Thursday, August 11, 2011

Elm Row (and extras!!)

And now for another finished object whose 15 minutes of blog fame are LONG overdue...

I grew up in and around New Haven, CT, affectionately known as the Elm City from having played host in the 1750's to the first public tree-planting program in the US, two centuries before Dutch Elm Disease effectively wiped out all the elm trees (although a precious few have apparently survived).

So when I ran across Anne Hanson's Elm Row scarf, it was an easy choice for the Deep Forest colorway of Unique Sheep Eos (50% merino wool / 50% tussah silk) that I picked up from Earthfaire, where it appears as an exclusive offering from time to time (one of many creative collaborations between Ellen and Laura and Kelly). The yarn is a marvelous mixture of spring greens with a touch of tawny golden brown, and I decided to pair it with 6/0 sparkling metallic gold-lined crystal beads. Here is my best photo of what the skein looked like before winding (which really brings out the range of cheerful colors), and another showing the wound yarn-cake with the container of beads. Notice how all of the colors from the hand-painted hank are still there, but subtly blended together. As always, click on either image to take a closer look.

To be honest, I do not have much to say about the knitting process on this one, except that the project took me ~9 months to complete (mid-March to mid-December of last year), mainly because I preferred to work on it in short, intermittent bursts rather than continuously. Anne's instructions are impeccable, as always, and I found the pattern easy to learn, albeit rather repetitive over the long haul. I placed beads in the convenient little grooves running down the center of each elm leaf: 3 beads per leaf for 7 pattern repeats at either end, and 1 bead per leaf everywhere else.

The scarf was designed to be knitted in one piece from top to bottom, but I wanted the ends to match when worn, and so set out to knit two identical pieces that would meet in the middle, with the graft neatly concealed at the back of the wearer's neck. I came up with a convenient way to ensure that two pieces coming from either direction would meet up, by ending at two different rows so that the lace pattern would align properly. Two web resources helped me hone my Kitchener technique: this Knitty editorial and this YouTube video.

The finished piece blocked out to an impressive 13 1/2” wide x 72” long!! It used up 35 g from the 50 g skein, with a total of 370 beads. Here are some pictures. The long, skinny one running down the left side shows how it looked from end to end, pinned out on a queen-sized bed. To the right is a photo of the graft (with apologies for the grid of the blocking cloth peeking through from underneath), and below are several closeup views of the lace fabric after the blocking wires were removed, two focused on the heavily beaded portion at the end of the stole, and one higher up with fewer beads. I feel thoroughly enchanted with the finished effect of this piece, because the pattern has such a rich texture and depth to it. The Eos seems to glow from within (it must be the silk content, right?), and the beads add a perfect touch of sparkle, like drops of dew glinting in the morning sun. As always, click on any image to view an enlargement.

As luck would have it, I finished the stole with leftover materials just in time for the release of Anne's follow-up design: Elm Leaves wristlets, where the same organic lace motif appears as a dainty ruffle dangling from a ribbed cuff. I added 3 beads per leaf to match the ends of the stole, and voilĂ .

Each cuff needed only a short time to knit, never mind the fact that I took a rather sizable break in between the two, but let me say that 4” is an awful lot of ribbing with lace-weight yarn and 2.75 mm needles... These are definitely meant more as decorative accessories than strictly functional garments, but I still find them surprisingly warm to wear. They will complement the stole beautifully. :-)

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