Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Knots and Thumbs

I'll be honest with you. I hate fiddly knitting. What is fiddly knitting? Well, I think it's probably a personal definition, but it's working in the round over only a few stitches on double points so that every 3 seconds you have to pause, rotate, and start again.

It's annoying. This probably explains why I have a bunch of thumb-less mittens and finger-less gloves in my box o' unfinished business.

Fortunately I'm in the process of moving, though, and so even fiddly knitting can pass as an activity which is "not packing." It also counts double because I want to stab myself in the eye while doing it. But somehow, every time I put it down to seek out better things, the allure of packing everything I own into boxes for the 3rd move in a little over a year seems so non-existent that I cannot help but pick the mittens back up again.

In other words, if you hate doing something, sign up for something you hate more and *snap* the chore's a game (at least I think that's what Mary Poppins told me.) And so, over the past few days I have finished two of three hand coverings.

The Druid Mittens finished first, but also slowest for 2 reasons: I insisted on working on them at night when light was low and I miscrossed a cable in the 2nd thumb and couldn't bring myself to pick back 3 rows of slippery, tear inducing yarn... in the dark... The yarn I used for these (Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine) is not a nice yarn. I dislike it. I have purchased it twice out of ignorance. It will not happen again. It doesn't cling to itself very well, and once wound from a hank into a cake it devolves into a mess of knots involving the interaction of multiple layers of the cake (and not neighboring ones). We're talking colossal, brain bending, MENSA level knots that will leave you sitting on the floor for hours after telling your husband to take the scissors to the other end of the apartment.

The mittens themselves are alright. They're a bit short through the hand, but I can't really think of how to best remedy this. They also have this weird curve to them because of the slipped stitch palm--every other stitch is slipped every other row, creating a nice linen stitch pattern. This means that for 4 rows of pattern worked, each stitch on the palm is worked only 3 times and the palm itself is a full 1/4 shorter than the hand.

Still, a fun pattern--very intellectually stimulating. I think I'll give them to my sister, who has "the hands of an infant" in spite of her six foot frame. She's been asking for mittens for a while.

The second set I finished in about 3 hours--the Snapdragon Flip-tops. I had to knit the entirety of mitten #2 but the mitten body is only 56 rows. The cable chart is a bit confusing, but once you finish it, the rest of the mitt is smooth sailing. I am very much enamored with my button choice.

The yarn I chose was Queensland Leche and as that name indicates, it is spun in part from milk protein. I don't know if that actually effects the fiber very much, but it's nice to work with (except for the silk. I hate silk. It gives me the heeby-jeebies) and the stitch definition is lovely for something with as much of a halo as this has. 
All that's left is 2 fingers and a thumb on a pair of gloves. Also >40 ends associated with those fingers... hoo boy. This one may convince me to pack

Thursday, July 19, 2012


I've been trying to get things done lately. I've finished everything which I've cast on in the past year (and desired to bring to completion. We'll include that exception since there have definitely been projects that were not meant to be.) This includes, of course, Wakame, which I finished on Tuesday much to my delight. This is the first pattern in a long, long time that has been error free and modification free, and that is enough to make me sing its well deserved praises.

Not that the finished product is anything to sniff at, either. I happen to think it's quite fetching.

I ended up blocking it like it was a synthetic yarn, even with the high bamboo-to-rayon content (I was a little worried the rayon would melt. It didn't). Gentle steaming evened out the cables, let the arms hang appropriately, and helped the lower lace hang like the bodice lace, even though they are moving perpendicular to each other.

So, it was time to go through my project bin. It took about an hour. Multiple moves had tied multiple knots in and between multiple skeins and the resulting web of stress was a bit of a headache to untangle. Once everything had been freed from its neighbor, I started sorting into piles--stuff that would be finished and stuff that would not. I also rewound several balls of wool, including some of the left-over fisherman's wool from Yggdrasil (I have plans for this. It would not be in the box of projects without a purpose.)

Upon evaluating the two piles, I discovered something very interesting about myself.

I knit a lot of single mittens and gloves. and by a lot, I mean there are probably 10 different hand warmers in various stages of completion. Most of them are going to take a trip to the frog pond, but three sets will be completed. The first, herringbone gloves, come from a pattern written entirely in Japanese that served as a lesson in reading charts written in other languages and a reminder that Google translate may not be helpful when it comes to technical jargon. They needs 3 fingers and a thumb on the left hand, and then about 10,000 ends woven in. The second set is a Jared Flood design called Green Autumn (or the Druid Mittens, depending on who you ask. like, say, the designer...). They need thumbs. Actually, they need one and a half thumbs, but they were put aside for reasons which became obvious the moment I pulled them from the box. The yarn had tied itself into knots involving at least 3 layers of the inside. It's bad. The third set is a pair of Snapdragon flip tops by Ysolda Teague. I need to knit the 2nd mitten.

The others are all too small, suffering from yarn deficiencies, ugly as sin when worn, or the result of bad decision making that combines any number of the aforementioned issues. There are even 3 different mits made from the same yarn as I was desperately trying to figure out how to make it play nice. There was also something weird in the box that I had forgotten about:
A Dale of Norway kit for a houndstooth bag which I inherited from another knitter's stash upon her passing. I have mixed feelings about this bag, and they really boil down to me thinking this bag is ugly, but having a kit with all the bells and whistles from Dale makes me want to finish it regardless. (Oh gosh... it's so ugly, though). I'll finish it like a good girl. I'm sure I can find someone who wants it, as it's clearly well engineered.

So the next few days are going to be all about the mittens.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Of Socks and Scarves

I have been productive this past week. It makes me happy. I finished my Longitudinal socks days ago. I love them. They match perfectly. I don't know if I'm going to keep them or if I'll send them off to my mother (who is the current owner of every pair of socks which I have ever knit. She wears them. I don't), but one of us will have toasty toes this winter. I highly recommend this pattern. It's a real kick to knit.

Once the socks were finished, I reached over next to me and grabbed Les Miserables. It was time to finish it. As it turns out, I had even less yarn than I previously thought (which isn't a huge surprise. I did make a shawl out of one of the hanks (Swallowtail, if you care) and so the second ball, which I thought would last for the better part of a week bare minimum, ended up lasting only a day and a half. This is the part where I pat myself on the back, because when I looked down at the tiny ball I thought," I don't have enough for a whole repeat. I'd better end it soon." The ending portion of the pattern is 18 rows.

I had 1 yard left when I cut my tail to close my bind off. I guessed right down to a yard. Crazy.
I pray for the day when I encounter a green yarn that doesn't bleed all over everything. Seriously.
From there, it was end weaving and hand felting. I'd never hand felted anything before, but I was pretty sure I knew what I was doing--hot water, agitate, cold water, agitate--and son of a gun I did. My sink looks like it was attacked by a green dog, but the felting process itself went quite well.

Half an hour later my scarf was 2 feet shorter and drying out on our porch as the sun set. I love it. It's gorgeous. The fabric looks a bit like a boucle, with little blebs of yarn poking through the felty mess. I'm going to have to wear it with a pin because it's a bit short, but I'm really glad I made this one.

In other news, I'm 2 repeats away from starting the body of Wakame, so hopefully there will be exciting pictures from now on on the sweater front. We're getting ready to move in not too long, so that may throw a hitch in the knitting productivity giggle, but I'm optimistic for the time being.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sideways Socks

I started a pair of socks last night. To be honest, I had wanted to start them a while ago, but there were... afghans... in the way. I've had a skein of Kureyon sock yarn sitting in my stash for more than 2 years, waiting for a pattern that suited the long color drags. I picked out the pattern the moment it was published in Knitty--Longitudinal--and spent the next 2 weeks hunting for my 1's. Turns out that they were in my little brothers hat. So I had to finish the hat. And I did. But I had so much on my needles that I was uncomfortable with the prospect of starting something new.

Obviously that sentiment wore off, because I haven't finished anything but that hat (and the other hat). Les Miserables is sitting next to me, but I really really don't want to work on it right now. Wakame is still in the tub, waiting for me to pick it up again. There's this bunny rabbit on my book shelf with a tapestry needle through its nose, one ear attaches, and two limbs sitting next to it. I'm pretty sure that somewhere in my tub 'o projects is a pair of mittens that are complete save for their thumbs and I know there's a set of gloves that is missing 3 fingers.

Basically the last thing I should be doing right now is starting something new. So I need to finish this quickly. It can't go into the tub and languish until I deign to reach in and accidentally pull it from the depths. So I finished the first sock this morning. I grafted 90-ish stitches together and cast on the second sock shortly thereafter. But something nifty happened. Somehow.

I don't usually worry about matching self-striping yarn. This is because I am lazy and because I'm usually making things for myself. So when I started these guys, I thought to myself, "at least it's a pattern where matching socks isn't really the point." And so I cast on in yellow. And so I bound off in yellow. The socks, barring some knots disrupting the color scheme (NOOOOOROOOOO! How your knots anger me!) will match perfectly.

Accidentally perfectly.
Rock on.

It is also worth noting that I am incredibly bad at taking pictures of socks on my feet, so the likelihood that those will exist depends highly on sheer luck or my husband's yet undiscovered photography skills.