East is East

So I’m going to serialize this post. Otherwise, it would be so long that no one would sit and read it clear through, and besides, I simply can’t sit at the computer very long at one time… still… 😦 At 4 weeks, 4 hours, and 22 minutes since impact, I’m still relegated to the sofa for most of the day. Bad thing is looking at and thinking about all the zillions of things I can’t do. Good thing is that whereas all the travel this year had me of the opinion that I’d never make my 100 book reading goal this year, now it looks like a shoo-in with me going through books almost faster than the library can supply them to me – at least one a day most of the time!

Despite the positives of being sofa-bound with just my books and knitting, about two weeks ago as I was finishing a pair of socks (more later on that…), I was feeling seriously sorry for myself. Now the fact is that I have several annual goals I could easily work on even as Princess Couch Potato, but I was chafing at having to “be good,” I’d just finished a goal, and my best friend kept chattering about her latest love affair, which involved her first Fairisle knitting. I haven’t done any stranded knitting since my clock, and I about a dozen Fairisle projects backed up here, complete with yarn. I honestly wasn’t having a very good day (complete with self-pity crying fit), so when I found myself in need of a next project, instead of being oh so good and picking up one of my older UFO’s like I should have done, I caved and went for the East Meets West Satchel, a kit I’d bought from KnitPicks, instead. I will say right now that I’m not only sorry I picked it up to knit that day, I’m sorry I ever saw the pattern in the first place! The joys of buying something like this from an online marketing photo…

Now, I could see from the original photo that there needed to be a bit of a change on the colors used in the main part of the bag. The Fairisle is so muddy that it’s difficult to see that there are roses worked on the bag, and lining them up together when the kit arrived and viewing them in black and white showed why. There was definitely not enough contrast. If I was going to knit Fairisle roses, I wanted them to show! I was able to fix that problem easily, and I spent an enjoyable evening playing with values and getting it right. There were a couple of colors I still didn’t feel good about, but I also realized that working them into the project might make them work right. Besides, the worst of the shades, a neon pink, looked good in the advertising photo, so I figured it probably was safe enough. Satisfied that I’d done well, I packed it away for a rainy day, which turned out to be two weeks ago, right in the  middle of my pity party.

There are three main sections to this project: handle/gusset, main body, and flap. In addition, there is a mess of knitted on i-cord, and full lining. It is knit with size 1.5 needles with Palette yarn, which is a light fingering weight yarn. Somehow, I saw all this info, but it never quite registered that this is quite frankly a monumental project. Now I know. Or, I sort of know. I’m still trying to get my brain around the fact that I’ve worked on this for at least 10 hours a day for the past two weeks, and it still isn’t finished. And I’m not exactly a novice knitter!

So, now you have a bit of background. Today’s topic is the main body of the bag. It’s a bit unique, to be quite blunt, and I did NOT like the way it was designed to be worked, so I made a sanity change, for which I’m very glad! The front and back of the purse are each 5/9 of a circle. They are knit together as a 10/9 circle of fabric with a steek band between them, then secured and cut apart. Since they are worked entirely in Fairisle, this is a totally logical way to do things, despite some inordinately long carries in some areas. However, I’ve yet to figure out why, but the designer chose to to knit this from the outside in, casting on 478 stitches, which are then to be joined “without twisting.” After one solid row, the hapless knitter is then tossed into two-color work with very long repeats and fine yarn, with rows 478 stitches long. Since early rows of knitting are so much fun (Note my lifted eyebrow.), and working into a the center of a closed circle is just as much, if not more fun, this sounded more than a bit masochistic to me, and I opted instead to take the easy way out. I started in the center. I cast on 38 stitches in waste yarn, knit back and forth a few rows, then joined it into a circle and knit a few more rows before launching into the pattern, which I worked from my now upside-down chart. That worked like a dream, and IF I ever get Alzheimer’s and decide to knit this pattern again, I will definitely approach it in this fashion.

Once I cast off, which took much less time than it would have to cast on 478 stitches counting obsessively, then trying to join without twisting, I secured and steam pressed the steek zone and boldly cut my knitting for the first time ever. (Do I need to include all the self-talk that was needed regarding having faith in the countless thousands of women who have done this successfully over the past umpteen generations?) Then I cut out the waste yarn, threaded a double-strand of yarn through the stitches at the inside edge and drew them up tight, hemmed the steeked edges under, and easily steamed the whole thing flat. I felt like a conquering hero! My colors look good for the most part, though I still wish I’d had several more shades to work with in order to ease a few of the transitions, and the roses pop boldly instead of being mired in a muddy background. I’m definitely happy enough to consider this part a success, now that I’ve made my adjustments.

I do want to add the comment that the camera seems to create more contrast between some colors than I see in person. I’m assuming it has much to do with how it sees the undertones. I have a fantasy of owning a digital camera that sees and manages colors without adding its own bit of creativity to the process.

My color adjustments (Rnds being the chart row numbers, which is the reverse of how I worked it.):

Rnds 1-3: was Bark and Rouge. I used Hazelnut and Raspberry Heather (Rouge is garish neon pink!)

Rnds 4-7: was Bison and Raspberry Heather. I used Brindle Heather and Lipstick. (Dumped Bison from project)

Rnds 8-13: was Brindle Heather and Pimento. I used Doe and Pimento

Rnds 14-21: was Doe and Garnet Heather. I used Almond and Garnet Heather.

Rnds 22-28: was Suede and Currant. I used Oyster and Currant.

Rnds 29-36: was Brindle Heather and Pimento. I used Doe and Pimento.

Rnds 43-46: was Bison and Garnet Heather. I used Hazelnut and Serrano, though I’ve second guessed the Serrano a good bit. It’s rather brash, and I wish I’d used something a bit more subtle – one of the two darker colors in the ribbon swag, perhaps.

Rnds 47-56: was Semolina and Bark. Did not change this, but I’m still trying to figure out a good purpose for this rather brilliant sunflower under the flap of an otherwise earthy, rose blessed purse.

Rnds: 57-59: was Sweet Potato and Bark. I changed to Orange and Bark. I see absolutely no reason to buy a ball of Sweet Potato yarn for 3 very short rows that are hidden under the flap of the purse, especially when the color isn’t that much different. Orange looks good, and it serves easily for both spots – and cuts down just a bit on the calamity of colors in the project.

Rnds 60-65: was Masala and Bark. I didn’t not change these.

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