Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Ode to a Countess

Irish dancer Jean Butler onstage in a production of Riverdance. She is wearing the iconic royal blue off the shoulder dress for the Countess Cathleen/Women of the Shee number which is the inspiration for this pattern and project.
Pattern: Countess Cathleen by Síle Maureen (no link yet; this is my sample. As soon as I publish it, I will edit this)

Started: March 25, 2022

Finished: 2025? lol

Made for: Síle aka Me/ design sample/ also my Year 2 Divination project for Ilvermorny 

Yarn: Briggs & Little Heritage (100% wool; 215yds/196m = 113g)
  • 7 hanks/ 817g of "Bergy Blue (custom color for Cast On! Cast Off! in St. John's) lot 903" (started with ~1017g (9hanks); ended with ???g) = 1554.47 yds 
Gauge: in Moss stitch 22sts & 28 rows = 4"/10cm

Needle size: 5.0mm/ US 8

Hook size: 4.5mm/US 7 (used for provisional cast-on only)

Notes & Photos:
January 22: Setting this up and hopefully getting started soon. I made the decision to use the B&L H I bought a few years ago (to make Morning Ramble) to finally get my ode to Jean Butler, Riverdance, and the most iconic slip jig ever danced made. Plus I love the color and really want to wrap myself in the woolly fabulousness of it. 

I knit a swatch last summer/fall and it reawakened my dream of this pattern: a hooded cloak with Star stitch edgings, a cable panel running all the way down the back, triangular Moss stitch sections separated by braid cables, and knotwork motifs based on the wide center panel at the bottom of each triangular section. All in a bright yummy blue. There will be i-cord/wooden toggle closures at the neck. I think. Something warm and practical that could've been worn in the mists of time, in an enchanted, not quite real color. I digress!

I'll also be declaring this as my Yr 2 Divination project at Ilvermorny; Declaration can be found here: Wand-dancing 

March 25: My charts are done other than the little tweeks I do as I knit. I'm figuring out the hood shaping today. I casted on 34sts (cable panel has 32sts; added one on each side for picking up sts along the edges), and have worked almost 4 reps of the row rep (16rows to a rep). I want roughly 10" before I start adding in the sides. My idea is to run the cable panel from the top of the hood, and right down the back to the hemline. Silly me used a size 4.5mm circular though *facepalm* But this also isn't the yarn I'm using for the actual sample. It'll give me a roughly good idea of how to shape (or not to shape) the hood. *(Side note for self: S is intrigued and would like to test the pattern when done)

Here's the hood swatch so far:
An intricately cabled panel in progress being knit in a marled blue wool

March 27: I think I have the hood shaping figured out. I think. I will continue knitting this mock up of it until I'm certain...

March 28: Had to tink back a bit as I didn't like how I picked up the sts on one side. Lol Yes, I am that picky! 😂

later: Ok, this is looking better now. This is the top of the hood, which seems a strange way to start but I'm thinking of it as a deeper bonnet-style with the cable panel "wrapping" the top and back of the head. 
On a circular needle, a long cable panel with stitches picked up along both long sides and continuing on one short side. It resembles a tight upside-down U shape. There are black and white furry feet seen to the right of the panel.

And a "happy Monday" Jakey toes and tail photobomb too :)

April 9: New photo of the hood swatch. It's starting to look like a hood from the side.

I've worked out how to combine the star st borders on the cloak body with the hood too. Even have a chart for it! I think the narrow border of star st will give it a nice polished look where the edges on the hood are a bit "rustic" right now... which could be a design element on another project/design!

April 15: It's time. I want to get the real deal on the needles. Winding the first hank into a ball and have some cotton yarn used as the provisional cast-on already. A photo for the momentous event:
A yarn label reading "Cast On! Cast Off! Saint John's NL Bergy Blue Lot: 903", a circular needle with 13 provisionally cast-on stitches in white and yellow cotton yarn, and a hank of bright aqua blue wool.

And now to wind the wool!

April 16: And the first section is done! I have the star st band started and can now pick up sts along the side for the cable panel. Once the cable panel is long enough then I'll pick up sts along the long sides and continue as I did with my swatch, but including the star st border as well. Three distinct textures in this: the star st squooshiness, the carved cables, and the nubbly moss st. I love it! Oh and the wool is absolutely perfect. Here's my bit of star st:

I need to put the sts from the star st on a bit of yarn to hold them for the time being.

April 17: First rep of the center cable panel is done! :) The top of my hood is coming along nicely:
The star stitch panel from the previous photo is turned on its side with several rows of a cable panel growing from the upper side. The piece is in progress with the circular needle visible in the stitches.

April 18: About halfway or a bit better to the point where I pickup the sts along the cable panel and continue the hood on all 3 sides:
Same as the previous photo but the cable panel is considerably longer.

later (ok technically April 19 at 1:45am NDT): I have all the hood sts on the needle! Small note: The gold markers are to keep the star st border sts separated from the moss st of the hood sides and the white markers are for the inc's at the back of the hood. They also keep the cable panel separated from the moss st. 
Here's how everything looks after row 65 of the hood chart:

The cable on the circular needle is horrible. It doesn't want to straighten out at all. Hopefully the hood sts can wrangle it a bit, especially where the tight corners are until there are a few sets of inc's made. 

I really like how the star st looks as the border. I think it's just different enough from the cable panel and the moss st both to make the cloak interesting but not fussy. At least I hope so!

April 19 (5:37pm NDT): Everything is going perfectly :) This sunlit photo of the work-in-progress looks way more blue than the wool really is; the photo of just the star st panel is the proper color
Another in progress photo: the moss stitch sides are much wider now and the cable panel is longer.

April 25 (5:57pm NDT): The hood is growing :)
The cable panel is longer and the moss stitch sections have definitely expanded from the previous photo.

I like how the back is shaping up. I really wanted to avoid what I think of as "gnome head"; the point that most hoods seem have. It can be cute but in my opinion it has to be longer to look good, not just a point sticking up in the air. Especially on something being sized for teens and adults. My shaping has given a much nicer round back to the hood :)
My left hand supports the hood from underneath. This is the hood looking directly at the back rather than a top view. The cable panel curves downward and hints of the moss stitch are visible at the sides.

May 1 (2:57am NDT): Spent a marathon 7+ hours at the hospital with Sistwerp. So thankful to have had my knitting with me!!! And an extra hank of wool! I ran low on the first ball 3/4 the way through row 100. Using my handy knee swift 😉 I was able to get the second ball wound, and with the help of my waterbottle I was able to safely wet splice the two ends and keep knitting. (*Note: the knitting and remainder of ball 2 weighs 243g; The needle weighs about 9g so the combined weight of the wool and knitted fabric is roughly 235g  leaving me to guess the balls of wool are each 117.5g) Knee swift in action photo:
An opened hank of wool lays across the legs of the photographer while they hold a partially wound ball in their left hand. There's a strand of wool from the hank leading to the ball.

And now for one of the hood now that we've been home for about 2 hours:
The hood laid flat on its side. The right side is shown with the back curve to the left of the photo and the star st border on the right side of the photo. The various textures of the hood are very clear.

There's only 2 more increase rows (with 3 plain rows between them and 3 rows from the point I'm at now to the first one) left and then the hood is worked straight until it's time to decrease (sharply) to the number of sts needed to start working the body of the cloak. I have the straight section in my notes as 7"; that may change as I wasn't 100% sure how oversized I want the hood to be. I wanted it to drape but not be comical looking. 

Here's an idea of the drape so far:
Síle in a selfie: she is "wearing" the hood and her head is turned to her left to show the length of the hood relative to her head and neck. The hood is still on the circular knitting needle and the ends poke out at the front corners on the hood's border. The hood is almost long enough to hide her ears; the tip of her right ear lobe is just visible in the photo.

I'm thinking 7" is going to be way too much now. Maybe only 3-4" is a better idea? There will be more try-ons!! But first I must sleep 😴😴😴😴

May 10: I've finished the hood! Took a bit longer than expected but I have the decreases figured out, knit, and the first row of the cloak body done 😊 Photos!

This one was taken while working the first row of the cloak's body.

And this one is with the entire hood decrease/cloak body start row section (2 rows!) done. Whew! And all my markers are now in place to continue.

I should add I'm still on the second ball of wool; it's a lot smaller than before but I haven't had to splice in the third one yet.

May 11: Starting hank 3 (114g) on row 8 of the body; very close to the beginning of the row (less than 1/4 the way through it). Going so good 😊 

May 17: Time for a few pics! How everything is looking together:

And looking a bit closer at what's done on the body:

And a bit closer still:

I'm hoping once it's longer the stitch patterns will be clearer. Braid cables separating moss stitch triangular sections is the basis for the body.

May 31: Am done 16 rows of the body now; 1 rep of the back cable panel. The pattern is really starting to look as I envisioned 😊 (It's a bit bunched on the needle):

July 5: Humidity broke (for a day) so catching up a few rows on this pretty:

July 26: Finally weighed the hood swatch (needed the wool for something else lol), and it's 100g or 190.3yds; I've added these yards to my Knitmeter.

August 9: A high of 14°C and a day long rain; finally some comfortable knitting weather! My focus has been on the pDragon Charmer I'm knitting for Q&S so I need to get a few rows done on this. And also see if I'm close to where I change the rate of increases. Where are my notes...

August 10: Was knitting in the car (on our way to get K and Aunt Gail's dresses tried on and see how much the seamstress needs to hem them; K's mum's wedding is the 20th!) and realized I made a mistake on 2 of the braid cables... about 4 rows back sigh Started tinking in the car and hopefully can finish after supper is ready.

August 15: Got it tinked back to my mistakes, and have reknit 2 of the rows now. Not where I wanted this to be but I'm glad I fixed it. I just know the mistakes would've showed up in the future photos! So here's where I'm at:

September 3: Setting an intention today to have enough length by the end of Sunday that I can start changing the rate of the increases. Right now each moss st wedge is growing by 2 sts every right side row. Next I want to transition to growing the wedges by 2 sts every 2nd right side row aka every 4th row aka inc row, 3 rows no inc's. We'll see how this goes!

September 6: Got to where I wanted to be :) I worked half of the last row of this segment and put half on an extra circular to try it on to check; thought I might need to do another rep of the center cable (16 rows) to be far enough out. Here's how it's looking now, before I change up the rate of inc's:

September 21: Adding in hank 4 which weighs 116g (220.71yds).

Taking this along as hospital knitting; Sis needs to see someone about her chest congestion. We think the bronchitis might be back

September 26: And this is going back to the hospital. This time for my retest; the test done in June came back inconclusive due to the sample not being large enough so I had to come back for another. I hope this one gives answers. I snapped a photo while waiting:

September 27: Progress check! Several rows into the new inc rate now:

December 20: Using this as my decoy project since the Twerp insists on being in the same room, even though I've told her that I'm making her something. Me nerves! 

But I *am* getting quite a few rows in so I'll try to focus on that as a positive. 

December 27: A bit more done. I soon want to split the sts onto 2 circs and try it on for length. I'm toying with the idea to have slits for the wearer's arms to come out and an inside pocket for keys/debit card, little necessities like that. I swear it looks no different from last week's pic lol:

January 30/23: On the way to Town and this is my project. Intuitive knitting is easiest in the shuttle. Dr's appt tomorrow morning. Here's where I'm starting this snowy morning:

January 31/23: Made good progress between 2 2+ hour shuttle rides, 1 brief wait at the dr's office, and watching a couple movies with Sistwerp's cousin:

February 18/23: Pulled this out today and have gotten 4 or 5 rows in. The rows are so long now! But I love it, and it's soothing and woolly. I'm wondering if I should change up the rate of increase earlier than I had planned. I'm currently working row 56 of the body, leaving another 40 rows to go at the "inc row, work 3 rows as established" rate as I have it charted. My idea was to do twice the number of rows at this rate as I did of the "inc every RS (odd) row" that I started the body at. I'm not decided though. There are 8 rows left in the cable panel repeat after this one, so I have until then to decide anyway. Hopefully I can get to that point this weekend.

Because I'm so close to starting it, hank 5 weighs 117g (222.61yds)

February 19/23: Ball 4 finished one moss wedge into row 57 :) Adding the yardage up top and into Knitmeter.

February 21/23: I've finished row 65 of the cloak's body (53 moss sts between the cable panels). At some point this week I need to separate half-ish of the sts onto another needle so I can spread the whole thing out and get a good look at how it's shaping up. I *think* it's looking good. Here's the entire back cable from the hood curve to the current bottom edge:

February 28/23: I've nearly finished with ball 5 and row 74. I have 4 balls left so I think I better 1) see where I'm at for length, and 2) get the knotwork chart finalized and started.

(later): photo time

April 14/23 (11:24am NDT): So much for having some progress! Between having issues with the knotwork motif and being at day 15 of a tendinitis (multiple injuries to the same rotator cuff) flare... *sigh* Soooooo bored!

July 11/23 (5:18am NDT): Thought I should document my knotwork swatches since that's what I've been working on with regards to this design. So this is KW#1:

Other than having to cable on the wrong side on 2 different rows (in the mini braids) and the wonkiness at the top where two loops close next to each other with no spacing, I was pretty happy with how this one turned out. Not quite what I wanted but not bad for try one. (51.47 yds/28g)

later (3:58pm NDT): KW#2 & KW#3 had the same issues at the top of their charts that KW#1 did, so I skipped them and am casting on KW#4. KW#4 is actually centred on the moss st background that I'm using for the triangular sections of the cloak where the knotworks will slot in. This will give me a bit better visual than just having the knotwork on reverse stockinette. Here I go...!

later (1:29am NDT; yes technically the 12th now): I haven't finished KW#4 quite yet. Some minor issues, like forgetting about making sure cables weave properly *facepalm* Yeah, that's a rookie move! If I move forward with this knotwork, I'll need something in those big round spaces (thinking maybe a bit of easy embroidery; great way to add in a bit of color), and the center braid using 3 sts looks messy to me. I forsee that tomorrow (ie later today) will be designing of KW#5! Here's KW#4 at the moment:

July 12/23: All finished with KW#4:

So, yeah. This needs some changes. I think more height and less width for sure. I do like the more spread out starts and closes of the knotwork sections. And I think the idea of adding a bit of embroidery to the round sections is something to hold onto. Ok! Off to work on KW#5! (KW#4 used 28g/ 51.47yds)

July 13/23 (4:58am NDT): I didn't *mean* to stay up but I got inspired and I know I need to sleep but I really want to knit up KW#5 because it is completely and utterly over the absolute TOP and I think it's exactly what this cloak needed to give it the WOW factor. There are bobbles. And embroidery for embellishment. I think Sistwerp thinks I've completely lost an edge but it is sooooooo good! I only hope the knitted piece looks as good as I think it will. We'll see when I get it knit up... Ok, bed. Now. So I can cast-on when I get up ;)

later (3:33pm NDT): Um, I may have lost the plot. KW#5 is set in a 51st wide block... that is 79 rows high! The cloak body is currently 73 rows long! I still want to knit it up though lol.

The width is great; row 73-74 has 55 sts in the triangular panels so fitting a 51st wide knot (and 4 sts of that is bordering anyway) in is absolutely perfect. I got that part bang on :)

That length though; wowzers. But I love the symbolism I've pulled forward with it. If KW#5 doesn't get used for this cloak, I'm designing something it can be used in! Total statement piece

July 14/23 (6:56pm NDT): I have a small bit of KW#5 knit; so far it looks good:

July 16/23 (6:28pm NDT): I wasn't counting on our humidity to skyrocket so I'm very slowly getting KW#5 knit up. I'm a few rows shy of halfway now:

The two large sections are where I'll add the embroidery. There will be another pair mirrored in the upper part of the knotwork. This is one very large piece, and I'm thinking it's going to be better suited to an (in planning stages and starting to chart lol) idea I have for a cabled wrap/shawl. Because of course I have another idea that can use an over the top knotwork lol

July 18/23 (11:18pm NDT): KW#5 isn't finished. But when it's after 11pm and with the humidex the temp is 36°C (96.8°F; yes really!) you don't feel like doing much. We're under a heat warning and all feeling pretty sickly. Too hot to cook, to hot to feel like eating. Just not feeling great at all.

But here's KW#5 about 3/4 done:

July 26/23 (12:32am NDT): Finally! It rained this evening and things are still warm but I can comfortably knit. So I've made a bit of progress on KW#5 tonight:

Not quite done but I don't want to miss Check-In. 🥱 I should be getting an early night for the first time in 2 weeks too!

later (2:12am NDT): So much for going to bed early lol I stayed up to finish KW#5:

It's definitely a statement piece! But way too big for the cloak. Back to the drawing board in the morning. Just going to weigh this and calculate the yardage before I head up. KW#5 weighs 56g = 102.95yds

July 27/23 (6:32pm NDT): Neither of my KW#6s were very good. And one was almost as big as #5 😂 So #7 is scaled back and I think may be the one for this cloak... First I have to knit it up!

August 2/23 (12:42am NDT): Finished KW#7 :)

I really like this one. I think I may have been trying to do too much with the others, while this one adds just a pop. I think it'll fit at the bottom of the moss st sections of the cloak. Which means I can move on with knitting the cloak itself! :) 
(KW#7 weighs 10g = 18.38yds)

August 3/23 (4:49pm NDT): So last night I couldn't sleep so I made a "master chart" of this pattern (put all of the body charts into one big one) so I could start working on the line by line/written pattern file. Whew. I'm glad for the actual knitting I can just use the basic charts.

Ok, time to get going in row 75!

August 8/23 (12:28am NDT): Figuring a few things out; I have 4 hanks remaining. I have knit in hank 5 so need to add it up top and to Knitmeter. Hank 6 weighs 118g (224.51 yds).

So I thought I only had 3 hanks left. This means I can probably push the knotworks up/down a bit more. Hmm. I think I want to respace the shaping a little bit. I had rushed it because I was concerned but now with an extra ~215yds... not so worried. I can go back and fix that rushed bit.

later (7:24am NDT): Ok, I'm pretty sure I have the chart reworked. At this point the dots I use for purls are starting to make funny pictures in front of my eyes 😵‍💫 Might be time for bed lol

later (3:24pm NDT): After looking over the new chart, I did not mess it up early this morning. I need to tink most of row 75 since the knotwork starts have shifted but then I should be on the right track again. Close up of a knotwork start:

later (7:31pm NDT): Guess who effed up her charts. 🤦🏼‍♀️ I had the moss stitch messed up. And of course with complex cables (or the spacing for them) running through everything I couldn't do a simple substitution. Nope. Every stitch/square changed individually. On my phone screen. Is it Monday?? It feels like Monday.

Back to tinking the row; was over halfway when I realized the big chart was off. I can fix it on the comp after Sis goes to bed now that I have the small ones all done; quick copy/paste job now. What an adventure this cloak is 😂

August 21/23 (1:39am NDT): Hoping to knock out a couple more rows before I report progress later today. It would be nice if the humidity would break so having this in my lap weren't so uncomfortable :P

August 22/23 (11:37pm NDT): Progress pic!

It doesn't feel any longer. I'm using yarn so it has to be, but it really doesn't feel any longer than it was

August 29/23 (7:30am NDT): Whew!! I'm done through row 90. 91 is where I start putting the knotworks into place. Almost done with hank 6; I expect to get into the second panel when I'll need to stop and wind hank 7. Now ot feels like I'm getting somewhere! "Only" around 600 sts in a row now lol Pic later; I'm in need of some zzzz's!

later (1:13am NDT): 596 sts in each row from 89 to 96; I'm nearly done row 91. And now I know why the rows take forever lol Photo of this week's progress:

The pink marker is where I started last Wednesday.

later (1:36am NDT): Row 91 and hank 6 are done:

Could not have cut that any closer! Adding hank 6's weight and yardage to my totals now... 1331.86 yds and exactly 700g :)

Hank 7 weighs 117g; 222.61 yds :)

September 12/23 (11:01pm NDT): Progress is being made today finally. Humidity and temp are down enough that I can comfortably knit. The knotworks are starting to grow:

And here's how a whole panel is looking, more or less:

I'll have to get the cloak spread out after I finish the current row and can slip another needle in. But there is progress, happily :)

September 19/23 (2:35am NDT): Making fairly good progress on this :) The knotworks are definitely becoming more clearly defined, which makes me very pleased with this whole design

Of course, there are other household members who aren't so pleased with my cloak focus.

This is some major "Stop knitting and pay attention to ME, Auntie" energy from fur-niece Silver Belle. She's also purring her little heart out so I know she's not too upset... as long as I make with the pets quickly! lol

I'm almost halfway through row 99 :) I'd like to have row 100 done before I take a pic and submit it for progress check-ins

later (7:25am NDT): Took these photos about an hour ago. First is the whole cloak spread out:

Then I got this one of the back panel plus the shaping panel next to it; you can see the third of the knotwork motif:

And finally, I got a closeup of the start of the knotwork:

I tried it on and the fit is good. Even the hood doesn't feel ginormous once actually on. Only one problem: it's barely to my elbows. This isn't the long dramatic cloak I wanted 😭

So do I push on? Make a cut in a st near the neck shaping, remove the hood and make it longer? I just don't know sigh

September 27/23 (4:02pm NDT): I'm leaving the hood as it is. The Countess' dramatic hooded cape is what inspired me to design this, so I can't get rid of it. What I am doing is frogging back to the row I started the knotworks on (9 rows back 😭), and then will knit the established patterns until I start the final hank. That's when the knotworks will go in. So guess who gets to adjust her charts. Again. I'm glad I still love this design because if I didn't I'd have tossed it in a corner long ago.

later (6:06pm NDT): It's off the needle and I (hopefully) have it marked on the proper spot I need to frog back to.
First an overview of having it off the needle:

And then a close up of where I have the needle threaded through sts on the edge:

Here goes...

later (6:34pm NDT): And as quick as that I'm tinking the last row, and getting the sts back on the needle. Whew! I marked it right

612sts is the count for this row; why do I do things like this to myself? 😆

October 2/23 (6:32pm NDT): It was row 91 that I had to tink to take out the knotworks' starts. I'm in the midst of row 94 now so it's not taking too long to get back where I was (I had row 99 done when I frogged). Fingers firmly crossed that that was the last frogging I have to do with this project 

October 10/23 (7:12pm NDT): Time to check how much/little I've done this week. Admittedly my time has gone to other projects a bit more than it really should have. That's what happens when I'm putting something off though lol (Not with this; I'm avoiding the cutting and sewing part of lining my 4HR 😹)

later (11:58pm NDT): Was trying for "one more row" but figured I better stop and get a pic before I completely miss check-ins:

November 8/23 (1:04am NST): Between travel and illness I haven't done much on this for a bit. Finished row 97 which is pretty nondescript. Two more rows will get me back to where I was before I frogged. And then I'm just continuing on with the sea of moss st lol. Here's the latest progress pic:

November 10/23 (1:17am NST): Just finished row 99! Which puts me back where I was when I frogged 10 rows. Whew!! Onto new territory :) Also noting that I'm still on hank 7

November 13/23 (7:31pm NST): Finished row 103 :) And a progress pic:

With the rows being 724sts now (if I'm mathing correctly), they take a little time lol

November 21/23 (1:22am NT): Whew! This has become my decoy project since I'm working on Sistwerp's scarf at the same time but of course not in the living room when she's sitting with me 😂 Somethings never change

Only a few rows this week since they're so long now but progress is progress. I'm really close to adding in ball 8 too. Ok, the pic:

(1:48am NT): Finished with hank 7 about 1/4 through row 107 :) Time for a finger stretch and get hank 8 wound into a ball...

(2:04am NT): Hank 8 weighs 121g (230.22yds)

November 28/23 (8:41pm NT): FOYAL is in full swing but I did manage some rows this week :)