A few days ago I was riding near the front of the 65 bus and knitting the flat earth scarf. A younger woman (40, give or take) was sitting on the elderly/handicapped bench at the very front, looking fresh in her white skirt and black knit top with white detailing. A stop or two later, an older woman wearing a black and white print dress boarded the bus. Clearly she was going to sit near the first woman, and I was getting ready to enjoy a study in black and white. The younger woman really needn’t have moved to the back, but she did. “Come back!” I wanted to say, “you’re walking out of my tableau!” But I restrained myself, as I probably wouldn’t have gotten the desired effect at any rate.
So the ride continued, and the older woman caught my eye and asked me what I was working on. My usual answer when working a scarf is to admit that it’s a scarf, but then to quickly defend my knitting character by explaining that I also knit sweaters. I probably ran through all of that, then had the presence of mind to ask the woman if she was a knitter. Yes! A fellow knitter, indeed. Flat Earth is not reversible, and we started discussing our shared preference for absolutely reversible scarves. At the end of the conversation, I was scrawling her favorite reversible lace scarf pattern on the back of an emery board wrapper. She assured me that I would like the result.
Here’s what she said: cast on 2 plus some multiple of 4, then on every row, knit 2, then work the following repeat: purl 1, yarn over, purl 2 together, knit 1. So when I got home I cast on 30 stitches and tried this, with a lumpy and unappealing result. Witness:
It seemed so improbable that this was the result that I was encouraged to achieve, and also the preponderance of purling felt a little awkward. Not quite prepared to give up, I decided to swap the knits and the purls to reduce the awkwardness. Specifically: purl 2, then work the repeat as knit 1, yarn over, knit 2 together, purl 1. To my delight, this is what developed:
Instead of lumpiness, I got lovely ridges framing the eyelets. The edges were a little knobby, so I started slipping the first stitch knitwise instead of purling it, and I got a nice clean edge. Pattern satisfaction! A mystery remains, however. When the woman from the bus knits this pattern, does she get the lumpy first result or the smooth second result? I am inclined to think that it's the latter, in part because Flat Earth, which inspired her to suggest her pattern, also has a nice ridge following the eyelet. Emily, when you land and get wired again, perhaps you can shed some light on whether the bus woman might knit Eastern Uncrossed.
Now that you mention it ...
Jenn, you're right; I should be more open-minded about variation in taste. When I switched the stitch pattern, I was intending to continue with the fabric in progress. My rule of thumb is that you've gotta knit four inches before you know if you like the product and the process. The second result has the floppiness and swing that I like in a scarf, and the first one probably not so much. I imagine it would break pooling, which is always a good trick to have up your sleeve.
Colleen, so glad you like! So glad to have another lace sistah.
Emily, thanks for weighing in. I'm happy to know that you arrived safely. May the data goddess be with you. I never did get you the quiz cookies. Maybe upon your return?
Judy, try it out! You can always do a little swatch, block it, and weigh it to see what kind of coverage it's going to give you.
Dorothy, thanks for devoting time to this! Please do email me your picture. I'm very curious.