Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ume Shawl & Clochán Socks

This month I’ve got two new patterns to introduce: Ume, a crescent-shaped shawl, and Clochán, a pair of toe-up lace socks.  They’re both part of a collaboration with KnitCrate, a subscription service that sends yarn, patterns, and other good stuff in the mail, and Hazel Knits, my favorite indie dyers (and of course, full disclosure: good friends!)  

Working with others can be an adventure totally different from designing independently.  The small pieces of guidance I get from my partners inevitably sends me off in directions that I wouldn’t have thought to go in my own head.  

In the case of Ume, the featured design in the March Indie KnitCrate package, I was asked to create a crescent-shaped shawl maybe with some lace things going on.  I also knew that I would be working in a glorious and saturated PINK, and would have two skeins of sock yarn to work with.  (I put pink in caps because it’s just about the pinkest pink I have ever seen.  I may have mentioned before that I’m very fussy about which pinks I like, and this one is just too pretty.  I wanted to object to its overwhelming pink-ness, but it just completely won me over.)

When I designed Flow, a shawl with a very similar construction, I remember thinking up the idea on my yoga mat, finishing my practice, and knitting and designing the whole thing without a single snag.  Ume, on the other hand, took much more effort.  I swatched and I swatched.  My first idea had subtle cables in it - something with no purls and only twisted knits.  But nothing I tried worked out as planned.  I tried more graphic cables - winding vines and leaves - but they were too literal.  Finally, I tried this lace pattern that ended up looking so three-dimensional, like flowers or a honeycomb.  I chose an edging pattern that was small and delicate, and, in a subtle way, mimicked the main lace pattern.

The shawl is worked sideways with simple increasing and decreasing creating the crescent shape, and it’s a generous size so you can wrap it around multiple times and snuggle up.  The lace edging and garter body are worked at the same time, so that when you’ve completed the knitting, the only finishing is weaving in ends and blocking.  I definitely recommend using blocking wires along the top edge to keep it straight and pinning each lace point to open up the lace.  But don’t stretch this one too severely while blocking - the lace pattern maintains it 3-d look best when it’s laid out gently.

Since the lace patterns include double yarn-overs, I'll give a quick hint here in case you've never dealt with them in lace before.  When you come to the double yarn over on the following row, treat them as separate stitches, and knit the first one, then purl the second one, creating an extra-large hole.

My other new design, Clochán is included in this month’s KnitCrate Sock package.  I used Hazel Knits Entice MCN, a Merino/Cashmere/Nylon blend that makes color shine.  (The color shown in Lochness.)

The lace pattern is original and has this solid, geometric feel about it, while also flowing organically from the pointed toe up the arch of the foot and around the ankle and calf.  I used a short row heel that I love the fit of.  It creates this little pocket that sticks out a bit just like thee heel on our feet do.

If you’re not sure about toe-up socks, I have tutorials on both Judy’s Magic Cast-On and Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.  They’re both fantastic techniques to have under your knitting belt!

Both pattern are now available as downloads through Ravelry, my website, Craftsy, and Patternfish.  I also hear that there will be a few extra kits available from KnitCrate if you’re not a subscriber.  That incredible pink, Cherry Blossom, is a KnitCrate exclusive, so get it while you can!

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