Zig Zag Scarf
June 27, 2007
Here is my latest finished knitted object, the Zig Zag scarf from Modular Knits. It feels like this took a long time to make, because I started it back in March, when I was tired of making caps and not yet ready to tackle a sock again. But then I got back into caps and socks and abandoned the scarf for a while and only picked it back up earlier this month. This is the third Iris Schreier pattern I’ve made. The first two confused me: the Flying V scarf directions had that mysterious reference to the “other side”, and I’m still convinced that the instructions for Building Blocks are wrong even as corrected in the errata. Third time’s the charm, right?
Wrong. I pulled out the hand dyed superwash wool I’d bought in Idaho and used my ball winder for the first time. That part went well, even though I haven’t bought a swift because I’m convinced I can convince Mr. Karen to build me one, possibly out of Tinkertoys, and save the sixty bucks. Step 1 of the knitting went well; I had a nice little triangle and this pattern, unlike Flying V, had a diagram showing me where that triangle fit into the grand scheme of things. Step 2 did not go as well. The end of Step 1 said “do not turn”, yet the beginning of Step 2 would have me use the knitted cast on to add stitches and make another triangle. Do not turn? What craziness is that? If I do not turn, all the stitches are on my right needle. How does one do a knitted cast on from right to left? I’ve never seen that. The instructions in the Modular Knits book do not show it that way. I ingnored that pattern and turned the needles and went about making a second triangle, and since it seemed to be in the right place according to the diagram, so I moved on. (Coincidently, someone posted to the Multidirectional Knitting Yahoo! Group a few days later asking about the “do not turn”, so I’m not the only one who found it confusing. The first answer she got didn’t help clarify the issue, so I jumped in and said it didn’t make sense to me either but I turned and it worked okay. Only then did someone else chime in with the response that “do not turn” means “do not work any more with the original stitches”. Well, why didn’t it say that, then?)
Fine, whatever. I had two triangles and was ready to move on. It was then that things got really frustrating. The pattern calls for SKP decreases in the center. No problem. I’ve done those before. Slip one, knit one, pass the slipped stitch over. Easy peasy. The issue was that I didn’t like how these decreases were looking once I’d done several inches. They seemed too prominent, which might have been okay if they’d showed up on the same side of the scarf on both the zig and the zag sections, but they didn’t. I studied pictures of other people’s scarves and read their weblog entries to see if I was doing it wrong. I experimented with holding the yarn in front versus holding it in back, both on the slip part of the decrease and on the slip that starts the next row of the pattern. I finally ended up using a decrease I found in Maggie Righetti’s Knitting in Plain English; knit, slip that stitch to the left needle, pass next stitch over the slipped stitch, slip the original stitch back to the right needle. I’m not sure it made that big a difference because they yarn wraps still alternate sides but the decrease I used seems a little more subtle that the skp since there’s not an obvious knit stitch under there to glare out from all the surrounding garter stitch.
After I settled the decrease issue, the bulk of the knitting went fine. I’m happy to report that I got to the point where I could “read the knitting” and thus didn’t have to use a marker to flag the decreases, which made it go much faster–no digging around in the couch cushions or on the floor of the car to find a dropped marker, for one thing. I did have trouble several times when I turned when I should have worked across. The pattern confused me on this point, too; it says something like “when 9 stitches are left” but it wasn’t clear to me if this was 9 stitches when I got to that point or 9 stitches after I’d gotten to that point and done the decrease. (It was the latter, I’m pretty sure now.) I had similar trouble at the end of the pattern, when I couldn’t figure out when to start on the shape that would square off the end. After counting stitches and ripping back and counting some more and ripping back again, I just went for it and it looks okay so I suppose I did all right. I guess I just am not yet fluent in knitting, at least not the dialect Ms. Shreier uses. If there were “Modular Knits for Dummies” I believe I would have to buy it despite my reluctance to be seen with one of that series.
Frustrated as I got with the pattern at times, I do like how the scarf turned out. I love the yarn. It feels good to work with and the colors are wonderful. Sometimes I’d get a series of stitches on the needle that was just so pretty I almost hated to keep knitting because I wanted to just gaze at all the hues lined up: red and pink and purple and brown and peach and on and on. I don’t know what the base yarn is, and the shop I got it at doesn’t seem to have a website, so I don’t think I’ll be able to get more. I do have enough left to make a hat, so I think I’ll start that next. There are two hat patterns in Modular Knits; I can’t wait to see what problems I manage to run into with whichever one I pick.