… or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the Curlicue

… or, this was meant to be yesterday’s post, but I was too tired to pull it together

Don’t get me wrong: I hate the Curlicue pattern. I’m currently exchanging e-mails with the folks at Oat Couture, informing them of the evils that are embodied in their pattern. It just makes me so angry that the one time I followed a pattern “to the t,” the designers totally let me down.

But I love the concepts embodied in the pattern. I love the short rows, I love the piece-by-piece construction without seaming, and now that I know how the whole thing is pieced together, I love the idea of making each section a different color. It is clever, it is unique, it is difficult – yeah, baby!

From the little glimpse I showed you yesterday, you might be thinking that I’ve started to knit a second variation of the Curlicue. Trust me when I say that that would be the stupidest thing to do. Some say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different outcome, and, by most standards, I’m not insane :). This pattern needs drastic changes if it even has a chance of being pucker-free.

But the entire pattern does not need to be eliminated – it does have some good and promising design features. My heart pitter-patters at the cleverness and beauty of the outside wedges (blue in this picture). Do you remember how they start out looking very triangular, but once the short-row wraps are picked up, become cute curlicues? They even pucker a little bit at the join, but in a totally attractive, wavy, unbound way, like a fan opening up and closing a bit. They are keepers. The middle star (green), however, would require way too much work to be fixed: it needs to be entirely redesigned, and I’m not up for that challenge – it is out!

Once I decided that the middle star needs to be eliminated in order to not bring the whole team down, it became clear to me how to redesign the Curlicue – just place some number of outside wedges all next to each other, and voilà! – the circle would be completed. How many wedges? Six! How do I know? Photoshop!

Okay, I don’t know for sure, but seeing how the wedges behave when two are near one another, I am speculating that this would indeed be the case.

However, 6 wedges straight out of the pattern placed side to side would result in a very small round blanket, about 25″ in diameter. What will happen if I make the wedges longer? Once again, this is just speculation – I think 6 longer wedges will still fit together because the angle of each wedge would remain the same… they would just extend further out. For the number-crunching types, I’m aiming for a blanket that’s about 40″ in diameter, so I’m working wedges over 89 sts instead of 57 as the original pattern specifies.

The good news is that I only need to knit two sections to see if my speculations will hold. I have really high hopes for this redesign because, as planned, each wedge is only bound on two edges, giving it a lot of space to breathe, spread out, and arrange itself with the give of the unbound edge. In contrast, the real Curlicue pattern has that middle star section the components of which are bound on four edges… think of knitting a square, then picking up stitches around the edges and binding off way too tightly – no blocking miracle is going to help there.

And of course now that I know how the whole thing is constructed, I plan to make the wedges different colors. Once the first is completed and I see how much yarn it eats up, I’ll have a better idea of what combinations I can create and we’ll revisit the topic :).

26 thoughts on “Speculation

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  1. Michelle

    I am bummed on your behalf that the curlicue turned out to be so problematic. What a disappointment! I am looking forward to the new, improved version! Are you going to frog the original and re-use the yarn for something? Maybe a shrug? ;^)

  2. Katie

    I am disheartened to see the difficulties you have had with Curlicue. I still have the pattern waiting for me, and have found some yarn. I am just waiting until I have the time to start it. Please keep us posted on the new Curlicue!

  3. freecia

    I was telling someone in my LYS (Full Thread Ahead) that I was following your progress. Let’s just say I’m calling it “challenging” while raising my eyebrows.

    That is one lucky baby.

  4. Teresa C

    You are such a brave and fearless knitter. I’d have just beaten myself over the head trying to make it work (insane you say? Yep!) Your solution sounds lovely, I can’t wait to see it.

  5. Esther

    Oh my gosh your curlicue is looking fantastic!!! I got brave after seeing your progress and purchased the pattern and once I read through it I calmly put it aside and thought “yeah, sure, ok”….ONE DAY….lol

  6. Kate

    Ooh, I love it! Great idea Kathy — I’m glad you didn’t totally abandon curlicue, and instead put your great mind to work.

  7. Cara

    How do you feel about hero worship? I’m loving how your mind works. I would think of all the math and crawl back to my sock. (Jaywalker, of course!)

  8. Kim

    Ooooo… This could be even more exciting than the first time.. but I’m not getting my hopes too high, as I don’t want the huge downer if it doesn’t work. (Not saying I don’t have faith in you.. but you know.. reserved excitement is good too)

    I am so utterly curious about your email exchange with the oat couture people.. Are they being nice and or helpful? I don’t know why I’m so interested in your grumpy correspondence with companies that make you angry but I just am. lol. I guess I’m just nosey like that.

  9. Urraca

    In my opinion, it’s a pity to drop the central star. Leaving it at a hexagon is much plainer. Plus you’re left with less possibilities for colour combination.

    Did you check the Curlicuesque blanket the Mexican knitblogger whipped up? She has finished it and posted the pattern. Of course, she doesn’t use short rows (she picks up stiches along one wedge to start another) which was the beauty of the original pattern. But her blanket doesn’t pucker and combines different colours on the central star and the borders.



  10. Betsy

    I like the new idea, it reminds me of strokes of a paintbrush placed just so. Will the outer circumfernce of the blanket end up being a clean circle or will it pull in petal-like a-la the original curlicue?

  11. mk

    Your plan is remarkably like a bathset pattern I’ve written, so I can tell you that yes, it will work. The larger the circles got, the more stitches I left at the border – for the bathmat, I think it was 6 stitches for a mat about 20″ across (I could look it up, but finishing the pattern and samples on deadline has caused me to scoop it out of my brain and throw it against the wall for the time being). I will add that the washcloths were fairly quick but the bathmat took for freakin’ ever. If you have any questions, let me know!

  12. Colleen

    I meant to tell you that I have a knit trivet (thanks Knitting Grandma!) that was knit on almost the same principle as the OC blanket. It’s just a middle section spinning out like you describe.

  13. Pumpkinmama

    I’m with Cara – I would never have the mental stamina necesarry to sort through this. Yours humbles me! I hope it works out for you, can’t wait to see it progress.

  14. gleek

    wow, isn’t it fun and exciting when you can figure out how a pattern is constructed and make something totally new from your deductions? i LOVE that feeling! will you try to make it bigger so it’s more of a blanket? i’m looking forward to the rest of this project.

  15. nona

    I have come to learn that you, girl, are not one to be defeated! I’m rooting for you and am confident that you’ll find the best solution. Meanwhile, I’ll sit back and enjoy watching your progress.

  16. Lissy

    I enjoyed your complaint letter to Nordstrom, and would be interested in reading your colloquy with Oat Couture. I am a champion complainer myself, and single-handedly got the ladies bathroom upgraded at the Borders at Downtown Crossing. You go girl!

  17. Purly Whites

    Very interesting! Your logic and judgement seems sound, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the reality works out like you think it should.

    And actually, I like your redesign better. It has an elegant simplicity to it.

  18. diana

    The Maths are smiling down at you right now.

    It seems like you have figured out the solution. I hope it turns out for you. I’m so much less ambitious than you. I’m making a scarf for a baby gift.

  19. carrie m

    i’m totally floored by your initiative. me? i think i would have pulled out all of my hair already and returned to garter stitch scarves.

  20. deb

    I *just* bought this pattern a week ago. I’m bummed at all the issues you’re having. Pleas enlighten us all as to the solution, as you work it out.

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