Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A FF&L Lace Primer, Part II

A bit more of what I learned on this project:
(Note: I'm publishing this out of order - it was actually completed after Part 1 - so that all the FF&L items are neighboring each other in some semblance of order...)

Gritty Hint 3: If you haven't used that yarn with those needles before, please consider making a swatch to make sure you like the fabric you're producing. "Lace weight" seems to be all over the place, from gossamer to cobweb and on up. There are a lot of hours invested on this thing - so from a generally-non-swatcher to another, I'm glad I did - I went down two needle sizes.

Gritty hint 4: I used orthodontic rubber bands as stitch markers. The bitty rubber bands don't take up so much room that they distort the knitting. Yep, they occasionally do slip around yarn-overs (as do other kinds), so keep your wits about you.

I know wise knitters who make their own markers from small bits of crochet cotton, leaving long tails so you can can weave them into the knitting as you go. I couldn't make it work well for me, though. I spent too much time tending tails.

Gritty hint 5: Pretty soon, all those markers just got in the way and slowed me down. I removed them all except the one marking the change from frost flowers to leaves near the end of the row, and also the end-of-round marker. At first, it feels sort of like a Flying Wallenda might feel without a net. But soon, it's wonderful. Put another way, now you can feel the full music and the rhythm of the pattern. You're singing a song instead of a bunch of phrases.

Gritty hint 6: I just did away with lifelines altogether. They were a pain in the butt, and it was more difficult to knit the next row than without it. Besides, I was using the skinniest dental floss I could find, having made a special trip to get it, too. (I prefer a different kind for my mouth.) I bought mint-flavored by mistake. Yuck! I wonder if the smell of mint is as unpleasant on wool/silk to potential wool/silk munching critters as it was to me. I was glad when I finally got to dunk that shawl in a bath.

Gritty hint 7: Watch for that moving row marker in FF&L. Though they tell you about it elsewhere in the book (page 3), the techniques are not all in the same spot. Here's what you do: Knit up to the marker. Remove the marker. Knit one stitch. Replace the marker. Continue on and do it again, natch, for each corner where you repeat that line of the chart from the beginning again.

Gritty hint 8: When you think you did all seven repeats in chart 2, check the stitch count. You should have 1388 stitches in the round (or 347 per side). I didn't, and couldn't believe I had to knit the damn chart again, one more time.

Gritty hint 9: When the book tells you to cast on the edge stitches, it's time to read Robert Powell's essay regarding edge grafting first. It's in the Gallery section of A Gathering of Lace, beginning on on page 159, in a section unrelated to FF&L.

To paraphrase it: Knit an entire pattern repeat of the edging before you begin attaching it to the shawl. Use a contrasting color to knit the first "live" row at the beginning of the second pattern repeat, attaching the edging to the shawl as indicated. Change to the main color at the beginning of the second row. Knit on and on and on......through the last row of edging. When it comes time for the grafting, you graft the end stitches to the beginning stitches using the contrasting color already knitted there as a path, removing the contrast thread after you have duplicated the path with the main color.

Otherwise, you'll have to do what I did and graft the end edge stitches to the beginning by the seat of your pants.

Let me say that feel a little snippy toward the book publisher for not indicating on the pattern that there was some provisional knitting recommended before I knit twenty-two feet of edging. Yes, I read the book from cover to cover when it came out. That was in 2000, when I had been knitting for a minute and only dreamed I might try to knit lace some day. I stuck a bookmark in the FF&L page at the time, and knit other stuff over the next six years. But I digress...

Gritty hint 10: An easy way to keep track of the edge stitches is to count ten stitches down the road on the circular and place a safety pin there. When you've completed one edging repeat, you will have used them all up, and you can move the safety pin after the next ten. Just remember that stitches 3-and-4 and 7-and-8 each count as one.

Gritty hint 11: If you missed number 9 before you cast on and knitted the edge, here's how I did it:I knitted a mock-up out of different yarn (bigger than lace weight,you betcha!), using a contrast color for the row that I wanted to graft. Then I followed the path of the contrast yarn in the mock-up for the real thing. Still took some concentration, but it worked just fine. MY! Those are some interesting colors...

The second photo shows the stitches pinned to the pillow so I could be sure to follow the path correctly.

Got any more?
Email me, and I'll consolidate any new hints into another post.

I know these two posts are a bit elementary, especially for experienced knitters. I think some of esteemed expert knitters were born knowing this stuff! This project, like all the others I've ever done, taught me something -and if I'm lucky, I'll learn a lot of things. Otherwise, IMO, there wouldn't be much fun in it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! I'm just starting the shawl, and as it is almost my first lace project, I know I will need all the advice and hints I can get. The pictures really help make things clear!