21 December, 2010

Oh. My. Word.

Scarves.  They require a special kind of insanity, I'm convinced.  If I ever do this again, I'm choosing a bulky yarn.  Wow. 

Here's the scarf when I ran out of the first skein of yarn:

Sorry it's sideways.  That was last Wednesday; it was three inches wide.  And I thought "Oh, no."  Six inches is sort of a bare minimum for a scarf, it seems to me.  So I spliced on the second skein, and started knitting again. 

I knitted.  And knitted.  And knitted.  Until I thought I was going to go crazy, because I had so many other things to do, and all I was doing was knitting this scarf, all the time!   GAH!  And it was only four inches wide by Saturday night, and I posted on Ravelry hoping SOMEONE would tell me that was ok, and I could just stop. 

And while lots of nice people said that I should just stop, no one told me that four inches was a normal width for a man's scarf.  And honestly, if I was going to pour hours of my life into this thing, it had darn well better be something my brother will LOVE and wear FOREVER when it's done!  Too skinny wasn't an option.

So, I took it to church and worked on it there.  And I went to a friend's house Monday morning and knitted on it for FOUR hours.  Finally, I said "This has to be enough, because I have to stop or I will go crazy."  So I started binding it off.  I worked on that for an hour at my friend's, and in the car for an hour that night, and while I was talking to my midwife at my appointment, and dudes, it still wasn't done.

Monday was the day it was supposed to go in the mail, and Monday night at nine I still had about two feet left to bind off.  But, I persevered, and let me tell you - I'm swearing off scarves for a while.

But look!  It's pretty!

And the model is pretty sexy, too...  :-)

So, I sent it off today with a tag reading:  "This scarf contains 49,290 stitches, and required approximately 35 hours of my life to complete.  Wear it with pride and the knowledge that you are loved!"

Want to know how I figured that out?  I cast on 530 stitches, and knit 93 rows (counted the ribs and multiplied times 3).  Each rib required roughly an hour, and the bind-off took closer to three.  That, my friends, is insanity, in an alpaca/nylon blend.

It's really soft though.

13 December, 2010

Knit Night

I had a ball at the Yankee Yarn Swap, and actually got some knitting done, too.  I took my camera along, but most of the humor was of the aural variety, so I don't have any pictures to share.  The only really photo-worthy moment was when one of the older members of the knitting group chose a package which included a...rather raunchy t-shirt, which the woman who put the package together said her husband brought home from a bar.  She had been trying to get it out of the house so her son wouldn't wear it to school, and had specifically been thinking that she really hoped this particular woman didn't choose her package - because she was afraid she'd be offended.  Oh my, her face got so red!  I thought I was the only person who blushed like that.  But I couldn't take a picture, it would have been cruel.

In other news, you never know what you're going to learn at Knit Night.  In the midst of conversations about yarn and notions received from relatives who have passed on, mingled interestingly with a conversation about dyeing on the other side of the room, I thought of a good reason to talk to my internet service provider, the next time they try to sell me a cable package despite my not owning a t.v.

And on we go...

Well, the scarf is coming along, I suppose, 'though frankly, it's hard to tell.  That Knitter's Black Hole?  Found it.  I wanted to knit it width-wise because I hate having the length pile up, and get all twisted when you keep switching the needles to go back and forth.  I need to learn to knit backwards.  But really, this may be my last scarf.  They seem to come with Black Hole included - they just go on forever, and apparently I have a lot of "Product Knitter" in me, because, well, this is driving me crazy!  I have other things to do with my life than knit this scarf for the rest of it!  (But I do really love the way it's turning out, so I may have to make another one for me...and possibly my dad, because I know he'd love it...I'm sort of a masochist, apparently.)

But that's not all I've been up to!  Tonight is the Yankee Yarn Swap at my favourite (actually, only, but that's a trivial detail) LYS, so I've been getting together goodies.  Today I spent the whole morning at the sewing machine (well, and some quality time with the seam ripper, of course) and produced this:

A small needle and accessory case.  It's a little rough, but I love the fabric, and overall I'm pleased with the way it turned out.  Especially since I basically just made it up as I went along.  I'm especially pleased with the little notions pocket on the inside:

I just think it's cute.  I wish I'd made the top flap a bit longer.  It's nine inches tall, and I think for the next one I'll make it only eight, which will mean the flap comes down all the way to the top of the needle pocket.  (I cut two out at once, so I can't mess around with the dimensions too much, but that's an easy change.)  I hope whoever winds up with it tonight is pleased!

How is your Christmas knitting coming along?

09 December, 2010


I am knitting a scarf for my brother.  This will be a Christmas gift, and it is probably the only...oh wait, never mind.  I forgot, I have another Christmas project on the needles already.  See how that happens?  They're sneaky.  Anyway, last year my brother told me he would love a scarf for Christmas, and despite feeling like he could have been (ahem) a bit more subtle, I was happy to comply.  Since he wasn't more subtle, I told him to buy me some yarn, and I'd make him one.  That's what happens when you decide not to be subtle.  If it's too much like an order, you have to supply the materials.  Method of request notwithstanding, he's very knitworthy...he and I are pretty close.
He wanted something masculine, and I figured lace was right out.  (Also, see previous post, lace doesn't happen at my house.  See, I'm learning!)  I picked Henry, from Knitty.  He picked Berroco Ultra Alpaca - Fine.  I actually did swatch, after reading several reviews on Ravelry, and was so glad...because it turns out that knitting this pattern in this yarn would probably have left my eyesight permanently impaired.  For one thing, the yarn is very dark - a foresty, heathered evergreen color.  Also, it has a bit of a halo.  Just a touch, but the combination of color and halo meant that not only could I barely see the stitches to work the pattern, it didn't really show at all once I was done.  Scrap that, because if I'm going to blind myself knitting a stitch pattern that requires some focus, it had darn well better show up when I'm done.

So I decided to knit this width-wise (rather than end to end), and just do a nice, simple rib.  I cast on 530 stitches, before my long tail ran out.  Then I started out with a knit row, purled a row, knit 1, repeat...

I love the way it's turning out:

I think this sort of nubbly texture looks really fantastic with this yarn.  I also think the puckers created by the ribbing will help make it even warmer than it would be anyway, so, despite the fact that the ribbing means I have to knit about two inches of fabric for every inch of actual width, I'm very happy.  Or I was, until I hit a conundrum:
Can you see that?  Right there is where I looked down and realized that, on the previous row, I switched from knit to purl half-way through the row.  See purl bumps below the needle on the right?  And none on the left?  So maddening! That, right there, is why you should never stop in the middle of a row.  I put it down at bedtime last night, and didn't look carefully at it when I picked it back up today. 

Now I have to decide what to do.  On the one hand, it may not show up.  Like I said, the yarn is pretty dark, and a bit fuzzy, and really, who looks that closely at a scarf anyway?  But here's the thing:  I'll KNOW.  And the ribbing will be off, which I think is going to maybe be more obvious than a few stitches alone would have been.  I'm debating, and losing knitting time while the scarf sits in time out:
How much do you want to bet the cat is ON the scarf, when I go back for it?  (Meet the Resident Feline, by the way.  This is Thorvald, the most opinionated cat I've ever known.  He never hesitates to let you know exactly what he thinks.)

I'm thinking I should just bite the bullet and rip it back two rows, because the longer I stew about it, the less time I have to actually knit the thing.  And at 20 minutes a row, there's a lot left to do!

01 December, 2010

Done, done, done

Once upon a time, there was a Knitter who was very poor, and rather desperate for some Really Nice Yarn.  So this Knitter, being young and innocent in the ways of Knitting, came up with a Brilliant Idea.  When her mother-in-law (whom the Knitter loves dearly) wondered if this Knitter would be willing to knit her a sweater, the Knitter replied "Of course, if you get me the yarn, I'd be happy to!", little realizing the trouble she had just gotten herself into...

It probably wouldn't have been so bad, if I had suggested we get yarn that was the right weight for the pattern she wanted.  But, supremely self-confident, I said "Oh don't worry about it!  I can figure it out!"  And I still think that is true.  I certainly could have...if I hadn't kept having babies that sucked all the brains out of my head and obliterated my free-time.

So, the first issue was that the yarn was the wrong weight.  I swatched it, and certainly could have made it work...except that I don't have that many brains left for my knitting these days, for the aforementioned reason.  So, I looked for another pattern, that called for the weight of yarn I actually had.  I found a beautiful one, from Harrisville Designs, with a lovely cabel/lace pattern down the front.

There were two problems with that.  The first was, the yarn (alpaca) was really soft and had a bit of a halo, so cables and lace didn't show up as well as they might in something else.  And that's a lot of work to put into something that won't show up very well.  Also, (you may be aware of this) cables and lace take a lot of focus.  And, frankly, focus isn't something I really have to give my knitting very much at this point in my life.  So that pattern got scrapped as well.

Now, I would like to state at this point in the saga, that my poor MIL is a saint.  She bought me this yarn (I think) just after my second child was born...roughly four years ago.  I gave her the swatch that first Christmas, and then bought the second pattern just after my youngest was born (he's two and a half).  And in all that time, while she has occasionally inquired as to the status of her sweater, she has never once made me feel badly that it was taking so long.

Finally, I came to a realization:  If I wanted it to get done, it needed to be Stockinette Stitch.  Something plain, that I didn't have to think about too hard, and that I could knit on in meetings.  Because that's the only place I get knitting accomplished.

I decided to knit the Eyelet Cardi from Chic Knits, because not only is it almost completely plain stockinette, it is also knit in one piece, so there's no seaming at the end.  It has one little stripe of lace around the shoulders, which adds a bit of visual interest without making the pattern complicated, and otherwise is just lovely, plain knitting.  Perfect for showing off a lovely yarn, which this is.  (I was using Prime Alpaca by Joseph Galler, Inc.  A beautiful, soft, naturally colored yarn, "grown only between the altitudes of 13,000 and 16,000 feet.")

And, lo and behold, just a few months after finally admitting that a complicated pattern was a bad idea, the sweater is FINISHED!!!  And I gave it to my MIL at Thanksgiving, because holding on to it until Christmas just really didn't seem right.  I mean, I gave her the swatch FOUR years ago, and really, when someone's been that patient, it's not nice to make them wait any longer than necessary.

So, there are two morals to this story:

1)  Never promise something (especially something big) before it's finished (or at least on the needles and well underway).

2)  Knitter, know thyself.  If stockinette is all you'll be able to work on in the life you have, don't pick a pattern with lace and cables.  Trust me, you'll be a lot less frustrated.