Saturday, October 2, 2010

Rough Diamonds

Hooray for sun after monsoonal showers! I've wanted to publish this post for days now, but there wasn't enough good light to take decent pix.

All summer into fall, I've had diamonds on the brain. Maybe the exhibits at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and the American Museum of Natural History had something to do with it,4! Ounce! Challenge! button maybe it was Naomi Campbell's testimony about midnight prezzies of "dirty pebbles," or maybe it's something in the air – I was amazed by the number of diamond motifs among this fall's knitwear. Also slightly piqued, because my design for the 4! Ounce! Challenge! is Rough Diamonds Mitts.

Two pair of Rough Diamonds Mitts

Ah, the anxiety of influence! The spinning phase of the challenge was sparked by the illuminating article, "Spinning for Crochet" by Maggie Casey with Margaret Tullis in Fall 2010 Spin-Off. I spun this steely teal-y beauty, Spunky Eclectic Light BFL, colorway Virgo, into 2-ply sportweight crochet yarn – that is, spun the singles S (counter-clockwise) and plied them Z (clockwise). It seemed like a good idea at the time, although ::cough:: I ended up knitting with it.

Spunky Eclectic Light BFL Top, colorway Virgo

I consider myself an apprentice spinner and an experienced knitter; I've long known but never really thought about how I tend to add S-twist to the yarn when I knit, necessitating periodic pauses to unkink it. Most knitting yarn is S-plied, so that the act of knitting tightens the ply; were it Z-plied, knitting would tend to unply the yarn. Similarly, singles intended to be knit as singles should be spun S, not Z, lest knitting action cause the yarn to drift apart.

Z-ply yarn

In the design phase, I started making samples with a commercial-spun yarn, Noro Silk Garden Sock, colorway S269, before working in handspun.First mitt I wanted to conserve the handspun and SG Sock is a good substitute, plus I knew the texture stitches would be more visible in lighter color yarn. The white-gray mitt was the first completed, followed by the steel blue pair, and last the speckled brown mitt.

The twist-stitch motif is a 20-stitch variation on the 16-stitch Knit-Twist Lattice in Barbara Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, adapted for knitting in the round. Handspun yarn sometimes contains variations in wraps per inch and grist – twisted knit stiches traveling on a knit background are more forgiving of thick and thin spots than twists (or cables) over a purl ground, and also use less yarn. I like the quilted look, as well as the secure grip the textured stitches give on things like steering wheels.

Spunky Eclectic Rough Diamonds

While the stitch pattern is worked on every other round, the increases for the thumb gusset are worked on every third round. This causes the thumb of the mitt to lie closer to the palm, at a more natural angle. What can I say? I'm fussy about things like that.Last mitt These vagaries are noted both in the written and the charted versions of the pattern.

The pattern phase of the challenge posed its own hurdles. Writing up the pattern was straightforward enough, but posting it to Ravelry became rather more involved than I would have expected after a volunteer editor flagged the pattern. I think that's resolved now. In any case, my very first pattern on Ravelry is finally up: Rough Diamonds Mitts!

Fiber to yarn to mitts

All in all, I enjoyed the 4! Ounce! Challenge! I learned a lot, something I value highly. Group members produced such beautiful and inspiring yarn and patterns that this month there will be a 4!O!C! knit-along. I'm grateful to the organizers – indy dyers Adrian of Hello Yarn, Amy of Spunky Eclectic, and David of Southern Cross Fibre – and to the moderators of the group for what has been, for me, a deeply satisfying challenge.


Kaye said...

Very nice!!! I love the pattern--not boring but not busy where the pattern obscures the handspun.

Carole Knits said...

Looks like a great mitt pattern, I added it to my Ravelry queue. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, I love these mitts! Congratulations on the pattern, and the finished products!

dragon knitter said...

what's interesting isthat i knit "backwards" so that i don't overkink my yarn, i actually unspin it. i usually don't have trouble with singles, though. and the way i crochet, i don't usually have trouble either way (i crochet quite similarly to lily chin, and go fast, so i don't put as much tension on the yarn)