Monday, October 26, 2015

Once more unto the breach

I am more nervous than I should be.

I've decided to plunge ahead and try to knit the back piece of Sun Prairie. Logic: if I need to use 2 skeins of yarn to knit the back piece, then I will know that I am well and truly screwed, because I'm quite sure that I cannot coax the two fronts into being with less than a skein of yarn. With my planned downsizing adjustments, I'm reasonable sure I can make them work from less than 2. I'm hoping 1.5 will do the trick.

I realize being nervous about this is sort of silly - there are far worse fates to befall a person in this life. Still, not getting the sweater I had planned on would be disappointing, both for me and my sister.

Also, it's terribly embarrassing.

Here I go. Wish me luck. Please.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Some evidence

In my last post, I sort of wondered about my present mental state - whether I was delusional, or unreasonable, or simply not very smart.

I have some evidence to submit.

Here we have a lovely finished and blocked sleeve, and most of the second sleeve. Notice how little yarn is left attached to the sleeve-in-progress. I was fully expecting that, because I needed a bit more than a skein to do the first sleeve. When I got to the end of the yarn the first time, and was not yet at the end of the sleeve, I sort of shrugged like no biggie, and reached for another skein to join on. I have lots of yarn. Whatever. As I approached the point where I would need to join on again to finish off sleeve number 2, a little alarm bell sounded in my head. It was a question.

Do I really have lots of yarn?

I gave myself a little shake. Of course I've got lots. I started with 5 skeins of madelinetosh tosh vintage, that's 1000 yards. Should be plenty to do a sweater.

The alarm sounded again. Are you sure?

I reminded myself that I had checked the yardage requirements before starting, and I wouldn't have started if I didn't have enough, and then, when the alarm wouldn't shut up, I pulled up the Rav pattern page so I could double check and put my mind at ease.

The pattern page does not have a yardage line.

I looked at the pattern, and it doesn't give a yardage requirement either, but it tells you how many skeins of the recommended yarn are needed for each size. I'd decided, since the pattern was designed for positive ease, to do the size S (38" finished bust), and the pattern said I would need 12 50 g skeins to do it.

12 x 50 g = 600 g

5 x 100 g = 500 g

OOPS. When I looked at the pattern initially, I had looked at the finished measurements and figured I could get the size XS (34" bust) to work with what I had. Then I totally forgot about that, and then hauled off and made a larger size. Big problem.

But wait! That's not the end of it! The recommended yarn is 125 yards to 50 g.

10 (the number of skeins needed for the XS) x 125 yards = 1250 yards.

Now, now I have a major problem. I have almost two sleeves that I have shown to my sister, and she likes them, and likes that they are a bit roomy, so they're going to stay, but I absolutely do not have enough yarn to finish the sweater as written.

I'm going to try messing with modifying the pattern for this particular round of yarn chicken. First up, the body will be knitted as an XS. This means it will be a leaner fit sweater, which honestly I like better anyway. I spent a bunch of time staring at the modeled sample shots, and that thing looks pretty huge on the model in a lot of them when the intended 4" of positive ease are in there, so I think I can get away with going down a size in the body without ending up with a sweater that's really too small. Second up, I'm lopping 2 inches off the bottom hem. My sister is the same height as me - short - so we don't really need 16" of length from underarm to bottom hem. In fact, that's probably a particularly good mod, since it should make the sweater length fall at high hip, and my sister is a pear (I'm sure she'd be thrilled that I just told the Internet that), so having the sweater not end where she's widest should be more flattering. Third up, I'm seriously considering narrowing the fronts a bit - as written the sweater has a wide shawl collar - like, 6" wide that folds over - and while as written it's cozy, I think I can take it down a touch without sacrificing the cozy factor. As written, each of the XS fronts is about 10" wide at the bottom, so I think some of that can go.

Think that futzing will result in a complete sweater with the available yarn? Gah, I get a little mentally sweaty just thinking about how this game of yarn chicken is going to play out.

Pretty sure this one should be tallied as evidence in favour of option #3. In fact, it could probably even be strengthened. I am not merely "dim". I am apparently a moron.

Sigh. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a sleeve to finish, and a decision to make about whether it makes more sense to then move on to the back piece, or one of the fronts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Just imagine it

I think I might be insane.

I know, I've heard that phrase that makes the rounds, asserting that insanity is defined as expecting the outcome of a series events to change despite having made no changes to that series of events. Like taking two cookies from one jar, and then taking two cookies from a different jar, and expecting to have 10, and when 2 + 2 does not yield 10, trying it again by taking two cookies from one jar, and two cookies from the other.

I don't think I'm that sort of insane - there's no repeating pattern in what I am about to share with you. Maybe that means I'm not really insane, but something else. Delusional? Irrational? Just plain old dim?

I haven't had tons of knitting time - you know, working - but the stitches are getting put into a couple of things around here. I've got a whole sleeve and a good chunk of the second sleeve on the latest sister sweater (Sun Prairie) - I even blocked the complete sleeve over the weekend and had grand plans to take a picture of my progress for documentation here, but despite the recent good weather (still no freezing or snow - pleasenojinxpleasenojinxpleasenojinx), my schedule is still my schedule and nice natural light is hard to find by the time I get home. Maybe I'll be able to fix that come Friday.

But, I'm putting time in towards a sweater for keeping warm because I still feel sort of cold a lot of the time - except it won't help me keep warm because it's not going to be mine. So it was a bad solution to my problem to begin with. I could sort of see that it wasn't right, but I plunged ahead anyway.

Maybe because I wasn't sure what my next sweater should be? I mean, yeah, I've already got Oblique on the go, but I still haven't taken apart that one bad sleeve, and it's still full of holes that are totally supposed to be there, and that still strikes me as an inappropriate course of action. So I launched into the sister sweater while mentally flailing around wondering what I wanted next.

I settled somewhat quickly on a work-wear-friendly cardigan that I won't bother putting buttons on, because finding buttons is always a serious, serious challenge for me - it requires a trip to the button store, which I, um, never seem to manage to do. There are two sister knits sitting in finishing limbo because they only need flipping buttons, and they've been in that limbo for over a year now. Clearly, buttons are not my strong suit. Besides, I like leaving cardigan layers open anyway. I think it might even be on trend right now. (Never ever quote me on what may or may not be on trend. I don't have a great track record with having a good handle on this sort of information.)

I did some serious pattern browsing on Rav, and came up with some options. I've been coveting Atelier for ages now, and I even have a couple of batches of madelinetosh pashmina that would be absolutely perfect, if only I could decide which colour I want to have this sweater in. I think the problem might be that I sort of want both. Also, I'm a tiny bit concerned that the sweater won't be the polished work-friendly piece I'm aiming for. Don't get me wrong - I will totally wear it to work when I get around to making it. But I had in mind a sort of long, lean piece. So I browsed, and browsed, and eventually stumbled upon Runcorn, and Ephemera, and I think I will be adding those to my collection soonish, but again I'm having difficulty matching the patterns with yarns in my collection. I have a pretty nice collection of DK weight yarns on hand, so I'm looking to move some of those into the wearable pile, and notice that neither of these patterns is written for DK - Runcorn is worsted, Ephemera is fingering. The listed gauges for both are 20 sts to 4", though, and I think that will work fine for a DK yarn - Runcorn would have a looser (but not lacy) fabric than written, and Ephemera would be, well, less ephemeral. I also think I'd work up Runcorn in just a single colour, and let the texture be the star - in which case, would a tonal handpainted yarn be a good thing, or a distraction? My version of Ephemera would also lack the embellishing crocheted flowers, and again I'm wondering if a tonal handpainted yarn would be a good match. Would the colour variation pool and flash and bug me? Or would it lend some interest to an otherwise simple fabric?

In the meantime, I'm still kind of cold, I keep putting my time into a project that won't help me at all with the coldness because it won't be mine, I've started winding up some yarn for another sister sweater, I keep browsing - which eats into the knitting time too - and not making any decisions at all, but I'm sure that I need to knit a solution to being a bit cold.

So which is it? Delusional? Irrational? Or just plain dim?

Friday, October 16, 2015

It's getting frosty

My Oblique cardigan remains untouched. I still can't bring myself to take apart that flawed sleeve, and I haven't seen fit to keep working on the thus far unflawed sleeve. (I suppose I could have called it a flawless sleeve, but that seems too close to calling it perfect, and I'm apparently not comfortable with that. I'm pretty sure I won't think it's perfect until the whole thing is done and blocked. Blocking goes a long way in contributing to perfect.)

I suspect that part of the problem is that Oblique is a lacy cardigan, and lacy cardigans are great, but Winter Is Coming, and even though we're enjoying a pretty pleasant fall here - days typically have plenty of sunshine, no snow yet (pleaseletthatnotjinxit), and high temperatures have been ranging from 12 C all the way up to 23 C (though that was a little while ago, now). Tomorrow it's supposed to go up to 20 C.

The thing is, though - those are high temperatures. It's quite a bit cooler in the mornings, and evenings. Temperatures can vary quite a bit in this city, thanks to the fact that some spots are a fair bit higher up than others - one morning the radio was reporting a temperature difference of 8 C from one end of the city to the other, because the winds were different in the two areas due to differences in elevation. This morning, not crazily early, the radio was reporting temperatures of 2 C and 4 C from the two weather stations they get their readings from. We haven't had a killing frost yet (or so the radio tells me), but I've been able to see my breath in the morning as I walk from my car to my office. I'm starting to notice feeling cold a lot more of the time, even though the heat is on in our house.

And even though I know that a sweater worked up in worsted weight yarn that is 100% superwash merino wool will lend warmth, some part of my brain still looks at all the deliberate holes in all that lace and says, Well that won't help.

This is also likely the reason why I have again picked up and then put down my Geodesic Cardigan. This thing has been in the works off and on since July 2012. How embarrassing.

I picked it up again a little while ago after discovering the problem with the Oblique sleeve, back when I was feeling like I needed to just knit some plain stockinette. I had finished the body - um, ages ago - and blocked it, and sewn in the first sleeve cap, and I think I started working on the sleeve last year, and I, um, stopped. Because I was having a really hard time with laddering. I tried being super careful at the joins, I tried wrapping the first stitch after the join backwards, but nothing helped, and the fabric I was producing looked really shoddy, so I pulled it out, put the stitches on stitch holders, and set the whole thing aside. With the Oblique setback, this sweater was the closest thing I had to a complete sweater, so I tried again, with shorter, lighter DPNs, and a better understanding of where ladders come from in my knitting (which may not be the same place as in your knitting), and things were better than they had been before, but I was still getting ladders. So I started worrying that maybe this sweater has been in the works for so long that my gauge has changed, and now it's going to take some real futzing to match what I was getting before, and what a huge pain that's going to be...

And then I decided to take a shot at knitting the sleeve flat and just seaming it at the end, and everything is just fine. (For the curious, I think it was the weight of the DPNs - they're not super heavy, but laceweight worked at 24 sts to 4" makes for a very light, drapey fabric, one that doesn't tolerate being asked to support stuff very well - and working with DPNs means that you're asking your fabric to support some of your needle weight, because there's going to be at least one needle that isn't in your hands at any given point.)

Except for the fact that now I'm cold a lot of the time, and it's hard to see the utility of a laceweight sweater when you're cold. Even though, cognitively, I know that this is 100% merino wool, and it will therefore lend some warmth, and boy will I be happy to have it once it's done.

Right now I want something heavier. Cozier.

I started a sweater for my sister.

I know. How is making a sweater for my sister going to help me if I'm cold? Who knows. All I know is right now, that sleeve is completely charming, so I'm going to pick it up and make it become a bit longer.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wait, what?

A few weeks ago, I was chugging away on my Oblique cardigan, and things were looking good. I had a complete back, a complete sleeve, and was making progress on the second sleeve.

I was approaching the point where I needed to start doing sleeve increases on the second, and I checked my Rav notes and noticed that I hadn't been super obsessive about noting how many rows I'd worked even before doing the first increase, thinking going off fabric measurements would work out. I need both sleeves to begin sleeve cap shaping on exactly the same row, though, so that the diagonal lace patterns sync up with the back, so I grabbed my completed first sleeve to do a careful check.

I looked at that first sleeve, and something wasn't right. Can you see it?

Here, how about now?

See the textured stitch panels along the sides of the pieces? See how they're not the same?

They're supposed to be. And yet. There they are. In all their non-matchy glory.

Near as I can figure, this is what happened:

I cast on the sleeve and knit the ribbing as I saw fit - I made some adjustments because I'm playing yarn chicken, so I shortened the sleeves some - and then moved on to the main stitch patterns. I noticed that the stitch guides give instructions for Moss Stitch for the textured bits at the edges of the pieces. I also know that in some parts of the knitting world, moss stitch is the same thing as seed stitch, and in other parts of the knitting world it's absolutely not, so I worked the first row, then looked back at the stitch guide to see what this pattern wanted me to do. I read that instruction, worked across the row, looked at what I had, and concluded that this designer must be using moss stitch to mean the same thing as seed stitch, and continued knitting.

The problem is that the stitch guide actually had four lines of instructions to it, and had I actually followed the instructions for more than just the first two rows, I would have realized that the pattern wasn't supposed to be seed stitch. Which is what I did when it came time for the back: I noticed that the second line actually said Rows 2 & 3, and that's the critical bit that I missed the first time around. So the back piece and the second sleeve are edged in moss stitch, while the first sleeve is mostly edged in seed stitch.

Yup, mostly. Because I set the sleeve aside before reaching the sleeve cap shaping to do the back, because I want the armhole shaping to begin on both pieces at the same point in the diagonal lace, so it seemed prudent to determine where that should be with the back piece, where I'm less flexible about the desired finished length of the piece. When I finished the back, I came back to the first sleeve to do the sleeve cap with the (appropriate) moss stitch firmly set in my mind, which produced this:

See that line where the textured stitch panel changes? Yup. Did I see that as I was doing it? Nope.


This means that I have to pull out nearly the entire first sleeve, all the way down to the ribbing, to correct the problem.

Now, I was super hopping mad when I made this discovery - I was enraged to think that I would have to knit three sleeves for a sweater due entirely to my own failure to read and follow a pattern. I tried to calmly quash the urge to light the yarn on fire, laid all the pieces out for this photo documentation, and then unceremoniously shoved them into a bag and dumped that bag into a corner of the living room. That was at least two weeks ago.

Today? Well. They say time heals all wounds, and maybe there's something to that. Today I'm less mad, more resigned, I guess.

Doesn't mean I've taken apart that rogue sleeve yet though. (It hasn't been that much time.) I also still haven't touched the second sleeve since the events described here. (Again, I think I need more time to heal.) Maybe soon. I do want the sweater.

I suppose the silver lining is now I have the opportunity to make careful notes of when to start the sleeve increases to make the diagonal lace line up properly with the back?