Thursday, September 27, 2007

Oh Henry!

A perfect knitting storm occurred this week -- the fall issue of Knitty came out and I went on my maiden visit to The Knitting Nest. Purchases were made, money was spent, and soon I'd forgotten all about sewing up the sweater -- I needed to get started on Henry. I hadn't made a scarf in a while, and something about this knitted-but-almost-woven pattern made me want try.

I had issues from the start. First of all, I didn't have a size 3 circular that was long enough. I picked up a 40" Bryspun at Stacy's shop, but I have to say it's driving me nuts. It's too bendy, and I grab the needles to tightly. I'm seriously worried I'm going to snap it. Plus, I don't know if it's the content of the Silky Wool yarn I'm using (35% Silky, 65% Woolly), but there's a whole lot of squeeking going on while I knit, which is weirding me out.

I also had to cast on and start over three or four times. The designer writes in the instructions that the knitter should "check your work often to be sure the stitch pattern is lining up correctly," and boy, she ain't kiddin'. You cast on 227 stitches, but then the first row consists of K1, YO, K1, YO... already up to 450+ stitches. For the first few rows, it's hard to see the slipped traveling stitch lining up. The further I've gotten into it, the better I've been able to catch my mistakes early.

One of the neat things about this is that there is some sort of magic cast on with waste yarn that can later be removed. There's a lot stitch slipping going on in the first three rows, but I'm not sure how it all gets locked. Can anyone explain this to me/ You can see that I've just started unraveling the waste yarn in the picture at the top of the post. Undoing the cast-on edge was freakier than cutting a steek to me. I won't breathe easily until I've been down the whole row and know that none of those little edge stitches are going to explode.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Block Around the Clock

At my Saturday morning meetup I finished the second sleeve -- well almost. I'd forgotten a decrease on the second-to-the last row that I had to redo. But shortly after getting home, the major knitting on the Branching Aran Guernsey was done!

Knowing that I had some time this weekend, and knowing that I wouldn't have any the next, I decided to go ahead and see what I could do blocking and sewing-wise today and tomorrow. So into the tub went the parts for a good old fashioned Primitive Baptist full immersion. I'd thought about maybe just spritzing or steam-blocking might work, since I didn't anticipate a lot of stretching, but there were several places where the cabling got a little stretched during the knitting. I'm hoping that full immersion will wash away more sins.

I got some blocking wires last year -- turns out the kit has just enough for the front and back of a sweater along with the two sleeves. The sweater is supposed to be 26" wide, but I stretched things out a little bit more just to give myself a little, er, wiggle room. I was really surprised how well I hit guage on all the parts. The back and front were perfect, but the sleeves were about an inch longer than the pattern requires -- as mentioned earlier, not a problem. Everything is drying in the spare bedroom under a ceiling fan set on hurricane force. Silas is really intrigued with all the activity -- perhaps some instinct from his mysterious genetic past is directing him to do something with all these wet sheep he can smell somewhere in the house.

Tomorrow -- sewing.

Monday, September 17, 2007


When I was in college, I took a course called Prehistory. I was fascinated with the idea of a history course about things that took place before recorded history.

I started this blog about 10 months ago, and as I knit new stuff, I post about it here. But I've been knitting for two and a half years, and there are some "prehistoric" items that, perhaps, should be brought into the light of day. I've been adding some of these project to my Ravelry page, but for the benefit of my legions of readers and the great unravelled, I thought I'd introduce a few of them here.

This is an Alpaca scarf that was the first project I ever gave away. I made it about a month after I started knitting. My sister-in-law, Jenni, was along with me at the local yarn store when I bought it, and since she's always showed such enthusiasm and support of my knitting obsession, I gave it to her. It's the only think I've ever made from Alpaca. I loved the way this felt (as in past tense of "to feel" -- I didn't actually felt it). Just a basic 2x2 ribbed scarf. She looks lovely in it.

My littlest niece, Gracie was born a few months before I learned how to knit so I didn't have any little booties or other newborn paraphernalia ready for her when she came into the world, but I cranked this out when she was about nine months old. This is the first project that I knitted in public -- somewhere in the C concourse at Houston Intercontinental airport. We were on our way to visit our friends in Pennsylvania and to attend my first (and so far, only) Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. The pattern is the Big Bad Baby Blanket from the first Stitch 'n Bitch book. It was made by holding two strands of yarn together while knitting, which was new to me. I wasn't too keen on the color (it was the only baby-ish color of koigu I could find in my LYS of which there were 8 hanks), but it grew on me and turned out fine.

Little nieces are the perfect target for uncles who are honing their knitting skills. This is a sweater for Gracie, too. The pattern is called Double Scoop and it's from the Spring 2006 issue of Knitty. This was the first intarsia project I ever tried. I've looked at some others' attempts at the sweater on Ravelry, and it looks like I wasn't too far off the mark. I wasn't really pleased with the colors changed, although I wrapped the yarns when I changed, like one is supposed to. I remember doing this whole thing in something like two weekends. It was pretty easy to do, although sewing up the sleeve seams so that the stripes matched up was a bit of a pain. I seem to remember that you had to be one stitch off on one side in mattress-stitching the ladders so that when you pulled the seaming yarn taut, everything lined up. The pattern warned that this was a bit of a crop-top style, and to add a few inches for more modest toddlers. I wish I had done that. But she looked cute in it nonetheless.

I'll see about digging into more prehistory later. Lunch hour is over!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

One Sleeve Down

I got up my nerve this morning and dared to take a cabling project to my Saturday knitting meetup today. I usually only take socks or something simple -- certainly not anything that requires a pattern. But today, I was close to finishing the decreases on the sleeve and I felt brave. It went well -- I was able to concentrate and still gab at the same time. I did neglect a decrease right toward the end, but I was able to fix it on the fly without tinking back, at the encouragement of my meetup fellows.

I really enjoy my meetup people. They're always interested in so many various projects and yarns and techniques. I always learn something and everyone is so encouraging of everyone else's projects. Such a fun way to spend a Saturday morning!

I'm a little concerned about the circumference of the cuff of the sleeve. Most of the sweater is knit on size 4 needles, but the waistband and cuffs (and probably the collar -- I'll have to check), are knit on size 2 needles. Yet, they look like they're going to be even wider than the rest of the sleeve! Maybe it has to do with the ribbing effect of the main pattern? Maybe I can fix it in the blocking or the sewing.

Another slight concern. The pattern says to do a bunch of increases, and then knit until the sleeves are 22 inches long. By the time I finished the required increases, this sleeve was closer to 23 inches long! Not too bad, vertical gauge-wise, but still... Normally, I like my sleeves a little on the long side, since I have arms like Charlotte Greenwood. So it's all good.

Only one sleeve, and a bunch of sewing, and the collar to go. Woo-hoo!

Saturday, September 08, 2007


My Ravelry number finally came up today, fittingly, while I was at my Saturday morning knitting meetup. I'm in!

I've been sitting in this same spot since nearly 12:30 today (that's 6 hours!), adding projects, entering information about books, adding friends, attaching projects to blog posts, and generally going nuts. I haven't even gotten to anything having to do with stash or queuing up future projects.

I spent a big chunk of time deleting a batch of photos in Flickr. They were among the first I'd ever entered. When I first set up my Flickr account, it was flagged as violating some policy about posting pictures from other people (which I assure you, gentle readers, I was not doing). Could it be because I used she-who-must-not-be-named's name as one of my tags? I'm not sure. But the pictures entered at that time weren't showing up in my sets, and I couldn't get at them from Ravelry. I had to open up all the individual Flickr pages so I could keep the descriptions (18 tabs open) and copy them once I'd re-uploaded the pictures. Then I had to go back to my blog's earliest posts and re-connect to the new versions of the pictures. Has any one else had these kinds of issues with Flickr photos? Regardless, all seems well now.

Now I can stop obsessing about getting into Ravelry and actually get some knitting done. I added a few rows to my TOFUtsies 732 socks at the meetup this morning. And in the past week I've gotten a little more work done on the Branching Aran Guernsey. I've finished the front now, and I've gotten a good start on one of the sleeves. They go so much faster since they only require two pattern repeats across the row rather than the five required for the front and back.

Oh, and on Friday night, I went to my first yarn store opening. I was driving to work on Thursday morning, and heard that my local public radio station, KUT, was being sponsored that morning by Gauge, a new knitting shop. The spot gave the address and invited the community to come by their grand opening on Friday night.

It had a DJ, drinks, food, a hip crowd -- everything except those giant swirly spotlights. Actually, the might have had those, but Jeff and I left before it go dark. That's right. I dragged Jeff along. It was kind of funny -- several people from my meetup were there with their long-suffering spouses. What troopers!

There were too many people there to really get a good sense of the place, but it did have some lovely stuff on the shelves. And they were arranged by, what else, gauge. Someone pointed this out at the meetup this morning -- I couldn't figure it out for myself...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Days

My Ravelry number is 342. That's it - three hundred and forty-two people between me and knitting organization nirvana. So, to keep myself from going crazy and checking my place in line every few hours, I kept myself busy this weekend by, well, knitting.

I finished the front (yes, really the front this time) of the Branching Aran Guernsey a few minutes ago. Whew! Here it is pictured lying on top of the back.

The neck and shoulder decreases drove me crazy. Just like the back, I really had to map things out. The instructions said to knit to 23.5" blah, blah, blah. But I decided to count backwards from the number of rows that the back had taken to make sure I would have the same number or rows on both sides.

Rather than breaking the yarn and knitting up one shoulder and then doing the other, the knitter is instructed to add a second ball of yarn and keep knitting back and forth using both balls. When the neck decrease instructions direct one to decrease "at each neck edge," they really mean decrease the beginning of each neck edge, not on either side. I couldn't figure this out until I drew a diagram. I stressed about it all day, and it looks okay, but I'm still not sure I did it exactly right. We'll see when I pick up stitches (one of my less skilled knitting maneuvers) around the edge of the neck for the collar.

I didn't make it to my knitting group this weekend, and I sure could have used it. I stayed home, planning to take care of some chores like replacing my burnt-out car brake lights (successful) and getting my lawnmower to a lawnmower repair shop to get fixed (unsuccessful -- closed on Saturday? -- what's up with that?). I'll do my darnedest to get there next week.

Just checked. Still number 342. Oh, right -- holiday. Grrr. I'm gonna go cast on for a sleeve...