Mounqaliba and beyond

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, perhaps you remember back in February when I posted about a chart I appropriated (with permission) from the sweater of a passing acquaintance. For a time, I obsessed about finding the source of the pattern, and I infected at least a couple of people with the same obsession. I helped one friend with an immense knitting library go through her magazines dating back to the 1980s (to try to catch patterns that Ravelry might not have due to age). I went through every single Dale of Norway pattern. I inquired in the Stranded group and the Xtreme Fair Isle group on Ravelry. I asked everyone at all of my knitting groups. Nobody ever found a chart that was the same or even similar.

So I decided it was time to assume that the pattern was not published, and knit up a swatch of it. Perhaps in its knitted form, the pattern would jog someone’s memory. I decided to dig back into my stash and retrieve that large amount of Artyarns Ultramerino 4 that Iris so graciously bestowed upon me nearly a year ago. I laid them all out and started to match them up into two-skein color combinations that resonated with me on some plane. The one I liked the least I decided to swatch with. I chose a repeat and started working. About halfway through, I decided to change the pattern a bit. In stranded knitting, the single-pixel “blips” of color are often used to keep long strands anchored. However, in double-knitting, these aren’t necessary. So I removed them and finished the swatch. You can check out the back here.

While working on this pattern, I was struck by this curvy colorwork’s resemblance to cables, and sat down to convert the entire pattern to cables. In fact, because the pattern centers on a single column, cables weren’t the only answer — it’s a combination of increasing/decreasing colorwork and cables, all done in double-knitting. There are some utterly ridiculous techniques in this swatch, such as a 5-to-3 double-decrease and its inverse, a 3-to-5 double-increase. There’s also a place where a double-decrease is immediately followed by a double-increase in the next row, which creates the illusion that two individual chains are passing through each other. There are a couple of glitches in the chart resulting in some odd positioning, but I’ve fixed those and the next swatch will be better. It’s a gorgeous rendering of the original pattern, but I have no clue what I’m going to do with it. Perhaps I’ll need to swatch it again a little larger and something will come to me.

The original pattern, however, I do know what I’m going to do with. Of course, I’ll remove the “blips” for a cleaner look (and to protect me from the original author who will no doubt surface as soon as I’ve published it). Because I’ve got a limited amount of each color and because I want to give the community something a little smaller and more manageable than my last couple of patterns, I decided on a fitting application. I feel a little conflicted about using this pattern on something as mundane as a gadget sleeve, but that’s what I’m planning on doing — a customizable gadget sleeve for any gadget. I’ve been taking gadget measurements and I think I’ve got enough to start with. I need to do a little more swatching, then I can work out the pattern. This will also probably require that I finally work out double-knit kitchener stitch.

I did finally settle on a name. I was hoping to identify the actual culture the pattern comes from, but in the end I decided it looks Arabic or North African, and gave it an Arabic name. The name “Mounqaliba” sprang unbidden into my head — it’s the name of Natacha Atlas‘ recent album — and when I looked it up, it translates to “in a state of reversal”. Could it get more perfect? Here’s hoping I don’t get sued by Natacha Atlas — although I don’t think she owns the word itself.

In other news, I’ve been tapped by a friend of mine who’s a yarn-company rep to design 6 patterns over the next year for a colorwork club for a new line of their yarns. I can’t go into details because I’m not under contract yet (and I don’t know the level of disclosure allowed), but it’s nice to spend some time — for the first time in a very long while — designing something that’s not in double-knitting. I knit a really nice stranded colorwork hat in 3 days and now I’m going to knit another one to refine the pattern! I’ve got some neat ideas for the upcoming patterns …

My Spring workshop season is over now, and while I have one workshop weekend at WEBS in July, I’m basically on workshop hiatus for the summer. If your shop wants to get me in for the Fall workshop season, I’m starting to think about scheduling. Email me — or tell your shop to seek me out at TNNA in Columbus.

2 thoughts on “Mounqaliba and beyond”

  1. Intriguing… Looking forward to studying the pattern in the near future. And thanks for the link to the music.

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