at some point I'd only do them on the right side and slip the stitch on the wrong side. That's when the stalk became more prominent.

On the left the leaves produced by following the original pattern (more or less), on the right my own test tube babies.

Things I altered in this pattern:
row 3: crossing stitches. Surprisingly, the chart calls for "normal" crossed stitches while on all the other rows, they're twisted. So, I would both cross them and knit/purl through back loop.
row 5: instead of increases, I moved the new stalk even more to the right. Crossed the stitches just like on row 3 but did that one stitch earlier on row 5. This produces two purl stitches between the ever-growing stalk and every new leaf instead of just one and separates the parts a bit better.
row 5/7 (depending on where you decide to make your increases): you're supposed to knit five stitches out of just one by knitting/purling. This produces rather big holes, so I'd increase one stitch from a previous row, then knit-purl-knit into one stitch and once again, pick up one stitch from a previous row.
row 9/11: in an attempt to create a really right-slanting leave, I'd place the decrease a bit differently. Of the five stitches of the leaf, I'd knit two and then knit the remaining three together.
row 11/13: same thing with this decrease: instead of a centered one, I'd knit three together again
row 12/14: instead of prolonging the tip of the leaf, I'd make the crossing of the stitches on this purl row, while in the original it's done on row 13. This means that there will still be a elongated tip on the leave but not as long as in the original.
row 13/15: if you followed my alterations, the leaf ends on these rows due to the increases which started a bit later.

The yarn wasn't too pleasant to knit - or let's just say that it didn't serve this purpose. It was difficult to find a pair of suitable needles. Since there was no flexibility, both the increases and crossed stiches weren't too easy to make. The mix of materials might prove comfortable to wear in the summer but more likely the few balls I have of this 'Mango' will turn into a bag... one day.

And talking about bags, here's my latest project which has helped me get in touch with my feelings. Yesterday, when trying to figure out how and which way the bag, the lining and the thingies meant for attaching the handles should all be facing, I both laughed and cried. It was so frustrating, but as you can see, it's solved now. (Mental note to self: bag's right side, lining's right side facing each other, the small patches between them, pointing down. And for Gawd's sake, woman, leave a hole so that you can get the handles out when turning the finished lining!) -- This is true recycling: found the deer on a flea marked. It was framed then, but I carefully checked that it wasn't glued or anything. Brought it home, took the frames apart, washed the work carefully (and what a neat work some unknown lady (?) has done; there where no loose ends on the backside). Then I'd measure this separate piece and calculate the amount of stitches needed to knit the sides, back and bottom and sew them together to form a bag. Finding a suitable lining wasn't too easy, but just last weekend I went to a crafts fair here in Belgium and discovered a whole new world of quilt fabrics. Bought two pieces of it, and the small hankie-sized bit hanging on the right is all I have left.

Altogether I bought 12 pieces of quilting fabrics, all of which are earmarked for various bag projects. One of them was just perfect for 'Pocahontas' (on the left), and once I've recovered the dents on my pride, I might try my hand with the sewing machine again. How hard can it be? Millions of women make bags all around the world - and if getting a bag lining right is the biggest challenge of my life...well... you get the point.

Anyway, there hasn't been much time to fiddle with bags or other projects lately. Work has been h*ll, our mini team is being restructured and working hours are getting out of hand. Then there's the small matter of practically each and every household gadget falling apart, including the lights on the ceiling. Every time I climb up and replace two of them, another pops somewhere else; I've even stopped putting the ladder away. Then there's the yearly inspection of the car (passed), plenty of bills to pay, finding a place to keep the barbeque grill over winter, so on and so forth. Well, enough of complaining - I'll get back to my handbag factory.

Oh, and sorry, I haven't updated the blog lately, hence I don't think I've thanked my Secret Pal for the lovely autumn card she sent. Thanks, I loved it! Went to an open-air crafts market earlier today and took some photos on my way home - will add them later. I just love time when trees are turning yellow and gold.

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