Monday, November 26, 2007

A Doily Shot and Various Ramblings

The above doily is Burda 085/15. It's from Folge 1, an early Burda lace-knitting special. The pattern is probably a Niebling design. Most of the patterns in this collection are Nieblings. The magazine starts out by celebrating Burda's purchase of the rights to many of Niebling's patterns.

The reason the doily in this photo looks blue is because it is blue. I'm pretty sure I used #20 Coats Opera thread, light blue in color. I'm not a huge fan of Coats Opera for doilies. It's nice to knit with and shiny in appearance. However, the cotton is fairly soft. Doilies made from Coats Opera seem a bit limp and lose their blocking fairly quickly. I have some in my stash I've slowly been using up. I don't know if I'll buy more after it's gone. It works well for a lot of other kinds of lace even though it's less than perfect for doily knitting.

This was a fun doily to knit. It has a lot of the Niebling touches, such as multiple decreases and berry/leaf/flower motifs that hang from stalks. Those outer motifs, the fan of feathers or open leaves or whatever they are, are also a common Niebling touch. I liked the way the pattern grew. It has a recursive aspect that appeals to me.

The pattern's structure is interesting. It is seemingly simpler than some of Niebling's designs. Each motif is in its own triangular wedge. The lines of each wedge are straight. The structural increases and the decorative touches all occur within each wedge.

Many of Niebling's most admired patterns don't separate the motifs so stringently. Each pattern repeat swirls into the next. The structural increases can occur anywhere, and rarely follow a straight line or even a simple increase pattern. There are no lines or obvious breaks between the pattern repeats.

Is this an earlier pattern of his? A way to experiment with some new decorative motifs without having to worry about uniting them into a flowing design? Or is it a design preference, a deliberate choice to use this motif in this particular way? It is by no means the only Niebling design with isolated motifs separated into distinct panels.

The doo-dad on the stalk motif is interesting, too. Are these leaves? Flowers or flower buds? Some kind of fruit? I don't know. Each one is relatively long and narrow, with a double decrease in the center keeping it the same width until it's attached to the stalk motif.

I have seen a similar motif in a Russian-language Niebling pattern that goes by the name of "birch catkins". (I've seen the birch catkin pattern somewhere else, too, but can't remember where offhand.) The birch catkin pattern looks very much like the famous "snowdrop flower" pattern that's been published in Burda and elsewhere. It consists of catkins (similar to the snowdrops) on stalks, all on a hex mesh background. The motifs seem to swirl and flow in a typical Niebling manner, no rigid separation like we see in the 085/15 pattern.

This pattern is also related to a group of other patterns, most around 72 rounds, that have berries or flowers on stalks. A few of them go by the name of Thistle. Most of the patterns don't have the motifs strictly separated into panels the way this one does. Of course, now that I've drifted onto this subject, I can't find any links to photos to share with y'all. Rats. Maybe next time.

Ramblings on Various In-Process Projects

I don't want to leave my poor blog neglected. Therefore, in addition to the above doily photo, I shall post a bit about current progress on various projects. I don't usually post that kind of stuff to mailing lists because it's too boring. I actually do like having a record of what I was working on, the issues I was considering, and so on. So here is this week's progress report...

The sweater I posted about last week is still teetering between a staghorn cable on the front and Something Else. The cable is fine. I like working it and I like the way it looks. However, I might simply want to knit plain stockinette for a while. I'm not sure if the cable detracts from the beauty of the yarn and thus the overall sweater fabric. I've been doing a couple of cable repeats while I dither.

If I ditch the cable, my next decision point will come at the underarm area. Then I can decide if I want to do a gansey or drop-shoulder style, and if so, if I should pattern the chest area or not. I'd pattern the shoulder/neck area for sure if it's a gansey. If I don't decide to do a gansey, then what? I can still add a color pattern to the yoke. Or I could do another EZ-style sweater, choosing something different from last time. I've also been toying with the idea of a V-neck sweater for this yarn. Anyway, there are plenty of things to contemplate as the yarn slides through my fingers and the sweater goes 'round and 'round.

My diagonal garter stitch scarf is nearing the end. This is good. I am getting very tired of doing diagonal garter stitch. The scarf is roughly 5 feet long with maybe another foot to go, give or take a bit. I still like the way the scarf looks. It's an effective way to use this particular variegated yarn. I think the colors are cheerful, but a certain person who shall remain nameless implied that it looked like clown barf. Hmmph.

The Marianne Kinzel Azalea doily is sitting. I have finished the third iteration of the leaf pattern. I am trying to decide if I have the fortitude to do the fourth and final iteration. I am thinking seriously of casting off now. There are only 12 rounds to do for the full-size doily, but it turns out to be something like 5000 incredibly tedious stitches. I can think of more interesting ways to spend 5000 stitches of my knitting life.

The Frosted Ferns doily is sitting. I think it's waiting for me to get the Azalea off the needles. I'm not inspired.

I did start a new project this weekend. It's a generic 64-stitch toe-up sock. I think I was inspired by the sight of all my other handknit socks. We've had cold weather lately. It's time for my first sock-washing session of the season. The sight of all those socks, ready to wash, always fills me with a sense of satisfaction. One can never have too many socks, so it's time to start another pair.

Yes, I always do have some sock yarn in my stash; why do you ask? Sock yarn is no different from any other household staple such as flour or soap.

I'm trying Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' short-row heel for this sock. It's the one where you use yarnovers instead of wraps (or neither) as you work your way down and up. The yarnovers get knit or purled together with neighboring stitches as the sock heel grows. One ends up doing k3tog's and sssp's as each heel stitch is joined together with two yarnovers. I'm not sure if I like it or not, but I will reserve judgment. It seems rather fiddly. I'm not sure the results will justify the efforts.

After all the doilies I've been doing, a 64-stitch sock seems to go quite quickly. I'm more than half done with the first sock already.

My spinning wheel project is going slowly. I'm almost done with another bobbin of singles and thus will soon be plying several hundred yards. Every time I sit down to spin, a cat promptly comes over to sit on my lap. I don't mind that too much, except that the cat will occasionally, and quite surreptitiously (he thinks), lean over to grab the roving and take a small nibble. This does not lead to harmony, tranquility, and good yarn.

What else can I bore everyone with? I don't have other fiber projects that I feel like writing about. I'm thinking about posting a generic k2p2 ribbed hat pattern, but that will be at some future unspecified time.

I have been doing some hiking. With every snowfall, I've been retreating to lower elevations. It's interesting to see some areas in late fall that looked so much different in spring or summer. The world seems monochromatic, a million shades of gray and brown. And yet those shades are so beautiful -- purplish grays, rosy browns, sage greens, the russet-tinged gold of dried grass, the pale blue glitter of ice crystals. It makes me want to drag out the paints or bring along my camera. Hiking always makes me think and reflect as my body moves along the trail. With winter hiking, there's enough beauty for appreciation and reflection without the distractions of summer's gaudy riot of colors and sights.

I like winter hiking. When the snow gets deep enough, I like snowshoeing, too. Skiing is OK but requires too much interfacing with the equipment, rather like biking. It's a different kind of experience.

There's something very satisfying about wearing proper clothing while out in the cold. Of course, I especially enjoy those items I made myself. Which, of course, is part of why I do it, both the making stuff and the wearing while hiking.


fleegle said...

It doesn't matter what you ramble about--your blog is a delightful read regardless of the subject matter.

That's really a blue doily...don't know if I care for it. It looks a bit boring to knit. 5000 stitches for a doily round? Or is that the total number of stitches you have left?

I finally got around to fixing the dropped stitches in my Lyra. Talk about fiddly--I hate doing that. On to round 157 tomorrow. Can't wait to finish it so I can start Aldelaida. Or Lotus. Or something!

The Doily Underground said...


The doily actually was fairly fun to knit. It's small, which helps.

The 5000 stitches is over 12 rounds.

Whew! on the Lyra fix. That's great! Round 157 is getting close to the end. You are ambitious about your next project, too, I see! After a large doily, I usually retreat to smaller ones for a while.