Friday, January 10, 2014

Knitting as sculpture

In one of the Wallender books he describes how his father paints the same scene -  a lake with some ducks rising from it - over and over again. So I find myself locked in to a series of cabled throws.

  As I finished the muted tones throw, I already had a spare strip in cream Aran on hand.  Then it struck me how interesting it would be to use only cream, allowing the textures to be the only feature.  So now I am four strips in to an Aran throw, without actually having a destination in mind for the finished item.  It would "Show the muck" dreadfully, so would need only light use.

These are again cables drawn from Barbara Walker's Third Treasury of knitting patterns.

A different kind of cable, accompanied by vines. With the sunlight shining across it, the central cables seem deeply incised, almost sculptural.

And, for the central panel, this work of genius: Nennir by Lucy Hague.  This was published in "Knitty" as a cowl, knitted in sock yarn.  However, in Aran yarn the constant crossing of the cables creates a very firm handle.  The link with Celtic crosses is more obvious here.

I took this to a knitting group recently, to gasps of amazement, but the chart makes all clear, once the rhythm is established.  You will, of course have noticed the mistake I made in the knitting?
Edited to add: Just in case you too are wondering about the advantages of strip construction over knitting the whole thing at once: I am only ever working on about forty stitches and one cable pattern.  This makes for a portable project, possible to memorise after a few iterations.  I can decide on the hoof which panels to include - denser to balance another strip, or very complex or simpler.  I can knit strips of different colours, but only ever one ball at a time.  The trickiest bit - making strips all the same length while stopping the cable at a neat point sometimes involves a little fudging - adding some more rows to the moss stitch borders, for example, but this can be done at the assembly stage.  The finished throw still has all the Wow factor of setting complex patterns alongside each other.
Now, imagine the alternative. You would have to make all your design choices before starting. because once started you would be committed.   Nine times forty is three hundred and sixty stitches in one go - and that's Aran weight yarn, not lace-weight.  Then, and more crucially, that's nine different cable patterns to keep track of, each with different repeats.  I certainly don't think that you could pop the project in your bag and use it to while away a long car trip, as I have been able to do with these.  But, no doubt it could be done.


withmyneedles said...

I'm just about to embark on an aran cabled blanket myself, and I'm wondering about knitting it in strips vs. knitting the whole thing back and forth. Clearly you like the strips, Do you find it is hard to keep track of making them the same length? Is there some negative I'm not seeing to working it all as one piece? Your blankets are so beautiful!

colleen said...

This is going to be fabulous. How lovely to have something to satisfyingly tactile close at hand.

PS That comment by Wallander has always stuck in my mind too!