Wednesday, June 27, 2012


This just came off my needles:

I know I'm not the first to point this out, but lace looks like such a hot mess fresh off the needles. The wool is willful and stubborn, pulling and pinching and puckering all over the place.

But. It can be tamed. It can be sweet talked, it can be seduced, it can be convinced to abandon its position on the way the world works.

I'll weave the ends in tonight and then tomorrow, I'll toss it in a sink with some Soak and see about getting it to come around to my way of thinking.

Hopefully the charms of full immersion will be sufficient. Seeing as how I don't have pins or a proper blocking board.

I'd be willing to serenade the knitted item if needed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A cinch


Parcel has set-in sleeves; however, the pattern does not instruct you to knit flat sleeve caps and then sew these in, as one might expect with set-in sleeves. Instead, you pick up stitches around the armscye, and then knit the sleeve from the top down, using short rows to shape the sleeve cap. Very clever way to avoid setting in a sleeve with seaming, if you're averse to such things.

Me, I have no strong feelings in this department, but I decided to go ahead and follow the pattern, since learning a new technique is always a good thing, plus with the cable detail, deviating from the pattern would require some thought and rejiggering of things. While that probably would have been worthwhile mental exercise, I decided this time I'd rather learn something new than do a whole bunch of work to avoid learning something new.

So I did my pick up and knit around the armscye, started working the short rows, and then I noticed something.

See that? A little line of eyelets began appearing as I worked the short rows. Something about my technique was causing the stitches to get pulled out of shape. It happened on both sides:

It wasn't a general problem with the way I picked up and knit, though, since it didn't happen anywhere where short rowing wasn't happening.

Now, the pattern does instruct you to not work the wraps, and you may have noticed from those shots that I did indeed work the wraps anyway - I decided that the "attractive seam line" the wraps would end up forming would bother the everloving snot out of me if that 'seam' didn't go all the way around the sleeve, which it wouldn't, since there are stitches at the shoulder that are not worked using short rows. Maybe the unworked wraps would have hid the holes?

I'll never know unless I knit the sweater again, because my solution was to cinch those holes shut:

Once I'd finished all the short rows, I went around to the wrong side of the fabric and started easing the slack out of the stitches and into the running yarn, working all the way around the armscye. The only tricky bit was working through the cable cross at the shoulder. In the end, I ended up with inches and inches of extra yarn at the tail where I'd started the pick up and knit.

The result?

No more holes!

I did that for both sleeves. I'm nearly done the second sleeve. From there, I'm a neckband and weaving of ends in away from blocking.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Scattered intentions

I was tidying up a little bit today, and haphazardly put my little pair of scissors into my knitting bag of tricks. Normally, I store the scissors in a little zippered compartment of my circular needle case - the one that holds my non-interchangeable ones - but at the time I was feeling sort of in a hurry, and didn't want to properly stow the scissors, so into the bag they went.

A few hours later, I remembered that I'd tossed them in there, and felt that that was a poor decision, and went to dig them out. Since we are talking about a pointy pair of scissors, I figured it would be safest to carefully remove yarny objects from the bag one by one as I sought to locate the scissors.

Being small and heavy, they had, of course, sifted their way down to the bottom of the bag, which means that once I'd found them, I had created this pile on the bed:

What is all that? Here, maybe this will clarify a little:

That jumble is the present state of my knitting intentions. A number of those things are on needles, meaning I am, at various intervals, actively working on them. Other things are cakes of yarn, meaning I have a concrete plan in mind for that yarn, and intend to cast on very soon.

Yes. It is a rather substantial pile.

Yes. I am finding it a wee bit intimidating.

Yes. I'm going to get right back to working on something in that pile as soon as I've posted this.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

K'done: Beckett Beret

You tell me - does this hat suit my head?

Pattern: Beckett Beret, by Mary Veterano
Yarn: Naturally Merino et Soie 8 Ply, in Tamarind
Needles: US 6 / 4 mm

Timed challenge: 8 hours 30 minutes

Yes, this is the hat my mother was knitting that afternoon when I wondered how my speed matches up with hers. In the end, she got slaughtered by gauge, because she had the wrong number in her head as the target, and ended up frogging the resulting ridiculously large hat - my cousin got a couple of different hats instead. And she wasn't timing herself - since I didn't tell her it was a race - so I really can't compare my time with hers in any meaningful sort of way. I know it took me 55 minutes to do my ribbing, increase row, and set-up row, but it also took me 30 minutes to cast on - I used Jeny Staiman's Slipknot cast on, with which I am really slow. Mum used a long tail cast on, with which she is lightning fast.


Mods: I didn't do 1x1 rib (so it probably isn't even fair for me to compare my time to my mother's since we weren't even knitting the same stitch pattern) - I wanted to play with ribbing a little, and had big bold ribs in mind, so I went for k4p2 instead. I also changed the crown decreases ever so slightly, in that I knit rounds 7 and 8 in reverse order so that I could avoid decreasing on a round right after a cabled round. Other than those two changes, I followed the pattern diligently, working two repeats of the cabled pattern in the hat's body before starting the crown decreases.

My hat doesn't look like the sample shown in the pattern - maybe if I'd blocked it over a plate, it would have, but that's not how I roll. I just did my usual light block: soak, lay flat to dry, arranged the way I want it. The resulting hat shape is slouchy, but not overly so - in fact, I wouldn't call it a beret myself. To me, those have more volume to them - and I've learned that for me there's a danger of looking like a mushroom head with that style hat. This, though - a slouchy tuque sort of hat - I think it might actually work for my head, and at present, I like this hat.

This hat was knit using some of the leftover yarn from a sweater - I'm not sure how I feel about matching hats and sweaters, so I'll have to be careful to avoid reaching for this hat on days I'm wearing the corresponding sweater.

The solution? To knit myself some more hats, so that I have options. Of course.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Weather accommodations

Today is not a hot day, in the grand scheme of things. The weatherman has forecast a high of 25 C today, which isn't blistering. It's quite pleasant, really.

That being said, when I woke up this morning, the house was oddly warm. The thermostat said it was 25 C inside.

Suddenly, picking up my latest sweater adventure - a pullover worked in DK weight merino/cashmere/microfibre blend - seemed folly.

So I dug out some light fingering weight merino/tencel yarn and cast on for a new shawlette.

And pondered a bit how weather inappropriate my knitting tends to be. It's June - not typically that hot around these parts, but a definite improvement over, say, February - and I've got a wool pullover on the needles that needs only a sleeve and a half and a neckband before it can have its ends woven in and be blocked and called done. I'm pretty sure I won't actually wear it until September, maybe not even till October. And over the weekend, I knit up a hat that, again, won't see any use for several months.

Others are knitting lace, or crisp summery cardigans in cotton or silk, and here I am, playing with wool.

Well. The next few days are supposed to be cooler and rainier. Maybe I'll get this sweater finished up?

Of course, in all likelihood, I'll just cast on for another one, despite the heat.

Or maybe I'll go on a shawlette and sock tear?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Logical disconnect

Even though I should be working on some work stuff today, my brain is being uncooperative.

Instead, I finished up the front of my latest sweater, and joined the shoulders together using a three-needle bind off, as dictated by the pattern. That resulted in this:

This is my version of Parcel, by Carol Feller. The astute will notice that I am knitting it in a deep green - a step away from my usual palette of browns and reds. I liked the idea of expanding the spectrum of my wardrobe, allowing me to avoid ending up in a place where it looks like I'm just wearing the same things day after day.

Plus, this will give me something green to wear come St. Patrick's Day.

Part of my brain's uncooperativeness started up yesterday, as I was trying to force it into a productive place - which was a complete and utter fail - because I knew I was very, very close to finishing up the fronts. My brain was very excited about that, because once the shoulders were seamed, I could put in the neckband, and then I'd have a new sweater to block.

Notice the problem with that excitement. Look at that photo. Do you see it?

The thing currently lacks SLEEVES.

I'm not looking to add a vest to my wardrobe. I want a sweater, complete with long sleeves. My eyes work perfectly well, so looking at that proto-sweater, I can see right off the bat that it is not a complete sweater. Even before I had the shoulders joined, I could still see that the sleeves were missing, and therefore this was a ways off from being a sweater.

So what happened? How did my brain get so profoundly lost?

I think it's because the last two sweaters I've made - one that has yet to be blogged, since it has yet to be worn, and thus there are no modeled pictures to share - were both bottom-up construction, and in both cases I was able to make the sleeves first. Whenever possible, I like to do this - since I don't really swatch, just go off my own personal experience with different needle sizes, I consider the sleeve to be a swatch of sorts. I work it up, and I keep an eye on the gauge and the properties of the resulting fabric as I go. If I don't like what I'm getting, or if there's a sizing problem, I can stop myself and have a think, and pulling apart a sleeve is not as demoralizing as pulling apart a back, or the front and back in the case of a sweater knit in the round. Once one sleeve is done, I go ahead and do the second one, while the memory of the first is still relatively fresh in my head, which helps in making sure that they match fairly precisely, and then I move on to the body of the sweater, whatever that may entail. When I proceed in this fashion, finishing up the body of the sweater means I'm tantalizingly close to being done with the entire sweater - all I need to do really is reach into my bag of tricks and pull out those knitted sleeves and attach them to the complete or nearly-complete body, depending on the sweater's construction.

This sweater, though - the sleeves are set-in sleeves that are knit by picking up stitches from around the armholes, and then shaping the sleeve cap using short rows. No good way to knit the sleeves first with that construction method, unless you knit most of the sleeve, set it aside, then knit the sleeve cap later after the body and then graft the pre-knitted sleeve to the sleeve cap, but I think you'd have to be having a pretty major love affair with grafting to go that route.

So. Part of my brain thinks I almost have a new sweater, despite all the evidence to the contrary that my eyes are sending.

There's probably a commentary in there about my personality or attitude or something, but whatever. I'm not going to think about it.

I've got a couple of sleeves and a neckband to knit.