Thursday, June 28, 2012

Les Miserables

This scarf is weird. I mean, I knew that when I started. You hand felt lace-weight yarn--of course it's going to look a little higgity in process. The stitches adjacent to the drops are always encroaching on the empty space and trying to grow by consuming that extra yarn no one seems to be using. The fabric is all crinkly because the yarn doesn't know how to behave at this gauge. It's all very odd.

I popped into a yarn shop on my way out of Puyallup this past weekend and the nice lady 1) complemented my bag (which Mrs. Penny Dreadfuls made for me, all those years ago. It still makes me very happy) and 2) wanted to know what I was knitting. So I pulled 2 feet of crinkled mess out of my purse and tried to show her. She made a face as if she was fruitlessly trying to comprehend the mess in front of her, and said something to the effect of, "I think I understand," in a tone of voice that said, "I have no idea what you're saying, but talking doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere, so let's just abandon ship and move on to the yarn which surrounds us."

And so we did just that and talked about how pretty Madeline Tosh is. (which it definitely is.)

Since then, I've put about a foot and a half onto the thing. It feels like it's slow going, but it's really not. I don't have enough yarn for the full 8 feet (nor the desire. Let's be absolutely clear about that. No one will ever receive a scarf that is 8 feet long unless >1.5 feet is made up of fringe.) I think I'll probably make it to 6, maybe even flirt with 7. This is because I'm using stash yarn left over from a Swallowtail. I've got about 1.5 hanks and the pattern definitely wants at least 2.

But I doubt I'll lose so much length during the felting process that it will somehow be unusable. I just need to stop measuring and knit the yarn that I have and call it a day. Right now I'm contemplating where I'm going to felt this...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Finishing Yggdrasil meant two things--1) I now had much more knitting time, and 2) I didn't want to knit heavy things for a while. This meant that Wakame needs to snooze for a bit longer because that thing is going to be quite a chore to lift once I divide for the sleeves (which, honestly, is quite a ways off, but even the thought of maneuvering something heavy is so off-putting that I can't bring myself to pick up the needles to get to that point).  Instead, I've been making some hats. I had promised my brother a hat back in October... for his birthday... in November... (oops) but I had picked a hat knit on size 1 needles with a gentle texture that you have to pay attention to knit properly.

And so that hat was taking forever. I finally sat down and did the math for the crown--I cut out a repeat and needed to rework the numbers for the set up round. Once hat decreases have been set, it's always smooth sailing, but getting things appropriately lined up when you're working with 156 stitches can be quite a pain.

Still, it's done and it looks nice. The pattern is Eliot's Ass-Kicking Hat (a reference to some tv show which I don't watch), and it does churn out a solid "man hat." I knit it in Bamboo and Ewe, which has since been rebranded as Truly for reasons which escape me. Perhaps it's because the bamboo has been spun into rayon, and so they felt they were being a bit mis-leading, but almost all bamboo that is spun to last more than 1 washing that I've encountered has been converted to rayon.  My major beef with this hat is that it looks like a machine made it. And I don't mean that in a "look how spectacular this is, I can hardly believe how even the work looks." No, it honestly looks like something you would purchase from a skating store for 15 bucks. Part of the joy of knitting is creating beautiful things that cause strangers to turn and ask "Where on earth did you get such a lovely 'X'," not "I bought one just like that at Zumiez last week."
My cousin also received a hat this weekend. He graduated from high school this past week and is continuing his education in much colder climes, so cold weather gear is in order. I may make him a scarf before he goes as well. The pattern is Knitty's Knotty but Nice and it's my go-to "man hat." It looks hand-made (unlike Eliot's hat, much to my chagrin after investing all that labor) and it's also well constructed and clever. I move the decreases 1 stitch to the right so that the flow of the ribbing isn't interrupted, but that's all I change when I make this. The yarn is Paton's Classic Wool, and it knits up quite nicely. It's a bit pricey for the yardage, especially considering I purchased it from a box store, but the color is quite nice.
I think I'll churn away at Les Miserables for the rest of the week and see if I can't finish that sometime soon. Hopefully my shoulders will feel up to tackling Wakame after that. I'm looking forward to the finished product on that one (hence perpetually bringing it up to remind myself that it's waiting for me).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Saying Goodbye to the World (Tree)

This weekend I did it. I sat down on Saturday for what must have been 14 hours and I knit the last side and a quarter of Yggdrasil. My shoulders are sore and my back's kind of angry at me. I thought maybe I could soak it in my green bucket, but it took a glance to realize that I was going to need to scrub the tub.

And it needed the whole tub.

I pinned it out after about an hour and a half (lanolin is tough stuff on the water-repelling front) and let it dry. Actually, first I had to move all our large furniture because the blanket is about 6 feet square. Less than 24 hours later, I'm snuggling in the world tree.

 If I block it again in the near future, I'll be a little less aggressive. It looks fine but it's a little... lofty?... for a blanket. So, what did I change, what did I do wrong (bahaha) and what's wrong in the pattern?

Well, in the leaf border, all the increases are m1s. I didn't want to interrupt the flow of the vine-y bits, so I used "lift 1" from the outside edge. The effect is really quite nice. I did use a m1 for all the purl increases.

There's a small-ish error in row 51 of the leaf braid corner chart--it's a miscrossed cable, but by this point you probably won't even see it since you've knit the darn leaf braid about 70 times. There's some weirdness back in the wide cable chart, but I don't remember what it was and I kind of threw away that sheet of paper because I was so happy to be finished with that section.

I screwed up the increases in the central panel... somehow... I'm still not really sure what went wrong even as I look at it. Probably a shift for 3 rows and just 3 rows or something crazy like that. It's the top left corner. So strange. A lot of folks have said that they hate the way the increases look. I don't really mind them, but if they really do annoy you there are a few solutions. Properly pairing right and left m1s (rather than using just m1 right) will get you a long way--it'll even out and thin down the line. During the field of reverse stockinette in the center panel, kfb would probably look just fine. And since I'm currently partial to lifting stitches, you could do that anywhere, but there would be some concern with holes .

So now I'm knitting a hat. A small hat on large needles. A quickly accomplished project for a recent graduate moving to colder climes. Then it's back to all those Works In Progress that have been anything but in progress. Maybe we'll finish Les Mis before we hang out with Wakame again, but I really can't say one way or the other.

I'm just happy to have the world tree off my needles and in my lap.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sloggity Slog Slog

I'm working on Yggdrasil again. (again.) My desire to churn away at it ebbs and flows, but is usually directly related to my propensity to make stupid mistakes and not notice these for 8 rows. This, of course, induces gnashing of teeth and open weeping. The blanket is set aside for a few days, and then I pick it back up again, rip back to my oh so unbelievably stupid mistake(s), and slog away again. (again.)

But progress! I ran out and bought another skein of Fisherman's wool (bringing the total up to 5) in a different, but veeeeery similar dye lot and used that to pick up the stockinette section. If you recall, a few posts back I said that I needed to be careful when I picked up, since the arbitrary directions called for a number which was "about 4 of every 5 stitches." I hate directions written this way because the only thing you can be sure of is that 4 of every 5 is incorrect. Will it result in too many or too few? You can't know. You can just start and hope for the best, fail miserably, cram 20 stitches into a space you used for 6 eight inches ago, realize that rather than making headway you are making a mess, and you are left to flounder helplessly.

Except I had an idea (a good idea, for the record). It is very difficult to visually determine the location of more than 100 future stitches over roughly 4 feet in advance. It is much easier to see, say, 30 over a 10 inch section, or better yet 10 over a roughly 3 inch section. A plan!

Subdivide and conquer!

Look at the tiny teal tassels!
The secret is fourths. Fold the blanket in half, and then in half again. Reach back in the depths of your mind to that childhood latch-hooking project and hook yourself 3 little tassels. I have pretty good spacial reasoning (it compensates for my complete inability to spell), so I left it like that and divided each subdivision again into thirds visually.

I picked up more than 400 stitches, evenly, correctly, beautifully, on my first try. (This is me patting myself on the back for not royally screwing this up. I was seriously terrified that the project would languish in my "WIP"  box until the end of time because I couldn't move past the 1st border)

We have long since moved on. I told myself that I needed to finish the blanket before I started anymore on Wakame. And by told myself, I mean my all of my interchangeable cables are currently attached to the world tree and so I can't actually use them.  I'm through 2 and a quarter sides. At first I was quite excited (something new!), but then I realized I'm knitting the equivalent a 30 foot scarf.

I declare the dye lots "close enough"
As long as I keep slogging at a respectable pace, we'll make it through. 5 hour car rides certainly help. Hopefully more interesting projects are on the horizon.