Knitting Backwards

It’s funny how looking at a photo of a project can crystallize your feelings about it — I’d been having some doubts about this Twist Sparkle yarn in the Semele I’d been working on, and as soon as I took a look at the picture in my last post, I realized it wasn’t going to work. The flecks of silver seemed like a weird clash with such an organic-looking piece. Almost immediately, I decided that the yarn would be much happier in the project you see above: Summit by Mandie Harrington, from Knitty’s Summer 2010 issue. It’s a striking, unusual pattern that seems like a good fit for this striking, unusual yarn. My inspiration was Ravelry user Knittimo’s gorgeous Starry Summit, knit in Dream in Color Starry, a yarn similar in weight and sparkliness to the Twist Sparkle. There’s less yardage in the Twist, though, so I’ve cast on one column fewer than she did for a total of eight. I’m hoping to end up with a piece that, like Knittimo’s, can serve as either a wrap or a scarf.

As you can see, the construction is quite unusual — but once you get your head around the concept, it’s not difficult at all; you just have to be a little careful with counting. The designer suggests that you learn the technique of knitting backwards in order to avoid flipping the project back and forth between knitting and purling on the short columns — so I did. I just heard of knitting backwards very recently, from my friend Lisa (whose blog I am sad to discover no longer exists!), and I thought it sounded batty. But with the help of this video I figured it out for this project, and made a valiant attempt for a day or two. It’s definitely mind-bending, and worth looking into! However, I ultimately decided that I was so slow and awkward with it (partially from lack of practice, and partially because it involves manipulating the yarn in a rather Continental way and I am decidedly an English knitter) that it was actually faster just to flip the project and purl.

As for Semele, I’ve started it again in the yarn that I really wanted to work it with all along:

I’m so glad I got to take a picture at this early stage, where it looks more like a creeping organic thing than like a shawl. This is the Hazel Knits Entice yarn in the “Shady Verdant” colorway that I picked up in Austin recently. It’s unbelievably gorgeous, you guys. This picture isn’t quite doing the color justice: it’s more intensely green than this. And it’s so, so soft. It’s a blend that I’ve recently been seeing referred to as “MCN”: 70/20/10  merino/cashmere/nylon, a fairly common “luxury sock” blend. This color is, of course, a perfect match for such a leafy design, but I resisted it at first because it seemed a little too “on the nose.” But hey, I guess this is just going to be my super-leafy leaf shawl, and I guess that’s going to be awesome.

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