31 March 2014

Shimmer, Oh Blue Angora

When I searched photographs for yesterday's post, I discovered I had taken some pictures along the way.

Those of you familiar with Bohus construction immediately recognized my very non-traditional edges. The point of the Bohus cooperative was to create high-end luxury garments. The money from the sale of those garments provided important supplementary income in an area that was suffering economic difficulties. In other words, knitting beautiful fine-gauged sweaters for the very well-to-do enabled women who were not so well off to keep food on the table for their families. The couture element is important for selling to the high-end market. For example, Susanna Hansson stressed that buttons in Bohus garments are plain and unobtrusive. The luscious angora-blend yarn and intriguing pattern should be the focus of attention. When constructing my own Bohus edgings, I thought about the couture nature of these garments. What would a 21st century Bohus knitter do? What details would seem classic, timeless, and couture?

I decided a picot hem would be just the sort of couture detail a modern Bohus knitter might attempt.

Here's what I did:
Provisionally cast-on with waste yarn & 1.75mm needles.
Work 4 rounds stockinette.
Change up to 2mm needles for outside of hem.
Alternate yarn over, knit 2 together around for one round (forms picot turning ridge).
Work 3 rounds stockinette.
Change up to 2.25mm needles for colorwork.
Remove provisional cast-on to liberate live stitches.
Park those stitches on a second needle.
Work one round stockinette through stitches on both needles to fold and secure picot hem.

Some notes:
Notice that I worked the inside of the hem down one needle size from the outside of the hem. This is one of those subtle knitting tricks. The hem interior is a cylinder inside the hem exterior. So it should be just a little bit smaller in circumference. The needle size change does just that.

When you join the hem together, the maneuver looks just like a three needle bind-off. The only difference is that you don't bind off. The new knit stitches are formed through one stitch from the back needle and one stitch from the front needle. In other words, knit the first stitches on both needles together.

I worked the Blue Shimmer colorwork chart provided in class. Then I needed to match the bind-off to the cast-on.

Thusly for picot hem bind-off:
After last round of chart, change down to 2mm needles and work 4 rounds plain.
Alternate yarn over, knit 2 together around for one round (forms picot turning ridge).
Change down to 1.75mm needles for inside of hem.
Work 3 rounds stockinette.
Fold edge over and graft live stitches.
The grafting of live stitches does require some time. And with this angora-enriched yarn, gentleness is required. The electric blue dash in the picture above is a waste-thread strand inserted so I could see very clearly which round was the target.
Here is an extreme close-up (that's my thumb at the bottom) of what this looks like on the inside. Observe carefully, and you may detect the double strand in the stitches just below the blue waste-thread.

One of my dear knitting friends had taken the Bohus class at the same time. She enjoyed learning about the history and seeing the beautiful work, but decided that knitting on 2mm needles was not appealing. She kindly gifted her Blue Shimmer cuff kit to me. So I was able to repeat this process for a hat band.

Then I needed to figure out how to pick up to create the gloves and hat crown. I wanted the picot edge to show on both sides of the Bohus motif. The solution was to knit up new stitches through the grafted edge.
In the photograph, you see two strands of Isager alpaca lace knit up through the purl bumps of the grafted round. (I was not able to lay my hands on indigo-dyed cashmere, as per my original scheme.) The knit up stitches caused the picot hem to pitch over strongly. I was able to encourage it back into place through the magic of wet blocking.
A pleasing result in the end.

1 comment:

Betty said...

Those are absolutely beautiful, Jolie -- and kudos on dealing so expertly with those thumbs!