Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pond Scarf

The wilderness park just north of Mt. Tremblant (Trembling Mountain) in the Laurentians is a wonderful place for nature walks and more strenuous hikes. In fact you can choose hikes from 1 hour long to over 24hrs long. You don't have to sleep walk - just pitch a tent and carry on the next day!

I have done several of the shorter walks. My favourite is the 3hr walk around Lac des Femmes. When I decided to expand the Forest Scarves series, I just thought back to my trips around this lake. It is a very thickly forested area with lots of trees, hills, streams, ponds, ferns, flowers...the list goes on. It is a natural habitat for Blue Heron and White Tailed Deer to name just a few of the animals.

Pond Scarf is Lac des Femmes in lace. The lake, really more like a large pond, is fringed with reeds and dotted with water lilies. Spiders and beetles make lacey ripples on the blue, black surface of the water and loons call.

I chose Fantastic Knitting Zephyr lace weight in Blueberry for the colour, though the scarf could be knit in any number of colours from misty greys to lighter blues and golds. I simplified again a stitch that had patterning on the return row and it ended up looking quite like a lily pad. Pond scarf is worked a little like Fern Scarf in that it has a centre panel and side borders that form from a beginning rectangle. The rectangle stitch looks like the water spiders! I decided to finish the shawl with a lace stitch that resembled an organized tangle of reeds.

There is something about the ecosystem of a pond that inspires awe. So many tiny microcosm each dependant on one another. Destroy one and the whole thing falls apart - like knitted lace - each stitch is so dependent on the other.

Knit lace - be one with the natural world!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fern Scarf

Fern scarf is a very popular scarf. It is slightly more difficult than the regular top down triangular scarf in that it starts with a small rectangle. Stitches are picked up along the sides of the rectangle to work the side (top) borders and the original rectangle is continued down the centre back of the scarf to form the centre panel. The border and centre panel stitches are then repeated in the bottom border.
There are many, many different types of ferns. The most common and the one that I took the border idea from is the "Fiddlehead" fern. This fern has a distinctive arrowhead appearance after the fiddlehead opens - hence the arrowhead lace stitch.

The main stitch is actually a variation of a stitch that had patterning on the return row; but I decided to just purl the return row and work the patterning on the right side only. The stitch resembles the leaves of the maidenhair fern - a very delicate lacey plant that I used to have in the garden. I'm not sure what happened to it. I'm glad that I was able to preserve it in lace.

Fern scarf was knit with Fantastic Knitting Zephyr lace

weight in Bottle Green. I have seen it done in violet - think of evening shadows in the forest - many other colours can be used as well.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Flower Scarf

The Flower Scarf is one of my favourites. I love all the scarves; but, there is something about flowers that takes me back to my grandmother's garden or to hikes with my family on Sunday afternoons in Spring, where a small violet here or there made the day! Flower scarf is not difficult. You cast on - knit to the end and cast off. Yes you do decrease and increase for the ruffles - but these are easy.

The lace design is one very simple flower stitch. This motif is worked as garter stitch in the border and as stocking stitch for the main part of the scarf. Knit Flower Scarf in pink and it's Impatience, in purple, a Violet, in yellow, Forsythia, in white, Arabis, and in green, it is all those flowers that we mistake for leaves and as a result are often overlooked.

I plant Lady's Mantle and Bells of Ireland for their green flowers and I have often thought that, if we indeed had previous lives, I might have been a green Cymbidium. (And you...?) Flowers, like children, are our eternity and lace is what we pass on, making our work, dare I say ourselves, eternal!

Knit Flower scarf and keep Spring with you, whenever you need it.

One of my favourite poems is by Ogden Nash. He wrote a poem entitled "To a Lady Who Thinks She Is Thirty". The poem is lovely - but the last line is worth repeating - after chiding Miranda(the lady) for her shortsightedness he ends by saying - "How old is Spring, Miranda?"

Knit lace. Stay young!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Leaf Scarf

Tree Scarf just naturally lead to Leaf Scarf. I could have chosen green for the leaf; but I had already used Sage for Tree. I'm not sure why I didn't use Charcoal, Suede or Sable for the bark; perhaps I wanted something soft and mossy. For this scarf, though, I did want a Spring/Summer leaf, not a Fall one, so I chose Daffodil from one of the 42 colours of Fantastic Knitting Zephyr lace weight yarn. A favourite time of year, for me, is that first week or so of May, when the tiny leaves start on the trees and the world is suddenly a yellow- green. I wanted to capture that concept of Leaf in the scarf so I used yellow and a small leaf pattern.

There are lots of leaf patterns in lace. Many tend to be quite regular and structured. Those first leaves of Spring are small, fragile and very lacey. The branches on which they sprout are a tangle of arcs and crosses, so I needed a lace pattern that suggested this random energy. Barbara Walker's collection of knitting stitches is an invaluable resource. The pattern I chose required some purling together of stitches on the return row. But the work wasn't too mind bending, so I knew that an intermediate knitter could manage this.

Next, the scarf needed a lacey border. There is a variation of feather and fan called Swiss Fan that has a small branching or arc to its stitches, so I decided to create a border around the entire leaf section with this fan stitch. The scarf is worked in two sections and joined at the centre back with either a three-needle bind off or Kitchener Stitch.

When I graft lace, I pin the two sections to be grafted out on a blocking board facing each other. I then slowly remove the needles or blocking wires just a little, pinning down the few live stitches that are released. I then graft them together. I repeat this process until both sections are seamlessly :) joined!

I joined the original scarf with a three-needle bind-off and it looks just lovely, so you can take your pick. Leaf scarf makes a pretty shoulder cover-up.
Don't limit yourself to the colours I mentioned earlier, either. Leaves in the moonlight can be blue, silver or grey and then there are all the colours of the Autumn leaves. Buy extra yarn, cast on more stitches and turn Leaf Scarf into a stole. Make the border twice as wide and twice as long, if you are going to do this, for porportion.

It's the end of February to-day and snowy and cold up here. I just want to run out side and see leaves! Where is that scarf? It's a great substitute!

Nature and Lace

I am often asked where I get my ideas for the lace scarves and shawls that I design. I decided to create a blog to work through some of these ideas. I hope it helps.

First, I like to work with groups of ideas. I find that one idea leads to another much easier this way. Also, I like a continuity to what I do. You will often see stitches repeated, perhaps in several variations within any one of my lace projects. Again for continuity, I rarely use more than 3 different stitch patterns in any one garment.

My first complete series or groupings is the Forest Scarves and my first design within that series is the "Tree Scarf."

Tree Scarf began with the idea of trying to capture the texture of bark in lace. I have a Sugar Maple tree in my back yarn. Its bark is a vertical pattern of grooves. I began flipping through stitch dictionaries looking for - OK, a "groovy" pattern. The drop stitch pattern I choose said vertical grooved bark to me. Now I needed a lacey start and finish. The classic bird's eye pattern was a tough choice because there were so many gorgeous patterns to choose from. I decided on Bird's Eye because it's an old Shetland lace pattern and trees are old. Birds nest in trees. Plus the openness of the design could look both like the leaves and debris that collects at the bottom of the tree as well as those leaves and branches that form the top expanse of the tree.

It was only when I took a picture of the finished scarf in a cherry tree, also in the garden, that I noticed a completely different bark pattern.

I have begun to look closely at the bark pattern of trees. I guess that Botanists do this all the time. Anyway, every tree is different. Perhaps there will be more tree scarves in future.

Tree was knit in Fantastic Knitting Zephyr lace weight yarn - colour sage. Tree, of course, can be worked in lots of different colours - sable, suede, darker greens, golds. You decide.