Saturday, May 31, 2014

One is better than none

Last night, I wove in the ends on the latest sweater for my sister:



It's not blocked yet - I think I should probably leave that until after the sink's been cleaned, nothing like inadvertently washing your sink with handknits. It also still needs buttons, and those will need to be procured at some point in the future. So it's not done. But the knitting part is done.

And also the weaving in of ends. For a garment constructed in one piece, it had a somewhat shocking number of ends that had to be dealt with.



I even threw caution to the wind and did Russian joins when changing skeins. Still. I had at least 10 ends to deal with at the end.

I had previously hoped to get two sweaters all wrapped up before the Tour de Sock begins tomorrow, but I have a feeling that's not going to happen. The second sweater - for me - is nearly done, in that I'm chugging away through the last ball of yarn. If I could just sit and crank on it all afternoon and evening today, I might be able to finish it.

Instead, I'm going to be doing some baking, and at some point I'm going to wind up some more sponsor yarn in preparation for later stages of the Tour. I've got Stage One all figured out:



The yarn with the needles jammed into the puck is my first choice. If, however, I see the pattern and think I've got a bad match, then I've got the other two batches waiting in the wings.

I am ready. I am prepared.

Eep. Look at the time. I better get into the kitchen.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Let's see some progress

Historically, I have not been particularly good at documenting my progress on things here. I'll say something about making progress, but I never actually provide any photo evidence until I have something finished.

Remember how a little while back I posted a pic of the hem of a sweater for my sister? No? It looked like this:



Today, it looks like this:



I just did the second three-needle bind off to join the shoulder this morning. Now all it needs is sleeves and the neckband/buttonband edging. The sleeves are short, so I'm anticipating that they will be fairly quick. This should be done soon.

Those with eagle eyes may have spotted a whoopsie - the two fronts don't match precisely, because I goobered up the right front. I don't think it's too noticeable, because they mostly match - up right by where you bind off for the lower edge of the neckline? I misjudged where I was in the chart as I was working the right front, so the lace goes a bit strange - it's missing two rows on the right front. I didn't notice it until after I had finished the right front, finished the back, joined the right shoulder, and worked to the corresponding point on the left front - I lined the two fronts up to make sure I worked the left to the same length as the right, and saw that the lace patterning deviated between the two. Oops. At the time, I couldn't figure out what I'd done to mess up the right, so I couldn't repeat the error to make the left match, and I didn't want to trial-and-error my way through. Because, really - I don't think it's that noticeable. I mean, I can find it if I look for it, and if I place the two pieces right beside each other, it's more obvious, but those pieces are going to be separated by button bands, and, realistically - the sweater won't be buttoned all the way up. In fact, I could force the issue and simply omit the topmost button and buttonhole. Evil? Maybe.

Now. To get the sleeve stitches picked up. Maybe this sucker will even be done by the weekend?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Crazy making

So.

It's been a week since I last posted all excited about the upcoming Tour, and showed off my sponsor stash, and mentioned something about needing to make a yarn choice for Stage One. Sock Gamma. Which will apparently do well in a solid, semi-solid, tonal, or subtly variegated yarn.

I still haven't made a decision.

My sponsor stash is sort of scattered around the spot where I park my bum in front of the laptop when I work from home - which, in all honesty, hasn't been happening so much the past week. I thought I'd be able to get so much done.

Yet, here I sit, surrounded by gorgeous yarn, but not knowing how to handle it. My brain is being pulled in too many directions at once - and not all yarny directions either.

Maybe I should start winding.

Or maybe that will just make things worse, because suddenly I'll have a pile of labels to keep track of too.

On the sweater finishing front? I think I can get two knocked out. One for me, one for sis.

If the crazy doesn't send me off the deep end.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Here I go again

Can you feel that buzz in the air? The slight hum of anticipation?

The 2014 Tour de Sock is rapidly approaching!

This year, I knew it was coming. This year, I am prepared:



This morning, I rounded up all my sponsor yarn and heaped it into the chair. Well, truthfully? I have a couple more skeins of Invictus that I've got stowed away for gifts for my sister - shh! The number of Tour sponsors has increased to include a couple of Canadian yarnies, and I happened to have some in my stash already, so my options for this Tour are pretty good, and I'll be earning bonus points for my team! Yay!

In the meantime, while counting down till 1 June? I'm going to try avoiding socks, just to make sure I don't get sock burnout mid-Tour. It didn't happen last time, but you know, luck favours the prepared. I managed to get that pair of socks for my sister done in time to slip into her birthday goodie bag - I'll try to take some pics when I see her wearing them - but for the next two and a bit weeks, I'm gonna try to have a sweater extravaganza here. I've got, um, five sweaters kicking about at various stages of completion, and while I have no illusions about bashing through all of them, I'd like to crank through two or three of them. We'll see how it goes.

After all, the Tour's tech specs are out, and I need to pick a yarn for Stage 1. Oddly, I think I've got some of the other stages sorted out, mentally. Just not Stage 1, as it turns out.

I'll keep thinking. After all, luck favours the prepared. (Why yes, I have been watching The Incredibles lately - how could you tell?)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Smackdown, part 2

So yesterday I put on The Incredibles to watch while I cranked out the heel of my sister's sock. The heel flap emerged, I turned the heel, picked up for the gussets, did some counting to place the gusset decreases - everything was going according to plan.

Then, because I am me, I picked up the first sock, and held the two together to double check that they matched. This is what I saw:



Note: yes, I was sitting in the driver's seat of my car when I snapped this image. No, I was not driving. That is insane. I do not knit while driving. I was parked and waiting for someone. I noticed the problem just before leaving the house, and took the sock with me in the event I would have to wait. Turned out to be a good thing, because I ended up waiting for about an hour.

Doesn't look quite right, does it?



The heels don't seem to line up. Sadly, it's not an optical illusion:



When the heels are lined up, the tops are off.



This is where I got confused. Well, okay, I was clearly confused about something else earlier. But at first, I couldn't work out how the socks didn't match in leg height, since I take notes while working the first sock to make sure the second sock matches. Always. And I definitely consulted my notes to make sure I worked the leg to the same length. I'm particular enough to actually count the number of rows worked and record that, I remembered seeing 60 on my pattern page. So I'd worked 60. So what happened?

I did a recount of the first sock. 68.

Aha! I must have had a typo incident when I entered my notes. I went back to my pattern page to check the number I'd entered.

68.

Oh. No typo.

So where did 60 come from?

The only answer I can come up with is my eyes registered the 6 and the vaguely round shape of the 8 and then autocorrected it to 60, because for some reason my mind was fixated on multiples of 10.

Either way. Ripped out my partial gusset and heel, worked an additional 8 rounds on the leg, then redid the heel flap and heel turn. Now I'm ready to begin the gussets. Again.

Guess what I'll be doing today?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Smackdown

According to my Rav project page, on 28 March 2014, I cast on for a sweater for my sister.

Today, that sweater looks like this:



You may be thinking to yourself, Hm, that doesn't look like much progress within the past month. And you'd be right. True, April was a busy month (what, the complete radio silence here didn't give that away?), but not so busy that I didn't touch this sweater. In fact, last night, I had about 10 inches done. See how there are two cakes in that image? That's because one of the cakes was all knit up, and I had done the Russian Join to start the next cake, and then I realized something was wrong, and ripped it apart in a fit of pique before coming to my senses enough to snap a picture.

The problem? I'm so mad at myself. It shouldn't have been a problem. Every single pattern out there has some line on it that reads something like this:

To save time, take time: check your gauge.

Or maybe:

Every knitter's gauge is unique.

I didn't check my gauge. The pattern calls for a gauge of 17 sts to 4", and I know I can't hit that. Past experience tells me that my gauge is entirely needle driven (within reason - there are lower bounds, so no matter how small I go in needle size, I'm never going to get bulky yarn to knit up at 10 sts to the inch, for example), and that a 5 mm needle gets me 20 sts to 4", while a 5.5 mm needle gets me 16. I know, it's a huge jump. I've never tried to understand it, I just rolled with it, and futzed with pattern sizing and gauge to get the actual object I wanted.

So with this pattern - Gaia, for the curious - I determined that I could knit the smallest pattern size (32" bust) at the slightly big gauge to get something that should fit my sister just about right. So off I went with my 5.5 mm needles.

And then, yesterday, I was looking at the bit of fabric that was developing, and thought it seemed a tad small. So I double-checked my gauge.

And discovered I was getting 18 sts to 4". Not 16.

So instead of getting something a bit bigger than a 32" bust, I was on track to get something a bit smaller. No good.

So what happened? Why did my gauge change? I just panicked and checked my gauge with a 5 mm needle on another sweater, and sure as sugar, it's 20 sts to 4", just like my memory says it should be. A couple of plausible hypotheses:

1. As a newer knitter, my knitting was loosened up some by handling the larger needles. As someone with a bit more experience in the making fabric from string using sticks technique, I now have better technique in handling larger needles, so my stitches are tightened correspondingly.

2. I didn't really do a proper gauge check before, and only measured over 1" using my thumb as a rough guide, and missed a crucial half stitch in that inch, resulting in an incorrect assessment of my gauge.

Yeah. I'm inclined to go with story #2.

In the meantime. This sweater was supposed to be cranked away on over the next few days and wrapped up in time to present to my sister for her birthday. On Saturday. I have a feeling that's not possible anymore. In fact, I have a feeling it was a bit of a pipe dream even before the rip. The competitive part of my brain is screaming CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, but the more reasonable part of me is thinking maybe, just maybe, I should focus on this pair of stockinette socks I've got on the go for her instead. I've just got the heel and foot of sock #2 to go. That should be doable in the next three days, right?

I, um, might still try working on the sweater too. Because, you know. Challenge accepted.