Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lost in translation

Last weekend I got new books, two new books, Nordic knitting Seven Miraculous Techniques by and Nordic Knitting Ten fabulous techniques from Yes Asia. Like BookDepository the price on the site includes shipping - although its not fast shipping. I had seen Seven before, a work colleague bought it and shared it with me. I was impressed. As I was spending the last of my professional development funds at work on books - I decided that I needed both of these on my shelf for when I next taught the hand knitting elective next. Its odd - but in translation from one language to another, and from one set of aesthetics and traditions to another .. new and interesting variations often occur. As well as that - some things get lost, so today while I became enthralled by the Japanese translation of Nordic knitting - I also became totally lost by Japanese interpretations of Nordic knitting. I love the seemingly fresh approach to the often quite conservative and staid traditions of Nordic knitting that both these books show. Just the covers show it all - and inside there are cute variations on domino knitting, spiral scarves, string bags, sideways socks, stay put shawls/scarves, wristers knit in several different ways, beaded, crowned, with fluff trim, colour work spirals .. and slippers.

I had thought these books would be to file away .. ready to inspire students .. and me, but the slippers drew me back, and looked comfortable and attractive. So I did a little web-search and identified the needle and yarn size and stash dived for yarn. I had a single ball of New Lanark Donegal Silk Tweed Aran, a gift from Suzanne, one she shared after wining one of the Owls prizes. This yarn seemed luxurious and at the same time sturdy enough for hand knit slippers. I found a skein of Merino Angora Millspun that I had dyed teal blue that exactly matched the flecks in the Silk Tweed Aran -- so I was all set to cast on.

At first glance the pattern seemed complicated, so I sat down with note paper squares and assembled a paper copy of the slipper - once done I understood how it all worked and fitted. I cast on and knit, following the diagrams and using the numbers along side as my guide. The diagrams made it clear there were only 3 shapes to knit, A = a square, B = a square with a colored set in corner, and C - a triangle. Seemed straightforward.

Soon it looked just like the picture ..so I knit the triange and then I got confused. When I knit the triangle using the same domino knitting technique of the squares .. I didn't get a triangle, I got a square with a corner missing not the little triangle shown in the diagrams. I frogged and re-knit, and frogged and re-knit, I Googled the pattern for help, I found various sites with translations of the knitting symbols and set about translating .. not easy as only some of the characters in the book matched up with the ones on the sites, but I grew to understand that perhaps short rows were required.

I reworked it with short rows, again frogging and re-knitting until it looked sorta-right, but it wasn't like the diagram. I needed to know, wanted to know, if the diagram was true to life or used artistic license. If it was true to life, I wanted to know how to knit that.

I set aside that slipper, started its mate and visited Ravelry, especially Japanese Knitting and Crochet to ask for help. Help came in the form of Needlesyarngin who solved the riddle - yes short rows were required but also a 5 stitch increase to fill in the dip, followed by 5 rows of garter.

I returned to my second slipper and knit the fill in triangle with short rows and 5 increases to fill in the dip ... and yes! Now it looks like the diagram.

So I've measured them, 5.25" across, and 10" long, and they are now in the machine felting. My fingers are crossed .... they only need to shrink an inch .. much less than the Fibre Trends Clogs need to shrink.

I'm now officially on leave, and on my first day at home with no cubs .. I fibred (is that a word - feels like a word). Last weekend I dyed 100g merino and 25g nylon fibre, yesterday I hackled it into sock fibre.

What did I learn? That the process worked, that nylon will always dye lighter than the merino, that the hackle blends them together nicely, and that 125g of fibre, once hackled twice to blend it evenly yields only 71g. The loss is purely the trapping of the short fibres in the hackle as the fibre is drawn off. In the past I have drawn of nearly all the fibre, it is possible to clear the hackle of nearly all fibre. But ...to draw of all the fibre and increase the yield creates another problem, the last section of the drawn off sliver comprises only short fibres .. and spins up differently. So I put the blend away, and set about dying a larger batch that should yield 110-120g of sock yarn fibre. It was a warm sunny day and the front steps held enough heat to dry the fibre very fast .. and of course Yo-yo saw the fibre and the camera and came over for a look.

Today is the cubs last day of school .. so I'm off to 'afternoon tea' with some of the parents of Poppy's classmates, then we plan to all walk down to school, collect our cubs and take them home. Sounds like a nice way to end the school year.
Take care
na Stella

1 comment:

Knitting Linguist said...

Whew! That's quite an adventure with the slippers; I was on the edge of my seat until the end -- I wanted it to work out, and I'm glad it did! They look wonderful, I can't wait to see them all felted up. Your fibering day (I agree, it's a word) sounds wonderful - I'm planning one of those once mine go back to school after the holidays. It will be nice. Enjoy your tea and say hi to the cubs for us!