I thought it only right to road-test the new Karbonz needles, after we have all waited such a long time for them. Having recently received a copy of Knitted Lace by Sonja Esbensen and Anna Rasmussen, a doily seemed the natural way to go. I allowed myself another new cast-on. I searched for thread and found some DMC in size 30. I then settled down with my lovely new book to find a pattern to knit.
I have not counted the number of patterns but I understand that there around 40, which makes this book not only very good value but also very difficult to choose from. A quick skim suggests that most of the finished items shown were knitted in size 20 thread, though a few are written for size 30. I eventually settled, oddly enough, on the pattern that sent me scurrying to buy the book in the first instance — Valborg.
Knitted Lace is a very well thought-out little book. The symbol chart is on a flap inside the cover that acts as ready reference and place marker… and usefully helps to keep the book open. There is an initial section on how to read the patterns, which use symbols. There follows a section on how to work the stitches, with clear diagrams. How To Start is a diagrammed section depicting the circular beginning, using a straight cast-on method. I prefer to use Emily Ocker, which is what I did attempt… and am still attempting, though I did give the straight cast on a quick go in order to test the new DPNs.
Oh, How To Start makes it look so simple. If only I had that level of manual dexterity and good eyesight to go with it.
Advice on completion, washing and blocking, together with instructions for paper blocking patterns follows before the patterns themselves — to which there appears to be no index.
The patterns themselves range from small doilies of under 50 rounds to larger tabletops. Valborg is 166 rounds. I must be mad. So far as I can see, a 1.5mm needle is recommended for all the pieces, whichever the size of thread. For all of the patterns that I have looked at with any degree of care, an 8 stitch cast on is followed by a geometrically regular 8 repeat pattern. The patterns are shown as one segment, to be repeated around the circle. One little thing to be aware of. plain knitted rounds are not shown in the charted patterns, so the knitter needs to keep a close eye on those round numbers and spot the ones that are missing!
Overall, I believe this to be a cracking little book for the price and that it would form a good introduction to doily-knitting, whilst still entertaining all but the most advanced of knitters. The designs are similar to Niebling-style doilies but are more geometrically regular than some of the very advanced ones. There are a small handful of patterns that are not circles, squares, or hexagons. One vase-shaped piece attracted my attention, as did a nice lozenge-shaped doily.
If I had to quibble, I would request a good index – a list of patterns and their start page number, showing thread size and number of rounds to complete. I might possibly generate my own index when I have the time and a clear desk.
So. Valborg. Size 30 thread.
1.5mm DPNs were unpacked and petted, before casting on 8 stitches and rearranging 2 stitches one each of four needles. While I was attempting the feat of joining the round, 2 needles fell to the floor. Now, I know that the Karbonz are supposed to cling, and I am sure that they will when used with yarn, but they did not adhere well to the silky mercerised cotton thread.
I pulled it out and cast-on Emily Ocker-style. Well, I tried to. It’s a fiddly thing to do at this gauge, with my hands and eyes. Eventually I had 8 stitches and a ring that would slide about. About 15 rounds later I decided that my start was not as good as it might have been. I pulled my work out and began again.
Gill and Jennifer were here, cheering me on and admiring the Karbonz… which are lovely indeed. I stopped to talk to the ladies about my difficulties and said that I rather thought I might swap to circulars and magic loop this thing. I was only using DPNs to demonstrate their use in a review…
THAT was the point at which I realised that we have no circulars that small. Not in Karbonz, nor Symfonie, not even in Nova. I would be stuck on 6″ DPNs for the life of this project. Well, that did it, I ripped it out again.
I set off on a 100cm 2mm fixed circular. Again and again. I simply do not seem able to achieve a neat beginning to this doily using this thread.
Fair enough, I wasn’t feeling in the pink yesterday but, really, how many times have I done this before with ease?!
I can tell you that I have started to look at this thread sideways. “Baleful” might be the term applied.
I am seeking the positives. One of which is that I am giving both the DPNs and the Fixed Circulars a good testing. I am also becoming thoroughly familiar with the first 20 or so rounds of Valborg.
What can I say about the needles? Sex for knitters, maybe. They feel gorgeous in the hand – sleek but warm. The metal tips are very long and beautifully tapered and all the joins are smooth. They are pointed enough to tackle tight or tiny stitches and to deal well with lace stitches, yet not so sharp as to make for sore fingertips. The cable is black and is said to be the usual kink-free cable used in their other needles. In my honest opinion, these black cables are better than the purple ones and are more soft and pliable. As for the ease of working white stitches on black needles…
I can safely say that I love these fixed circulars and expect to get many hours of work out of them. They make for fast and relaxed knitting and a real joy to use. I just wish that they came in a 1.5mm size.
Wednesday Update: Oh, my, a Wednesday WIP in fact!
One last cast-on, straight, onto a magic loop, and I was away. Now 38 rounds in and thoroughly enjoying the experience – these Karbonz make the job so easy.