Saturday, October 22, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green

Once upon a time, a girl fell in love with a yarn at her local yarn shop. She first wondered if it was a passing fancy. She resisted pursuing the relationship for a while but each time she visited the shop, she was drawn to the yarn. She would give it sidelong glances at first, but always ended up taking it off the peg and handling it for a while, getting to know it.

It was intriguing. It was super bulky with long curlicues. Curlicues that made you imagine a very curly and bushy sheep!

It was pretty. The deep teal colour was unlike any of the other curlicues that she had seen at the shop before. It wasn't a colour she used a lot but that just made her wonder where it could take her...

This girl could only resist so long before she did indeed give in to the temptation and take this yarn home with her. And not having anything that would remotely go with it, she bought some worsted weight to match. (Or she thought it matched; the shop owner seemed less convinced!)

Here is Sandy's Curly Locks:
It's a crazy yarn with literal ringlets coming off of it. It's wild.

In the shop it was used as an accent yarn on shawls made of very thin ethereal yarns. A single row of this curlicue yarn was added every 12 inches or so. It was very striking, but I've got enough shawls for a person that hardly wears them.

The yarn would also be perfect for a fur-like collar or cuffs on sweater or coat. But I wasn't sure that was a long enough lasting fashion statement to be worth the effort. I'm not making a coat for a single season's wear.

The yarn sat in my bug-proof tin for months as my mind kept coming back to it...what to do with it?? I finally got to the point where I had to do something with it--I couldn't just keep it for ever! I decided to take the matching worsted weight and to knit the front of a pillow.
I constructed it with a log cabin technique. You can see that I started with a small square in the middle, then added strips, one at a time, to build out the square. I wanted to shake up the variegated yarn so that it didn't just pool or stripe in big patches.

I used a slip stitch pattern (the linen stitch), which really helped to mix up the colours:
In the smaller squares, you can see that the slip stitch pattern settled into a subtle striping, which I really liked. As the strips got longer, the colour pattern changed, but only in one strip did it really pool in the way I was trying to avoid. (Very top strip in the picture of the whole pillow front.) Overall, I was really pleased with it.

I had considered trying to stripe the variegated yarn like I did my Belinda Shawl, but decided it wasn't the look I wanted and was more effort than I was willing to expend.

Once the pillow front was made, I did a search among my felted and to-be-felted sweaters (as mentioned in my last post) and found a nice green for the back.
It's not a colour I would have chosen to go with the knitted front, but it brings out the highlights in the curlicue wonderfully.

Next step, which took me a while to get my nerve up for, was to knit the curlicue around the front as a fringe. I knit it in the round because I knew there was no way I was going to be able to pick up stitches like I did for the log cabin construction.

This is a look at what I was knitting after a row or two were done:
Ya, try to make sense of that! It looks like a pile of mess. That's what I was dealing with! Here's a closeup of the needles:
You can barely see where the next stitch is!!

That was the "not easy" part. I have a running conversation with a friend about how knitting isn't hard. He sometimes comments on things I make, and I insist that all knitting is easy (it's just knits and purls), even though some of it takes a lot of time and some of it takes some care. But really, it's easy.

I have to concede his point on this one!! It was hard. Not impossible, but hard. Picking up the stitches around the knitted front with the super bulky yarn was not easy. Knitting the first row wasn't easy dealing with all the curlicues and making sure they didn't get tangled in the stitches. By the third row, I had got the hang of it and it was starting to "roll along." But I cast off on the fourth row, which wasn't that easy either, so that "rolling along" didn't last long!

But I pushed through because I really wanted to see how it would turn out!

Have you started wondering about the "being green" part?
Ya, that deep teal colour is rich and saturated for a reason: all the dye wasn't discharged. (Or rinsed? I'm not sure of dyeing terms.) So while I was knitting the trim, my fingers became a dark disturbing green colour. It didn't completely wash out either!Project Stats
Started
: 1 Oct '11 / Finished: 21 Oct '11
Pattern: My own.
Materials: Farmhouse Yarns Andy's Merino in Grapes on the Vine ($19.50); Our Warrick's Border Leicester Lashes, 25 yards ($25); sweater for felting; pillow form or stuffing
I hope it doesn't rub off too badly when the pillow is being used--I certainly won't be putting it on anything white just in case!

Once the trim was on, it was time to sew the pillow together. Well, first I had to make the pillow itself. I could have bought a pillow form to fit, but instead I used the leftovers of a feather pillow Troy had just ransacked to restuff his own pillow. I sewed the pillow cover down to size (while pushing the feathers out of the way) and got a perfect stuffing. I really like the feel of feather pillows.

I then hand sewed the felted back to the selvage stitches of the pillow front, making sure again that all those curlicues didn't get sewn in.

Here's the back of the finished pillow:

And the front:
sitting comfortably on my couch.

I didn't think this colour would go with anything in my house, but now I'm not so sure. It seems alright.

I have one more ball of the variegated yarn. I think I will knit a simple square in the linen stitch pattern, this time putting the "wrong" side out. (It has a nice bumpy texture.) We'll see how the colours lie when knit in longer rows. I have just a little of the curlicue left and I'm considering how to use it in the next pillow. I had hoped to have enough to knit the front in the curlicue so I'd have one big hairy pillow, but there's not enough. You can be sure I'll let you know when I get to it!

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