Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dragone Notes

I don't want to turn this blog into a diary, but I am keeping some good notes on the Dragone shawl and thought I would tip them into this blog for anyone else who wants to give this design a try. It is far and away the most difficult piece I've ever attempted, incorporating unfamiliar techniques with a non-repeating pattern. On the other hand, it is also the most fascinating design I have ever worked on. Each row is a new adventure. Of course, there is that old Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times...

So, for those intrepid souls who are clutching their needles in anticipation, here are my observations so far (row 51 and counting...)

First, for the horizontal stitch, don't bother flipping the second stitch. Take the LH needle around the back of the first stitch, through the gap between the first and second stitch, and knit through the front of the second stitch first, then the front of the HS second. Unless, of course, you like flipping stitches. I hate it. An extra maneuver I don't want to deal with.

Second, the number of horizontal stitches on the chart is deceiving. The first stitch, that is, the one you knitted through the front of at the very beginning, counts as one stitch. And the K2tog at the end of the run counts as one stitch. So if you see a run of 15 horizontal stitches on the chart, you are really only making 13 horizontal stitches. This little omission in the directions cost me hours of frogging.

Third, there are occasional purls through the back loops of yarnovers from the previous knit rows. Be very careful with these--they are surprisingly difficult.

I found the actual counting off to be the biggest problem, as there are no repeats--you have to knit the picture. And the picture is very large. When I knit ordinary lace, I memorize a repeat, but with this sucker, it's impossible. I tried a number of visualization techniques, a whole slew of counting techniques, and finally ended up doing something truly brute force.

Before I work a row, I count off blocks of thingies, for example, a run of horizontal stitches or a group of right/left crosses. I then put removable markers around the blocks. That way, I don't have to count while I am knitting--I just do whatever until I get to the next marker.

I am lifelining every row and have needed the lifeline on every row. I am not usually so clumsy, but until I get used to the odd techniques, dropping, slithering, and disappearing stitches are way, way too common not to have a lifeline to repair the damage.

I don't know if I mentioned it, but the yarn I am using is fabulous. It's from Running Wild Farm--the 2/16 Lamoramere Fine Lace Blend of 50% Cormo Lambwool, 40% Angora, and 10% Cashmere. It's heavier than some laceweights--maybe 2/3 of a fingering weight.

I decided not to use the original yarn, Fino, for several reasons. First, it's quite fine and I wanted something sturdier so I could embellish the dragon with beads and embroidery. Second, I had my heart set on Fireball Red, and didn't feel like dying my own yarn. Third, I thought the original shawl looked a bit frail, and I think dragons should have considerable substance.

Sorry there are no pictures to show--I hope to have something more visual at a later date. Right now, it looks like a really small, ratty headscarf. As usual.


Dave said...

Most excellent -- I've saved this in a safe place. Thank you!

What are you using the "vertical" lifelines for?

fleegle said...

Vertical lifelines run up the sides. At the beginning of every row, I wrap the yarn around the lifeline. And when the instructions tell you to pick up 4250 stitches for the edging, well guess what? Most of them are already on the line just waiting for your needle to run up the line. You may still have to pick up some extra stitches, perhaps 2 for every three on the line, but hey, 2/3 is better than nothing!

Dave said...

Very clever!!