Sunday, November 30, 2008

Not Gonna Happen, Margene

This is why I am not going to knit 12 sweaters next year, unlike some I could mention.


This is the one NaKniSweMo sweater (Elsebeth Lavold's Pebbles, in my handspun) that has a prayer of being finished before midnight tonight, and it ain't gonna happen. You see that wonky-looking sleeve cap? Well, it is wonky in real life, too, and I don't think that setting in the collar will help one bit. (Interestingly, the ice cream helped my mood, though.)

That particular sleeve cap has been knit three times. Once, it was too long by three inches; I frogged and reknit with more frequent decreases. The second time, I lay sleeve #2 on top of sleeve #1, and found that when I reknit sleeve #1, I forgot the gently sloping decreases near the top, the ones that come after the now-more-frequently-knit decreases. The third time, well, you see the evidence. I am going to have to rip out these set-in sleeves (yes, I did both of them), rip back their caps and reknit a third time for sleeve #1 and a second time for sleeve #2.

I am having a hard time getting motivated to do that today. Frankly, I'm sick of knitting unsuccessful projects. Did I mention I'm running out of yarn for this sweater? My handspun, handdyed yarn? Sigh...I don't know why I should be running out of yarn to knit the collar, just because I neither measured nor weighed the yarn before I dyed it. [I believe it's called tempting fate. Apparently, I like to live dangerously. Also, I couldn't fit any more yarn in my dyepot.] Fortunately, the collar is double-sided; you knit a wide rectangle, fold it in half lengthwise, and sew the cast-on and bound-off edges to the sides of the square collar opening. I do have enough yarn for the front side of the collar and have, in fact, knit the front side. My friend Pat, with whom I was knitting most of Friday, gave me some Bartlett-type yarn to do the back of the collar if need be; I'm using it to seam with and waiting to see what happens with the sleeve caps. Oh Fashion Police, can we bring back dropped-sleeve sweaters?



In the meantime, whenever the frustration with sleeve caps got overwhelming, I've knit one and a half hats from my handspun for Jean's hat drive. The first one fits my head, luckily, or I'd be tempted to take very sharp scissors to the hat and a certain pair of sleeve caps in my vicinity.

ETA: I was knitting yesterday with That Sue and her brother and sister-in-law, Chris and Elaine. Chris snapped these photos of me and just sent them to me. You see what I mean about that sleeve cap, don't you?


And apparently I'm really cute when I'm grumpy about sleeve caps.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Got Over It

Well, I got over the snit I threw last weekend when the sleeve cap turned out too long. I also got over the cold, and after a few days got a new one, or a different version of the old one - I've progressed to drippy. At least I can think now.

Of course, once I was well enough to deal with the sleeve cap, it took all of an hour to rip it back to the armhole bindoffs and reknit the cap, decreasing one stitch at each end of every third row, rather than every fourth row as the pattern specifies.


Of course, it took me 5 days or so to get to that point, not because of my cold, but because I got distracted. Fancy that.

Distraction #1: I finished spinning the Spinner's Hill batt (which was part of my NaKniSweNo goal, you will remember). Lovely, lovely, 3-ply yarn - about 500 yards of bulky weight. Less yardage than I had hoped for, but I hit the right gauge.


Distraction #2: I cast on for a hat (or two, I hope) for Jean's hats for the homeless drive, which I came to by way of Kathy's blog. These are my handspun; the purple is BFL, the greener ball is merino.


Distraction #3: I finished spinning half of this hand-dyed Border Leicester top from Barb Parry. I took three wonderful classes from Barb at WEBS this summer and one of these bundles was part of our materials for a class. I bought a second one from Barb, figuring I could get sufficient two-ply to make a lace scarf. So, really, what I'm doing is just tidying up bobbins. Completely justified, to my mind.


I was watching my hands while I was spinning this, since there's been so much discussion lately about which hand should be nearest the orifice. I'm definitely right-handed, and I spin with my left hand nearest the orifice, which is, apparently, contrary to what Judith McKenzie McCuin recommends. She says that the forward hand is the one controlling the amount of fiber and twist getting into the yarn, so you should use your dominant hand as your forward hand. That makes perfect sense to me. However, when I watch my hands spinning this nicely prepared top into worsted, neither hand is moving very much. I'm not doing a short forward draw. I'm not doing a short backward draw. There is no twist between my hands; the forward hand is not allowing any twist behind it. Both hands are about two to three inches apart, and both are moving at the same speed (slowly) away from the orifice. The fibers are essentially drafting themselves between my hands, in the drafting triangle (and it is a triangle). The back hand is holding and loosely controlling the fiber supply - it's actually doing more than the forward hand. I can feel the fibers drafting themselves between my palm and my middle, ring, and pinky fingers. The thumb and forefinger of the back hand is flattening, gently, the fiber into the drafting triangle and controlling the amount of finer getting into the triangle. All the forward hand is doing is squeezing, tightly, the fiber at the point it becomes yarn. So I suppose it makes sense for my dominant hand to be my back hand.

However, when I was spinning the Spinner's Hill fiber, I was doing something different with my hands. Not consciously, but I was definitely doing something different. The Spinner's Hill batt is actually a "cloud," I'm told - it was a thick (maybe 2 inches) mat about 30 inches wide. There were layers within and paralleling the surface of the batt/cloud, but even the fibers within each layer were not nearly as aligned in parallel as what comes off the usual hobbyist drumcarder. I spun this in worsted fashion, left hand forward, no twist between my hands, but I was constantly pulling forward with my left and pulling back with my right, while moving both hands together away from the orifice. Because the fibers in the cloud were more entangled, I had to do more work wihile spinning to draft them down to the size I wanted for the single. This yarn ended up looking much more like a woolen spun, even though I spun it in worsted fashion, because of the relatively random arrangement of the fibers in the cloud.

In short, I may be too lazy to try switching my hands and I'm trying to justify that.

Distraction #4: I knit another couple inches on the back of Twist & Shout - I'm up past the armhole bindoffs.

Distraction #5: There seems to be a big bag full of Lopi in the living room that wasn't in the house a week ago. It may be turning itself into a felted rug, although not like the Mason-Dixon rug and not like what it looks like now, so no pics yet.

Frankly, it's amazing I finish anything around here. Clearly, it could be easy to finish at least one sweater for NaKniSweNo, but I get ...waylaid. I am so, so, SO very easily distracted.

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's Always Something, Isn't It?

I think the sleeve cap for Pebbles is too long, now that I'm three rows from finishing the first sleeve. Note the evidence.


That tape measure reads 11 inches for the sleeve cap. Several other trusted patterns I've consulted give heights of around 7 inches for the cap of a set-in sleeve.


While the front and back of Pebbles line up perfectly (whew!), I think that sleeve is too long, even allowing for the easing-in needed to fit sleeve to body.


When I line up the Pebbles sleeve over the sleeve of a knit-long-ago set-in-sleeve sweater, the length from cuff to underarm matches perfectly, but the length of the Pebbles sleeve cap is sufficient unto a raglan sleeve, damn it, damn it damn it damn it.

And in case you're wondering, the pattern has no line-drawing schematic to check AND I am getting both stitch and row gauge. Not to mention being remarkably far along in this NaKniSweMo nonsense. Until now.


And the worst part is that I was beginning to run out of enthusiam for knitting this. Sleeves are boring. And long. Especially long when they are too damned long for any normal sweater known to knitter, as I believe I've mentioned. So my attentions were starting to wander. I am still sick enough not to have the energy to spin, especially at my usual fast pace, and the Twist & Shout ribbing is irritating to my befuddled brain. When I saw this yesterday on the Mason-Dixon blog, I started to lust anew. But no, I told myself, I am committed to finishing at least one sweater this month and getting pretty far along on two others. No distractions. No new projects. God knows, no new yarn.

And then came the sleeve cap stretching from here to Timbuktu.

Now, can you really blame me if I've been looking at Lamb's Pride Bulky on the WEBS site and debating what colors I might go get tomorrow, if I'm still in a virally demented snit over this blasted Pebbles pattern? I know you'd be doing exactly the same thing.

Oh, Exalted Sheep on Yonder High Hill, give me the strength to do what I ought, to fulfill my promises, to resist the seductions of NewProjectNewYarnPantPant, to frog and knit that sleeve into submission. And then knit the other sleeve correctly and to match.

I may not be that strong.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Hab a Code

I'm not that sick, although if anyone's volunteering to massage my neck, the door is open. I just have the usual sharp, acid headache, achy thighs, and general malaise that goes with colds in this phase of my corporeal existence. I really should have paid attention when I didn't want to get out of bed this morning - in fact, didn't get out of bed till 45 minutes later than usual - but no, my damned Puritan soul whined and prodded till off to work I went. By 3 PM, I'd had enough. I stopped on the way home to get something edible with ginger in it - some sort of craving, I guess - and fortified with a big hermit, I'm home. If you think of it, tell me to stay home tomorrow; there's no crisis at work that justifies my going.

I'm definitely under the weather - I just had to correct at least ten typos in that last paragraph, many more than usual. No brain-finger coordination here worth mentioining.

Prior to this viral onslaught, however, I have been knitting. And knitting. And knitting. And I'm about ready to clean house instead, I'm so sick of knitting (which is yet another sign I'm not up to my usual healthy speed).

Behold the Pebbles:


The back is done. The front is done. I figure a sweater has four more-or-less equal parts: the back, the front, the sleeves, and the rest (sewing-up, collars, button bands, whatever). So, if one is trying to knit a sweater in a month, one ought to finish the back in a week (which I did) and the front in another week (which I did; 3 days, to be precise). I believe this gives me 4 days in which to loll around nurturing cold viruses.

I did cast on for a sleeve last night, and if my brain weren't slowed by viral ooze, I could figure out whether there's a problem with the tuck stitch directions for the sleeves or that I should be picking up those purl bumps on the wrong side, rather the right side, but the pattern doesn't specify and the photos aren't conclusive. If I can't find something definitive in my Barbara Walker stitch compendia, I'll just make an executive decision and that will be that. I don't think my brain can cope with this tonight, however.

Behold one strand of the sub for Lite Lopi in the Light Lopi Pullover:


Nice, eh? I love that color. I loooooove that COLOR!! The Spinner's Hill batt seems to be easiest to spin with my perfectionism held at bay, as I am quite happy with the thick and thin, slubby character of this single.

Character. That's a hard word to spell correctly when one's synapses are firing a trifle oddly. Charcter. Chartcer. Characer.

Enough. I better have something really mindless I can knit, somewhere in this woolful house.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Finally, I'm proud of my country again. Finally, we elected a president I'd like to have a beer with. Finally!

Of course, this means I don't get to move to Canada, darn it.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Day 2 and Design Feature 1

Sweater #1 (Twist & Shout): Great progress! I'm past the waist decreases for the back and ready to start the waist increases.


There's just one little problem. Notice anything wrong? Neither did I, till I wondered why the notes in the beginning of the pattern included instructions for something called a Back Cable Pattern. I assumed that meant some kind of fancy cable, like a Horseshoe Cable or a Gullwing Cable, to be used on the fronts of this sweater, where clearly the lovely photos of the pattern show cables. But no, "Back Cable" also refers to the cable pattern used on the back of the sweater - you know, the one signaled by the part of the pattern that reads, "...begin working Back Cable Pattern between markers." Or, if that didn't catch your attention, you might notice, a couple of lines down, the sentence that reads, "Work 36 sts in pattern (to 12 sts before beginning of cable panel), place marker, work 68 sts in pattern (to 12 sts past end of cable panel), place marker, work in pattern to end." Or you might notice the photo, the second photo of four provided, that highlights the cables on the back and sleeves. Or, like me, you might skip over all that folderol, pleased as punch with how quickly this sweater is shaping up - why, I'm already well into ball 2 of the yarn! - and simply keep on knitting and purling in the rib pattern till your boredom with knitting and purling leads you to read a bit more of the pattern, whereupon you discover some damned cable pattern that's supposed to go smack dab in the middle of the back.

I simply don't know why they couldn't have given me more warning of such an event. Harrumph and really now!

Since I'm such a seasoned knitter, however, I have recovered nicely, or at least recovered in some fashion. You remember all my dithering over needle size and gauge for this sweater? Well, before I cast on, I had looked at what it would take to adjust this somewhat-complicated pattern for the measly, itty bitty, really-hardly-there, quarter of a stitch per inch I was off by using size 7 needles, and decided screw it, I'm just going to knit size B with size 7 needles and trust the designer when she said, " Because of the pattern’s giving nature, instructions for only 4 sizes are given – trust me, this is plenty. If in doubt go small."

Well, I thought, I could always just lose 30 pounds this month whilst I'm knitting and spinning three sweaters - I mean, obviously I won't have time to eat anyhow (especially now that all the good Halloween candy is gone), so of course size B at 20 stitches to 4 inches instead of the specified 19 stitches to 4 inches will fit.

But just for back-up, just because I like to be prepared, I have decided that the missing Back Cables on the back of my Twist & Shout are a well-planned design feature. You know that cables draw in a knit fabric, making it narrower than a non-cabled fabric, right? Well, if I need just a smidgen more ease in my Twist & Shout, then it makes perfect sense - really, a brilliant idea, if I do say so myself - to leave off some of the cables. Where better to omit cables than on the back, yes? I may not have done this consciously, but clearly my fingers know better than my brain, and they just went ahead and left out cables that don't really need to be there. I hope.


Sweater #2 (an interpretation of Norah Gaughan's Lite Lopi Pullover, but in handspun, not Lite Lopi): Sample skein knitted up; gauge is 8.5 inches to 2 inches. The pattern calls for 8 stitches in 2 inches, but I'm not at all worried about adjusting this pattern for a different gauge. [Translation: Stay tuned for yet another Design Feature.]


Sweater #3 (Pebbles): Cast on and coming along nicely, aside from the slight impediment of a furry beast on my lap. Interestingly and disappointingly, this yarn seems less soft now that it's dyed. It's not harsh now; it's just not as squishily soft as it was.


In other news, it was a gorgeous late-fall day here and I did get outside in between the fiber frenzies. Despite the late date and the hard frosts we've had this week, I saw a meadowhawk dragonfly and a sulphur butterfly. Global warming really is changing phenologies around here!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

NaKniSweMo: Day 1

Sweater 1: 15 rows of the back of Twist & Shout. Next step is the waist decreases.


Sweater 2: A sample three-ply of the Spinner's Hill batt, for the Norah Gaughan pullover.


Sweater 3: Look at this color! This is the dyed handspun for Pebbles, and I think I like it. With any luck, it'll dry tonight and I can cast it on tomorrow.


In other news, I've dithered by myself over this for the past few days, without blogreader input, and I've come to the conclusion all by myself that 27 inches is too wide for a stole. I ought to frog this and cast on about 3/4 as many stitches, before I get much longer. Otherwise, I think I'm likely to run out of yarn. This is Jager Farm DK-weight Icelandic yarn, in the Water Lilies colorway, knit up with the Milanese Lace pattern from volume II of the Barbara Walker stitch pattern books. Gorgeous, gorgeous yarn.


So, yeah, I'm busy - you?