Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Random Tuesday

I have a lot to talk about and can only loosely string it all together, so we're going to do a random post today.

Andean Chullo

I finished knitting up the body of my Andean Chullo Hat, which was a kit that used to be offered from KnitPicks.

I still have to do an attached i-cord around the entire bottom and make some tassels and weave in all the ends, but I sped through the knitting of the body because...

Latvian Vest

...I needed the needles to start a vest.  I've been wanting to knit a vest for quite a while and just decided on a whim to do so (and I needed another colorwork project now that the hat is almost done.  See how that worked?  I only finished the hat because I needed the needles and now I'm using the hat being done as my excuse to start the vest.  Sneaky, eh?).

No, my vest is not going to be those colors, don't worry.  I swatched with the two colors I thought I would be least likely to use.  This swatch did teach me several things, though.

1. I am, apparently, in the minority.  I have read in several sources about colorwork knitting that, in general, the color carried below the other color will be the one to stand out.  Let's look at my swatch.  I switched halfway through, can you tell?  Do you see how the blue stands out on the bottom more than on the top?  I carried it above the gray for the first half.  You shouldn't trust everything you read.

2.  I should never be allowed to pick colors.

3.  I am so far off gauge I can't even believe it.  Maybe you can check my math for me, alright?  I want a 40" vest.  The gauge of the pattern is 27sts/4 inches and the medium (40") size has a CO of 270.  That makes sense.  Now, my gauge is 36 sts/4 inches.  This means that if I knit the 2XL size (kill me now), with a CO of 352 (seriously, do it, please), then I should end up with about a 40" circumference.  The fact that I will be knitting a 2XL size and just hoping that it fits me and not me-plus-a-friend is overwhelmingly scary.  What if my gauge changes and all of a sudden I should have just knit the Medium like the pattern says?  So much could go wrong.  I may not be ready for this.

Tuesdays are for Tom (or something like that)

I really need to get back to my brother's blanket.  I sort of don't knit it because it's all garter stitch and there are so many more interesting things in my apartment to distract me.  I'm going to try something that is so against my personality that I think I may be going crazy.

On Tuesdays I will knit on this blanket.  I know, it sounds simple, right?  Why do I even have to announce that?  How could I mess it up?  Well, I'm telling you all with the hope that I will be held more accountable now.  If next Wednesday I show you the beautiful lace shawl I started of the pair of mittens I just finished the day before, it is up to you to shower me with guilt until I return to the blanket.  You see, I'm not saying that sometime on Tuesday I will knit on the blanket, I'm saying that on Tuesdays, I will only knit this blanket.  (There will, of course, be exceptions for my sanity.  This is knitting, after all.)

It has to get done and, well, right now it is nowhere near "done".

Should we do some more math?  (I hate math right now).  The finished blanket needs 40 of those squares.  I have 11.  I need 29 more.  Each square takes 8 hours to knit.  That means I only have to knit for 232 more hours before I fini...

...sorry, I just fainted.

I do this math more often than I care to admit.  (More often than I actually knit this blanket, that's for sure).  It just has to be wrong, right?  Please, PLEASE tell me that it's wrong.  No matter what I do, no matter how I time myself knitting one of the squares, it always takes 8 hours.  I can't ignore that.  But 232 more hours of...

...sorry, I just passed out again.  Is it Wednesday yet?

The FairyGodknitter

 Do you all know Joan?  That's a stupid question, everyone knows Joan.  (If you don't know Joan, you should.  She's pretty amazing.)

I have tangible proof that she is, in fact, THE FairyGodknitter and not simply a wonderful woman posing as the real deal.

She may not have a magic wand or musical gibberish (though I suppose I can't prove that she doesn't waltz around her house mumbling to herself.  Cookie, does she?), but her magic is just as amazing.  You see, she solved my needle crisis FOR GOOD.

 She also, magically, knew about my love for Swedish Fish and all things Post-It.  See that?  Magic.  She has it.

She may have been joking about my "old lady fingers", but somehow, magically probably, she's not that far off.  (My brother, for a photography project, took photographs of each of my siblings' hands on a black background.  Once he posted them all to facebook we could all go through and guess who's hands were in each picture.  Let's just say that people thought mine belonged to my grandpa.  I have old man hands and I may have gotten a little upset about that.  His class voted my hands the best, but I think it's just because they had the most, shall we say, character.)  She has to be magic to have known about that.

But that's not the point.  The point is that she's my Fairy GodKnitter and delivered this to my apartment.

I know!  I couldn't believe it!

I didn't know what to say.  I was speechless!  I kept muttering things like, "No.  No, no... no no no..." because I didn't believe it.  That's usually what happens when something magical happens.  There's all sorts of disbelief and crazy mutterings.  But so far the needles haven't disappeared and I think they're here to stay.  Along with this...

Blue.  I mean yarn.  Blue yarn.  Suri Blue yarn from Fleece Artist and Joan is magical.  I can't even think straight at this point.

So how does one thank the Fairy GodKnitter?  (Oh, by the way, if you haven't seen what she's been up to over on Etsy, you should definitely go check it out.  Now.  The rest of this post isn't very important.)  Thank you, Joan!  I will never again say I don't believe in Fairies.  (Oh wait, that's Peter Pan.  Does this make The Composer Wendy?)


I finished some socks.  (Man, after that last section this feels so lame).

I know that for all of you who knit socks all the time this isn't a big deal.  I, however, am not a capital S Sock Knitter.  I tried like four different sock pattern tutorials (you know, the ones where you just plug in your own gauge and measurements and it tells you know to knit a sock?) and they all left me stranded.  Not because I don't know how to knit socks, but because the socks I was knitting didn't fit me.  I finally just threw caution to the wind and cast on a number I thought would work and went from there, even if the tutorials told me that they wouldn't work out.  And guess what?

They fit.  They fit really well.  They fit so well, in fact, that I made sure to take every possible measurement I could so that I could use these socks as my template for all future socks I make for myself.

This was some KnitPicks Felici that I bought several years ago in the colorway "Pebble" (now discontinued) and I used about two and a half balls.  I have very large feet.  Hence why I don't knit socks.  (As an aside, I intentionally reversed the striping sequence on each sock.  It would have bugged me like crazy if the stripes were 4 rows off from each other, but if they're totally backwards it's no big deal.  Let's not discuss how the dark brown stripes still almost line up.)

However, now that I might be able to make socks that fit me without having to rip them out five times in the process, I may try again with this.

STR Mediumweight from my Fairy GodKnitter.  I can't even tell you how many times I've swatched with this yarn.  I've even knit two whole feet, but it just wasn't meant to be.  Maybe now it is.  There might still be some of Joan's magic lingering around these parts.

Pass the needles.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I'm on Spring break.

Yeah, I found that humorous, too.  I do wish that the weather would make up its mind.  I don't like getting my hopes up only to be let down time and time again.

A few days ago there were daffodils poking out of the snowless ground.  (That's The Composer's shoe.  He seemed amused by how excited I was about "the first signs of Spring!" while dancing around and taking pictures.)

And today, well, look at that first picture.  Spring break, indeed.  All of my friends (including The Composer) have left me to fend for myself all week, which means I can spend each and every day knitting spinning watching movies and eating chocolate while not cleaning my apartment or putting on real clothes practicing for as long as I want.

I picked up my spindle again yesterday and spun for a while.  I was lulled into that peaceful zen state that spinning tends to create.  The soft merino sliding through my fingers, the mesmerizing spin of the spindle, the way that the repeated motions allow you to lose yourself in your thoughts, the spindle whorl doing graceful acrobatics as it flies across the room...

I guess I got a little too excited with my thigh roll.  It was cool to see what the copp (spun fiber wrapped around spindle shaft) looked like without the whorl on the spindle, though.

I was able to stick the whorl back on and keep spinning for a bit, but eventually it fell off almost every time I went to spin the spindle and my stream of expletives kept getting longer and longer...  I eventually just laid some unspun fiber over the hole before sticking the shaft in to tighten things up and it worked like a charm.

I had forgotten how much I used to enjoy spinning.

Did you know I've never actually knit with my handspun?  I mean, it's not like I've produced very much of it, but I've always given it away when I finish it.  I should probably keep some for myself at some point...  if I ever finish what I'm spinning, that is.  Honestly, as much as I enjoy the process of making this yarn, I gotta tell you, I don't think I'm a spindle kinda guy.  I'm still waiting for the day that I have a spinning wheel.  I have all these ideas of myself spinning yarn for sweaters and hats and mittens and wonderful woolly, warm things and, well, that's just not going to happen with me and a spindle.  I get the portability thing, but I don't take my spindle anywhere and I know a wheel would suit my needs much better.

And when I get one (note I said "when" and not "if".  It may be ten years from now, but I'm determined to have a spinning wheel before I die) I will spin up this fluff that I got for Christmas this past December from my mother.

I know a picture doesn't show you much, but it's a blend (well, handfuls really) of a bunch of different fibers - mohair, leicester, corriedale, ...something else... I can't remember.  Anyway, this is my wheel fiber.  It may have to wait a while.

And just so you don't think I've stopped knitting, I give you the beginnings of a lace shawl (by the way, that blue one from before?  Ripped.  Thanks to all of you for being so incredibly eager to tell me that my knitting looks like crap and that I was out of my mind.  You didn't say it quite like that, but I got what you were thinking.  I appreciate the support.)

And a hat that I started this past August.

Please don't say anything about the crappiness of my stranded knitting.  I function under the delusion that once I block this hat my stitches will be the image of perfect.  Blocking, in this delusion, will also get rid of all those ends.  That's the only way this hat will ever be finished.  Those ends intimidate me.

And hey, if you know anyone desperately trying to give away a spinning wheel, I'm your man.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Swatch

After realizing that attempting to get the needles back from the lace shawl was a pointless effort, I changed tactics.  The new plan was to knit as fast as I can until the shawl had no choice but to release its grip on the needles out of sheer exhaustion (and completeness, but mostly exhaustion).

It turns out the shawl has more stamina than I do.

Here's where I seek your advice.  I admit to buying this yarn with a bit of hesitation knowing that it is variegated.  Variegated yarn does not work well with complicated lace patterns. (this is always true.  No amount of denial is going to change this.  Not even if you really, really, really want the yarn and pattern to be united.)

I'm considering this shawl a swatch.  (By the way, the pattern is Damask by Kitman Figueroa and I'm using Malabrigo Sock in Azules.  You may not be able to tell that it's the same pattern because of the variegation.)  No, I could not have knit a small square swatch.  How could I tell how the colors would change with the decreasing stitch count in each row?  How would the nupps look?  What would be the overall effect?  Clearly I had to knit the largest swatch possible, and it might as well resemble what the finished shawl would look like, right?  So this shawl swatch and I spent some quality time together and I just can't decide.  I quickly pinned it out to see what I have to work with.

I was a bit deflated by what I saw.  We needed some time apart (though, obviously, the shawl swatch held onto the needles).  After a few days I picked it back up and knit steadily for an hour, or six rows, whichever measurement you choose to use.

I thought it looked funny.  I thought, "This pattern isn't lining up."  This was on the first row.  I decided that the designer knew what she was doing and I should just continue.  "Oh, good", I thought, "the next row lines up with the one below" and this is how I continued for an hour.  I thought it was time to count my stitches.  153.  That seems right, it says in the pattern that after row 56 I should have 153 stitches.  Perfect.  But what is this number in parentheses?  Oh, never mind, that's just the stitch count for the medium size, but I have 153, so I must be knitting the small size.

But that doesn't make sense, because I cast on for the medium.  When did this change?  Have I been knitting the small size all along?

I studied my knitting.  I looked again.  I saw where the pattern didn't really line up, that the stitches were falling in the wrong place above the nupps.  "The nupps," I thought.  The nupps at the top of this chart.  The top of this chart that I just started knitting.  Why are there already nupps?  Somehow I must have...

And then I realized.  I've already knit this chart.  Not the entire thing, that would be too easy.  I knit through the nupp rows and then stopped 4 rows shy of moving onto the next chart.  Three days later when I sat down to knit this shawl swatch again, I assumed the logical thing to do would be to begin at the bottom of the chart.

For an hour I did this and didn't think twice.

Stupid shawl swatch.

So what do you think.  Is the variegation too much?  Maybe we should wait to see until I block the shawl swatch.  You can never believe a swatch until it's washed and blocked, right?