Unlike a Virgin -- Madonna from Rowan Magazine 55
Help! I have a knitting problem. I can't seem to knit with neutral colors. White, beige, khaki, ecru... it just won't do! Jewel tones are my thing, and it is not surprising that I took a floaty fairy-tale neutral top from the Spring/Summer Rowan Magazine 55 and made it into something you would find in a pirate's treasure chest.
|Mmm, yes, that's a Kit Kat treasure chest! Instructions here.|
This is the virginal Madonna by Marie Wallin, designed for Rowan Cotton Glacé, Fine Lace and Kidsilk Haze.
But I didn't want a virginal Madonna, I wanted a pop Madonna!
The pattern is just an oversized rectangular body with skinny drop-sleeves -- something that is very fashionable right now. I've seen Rowan do a lot of boxy patterns lately which I haven't liked, and usually it's because the knit fabric is too thick to hang the way the fabrics used in current fashion do. But here was a pattern for laceweight yarn, filled with silk and drape, and finally ideal for boxy shapes.
Even better: with all these stripes and colors, I could do a good dip into my stash!
This was my first foray into my jewel tone idea.
I had some of my old Kidsilk Haze-like stand-by (Artfibers Tsuki) that was leftover from 2 favorite projects.
See my post on my Marshmallow, Embellished here.
See my Valentina Wings on Ravlery, here.
I also added 3 sample balls of recent new yarns from Rowan. It's always a challenge to use single balls of yarn, so I was delighted to see some color matching between two serious jewel-tone sparkly Kidsilk Eclipse shades and one ball of the totally luxurious 100% mulberry silk, Truesilk.
|Make sure to tie a knot in each end while working with this gorgeous luxurious yarn!|
Finally, I rounded it out with a huge cone of random endless thick and thin yarn that I have about 5000 yards of, and some frogged Alchemy Bamboo that had been re-purposed to 3 failed projects and needed a new home. GO STASH!
The pattern has you cut your yarn after every stripe. One of the reasons for this is that you don't always end up on the same side as where you started because of odd numbers of rows. At first I decided I would even up the numbers of rows so they ended up on the same side, and then carry the yarn up. I abandoned this after the first few stripes.
First, it was good to have odd numbers of rows in some cases. For instance, this stitch pattern, which is made by looping the yarn over the needle 3 times while you knit, looked much better with 2 regular rows below than 3.
Second, this is a very lacy pattern. The last thing you want is to see the wrong color yarn showing through the side while being carried up!
And here is where I want to give a little advice: make a stitch pattern YOUR OWN. Knit it up and see if you really actually like it! For stripes like this (which will take an excruciatingly long piece of your life to make), find the combo YOU prefer.
I used the start of the back as my experimentation board and gigantic swatch. If you manage to look closely at it (and no one will), it doesn't match exactly with the front.
Here are some of my suggestions to make the little stitch patterns better.
1. Try to avoid purling with a new color on the wrong side. All of the Cotton Glacé rows are only 1 row, and that row shows up as a purl row on the right side. Purl rows are nice, but when a NEW color is added, they show a stripe of the old color mixed in with the new. This works fine with neutrals or similar colored yarn. But it worked terribly when I transitioned from light colored yarns to dark yarns. I decided to keep the purl look for only one of the color transitions. For the rest, I changed it from one to two rows, first knitting one row on the right side to avoid the color change showing, and then adding the purl bumps by knitting a second row on the wrong side.
2. The most awesome stitch is this circular stitch which is made by knitting into 5 long stitches you make in the row before.
I made a mistake at some point where I had a purl row after the circle instead of knit. Wow, that looked so much better!! It gives the stitch a little more texture, almost like adding filligree points to a corona.
3. Don't feel trapped by the odd or even number of rows per stitch pattern -- because you know what? It actually doesn't matter! Because you are cutting your yarn after every stripe, there is nothing to stop you from starting from either side of your knitting. This is really revolutionary if you think about it. Specifically, what I mean is this. Say you just finished a right side row and you are going to cut your yarn on the left where you ended the row. It is the exact same thing to either start on the purl side row where you left off OR to connect the yarn back where you started, and begin with a consecutive right-side row!
You're probably concerned about the amount of ends involved in knitting something like this.
Oh yes, there are billions -- but I have something to make you feel better. You can use one end of every stripe to knit the stripe together in the seam! Not only do you use up an end and sew your seam, but you never have another color showing in that stripe. I used mattress stitch to sew up each stripe using an end. The results were more perfect than I imagined they would be.
|Quick, spot the front/back mismatch! ;)|
This was one of the most work-intensive projects I've done in awhile. It wasn't hard to do, but it took forever! I estimate that I put more than 150 hours of work into it. It used 2.75 (US 2) needles and was 41 inches wide! I found a way to shave off a few hours though. I noticed on Ravelry that the sleeves were coming out rather long and I wanted them to end right after my elbow. Also, I wanted them to be super-skinny. So I decreased the number of stitches cast-on and only increased until a width I needed. That's what's great about drop sleeves -- you just stitch them straight into the body, so you can infinitely change their width without having to do anything with the body shaping.
You may have noticed that it is NOT spring in Montreal yet. I was looking around for some kind of bush, evergreen, anything that would suggest the turn of the season... and nothing! What to do? Pretend like you live in a post-apocalytic abandoned industrial zone that wouldn't have trees and flowers no matter whether it was in the height of summer. My flowers are painted words!
Mile End, Montreal, South side train tracks, ~Casgrain
OK OK, I found sooooome trees. Hey! How do you like them boots?
AND NOW FOR THE RESULTS OF THE PLANNED POOLING GIVEAWAY!
I was thrilled to receive 112 entries for my Fine Art Aran giveaway. The two Grand Prize winners will receive 2 skeins of colorway Bolero each, and the Second Prize winner will receive 1 skein.
GRAND PRIZE WINNERS
SECOND PRIZE WINNER
Congratulations!! You all gave me Ravelry names so I will see you there. :) Thank you all for participating and KEEP FOLLOWING as there is sure to be another Rowan yarn giveaway in the near future.
See my Queen of Pop on Ravelry