Wednesday, October 3, 2012

In the Knit Lab: Adventures with Bobbles, Part 1

Wakefield continues to grow. The revised back, with back neck shaping (to accommodate the newer version of the shawl collar) is done.

I'm really loving the Galway yarn (# 687, in case you're wondering). My order of Shelter arrived a few days ago. The Button Jar colour is almost identical, but the texture is different and, much to my surprise, after knitting a few inches with it, I abandoned it to return to the Galway, which has a lovely drapiness whilst retaining enough crispness to show off the texture of the pattern.
One of the tasks I set myself with this re-doing of the pattern was to explore ways of building a better bobble. The original was OK, but I wanted something better. The best bobble should, in my humble opinion, be:
1. round, not oval, not oblong, not flat,
2. firm, not squishy,
3. seated on the right side of the work, without any serious inclination to recede to the back,
4. centred, not listing to one side, and
5. preferably worked all from one side.
That's not asking too much is it?
Accordingly, I hauled out various books from my knitting library and did a series of experiments. I read what Janet Szabo had to say in her book, 'Aran Sweater Design', and tried out her ideas in this odd looking swatch.

Nothing quite right, even when I did some knitting back backwards so as to avoid having to turn the work. I liked her ideas about using a yarn over to avoid a hole at the base of the bobble, and I understood her reasoning behind "strangling" the bobble on the next row to keep it from sinking back into the work, and I appreciated why she decreased using both left- and right-leaning decreases to keep the bobble centred, but nothing really satisfied.
After some forays into other sources, I finally opened up my copy of Sharon Brant's 'Ultimate Knitting Bible'.
Almost there. I played with her instructions for a "bobble without turning", and finally arrived at a bobble worth all the effort.
Here is how it works:
1. In the same way as for increasing knitwise, knit into the front, then the back, then the front again, then the back again of the same stitch (4 sts from one).
2. Slip the 4 sts purlwise back onto the left-hand needle and, pulling the yarn gently taut, knit all 4 sts again.
3. Repeat step 2 one more time.
4. Using the tip of the left-hand needle, pass the second, then the third, then the fourth sts over the first.
Ta da! Here's  the result:

In other knitting news, my Fibonacci in the Poem sock yarn continues to grow.

The repeats aren't as long as I'd hoped for, but I like it anyway. Isabel REALLY likes it, so I guess we know where this is going to end up!

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