Sunday, April 27, 2008

Life After Stole

Yes, there is life after stole. The day I finished the stole, I also finished the Koigu Neck Cozy for my mom. I didn't start it that day ... but stoles are not the ideal knitting to work on in the doctor's office or at stop lights, so this project was waiting in the wings.

And, once that was out of the way, it was time to work on April's Monthly Mittens. I had gotten Favorite Mittens as a gift from a friend (the way I understood it, it was me or the trash can. The book was not inspirational for her) and decided to make something from there, using something from my stash. And, to make it even MORE noteworthy (pats self on back) to use some of my first handspun yarn. So we have the Salt and Pepper Mittens using yarn from Greg's Vest, with cuffs from handspun. The gauge is supposed to be 6 spi. I got 9 spi. My stitch count was sufficient for a 4-6 year old ... and the mittens are a perfect fit for a 5 year old. The moral of the story? Different people have different perfect fits.

Once THOSE were done, it was time to make the last pair of socks for a friend. Suddenly, I was hit with a severe case of Sock Aversion Syndrome. Everything, but the socks, called to me. Loudly. Insistently. And just when I was about to convince myself to go knit. Or to do a second row. Still, the little socks (little ... hah! They're about 14" tall) got finished this week as well. There are no socks in my plans at the moment, but the ones in Folk Knitting in Estonia are beautiful.

Still, it is the Year of the Monthly Mitten ... so I am ignoring most socks. I cast about in my stash to see what I could find for a pair of mittens, then cast about in some books to see what I could find for a pair of mittens ... and produced a LatvEstonibu Mitten! It's not blocked yet (and the pair isnt' done yet either), but I like it. I started with 56 stitches from EZ's pattern in Knitting Workshop, then tucked in two Latvian designs from graphs 12 adn 14 of Latvian Mittens. Next came some fudging of stitches so I could do a gusset thumb (since I do not like non-gusset thumbs, at least much) and then the decision of What Pattern To Use On The Top? I ended up with the Beam Blossom (is that a typo for Bean Blossom, I wonder?) for the back side and The Fly for the palm. And a striped thumb. And stripes along the edges. And voila ... a mittten!

The mitten is being modeled for your viewing pleasure by Filia. I was expecting a women's large, but this is closer to a women's medium -- I'll know more after blocking. One mitten is 42 grams. I knit for an entire MONTH on a shawl and used up just 65 grams of yarn. How can I spend less than a day on a mitten and use 2/3rds of that? (Fat yarn. It's better for reducing than skinny yarn.)

And I stash-reduced further yesterday, perhaps 5 lbs worth, when someone bought my loom and I let her take her pick from my coned yarn.

Now, to go make that other mitten. With the snow we've been getting lately, it's not too late for mittens!

A quiet week is ahead. The bulbs and such are poking their heads up from the ground, although we are still waiting to see anything come up in the asparagus bed, or any other bed that I planted with plants that came in the mail last fall. My new teapot came ... and it had a pre-chipped spout. So my new, NEW teapot is coming. I'm starting to think schoolbooks for next year, and some have begun to trickle in.

Tea, yarn, books. I am richly blessed. (to say nothing of my husband and children!)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Look What's In My Craft Room



(during, before dog was banished from the room)
After - stole center

Stole border

Whole Stole

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Running the Race Slowly

Knitting the edging of this Sampler Stole is like running a lap around a track. Slowly. One stitch at a time. With the right amount of moisture, a slug might be able to complete the circuit faster than it is possible to knit the edging. One thousand sixty rows is a lot to knit, even if the rows are fairly short. Then there's *turning* the work that many times. Yes, I can knit back backwards ... but this would be purling back backwards, with a yo and p2tog to boot. I like working socks on dpns, and I like working lace edgings by turning my work.

After a stress-filled adrenaline-inducing start, the edging has gone quite well. True, I did have to frog back to the end of the first repeat once I got halfway into the second repeat and saw a misplaced yo. And I've had to frog back twice for other errors -- but no more than 3 repeats. That's liveable. I'm on the home stretch now, and at last count have only 27 repeats plus one corner plus grafting plus tails and blocking left. Yay! When I compared the weight of yarn left in the ball (18g) when I was done with the borders and center panel (roughly 66%) to the weight of the original ball (60g), I realized I might finish this in one ball, or might need a few yards of the second, or a good chunk of the second. Time will tell. I have a second ball, so the worst case scenario is getting a 25g, 550 yd BLURP of yarn out of the middle when I try to find the end -- and only use 10 yards of it.

The traveling knitting is going well. Another pair of Renee's socks are done, and I am amusing myself with a Koigu Neck Cozy before I start the last pair of socks. Some unloved sock yarn came to me in the mail yesterday, as well as an unloved knitting book on mittens, so I can ponder what to do with those while I knit.

It has not escaped my attention that I have not even thought about making a pair of mittens this month yet. I *will* get one done, God permitting, but there should be plenty of time to make a pair after the stole gets finished. In fact, I have hopes of finishing off the stole by Saturday. We shall see if I can exercise due diligence and attend to my knitting instead of fritzing away time around the house.

The Puritan Reading Challenge book for this month is The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. It's a great book. (It's also not escaping my notice I've said that about every book except for February's book, which was The Mystery of Providence.) What Burroughs has to say about self-denial has been in my mind lately. Partly because it has such an obvious application, and partly because it appeals to my sense of humor. I'm not sure he meant it to be humorous, though. Let me see if I can share a snippet without butchering the author's intent.

"The lessons that Christ teaches to bring us contentment are these:
1. The lesson of self-denial... (snipped the explanation of that) ... Now there are several things in this lesson of self-denial. I will not enter into the doctrine of self-denial, but only show you how Christ teaches self-denial and how that brings contentment. (snipped the first six points) If we perish, it will be no loss. If God should annihilate me, what loss would it be to anyone? God can raise up someone else in my place to serve him in a different way."

And to bring this post back to the title ... it is thoroughly unlike me to spend a whole month reading a book. I much prefer to dive in, read it, and be done in a day or two. Or maybe three, if it's meaty or over 1000 pages. This business of reading 10 pages a day is new to me. But I am enjoying it, enjoying the discipline of it, and probably learning more. Slow and steady wins the race!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Knitting ... Exhausting?

The border ... oops, the edging ... of the Shetland Stole has finally arrived. And my heart is pounding so hard after working the first repitition of the edging that I need to take a pondering break. What, you ask (and I ask) is so exhausting about edging? It's only 18 stitches or so deep, and a repeat is one eighth the size of the border, and it's only edging, after all.

Let me tell you. A lot goes into edging. Before you even touch the yarn (or while you're touching the yarn) you must decide Sewn, or Knit on? (Knit on). Which side of the stole faces up? (Um, this side. No that side. No, better go with this side.) How do I cast on for it? Cable cast on from the last edge of the border? (No, that would be that side. And the instructions say to break yarn. . Invisible cast on. Where's the waste yarn? AAAAAGH!

But wait ... if I'm going to do a passable job of grafting the end to the beginning, maybe I should try that method that uses waste yarn to knit a few pattern rows? But there are extra pattern rows before the pattern really starts. Are those it? Why are they there? Which way am I going? Who is on first? Why didn't Memphis win last night, anyways?

Deep breath. And another.

Okay. Cast on invisibly 18 stitches. Knit two rows plain in almost invisible yarn, then switch to a dark blue almost invisible yarn (and it better not give the main yarn any ideas about developing holes when it's blocked. That blue yarn has bad habits.) and knit a set-up row to the four set-up rows the pattern calls for. Straighten stole out on lap.


After two minutes, it was determined that it was the end of yarn left over from starting border #2. It was not a snag. It was not a snag.

Back to the edging. Next step is to knit the first set-up row as called for in the pattern. Easy peasy. But wait ... I'm knitting right to left, and this row is supposed to be left to right. Rip last two rows, and re-do. (Repeat this step twice while trying to juggle the idea of a set-up row to the set-up row and figure out which direction to go in. Also, put spare DPN away every time a row is finished, and pull it back out of the case every time the next row is started, since it's not quite time to use the circs yet.) Finally get the first row done, and pointing in the right direction. Start in on the second row. Forget all patterning. Tink back. Work row 2 with patterning.

Take another deep breath. Row three goes fine. Breathe a small sigh of relief. Work row 4. Tink back. Even rows are SUPPOSED to be plain rows. The patterning is supposed to be on the row as you knit TOWARDS the stole, and the plain rows are knitting towards the edge of the edging. Whoever wrote this pattern didn't know that.

Reknit row 4, correctly. Start in on row 5, and realize that the row numbers are at the edge of the pattern that you knit that row from. Think how clever a notion that is, congratulate the publisher ... and tink back. Odd rows are not supposed to be patterned in this stole. Jot mental note to self to include that in the blog post brewing.

Knit row 5, correctly. Knit row 6, tink row 6, and knit it with patterning. Old habits die hard. Toy with the idea of rewriting the edging to conform to old habits. Realize there are 87.6 repeats to go, and decide to move forward.

Around row 11, the pattern is starting to make sense. I'm beginning to get the rhythm of it and start intuitively knowing what's next. By the time row 15 rolls around, intuition hasn't been right yet ... but it's going more smoothly. My heart is pounding, but I'm not gasping for air and wiping sweat off my furrowed brow. (I'm sure it's furrowed. It had to be furrowed.) A small spark of warmth begins to glow in my heart; I know if I'm starting to think about grasping the pattern, the rough part is over. Then I finish off one repeat and jump back...

to the four set-up rows. I contemplate using a Sharpie to blot them out forever. But that would require getting up and losing my place.

And *that* is why knitting can be exhausting.

That doesn't include ripping back the first six rows of the second repeat because a yarn over was on the wrong side of a K2tog. Nor does it take into account the fact that if one EXACTLY follows the directions for the first edge of lace, one must fudge 4 or 5 stitches in the border right out of existence. I thought I'd be safe if I followed the attaching instructions as writ, but no ... fudging is mandatory.

Good thing I'm skilled at fudging.

So far, so good. I've a whole evening of knitting before me, and I'm seven rows into the corner blurb. A friend is sending me a box of unloved yarn and an unloved knitting book, and I'm expecting four *other* packages in the next week.

And the forecast is calling for 5-9 inches of snow. In April. The chances of the forecast being correct is slim, but it's a lovely thought. Tomorrow is the *one* day this week I was planning on being out and about ... but we can manage a bit of snow. Think cold, everyone!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Latvian Fringes and Lace Surgery

Warning: The Lace Surgery in the second half of this post is not for the fainthearted. Look at your own risk.

First, though, Fringe. In the picture you see, running clockwise from the Green, St. Patrick's Latvian Mitten, Latvian Sampler Mitten, Two-color Latvian Sampler Mitten, and Scottish Latvian Mitten. Their gauges run from 16-20 sts per inch, on size 3.0 mm, 2.25 mm, 2.5 mm, and 3.0 mm needles. The blue mitten was worked over 48 sts, the rest over 50. Pattern from Upitis' Latvian Mittens.

The fringe on the first 3 mittens was worked as given in the directions. The last mitten was a bit of an experiment, to see if I had correctly guessed how the fringe in Plate 6A of Latvian Mittens was formed. From the looks of it, it was! Instead of working the row after the fringe so there are purl 'blips' on the outside, work it so the knit side of the stitches faces outwards. Voila, end of story.

I wonder if it would look nicer without the braid right after it. Or if the yarn wasn't agreeing with the fringe. It's just not as nice as the other fringes, and it should be the best since it was fringe 9, and the others were 1, 2, 5,6, 7, and 8. Practice should make perfect, not result in declining aesthetic appeal.

Lace Surgery

The Sampler Stole is moving along nicely. Calculations say I passed the 45% mark today, and I really REALLY want to make something small and actually finish something. Looking at what my 'friends' in Ravelry are up to is not helping. (Especially Molly. Not that a cap shawl is a quick knit, but since it's done, it has to be quicker than the stole. Right? And that spiral cap with a braid is calling me. Or maybe I should design something using techniques from Armenian Knitting. Or else spin. Spinning has been calling my name too.

Sigh. The stole will get done faster if I drool over other projects while knitting. As I read a few weeks ago, "Mittens do not knit themselves sitting in a corner." (from either Latvian Mittens or Folk Knitting in Estonia). Stoles don't knit themselves that way either. The thought is I'll get it finished by the end of April, so I need to keep the fingers to the needles. KnitPicks Options, 3.0 mm 16". So much nicer than Addi non-lace 40" cable needles.

But, surgery. I actually did surgery twice, but the photo shows the bigger one. Something just looked wrong, and since I am not a firm believer in lifelines, I knit to the appropriate area, prepped the stole, and did exploratory surgery.

It seemed to go quite quickly, but when I had the OR cleaned up, I noticed that over a half-hour had passed. Would it have been faster to tink? 495 stitches? No. I think not. Would it have been faster to frog? Doubtful. There isn't a plain row within several inches of the surgical site. And, it looks all better.

I haven't pinned out the stole to see how big it will be yet. This could be a recipe for disaster, since I am not using the recommended yarn, recommended needles, and have only made a stab at the recommended gauge. (Stab = "Hmm. This might work") If the stole isn't wearable, I will frame it and stick it on the wall. I know I'm somewhat in the ballpark, however. Unblocked, the shawl (the first 461 rows of it, out of 642 or so) is just a little longer than the open book is.

Isn't it pretty? I do so love lace. Lace and spinning and stranded ... never a dull moment.

Still, the Cabled Hat from today's (nope, yesterday's) 2008 Knitting Pattern A Day Calendar looks like a quick knit. (Wafffling. Whatever will Denise think?)

And to top off this post, or bottom off it, here's a picture of our front yard. When we woke up Monday, the ground was bare of snow . Then as the day went on (and got warmer), it began first to rain, then to snow, then to snow heavily. Schools were closed at 9:30 AM (except ours. We have tomorrow off for a celebration of Doctor Appointments and New Medical Hardware). We made sure all the curtains were open and took snow breaks from our studies. It was a slushy mess in all actuality, but we were inside and had heat, cocoa, and good books.