Sometimes It’s Better Not to Know

I am still loving the process of knitting lace. I still love the product. I thought perhaps I should say this right up front. Actually, it is a very good thing.

Last week after struggling for several hours, I got that first point knitted on the border of my capelet. The next time I sat down with it, the impossible happened. Despite the fact that there was a lifeline, as I finished the second point, the entire edging just fell off in my hand. I’ve gone over it in my head dozens of times, but there is just no explanation. I’m obsessive about my lifelines. That notwithstanding, the reality of the situation was that I had to start over yet again, battling through the hateful first point on the lace. Happily, I survived the ordeal, and so did the capelet, and now I can claim not one, but 12 points worked, starting with the center of the neck, around the corner and down the front, three points per CD of my current audiobook, aptly titled Knitting (by Ann Bartlett).

Capelet with 12 lace points

I’ve become extremely eager to release the undulating bottom edge of this piece from the bonds of the cable needle, which is holding it in an artificially gathered position, and with the next CD, this will begin to happen. Here is also where I made my mistake…

While sitting with it draped over my shoulder, imagining the finished project and fondling the softness of the merino, I chanced to wonder how many nights it would be before I could wear it for real. Okay, this should be some easy math. I have 12 points finished, plus 2 more to reach the corner. Double that to get the other half of the neck and second front edge… 28. Then there are 684 stitches along the bottom edge, and I use 6 for each point, so… OH!!! That’s how many? Surely not! 114 points along the bottom – plus 4 more for working the corners makes 118! Gulp! With the 28, that is 146 points, 134 of which are not done. If I can do 3 each day (an hour’s work), that’s a horrifying 45 days of work ahead of me just to do the border. That’s longer than it’s taken me to do the main body – and it will be well into spring by then. No wonder I still have one skein of the required wool untouched… I’m not afraid of the work, but I’m dreadfully impatient to have the finished project! Why ever did I think I needed to know?

In other news, The World’s Fastest Knitter was just crowned for this year. Her name is Hazel Tindall, she’s from Shetland, and she’s retaining her title from last year. She broke her old record by knitting 262 stitches in the 3 minutes alloted, beating her closest contender by 19 stitches. That’s a sustained rate of 3 stitches every 2 seconds over rows 60 stitches long with a massive crowd and 4 camera crews watching – all in a foreign country.

She wasn’t knitting lace…

Published in: on February 25, 2008 at 6:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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Fiber Art

I guess I about overdosed on fiber this week. Thursday was good for another high with the arrival of a Knit Picks order and a package of hand dyed roving. Maybe it was just the yarn fumes, but before I knew it, I’d grabbed my camera and was acting somewhat like a new grandma!

Knit Picks Order Feb 21

Anything you see in that photo that looks remotely like another new pair of socks to make is purely a figment of your imagination.

(May I uncross my fingers now?)

Essential Meteor Twist

This stuff is so yummy I had to take a portrait. It’s their Essential You-know-what Yarn in the Meteor Twist colorway, which they’ve just discontinued. Glad I got some. It’s going to make a great pair of s***s, and there will probably be some left over for doll clothes.

Alpaca Cloud Moss

And this is Alpaca Cloud, which is laceweight baby alpaca – illegally soft and destined to become a shawl or some such thing. I love the moss color with all the subtle shadings.

Palette Blur

Yes, I know this is out of focus. I just love all the color, so I took a picture of that instead of the yarn that provided it. These are the discontinued colors in Palette. I’m a little shocked to see what they axed, and will be watching for the new releases with concern. How could they dump plain red?

In addition to my Knit Picks yarns and needles, there was the most marvelous package of merino from Freckle Face Fibers (on Etsy). This was aptly named “Renaissance” and the color combination is just unreal. Since I couldn’t just sit down and spin it, but couldn’t stop looking at it either, I did some “fiber art.” I’ve narrowed it down to six pix, but can’t begin to choose a favorite.

Renaissance 1 Renaissance 2 Renaissance 3

Renaissance 4 Renaissance 5 Renaissance 6

Hovering over the photos will give you a picture number. Feel free to leave your vote in the comments. I’m saving this beauty until I feel very confident spinning!

Published in: on February 23, 2008 at 11:59 pm  Comments (2)  
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Itchy, itchy, scratchy, scratchy…

I went to Dayton Monday to attend my first meeting of the Dayton Knitting Guild. This also gave me an excuse to pick up some felting supplies I needed for a class I’m taking online. (Somehow or other, a few balls of yarn followed me home, too…)

It followed me home

I realized late Sunday night that I was actually going somewhere that I could not only knit, but would be expected to knit – followed by the acute realization that I had nothing that was suitable to work on in that atmosphere. I knew I couldn’t follow a pattern in a busy new environment, and no way was I going to try turning my first sock heel anywhere that I could be seen crying in the event of a worst case scenario. That meant I was actually forced to cast on a new project. (Hear me whining? I faked that pretty well, didn’t I?)

I chose to try the charity blanket route again – and this time chose something that won’t self-macrame. There is no way I’m going to be able to trick Gregg into doing yarn duty on a second one of those. I have 3 fat balls of Red Heart in a bright primary print that seemed perfect. It’s cute enough to foster it, but no way would I be tempted to file for adoption. After swatching, I cast on 101 stitches and am just working a straight seed stitch until I’m out of yarn. That moment can’t come quickly enough! It’s bright and cheerful. The pattern is simple, works quickly, looks good. But I’m spoiled! I’ve spent so much time this past year with merino and other wools that I’ve gotten spoiled rotten. In short, I’ve apparently become somewhat of a yarn snob, much to my surprise. I’m not sure when it happened. I grew up thinking wool was scratchy and nasty, but so far, I’ve not met a wool yarn anywhere that’s as scratchy as this Red Heart worsted feels to me. Did the yarn change or did I? If I’m going to continue doing the charity knitting, I’m going to have to give some serious consideration to what yarn I buy or what projects I support. I know I saw somewhere that actually requires wool yarn to be used…

Acrylic yarn is requested for many charity items because of concerns about washability and possible allergies. Actually, very few people are really “allergic” to wool, but the processing can cause problems for many. I found this great page about wool allergies. Not only does it tell what causes irritation with wool, but it has the greatest hypertext links to pictures of various sheep breeds. Somehow I’ve lived half of a century without realizing that a sheep isn’t just a sheep – and some of them are sure to make a person laugh out loud!

Did I mention that there were vendors at the Guild meeting?

Did I mention

And do I have to confess that a… umm… few things came in the mail, too? This is from a fantastic Etsy seller, who had the stuff to me so fast that I couldn’t figure out where it came from! I wasn’t expecting it already. Her name is FearlessFibers and she does hand-dyed yarn, including oodles of squeezable superwash merino, and beautiful, thick, aromatic cedar sock blockers.

Fearless Fibers

And if you are counting, yes… that is 5 pairs of socks, a scarf, and a couple of baby hats that just infiltrated my stash – less than 24 hours before I frogged my first sock. Let’s just say I better get this sock thing worked out!

Published in: on February 21, 2008 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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My feet have been reminding me for the last week or two that they have been sorely neglected of late. They were right; they were long overdue for my version of a pedicure. However, even the thought of sitting trapped in one spot with my feet in a tub of hot water makes me antsy, especially when that spot is the edge of the bathtub. There are plenty other things I’d rather be doing – like knitting… Wait! There’s that sock I’ve been looking for excuses to work on… Yes!!! When that thought came to me, my attitude suddenly did an about face, and I almost ran to the bathroom for a soak! While I sat there knitting happily, adding the challenge of keeping all five needles and my yarn ball out of the water as I crossed 12 cables every other row, I thought what a difference a change in perspective can make. I’d just turned a seriously disliked chore into something I didn’t want to stop doing!

I have to confess that I love the way this sock looks. The colors are awesome, the texture is delicious, and other than discovering I don’t really like the “cable back” rows, I’m finding it to work up pretty quickly. I really wondered during the experimental stage. First I tried using a magic loop, but I just wasn’t happy with it – at least not for the ribbing section. Since I only have one size 3 circular needle, working on two circs was out, but then DPNs (double pointed needles) really don’t intimidate me, so that was my easy solution. Then I got to the pattern rows, which said to move to size 7’s. Uh-oh! No DPN’s in that size… don’t like magic loop… only one set of tips for circulars… It was not the most fun to knit 30 stitches, change my tips, knit 30 more, change my tips… Sock laid dormant until I could get to Dayton – which for some reason made that drive a lot more attractive than usual.

So, back to the foot soaking. I finished the leg portion sitting there, totally pleased with my accomplishment. It would have been difficult not to enjoy this delightful tube of 240 squishy, glowing cable crosses!

Mountain Colors sock leg

Waking up this morning was exciting. I’ve taken to knitting for about a half hour while I clear out the sleep cobwebs, and today I was turning the heel. It was no time before the magic was accomplished, and I couldn’t wait to try on my wonderful half of a sock.

Anticipation is often better than reality.

I was a good girl – really! The instructions said to swatch in stockinette with #4 needles. I was right on with the stitch count, but rather baffled about using a needle size not employed during the actual knitting and swatching on something other than the pattern stitch, but since this was my first sock, I was following blindly. The sad reality is that although I did get it on my foot, it was only by digging my fingernails into the stitches and eeking it over my instep a few millimeters at a time. It wasn’t hard to decide that wasn’t a favored way to put my socks on with any degree of regularity. I think I sat and looked at it in serious emotional pain for about as long as I’d spent knitting today, but no amount of prayer was going to change the fact that the pattern stitch worked up at 8.5spi, and it just wasn’t right.

One of my more lucid thoughts during that time was that I could put in a steek and zipper…

I should have plenty of time to meditate on how my perspective has changed in regards to those 240 perfect little cable crosses while I’m frogging them…

Published in: on February 19, 2008 at 9:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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One of these days…

Eventually, I’m going to really surprise myself. I’m going to sit down to knit – expressly, to do a provisional cast on and start a piece of lace. I’m going to like the very first set of stitches I put on the needle. Then I will start knitting and realize at the end of the first full repeat that I didn’t frog the thing at all. It might just be worthy of being classified as a miracle when that happens.

My Capelet

This little fantasy occurs to me today, because I finished the main body of the lace capelet I’m knitting for myself. That meant I earned the right to start the knitted on border. Now this would technically be the fourth time I’ve started a piece of lace, and I’ve spent an awful lot of hours over the past 3 months knitting on same, so I’ve started feeling pretty competent on simple to intermediate work. Surely this time I would cast on and just zip right along that edge with no problems. After all, this border isn’t enough different from the scarf to even be a challenge, and it actually looks easier. Needless to say, it wasn’t to be. I don’t know if Murphy might actually have been a lace knitter, but I’m starting to suspect that if not, he at least had one somewhere in his life. Since I was so determined to do this right the first time, I was paying extra close attention – as in, I didn’t even have an audiobook playing. Still, I found myself with a less than amusing assortment of mistakes and enough frogging to lose count of the restarts. I guess the two good things here are that I’m getting seriously good at provisional cast ons with all the practice, and whereas it took me three nights to get the first point on the scarf, it took me under two hours to accomplish that feat on the capelet.

It doesn’t look like 2 hours!

Since I was working a point in just under 15 minutes by the time I was finishing the scarf, I maintain high hopes for this new edging.

Published in: on February 17, 2008 at 10:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hello world!

After thinking about having a blog for months – or probably years, to be quite honest – I was finally nudged over the edge by Nancy’s suggestion that it might be a good solution to my photo problem. I don’t know if it will work or not, but it’s not going to hurt to give it a shot. Besides, I have so much going on in my world – so many changes and new experiences – that it seems like fun to have a place to track some of them. I hope it will also be a motivator for me at the same time. So, here goes – another new adventure in life!

Published in: on February 17, 2008 at 8:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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