Monday, August 27, 2012

Learning Tartan Hose

This is my second attempt at a tartan stocking. The first try was essentially a swatch, using stash yarn. That swatch taught me that colors need to be chosen carefully. There was nothing wrong with the knitting. I just hated the colors.
On to the swatch in the picture..... My husband, Ian is Scottish, born in Edinburgh. His grandfather came from the Isle of Lewis,which is the hereditary home of a branch of the Morrison clan. According to the Scottish Tartan Authority, there are two main Morrison Tartans, a Green Hunting Tartan, and a Red Morrison Tartan.  In addition, each major tartan has modern and ancient versions that vary in color.
     The photo shows the leg portion of a tartan/argyle stocking being knit according to a traditional, two-needle, flat pattern. Tartan hose are knit flat because the colored diamonds are knit using the intarsia  (block) method.  I'm knitting this piece using two strands of fingering yarn throughout. The doubled strand of yarn is an important design feature in tartan stockings. Argyle patterns feature diamonds. Tartan patterns may be distinguished from argyle, by the addition of "marls" which are combination of two colors to give a heathered effect. I knit this project with two strands of yarn in order to create a custom marl yarn as needed.
    The blocks of a tartan pattern are knit in solid and marled patterns, which are taken from the main colors of the woven tartan. Additional colors used in the woven tartan have been added as diagonal "rakers".  I chose to add the rakers using duplicate stitch. Rakers can be knit directly into the diamonds. I chose not to do this, partly for simplicity. A secondary reason to stitch the rakers in later is that I can change my mind. I like seeing how the main colors work together before I add additional colors.