Sunday, February 19, 2006

In which we conclusively establish that the true beauty of silk cannot be captured by my crappy camera.

Back in August, Bailey's Uncle Marc (because you break up with your partner, not with the kids, you know) sent me for my birthday a pair of beautiful Lantern Moon needles and a skein of Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb. Even at the time (a time during which I was not laughing much), this cracked me up, because I could imagine the dialogue at Hill Country Weavers:

Marc: "Hi, I wanted to get a present for someone who knits, but I don't really know what I'm looking for."
HCW Sales Clerk, internally: "YEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS!"
HCW Sales Clerk, externally: "Well, we have some lovely items over in the, er, Luxury Corner. Don't you think she deserves something very, very special?"

And I do. And really, if you're going to spend the money, I must say that I have gotten enormous aesthetic pleasure--both visual and tactile--out of the ebony Lantern Moons, to the point that I am considering splurging on a set of DPNs, although I'm not sure they make 1s, which would be the most practical size for me to buy.

But the Lantern Moons? People, they are nothing compared to the Lion & Lamb. I'd let it marinate in stash for a while, because I wasn't sure what I wanted to make with it, and now I am sad, because I could have had this luxury all winter. I have never felt anything as soft as this, and I'm sure I've never knit with anything as beautiful. The silk...the silk. I fell asleep on the couch last night clinging to a little scrap of it, like it was the softest, most beautiful security blanket ever. This yarn--and I think this is the highest compliment I can give it, considering that I have no other inclinations in this directions--this yarn made me want to learn to spin.

Anyhoo, what I made. The simplest, most utilitarian thing, but the yarn elevates it into something else again. It's just a neck gaiter, a little wabi-sabi, since I was paying more attention to the yarn than to counting rows.

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The buttons are the find of the century (and the work of a moment at Jo-Ann's); they pick up both the color and the luster of the Mineshaft exactly.

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Yup, just a neck gaiter. But I like to think of it as the softest hug my neck ever got.

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Neck Hug Recipe:
Yarn: 1 skein Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb
Needles: Size 10
Notions: Buttons, needle that will fit through buttons.
Gauge: With yarn held doubled, 4 stitches and 6 rows per inch

With yarn held doubled, CO 25 stitches. Use a loose cast-on, as your CO row will be your buttonholes later. CO more or less depending on the length of your neck.

Slip first stitch at beginning of each row.
Row 1: K
Row 2: P
Row 3: K
Row 4: P
Row 5: P
Row 6: K
Pow 7: P
Pow 8: K

Repeat Rows 1-8 15 times, or as many times as your neck requires.

Switch to seed stitch:
Row 1 *K1, P1*, K1
Row 2 *P1 K1*, P1

Repeat rows 1 & 2 4 times, decreasing 1 stitch at end of every other row while maintaining pattern. (This will form a seed stitch flap that will lie flat and prevent drafts.)

Cast off. Weave in ends.

Find 3 or 4 appropriately-colored buttons that will fit through the stitches on your cast-on row. (My buttons are 3/4 inch.) Wrap gaiter around neck to determine button placement; gaiter should be snug, but not tight. Seed Stitch flap should be underneath cast-on edge. Mark location of overlap. Sew buttons securely. Button up and enjoy the luxury!

NB. You could certainly knit a version of this in the round with no fuss. I like the buttoned version a) for the aesthetics and b) because I'll be able to move the butons over if the gaiter gets stretched out, extending its useful life. You could also knit in buttonholes so that you don't have to use the CO stitches. I didn't do this a) because I am lazy and b) because I didn't have my buttons in advance. You, on the other hand, might be more industrious and more prepared than I am. In fact, it's highly likely that you're both.


Blogger Philippa said...

That's LOVELY! Good inventing, I like the neck gaiter.

And the 'mineshaft' is actually beautiful. I looked at it on the Lorna's Laces colourways page and was a bit scared, but knitted up it looks gorgeous.

Clearly, Bailey's uncle Marc has good taste (even if an impressionable yarn budget).

2/19/2006 11:40 AM  
Anonymous Sydney said...

Looks lovely, and those buttons are perfect. Somehow, whenever I go to JoAnn's, all they have are plastic buttons shaped like trains. The Lion and Lamb does look beautiful, and it's always nice to turn soft, expensive yarn into something you'll actually use.

2/19/2006 11:48 AM  
Blogger AmyArtisan said...

What a lovely gaiter & it looks so warm & cozy! What a fun use of a bit of luxury yarn! :)

2/19/2006 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a pretty neck warmer! I think I need to make one of those--I love one-skein projects, and my neck is always cold.

Also, my boyfriend needs to make friends with Marc.

2/19/2006 6:53 PM  
Blogger Carrie K said...

Aww, the softest hug your neck ever got? Now that is high praise. It looks beautiful too.

So, did Bailey's Uncle Marc get you a nice Christmas present? Or did that cover your birthday, Christmas and any other assorted holidays?

2/19/2006 8:30 PM  
Blogger amandamonkey said...

That is GORGEOUS! Nice work!

2/20/2006 11:40 AM  
Blogger KnittenKnots said...

I likey! I wonder if I have anything suitably soft enough for one in the stash...hmmm. I am way behind on the posts. Love the Bailey pics - the tree, the cozy...all good!

2/21/2006 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Cordelia said...

You look so cozy in that. And I'm sure it will still get much wear this season.

2/21/2006 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice dickie! (sorry, couldn't resist) Seriously though, it looks gorgeous. Love the buttons too...

Re: your comment on my blog - no problem. I couldn't for the life of me remember who hated toes. I wouldn't have showed them regardless, no one needs to see that...

2/21/2006 2:29 PM  
Anonymous may said...

it's beautiful!! i LOVE the buttons!

2/21/2006 10:23 PM  
Blogger MeBeth said...

Stunningly cozy - I was petting some of that yarn the other day at my LYS and I couldn't believe the softness. It must be so hard to take off!

2/22/2006 12:10 AM  
Blogger christine said...

The neck warmer (wabi sabi) is perfect! I agree that the Lion and Lamb is the softest stuff I have ever felt. I'm making a Clap-o-tee with it right now, and it's wonderful. The stitches almost just jump off the needle............
That's a great colorway - mineshaft.....

2/22/2006 1:57 PM  
Anonymous gaile said...

yay! that's fabulous indeed!! don't you just love yarn that you never want to put down?

2/23/2006 6:52 PM  
Anonymous Carrie said...

Beautiful! That yarn is seriously awesome. What a great project!

2/24/2006 10:11 AM  
Blogger Whining Procrastinator said...

Oooooh, you made me go shopping! Well, window shopping. Fortunately for my pocketbook, I still get a nasty case of sticker shock whenever I go shopping for that yarn. I've knitted two full-size Clapotises and a bunch of scarf-size ones and I still wonder about the yarn it was designed for.

Maybe if I can just find some locally and pet it, I'll be satisfied. Yeah, right, not likely...

2/25/2006 5:33 PM  

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