Thursday, May 25, 2006

Reading the Signs

I tried, really, I did try to cast on the laceweight cashmere, but I didn't have the right size circular. Which is strange because I must have maybe a hundred or so circulars, having been the recipient of many from my mother and her friends.

So I put off casting on the cashmere - mistake #1. Instead, I frogged the purple Pima Tencel and recast on 256 stitches, started the ribbing on the purl stitch, worked two sections of the lace correctly (meaning, knit all stitches), got half-way through round two, when - bingo!

Mistake #2: I twisted before joining. Twice, in fact. And I checked for twisting, I really did. I could just spit! So I frogged again (the yarn getting just a wee fuzzy by now).

And, having fortified myself with a 32" size 4 Addi today at my LYS, I am casting on the cashmere. As I should have done last night. I should pay attention to these signs from the Knitting Gourdnesses.

Goal: Fiddlesticks Knitting's Peacock Feathers Shawl, in laceweight cashmere, from Colourmart, in the color Everglades. Estimated Time of Arrival: Yeah, right.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Inequalities, Or Why I Shouldn't Finish Projects

Did you know that 36 does not equal 39.75? And that 120 is definitely not the same as 115? For that matter, I'm simply astonished to discover that the right side of a garment is not the same as the wrong side. Who would have thunk?

36 Does Not Equal 39.75
You may remember that hot on the heels of my finishing my Sunrise Circle Jacket and my felted bag, I've been knitting like mad on a Debbie Bliss-designed cardigan out of Noro Kureyon. Well, I've finished the back and fronts, blocked them, and sewn them together (OK, OK, I do need to redo one puckered sleeve seam, but I'm close). Hooray! I even bought buttons. More hooray! I just have to crochet around all the edges and sew on the buttons - I'm damn near done! I love the colors!

It doesn't come close to fitting me, however, dammit. I'm a 38 bust; I knit the size that should be expected to end up with a 39.75 bust. I got gauge, both within and across rows, which matters in this garment, because the body is knit side to side, not bottom to top, so row gauge matters a lot.

Shall we look at the evidence?
Eighteen inches across the back means 36 inches around. OK, I could have blocked the hell out of this and gotten another 3.75 inches out of it, I expect, but that would be stretching things more than a little, literally. I could knit seed-stitch front bands and that could add another inch or two. But....

Evidence Part B:
I have a bust of consequence. It is my consolation for being, oh, a good 30 pounds overweight. However much I may like to show off my twin consequentials, this does not flatter them. In fact, the low semi-circle of a neck line on this cardigan is not at all what I envisioned from the pattern photo. [Yes, Mom, I do have a bra on.]

Enter The Photo:
See what I mean? Hell...

On the other hand, it'll probably fit and flatter my friend Sue, whose birthday approacheth, and if she's really nice to me, I might just finish this in time to give it to her. Hear that, Susie darling?

If I don't bury it in the compost pile instead. Wool rots, right?

120 Does Not Equal 115
In further evidence of my incompetence, I bring you my Ostrich Plume Stole, lovingly brought to near-fruition at the half-through-the-first-of 19-repeats stage. Isn't it lovely? Don't the mohair and the colors suit this simple lace pattern?
So how come after casting on 115 stitches, and getting to a point where there should still be 115 stitches, I have 120 stitches on my needle? Were they invited? Did I say they could join the party? Yes, I have totalled up the charted yarnovers (up 36 stitches) and single and double decreases (down 26 and 10, respectively), and by God, I should stay at 115 stitches on each and every row. Only one of every four rows is anything more than plain knit or purl in this lace, so the fact that I am up five stitches after five lace rows has clued me into the possible cause of my problems.

Solution: Off with her pretty head! No, I didn't put in a lifeline; I think more of myself than that. Evidently, I should revise my self-estimation downward.

Part 3: Right From Wrong
I swatched. I really did. I got some deep purple Cascade Pima Tencel at the WEBS tent sale, and I decided to make a simple, simple, 5-year-olds-in-Nepal-can-knit-this, simple summer shell. It's called Arrowhead, designed by Barbara Venishnick, from the Summer '04 issue of Knitter's. Easy as pie - just a 19-stitch lace insert up the sides and the same lace inserted across the shoulders to form a bit of a cap sleeve.

I even washed my swatches. Note the 'es' on the end of the word 'swatch' in that sentence: I tried size 5 needles; I got too few stitches to the inch. I tried size 4; perfect when washed. Onward!

So I cast on 256 stitches (it's knit in the round, at a gauge of 6 stitches to the inch). One-by-one rib from the start of Round 1 to where the lace starts. Hmm, why do they say p1 after the ribbing and before the lace - I guess it's to set off the lace, right? OK, I can p1 when told; I do so.

The lace is charted. I can cope with charts; I'm a visual learner. The chart says Row 1 is knit on the right side and purled on the wrong side. This is the kind of lace where every other row - in this case, the odd-numbered rows - is just knit or purl, no confusing sl1-k2tog-psso or anything like that. So I think to myself [note to self: stop thinking]: OK, clearly row 1 must be the wrong side, because row 2 says k2tog and s2kp2 and stuff that only happens on the knit, i.e., right, side of garments. So, I purl the first row of the lace. Beautifully done, isn't it?
Well, it wasn't till I got all to the way to the second lace insert, over on the left side, that I realized that this shell is knit in the round, stupid, I'm ALWAYS going to be working on the RIGHT side! And the ribbing? I should have started out p1, k1, not k1, p1, so there aren't two purl stitches right before the lace inserts. The pattern says, and I quote, "[P1, K1] 54 times, P1, place marker, work Chart for lace...."

This is what I get for finishing two projects within recent memory.

I've decided my only hope is to cast on another project. Immediately. Obviously. Forthwith. Break out the laceweight cashmere, gang; I'm going to swatch for my Peacock Feathers Shawl! And the rest of these projects can just go sit in a corner until they've learned to behave themselves.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

45,872 Yards

I need to join a Stash-along. Maybe two or three Stash-alongs. I have at least 45,872 yards of knitting yarn. I have not counted the random balls, when I only have one ball or less of a color, nor the sock yarn (not that I have that much at all, really), nor probably a bunch of yarn stuck away in the back of the closet. And I'm leaving out the clearly-for-weaving yarn.

Let's say that an average ball in my possession has 150 yards on it. I have just over 300 average balls of yarn in my possession.

My handy-dandy Ann Budd's Yarn Requirements pamphlet says that a size 38 sweater (my size) in 5 stitches-to-the-inch gauge takes an average of 1377 yards of yarn. Therefore, I have a little over 33 average sweaters' worth of yarn stashed away.

As a wild guess, it might take me two months to knit an average sweater, which means I have five and a half years worth of knitting stockpiled.

Plus whatever I haven't totaled up yet.

I'm screwed. I have absolutely no reason to buy more yarn. None whatsoever. Damn.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Is This Healthy?

I finished yet another project today - two in two days! Clearly, something's wrong with me. Perhaps I need mega-doses of Vitamin Silk. Maybe even Essential Mineral Merino. Certainly I should schedule a visit to Dr. WEBS.

So here's the beginning of the end.
Long-time readers of this blog (snort!) will recognize that this is my Sunrise Circle Jacket, pattern by Kate Gilbert in a recent Interweave Knits. I've been struggling with the row gauge on this jacket, because for the ever-so-lovely circular fronts, it matters, it really matters, and my yarn was giving me many fewer rows to the inch than the row gauge specified. I've been using Katia's Mexico, a soft half-wool, half-acrylic. The row gauge was sufficiently different from the pattern yarn that I'm left with two extra balls of yarn, about 200 yards. In fact, since I had bought one extra ball anyway, just because I thought I might be short, I have three balls - enough for a matching scarf, maybe? Or a hat? Anyhow, the photo above is where I snipped one stitch near the sleeve cuff, in prep for removing three (3!) inches of sleeve and reknitting down through the hem. I'd never done this before, but by God, it worked just dandy.

And I sewed on the button and crocheted (twice; the first time looked like crap) the loop to hold the button. You wouldn't think that all of ten single crochet stitches in a line would give me fits, but it did. Makes me wonder what will happen when I go to finish off the Debbie Bliss cardigan I'm galloping along on - there's supposed to be sc and dc and buttonholes all happening at once and I think that my umpty-ump years of higher education has not prepared me adequately for this work.
And it's done! In all its swirly glory, it's done.
Earle, in a display of good timing, came home just then and snapped this shot of me in the jacket. I'm not sure it's the most flattering thing I've ever worn, but then, maybe it's just that I need to lose twenty pounds. I loved knitting this jacket, nonetheless, and I'm quite tempted to knit this again in a dark, solid color, which might suit me better.
Or I could just lose some weight. Heh.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I'm Stunned

Shocked, even. I finished this bag tonight. Mr. Penguin kindly agreed to model it for us. This was, once upon a time, a half-finished fair isle pullover sweater, out of Lamb's Pride, in a pattern by Kristin Nicholas. I'd say I started it, oh, maybe ten years ago? I really don't remember.

It occurred to me a couple months ago that I was never going to finish the sweater, that I wanted the unused skeins of Lamb's Pride for another felting project, and that even if I were to finish the sweater, I wouldn't like it on me.

However, I couldn't bring myself to frog all that beautiful fair isle. I had even woven in the ends and sewed down the bottom hem. I quickly regretted having sewn the hem, however, as I decided this would make a great felted bag and the hem was the first thing to go.

So, down with the hem, quick sew the bottom together along the front and back, tuck in the pointy ends to make it three-dimensional, cast off the top, felt-felt-felt, and woo-hoo - a bag! I knit two straps by casting on the long way, knitting a few rows in red, a few in purple, a few more in red if I remember correctly and then seaming the two red edges together. More felt-felt-felt - we have strappage! This week I sewed in the zipper (pain in the butt) and tonight I sewed on the straps - why, yes, the twist in the straps IS a design feature, thank you for noticing, particularly since I didn't notice till both ends of the first strap were sewn down - and it's finished.

Wow. I feel naked. I need to cast on a few more projects, enough to fill up my capacious new knitting bag. ;~)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Graced by Lace

So my friend Jen is getting married in mid-September - therefore, I need a lace shawl to wear!

And, coincidently, I saw news of the
Amazing Lace, a lace-along, a competitive summer laciness, a something like that. So I've signed up. And, as usual, I've plunged in full bore.

I'd like to work on (maybe even finish) three shawls or stoles this summer. The possibilities:
a) Eugen Beugler's Ostrich Plume Stole, from Knitter's of Spring 1996, in a hand-dyed, green/orange/blue mixture mohair, seen above, that I believe I bought 15 plus years ago from Elaine Eskesen, when I lived near
her shop in Maine. And I am proud to report that I cast on for this last night and have knit a heaping total of ten rows! Ta-da! Which consist of 8 rows of st st, a k2tog, yo, row, and the following p row - about half the hem - but it's lace nonetheless!

b) Evelyn Clark's Flower Basket Shawl from Interweave Knits, Fall, 2004, in pink/green Handmaiden Sea Silk, below.

c) a player yet to be named, probably one of Fiber Trends' fancy shawl patterns, in laceweight cashmere from Colourmart, the color Everglades.

Did I mention that the only lace I've ever done before is Knitty's Branching Out scarf? (Did I mention I made it for my sister's 50th birthday last October? And that she has yet to thank me for it?!?) Did I mention I have no fear? Nor common sense, evidently?

Mindful Knitting, Part Two

Yep, I'm still plugging away at sewing in the zipper on the former-sweater-UFO-turned-felted-bag. It's supposed to rain all weekend here, so maybe I'll finish the bag, even attach the handles.

Or maybe I'll get seduced by lace all weekend. I can't imagine how that might happen, but it might.

Today's Rant

I have lots of yarn (see my
Stash Flash). So how come when I start trying to match up yarn in my stash with any of the desirable patterns in the latest issue of Interweave Knits, or in Norah Gaughan's new Knitting Nature, nothing matches? If I need, say, 1000 yards of a solid-colored summer yarn, do I have it? No, I don't. I might have 670 yards of something suitable, or 1050 yards of a lovely solid turquoise wool, or two cones of laceweight, red, linen/cotton, the gauge of which I don't know, especially if it were to be plied four-fold, but nothing jumps out at me as an obvious choice. Evidently I must go shopping.

Which is OK, since
WEBS' annual tent sale is next weekend, and the Cummington Sheep and Wool Festival the weekend after that. And the new furnace isn't going to cost nearly as much as I thought it would - a reason to celebrate!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Mindful Knitting, Part One

In a rare move towards actually accomplishing something, I have re-bound-off the center front edging on the left front of the Debbie Bliss cardigan, and by some miracle, the two fronts now match. Voila!

I can also report that I'm two-thirds of the way up the first sleeve (this counts only as mindless knitting, however).

On to Mindful Knitting, Part Two....

Friday, May 05, 2006

Nowhere To Run To

Busy, busy week. I'm afraid they are going to be like this through the summer, but I've promised myself I'd blog at least every Friday. Those of you hanging on my every word can just go get a life.

I have, however, accomplished a great deal this week in terms of knitting. Last Friday night: The 10th Anniversary Party at my LYS, Emily's Needlework - I came, I ate, I shopped. The weekend: I don't remember; it was too long ago. Oh! I do remember - I did NOT go to the 50%-off sale in Worcester! I went chasing dragonflies instead; it was a beautiful spring day last Sunday. Monday night: 3.5 hours of knitting while attending the Annual Town Meeting. Tuesday night: 2.5 hours of knitting attending the Selectmen's meeting. Wednesday morning: 1 hour knitting while waiting to get my breasts squashed and my blood sucked out of me (just the usual annual invasive procedures, but thanks for asking), followed by swinging by Webs on my way home (details below). Thursday: No real knitting content. Friday: Hey, I'm blogging - what more do you want?

In fact, I have gotten several projects to the point that they are no longer in the Mindless Knitting stage. For example:

Ignore the reddish tone and blurry focus of this photo - obviously, the result of jealous bag trolls. You will note, however, that here we have a felted bag, two felted handles, and a zipper, none of which are attached to each other. Sewing ahead.

Exhibit #2: The Sunrise Circle Jacket. Ta da! It's almost done!
Except for sewing on one button.

And shortening the sleeves. Note that the left sleeve is rolled back about 5 inches - that is about how long the sleeves should be to fit properly on me. At least you can't say I have orangutan arms. To my face, anyway. Those sleeves are knit from the bottom up, by the way, and both are quite neatly hemmed, just to add insult to injury.

Exhibit #3: Te Debbie Bliss Noro cardigan, knit side-to-side.
In the back, we have a finished and blocked back to this cardigan. In the front we have two fronts, not yet blocked (hence the pins) but most of the ends are woven in. Except for one.

That one end would be the one where I have to un-bind-off the center edge of the left front, which is considerably longer than the corresponding edge of the right front. Yes, they're supposed to be the same length; this is Debbie Bliss, remember. Luckily, it's only that I bound off loosely, the way one is always supposed to ... except in this case.

In happier news, at Emily's party, I bought Malabrigo in the beautiful shade of Verdazul. I don't know what I'm going to do with this, except fondle it.

I went to Webs specifically because they had several close-out colors of Tahki Donegal Tweed for about half price. I love Tahki Donegal Tweed, but it has always seemed expensive to me. So when I heard on the Knittyboard that it was on sale at Webs, I figured I'd head there after finishing up at the doctor's.

Thus, two colors of the tweed, a bag each - that's 1830 yards each.

And a few other things crept in ....this lovely Cascade 128 Tweed, also cheap.

And this Cascade Pima/Tencel, for a summer top.

I think, maybe, I have too much yarn. Good thing summer's coming.

But I still need some mindless knitting. Time to cast on something new.....