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Fern Lace Scarf in Merino/Tencel

Some of you may recall these 50/50 merino/tencel dye testers…

There were several, but these were the pair that I culled to spin for myself and test which of several methods of dyeing I planned to use with merino/tencel moving forward. The one at rear, with the greens, remains unspun as yet, but I did spin up the rainbow-coloured one in the front, finding the dye penetration in it to be disappointing as I had feared. Spun and chain plied, here’s how that one turned out:

It’s not that it’s bad exactly, it’s just that it wasn’t nearly as vibrant and garishly bright as what I’d been trying to achieve. Because the dye technique I used on that particular 2-ounce top didn’t penetrate the top fully in some places, there was too much undyed, white fiber, and that toned things down and made for it to be more pastel.

Now, to be honest, sometimes I manipulate things specifically to achieve that result for several reasons (usually as an intermediate stage in a multi-part dye process). This time though, what I really needed to do was get a feel for the rate at which dye moved through this fiber, how it acted, and so forth. And now I know, and future dye efforts on the merino/tencel top are going to be much more predictable.

But so there I was with, I think, 300-some-odd yards of this spun up for test purposes. What to do, what to do… hat? scarf? Something like that. I opted for “scarf,” despite an abject lack of need for anything scarfy. Here comes the whole story — but first, a pop quiz!

So, let’s just say you have something laid out carefully on the bed to take pictures, and it looks like this:

Now, leave the room and walk 12 steps down the hall to get your camera. Upon your return, your careful layout has become…

Hrmmmm. What, then, could have caused this?

Space monkeys. Surely it was space monkeys.

This was a big needle project (well, for me) — I knit it on a pair of US 6 / 4mm Bryspun flexible needles, and it was a schlep-around-in-the-car project last week, plus I worked on it a bit in the evenings.

The pattern is the Fern Leaf Lace in Sharon Miller’s Heirloom Knitting. It is similar to, but slightly different from, the version of it on the Boston Museum sampler studied by Susanna Lewis in Knitting Lace.

After having worked it a few times in a few different ways, I think I’m finally close to settling on a way I like to do it, and the next thing I put this pattern into, I might be genuinely pleased with.

Because of the bias created by the side-leaning double decreases, this pattern does create a… puckered, ripply look in the fabric. That was a challenge I didn’t overcome to my satisfaction in this quickie freehand sweater a couple years back:

(That’s the Susanna Lewis variant from the Boston Museum sampler)

I think my next iteration will use 5 holes per fern instead of 4, knit 3 together at the right edge, knit 3 together through back loop at the left edge, and be bounded with either reverse stockinette or a very loose, stretchy, open lace. I might also change the spacing of the leaves, and see what I can come up with the overemphasize the column of stitches which becomes the stalk at center of each leaf.

Chinchero weaver that I am, I can’t help but classify this pattern as raki-raki, which is a fern when you’re talking about the plant, but part of what makes something raki-raki is how it’s broken up off-kilter from a centerline while still maintaining symmetry. Ferns exhibit raki-raki tendencies, and that’s why they’re called that.

Well, that’s that for a finished object update today. What am I on to for the rest of the day? Here’s the list:

  • Editing plying video — I haven’t forgotten! And while we’re still on plying, has everyone been to see what Amelia’s been saying on the subject? And as a heads up, the latest issue of Spin-Off features a terrific Judith McKenzie-McCuin article on wet finishing yarn, which is really extremely relevant to getting plied yarns to be as nice as they can be.
  • Spinning up odds and ends, including a fat yarn on the bobbin right now
  • Trying to find the right thing to use for drop spindle plying video
  • Re-gluing the arm of my skeiner, which was broken in the moving van last year and just came unglued again
  • Inventory of miscellany to put on clearance sale Friday
  • Packing, shipping, and post office run on the way to pick the lad up from swim camp
  • Acquire new sandals for manchild, to replace the pair of which one half was lost yesterday, down a raccoon hole, at swim camp
  • Spin tussah silk khaitu style weaving yarn for upcoming project
  • Improvised top-town (instead of my perpetual bottom-up) triangle shawl from Pagoda Falkland, which reminds me, did y’all see Shannon’s Pagoda? Can there be any doubt that Pippi needs to do this again? Well, you won’t have any doubt once you see my triangle. Pippi must do this again.
  • Drinking more coffee. Always more coffee.

Looking back at this list, I see that shockingly, there is almost no production in it. Tomorrow will have to be a production day, dyeing tussah silk and maybe some wool.

10 thoughts on “Fern Lace Scarf in Merino/Tencel

  1. It must have been space monkeys. There’s no way it could have been that sweet and innocent little cat. *grin*

  2. Wow! How on earth do you manage to get all that done?!?! Now I can’t wait to play with the merino/tencel you sent, it’s gorgeous! It looks like you used six YOs for the fern leaf pattern on the sweater; I think using five in the scarf would look great. I don’t know how you could emphasize the center of the leafs, I see the column very clearly. You could add a couple of beads maybe? Anyway, lovely stuff!

  3. Yyyyyyeah…space monkeys…
    They go crazy for beautiful scarves.

  4. I like the subdued colors, more than I would like a bright rainbow.

    That’s also a very cute space monkey you’ve got, there.

  5. Well your busy day needs lots of coffee. Hope you got through everything. I am about to start my day and yes I too need lots of coffee. Thanks for continuing to work on the plying video when you are so busy.

  6. I really like that fern lace pattern. Anything with leaves in it seems to float my lace boat- I would like to knit that!

  7. Beautiful photos, beautiful space monkey, but Abby, the print on your blog is so small I nearly need a magnifying glass to read it. Wah.

  8. Good God Woman!!!! How much coffee do you drink? Do you ever sleep? Are you a real person or some Stepford Wife spinning, knitting, dyeing fiend? I cannot believe the amount of knitting, spinning, blending, dying and such that you get done in such a short period of time. I gotta put the heat under my butt. I don’t know, either I sit and drink too much coffee or I’m not drinking enough. Could be I don’t need to sit so much while I’m drinking coffee!!!!

  9. You named your cat Space Monkey? 😉

    The article on wet finishing is great and I love the way the rainbow yarn came out! Gorgeous!

  10. Do you have a chart or directions on that lace pattern? I have some socks to knit and that would work great with the yarn!

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