Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Meeting a Knitting Hero

A while back, I was looking at some Ravelry forum posts, and came upon a question about garter stripes.  It was pretty late, and I needed to be heading off to bed, but I thought, "I need to reply to this post!" as it was a question about how to make garter stripe fabric look the same on both sides.  This was the technique I had discovered, and it was important to let people know about it.

I wrote a short post about how I had been playing around with this technque, posted a photo of a scarf I had made, showing its reversability, and explained that I had been working on a scarf pattern that I hoped to publish soon.

The photo I posted in the Ravelry forum
I came back later, and there was just one comment to my reply...but it was someone whose name I well recognized, an expert on knitting technique who lives just a couple hours away.  I have been aware of Joan Schrouder for a number of years, running clear back to my days of lurking on the KnitList, an internet knitting community of sorts.  I was very impressed with Joan's posts; they showed a depth of knowledge about knitting that was impressive, but more than that, I sensed that she had a love of learning knitting techniques, and an almost scientific approach to solving problems. When others were getting emotional and defensive about their way being the best, Joan would step in and be the voice of reason.

Anyway, Joan showed a kind interest in the technique I had discovered.  She even suggested that, if I were going to the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene in June, that she would like to meet with me.  My husband and I have never made it down to the BSG, but it seemed worth trying to get down there to meet Joan...so we made plans to meet her.

Joan was just as friendly and interesting in person as she is online.  I gave her a copy of my newly-published pattern, and showed her how to make a small swatch using the Double Garter Stripes technique.  We had a lively conversation about technique, and I asked her for counsel concerning my pattern.  All in all, it was a great visit, and I feel like I have made a new friend!

Thank you, Joan, for your kind interest in the technique, and for suggesting that we meet.  I'm so glad we did!  I had my husband commemorate the event with a photo.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Joy of Discovery, and the Frustration of Development

Over a year ago, I was playing with yarn and needles.  I like to try different techniques and stitches, and then experiment with different ways of doing things, in the hopes of finding some new, exciting technique.  Little did I know when I started out that day, that I would discover something truly remarkable!

I was playing around with a technique called Stranded Garter Stitch, from Jenny Dowde's Freeform Knitting and Crochet (described on pp. 145-146, and also in a project on pp. 107-110).  After working the stitch according to her instructions, I began trying it with variations.  Using a combination of slipped and knitted stitches, I was knitting happily along, enjoying the beauty of clearly delineated Garter-type stripes.  After working this way for a few rows, I turned the work, and--gasp--realized the the stripes looked the same on both sides!!

I began knitting again, this time making sure I recorded what I had done that had created this effect. The amazing thing was, that the technique was not particularly complex or intricate.  But I had never seen it done before.

I decided to design a scarf using this technique.  But I ran into a knotty problem when I tried to find a way to start and end the technique.  The cool thing about this technique is that it is reversible; yet, try as I might, I could not seem to find a way to begin and end the piece that looked the same (or at least somewhat similar) on both sides and symmetrical from the bottom to the top of the piece.  I must have done 25 or more swatches, trying to find a way to make it work.  I finally came up with something that (sort of) satisfied my requirements, and knitted several scarves as I worked on writing up the pattern.
Some of many swatches

I kept experimenting, though.  There had to be a better way!  In the meantime, I was devising a way to make a matching cap.  I tried short rows, which worked great, but because I wanted the cap to be reversible, too, I needed to graft it together invisibly.  I'm still working on that one!  I did figure out how to do the Double Garter Stripes technique in the round, and am working on a hat pattern now. Here is a sneak preview:

One possible version of the Double Garter Stripes Cap

One day, as I was getting ready to knit yet another Double Garter Stripes Scarf, I decided to try a chain cast on, alternating the colors.  It worked!  And if I did it right, I found that it created an alternating chain on both sides of the fabric.  Best of all, I was able to start right in with the first row of the fabric, and by doing a similar technique for the bind-off, I was able to make a scarf that was more completely reversible than my previous attempts had been.

I've been working on writing up that pattern ever since, and finally got it all put together.  Here is a photo of the completed scarf, showing both sides so you can see how reversible this technique is.

The pattern, Double Garter Stripes Scarf, is available on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/double-garter-stripes-scarf
Etsy: Mountain Mist Fiberworks Double Garter Stripes Scarf
Craftsy:  Double Garter Stripes Scarf on Craftsy

I have lots more ideas for uses for this technique!  It is a rhythmic stitch that is relaxing to work, and it creates a thick, warm fabric with lots of texture and color.  I hope you will give it a try!