July 1-3, 2011

Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino, 100% Worsted Weight Wool, in White and Red

Needles: 4.5 mm / 7 US

Gauge: 4.5 stitches and 5.5 rows per inch 

Stitch Pattern: Double Knit Maple Leaf

Source: KBB, p. 109

Comments: I'm putting this swatch in for three days because that's how long it took me to knit - not because its a big swatch, or because I was that busy, but because the instructions are THAT confusing!  Double knitting is where you knit two pieces of fabric at once, in this case with wrong sides together.  There are several methods of doing this - here, for the plan bits at least, you move both strands of yarn along together - from the white side, for example, you K1 white with both yarns in back, move both yarns to the front, then P1 red, move both yarns to the back, K1 white, and so on, all the way across the piece.  You can also do this one yarn at a time - *K1 white, slip 1 with yarn in back*, repeat from * to * all the way to the end - the catch there being that you have to use a circular or DPN, so that you can then turn the piece, slide the work back to the other end of the needle, and do the same the other colour of yarn. purl the stitches that were previously slipped and slip the ones previously knit.  When slipping stitches, make sure to hold the yarn such that it ends up between the two pieces of knit fabric - if you wrap it on the wrong side of the stitch, you'll see it from the outside of the knit fabric.

Okay, so that part is pretty straight forward.  What is odd in this pattern is that the instructions switch from 24 rows of working with two colours at once across all the stitches (I think you should have 70, although I only did 42), to suddenly using only one yarn at a time, and only on the center 34 stitches of the piece - no explanation is given of how to deal with the 18 stitches left on either side of the motif.  I tried to work across to the motif using both yarns and then switch to using only one at a time, but I couldn't make it work - you can't turn the piece and slide it to the opposite ends of the needle because the 18 side stitches always get in the way.  I tried this many different times, and even consulted several other sources, and still couldn't make sense of it all! 

Add to this the fact that a) there are typos in the written pattern, b) the chart (which is dizzying in its complexity) doesn't match the written instructions, c) there is no indication of which colour in her example is the Main Colour (MC) and which is the Contrast (CC) - which makes a difference because d) I think they have you start the motif with the CC when it should be the MC that you start with (given that white is your MC/background on the front, if you work the specified 24 rows, and then start the motif with the CC as stated, you get a red rectangle/white maple leaf inside of the white main background), and finally e) the number seem to be off slightly such that the leaves won't be identical from one side to the other.  But of course this last point is rather hard to determine, because I couldn't get past the first 9 or so rows of the pattern as written!  Oh, and dont' forget f), that this pattern has clearly suffered greatly from the attempt to squash the instructions for the block into a single page of the book - given that this is marketed as a book that can teach you new techniques, even two paragraphs of instruction on how to do double knitting would have been very valuable - they could've easily put them in the back alongside the instructions for colour stranding, intarsia, and how to knit on circular needles!

Anyway, after many hours of frustration from fighting with this, I gave up and just made it up as I went along - I graphed out the maple leaf by counting the stitches in the photo, and then worked the piece using two yarns at a time, knitting the stitches facing the front, and purling the ones facing backwards.  And now that I've had a day or two to cool off, I think I may go email Ms. Epstein and have her review this pattern so the corrections can be added to the list of errata for this book - there are corrections for several other patterns already but not this one - which makes me suspect that few people have actually tried to knit this block!.

ETA: I should mention that part of my frustration with the poor instructions for this block is due to the fact that the rest of the book (from what I've knit so far!) is so good.  Its annoying to have such a great book wrecked by one badly reviewed pattern - imagine if this were the only block attempted by someone - it would put them off the whole book! 

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