Saturday, November 16, 2013

Allllllllmost there!

I finally got around to weaving in the ends and washing and blocking the shawl from hell.

I'm a cheapskate. I don't have a blocking board. I have considered buying a cork-board and making one, but I haven't done it yet. Honestly, besides being cheap, I'm also lazy. I rarely block things. The last time I blocked something was one of my first knitting projects - a poncho that included a crocheted lace inset. I pinned it to the carpet and went to town with the steam iron.

We don't have carpet in this house. Eventually, I'm sure, I'll need to get a blocking board. But I'm pretty sure this shawl, if not the next one I make, would be too big for the blocking board anyway.

A knitting and spinning genius I work with suggested this method. My dowel rods were too short, so I folded the shawl in half. At each "point" I tied a loop of trash yarn. I lashed the loops to the dowel, and the dowel to the rafters in my basement. On the end of the dowel with the longer lashings, I tied the dowel to a paint can, to keep the pressure on and the dowel from sliding itself out of the yarn. (Full disclosure, I had lashed the dowels to the shawl in the 2nd-story bathroom, where I had washed the shawl. The bottom dowel fell out as soon as I let go of it - I didn't have the tension right).

Monday, October 7, 2013

Stupid Math

The Ruched Yoke Tee pattern I've been working on requires several rows of "increasing evenly" across the row. I'm a liberal arts major. I can do math, but only if I'm wearing sandals. But I'm also a millennial. So, I started looking for an app to do this for me. I knew there were stitch-counting ones, and I've heard about knitting mathematicians, so I was hopeful.

I think the shininess of the yarn picked up the dark mauve of the blouse I was wearing when I took this picture. It turned a weird color, even with editing. Also, I might do something about the row where I used the wrong increase stitch (distinguishable by the holes - oops). I'm thinking about weaving ribbon through it? But I might just leave it, like an artistic nod to the key-hole that will interrupt it. We'll see.

Turns out, there is an app. It looks pretty slick - you can adjust for in-the-round or straight; increasing or decreasing evenly; and for easier-to-remember or more-accurately-symmetrical. It will even keep track of where you are, and give you the next instruction. It's available for iThings. I'm an Android girl.

Fortunately there's a less-slick website. It doesn't adjust for circular or straight - it's all the same - and it won't feed you the instructions, but it will give give you the easy-to-remember way and the evenly-balanced way, and there's helpful, reassuring commentary. And, the creator made a calculator for decreasing.

The best thing about the website, though, is the list she keeps on the other page. It's a whole list of knitting-related math-doers. Very, very slick indeed.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Where Did I KIP?

I meant to make Twitter posts for World-wide Knitting in Public Week, but I kept forgetting. So, let's see.

  • Saturday the 9th I was knitting at a restaurant.
  • Sunday the 10th, I knitted at the Bowie Baysox game.
  • Monday the 11th... I think I must have taken off.
  • Tuesday the 12th, I knitted at the doctor's office.
  • Wednesday the 13th, I was kipping at Baskin Robbins. The A/C was cranked up to "refrigerator," but the knitting was great. My darling daughter even joined in.
  • Thursday, I knitted in private.
  • Friday, I knitted while waiting for the elementary school's 5th grade promotion to start.
  • Tomorrow, I'll be driving a lot, but maybe I'll KIP when I stop for meals. And Sunday, I'll be KIP at dinner.

Summers here are sticky, and being in a house that lacks central air has made me generally unwilling to touch anything remotely resembling yarn, so I think there'll be a lot more knitting in public this summer. That way, I can get something done. Though I had toyed with the idea of painting in the summer... I'll just knit. It's who I am, it's what I do.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Not-So-Initial Thoughts On the Juliette Scalloped Eyelet Shawl

If you're looking for hints and tips on this project, you can skip the next three paragraphs and go right to my notes.

I started this shawl on September 14th, 2012. The kit was a door prize from my LYS for attending a Tahki Stacy Charles yarn tasting. It's the best door prize I've ever won - the yarn is exquisite, and more expensive than I'd likely buy for myself, and I can't wait to see this shawl finished - it'll be one of the top-two nicest things I've ever knitted, ever, ever.

I quickly started referring to this project as "the shawl from hell." Apparently, I'm not alone in my frustrations.* It had been partially frogged twice and was snoozing when I picked it up again, and quickly realized it needed a full frogging. Super-frustrating, as I was 40-some-odd rows into it, and was on my third color (would my frogged hanks be enough when I did the re-do? they were - thank God. No chance of buying that dye lot today).
*Just as frustrating, was TSC's unhelpful note on their web site: "There's nothing wrong with the pattern. Blah blah worked stitches the same blah confusing blah blah blah..." Thanks, TSC.

Frogging was hard, but I did my best to look at it as an opportunity for success. I spent some time wrapping my head around this pattern (again, but better this time) and got to work. I'm on row 19, and it's going a zillion times better. I can clearly see where the pattern is supposed to be, and it's really clicking into place. This shawl should pretty much fly off the needles now that I "get it."

So, here are my own notes about this pattern - things I found helpful the umteenth time around, etc.:

I took the time to write out every single row. So rather than instructions like (for example*),
"Rows 12-18: repeat rows 6-8 (which are really rows 4-10 of the stitch pattern)..." I went ahead and wrote it all out (again, for example):
"Row 13: K3, M1, K1 *stitch pattern here, repeat from * to remaining 3 sts, M1, K3." This was a big time- and brain-power-investment on the front end that (so far) has really paid off.
*The examples have nothing to do with the real pattern. I made them up.

The next thing I think it's important to note about this pattern is that in addition to the three border stitches on either side of the pattern stitches, you also have the pesky increase stitches. The pattern really isn't clear (to me, anyway) about what to do with them. You do nothing with them. The instructions say to work them in stockinette stitch, but they don't really explain that you don't count them as part of the pattern stitch and repeats. This means you have to remember how many increase stitches you've made, and not work those. For that reason, I added instructions in rows 3 and 13 and 18 (so far - I'll add in more later) to place markers.
For row 3: K3, M1, PM, --whatever the bit in the middle is-- PM, M1, K3.
Row 13: --the normal bit--, K3, removing markers as you encounter them.
Row 18: K3, M1, PM, --pattern stuff--, PM, M1, K3
This keeps all the border stitches and the increase stitches separate, so it doesn't mess up your stitch count. Everything between the markers will fall nicely into place within the lace pattern.

For the vague instruction to "make one," I'm knitting into the ladder of the stitch in the row below (mostly because it's my favorite increase).
Also, I changed the weird "SK2P" into the much more standard "sl1, K2tog, psso" for my own instructions, and that's also helped.
Lastly, I knit left-handed (Continental). So, when the pattern calls for a SSK, I'm working a K2tog, and when it calls for a K2tog, I'm working a SSK (except for the aforementioned double-decrease).

The Juliette Shawl Journal

The ugly stream-of-consciousness journaling that was the Juliette Shawl.
Note: Don't follow the pattern edits below. They're wrong.

14 Sep 2012 - day 1
I won't be intimidated by the price-tag on all this lovely yarn; I won't. Much.
Totally agree with comments I've seen about this pattern: It's confusing and could be better-written.
Yup. 12 rows and frogged. I ended up with 79 stitches and couldn't figure out how to get to 85 without messing up the pattern significantly. No confidence that if I re-knit and and frog again that this yarn can take being knit a third time.

16 Sep 2012 - day 3
This is an additional-faith-required pattern. Not terribly complex, but you do have to pay attention, and it always feels like you're doing it wrong, even when you're following instructions. Have faith; if you follow the instructions, you'll be okay. Probably.

According to the math, there cannot be a net increase or decrease in the pattern stitches, except through the increases on either end. So, if you end the pattern stitches with a one-stitch increase that has not been balanced by a one-stitch decrease, you'll have to account for that later. For example, I had a one-stitch increase at the end of round 4 that I had to account for with a net loss of one stitch in row 8.

Row 4 ended in the middle of the K5 after a YO, giving a net gain in the pattern stitches.
Row 8 ended in a k2tog, but with only one pattern stitch available. So, I worked the double-decrease and because I had an extra stitch from row 4, I omitted the increase that would have balanced the double-decrease, and worked the remaining stitch as a K1.
Row 10 ended in the middle of the 2nd K5, which would leave a net loss of 1 stitch, so I omitted the decrease prior to the K5, and worked remaining stitches as knit stitches.

Row 4 should read: K3, M1, work Pearl Scallop Pattern to last (5?) stitches, end K2, M1, K3
Row 6 should read: K3, M1, work Pearl Scallop Pattern to last (10?) stitches, end yo, K5, SSK, M1, K3
Row 8 should read: K3, M1, work Pearl Scallop Pattern to last 14 stitches, end YO, K5, SSK, YO, SK2P, YO, K1, M1, K3
Row 10 should read: K3, M1, work Pearl Scallop Pattern to last (16?) stitches, YO, K5, SSK, YO, SK2P, YO, K4, M1, K3


Row 20 should read: K3, M1, work Pearl Scallop Pattern to last 7 stitches, K4, M1, K3
Row 22 should read: K3, M1, work Pearl Scallop Pattern to last 11 stitches, YO, K5, SSK, K1, M1, K3
Row 24 should read: K3, M1, work Pearl Scallop Pattern to last 15 stitches, YO, K5, SSK, YO, SK2P, YO, K2, M1, K3
Row 26 should read: K3, M1, work Pearl Scallop Pattern to last 19 stitches, YO, K5, SSK, YO, SK2P, YO, K2TOG, K4, YO, M1, K3 (the YO at the end is to balance the un-avoidable K2TOG in this row.)


Day Umpty-nine:
Row 37, frogged back to row 30. I had forgotten to do all the increases on row 31. On the plus side, it was in a silk-mohair bit that I had to frog, and it was pretty easy to frog down to the correct row without losing a stitch. Thank God it wasn't in the sequins bit. I truly hate this pattern.


June 6 2013

I'm frogging it all. I was at row 41. I can't see a discernible pattern. I'll re-write the pattern, use the markers, etc.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

In Progress: Corporate Synergy Gray Glovelets

I'm working on a solution to my freezing fingers at work. Now that it's winter, it's been a little warmer in the office, so my deadline for these is closer to April, when they'll start cranking the AC.

Since they're office accessories, and the yarn I want to use happens to be gray (Jo Sharp calls it "opal" - see below), I decided they're "corporate gray," like so many suits at so many meetings.

Also, I am infatuated with cable knits, and I like the idea of the pattern having a collaboration theme, which works well for a cable pattern. In this pattern, there are two cables which come together from opposite sides of the mitt, twist a bit, and then part again. It reminds me of a lot of my projects at work: I find someone with whom to collaborate - often from a completely different part of the organization - we work together and do great things, and when the project is over, we go our separate ways. As for the title, well, I'm working on my career evaluation package, so my head is full of buzz words. And the more buzzwords, the better, right? ;)

I had some left-over hanks of gorgeous Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran that I had bought on sale from Webs and used in a couple projects for my tiny baby daughter. It's 85% wool, 10% silk, 5% cashmere and it feels like a warm, cozy dream. Webs no longer sells Jo Sharp yarns (this was a long, long time ago that I bought it), and Jo Sharp apparently no longer makes Silkroad Aran in Opal. I'd look for an alpaca/wool blend with a similar gauge, if I were going to do this again.

This is the second time I'll have made the left glove. Last time, there were some things I realized I could have done better, and by the time I got into the right glove, I couldn't stop thinking about how this could be so much better. So I frogged what I had done on the right, and re-started. That first left mitt is a lost cause, but I'll keep it around in case I need to steal its yarn (though I should have plenty).

When I land on a pattern I'm happy with, I'll post here and on Ravelry, where you can find my other original pattern, too. I'm making myself finish this and the shawl from hell (not my pattern, for the record) before I start on anything else, so it should be done soon-ish.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Answer is Socks... And Rain

Today was cool and rainy. A perfect day for knitting and a movie. I watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with Thing One and worked on her socks.

I'm having to adjust the pattern - apparently I counted wrong on my gauge swatch (you know, the one I didn't do - I just started knitting the socks and stopped after a while and counted stitches and rows). There's no way that sock isn't going to be too long if I do 30 rounds of increases like I'm supposed to... but even so, I'm having ton of fun.

I've decided to make socks for everyone! Thing Two and DH and me. DH says he doesn't care about the pattern - I had been thinking of doing something with cables for him - but since he doesn't care, I'll stick with the plain old socks like I'm making for the Things. DH's feet tend to get hot, but these will be winter socks, so they need to be a little warm. I chose the Naiad in Espresso Roast. I figure the 70% Superwash merino will make them warm, the 10% nylon will keep them tough, and the 20% Bamboo will help wick moisture away. I hope. I bet he loves it, but i do hope it looks a little more brown than the gray that's in the picture.

Thing Two has a serious passion for red and black. I had originally thought the Ruby, Ruby Dragon sock would be best for the color, but I wasn't sure the yarn, 100% Merino, would be as durable as in the Djinni Sock, which has nylon mixed in for durability, so that's what we landed on. Thing Two put some serious holes in the last pair of socks I knitted him.

For myself, I chose the Crack In The Wall in Djinni. I know it'll be just like Thing One's socks, and I like the way it feels. Also, I love the colors. And, there's the thing about it being Djinni sock yarn for Djinn. And I'm pretty darn sure the color name is a reference to Dr. Who, which I also completely dig. I'm thinking some kind of lace. Just a little bit. Probably, I'll pick a pattern from one of the books a friend recently gave me, or from my favorite lace stitchionary. I'm so completely psyched. ... but I have got to get back into my spinning, too, because I have got some awesome roving and new bobbins, and the beginning of an excellent support net.