Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Distractions and other forms of monetary advancement

My plans to knit Lyra have been thrown off the rails several times now in rather quick succession. First, I had a mad desire to do some colorwork. I haven't done any stranded knitting in quite some time, which is a crying shame since I do enjoy it ever so much. Since Lyra rows were taking forever, I put it down for a little while and knit Flora, which is not a particularly well written pattern, but if you can ferret out what you should actually be doing (aka ignore the directions... sigh...) you can get a pretty nice product.

I knit mine on size 4 needles with some spare Knitpicks yarn I had lying around. The whole thing only took a couple of hours, even with the crochet (which takes me far longer than it ought to), and I was ready to dive back into Lyra.

Until Portlandia offered $10 a coffee cozy for 20 coffee cozies. My entire knitting schedule was derailed in favor of stash diving.

20 cozy cozies. I ship them tomorrow.
Lyra's on row 126/180.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Excel is a good thing. Just saying.

I am currently 122 rows into the 180 row Lyra tablecloth, and I spent rows 77 through 113 crossing my fingers (figuratively, of course. It is quite difficult to knit with crossed fingers) and hoping that I would have enough yarn. You see, when I made the circular version, I didn't take the best notes... okay, I took almost no notes, but I did mark the row where the yarn ball changed.

I just didn't write down the size skein I was using. Aunt Lydia's white crochet cotton comes in skein sizes ranging from "I think I'll make a doily for my potpourri bowl to rest upon daintily," to "Maybe a lace cozy for the Hummer would be nice." So while I know that I used 3-ish skeins, the yardage is absolutely up in the air.

I have 5 balls of blue crochet cotton of the "potpourri bowl" variety. I am working on size 3 needles instead of the recommended 1's or the 2's I used last time (it became clear in the first 20 rows that the finished product would not cover my table if I continued on with the recommended needles).  I have no compass to guide me through this maelstrom of "How much yarn do I NEEEEEEEEED?"

No compass but my math, that is (and Excel. I refuse to do some of this stuff by hand.) I didn't know how far one ball went, and with 90/180 rows making up less than a quarter of the total stitches, ending ball 1 at row 77 was a bad sign. The solution? Counting. Count all the stitches in every row of chart. Add the total number together and multiply by 2 (those WS rows will get you every time), then by 8 (because it's an octagon... sort of...). I got a number, and a big number at that. Then I counted from the top down to row 113. 2.8 balls, high end estimate, from row 113 to row 180. I say high end because I counted EVERYTHING as the same. A double yarn over doesn't take nearly as much yarn as 2 knit stitches--it's got no bottom--but screw it, it's the same. I picked row 113 because that is where you must choose what shape you shall make. It is the point of no return.

Somewhere along the line, I told myself that ball #2 would last until row 116. In retrospect, I have no idea where that number came from (no, seriously. I think I might have done some really terrible cross multiplication...), but since 116 is greater than 113 I decided to soldier on.

Ball #2 lasted through row 118.
3 balls remaining, with calculations asking for 2.8.
Math, don't fail me now.

I'm currently working my way through row 122, but as I'm nearing 50% of the work competed with >2/3 of the rows already knit, it's slow going from here on out. I had to pull out my 2nd pair of 3's because the stitches were crammed so tightly onto the single needle that they wouldn't slide. If something goes wrong with the yardage, I'm royally screwed. I don't think I could put a post hoc lifeline in this baby if my life depended on it.

No pictures of progress because it looks like a deflated jellyfish.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Patterns are dumb (or I am... either way, really)

Remember how I said I'd finish the hoarfrost shawl last time?

I do too.

I just... ran into something kind of higgity, and now I don't know what comes next. You see, when I started this thing the first time, I did a single repeat on the correct needles and thought, "This looks stupid. You can't even see the lace when the stitches have this much negative space." So I went down 2 needle sizes. I like the fabric I get from this significantly more than that first go-around.

Well, I told you I needed to get roughly 26 inches out of the first cone if I was going to have enough yarn to finish the project, and son of a gun, I got all 26 of those inches (weeee!). Then I did a count to see how many increases I had already completed and how many more I would need to do in the remaining 7 inches (33 inches before the decrease section). The answer was 7. Each repeat takes roughly 1.5 inches, on the low end of the estimate. That's 10.5 inches.

Remember the part where I went down 2 needle sizes?
Remember how that's supposed to make your stitches per inch greater, thereby making the number of rows worked to achieve a certain length increase?

So on reduced needles, well below gauge, I'm going to exceed the specified length requirements by more than 4 inches... What? I put it down for a while. I'm trying to decide if I should work 33 inches and just start the decreases at their rough starting point or if I should do all the increases and make a slightly larger cowl...

I... I don't even know. Maybe it just needs a time out.

In an effort to not knit the hoarfrost, I started my second Lyra on Saturday with yarn I got from a going-out-of-business sale (boo for the economy but yay for my wallet). I'm planning on making the square this time and using slightly larger needles to make sure it actually covers my table. It's pretty and blue, and I finished row 60/180 today, which means I'm about 1/3 done on paper and 1/1000 done on the actual knitting (heh. Really, that's closer to 20%, but those rows towards the end are going to be unceasingly long)

I want to have it done by Christmas (for no particular reason. I just want it done by then), so we'll see if I can set a deadline and keep it.