Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hyacinth is finished.

I haven't posted here for a day or two because I felt there was nothing to post about. I was still knitting away on the Hyacinth Mystery and not really liking it. No, that's not true, I like it, I just don't love it. I had built myself up into a high state of anticipation: it was my first KAL; it was my first mystery; it was my first time knitting lace with handpainted yarn; it was my first time working with Margaret Stove's beautiful yarn. How could the reality ever live up to the expectation? It couldn't and it didn't. I have finished with the Hyacinth Mystery. I finished the knitting yesterday morning and then took a few hours to ponder the cast off.

There's a lot of talk about a suitable cast off to use for lace. Some people advocate using a larger size needle; some people the icelandic bind off; some like a sewn cast off; some like the suspended cast off. It starts to boggle the mind. In the end I did this: Knit the first two stitches, * pass the first stitch over the second stitch, pass the one remaining stitch on the right needle back to the left needle, knit it again, knit another stitch and repeat from *. (If you are a left-handed knitter, or knit standing on your head, you would probably have to modify these instructions - I trust you to do that for yourself.) I don't know what this cast off is called but it seemed to work well enough. Naturally, I don't have too much difficulty knitting a nice, loose cast off. If I used larger needles it would end up a loopy mess. Do what works for you. There is nothing to stop you casting off a few stitches using one method, having a look at the result, assessing the situation and deciding you don't like the cut of it and starting again with a different method. (Or even, dare I say it, changing the method in mid cast off. It's not like those knitting police will be at you. Obviously, I wouldn't advocate this method if you were entering the piece in a competition - but if it's just you and the man on the running horse, well...) Here she is unblocked, just off the needles:

She looks so small and vulnerable. She's only 20 inches down the back seam and has a wingspan of 42 inches.
So then she had the fishing line threaded all around the edge. I have found that there is no need to cut the fishing line - I just leave it attached to the reel so that I can pull out more if needed. It usually is - I'm often surprised by the amount a lace piece can grow in the blocking.

Then she went into the bath. She's here soaking in lukewarm water with Lavendar Eucalan added:

If you are Sharp-eyed Susan you may just be able to see the fishing line coming off the bottom point at the top right of this picture.

Then she was spread out on our bed. Time was getting on by this stage, I was hoping I wouldn't have to explain to 'im indoors that he would be sleeping on the sofa as the bed was taken up with a mysterious Hyacinth. As it turned out, the evening was very warm, Hyacinth was very thin and she dried out in no time.

This picture of the blocking is not the best but I just wanted to get it done. I put the pins through the knitted fabric on the inside of the fishing line. It means you don't need to use so many pins and it helps to get straight edges. I didn't want straight edges on the two long sides, I wanted scallops. I can't say this blocking was brilliant. I was in a bit of a rush but she looks nice enough, though not terribly even.

In hardly anytime at all she was dry. I had to wait until this morning to get some photos. #1 daughter was entrusted with the camera and did a great job, I think:

So there she is, all done. She is quite petite and delicate. She measures 30 inches down the back seam and has a wingspan of 66 inches. I can't tell you what the newborn weighs until I take her to the post office. I know it is a great deal less than 40 grams. I've got another two 20g skeins of this lovely yarn, plus quite a bit of the second one I started on clue 4 of the mystery. What shall I do with it? I expect something will come to mind.

As if all that excitement weren't enough, this morning that well-trained postman knocked gently at the back door and when I went to investigate I found he'd left a package on the step. Inside the package were all these goodies:

These are presents from Kiki of Luscious Gracious, all the way over there in Arizona. There are two 100g cones of "Infinity" soy silk from South West Trading Company, a lovely card ( "Goddess; a woman whose great charm or beauty arouses adoration" - Head? Big? Me??) and (my personal favourite) a "Knit the Knits" wrist band. I haven't taken it off since. I can't wait to get some of that soy silk on the needles - 100g, 1,400yards and I've got two! Ohh, the joy, the anticipation, the delight. Kiki, you're the best!


Luscious Gracious said...

No, dear Kate, YOU are the best! You prove once again that a tiny pile of nothing can be blocked into a thing of exquisite beauty. You do so much to prove the superiority of lace to any other type of knitting, which makes you a true goddess as well as a demon! I am thrilled to see that the pattern did indeed emerge in the handpainted is really a beautiful shawl. Congratulations. deserve it!
ps I call that a "double bind off" and use it often. It is perfect for lace, and also for the collars of kids' sweaters, as they seem to have disproportionately large heads!

Toni said...

It turned out so beautifully--great job!

C x said...

I always thought the cast off you describe was called a "suspended cast off".

My mystery shawl is also about 20" deep at the end of clue 4. I should think my shawl will turn out a similar size to yours.

I am thinking it mine needs a sideways border added... if I can be bothered.

Hyacinth is really a beautiful colour. Did you end up with loads left over? Also, is there any progrss on the fatter green mystery? I'd be interested to see how much bigger that one turns out to bo

KnitYoga said...

Hyacinth is gorgeous! The colours in the yarn are awesome, too. Seeing it has made me want to now buy some Artisan lace yarn - will need to remortgage soon! What's this with the fishing line!? Are there any instructions anywhere on using this and blocking lace in general - I'm a newbie with lace knitting and could do with some help with my blocking. Also, do you mind if I ask what's lavender eucalan?

Anna said...

OMG Kate... the shawl is a masterpiece... it is so beautiful. I can't even begin to imagine the hard work gone into creating something so delicious. I lurveeee it!! :)