April 05, 2007
No love for...
The patterns in the running for my next lace project are a nice collection, aren't they? I certainly understand and appreciate the appeal of many of them.
Clearly the Raku Suri Stole by the Alpaca Yarn Co. was a frontrunner in my mind, since I already went through the trouble of finding three border possibilities.
But my choice was largely dictated by the nature and amount of Sea Silk. First, a pattern knit on a diagonal needs some space to fully reveal itself, and I think 438 yards would make a scarf that was only beginning to blossom. Second, when I'm describing Sea Silk to someone who's never seen it before, I always mention that the yarn is spun very tightly, like a compact little rope. This results in very crisp, defined stitches, without any fuzziness or halo. Now consider the Raku Suri Stole - would the flower shape come across with every stitch as its own entity? I think sometimes you need a little fuzz to blur the lines and boundaries, thereby divulging the bigger picture.
On the plus side, I never hesitate to throw Sea Silk into a pattern with big open spaces - stacked yarn-overs, double yarn-overs, and the like - because I'm confident the openings will not wear out and remain crisp.
And so, while I loved all the patterns equally, I thought the Dolphin lace scarf was the most appropriate for a single skein of Sea Silk (the very last picture in my collage).
Sixty-two comments, and not a single person even mentioned the Dolphin lace scarf. No love for the Dolphin!
But it's actually a very lovely pattern - a simple lace panel surrounded by intricate leaves on both sides. The hole in the middle of each leaf is made using the "dolphin stitch," which involves binding off and casting on stitches mid-row. Very cool, albeit a bit tricky! By the way, in the set of Dolphin stitch diagrams, I think the caption "On next row," belongs one diagram 'up'.
I know many of you will like this - the scarf is entirely reversible! But this makes it difficult to keep track of the right side.
The right side?!? Shouldn't both sides be identical in a reversible scarf?!?
This brings me to the downfall of this pattern: I think the way it's presented in Victorian Lace Today is a bit oversimplified. The author provides a chart for the left-poining leaves, and instructs us to deduce the right-pointing ones on our own.
Now, think about this for a second. First, you have to mentally reflect the chart in your head. Second, you have to shift the chart either one row up or one row down. Third, you have to keep the garter-stitch nature of the thing straight in your head during this exercise (that is, reverse it from the original chart).
Why-oh-why was it so difficult to just make a second chart for the right-facing leaves?!? And while at it, to move 10 stitches from each leaf chart to the center panel, because they don't change and follow the same geometry (2-row repeat). And also, perhaps make sure the instructions would result in a scarf that matches the one in the photograph... perhaps!
Needless to say, before I cast on for the third time, I rewrote the charts. If you're considering the Dolphin lace scarf, I advise you to do the same.