Two things have come to me. While the gray shape that I made is a hexagon, the Baltic Finger Labyrinth piece is an octagon! Why I couldn’t count up to 8 is a mystery to me, but it is all good, it will all end up in the poncho.
6 — hexagon
8 — octagon
The other thing — when knitting a modular triangle, you have to add decreases at the outer edges of the rows as well as along the center spine, otherwise you end up with a square.
The top is actually a schematic for making a square or diamond. Additional edge shaping is needed to get to a triangle.
Yesterday I showed the hexagon that will be part of my labyrinth modular knit poncho. The other modules that I plan to knit are small and big squares, rectangles, and L shapes, so the first thing I need to do is fill in some bits around my hexagon until it is square. Then I can add the other modules to it however they fit.
There are directions in my books for how to make a modular triangle, but in Dazzling Knits they are equilateral triangles (all sides and all angles the same) and in Knits from a Painter’s Palette they are isosceles (one right angle, the other two angles the same and two sides the same). My triangle shape is scalene: it has three different angles, and all the sides are different lengths. (Yes I had to look all that up). I want my hexagon to end up square, so the outside angle needs to end up as a right angle, like the corner of a square. Modular triangles seem to be knit by casting on or picking up the stitches that will end up being two sides, double decreasing at the center to pull the shape together and create the hypotenuse side (the one opposite the right angle).
I needed to make a different shape. And, amazingly, the first thing I tried worked pretty well.
I decided to pick up stitches from the hexagon that would end up being the hypotenuse edge of the triangle. Then I decided the simplest thing to try would be to decrease one stitch on every right side row of the wider angle I needed to make, and to decrease one stitch on every right and wrong side row of the skinny angle I needed to make. I did the whole thing in garter stitch, knitting every row, and the decreases I did were ‘knit 2 together’ and ‘slip slip knit’. A k2tog stitch slants right (/) and an SSK stitch slants left (\) so I used whichever I needed to keep the right slope. I knit as many rows as it took to run out of stitches, and then finished off. And hoped for the best. And it worked! Really well! Not only did the triangle fill in the space and make a right angle, the short side was about 2.5 inches long, and the longer side was about 5 inches long. This perfectly matches the squares and rectangles I plan to use for the rest of the poncho.
Yea! Now I’m module planning and knitting very happily.
This is the second book that I have about modular knitting — Knits From a Painter’s Palette. It is written with a particular yarn in mind, Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino (KPPPM). This is possibly the most beautiful yarn in the whole world if you like color and color variation within skeins.
The picture inside the front cover of the book shows bins and bins and bins of their yarn. I would take every single one. The same picture is inside the back cover, so you can dream all over again when you get to the end.
Anyway, this book has projects based on modular knitting that you can use with lesser yarns, if you have to. I used it for my labyrinth sweater because it has instructions for making a modular hexagon. The Baltic finger labyrinth piece I made is a hexagon, so I thought I would use a smaller hexagon somewhere else in the poncho for cohesion. I actually made two; I plan to incorporate the larger one into the knitted fabric, and might sew the smaller one on at the end for a pocket.
In a nutshell, modular knitting starts with casting on a number of stitches, and strategically knitting stitches together to make a spine of decreases that pulls your knitting into a shape like a square or triangle or wedge. For the subsequent modules, you pick up half (or some) of the stitches along the edge of a module and cast on the rest. The decreases generally happen up the center of the shape with the pivot being where you switch from pick up to cast on. If you keep attaching and building this way, you end up with a ‘solid’ piece of knitted fabric. When the stitching is new, before blocking and wearing, the segments seem more distinct than they will eventually. They do blend and meld into each other with time, even the wild colors unite. This is one of my favorite knitting techniques, and I highly recommend both books.
I am just starting the bulk of the knitting for my labyrinth inspired poncho. I have the knitted Baltic finger labyrinth, and that piece will be incorporated somewhere, I just don’t know exactly where yet. But my basic plan for the poncho is simply a large rectangular front and back piece, possibly with a turtleneck or cowl added. The shape is simple, so for interest I am thinking of doing it with modular knitting.
I first learned about modular knitting by finding the book Dazzling Knits by Patricia Werner. This book is filled with beautiful projects overflowing with colors and shapes. A great example is on the cover, and that is the first project that I made from the book.
When you do modular knitting, you don’t knit a whole back, front or sleeve piece; you also don’t knit and change colors as you go across the full width of a section. You knit small portions, or modules, then pick up stitches on one edge of one module and then knit another one. You end up with a continuous, knitted and already connected piece of fabric that is made of a bunch of different pieces. This book has projects made from squares, triangles, shells, and cubes. She changes colors within each module and also uses variegated yarn, so the end result is a kaleidoscope of color and pattern that becomes cohesive at the end — order out of chaos. The modules are also a mix of garter and stockinette stitch, so there is texture as well.
The Dream Coat is one of my most favorite knitted pieces I’ve done. It is made from chevrons and diamonds, and I went with a blue/purple/neutral gray palette. The yarn used is a big mix of things I got from all over the place. The bright turquoise I remember came from Taos, NM. Quite a few other bits came from various Knit and Crochet Festivals in Pittsburgh. A fun note is that some of the leftovers from the gray parts are going to end up in the labyrinth poncho.
So far I’ve knit only a small section that might end up in the poncho. I’ve done this three times, with different size needles, and this bit was done with size 10s. It is loose and floppy, but I think that will be good for the poncho, so it ends up a little drapey and not too stiff to hang in nice folds. I also doubled the sock yarn, so it is closer to worsted, which I think is the weight of the other yarns. Since this is a mix of fibers, I’m guessing I’ll wet block without heat; I hope it ends up a little flatter and smoother. I’ll have to see how it develops as I add more and more modules. This idea from the book uses small squares, L shapes, rectangles, and large squares. They all fit together, and you can use the shapes any way you want. Since I only want to end up with a big rectangle, my module adding will be very flexible. I’m not changing colors within the modules, but each module will be different. As I run out of yarns, I can simply get more in the right color family. This should be a fun project.
The colors for this part of the poncho all come from the rocks that made the border of the labyrinth I walked at Chautauqua. I like the knitting; it is kind of rough and organic, like my inspiration. The brown calls back to the tree, and the shapes are roughly rock-like. It is always hard to tell at the beginning, but I think I will like this.
Some of the time when I was walking the labyrinth, I thought about knitting it. Not all the time, I don’t want to be obsessive, but some of the time. I had already decided on a poncho shape, but didn’t have a pattern/specific idea.
I really loved the rocks that made the border of the path. They wound around and around, sometimes creating an open path and sometimes creating a road block that necessitated a turn. Sometimes they crawled over the roots of the tree inside the labyrinth, nestling up to the trunk before guiding me into the next circle.
I thought about modular knitting, with each section representing a rock or stone from the border of the path. I loved the mix of colors: gray, beige, taupe, white, cream, peach, a speckling of lichen and moss — so peaceful and calm. I bought a skein of yarn from a local yarn store that had a mix of grays, and I knew I could pull from my stash. I had books at home for inspiration.
I’ve already talked about the knitted finger labyrinth that I just fell into. That will be part of the poncho somewhere, with modular ‘stones’ attached and swirling around. I’ve pulled all the best stone colored yarns from my stash. The labyrinth is done, the modules can begin.
As I walked the labyrinth, a grassy path bordered by stones winding in and out and around a tree, some of the time I thought about knitting. How could I capture the feeling of the labyrinth that resonated with me so much, to keep it with me in a way.
As I walked, the idea of what to make went from shawl to poncho. I’m picturing a simple rectangle front and back that, when worn, drapes down to points by the hips. I think a ribbed turtleneck, and maybe narrow ribbed cuffs, just to keep it from sliding around a lot. While I was walking near the labyrinth, I found some sticks from the tree that I thought I could use like shawl pins. I also found a rock, smallish, that could maybe be incorporated somehow. I don’t know how yet, but I think it will come to me.
Every time I walked, I saw a blue jay feather somewhere in the labyrinth. Sometimes it was on the path, sometimes in the center, sometimes stuck in the ground, once under a stone. No one ever took it away, but it did wander. There are also wind chimes in the trees above the labyrinth. They didn’t ring often, but they were always there, and a few times the wind blew hard enough for them to sound. After I got home, I found a small feather charm, and a harmonic ball inside a tree cage that chimes softly when you shake it. These will be added somewhere as well.
With both borders filled in, I really like it. Especially, thinking ahead to the poncho, I think the gray color will be really important. It is also stronger visually and won’t get lost, like the eyelets might have. The other thing I like is that the gray draws my eye in a spiral, which minimizes the stripe-effect of the variegated background. This is all good! On to the poncho part.
The hexagonal labyrinth piece, knit in variegated green, is done. It will be incorporated somewhere in a modular knit poncho that has been inspired by my walking an actual labyrinth in Chautauqua, NY. The path of the knitted labyrinth is solid garter stitch, the path borders are eyelets. I saw this same pattern completed with a crocheted bit filling in the eyelets. This makes the winding path more distinct. I thought if I filled in mine with gray yarn, it would really mimic the rocky border of the real labyrinth. Plus, I think the bit of gray will tie in to the yarn I have pulled for the rest of the poncho. Without it, this part will be just a big green hexagon. So far, I have one path of eyelets filled in, and I’m not sure what I think about it. It took a bit of fiddling to figure out how to do the crochet stitch (hook on top, yarn underneath, pull a loop through the eyelet and slip stitch, keeping stitches loose), and it is tricky getting the stitches to come out the same size. I think I will stitch in the other path, and then work up the poncho. At the end I can see how I feel about it. It should be pretty easy to pull out, if I decide I’d rather have eyelets. Any opinions so far?
The labyrinth part of the labyrinth poncho is done. Maybe. At least the knitting of the labyrinth is done, and it is being blocked.
In Ravelry I looked at some of the projects that have been done with this pattern, and I saw one that had thick yarn crocheted through the eyelets to further define the path. I have some gray yarn that might work. I’m not sure if I have enough, but I might try it tomorrow. Then the rest of the poncho needs to be worked out. But so far I am pretty happy with my ideas and this piece.
I have a lot of projects started. I have the blue Indigo summer sweater, half the back, neck and sleeves to finish. I have the Oasis Hideaway shawl that might look like a sunset; I haven’t even blogged about that one yet. I have the Lone Star quilt, backing, outer border quilting and binding to do. I have more Peace Pals waiting. I have an Irish crochet capelet started; that one I want to talk about a lot. I have things started that I periodically forget about, and then think oh yeah, whatever happened to that silver crocheted skirt? (Just one example of UFOs lurking in my stash) But as soon as a new idea grabs me, I have to jump in and start. I try to hold off, but I really just can’t not start something new.
As I was walking the labyrinth at Chautauqua I kept thinking about how I could interpret it in a knitting project. Most of times that I walked, a new idea came to me. I kept notes of all my ideas, and now I am burning to start, to try something. I keep coming back to some sort of poncho, not a shawl, not a sweater. My inspiration is the grassy path, rock borders, trees, wind chimes, blue jay feather, and yellow and purple flowers from the actual labyrinth. I have bits and pieces that might end up in the project, yarn, sticks, a stone, some charms. I kept thinking of a modular knit piece; each connected module would roughly represent a rock, and I could join them in a spiral, maybe? While the real labyrinth is a path of green grass, the grays, browns, corals, and whites of the rocks appealed to me more. I didn’t think I would use green at all.
Then I stumbled across Beth Dubeck’s Baltic Finger Labyrinth pattern (www.Ravelry.com). This is a knitted pattern of a spiral labyrinth, available on Ravelry, for free. Seriously! I hadn’t thought I would be so literal, but as a section of the finished project, this couldn’t be more perfect. But what yarn to use? The pattern looks like the path of the labyrinth knitted in garter stitch with the stone borders represented by eyelets. The pattern was written for sock yarn. I went to my stash. Right. There. A ball of Crystal Palace Yarns Sausalito (a sock yarn) in muted, variegated greens, ranging from bluish moss through tender spring green, to yellowish-brown burnt summer to dark shade and back. Why do I even have this yarn? I don’t remember getting it. I don’t know if it was planned for something, or if I’ve used some of it somewhere. I just don’t remember. But it is perfect, perfect for this.