14 January 2016

Reversible Lace

I started off 2016 with a post about double-knit lace. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know one of my interests is reversibility, hence my obsession with double-knitting. But what if you don't want to double-knit? There are some patterns that are inherently reversible, such as garter stitch, seed stitch, balanced ribbing, or lace faggoting. What if you wanted to move beyond that narrow category? Lily Chin showed we can work reversible cables by simply cabling 1×1 or 2×2 ribbing. What if you did the same thing with lace? What would happen if you worked a lace pattern over 1×1 ribbing? And how would you do it?

It turns out that stockinette-based knit lace is surprisingly easy to convert to reversible lace. This works on the same principle as ribbles — 1×1 ribbing draws in and resembles stockinette on both sides of the fabric. This also has the same caveat as ribbles —purl stitches are not easily accommodated. Patterns where all the right side rows include only knits, yarn overs, and decreases and all the wrong-side rows include only purls, yarn overs, and decreases can be translated into reversible lace. This works for patterns where the wrong-side row is "purl all" as well as stitch patterns that have some action on wrong-side rows. Hence, it can work for some kinds of knit lace and some types of lace knitting.

As you can imagine, this discovery has had me perusing my stitch dictionaries with a fresh eye, trawling for potential new designs. I've been shooting videos, writing patterns, and developing the new class.

The first pattern I wrote is Kintla. This is a cowl pattern based on a lace and cable stitch pattern I found in Chie Kose Japanese Craft Pattern Book 500 Knitting Pattern World of Chie Kose (Tokyo, Japan: Bunka Gakuen Bunka Shuppankyoku 2010) pattern No. 268, p. 72, (ISBN-13: 978-4579112975) and Japanese craft book #1425 "1000 Knitting Patterns Book (700 Knit & 300 Crochet)" (Japan: Nihon Vogue-Sha 1992) pattern No. 334, p. 111, (ISBN-13: 978-4529021425). I don't read Japanese, but I do read Japanese knitting charts! The stitch pattern reminded me of frost crystals spreading across a window as there is a hexagonal element to the design. I used two skeins of Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky I won at a yarn tasting. (Not feeding the stash monster! I get a victory point for that.)

I took the finished möbius cowl with me to a Center for Knit and Crochet board meeting in November in Washington, D.C. Our CKC president admired it and put it on. Within a few moments, I knew it looked better on her than it did on me. I've also wanted to do something to support CKC. Our members have been supportive and patient with us. So much of what happens in a nascent organization is behind-the-scenes. Thus, the Kintla cowl pattern will be an exclusive thank-you gift to CKC members.

This meant I needed to write a second pattern for my reversible lace class. After more swatching, I settled on "Vine Lace" from Barbara G. Walker A Treasury of Knitting Patterns Pittsville WI: Schoolhouse Press 1998, p. 218. Unlike the stitch pattern in Kintla, vine lace does not have any cables. It is a rather elementary pattern, as the wrong-side rows are purl all, the total pattern is a four-row repeat, and the two right-side action rows are identical in sequence and merely start the sequence in a different spot. I quickly knocked out a scarf using two skeins of Feza Harvest.
A quick scan of the scarf before blocking. "Back" is on the left, "front is on the right. Reversible!
I also shot several videos to clarify the maneuvers. Those will post in the coming days. I hope this unvented technique will cure your January blues!


Jay Petersen said...

I have been thinking about this very thing. I like what you have done with this. Another tack I have been taking with reversible lace is to do three rows for every two in the pattern, but I'm not sure what will happen until I cast on and try it out. In other words, one of the rows is replaced with two tubular-knitting rows.

Jolie said...

I am delighted to hear you are also exploring this territory! The downside of this technique is that it does not accommodate purl stitches. I am working on another pattern using tubular double-knitting to create a purl welt between repeats. I will be curious to see the results of your experiments, as you may hit upon the way to have both knits and purls in the patterning.