Monday, January 27, 2014

Condensed Decreases in "Old Shale"

One of the first things I wanted to try was to reduce the number of decrease stitches. Of course, to keep the swatches from growing to gigantic proportions, I still had to eliminate the same number of stitches as I had yarn overs. Enter double decreases.

Instead of making six single decreases, I charted my pattern to have three double decreases. I used sl2-k1-p2sso as the central stitch, since it is straight up and down. In one of my samples, I had the other two double decreases slant towards the central stitch, ie. sssk,  sl2-k1-p2sso, k3tog. I reversed that for my second sample, so the outer decreases slant away from the central stitch. It is a very subtle difference, nothing a non-knitter would notice. I'm wondering if it would be more noticeable or decorative if I had kept the decrease stitches as stockinette all the way up; something else to add to my list to try!

Of course, there are any number of ways to eliminate six stitches. I could have done all three decreases as sl2-k1-p2sso or I could have tried k7tog or ... Knitting a multiple number of stitches together can be difficult though. With the k3togs, sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn't, even with the same yarn and needles. When it was a struggle, I did k2tog, move the new stitch to the LN, pass the second stitch over the new stitch on the LN, return the stitch to the right needle. A little fiddly, but it works.

These are the charts for the two swatches shown, along with the key to the symbols. The vertical lines indicate the 14 stitch repeat. As shown, you will need a minimum of 29 stitches; for a single repeat, such as for an insertion, cast on 15 stitches and replace the last two stitches of the repeat with the appropriate single decrease.

Until next time.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

"Feather and Fan" AND "Old Shale"

Recently, I was browsing through a Japanese stitch dictionary and noticed a
pattern that resembled the well-known Feather and Fan. I thought it was an interesting variation and started thinking of other ways to vary the pattern stitch.

When I looked at the chart, though, I realized it actually had a different structure than Feather and Fan. Nevertheless, my train of thought was already pulling out of the station, and I decided to explore the ways Feather and Fan could be varied. That puts me in good company; Barbara Walker writes about the ways the pattern might be changed about, and other Japanese stitch dictionaries in my collection show some really unexpected variations.

I also found out that the stitch that most of the knitting world calls Feather and Fan isn't actually Feather and Fan! The beautiful, rolling, rippled pattern is more properly known as Old Shale. Feather and Fan is different.(For an in depth discussion, see here.) However, it is easy to see how they are related and how one might have been derived from the other. Some of my potential variations probably will be closer in structure to Feather and Fan than to Old Shale.

Basically, in Old Shale a number of yarn overs are grouped together and an
equivalent number of decreases are also grouped together. This forms the signature peaks and valleys of the stitch. Often, a reverse stockinette stitch row or a color change is thrown in to emphasize the wavy lines.

I started with two variations (called Feather and Fan) I found at In both cases the pattern row is Row 3. In Feather and Fan 1, the decreases are all k2togs (ie. not mirror-imaged)and Row 4 is worked as a reverse stockinette row. You can see both in the full swatch and in the closeup how the purl bumps travel along in waves. In Feather and Fan 2, the decreases are purled and Row 4 is worked as a stockinette row. This means that the increase columns are not interrupted by purls and so have a more open look. In this version, the decreases are mirror-imaged, three p2togs and three p2togs through the back loop. (I found the p2togs-b exceptionally difficult to execute, so I switched them to SSPs.)

Well, that's it for now! Until next time.