Sunday, 24 February 2008

Musings on Moss Stitch

Where has a fortnight gone? Sometimes I seem to distract myself to the point of not achieving anything at all. And yet when I look back I can see that it is all grist to the mill of learning about knitting - construction, texture, design. This picture is of the first piece of knitting that I've spun and dyed myself; it's really wee and will just be a buckle on a knitted bag but nevertheless it's a symbol of an emerging craft. It's knitted in moss stitch which has been one of my obsessions lately.
When I was on Shetland last year I spent quite a lot of time observing mosses and lichens and the various yellows, browns and greens they produce. And this week I began working on a design for a throw that would incorporate these colours using variations on moss stitch. Yes, I know I've got a zillion other projects on the go... but this feels different, a development towards properly designing my own stuff. As far as I've been able to research it so far there are three kinds of moss stitch. Single moss (row 1 K1, P1; row 2 P1, K1) is the one that is also known as seed stitch. It gives a really firm texture and is a great alternative to ribbing for welts, edges and borders. (Indeed, sadly, I may have to undo quite a lot of work on my throw to add in a moss stitch border instead of the garter stitch one I began with before my ideas started to develop - must learn to swatch, swatch, swatch!). Double moss stitch (rows 1 and 4 K2, P2; rows 2 and 3 P2, K2) produces a slightly more open fabric with a brick-like effect. I'm also using something called Irish moss stitch (rows 1 and 2 K1, P1; rows 3 and 4 P1, K1) which gives a somewhat blurred result and is an excellent infill for a diamond-panelled cable as suggested by Pam Dawson in her book Traditional Island Knitting. The shades of green, brown and gold I'm using come from a pack of Shetland double knitting wool that I picked up from Jamieson's when I was up in Lerwick last summer. (Which, as an aside, reminds of the recent press report about the Shetland Viking fire festival, Up Helly-Aa, which described Shetland as just off the North coast of Scotland. Yes, just a bit, only 250 miles or so! But there was an excellent article about Foula - "just off" the North coast of mainland Shetland - in The Guardian last week so we must be kind to these English folks. Up Helly-Aa, by the way, is held on the last Tuesday in January and is definitely worth a trip. The men of Lerwick dress up as Vikings and run round the town shouting "Ra, ra" and in the evening they set fire to a boat. It's a wonderful spectacle: you can view some pictures on my other half's blog:
Meanwhile, I've finished my Arctic lace North Star scarf and it is pinned out to dry in my dressing-room. I found that I had exactly nine pearl-coloured beads to put in the centre of each of the stars and I added a simple garter stitch lace border at each end. And my cardigan design is also progressing. I've finished the back and should get the two fronts done today. Which leaves the last of my triplets: spinning. Have not found any more time for this recently but have booked another session with Carole in 3 weeks' time.