Back in January I consulted with a counsellor as I felt I really needed a check-in about some areas of my life. The appointment was useful; it confirmed and validated a few things I had suspected. I was a bit surprised, though, when Rob expressed concern that I wasn’t knitting and that I couldn’t remember the last time I worked a stitch. (I think the last project I’d worked was back in Sept 2010, but I’m not sure.) He also recommended that I needed to “excavate my soul” or I was “going to be in big trouble”. Maybe I should have gotten out the pickax and shovel at that time, but I didn’t. At the end of January I ended up in trouble. Not “big trouble”, thankfully, but I was in trouble. I won’t discuss it -- thank you for not asking -- except to say that I did not end up in hospital, and there are no medical, legal or financial concerns. My trip to Easton Mountain in Feb was incredibly rejuvenating and comforting. I’m doing well now -- quite well, actually -- but there are some residual things: some conversations about unpleasant topics that I am avoiding; I’m staying away from interactions in large noisy groups; and I think my priorities are shifting in an internally driven and organic way. We'll see.
As part of the excavation process, I decided to tackle a spinning and knitting project and chose my third crack at Nancy Bush’s lovely “Ene’s Scarf”. This is a simple and satisfying-to-knit design (for me, anyway). The previous time I worked it I tinkered a bit with the design to smooth out a few things I found jarring visually, with some success. This time I decided to work with handspun, and to tinker again with the design.
During Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat 2010, we roadtripped to Foster Farm to see the sheep. Brady pointed out a fleece to me: a nice froth from a Cormo x Border Leicester ram named “Oreo”. I dropped off Oreo’s haircut at the mill on my way home from the retreat, and picked up the bag of roving last October or November. (I think; I can’t remember.)
For this project, I weighed-out 1 ounce lengths of roving and split each lengthwise in thirds. The roving has a “direction” to it: spinning from one end of the length was easy going, but from the other end, I needed to carefully pull out a lot of slubs. Using long-draw and double drafting-ish techniques, I spun each third using a high-whorl spindle and wound off onto a nostepinde, joining the lengths to build a 1 ounce ball. I wound that into a 2-strand plying ball, and plied with a heavier spindle, and wound it into a skein. These were tossed into the bathtub filled with hot water for about a half-hour, and then laid flat to dry. The resulting yarn is springy and bouncy, though it has a crisp edge. (It is also remarkably uneven in twist and thickness; I must spin more roving using long-draw.)
The brown colour of the yarn has a bluey-grey undertone, and I think would be improved with dyeing -- perhaps dark teal or turquoise, maybe burgundy or cranberry, or perhaps purple or pumpkin orange. Maybe a deep mustard yellow? (I think I have about another 4 pounds of the fiber, so there’s some for experimenting.)
There’s nothing at all wrong with Nancy’s original design, and except for casting-on more stitches than called for, making a minor pattern substitution, changing the shapes of the ends and middle point, and changing the decrease rate to alter the shape of the design, I followed the instructions exactly as written.
Here’s a picture of my first working of the scarf (aka Version 1), following the instructions as written. This lives with Michele Minty, who owns the Shetland sheep from which the yarn was spun.
Note how the shaping of the bottom point and the ends (upper left and right) truncates the diamond shapes in the border. I wondered if the shaping could be altered to better preserve the diamond shapes at these points.
So, for Version 2, I did some reshaping. I retained the full diamond shape on the ends.
I like this, and did it for Version 3.
I tinkered with the bottom point as well. I’m not sure it’s much of an improvement over the original.
And I’ve had some ladies tell me that they don’t like the way triangular shawls point to the location of their buttcracks, so I removed the point altogether in Version 3. Still not sure about it, though.
For some variety in Version 3, I replaced the break pattern (the row of holes) between the border and the main pattern with a stitch that forms little "stars".
And the last change was to shift the shape of the scarf. As you can see from the picture of Version 1, the scarf is a right-angled triangle, formed by 2 smaller right-angled triangles "joined" at the centre decrease line. Here's a picture of Version 2 folded along the centre decrease line.
Compare with Version 3. (Please ignore the toe.)
People often complain that the right-angled triangle shape is difficult to wear, because the straight edge doesn't curve around the neck very well. This has a bit of curve, so hopefully will fit better.
All in all, a nice knit. It should be part of my Show'n'Tell at Men's Spring Knitting Retreat in May.
In a few hours, we will have the Official Start of Spring, and I am delighted to see it.
This is it for now.