12 January 2010

Extreme short rows -- a tea time classic

Or sometimes lazy lace isn't all that lazy.

Some years back I went off on an exploration of making the holes that appear when you do short rows without wrapping work as a design element rather than a problem.

I designed a couple of great scarves, jackets, hats, bags etc. using the technique. All of the designs were tested, proven and crazy popular with everyone who saw them.

Well, everyone except the magazines I submitted the designs to -- pish. So I banked the design work and moved on to other design areas.

At the time I thought I had taken the design options as far as possible but when putting together a class proposal I realised that I'd overlooked the simplest version and since the class proposal was geared toward what I call the "if you can count and knit you can do this" crowd, I settled on the simplified version as the class project.

During the class I plan to discuss other more subdivided versions of the technique and show examples but not make the more challenging versions a class project. I have the original lazy lace pieces as well as some other examples to show/inspire but I think the simpler version is challenging enough for a class.

I was working on a practice safe jewelry pouch for a friend when it struck me that I could probably do a knitted tea cup for my guild's tea party challenge using the technique since the eight segment piece I was working on was already cupping nicely.

Being me, I thought I'd take it to the extreme and do the 10 subdivided sections in each panel version.

I'd love to report that it went swimmingly and that it was an easy knit, but I tend not to lie. Small needles, small thread, stitch markers and trying to knit each section in the same order each time so I wouldn't get lost too often. I got lost a lot. Often enough that when I decided to knit a companion saucer, I decided that the saucer would almost match. On the saucer front, I still have two failed efforts on needles to show just how much fun this can be to work.

While I am nuts, I am not nuts enough to knit the 10 subdivided sections 20 times or more to get a full, mostly flat circle to form the saucer. That one got a simpler treatment.

There are certain things that happen using this technique that cannot be done when knitting centre out or perimeter in. Whether that's worth the effort can be debated.

I was considering entering the pieces into a local small image show but I wasn't sure whether it would have juried in and I wasn't too keen on setting a price that would adequately reflect the time involved.

I'd like to put it and a few other pieces into a more textile and/or sculpture friendly exhibit that doesn't require a sale at the other end but so far I haven't found one.

I find it very odd that I walked away from art during college but I keep doing art and mostly sculpture which was never my strength.

Knowing that one of the keys to keeping my hand healthy and not giving myself a repetitive stress injury is to change up needle and yarn sizes, I resisted the impulse to immediately cast on and knit a pine paper person -- toe up, of course and with short rows.

The liquid gold leaf is left over from the shoe project and the starching (diluted white glue this time) was not quite as crazy as the pine paper shoe process. But it did require a hunt for china and I only managed to find one tea cup and none of the matching saucers. I'm not 100% happy with how the handle distorted the molding process but I also wasn't about to break my tea cup.

With perfect hindsight, it struck me that I could use tin foil to get a shape to mold over. My experience with the shoes tells me that eventually even the diluted glue will not hold the shape so I'd like to explore some other options/combinations.

I really like the idea of using some form of resin to create forms that could drop into something like this to retain the shape and not detract from the lace.

I'd like to explore this a bit more and do "normal" lace rather than this technique so the time and effort is reduced. Yes, that's right, a centre out lace medallion is easier than this so called "lazy lace."

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