Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Henry IV & a Meme

Henry is inching towards the finish. I've done a little over 4 of the 24-row repeats. As I've mentioned before (a lot, it seems), I'm planning on stopping at 5 repeats. I estimate I have about 20 more rows to go. Which can take a while at 400+ stitches per row. Based on the current width (6.5"), I think I'll be just under 8" for the finished width, which is what the pattern calls for.

It's really interesting to me that the width gauge on this scarf if spot-on. While it was off the needles a week or so ago (see below) I stretched it out and measured it at 60" -- exactly what the pattern called for. But if I did all 7 of the 24-row repeats, the thing would be around 11" wide, which I think is too much. I'm quite surprised that I can get the guage horizontally and at the same time be so far off vertically.

Yes, I had this monster off the needles. True to form, I'd messed up the stitch pattern and then gotten back on track. I managed to not catch it for a few more rows. I tried doing surgery -- not sweater sleeve surgery, but putting the stitches on a cable needle and working down a few rows. I couldn't get things to line up again. I got exasperated and pulled out the needle. I fully expected not to be able to get the stitches back on, but after about 40 minutes of work, I did. The simplicity of the pattern really helped me with this -- very easy to see which stitches followed each other. Thank goodness I didn't have to frog the whole thing and start over. I probably wouldn't have.

Who am I kidding? Of course I would have.

Not sure what's up with gray-ness of these pictures. While I kind of like the color, photos in earlier posts are a bit truer to the color of this yarn.

Oh, and I was tagged by Julia a while back for one of those meme things. The last time it came around to me, I didn't pass it on -- maybe that's what I get? I'll be a good sport and respond, but I'm going to refrain from passing it on again. Like my genetic material, this dies with me!

1. I was born on my grandmother's birthday, and my niece was born on my father's (her grandfather's) birthday. I'm waiting to see if this happens again with the next generation.

2. I've been to the highest point in 32 of the 50 states

3. I used to be deathly afraid of heights, but I find this fear is decreasing with age.

4. As a child, I thought there must be a separate word for cousins if they were female, just like there were different words for "aunt" & "uncle" or "grandmother" & grandfather." I thought this because I only had male cousins.

5. One summer I typed up all the countries I could find in our set of the Encyclopedia Britannica on index cards and spent my time sorting and resorting by features like the names of their capitals, square mile area, and population. Much later, I became a librarian.

6. I only have 24 teeth. Most adults have 32.

7. I know the first and last names of all but one of my 32 great-great-great grandparents.

8. I prefer pie to cake if the pie contains fruit. If it's a cream pie, I'll take cake, please.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Henry III

I don't usually blog about non-knitting matters, but at a session this morning about blogs, I got the itch to post something. So with the magic of hotel wireless and being able to blog from my cell phone camera, here we go!

I'm in Albuquerque at the annual meeting of the South Central Chapter of the Medical Library Association. This is the great view of the Sandia Peaks out of my hotel room window. (Those aren't UFOs you see above the peaks. They're unidentifiable smudges on the window. I think...)

I really enjoy this corner of my professional life. For a professional organization, it's just the right size -- nothing so huge that you get lost and can't figure out what to do next. I'm always tired at the end of the conference, and I always learn so much.
Plus, there are several knitting friends that come to the meeting and it's a great opportunity to touch base. I've seen Janna and Becky -- who are both skilled enough to be able to knit and pay attention at the same time. I don't trust myself quite that far, although I did bring Henry along to work with.

Here it is so far. I've done three complete 24-row chevron repeats so far. As mentioned earlier, I think I'm going to just do 5 instead of the seven called for -- I think that will do for me. i haven't gotten to work on this much, being so busy, but I did a little KIP in the airport before I left.

What is it about the combination of me and knitting in public that encourages people to bring on the crazy? Whilst waiting for my flight to board yesterday, I worked on a few rows of Henry. I was sitting in a long bank of open seats, minding my own business, when this guy and his wife sit right next to me. After a few minutes of munching Fritos, this guy asks me, "Are those things allowed on a plane?" I assured him that they were. He pointed out that he could probably do as much damage with his pen, and took out his Bic and made some stabbing motions with it just to prove the point. I thought, "Okay, that's kind of scary." I proceeded to knit and ignore him.

A few minutes later he leans over conspiratorially and whispers, "You know, if the TSA would let us take baseball bats on airplanes, we wouldn't have to worry about those rag-heads taking over a flight!" Oh yes, he did.

I'm not usually a confrontational person and it can take me quite a while to get my dander up. But this guy got me from Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo to Selsun Blue in about ten seconds. I turned to him and said loud enough for a few people around us to hear, "I don't want to talk about this with you." The guy muttered "okay" and shifted in his chair away from me. A lady who had sat next to me a few minutes before snorted in what I hope was approval. The whole thing really shook me up. I finished my row and got up and sat somewhere else.

As I boarded the plane a few minutes later, I noticed that he was sitting in the first class section. A little under-qualified if you ask me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Branched Out

The Branching Aran Guernsey is finished! I was a little miffed at today's cloudiness which kept me from getting very good pictures after work, but here they are.

What a ride. I knew this wouldn't be the easiest project in the world, what with all the cables and the strange 2-over-5 cabling, but little did I suspect that I would be nearly done in by overzealous blocking and not paying attention to gauge as much as I should have.

The surgery was scary, but now I know that it's possible -- yet one more little knitting mystery explored and survived. I can't deny that I've been looking at the ribbing at the bottom of the sweater and thinking, "You know, that could be a little bit tighter." No -- better stuff that genie back in the bottle. Because when it comes right down to it, it would have been better to get this done right the first time around -- time-wise, yarn-wise, and sanity-wise.

Anybody have any ideas for what to do with two 6-inch sections of amputated sleeve?

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I decided to put the sleeves under the knife -- or scissors, rather. I think the sweater came through better than I did.

Last night, I added the collar, even though I hadn't sewn up the right side yet. I thought that the gathering effect of having a nice trim collar instead of a large gaping hole would pull the sleeves in some. Turns out not much. So today I put on the sweater, and marked where I would need to cut back to add ribbing so the sleeve would fit. It was a disheartening distance. The safety pin shows how far back I needed to go.

Then, rather than start on that sleeve, I went to the same row on the opposite sleeve which hadn't been sew up yet. I very carefully threaded a circular needle on the right side of all the stitches in the row. However, since I was now looking at the fabric in the opposite direction of which I'd knit it, I was actually looking at the left sides of the original stitches. Take a pieces of stockinette sometime, mark a "V" with a stitch marker, and then flip it upside down. Everything kind of skips half a stitch. I would now be knitting in the ditches between the "V"s in the opposite direction.

But wait, it gets more confusing than that. Trust me.

Now came the scissors. The instructions I followed mentioned several approaches to making the cut. I took the one most complicated, and that has made all the difference. I ended up taking a deep breath and just cutting across all the knitting. At this point I discovered that I hadn't stayed on the same row all the way across. The second picture in this post illustrates this pretty clearly, in hindsight.

For the next three hours, I pulled little chunks of yarn resembling curly fries out of the resulting confusion. For most of the row, everything would be fine. Then, I would discover that the stitches I was carefully counting were part of a row with yarn that had been cut. I'd purposefully chosen a row that only had one small cable twist in it so that I would minimize my confusion, but in the process I ended up going back a few more rows to make sure all the stitches were on the same row. I almost gave up a few times, resigning myself to unraveling both sleeves and starting over. But I persevered, and finally got things straightened out.

How hard could it be right? I was just uravelling. But here's the deal. Unravelling from the working edge back to the cast on edge is just pulling on yarn and watching loops disappear. Unravelling from the cast on edge to the working edge is a whole different ballgame. Everything is interlocked -- especially if dealing with ribbing and cables. I knew this would be the case when I started, but dang! I had to use a darning needle and a crochet hook to unweave all the little scraps of left over yarn. Lots of pickin' and very little grinnin'. But it all worked out in the end. I think I'll cut the second sleeve a little differently.

The picture to the right shows the patient (and the impatient!) after surgery. The sleeve on the left side (which is sewn up), shows the original knitted length. The sleeve on the right side (which is not sewn up), shows the sleeve cut with a circular needle dangling off the new live stitches, ready for the ribbing to be added. I may do the cuff like the collar -- twice as long as required and then folded back in on itself. That way I can avoid having the cast-off edge showing. I'm also going to have to consider decreasing while I knit the ribbing, since I cut back into the increases of the original sleeve.

Whew! And to think that a week ago I thought I was almost done with this sweater!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Knitting Cliché

Before I became a knitter, most of my impressions about knitting came from cartooons and sitcoms. What can I say? I'm thinking of Morticia Addams knitting a sweater with three arms (the third one coming out of the chest) and numerous scenes of weeping wives having made sweaters with ridiculously long arms. Get out your hankies, folks.

The sleeves seemed a little long to start with, as mentioned in a previous post. I got the stitch and row gauge pretty good on the body of the sweater. Why not the sleeves? I think I know part of the problem. I blocked the front and back of the sweater about an inch wider than the pattern called for to give me a bit more room around my tummy. But I didn't consider that doing so on a drop-sleeve sweater would also add an inch to already long sleeves.

I'm not sure what to do at this point. I've sewn on both the sleeves and one of the underarm/undersleeve seams. Does anybody know if:

a) It's possible to unknit these from the cast on edge of the sleeves, unravel the yarn and start the cuffs working back out to a reasonable length, and, if so
b) Are there any good instructions on how to do this?

I'm going to pour through some books that I have, but I could really use some knitterly moral support on this one. I'm pretty devastated.


I found this page, which describes a process that seems do-able:

Sweater Surgery

(Partial answer to the first question above: unraveling ribbing from the cast on edge is mind-numbingly tedious). The sleeves may have to go under the knife.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Greenstick Fracture

For those of you without rambunctious young nieces who have had run-ins with playground equipment, a greenstick fracture is a type of bone fracture usually seen in young patients. Children's bones, like Bryspun circular needles, are more flexible than the bones found in adults, or indeed, Addi Turbo circular needles.

When children fracture a bone through some accident or another, the bone typically breaks on one side but the break doesn't go all the way through the bone. Pictured to the right is a Bryspun circular needle exhibiting a greenstick fracture.

After bending several metal double-point needles and considering tonight's incident, I'm willing to admit that perhaps I have a problem. Anybody know of a rehab center for knitters who grip their needles too tightly? In the meantime, until I get treatment, my days of experimenting with Bryspuns are over. I'm going to get a pair of size 3 Addi Turbo circular needles with a really long cable tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Henry II

Just a quick update on the Henry scarf. I'm getting the hang of it. I took it with me to Houston to see our friend Tom in a play. It was quite good, and Tom was hilarious in it, as I knew he would be. We've all heard of "a play within a play" -- well, this was three plays within a play -- and one of those was Hamlet, so I think that makes a play within three plays within a play. I like taking knitting to Tom & Shelly's house in Houston. We always have a relaxing stay, get to just laze around and talk, and eat lots of food. I usually get much knitting done during all this.

The chevron pattern is really starting to show. The pattern calls for the finished scarf to be 8" wide. I've finished the first 24-row repeat, and I'm at just under 2". If I knit all seven repeats, the scarf will be closer to 12" wide. So I think I'm going to stop at five repeats. That should be put me around 9" wide or so. I could probably swing 6 repeats yarn-supply-wise, but something in my lizard brain tells me that odd numbers in patterns make the eyes happier.

I still haven't buckled and bought either a 42" or 60" size 3 needle, and the squeaking is still bugging me.

The Branching Aran Guernsey still needs sewing and a collar. I started blocking it on a Saturday. On Friday, while packing to head to Houston, Jeff went to get something out of the guest bedroom, and discovered that the sweater had been drying under the ceiling fan set at full blast for six days.

I'd say it's dry enough.