Monday, May 14, 2012

Meristem and learning to write patterns

A few months back, I wanted to make something nondescript. I walked over to my stash, dug for a bit, and came out with a ball of Mirasol "Hacho" I had picked up years ago on sale. I had nabbed 2 hanks because I loved the colors and because it was about 75% off, which is a steal and I am a sucker for such things. At the time, I had no idea how I would use it. I had tried a couple different patterns, but been unsatisfied because the dye-job on Hacho makes stitch definition difficult to see, the short runs make using it in fair isles confusing in the foreground and the background, and it knits up a little squat due to the fiber content and the way it's spun. (The recommended needle size is a 6, even though the yarn is no thicker than my other fingering weight.)

So, I had the Hacho in my hot little hand and I thought, "well, hand warmers don't need to drape... and I bet some simple directional stitches would show off the colors without being boring as drywall to knit." (it is, apparently, very boring to knit drywall.)  I cruised around ravelry per the usual, but I was wholly unsatisfied with anything I saw. The more I thought about it, though, the more I knew what I wanted. I wanted twisted rib, a thumb gusset, and a gentle arch with new ribbing blooming out of it invisibly. I got out my notebook and drew it. I grabbed my needles, ball-parked the number of stitches I would need to cast on (who's a lazy bum? this girl), and went to town.

Turns out decreasing in twisted rib is more complex than you would initially be led to believe.  You have to reorient every stitch that ends up "on top" a quarter turn clockwise before you do anything else (except maybe getting the stitch before it out of the way). It worked, though. The bind-off, on the other hand... that took three tries and three different bind-offs. Standard BO was ugly. EZ's sewn BO was an abomination (shiver). I settled on a tubular BO. Honestly, I should have started there; I knew better.

They ended up with my seester for her birthday. As I look back on it now, it doesn't seem such a big deal--they were just hand warmers--but really, that was the first time that I have ever made the "thing I see in my brain." It's certainly not the first thing I've ever designed that's ended up in my family's possession. My little brother has odd requests and is the proud owner of his own Pi scarf (to the 314th digit, like a boss) and Totoro guitar strap (that was certainly a learning experience... hoo buddy). And then there's the boobkini... Even the cropped cardi from hell, for all those shed tears, was a lesson in editing rather than writing. well, let's just  say these hold a special little place in my heart reserved for those monumental firsts. Most of the accomplishments in there are things like "first time I did a back tuck" and "first time someone sang an arrangement I wrote."

As cool as my "totally original" patterns are (and they are. I won't hear otherwise), they're just strips. So, I'm pretty proud of my little "Meristems". As I look at the photos, I need to move some things around--that top is too long and the cuff too short--but I really love the movement on the hand. I think it's awfully purdy. Since it only took 1 ball, I guess I'll use the second one to make a pair for myself.

I'll post a pattern once I finish my edit. (Send me a shout out if you want to test-knit them.)

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