Golden Oldies

The sun was shining (!!), so I thought I’d treat us to a wander around Trinity College, in the centre of Dublin. See the doubledecker in the bottom left? well, its brothers keep coming between us and the building, traffic is hectic out here.  So off we go, into an oasis of scholarly peace…

OOPs, sorry- first, a SPOILER ALERT! this post contains a couple of photos, after the Trinity Tour Part I, of a Vintage Mystery KAL (Knitalong, to the uninitiated) which Christelleb posted on Ravelry this week. I have her permission, but I don’t want to spoil the suspense for anyone who wants to wait for the official start in January, so for those who don’t care about that I’ve included a photo-tutorial for casting on the centre of a circular piece of lace (trying not to give anything away, here!), which can be a bit fiddly.

Alright, let’s start walking again.

…through the front door (student for scale), into the porters’ lodge….

..which is floored with ancient wood (bog oak, perhaps) hexagons. The doorway itself is constructed of massive glittery Leinster granite, and the quad beyond of limestone cobbles. The latter are treacherously slippery, especially when wet (i.e. most of the year!), so recently some paved paths have been added (practicality beat tradition on that issue). Now welcome to the front Quad:

Don’t forget to get off your bicycle, or the porter will hound you out!

Would you believe I ordered that procession of fresh graduates, just to add atmosphere for you?

I thought not, but it was worth a try.

Don’t they look well though? The golden embroidery is absolutely sumptuous, sorry I couldn’t get any closer…

I’m guessing the white fur on their hoods would traditionally have been ermine (they’re English graduates, FYI), but I don’t think any animals were harmed in the making of this ceremony, unless you count exam stress in Trinity students … Note the result of walking on those cobblestones for four years: those girls are perfectly steady on their high heels!

Moving further away from the main entrance, the atmosphere becomes stiller- it’s hard to remember that Dublin is buzzing just a short hop away.

Trinity was founded by Queen Elizabeth I in the late 16th century (1592); some of these trees may well have been alive then too….

I’ll show you my favourite building on this campus next week, as it’s being cleaned now, behind that scaffolding. I love the way both old and new buildings are reflected in this sculpture (“Sphere within a sphere” ,1996, by Arnaldo Pomodoro).

This is Fellows’ Square, showing how modern buildings have been added cheek-by-jowl with those from from another age. The lawn is adorned by “Cactus Provisoire” (1967) by Alexander Calder.

Final WARNING: vintage mystery about to be partially revealed, after this example of woolly exuberance. Scroll down further on your own responsibility!

(Can you tell I’m having fun with this? Good!)

And now for the beginning of a vintage mystery (posted by Christelleb on Ravelry for free!) which seduced me this week. I’ve never done a KAL before, never  mind a mystery one, but the combination of the words “vintage” and “lace” is almost certain to hook me, and this one’s lovely. The shawl is made up of medallions, which are straightforward enough for a newbie to tackle, and I already have an idea how to simplify the assembly, but I’ll let you know if it works next week.

The size of the central hole can be adjusted by simply pulling on the yarn tail- best to adjust after blocking.

Isn’t it pretty? I’m using Garnstudio Drops Alpaca-Silk Lace (800m/100g), the same as I used for my Monet Cardigan, just a different colour. When I did the sums, the original wool used was ca. 675m/ 100g, almost the exact same as the Midara Roma I used for Mwaa’s  semi-circular shawl, but I didn’t have enough in my stash, so I’m using the skinnier (and slipperier!) stuff, on 3mm DPNs. I just knit round 41 onto the circular needle for storage.

By the way, USEFUL TIP I just learned, for users of Proknit interchangeable needles: they have those little holes near the joints, for tightening up with a key, right? Well, you can thread a lifeline (safety thread) through that hole before knitting a round, and you will be automatically threading a lifeline through those stitches as you go. Three cheers for Lisa of This is Knit for that advice!

Now, casting on 8 stitches as a circle onto double-pointed needles (DPNs) is a challenge, even if you don’t make it more difficult for yourself like I did, with slippery yarn on metal needles. Wood works better, and a set of five needles is a godsend when your pattern repeats are divisible by four (see photos). By the way, I used a different coloured marker on the first needle- it helped! Here’s how I cast on for projects like this, with the help of a 3mm crochet hook (shown with 4-ply mercerized cotton so you can see better, it doesn’t look so chunky in laceweight). I find that this way the needles are much less likely to go slip-sliding away than with a pure Emily Ocker beginning, please let me know if you find it helpful. And credit to my DS, who took the following photos starring my fingers.

Start by putting a loop anti-clockwise around your left index finger as above, then insert the crochet hook from above. Put the yarn around the hook and pull it through, then….

..put yarn around the hook again and make one chain stitch (is that called the same in American? Please let me know.).

Now work one double crochet (American: single crochet, I know that one) into the loop next to the chain st.

Your chain followed by a double crochet (Amer: sc) should look like this.

We need 8 double crochet sts (scs) in total- one for each knit st to be cast on- this is what the loop looks like after 4 dcs, leave it nice and open until you’ve made 8 dcs, then pull the tail gently to close it up:

Place the loop of  the 8th dc on the first DPN, then pick up and knit a second stitch from the front loop of the very first double crochet:

See? Now pick up and knit one stitch from the front loop of each remaining dc, two at a time- you can use the crochet hook for this, it’s easier, just slide the sts off the wrong end of the hook onto the appropriate DPN.

Doing this on a table helps, especially if it’s your first time.

Now you’re ready to rock and roll, have fun!

And I have 3 more medallions to knit before I can try out my construction idea, so I’m off, bye….

17 thoughts on “Golden Oldies

  1. Casting on such a limited number of stitches on dpns is the hardest part of a project sometimes. Especially with metal needles. Your technique makes it look much less daunting, though! And it looks pretty too. 🙂

  2. Okay – the photos are amazing – and the history just blows me away. You’d be hard pressed to find anything that old in the US – 200 years is just not that long.
    I must admit I was lost with the knitting piece until you showed how you start with crocheting – THAT I can do!
    And one more thing – when you say “cheek-by-jowl” do you mean “willy-nilly?”

    • Good guess, but no! It’s a flowery English way of saying very close/side-by-side.
      The knitting is not for beginners, unless they have nerves of steel and LOTS of time for a steep learning curve, but I’m having great fun with it!

      • Had to come back and say “hello” and thanks for the lead to that yarn site – I reblogged her post- something I’ve never done. Gosh, I must’ve looked at that video of the synchronized yarn dancers 5 times today and STILL it’s funny. Hope the blue’s stay away, Pauline…

  3. I like your tutorial, I enjoy using little crochet shortcuts in knitting. I use that kind of center for crochet flowers because I like the seamless look and the ability to adjust the size of the center. I’ll definitely keep in mind the way you’ve integrated it into your knitted lace, when I get brave enough to actually knit lace, anyway.
    Having recently toured some American colleges with my daughter, it was fun to have a peek at a college in your neighborhood.

      • We’re saving our pennies for a trip to Ireland and England, likely to go when my daughter graduates high school in 3 1/2 years. She’ll have to choose a college before then, though. I’d like to take her earlier, maybe we’ll be able to swing it in the summer btw her jr and sr year. I have always wanted to visit Ireland, and at least now it’s in the 5 year plan. We’re Quinns on my mom’s side so Ireland is like the holy grail homeland, in family lore.

  4. Wow! Thank you for this walking tour, especially as I have always wanted to visit Ireland and have not yet. I am struck by the resemblance of Trinity – a little, anyway – to Columbia Univ in NYC, my alma mater. Very lovely. And the medallion shawl is freakin’ gorgeous.

    • There’s plenty of time to join the KAL, the official start is Jan. 1st! There are loads of people planning to join in, and us forerunners will be guides….

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