Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shooting the Curl

"The balanced energy is the birthing energy. I used to say that the birthing energy was all feminine -- it’s not. You have to push and you have to be. It’s such a potent example of the dance of the feminine and masculine together, the dance that is the creative energy of life!"
-- Joyce Irvine
I was looking at Serenity, which was my first design for my first class ever in March of '06, because I wanted to put it up as a free pattern on Ravelry.  I have never liked the way the edge curled into the stockinette.  I mean everyone knows that stockinette will curl which is why I put the garter edging on there.  I steamed the sucker and blocked it and still...curl.

One of my wonderful students and friends made me the spring-green scarf pictured above for Yule.  It is soft and yummy and I just love it...but there again, through no fault of that darn curl.  If you can't tell this is something that I wake up in the middle of the night mulling over.  So, instead of just thinking about it here is my attempt to find a solution.

ABBREVIATIONS (just in case you are new to knitting)
K         - Knit
K2tog - Knit the first and second stitches on the left-hand needle at the same time 
             - it is a right- slanting decrease
P          - Purl
YO       - yarn over, with the yarn in front knit your next stitch

Okay we tried garter stitch in the original pattern and failed...let's see if seed stitch fares any better.  Seed stitch is a nice little stitch that is totally reversible and great for edgings.  It is the top light-blue swatch in the above picture.

Seed stitch is usually created over an even number of stitches:
Row 1:     *K1, P1* rep **
Row 2:     *P1, K1* rep **
Rep Rows 1 and 2 for pattern

As long as you knit the purls and purl the knits you will find this easy.  I use a pink or purple marker on the row that starts with a purl (since they both begin with P) to help me remember where I am.  

Alas, this did not help.  The scarf curled after the seed stitch line.

Ribbing is usually used on the cuffs, neck or bottom of a sweater.  It allows the fabric to look smaller then it is but then still stretch to the actual a sleeve cuff.

Ribbing is usually created over an even number of stitches:

Row 1:     *K1, P1* rep **
Row 2:     *K1, P1 **
Rep Rows 1 and 2 for pattern

As long as you knit the knits and purl the purls you will find this easy.  

This technique would look silly on this scarf...and I'm sure the tenacious Serenity would find  a way to curl with the ribbing as well.

The un-ladder option just doesn't work with the pattern here..though I do love to knit a scarf and then drop every four stitches watching them unravel and adding lightness to the fabric.  

So, what I have learned is this pattern will curl with any edging I use.  The name of this scarf at this moment is not very descriptive of how I feel.  *breathe*

My next swatch will be eyelets. 

My last resort before I do something rash that I don't want to do is to leave one stockinette stitch surrounding the pattern and make the rest garter.  This might stabilize the fabric enough to tame the curl.  *crossing fingers*  (NOTE:  I tried this for funsies and the pattern was lost.)

Eyelets are just little columns or rows of YOs all lined up in a...well row or column   It is a nice little flourish and you can snake a ribbon through them to make a scarf extra pretty.  It is the bottom light-blue swatch in the above picture.

So with a four stitch border, the pattern would look like this:
Row 1:     K2, YO, K2tog

Knit your pattern and leave 4 stitches:
Row 1:     K2tog, YO, K2

Well, this didn't work either.  In fact Serenity curled up so fast you would think she was a bear going to hibernate for the winter.

So...*breathe* now I will try staggered eyelets.  This is a lovely effect; almost like twining vines.  It is the dark-green three-repeat swatch in the picture.

Okay, using a four stitch border it would look like this.  

Right side - because we knit from right to left.

Row 1:     K2, K2tog, YO
Row 2:     You can K2, P2 here or K all the stitches, or P all the stitches based on what you  are trying to achieve.  For this pattern I used K2, P2
Row 3:     K2, YO, K2tog
Row 4:     K2, P2

After the pattern we end with four stitches on the the left side:

Row 1:     YO, K2tog, K2
Row 2:     P2, K2
Row 3:     K2tog, YO, K2
Row 4:     P2, K2

Nope, didn't make a lick of difference  though it is very pretty and I like the raised effect achieved by purling on the back.

So my next attempt...hopefully my last...will incorporate a few of these techniques all in one hopeful prayer of a mishmash that maybe by all the techniques working together, I can conquer the dreaded curl.


The right side:

Row 1:     K2, K2tog, YO, K2
Row 2:     K2, P2, K2
Row 3:     K2, YO, K2tog, K2
Row 4:     K2, P2, K2

The left side:

Row 1:     K2, YO, K2tog, K2
Row 2:     K2, P2, K2
Row 3:     K2, K2tog, YO, K2
Row 4:     K2, P2, K2

This produces a larger garter boarder surrounding the staggered eyelets.  Employing this pattern has forced the right and left-slanting decreases to pop and become almost 3 dimensional ..or I've been staring at this way too long?

I am happy with the result.  :)  But it still did this :(

So, it is back to the drawing board...again.

Maybe, just maybe I have been looking at this whole thing wrong.  I've been trying to stop what is apparently natural in this pattern.  Gravity and other factors are at work here.  

If this was surfing; I'd be working with that curl...flowing through it...not trying to deny it's existence.

So, I sat down and thought about this and I thought a thought that had once come to me in a fleeting glimpse at night just before bed...why not just let it curl?  It is going to do it anyway.  In fact did you know the Harry Potter house movie scarves were all done in the round so they would not curl?

So, I have two ideas and one is to just knit this sucker in the round with lace on both sides and the darn staggered eyelets that I've grown to love after swatching them so many times, could be the border between the two sides.  Or...I could use a stitch that is guaranteed to curl and it can get it's curl on early on and we will both be happy.

I've decided to start with a stockinette border which is against everything I usually do.  I want it to match the sides so I will have to see if it rolls under or over on whether I begin with a purl row or a knit one.  The pattern for the edges will be simple:

Row 1:     K3, P3 - Pattern - P3, K3
Row 2:     P3, K3 - Pattern - K3, P3

Of course I will have to play with my stitch count since I just added six rows to this 30 stitch pattern...I'm not sure if bigger is better but at this point I won't give up my staggered eyelets.

Ooops I think I forgot there *breathe*...ahhhhhh.....better.  :)

I know the pictures a bit dark but this is the result.  My DH likes the other side the which would be:

Row 1:     P3, K3 - Pattern - K3, P3
Row 2:     K3, P3 - Pattern - P3, K3

They both have good and bad aspects.  The first which I will name "flat" is so neat to watch come into being.  The first stitch of the purl is all you see, the rest pull into themselves and disappear.  So it appears you have this solid border of stockinette.  The downside is it wanted to curl as well.  But maybe it can be blocked out.  I have not tried blocking this particular mod and won't be able to before this post is due out.  But I will let you know if it works in upcoming posts.

The other edge which I will name rolled is very akin to a i-cord.  It is a wonderful little edge but it too seems to want to roll a bit and the lace is lost in it's pull.  

So, I learned a lot and I'm still not happy with anything.  But I have some new ideas to try and I will either find something that flows with the curl or find a way to tame it.

Happy Knitting,


BTW:  The yarn is Knitpicks Swish Tonal in canopy.  I like it for stitch definition.  It reminds me of Cascade 220 and it actually has 220 yards.  I ripped this piece out more times then I would like to count and there was very little fuzz or degrading of the fibers.  This yarn can take a beating and still shines in bright beautiful colorways. 

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