Sunday, December 2, 2007

This Could Be the Start of Something Big

With knitting there's always something new. Today I turn from a sow's ear (yesterday's woolly pigs, that is) to a silk scarf.

Since my Seattle trip I've had this skein of Handmaiden Sea Silk asking when it could come out and play. Could you deny its pleas? I certainly can't any longer.

The Gentleman's Fancy socks have bowed, stepped aside, and made way for the lady. They're finished! They're actually feeling much relieved after having those narrow toes loosened, and are putting their feet up for a well-deserved rest.

The question was, what did the Sea Silk want to be? Despite never before having knit with silk, I didn't fret about this overlong. When I was at Stitches East in October, I saw a beautiful scarf that I think might be just the ticket.

It was in the booth of Ewenique Yarns, from Bel Air, Maryland. Hanging there was a simple scarf from Jane Sowerby's book, Victorian Lace Today, the striped border scarf in the wide-bordered scarves section. In the book, the scarf is pictured in a solid lavender silk, pretty but unexciting. The sample in the Ewenique booth had been made up in a hand-dyed silk-wool laceweight from Cinnamon's Dye Pot, in Monkton, MD, in a colorway combining short runs of reds, pinks, and purples that blended surprisingly well. In person, in the strong colors, with the sheen and drape of the silk, the scarf was a revelation. One of the ladies staffing the booth agreed. She said, that was the one [in the book] that we all thought was nothing!

The scarf is indeed simple. Its wide borders and main body are done in different openwork patterns on a garter stitch ground, with eyelets lined up to form stripes, nothing elaborate like many of the astonishing patterns in the book. I think that was actually one of the reasons it worked so well in the multi-colored yarn.

I wanted that yarn, but they had no more in that colorway, and once I had seen it no other would do. I scoured other Stitches booths for something similar without success. So I bade it farewell, but filed away the thought of the scarf for later.

With the exquisite Sea Silk now begging for something nice to do, that pattern came to mind again. It's just as well that it is simple and easy, relatively speaking. I've done a bit of lace knitting here and there, but never yet the serious kind with a thin yarn and large needles. (And the silk yarn is slippery.) The necessity for the more extreme kind of wet-blocking had caused me some hesitation -- a mental blockage, you might say. I finally steeled myself to get over that last year, in the interest of completing a mohair-wool lace stole that I wanted to finish for my Mom. It responded beautifully to the treatment, encouraging me to do it next time with a little more alacrity.

So I guess it's time to give some lacier lace knitting a shot. The Sea Silk seems to wish it.

Here is the beginning of the wide border at one end of the scarf. Though very different from the colors I had seen it in at the show, the darker and gentler colors of the Sea Silk look as if they will show beautifully in this pattern. It will be interesting to see how it looks with the streaks of color running vertically in the border and horizontally in the body.

Who knows? If the simple pattern with slippery silk goes well, I may be emboldened later to try one of the elaborate ones that are mostly imagination and loopy air.

1 comment:

Mary said...

I've got two hanks of sea silk marinating -- it will be interesting to see how this looks. I need to take another tour through Victorian Lace Today....