Sunday, August 19, 2007

Swan Lake Update

Here is Swan Lake, displayed as worn by the best available model:

I'm sorry I doubted Melanie's design – right up to the moment of draping it over the hanger. I really wasn't sure about the "asymmetry thing."

Pattern: Swan Lake Stole ("Mystery Stole 3) by Melanie Gibbons
Yarn: Colourmart Smooth Silk 8/56NM, doubled, 220 gm
Needles: Addi Lace Needles size 3.75 (US #5)
Size: 23" x 85"

According to Melanie's description of the pattern, the pointed end begins with the traditional Wings of the Swan lace pattern, which splits in half and continues up the sides of the point and along the edges of the first two thirds of the stole as a border... In the ballet, "there are several dances by the swan maidens, but this one is done by four dancers, each holding to the next one, moving in unison doing the pas de chat step. Pas de Chat means literally step of the cat, so using the Cat’s Paw lace design seemed natural in this stole. The final third of the stole is a wing. It obviously fits as the swan part of the theme, but the single wing with the more formal first part of the stole also alludes to Odette’s cursed existence as both swan and princess."


If you haven't seen the ballet recently, here is an excerpt with Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn:


and an excerpt from an alternative version by the Rudolf Nureyev and Miss Piggy:

and another from the extraordinary Ballet Trockadero:

Added at 7:15 PM:
In response to a comment, here is a picture of the back of the stole:

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Last Days of the Swan

Today is a milestone. The Swan Lake Stole (the stole formerly known as "Mystery Stole 3") is officially finished. It has been pinned out on puzzle blocks with blocking wires and pins and is waiting patiently to dry. What a back-breaking task! (Who ever said that knitting isn't hard work???)
The jury is still out on whether I like it or not. The "wing" section is beautiful; here is a close-up:
In fact, both sections are beautiful – I'm just not sure I like them together. I can imagine doing two more stoles, one using a symmetrical version of the first part, and another with two wings. In fact, when Melanie writes up the pattern for sale, I think she is going to offer all three options. The true test will be to see it worn, after it is finished blocking.

And now onto other things!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Trouble Visualizing

Now that Clue 6 of Mystery Stole 6 is complete, I am really having trouble visualizing it, perhaps even more so than before. The "wing" (the section on the left in the photo) indeed looks like a feathered object, but how it is going to fit together once the final section is added is a Major Mystery. And how the finished garment is going to be worn is an even greater Mystery! But onward we knit, all 6,000 of us, or at least some substantial percentage of that number that hasn't given up (or is waiting to see photos of the Early Birds' finished objects).

While in between clues, R's gray-and-white socks received Finished Object status. Here they are, modeled by the recipient:

They are Queen Kahuna's Crazy Toes & Heels socks, knit together on two circular needles. This poor pair of socks was a long time in the knitting. They kept getting lost (misplaced? stored carefully in a clever location?) and spent 3 days keeping me sane during a surprise hospital visit in May. The yarn is scrumptious Lisa Souza hand-dyed sock yarn, knit on #1 needles. This was my third pair of CT&H socks, so they should have been easy, but maybe I just had too many bad associations with where I had worked on them, so it took a while to get around to finishing them. And then finally came the bind-off, as always too tight. Now that they are finally done, they are a perfect fit, and R is very pleased with his first pair of hand-knit socks.

As for that bind-off, the first time I just tried binding off with a larger (#4) needle. That didn't do it though -- he couldn't even get it over his instep. Next I tried K2 tog, return to left needle and repeat (there may be a name for this bind-off but I don't know what it is), but that was also too tight. Finally I discovered Peggy's Stretchy Bind-off, and that did the trick. For K2,P2 ribbing this involves K2, M1, P2, M1, etc. across the row before the bind-off, and then doing a regular bind-off but slipping the M1's instead of knitting them. The M1's are created by creating a half-hitch loop, so you are essentially adding extra yarn to the edge before the actual bind-off. I may try this technique on lace that is going to be heavily blocked, since tight bind-offs can be a problem there too.

After all that gray I was feeling color-deprived so I cast on for another pair of socks in blue and green. Again based on CT&H for the basic pattern, these have the garter rib on the top and the cuff from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks. They are really zipping along quickly, but I had reached the point where it is time to start the heel turn when we were about to head off the the wilds of New York City and I needed something simple for knitting on the train, so I started another pair:

Never having used self-striping yarn before, I thought it would be a good idea to start both socks at the same place in the yarn repeat. But look what happened... they aren't the same. It looks like one ball was wound in the opposite direction from the other. NOT that anybody would notice once they are on the feet, but it is interesting... I also decided, several inches along, that the garter rib didn't look good in this yarn, so they were frogged back to the top of the toe and started again in plain stockinette.

For somebody who always thought that knitting socks was a waste of time (who can see them, anyway?) I seem to be becoming addicted. It's nice wearing non-black socks that look interesting and actually fit properly!

Friday, August 03, 2007

While we wait...

While we were waiting for the next clue of MS3, I finished the Merging Colors Arioso Scarf by Candace Eisner Strick. Unfortunately, the photo doesn't do it justice. Knit in lovely fine merino wool with three strands at a time, the colors are changed one strand at a time, with the result that the color changes are very gradual. I actually eliminated the last color, because the scarf was already long enough. The pattern is easy to knit, though there were several errors in the instructions, but once I figured out how to fix the errors it was a good in-the-car or knit-in-public project. (I must confess that I was extremely irritated to find errors in a pattern purchased as part of a kit. If errors are reported, it wouldn't be difficult or expensive to send retailers an addendum to include with the kits.) Only three rows of each 30-row repeat require close attention, and the rest is easy. Much though I dread the coming (too soon) cold weather, I am looking forward to wearing this scarf.

This morning we got Clue 5 for MS3. Though I had needles poised and ready when it finally came out at 7:30 AM, I gasped when I read through the instructions. Melanie has done something very unusual and mysterious this time with the design. The theme has been revealed to be Swan Lake, and the next part of the stole is to be shaped like a wing. All my brain could say was "Does not compute." There is always the option of repeating the first half and grafting the two sides together to make a symmetrical shawl, which certainly be some participants' choice, but the intended design may be wonderful, as Melanie's designs have been in the past. In response to the pleading of several bewildered KAL members, Melanie posted a schematic of the complete stole, which cleared the fog somewhat, so I am ready to plunge ahead, but anxiously awaiting the early photos of the fast knitters in the KAL group!