06 January 2015

Better Late

One of my goals for 2014 was to work down through the unfinished object pile. I've mentioned previously that February is typically Knitting Needle Liberation Month in my household. At the beginning of the year, I like to look through what I have and make decisions about what to knit and what to frog. January and February are the months to clear out the stalled projects.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to the Rovaniemi wristlets until quite late in the year. I've taken many, many classes; and I typically store the handouts in three-ring binders. Susanna Hansson distributes her class handouts in a two-pocket folder. Since the class came with yarn to make wristlets, the folder looked a little strange, bulging with yarn and not fitting well on the shelf. I took the “Lapland Hand Garments” class at STITCHES South in April 2009, so it seemed it was about time for me to pull the dang thing off the shelf, knit the yarn, and make the handout folder fit. Sometimes cleaning up really is my motivation.

I decided I didn't need wristlets or fingerless mitts. Also, I had taken Susanna's “Lovers and Runders” class in 2013. I decided to combine the two by making a cell phone bag and working the braid at the top. I used a provisional cast-on and worked several rows in white -- including a row with two yarn over openings for the cords. Then I worked the braid, folded the fabric in half, and knit the casing closed. In order to avoid having a lot of ends to weave in, I carefully divided each color of yarn into appropriate pieces. I then started the pieces in the middle, so as to create two live ends. This meant all the yarn ends except the orange in the central motif were woven in only at the bottom of the bag. I worked the bag until the pink yarns became too short. I turned the bag inside-out and worked three-needle bind-off across the inside. After weaving in ends, I used leftover yarn to create cords (love my Ashford fringe twister) and threaded the cords through the casing.

This is not my favorite technique. The purpose is to create a fabric that visually mimics weaving, but there are some significant downsides. This technique is both slow and messy. The vertical stranding means you are constantly dropping strands and picking up other strands. Because I worked the motif on both sides of the bag, I had twenty-two different strands in play plus the white background. The zig-zag motif involves knitting stitches together and twisting stitches, which makes for slow and difficult knitting -- bring your very pointy needles. In terms of time, this project resembles embroidery more than knitting. And the whole thing is a little lumpy, too, because of all the strange tension issues. The central motif is not worked with twisted stitches, but it took extra thought to eliminate some of the unhappy stitches (those that don't have a proper stitch on both the left and right sides), and I even worked some of the central diamond by knitting back backwards. The twisted stitches also make this project difficult to rip back and fix. You would definitely not want to drop strands down and latch them back up.

On the positive side, the pattern is intriguing, and I think most knitters will not know how it was done. Puzzle your friends! I did like the contrast between plain knitting and the twisted knitting on the side of the bag. There's a depth and texture to the fabric, as the twisted zig-zags are raised and the white diamonds recede. I was also surprised by how tidy the interior is. I expected a lot more mess and long strands, but the vertically-stranded color traps down the background white on each round.

I initially did not like this technique in class because the left sides and right sides did not mirror each other. Part of why this sat in time out for so long is I needed to advance my skills before I came back to it. Now I was able to devise a way to mirror the technique so both side would match. After I made the bag, I went back and worked a swatch three different ways. I'll post that tomorrow.

1 comment:

Maarit said...

Seeing your picture at my newsfeed: "Hey, I know that pattern" bought me here - I had Rovaniemi-mittens mady by my grandmother when I was a child.
"I think most knitters will not know how it was done" - you're so right, can't imagine that technique even you just explained it. But the result is lovely, that's all that matters :).