Thursday, May 14, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Last weekend was Mother's Day (in the US anyway), and so of course, I went home to visit my mom. And of course, I knit something for her.
But first, we had to get a birthday/Mother's Day gift for my grandmother, and we decided she needed some new flowers. Several hours at the garden center later, we put together this arrangement.

It's really vibrant and the pot matches their house. But I really couldn't get over how beautiful this dahlia is, and will probably have to paint it. (I dabble in painting. God forbid there be some craft I don't do. Mom is the real artist. Go see her blog. )

Anyway, just like when I was 5, I made her present for Mother's Day. This time, instead of involving cut up straws as beads for a necklace (I don't know, ask the Montessori school what that was all about), she actually gets pretty things. She asked for a little shawl, just big enough to throw over her shoulders, in a neutral color. It's the grown up's answer to a hoodie. Being for my mom, it naturally had to be cotton.
Here's what I wound up with. Somehow this picture turned into some classical art style thing, I'm not really sure.

I really should have thought this "simple" thing out before I started. I started with an idea for more or less a lazy Clapotis, rectangular instead of on an angle. I liked the dropped stitches and I liked the way the stockinette curled. Not that you could really get stockinette to do anything else. Unfortunately, you don't drop stitches until the end. The very end. Which meant that I wound up knitting a giant stockinette rectangle. I was doing a lot of travelling, so at least I could close my eyes and knit when I got nervous on the plane, but I wish I had picked a stitch with at least a little something to it.
But the finished product turned out really well. My mom really can't tell one side of a knit fabric from the other, and she picked it up and put it on backwards. I really liked the way the reverse stockinette looked better, and decided that's how I intended it to be. So not like a clapotis at all.

Should you wish to recreate this , it's pretty simple. Cast on as many stitches as you think you'll need to wrap around the body, bearing in mind that the dropped stitches will stretch. On size US 7 (4.5 mm) needles with worsted weight yarn, I cast on 100 stitches. It wouldn't have been a bad idea to do a little more. My mom is about a small/medium, so increase as necessary. In the first row [k5, yo] to last 5 sts, k5. Then knit in stockinette for approximately forever, or long enough to wrap comfortably over your shoulders. In this case, forever was about 2 feet and felt like longer. (If any new knitters happen to stop by, I'll remind you that stockinette is knit one row, purl one row.) Then the fun begins. As you're binding off, drop every 6th stitch. Bind off all the other stitches as usual. Unravel it all the way to the bottom to get those open lines.
I can't really describe how fun it is to drop stitches on purpose.You really just have to try it for your self. It's like you're making a run in pantyhose, but it creates a cool pattern.

In summary:
Pattern: See above
Yarn: Bernat Cotton Tots (100% cotton) beige/natural, 2.5 skeins
Needle: US 7 (4.5mm)
Time: About a week getting some good knitting time in