Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Designing Woman

My knitworthy neighbour, Joseph, really liked the Twitter Hat I knit for him a couple of weeks ago. As he is the founder of Capybara Appreciation Day, I asked him if he would like me to knit him a capybara scarf and he thought that would be a great idea.

At KnitEast, I had taken a double-knitting class with Lucy Neatby (I'm SUCH a name dropper - LOL). I thought I could apply my new-found skill, knitting a capybara scarf for Joseph.

First, I needed a silhouette of a capyabara. I tried Google Images and after searching page after page, didn't really find anything appropriate. I tried a variety of other search words "capybara clipart", "capybara photo", etc. No luck. For some reason I looked on eBay and came across this photo.

I then printed out some graph paper and traced the outline of the photo onto the graph paper. I then opened my knitting software and charted from my hand-drawn graph.

I next had to figure out what yarn I should use. I wanted the scarf to be between 6" and 7" wide. Upon consultation with Stephanie at Myrtle Station Wool, we determined I could use fingering weight or sock yarn and 3.5mm needles to get the desired gauge.

Then I consulted with "Extreme Double-Knitting" by Alasdair Post-Quinn, a book I had bought at Rhinebeck. In it, there was a pattern called Corvus that was the perfect basic design. All I needed to do was substitute my capybara chart for the crow chart. I liked the 'faux fringe' at the bottom with the alternating colours. I used a two-colour cast-on and started right in alternating colours for a few rows (not quite as many as Post-Quinn's pattern), left 6 plain rows and then started in on the chart.
As one works with both yarns at the same time, the back is the negative, laterally rotated image of the front. See?
After knitting a few inches, I got a little nervous that I might not quite have enough yarn to complete the project. I had purchased the last red and black skeins of sock yarn that were in stock - 2 of each colour.

I did a bit of measuring and a bit of math. (Jump down a couple of paragraphs to ***  if math makes your head want to explode. I used to teach algebra so I like being able to use it for a practical purpose such as my knitting). After knitting 7cm, I had used 4g of yarn (I have a really useful digital scale accurate to 1 gram). I needed to know how far 50g of yarn (one skein) would get me. So I set it up like an equation and cross multiplied and solved for 'x' to get my answer.

                                                          4g  =    7cm
                                                        50g        'x' cm 

                                                       x = 87.5cm (34.5")

Therefore I can knit 34.5" with one skein of each colour of the yarn. 

*** I have two 50g skeins so I have enough to knit a scarf 69" long. I don't think I'll make it quite that long because it'll take forever but at least I know I have enough yarn to do it.

I'm hoping that once I'm past the first capybara, I'll just knit straight stocking stitch. That is, of course, if I can maintain the same gauge. In double-knitting, you knit both the front and back at the same time, alternating stitches. It's not too tedious when knitting a design but would be mind-numbing with no colour changes as one constantly switches the yarn from the back for the knit stitch to the front for the purl stitch. To knit the black stitches then the red stitches separately, I will have to re-arrange the stitches on the needles with all the black stitches on one and all the red on another. As I write this, I realize a circular needle would do the trick and if I need to change needles to keep the gauge the same that could be easily achieved with my interchangeable needles.

I hope to have the scarf done by Christmas even though I am working on about 5 other projects and just thought of a design for a pair of socks that I want to try.

It's a good thing I'm retired and have the time to entertain my creative pursuits.

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