Our first crocuses opened today, and I am so excited to be done with winter. (Hopefully the chicken wire will deter the squirrels and chipmunks from munching on my bulbs like they did last spring…)
We’ve had several days in the 50’s and 60’s, and between that and a few days of warm rain, it’s finally beginning to feel like we’ve turned the corner. There’s still snow in the forecast for next week, I think, but the ground is thawing and winter can only delay for so long. If you consider that my backyard looked like this a month ago:
it’s easy to see why this might be exciting:
My perennial herbs are greening up, and the soil is in that soft and squishy stage where it’s best to stay on the path. Another couple of months, and everything will be back in bloom again. My gardener’s itch is growing!
Things have been pretty quiet on the crafting front lately. I spent about a week with nothing on the needles after the Mondrian sweater was finished. And then all of a sudden it was a Tuesday night, and I was heading out to knitting, and I had no knitting. So, I grabbed a couple of skeins that I’ve been meaning to get to, took a quick look at Ellen’s Tunisian crochet tutorial for her Paving Mitts pattern, and headed out the door. At knitting, I swatched this:
I really like how the stitch pattern lets the variegated green yarn shine through the teal background fabric. I swapped accent and base colors a little more than halfway through, but I definitely liked the fabric on the left better, with its bright green v’s popping out through a lattice of teal.
I pulled out the swatch on the train the next morning, prior to casting on for the real project (a long cowl). When I did so, I was surprised to find that you can pull out all of the green stitches without affecting the teal background fabric. When the green is gone, you end up with a loose-gauge knitted fabric left behind. I took a picture, but can’t find it now…I think I must have accidentally deleted it from my phone. In any case, that observation got me thinking, so I put it aside to play with later.
The cowl has been inching along over the past week and a half, and it’s beginning to look like something.
I continue to like how the colors play together, but I’m less enthusiastic about the pronounced tendency to curl. Some poking around online reveals that this is a common problem with Tunisian knit stitch, but most sources say that it should block out. I’m hoping so, because that amount of curl will be a deal-breaker if I can’t make it lay flat in the end.
I’m not terribly fast at picking up stitches for each round, so this is definitely not a speedy project for me, but it’s coming along a bit at a time.
Today, I finally had time to settle down and play a bit more. Like I said, I noticed that the green accent yarn can be ripped out of the fabric without disturbing the knit base yarn. This made me wonder if it would be possible to add accent stripes to an already-knit piece. I didn’t have a good-sized swatch handy, so I pulled out my Bright Stripes sweater and added a few temporary “features” to the back. (Since it’s just crocheted in, it’s very easy to pull back out, with no harm done to the knitting.)
I started out on the stockinette side, and picked up one leg from each knit stitch:
Then I worked a chain crochet stitch around the black knit stitches, just like you do when working the Tunisian Crochet.
The only problem was that I had to carry the yarn in front to work the crochet, so I ended up with the wrong “side” of the chain stitch pointing forward. (In the Tunisian crochet method, you work the crochet and then a row of knitting, and picking up the knit stitches rotates the crochet purl so that the v’s face forward…)
The row that I got from this method looked a lot like purl bumps (and the back of the Tunisian crochet project), so I decided to see what would happen if I worked from the back side of the fabric instead.
Again, I picked up stitches, and then joined on the green yarn for the crochet.
I worked a series of single crochet stitches, using up one black loop and two green loops per stitch until there were no black stitches left. (This ends up making a crochet chain with the green yarn, wrapped around the black yarn to hold it in place.)
This left me with a little row of (slightly uneven) purl bumps…I need to work on my tension!
And when I turned the fabric over, there was my sideways crochet chain, just like in the Tunisian crochet!
This seems like it might be fun to play with as an accent for knitted items – I have lots of ideas bouncing around in my head for things to try. I also figured out an only-slightly fiddly way of making Tunisian crochet on knitting needles, so it would be easy to work this as an insertion in a knitted piece. It makes me think of the knit-weave garments that I saw at Rhinebeck last year, made by Koochi-Ku.
It’s not actually the same, but there are certainly interesting things to be done by blending different fiber techniques!