Saturday, February 11, 2017

Houlland 2

And, finally, I have finished Houlland.  It is one of those patterns which takes forever to start with, then finishes in a rush.

So, supposing you were wondering whether to knit Houlland or Uncia from "The Book of Haps."  How would you choose?  Well, Houlland is a traditional shape, so it is obviously much more wearable, in a kerchief sort of way, as a pop of colour at a neckline.  Uncia is a challenge to wear as the shape is unbalanced, although undoubtedly very beautiful.

As a piece of lace knitting, consider this:  there are literally three lace stitches used in Houlland: KO, K2 tog., and SSK.  That's it: three.  Essentially the fir trees are just made by combining yarn overs with a left or right leaning decrease. To knit Uncia, there are at least thirty different combinations of stitches, some of which you will never have tried before.  There are multiple charts and three different keys to what the symbols mean.  It is a major challenge.

But how did they feel to knit?  Houlland begins with a long strip of edging lace from which you pick up 315 stitches.  The early rows seem to take forever and it took me more than one go to even pick up the stitches.  Then, the pattern is so simple that it is easy to underestimate the importance of counting while setting the pattern. Being out one stitch, or mistaking a wrong-side for a right side row is all too easy at this stage. Unpicking those long rows takes some time.

Uncia, however, starts with a very narrow tail and builds out from there gradually, so the longest rows are at the end when you are more familiar with its ways.  Once past the start-up rows you have to read the chart religiously, and therefore you are far less likely to go badly wrong.  But it does take your full attention.

Most of the lace pieces which I have knit before have been a challenge to master at first, then settle into a satisfying rhythm, before the rather tedious slog of the final third where the pattern is only too familiar.  This was certainly not the case with Uncia, where the lace transitions every couple of inches, but it was true of Houlland to some extent.  When I finished Uncia, I would happily have knitted another, because of the challenge.

So, here's an odd thing.  I used a single 100gm skein of Filigran merino lace-weight, 600 metres in the skein.  The pattern suggested 100 gms of Shetland lace-weight, 800 metres in total.  As I worked up the body of the shawl, I began to have doubts as to whether I had enough yarn to complete the piece.  I had bought the Filigran in a closing down sale a couple of years ago, so no hope of just buying another skein.  Ravelry showed a knitter in Germany who had two skeins of the right shade for sale, but of a different dyelot.  I decided to continue hopefully.

Finishing last night, I weighed the remaining ball of yarn: there is just under 25gms left - that's a lot of lace-weight, but better than being a few metres short.  It is true that I bought a 3mm needle where the pattern used 3.5 mm, but still...  Mine must have used just under 500 metres.  Other knitters have had wildly varying results in terms of quantities used.

The finished, fully blocked piece is light, airy and delicate - as lace should be.


Carol said...

It's gorgeous!

Sara said...

Wonderful, beautiful colour

Saren Johnson said...

That's amazing.

Beth Theis said...

It looks very pretty. Interesting comparison of knitting the two shawls, and the yarn yardage outcome. Thank you.