Friday, August 18, 2006

My take on the 'Lost in Translation' Scarf -- 1

When the film 'Lost in Translation' first hit cinema screens, there was a bit of fuss in the online knitting community about the scarf Scarlett Johansson's character Charlotte is knitting early on in the film. For those of you who missed it, here is a screen capture from the film of Charlotte trying on her scarf to check the length.

And here is another screen capture of it, relaxing on Charlotte's bed...

As you can appreciate, we never really get to see the detail of the scarf's stitch pattern -- it's not a film about knitting, after all ;) -- but the overall effect is very pretty, so there was some discussion on a few of the knitting forums as to how a similar scarf might be knit.

The original scarf was designed for the film by Edith Eig from La Knitterie Parisienne, and eventually appeared as one of the patterns in her book 'Mother of Purl'...

I've never been entirely convinced that the scarf pictured in the book and the accompanying pattern are actually the same as the scarf featured in the film, or that the yarn specified in the pattern is the same as the one Charlotte's scarf was knit with. In the text of the book, Edith Eig herself actually refers to the yarn she used as being a powder blue cashmere, which isn't Rowan 'Kid Classic' (70% lambswool, 26% kid mohair, 4% nylon) to my way of thinking, and the scarf in the film seems to have a bit of a fuzzy haze to it which the scarf pictured in the book lacks. Not to mention that knitting 'Kid Classic' on US 7 (4.5mm) needles would be unlikely to produce a light and airy fabric. Anyway... I checked the La Knitterie Parisienne website for corrections, but as there weren't any, I have to assume Edith Eig is happy that the the pattern as it appears in her book is the same as the one she used to knit the scarf for the film. And who am I to argue with that? ;)

So I put the project on the backburner while I considered what I might knit it in, and how I might alter the pattern to get closer to the look I wanted.

Until last Saturday, when I spotted some GGH 'Soft Kid' in a yummy red colour on the shelf at Rubi & Lana, that is.

I've played around with extending the pattern a bit, and what I've settled upon is this...

... which I don't really think is right either, but it does seem to suit the much lighter weight yarn I'm working with.

For those of you who are interested, I'm knitting it with 4.5mm Swallow 'Timbergrain' needles, and the alterations I made to the pattern were to increase the number of stitches per row to 36 and to include an extra two rows...

ROW 8: Knit across.
ROW 9: K1, purl across to last st, end with K1.

... at the end of the pattern repeat.

As there are still an odd number of rows in each pattern repeat, this does alternate what would normally be considered as the front and back of the scarf, but the pattern seems to work with the relatively fine kid mohair yarn, and does have the advantage that the finished scarf won't really have a right and wrong side. :)

I'll probably have another go at it some time in the future with some larger needles and some GGH 'Soft Kid' yarn used double, but for now I'm happy with the way my take on the scarf is turning out.


You're doing it wrong, dear.

Just over twenty years ago, I was sitting on a bus and passing the time by knitting some baby clothes for my soon-to-be-born daughter. A fellow passenger, who was an older woman, was apparently so offended by the way I was knitting that she went out of her way to tell me "You're doing it wrong, dear." before she got off the bus.

As the title bar of this blog indicates, I am left-handed and I choose to knit left-handed too. For some reason, this bothers some people. A lot. I've tried knitting the way right-handed people do, and for me it just feels awkward and wrong -- knitting may well be a two-handed craft as some people claim when they are trying to convince others that everyone should knit as right-handed people do, but there is definitely a dominant working hand. In my case, I'm way better at reversing instructions and charts where necessary than I am at knitting from the left needle to the right needle as most people do. I accept this. My friends accept this. I had even allowed myself to believe that, twenty years on from that rather disconcerting encounter, these were more enlightened times, and that I would no longer be confronted by people like the older woman on that bus whenever I dare to knit in public.

Not so, as it turns out.

Last Saturday, I was knitting with some friends at our fortnightly get-together at Rubi & Lana when I once again heard those words. This time it was a European lady who spoke them, and she then went on to demonstrate how to hold the yarn and knit continental style -- I suspect she was thrown by the fact that I was holding the yarn in my left hand and just couldn't understand why I was throwing the yarn instead of picking. No amount of explaining that I am left-handed and knit around the other way to the way she knits, and would have to hold the yarn in my right hand to do what she was doing, made any difference whatsoever. She was adamant that I was doing it wrong -- to the obvious bemusement of everyone in the shop around me.

For the past few days, I've been trying to decide whether or not to write about this latest experience on my blog as I was afraid it would be perceived as a rant, but then I stumbled upon this button* today...

You are NOT knitting wrong.
... which just summed everything up for me, and made me think just how easily a poorly thought out, condescending comment like "You're doing it wrong, dear." could put someone off knitting for life. In my own case, it was a very long time after my encounter with the woman on the bus before I was able to knit confidently in a public place again.

While I hate political correctness with a passion, there really are better ways of letting someone know that there are alternative ways of doing something which they might be interested in learning about than telling them that they are doing it wrong. Word choices really can make a difference to the way suggestions of alternative ways of doing things will be viewed by the intended recipient. The woman on the bus may well have had good intentions, but all she did was damage my confidence with her words. And the European woman would have received a much more favourable reception if she hadn't got my back up with her opening line -- I'm older now and more confident in why I knit the way I do. ;)

I love Annie Modesitt's philosophy that if you're getting the fabric you want, you are NOT knitting wrong. :) There is a certain irony in the fact that just before I was told I was doing it wrong on Saturday, the evenness of some of my knitting had been commented on. I am aware that knitting continental style is a more economical way of knitting, and therefore potentially faster as there is less movement involved in forming a stitch. However, I choose to hold the yarn and knit the way I do in part because I have joint problems and the way I knit keeps my wrist in a stable, neutral position -- after all, knitting faster doesn't get you very far if you have to stop all the time due to aching wrists.

I will most likely never be a fast knitter, but I'm happy knitting the way I do. I learn new things which continue to improve my knitting all the time -- both from the projects I knit and from other knitters -- and I like the work I'm producing now. At the end of the day, that really is all that matters. I will continue to knit in public and not be put off by the opinions voiced by a few, content in the knowledge that there is no "correct" way to knit, just what happens to works for you. :)

* Actually, the original button was an animated gif to promote Annie Modesitt's book Confessions of a Knitting Heretic, but I find animated gifs annoying so I've just used the image that is most relevant to me, while keeping the links to Annie's books intact of course -- I hope this is OK with Eklectika! who designed the original button, and with Annie.)


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Little balls of fluff

Just look what followed me home from Rubi & Lana the last time I was there...

It's RichMore 'Excellent Mohair (10 Count) Gradation' in colour # 116 , a sophisticated mix of blacks, silvery greys and truffle browns. These are fabulous little balls of fluff with long colour changes similar to what you see in the Noro range of yarns. Coincidentally, this is a Japanese yarn too, and, with 200m in each 20g ball, it just calls out to be knit into something fine and lacy.

I have to admit to having coveted this particular yarn for quite a while in a few of the colourways Paula has in stock, but when I finally spotted this one on the shelf it really was all over.

I knew straight away that I wanted to knit a lacy wrap with this yarn, but not a whole lot beyond that. So I decided to start out by searching for similar things which have been knit using this yarn, mostly in the hope of getting a feel for how the gradation might look in a finished wrap. There wasn't much out there, but I did stumble upon a real gem -- Cosmopolitan Purls' Blue Ridge Stole, which she is designing herself. Wow!

I briefly thought about using her stole as the inspiration to go ahead and design my own wrap, which in the image I have in my head would of course have to have a complementary lace edging knit on to each end of the main rectangle -- I even had a stitch pattern picked out to use for that main rectangle. I then came to my senses and realized that, as I've never actually worked a knit on edging like this before and have no idea how the stitch and row ratios work to make everything fit properly and look symmetrical, it might just be a good idea to use an actual pattern for my first attempt.

So I started leafing through some of my knitting magazines, and soon rediscovered Nancy Bush's "Madli's Shawl" in the Summer 2004 issue of 'Interweave Knits'...

This shawl doesn't actually have a knitted-on edging as such -- the edging at one end is worked from the cast on and leads straight into the main rectangle, and the edging at the other end is worked from a separate cast on and then grafted straight on to the opposite end of the main rectangle. While the original shawl was not knit in a mohair yarn, I have come across a really stunning version of it which was knit in Rowan 'Kidsilk Haze', which leads me to think it might work well in this yarn too.

But then again, there's also Jane Sowerby's 'Persimmon Lace' in the Summer 2006 issue of "Knitter's" magazine...

... which I think could look really interesting with the gradation of colour running up the centre panel and then in wider bands around the knitted-on edging. Just by the way -- Was any one else wondering what happened to the haze part of 'Kidsilk Haze' in the photographs of this shawl in the magazine?

Both shawls call for around 1000m of yarn, so hopefully I should have enough to enable me to make whichever one of these two shawls I decide on, with enough extra yarn to help keep the colour gradations reasonably straight when I start a new ball.

Decisions, decisions...

At the moment, I think I'm leaning more towards 'Persimmon Lace', both for its lighter look and the things I'll learn by knitting the edging around the main rectangle.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Zigzags and Waves

So where did the last month go? I had so many good intentions, but sadly so few of them were actually realized. I've even had a posting in mind to write for this blog for the past two weeks. I hasten to add that this isn't it -- that one will have to wait now until the cold I currently have has run its course and I'm feeling better.

In line with everything else, I haven't made nearly as much progress on my knitting projects as I would have liked. One thing I did start and finish, though, was this...

It's a 'Zigzag Scarf' knit using a 200g hank of JJ's 'Kaleidoscope' 8 ply yarn in colour # 27. The pattern is from Iris Schreier's 'Modular Knits', and was very quick to knit. As I wanted mine wider that the 10cm width of the original, I increased the number of cast on stitches for each of the base triangles to 13 (from the original 9), and increased the needle size to 5.5mm to improve that drape of the fabric knit with the yarn I chose to use. My finished scarf is approximately 20cm wide and 160cm long.

I've also finally made a start on what I've named my 'Celtic Waves Scarf'...

... which I'm knitting with the beautiful Louisa Harding yarn Knitabulous sent me as the prize for winning her guessing competition earlier this year. My original plan was to knit the 'Kimono Ribbon' rows as garter ridges, but I forgot to do this for one of the ridges and decided I preferred the way the flatter ridges worked with both the stitch pattern and the yarns. So I ripped it back and started the current version of the scarf, and I'm much happier now with the way it looks. I'm knitting this scarf on 5.5mm Clover bamboo circular needles -- I chose the 5.5mm size as I thought it would work well for both the 'Kimono Angora' and the 'Kimono Ribbon'.

Recently, I spotted this...

I frog.
... in the sidebar of Julie's blog. Given the number of times I typically start and re-start projects before I'm happy with them, I think I've well and truly earned the right to add one of these to my sidebar too. :)

At the last Saturday meeting at Rubi & Lana I went to, Sally was working on a project with some Kaalund yarn she bought from the Craft & Quilt Fair at Darling Harbour in June, and I promised I would post a photograph of the kit and yarn I bought from the Kaalund stand while I was there.

On the left of the photograph is a kit with a pattern and two balls of 'Expressions' (in 'Lavender' and 'Pacific', I think), which will be knit with the two yarns held together to make the 'Expressions Lacy Scarf' pattern which was included in the kit. On the right are two balls of 'Enchanté' in 'Lavender', which I intend to knit into a longer version of the 'Fine Lace Scarf'.

That's about it for now, but before I finish this posting, I'd like to thank everyone who wished me a Happy Birthday back in June. :)

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