Monday, July 03, 2006

Couldn't resist a mystery

For someone whose favorite genre of (junk) literature is the mystery, the Mystery Stole Knitalong was irresistible... even though I already have too many projects on the needles and had promised myself not to start anything new until at least one project was complete. The plan is for Melanie to post directions for a lace stole in six sections, one each week for six weeks. There is a Yahoo Group for the participants to discuss progress, questions, etc. as we go along. It sounds like fun, even though we won't know what the stole is supposed to look like until the end – but judging from Melanie's other designs, it should be a beauty.

We were give a head start to choose the yarn, do the gauge swatches, and cast on the first 99 stitches. Here the Penguin is watching over the four swatches as they are blocked...

The yarn is a fine ivory Superalpaca that I bought on eBay a few months ago. It took four tries to get it up to Melanie's gauge – I was actually hoping for a little larger so that the stole would end up bigger than specified in the initial specs. The first swatch is on size 4 needles, then 6's, 7's, and finally 8's.

I've already learned a few things. I cast off way too tightly, as you can probably tell from the swatches, and will have to devise a way around that. (There's only so much you can do with blocking!) I also tend to cast on too tightly but have learned to cast on with a much larger needle to solve that problem. This pattern calls for a provisional cast-on, which I learned to do from the excellent video from Knitting at Knoon. A provisional cast-on always sounded a bit intimidating, but it wasn't at all difficult and, in fact, I may adopt the crocheted cast-on on which it is based in the future. I've also learned (as if every knitter and pattern designer didn't already stress it over and over) how important it is to do a swatch. Or two. Or four.

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