The Table Is Set
Pattern: Placemats and Beaded Napkin Rings from Simple Knits for Sophisticated Living (actually from the 2005 wall calendar based on said book). Note that I actually made a set of 4 napkin rings and 4 placemats, 2 each in the 2 different colors.
For the napkin rings: wire and beads from The Pear Tree (a variety of 6-8 mm glass beads to coordinate with the placemats), napkins from Pier One Imports. For better close-ups of the napkin rings, go here.
For the placemats: Reynolds Morocco (50% cotton, 50% linen) color 71 (left), color 428 (right).
Comments: Where to begin? I guess I'll start with the positives. I loved knitting the napkin rings. They were just such a change from normal knitting (knitting with wire--how cool is that?), and it was fun to see how the random collection of beads came together on the napkin rings. If I were to do these again, though, I would probably add an additional inch in length, which would also require another 12 beads or so per ring. As they are now, they're just a little bit narrow, so getting the napkins into the rings is a bit of a squeeze. But I would definitely do these again--maybe in different shades of red for my own kitchen, or in some other colors with a set of coordinating napkins as a really nice hostess gift.
The placemats, on the other hand--ugh. I bought this yarn almost a year ago on clearance at A Good Yarn. I had had my eye on this pattern for a while, and figured since the price was right on the yarn the pattern called for, I'd pick up enough to make 4 placemats.
The pattern clearly states that one skein is enough for one placemat. My reply? Hah! I knitted to gauge and still ran out of my first skein of yarn a good 4 inches short of the end of the first placemat. I ended up knitting and ripping out the second lace border on that placemat about 3 times, because I kept miscalculating how far back I would need to rip in order to allow for enough yarn to finish the edging.
After I (finally) finished the first placemat and blocked the heck out of it (illustration here) so that it even remotely resembled the finished dimensions from the pattern, I figured I'd be able to get by--just barely. Again--hah! Two of the skeins had even less yarn than the first one, so I actually had to make a some modifications to the bind-off edging of the lace pattern in order to finish it (you can see the difference, but only if you're looking for it) without ripping out the whole darn thing.
Why didn't I just buy more yarn, you ask? Well, I tried. Turns out that the reason the yarn was on clearance last summer was because--that's right--it's been discontinued. I guess that's the downside of having a stash for specific future projects--if you're like me, by the time you actually get around to starting the project, you might end up with an emergency yarn shortage if the yarn is no longer available. The fact that the yarn estimates were so far off was extremely frustrating--I intended this project as an easy, stress-free handmade wedding gift, and it ended up being my most maddening project in recent memory.
That being said, I am happy with how the whole set turned out--the colors are beautiful, and I hope the new bride and groom will use them in good health. I just need to remember to include instructions (and maybe a set of blocking pins), for if and when they ever need to wash the placemats . . .