Monday, February 23, 2009

Square - Uh, ROW 1.

I cast on for my sweater this past week and knitted happily along on the back. I LOVE the yarn (Valley Yarns Colrain in Grape Jelly), it's beautiful and it feels so wonderful to knit with, and it's not splitty. At first the plain stockinette was kind of boring, but it grew pretty quickly and I enjoyed watching it after a while. I got through a ball and a half of yarn and was about 8 inches in when I thought, you know, I should measure this to see how wide it is. Make sure I'm getting what I'm supposed to, and all that.

Yeah, I might be a little slow.

I measured cheerfully, and found to my disgust that I was getting 24 inches where I was supposed to be getting 22. I thought, well, no big deal, it'll just be a little big, and - here's the kicker. I kept going. I am a moron. It bugged me and it bugged me and I finished out the second ball of yarn and measured and again and discovered that I had been a little optimistic before, that it was actually over 25 inches wide and I was forced to face facts...I was knitting a tent. A giant, beautiful, soft, tent. The thought of having to rip out all that beautifully even stockinette and reknit it with wavy yarn made me want to weep.

I put it away. I fussed. I harassed the SO into entering into my misery, but we both agreed. It was madness and folly to continue on.

I got a fresh ball of yarn and started the back again, but this time I cast on for the size one down from what I was working on. I debated for some time between switching to a smaller needle or knitting the smaller size, and finally settled on the smaller size just because I was relatively certain, based on the amount my initial attempt giant swatch was off by, that this would give me the correct width, and I could not bear the thought of attempting it with a smaller needle only to find that I was going to have to start over a third time. I'm still questioning this decision a little, since I would kind of like it if the fabric were a little tighter, but I'm forging ahead anyway. I'm actually a little concerned because my row guage is also slightly off, but I don't really have a problem with the sweater being a little longer than it is supposed to be. I think. And if I do, I'm reasonably certain I can fix it in the knitting. The only part that is not fixed in length (in other words, the only part that does not say 'knit until it is x inches long') is the spiral chart, so if I find it is too long, I can always take out a diamond.

The upside of this whole thing is, that I was able to change the hem, which I was really wishing I had done. The sweater is knit entirely in stockinette so the bottom edge rolls, and the roll was driving me crazy. So, I knit a garter stitch hem on it when I restarted, to control the roll. It's beautiful. It's gorgeous. I love it. Almost enough to not be better about knitting it twice. Really, I wouldn't be bitter at all, except for the intense pain I feel at the thought of the wavyness of that frogged yarn. I *think* I may actually have enough yarn not to have to rip out the first try giant swatch.

I know that I could always frog the yarn, reskein it on my niddy noddy, and wash it to take out the kinks, but...I'm lazy. If I can avoid that, I will. We shall see.

Thank God I love this yarn so much. If I were indifferent toward it I think I would shoot myself, but since I have such an appreciation for its softness and beauty, it's okay.

I just hope it wears at least moderately okay - it will break my heart if it comes apart the second time I wear it!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Round and round

I didn't knit most of the time that I was sick, just because all I wanted to do was sleep. I finally picked up some knitting Friday night, but I found that sitting up to knit made me kind of dizzy. I eventually found a compromise pose somewhere between sitting up and lying down that made the vertigo bearable, and I knit. I picked out the part of the Orchid Mitt I had messed up (again) and was able to finish the whole mitt (I may have knit the thumb on Saturday, I'm not sure). With this encouragement, I was also able to motor through the second mitt, and last night I finished it up. They're finally done and I don't have to worry about them anymore.

Overall happiness with the project...meh. I should have used a different yarn, one with a little more bounce. I have HUUUGE ladder stitches down the sides, which is a problem I really haven't had before. I'm not sure what the problem was. I'm hoping that in the soaking and blocking that maybe things will even out a little bit, but I can't block these much because there isn't much give in them to begin with, and I don't want to stretch them out huge. I hope they fit the recipient.

And, just like that, I'm down to three WIPS. I definitely had some startitis going on at the beginning of this year, but I've managed to finish all of those things off and so now I'm down to 1 pair of socks, 1 lace shawl (that has languished for months, but we'll ignore that for now), and the hemlock blanket on my active project list. (I do have a few more wips that are 'hibernating' but those really don't bother me the way active projects do).

Three projects feels very reasonable to me, so I no longer have this "I have got to finish some of these off before I start something else" feeling. I hope to get going on my phyllo sweater tonight.

I'm going to attempt to go on a yarn diet until MD Sheep and Wool; between Christmas and my other recent purchases I have really got more than enough yarn to keep me going for a while and I really need to put the breaks on the money output. I did make one more big expenditure this month, and that was on a spinning class being offered by Nature's Yarns. It turns out...I am the only student! Yesterday was my first class and I learned several things I had not gotten out of the book, so I am looking forward to next week. I have spinning homework to do before then, so that's also on the agenda for tonight. Teach gave me several different preps to try spinning, and I am to try each of these and also to fill two bobbins before class next week so that we can cover plying.

I also had the chance to talk to her about staining my wheel, and she pretty much said there is nothing special I need to know, just to go for it, so I'm going to have to set aside a weekend for that. I still have hopes of getting a certain someone to paint something pretty on the flywheel, maybe in exchange for some of my, ahem, highly textured handspun.

We discussed whether I needed to take the wheel apart to stain it and Teach thought I could do it without taking it apart, there would just be some areas I wouldn't be able to get to as easily, but those parts would be largely covered by the wheel anyway. This is a relief, as I had so much trouble getting the wheel onto the thing that taking it off was kind of a terrifying prospect.

So, plans plans - spin my homework, start my sweater, finish Moonlight Sonata so that I can start Swan Lake, now that I have both yarn and beads in hand. I don't think I want to have both on the needles at once; I try not to have more than one of the same type of project going at the same time. I like to have multiple projects that are suitable for different types of knitting time. I have the hemlock ring for TV knitting, the sock for travel knitting, moonlight sonata for times when I can focus, and the sweater is several different kinds of knitting depending on where in the process I am, so I can move it around as needed. I really think that after all the lace knitting I have done and all the scarf knitting I have been doing...the sweater will move kind of fast.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stuff becoming other stuff

I wrote this post on Tuesday, right before I got sick, and it sounded so grumpy I saved it as a draft to come back to later, but since it has now been days with no it is in all its grumpy glory.

I have finished the Just Enough Ruffles Scarf:


Malabrigo Silky Merino in the colorway Velvet Grapes. The bind off took me an HOUR. I like it, and I'm currently wearing it as I type this post despite being in my comfortable home - but it looks an awful lot like the severed arm of an octopus. I'm just saying.

I like the end result and I love the yarn and the colorway, but it was really boring to knit. This was the first time I've done short rows, but they weren't difficult. For the most part, just stockinette. Very pretty. Insanely dull. And, it bears repeating - 600 stitches to bind off. AN HOUR.

I knit and washed a swatch.


Valley Yarns Colrain in emerald, purchased strictly for swatching. I am now fully prepared to cast on for my sweater. Any day now. Totally going to do it.

I have been spinning:


Wine Corriedale from Paradise Fibers. I have 8 ounces of this and my spinning has drastically improved. I think. We'll see when it's done and plied. I'm not very far into it. I still have a loooooot left to go.

So this week I popped it off the wheel and spun something fun for variety. I picked up a couple of batts from Butterfly Girl.

One was this:


Which I have been turning into this:


I feel I am posting all of this entirely without enthusiasm, but I'm feeling kind of sick today - I've developed a cough and a sore throat and I don't have a lot of energy.

Nature's Yarns is offering their wheel spinning class again starting next Monday, so I signed up. I went by the shop today to pay and while I was there I checked to see if the Zephyr had been restocked, and:


It had. I am jazzed to start Swan Lake, but I have a number of less fascinating things to cross off my list first.

Friday, February 6, 2009


I get paid once every month, and I like to have a little payday treat, so last week I very responsibly considered my finances and made a couple little small purchases to make me happy (this ignores the purchasing that I did all January long, but I am working on that).

I picked up some stitch markers from Hide and Sheep (I love their softloop markers so, so much - I have I think four sets already, three in the snowflake obsidian and one that is cobalt blue hearts, and I get sad when I have to use plastic ring markers instead on my larger needles...but not sad enough to buy big ones, since I rarely knit at larger sizes anymore) and I bought a couple of batts from Butterfly Girl Designs (blue morpho and passionflower). I then promised myself I was not going to spend any more money. While my stash is meager by the standards of most, I did get quite a bit of yarn for Christmas, I do still have quite a few projects that can be knit with what I have on hand, and I don't really need more yarn.

Then I got an e-mail in my inbox from Little Knits and...well. I had a little accident. An accident involving two bags of Plymouth Royal Silk Merino and a bag of Rowan Cashsoft Aran, both on closeout. The silk merino was a deal I just couldn't pass up. I have been waiting for some time to knit Eris, but I wanted a yarn that would show all that beautiful celtic cabling (which is why I didn't immediately knit it out of the VY Colrain; the color, while stunning and very me, is pretty dark and I am not knitting all those cables to have them swallowed up in a stunning but dark color). I had been stalking Elann Incense for this purpose, but even at Elann prices, when you add shipping in it's kind of a lot of money, so I put it off (also, they did not have the color I wanted at the moments when I was weakest).

The Cashsoft I use for charity knitting - although, I actually use the dk weight, so I should have thought it through a little harder. But, I'm sure I can make it work if I so choose, though I am kind of thinking if my first couple of sweater forays do not totally scare me off, I could totally make something wearable out of the Cashsoft. We'll see. There might not be enough yardage, and I think my charity knitting could go just as well in the heavier yarn (I like Grumperina's hat patterns and they do come out a little small - I might need different beads though). I favorited a bunch of hats on ravelry, so we'll see when it comes. I tend to use the favorites button as sort of an inspiration box, when I see something and think "I kind of like that, I might want to knit that later," I favorite it, and then when I am looking for a new project I go browse through my favorites to see what strikes me. I don't usually put things in my queue until I am reasonably committed to knitting them.

So, yay for a good deal! Boo for breaking my promise to myself. Well, we'll just have to see how it turns out in the end. If I get a great sweater out of it, I think I will consider it a happy thing. I should actually have quite a bit more than I need for the sweater I am planning, so I will be able to either swap the rest or find something else to do with it (maybe an extra special charity hat or two). I just hope I like the color - I picked 'mossy,' which actually looks more like 'lime' in the picture. I did some searching on ravelry, though, and decided I was happy with the color in the projects I was seeing, so I went ahead with it. I am just a teeny bit anxious though.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Knitting doesn't scare me. Though I have been knitting for a relatively short time (coming up on 2 years) I have accepted that all I have to do to succeed in knitting is follow directions. The craziest, most whacked-out looking stuff in knitting all boils down to very simple directions and as long as you follow them dilligently and in the right order, you're fine. Skp? What the hell's a skp? Oh...slip knit pass slipped stitch over. Okay, I can do that. Piece of cake. It worried me when you crammed it all together like that but when you break it out, it makes sense. Just follow the directions. SSK? Slip slip knit? I needed a little expansion on that one but once again, pretty easy.

I have occasionally had issues with directions that I thought could maybe be broken down a little more - most notably, "pick up and knit." I was fine with the knit, but the "pick up" thing had me stymied for a while. Just...just pick it up? That's it? Pick it up how? Through where?

Fortunately for me I live in the age of the internet, a time when a panicked knitter with half a sock in her lap can google the living daylights out of something until she has read 6 different explanations of how to go about this thing and can therefore feel somewhat mentally prepared for following this unusually complex simple instruction.

The only new technique I have really abandonned as of this date is the toe-up sock. Not because it was hard...but because I couldn't get over the idea that it was STUPID. Intellectually I know that there are very good reasons to make a toe up sock. But as I sat there shortrowing and wrapping and contemplating the next step, I kept thinking, "I'd be halfway down the rib by now" and I just gave it up and went back to my unrepentant top-down sock knitting ways. However, this is temporary. Now I have to knit a freaking toe-up sock or I will never respect myself again. It probably didn't help that I tried this technique out of desperation with a sock yarn with which I had started a top-down sock that I then quit in the middle of because I HATED IT. Because I am a Harlot Whore (I know it sounds redundant, but I can't help it, it's what I am, but we'll talk about my constant desire to knit what Stephanie's knitting some other time - though did you see my noro scarf?) I decided to try the Leyburn sock and see if it could overcome my dislike for this colorway. So I tried to work a new technique in a yarn I hated and it didn't work. I. am. so. shocked.

I digress. Often, actually. Where was I?

Yes. Knitting does not scare me. Why, then, despite the fact that I have for the last year at least been determined to knit a sweater...not knitted a sweater? First it was a cost issue. I couldn't figure out how people were paying for these sweaters. I will admit I am a sucker and a bit of a spendthrift and I will buy just about anything - as long as it is cheap. I will put myself in the poorhouse with nickle and time purchases that add up and then I get to the counter and I'm like WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT'S THE TOTAL but I am there and I am too proud to back down so off goes the money. But offer me a seventy-dollar sweater and I will laugh in your face. So I had to find something inexpensive to knit it in, and I kind of did, only it was out of stock in the color I wanted and blah blah...

Enter the SO, who very sweetly gave me a sweater's worth of yarn for our anniversary back in October. I was thrilled, I was excited, I was initial sweater choice didn't seem right. I thought about it, but I worried. I didn't want to spend a lot of yarn and time on a sweater I would hate. I decided to look at other patterns. I narrowed it down to three. I debated which would be best. I conducted a poll of friends. I eliminated one. I waffled between the others. I didn't have the book for the sweater I wanted. Besides, it was Christmas season and I had some major knitting to do for Christmas so...I'd wait until the New Year.

Meanwhile a friend gave me the book with the sweater pattern I wanted and so lo, here I was, fully equipped and ready to embark on my sweater voyage...except I wasn't done with the Christmas knitting yet AND I had not double-pointed needles, which were a requirement. Normally I use double circulars or magic loop to do anything that would otherwise go on a dpn, but since I was going to be knitting a pentagon and not a circle...five needles seemed like an advantage (I am going to have to figure out something for the sixth, since I am not buying another package of double-points just to get one more needle).

Well, I finished the Christmas knitting and several sizes of DPNs are now sitting in a box on my table waiting for me and...I still have not started the sweater. I was going to swatch for it (I remembered later, that's what the unidentified yarn in the MLK day pile was) and then I looked at the pattern (duh) and realized I didn't have enough yarn to spare for swatching. Back in the pending pile it went. The SO generously offered to buy me another ball of the same yarn (but in a different color, as the one I am using for the sweater is backordered and it would be a different dyelot anyway) and so now I am waiting for that to get here so I can swatch, but I have to tell you, as we cruise into February and I have yay verily, not a stitch of a sweater on the needles...I might be a little afraid of the sweater. I may have built up some unreasonable sweater expectations.

My fear comes from 2 major quarters:

--This is a Norah Gaughan sweater and I am a little afraid that it might be too complicated for a first attempt - however, I am sticking to my experience which tells me that all I have to do is follow directions and I will be fine.
--It has seams.

That is the part that really gets me, I think. Seams are not knitting. Seams are sewing. I do many crafty things. I do not sew. At least, I do not sew in a way designed to make things actually look neat and hold together at the same time. I cross stitch. I am intellectually aware of the basics of making the seam. I have knitting books galore at home with detailed photographs of mattress stitch and a bunch of other seam-sewing techniques. But I have to say...I'm a little terrified of the seam. I know there are seamless sweaters out there but 1) I really like this one 2) I am a Harlot Whore and the Harlot says that learning to seam things is an essential knitting skill. And also, while I believe the Harlot to be a comedy writing genius...frankly I'm not sure that she knits better than me. Faster, for sure. Absolutely. With more confidence, definitely. And experience probably gives her an edge with regards to appropriate yarn choices for particular projects. But knitting is knitting and there really is no good or not good about it. As the Harlot long as you are ending up with socks at the end of the day and not (what was it, I loved that prhase...) wee knitted cows, you probably aren't doing too badly. My stitches are even and I have not stabbed anyone in the process of knitting. Although I probably have to give her colorwork. Colorwork takes some extra skills that I do not yet have. My one experience with it was mediocre at best. Fabric too tight, colors peaking through. Not so wonderful. So she does colorwork way better than me. Well, and there may be some levels of neatness about her edges that I have not acheived. But still! Regular knitting? Plain sweater knitting? I can totally do that.

It's just, you know. Seams. Also fit. And guage. And stuff.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

In which I have issues

Issue 1: Noro Scarf

My noro scarf is finished.

But, I had issues with my cast on edge. It was floopy and flared and I hated it. If I had taken a picture, you would have hated it too. I decided while I knitted that when I finished I would go back, snip the cast on, unravel the beginning a bit, and then cast off on that end too, since generally speaking my cast offs are much nicer looking than my cast on. (Something about that doesn't sound right, but moving on.)

Well, it turns out that you can't unravel 1x1 rib from that end. It doesn't work. I got out my scissors and cut across the entire cast on row and ended up having to pick all the bits out because there is no unraveling. This was definitely an issue. I pondered what to do about it, and then remembered that I had been on the Yarn Harlot's blog fussing around in the archives because I was bored, and I had read an entry about a crochet cast off. This seemed a promising solution. I was worried that it would be too tight, but it turns out, it was perfect.


I liked it so much that I picked out my original cast-off and did the same on the other end. I photographed it, but it looks exactly the same, so...just picture the above in different colors. Brilliant. I've never had scarf ends look this good. I'm pleased.

Issues resolved. Scarf complete.


I have to say, I don't like it as much as I thought I would. I mean, it's okay, I don't dislike it, but it's not the best scarf in the history of scarves, period. Also, I have a few million ends to weave in. Several knots and a couple places where the yarn came apart. I got impatient towards the end and just knitted past a couple of knots, but they show and I really should have done it right. But, at least I don't have to weave in those ends. Whatever, I'll weave the ends in during tv time or something.

Issue 2: Tilli Thomas Bag

See previous post re the sillyness of expecting a silky ribbon yarn to hold its shape when wound into a center-pull ball. I got the yarns untangled and rewound, and now the bag is done!


It only took one skein of each yarn after all. I really thought I was going to need more, but skein knit 1 crochet 2 Souffle, one skein Berocco Glace (I which I believe has been discontinued), with both yarns held together. It doesn't really show in the picture, but I put in three rows of staggered yarn overs in hopes of letting a little more of the red of the bag peak through. In hindsight, I think I would have knitted this at looser gauge, but I think it's really cute as it is.

Issue 3: Caribbean Sock

This sock was great. I love the colorway, the pattern was easy, I managed to cable sock yarn without a cable needle without too much trouble. I was a little concerned about that, because I knit so tightly that my stitches pop down a few rows as soon as I take them off the needle, but it wasn't too big of an issue.


See? Isn't it pretty? Doesn't it look so innocent? I just went happily along, until I decided to try it on and see what kind of length I needed to put on it and then...then I found the issue.


I can't get it any further than that. It's stuck. I'll never be able to get it over my heel. The ribbing's okay, but the cabled stitches don't want to stretch. I got out my needle gauge and used the ruler edge to check my gauge. 10 stitches to the inch - 2 more than the pattern-specified gauge. I'm going to rip it back to the ribbing and reknit on larger needles. However, I also have issues with this plan, because I don't have a pair of number 2 needles free and my 3's are also engaged with the Orchid Mitts.

Issue 4: Cards for savings bonds

My boss gives his grandkids savings bonds for their birthdays, and he often asks me to make cards for them, since his preferred approach of sticking them into a plain white envelope has not been well received in the past. I made these two cards this week:



Not bad, eh? So what's the issue?

The issue is that he wanted me to make one for Kennedy, not Paige. -_- So, um...I'll be making another card before this Friday. Two, actually. Then all four grandkids are finished and I don't have to worry about it again for a while.

Issue 4: Orchid Mitts

Click the orchid mitts tag to hear the whole saga of issues. Left on a plane, messed up the thumb gusset, etc etc blah blah. So, this is more of an issue resolution than anything else. I photographed, but it wasn't interesting, so we'll revisit when I finish the rest of the mitt.