Monday, June 25, 2007

Mystery Stole 3 - The Swatch

I've signed up for Melanie's Mystery Stole 3. As might have been mentioned here in the past, I feel like I want to knit lace, but haven't yet done so successfully. Not because I've screwed it up, but because I've never really gotten going (Both times I've started I've used circular needles, and the combination of the fine yarn, large needles, and the way I knit has made that a tough combo. Straight needles are apparently much better for me with something like lace). However, I love a good puzzle, so I'm giving this a shot. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the mystery stoles, the basic idea is that the pattern is released a bit at a time over a several month period. You don't know what the final pattern will look like until the end, so the whole operation is a big surprise. The recommended colors for this year's theme are black, white, or variations thereof, but I've decided to go against the grain and use purple, as seen here: This is just a swatch, and bears no resemblance to the actual stole pattern. The idea was to determine if there is a good balance between stockinette and yarnovers, which I think there is. For the curious, this is Zephyr (a 50/50 wool/silk blend) in Plum, knit on size 4 needles. After blocking it is 5" across, which means, since the stole is about three times as many stitches, that my finished stole will probably be about 18" (Yes, I can multiply. 5x3 = 15, but more lace = more stretch). The other purpose of the swatch is to practice knitting with beads (recommended for the stole) and to find beads that match well. I bought two types of beads at Fusion Beads, some shiny ones (top) and some dull ones (middle). I'm going to go with the shiny ones because they pop out more and I don't think it'll be worth the effort to do the beading if the beads aren't obvious. The beading is really fun - I've knit with beads before but always used the prestringing method, where the beads were on the yarn and then you just used one when required. However, that method is a bit tough on the yarn, since it has to support the weight of all those beads moving around on it, and thus isn't good for fragile laceweight yarn like my Zephyr. So, I'm putting the beads on as I go with a tiny crochet hook (size 12). The way you do this is described quite well in this Knitty article, but briefly you put a bead on the hook, then pick the stitch up off the knitting needle with the hook, then slide the bead down over the stitch, and replace the stitch on the knitting needle. I then slipped the stitch to the right knitting needle without knitting it, which I think was right but if anyone knows differently please let me know! The first clue comes out on Friday, and I'm pretty excited about it. I'm really hoping that I can get into this stole project and keep up with the group so that the surprise isn't ruined for me. Jennifer is knitting it as well so I'm hoping that will keep me on task!


Jennifer said...

Looks good. I haven't finished mine yet (too much other stuff going on), but plan to do it before the end of the week. I finally got around to ordering my KP Options needles for this project this morning, so they probably won't be here until next week. But since I am busy all weekend and won't have time to start until next week anyway it won't be a huge deal. I'll try to keep you on track, but as you can see I will be getting a bit of a late start so we will see how that goes. ;-)

Rachael said...

Delurking to say YAYYYY mystery stole 3!

I just got my needles yesterday & haven't had a chance to swatch, but I am using Zephyr Steel, which is a dark grey. It's so fun that sooo many people are doing this!

Rebecca said...

Hi, I followed the link from the Mystery Stole emails. I think you are supposed to knit the beaded stich. It's a bit tough, because you need to knit into the loop above the bead and getting your needle point in there can be tricky, but that way you actually get the right stockinette look. I used this method for Knitty's Perdita friendship bracelets, and it worked really well. Good luck!