Monday, January 14, 2008

Post-Holiday knitting and notes on my own design process

I’ve been busily knitting since the holidays – mostly several versions of Knitty’s Ice Queen in Kid Silk haze of blue and bright pink, followed by the wimple below in a pattern of my own devising. “How can you possibly make up your own patterns?” is something I hear all the time from both knitters and non-knitters. So I thought I’d detail the process that led to this leaf-lace wimple, and share the resulting pattern.

I had decided on a wimple for my mother for Christmas back in early November, and had cast on in a basic Shetland horseshoe pattern. Yarn was doubled lace-weight natural-colored cashmere on size 4 needles – I wanted something light-weight and very warm that she could wear with anything. My mother exercises in all kinds of weather, and even in East Tennessee it can get cold. So I did three repeats of the horseshoe pattern; then did simple double yarn-overs placed at the point of the horseshoe until I hit 18 inches, when I did five more repeats of the horseshoe pattern and bound off after 3 rounds of garter stitch. Pretty, warm, and won’t crush my mother’s hairdo. I washed, blocked and wrapped it for the holiday one Sunday afternoon before Thanksgiving.

Enter my current student intern. She saw the wimple I’d done for my mother just before it was finished, and fell in love with it. So I thought I’d make one for her in blue kid mohair to match her pretty blue eyes, and went yarn shopping at my local LYS. I splurged – there’s no other word for it – on two skeins of blue and two of bright pink Kid-Silk haze. Came home and decided to cast on for the intern’s version in another lace pattern I love – feather and fan – and got a couple of inches completed that very day.

Within the next day or two, the winter Knitty was brought to my attention. I enjoy this on-line ‘zine for knitters, and have used several designs from its talented crew as a starting point for my own creations over the past couple of years. But I hadn’t knit something entirely from the magazine as yet. As you may have gathered, I’m just not a pattern knitter! Ice Queen changed that temporarily.

I had already completed quite a bit of the intern’s version, and went on with my original plan. She loved my own feather and fan version, by the way, and couldn’t believe I had made her something for the holiday. I do enjoy knitting for those who appreciate it! But I still wanted to do the Ice Queen in the pattern as shown – the decreases intrigued me, and I thought they’d solve the one problem I’d run into – the face is a bit wide. I thought I’d prefer something more snuggled up to keep the breezes out.

I had already decided that I’d like another wimple for myself. My winter leather coat is warm enough, except for the leather right around the neck that leads into the collar. That gets cold! I usually use a scarf to cover my neck in that area, and wear a hat. But I don’t really like stocking caps – they flatten my hair in an odd fashion, and I’m now working in an office where day-long hat hair is a bit too informal! So I used the pink mohair-silk and cast on as directed in the Ice Queen pattern. Knitting went very quickly (especially without beads!), and I had my own Ice Queen finished in time to wear on Christmas Eve. Talk about garnering compliments – everybody loved it!

We were heading for the Midwest to see two of the children just after the New Year, and I needed a car project for the half-time my DH was driving. My daughter has beautiful blue eyes as well, and loves pretty, feminine things. I had one skein of the blue Kid Silk Haze left – and two ounces of beautiful Czech beads in the right size to make pinpoints of starlight when the light catches the knitted fabric! So I cast on (can you believe it of me!) another Ice Queen – this time in a beaded version! I finished it up during our visit, and she does indeed love it.

But before we ever left home, I was tinkering with another possibility. I wanted the same general shape, wider at the shoulders to as to anchor firmly under a coat, but tighter around the face to keep the ears warm. I liked the picot edging in both the beaded and unbeaded versions of Ice Queen – it was simple to work and an effective, pretty edging. But I was finally (and almost-certainly temporarily) tired of feather and fan. I wanted to try another stitch!

I had bought a ball of Mongolian lace-weight that had 400 yards of pure softness in a lovely light gray that would work much better than the fuchsia pink with my red wool coat! I had spent one evening at my daughter’s dining room table sketching lace patterns out on graph paper, figuring out ways to get the decreases I wanted, and finally settled on a Shetland leaf-lace pattern. I took the cashmere along on the trip, knowing I’d also need a project for the car on the way home, and cast on as we headed east. So my Leaf Lace Wimple pattern is below:

Leaf Lace Wimple Pattern

Yarn: Lace-weight cashmere, 55 gms = 400 yds
Suggested needle sizes: US 3 for main body, US 1 for face edge, circular, 24-inch
Gauge: 4.5 – 5.0 stitches per inch

Cast on 11 repeats of 14 stitches – 154 stitches; join into round and knit one round.

Follow pattern as written, knitting even rows, and repeating rows 49 through 60 (green shaded rows) until length from cast-on is approximately 20 inches (about 100 rows), ending on row 52 or 60 of pattern as shown. (Click for a larger version of the chart.)

After the final repeat of either row 52 or row 60, K3P2 around for two rows.
On the third row, K3, twist 2 purl stitches around.

Bind off with either a picot bind-off pattern (like the one from Knitty’s Ice Queen pattern) or another decorative BO. Go back and crochet an edging on the shoulder end, or pick up stitches and repeat the picot bind-off.

Wash and block and enjoy! And here's a photo of my own version - apologies for the shortcomings of the model are hereby tendered!


elizabeth said...

Very pretty! Thanks for the pattern.

Please don't quit your blog! I've learned SO MUCH from your entries and as someone who's only been spinning a year and is self-taught, your blog has been an incredible resource for me. I've pointed other new spinners to it s well. Plus, you're entertaining!

Monika said...

Lovely! I found your blog some time ago, when I started spinning (May 2007). I've learned so much from your experiences, and hope to learn even more over time. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I have been searching for a fan and feather wimple !!! It is especially nice because it ( the Ice Queen pattern) only uses a ball of yarn. I am making many for Christmas presents. They are better than a hat, and don't get in the way like a scarf. I can't thank you enough for both your pattern and the site for the "Ice Queen".

gayle said...

I made a bead-less Ice Queen, as well, and really love it. Now I'm anxious to make your leafy wimple. Though I may have to grow another head to take full advantage of all the pretty...

trikada said...

Tre interesajn trikotajxojn.