Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Orchid Scarf, or the OK, the Good and the Ugly

I've finally finished the Orchid Scarf, my first venture into the terrifying world of lace. Guided by advice from friends, various blog tutorials (particularly Eunny) and the Knitdevil herself, the Orchid Scarf flowed off my needles. It was also my first foray into lace blocking, and my love affair with blocking that began with the chevron scarf has been further fueled. How have I got by so far without this fantastic finishing technique?

The scarf is constructed in two parts and grafted together in the middle with Kitchener stitch. Conceptually so far, conceptually so good. The reality though is that I can tell which half of the scarf I knitted first, which is OK. The tension is reasonably even and really I am just being persnickety. The second half is good, and after blocking the two parts were virtually indistinguishable.

Now we come to the hard part - the ugly. I feel I need to be truthful about what I make, and it was especially tempting just to blog photos of the scarf arranged so as to cover up the graft.

Let me explain. I've only ever kitchenered sock toes before. Short and sweet with firm tension. (Can you see where this is going?) So I began grafting with gusto applying the same principles to this lovely, light, loose piece of knitting as I would a four ply stout wool sock. Luckily I was only about 12 stitches in before I realised my mistake, and then spent hours trying to reverse-kitchener. Its pretty tricky with a fine, dark yarn that has been pulled tight enough to frill. And then I had to undo some of the knitting because I'd managed to screw up the stitch order. And then I had to undone some more because I'd got lost. And then I got cranky, because I just wanted it done. And then nearly the whole afternoon had vanished. Anyway, after much bad tempered fiddling and doing the kitchener with my left index finger between the needles to make sure the tension was loose. It was finally done. But. Well. see for yourself.

I learnt a lot from this scarf - eg dont watch tellie shows with complicated plots when you are tired and expect to be able to knit lace at the same time; dont graft tightly; and while blocking has the power to make wonky things look much better than you ever expected, it wont cure them.

I'll post a pretty snap of the scarf later, maybe in situ around Aunty Norma's neck.


Bells said...

it's beautiful. Just stunning. And the little lessons you learned are good ones - I learned all those on my first lace scarf that required grafting too. You never make the same mistake again!

Well done. It's beautiful.

Rose Red said...

It is lovely. And the best bit about the join - it will be at the back, and probably scrumched up a bit, where no one will see it!

Nellie said...

Thanks for your positive comments Bells and Rose Red!

Madge said...

Well done, brave heart! Beautiful job!

And isn't it magic the way lace goes from being a scrunched up blob to an ethereal peice of knitting with a little bath and some tugging here and there? That's what got me addicted to out! It could happen to you, too....