Monday, January 21, 2008

Sweet Dreams are Made of This

Remember when Clapotis was all the rage? The flow of all that LL L&L hand dyed goodness? The magic of the drop stitches? The indulgence of all that luxury in stole form, wrapped round not just your neck, but most of your upper being? I too was bit by the bug. Alas, I was a younger, more naive knitter then. And living in Israel with an Israeli budget and limited yarn supply. I never did find that "perfect" yarn that could do what it needed to do, so I never made the Clap. Oh, I tried, with that one skein of Artyarns' Silk Rhapsody I acquired one cold Jerusalem evening, at a disappointing "master class." At the end of the dealer enabler instructor's supposed class, which was really a push for her book and the Artyans yarns she had brought with her, I broke down and purchased some of the crack yarn. "Only one," I told myself. Only one very expensive and, on it's own, pretty useless hank. (One that I had to wind by hand as well - remember, I was young and naive!) Of course there wasn't nearly enough, not even when I frogged (have you tried frogging Silk Rhapsody, the only thing worse than winding by hand, see above,) and after that one fevered splurge, disappointment set in and I gave up.

Still, something nagged at me. I spent much of my first US yarn crawl looking for that right yarn. That's when I bought my Ming. But as I stroked the goodness of all that Ming I realized that it really wasn't worth it. All that beautiful silk-wool goodness just wasn't worth this, basically, very simple pattern. And yet, somewhere in the back of my mind, something about the pattern continued to simmer. Until now. Because now, now there is Jeanie. All the drop stitch goodness of the Clapotis, and more, so much more. Kerri Williams, you are my current hero.

Now, there has been a lot of chatter about Jeanie. Most of which is either too difficult or too monotonous. I am here to say that neither is true. Like Goldilocks, when she got to the baby's bears porridge, I think Jeanie is Just Right.

The pattern calls for fingering weight yarn. Dream in Color's Smooshy to be exact. In order to play out my post Clap fantasies, I substituted Hand Maiden's Mini Maiden. I had long dreamed of using Lady Godiva as Lion & Lamb substitute so Mini Maiden fit the bill now. A fingering weight yarn from the brilliant dyers at Hand Maiden, the Mini Maiden has 500 meters of 50% silk, 50% merino, one of a kind hand dyed goodness. And wanting a more neutral color than Kerri's original, I chose the Bronze colorway.
As I see it, Jeanie is in many ways straight forward. It combines a reversible cable pattern with the dropped stitches, a lovely braided cable along the length of the stole, with cabled edging along the width added at the end. I will admit to being nervous about the cabled ends. I am, after all, a provisional cast on novice and that bit of knitting may prove to be a challenge. But I have a way to go, so I'll worry about that at the end. And by then there will plenty of tips over at Ravelry. One tip I already learned, put those provisional stitches on a spare options cable so when I am ready to knit them all I have to do is add the tips. (Thanks Aimee!) As for the here and now, I think Elbac really prepared me for this. It too was all about reversible cables and a cabled edge along the length of the scarf.

Cabled Edge along the length of the stole

Though I am no expert, I can offer the following insights:

If you have KP Options, do put your provisional stitches on a spare cable for the knitting the ends later. All you'll have to do is add the tips and it will be a lot tidier than keeping this on a piece of yarn.

Reversible cables:
Unlike your standard cable, (stockinette columns, against a reverse stockinette background, which are cabled every x rows) a reversible cable uses 1x1 rib. The purl side sinks in and is thus rendered invisible, on both sides. Voila, reversible.

See the rib. Arrow points to purl between the knit stitches
(if you look just down and left of the arrow you will see a dropped stitch making its way down)

Dropped stitches:
Just what it sounds like. A designated stitch is purposely dropped to create a ladder between the bits that weren't dropped. In order to keep this clean, the stitches sandwiching these ladders are twisted. The twist comes from knitting into the back stitch.

The cables come every six rows, alternating in pairs with I will call Inside and Outside cables.

Chart B, Inside and Outside pairs of cables. Click to enlarge.

See the blue column running above and below the cable pairs? This is the point where the stitch is added, using M1, and is knit normally, NOT THROUGH THE BACK STITCH. Since Jeanie is entirely cabled, the only stitches that won't be part of a cable are the drop stitches. Since the cables are done over 8 stitches you have 4 sets off 1x1 ribs, but with the first and last stitch of each pair twisted. So it's always K1 tbl, P1, K1, P1 tbl. Now here's where you have to pay attention. When there is an added stitch to be dropped, your series of 8 stitches will be interrupted with an extra K in the middle: (K1 tbl, P1, K1, P1 tbl) K1 (K1 tbl, P1, K1, P1 tbl).

And remember, these cables are not just columns of cables, they interconnect. And there are dropped stitches between all that interconnected goodness.

See the added stitches. See how the stitch is added just after the cable, between the two sets of 1x1 ribbing.
(Sorry, took this picture from the back so you are seeing the purl side.)

Interconnected Cables

Interconnected Cables - Close Up with the dropped stitches inside

That's about it really. I placed stitch markers to indicate chart changes but that's about it. After a short time, I could easily read my knitting and refer to the charts less and less. I know that cables come in pairs, that after the second cable the first RS row gets a M1. The next RS row drops a stitch from previous pair of cables and the third RS is a cable row. Six more rows following exactly what's already there and I am ready to cable again. Lather twice, Rinse and Repeat.

I hope that's helpful and if it's not, that's entirely my own fault, NOT Kerri's (who has no idea who I am or that I posted!)

I'll leave you with a couple more progress shots.

Close up of Chart B.

Jeanie, about 1o" or 15% finished

Close up

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