Missing It

I haven’t knit in almost a week, and that’s making me a bit sad. I am at a crazy busy point in the semester, and I had house guests this weekend, a paper to write, an all-day bronze casting demonstration, and so on.

Finally I feel I am able to pick the needles back up (although admittedly, I have homework I should be doing), but I have almost no desire to work on the Tilted Duster.

I can’t really say why this should be. Maybe I don’t like knitting in pieces, and I’m severely dreading seaming (though I did get a copy of The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancie Wiseman, which should make it better). Maybe it’s the feel of the yarn on straight needles, maybe it’s the pattern itself.

I just don’t like doing it, and I realize that this is why I have so many UFOs. It will be a really good exercise in discipline if I am able to force myself through this sweater for NaKniSweMo, though it is incredibly challenging to keep from casting on for something new instead (my typical behavior).

Also, sorry no photos, but right now it’s just a few boring brown pieces, and I can’t even get inspired to pin them out to show. I hope I will have more exciting progress to share soon!

Color Decisions

I’ve been thinking about color lately, which is an interesting reprise from painting in only black and white. Chinese scholars felt that within a black and white image, the receptive viewer could see all colors, and that a black ink painting would allow a person to dwell in the realm of the imagination.

When faced with color decisions in knitting, I expect it to be easy. In mass manufactured supplies, there are certain standard dyes and pigments regularly used – it should be easy to match them and find ones that go together. Ha.

A few weeks ago, I bought these three ribbons as possibilities for my Summertime Tunic. Each had their merits, but I couldn’t decide. At the time I favored the blue and white polka dot grosgrain, thinking the color match was nearly spot-on. My mother favored the sheer turquoise, thinking it would lend delicacy and elegance and that the color was actually closer. As a last resort, I also grabbed the navy satin, just in case.

So now I’m peering and squinting at all three, and I just can’t decide. They all have such different characters and would subtly affect the style of the tunic. I am leaning in a certain direction, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask: which do you prefer?

In a totally different color scenario, I got yarn for two other projects recently. At right, a juicy raspberry for a (now out-of-season) Coachella. This is completely uncharacteristic for me, as I usually prefer shades of greens, blues, and brown, but something about this top and my restless need to prolong summer called out for a saturated, decadent hue.

The left is called plum wine, which is really off the deep end as far as my color choices typically go, but for some reason it spoke to me. I bought it with the intention of knitting a Lelah top (seriously in denial about the season over here), but this was before it occurred to me that I may not be able to block acrylic into a nice lace pattern. I will definitely have to test that out.

Whipstitchin’ with a Kitty

Though I have so very many other things I should be doing, I spent some time last night knitting up the back of my Summertime Tunic. I got to the turning row, admired the way it folded itself down so neatly, and finished the knitting, only to wonder “now what?”

It was with some trepidation that I tried to sort out this whole “whipstitch the live stitches” situation, but I made a few trips around the internet and came up with some good advice, along with a clue of how to do it.

One post suggested moving the live stitches onto waste yarn to facilitate sewing. I used a spare circular needle. Another explained that you simply cut a long length of yarn to do the whipstitching. Check. I made mine at least twice as long as I needed it, since, well, I’m pretty neurotic.

At this point Smokey hopped into my lap, evidently thinking I was in need of assistance.

I slipped the stitches from the circular needle onto my tapestry needle, pulled a mile of yarn through the stitch, then kind of tacked that through the back of a stitch below.

Smokey thought we were terribly clever.

I worried that it would slant left or right, so I took great pains to pull the facing straight, and I think it came out mostly alright. On hindsight, it might have behooved me to pin it in place.

Smokey had wandered off, but he came back when I had about five stitches left to sew down (he’s clearly dedicated to the cause here). He helped inspect the inside of my facing, and we agreed it was not perfect, but it was tolerable.

(I like to think if he were an LOLcat, the photo on the right would be captioned “Dis knittings good!” or “I like dis!” or similar.)

He snuggled up with the backside, I gather by way of approval.

I could see some problems on the front side, but nothing terrible. In fact by the time it’s all gathered on the ribbon, I think this method of attachment really will be virtually invisible.

My buddy’s all, “We did well.”

Now I am feeling a lot more comfortable about going on to the front, and I’m happy this tunic will be done fairly soon!

Finishing, ugh

When my boyfriend saw me photographing my shrug yesterday, he gently reminded me that Baby Gabriel was born quite some time ago, to the point where his father is almost done with his paternity leave.

I thought it would not be so bad to finish the sweater of the Cabled Baby Set, but it turns out I am genuinely awful at finishing. Like really, embarrassingly terrible.

Enjoy some more disastrous seams, from the inside.

I thought I was so clever the first time I picked up the stitches for the neckline on the sweater. I used DPNs so that I could knit it all in the round and not have to worry about another bulky seam (having done a number on the preceding shoulder seam). I kept saying to myself “it’s just like socks…”

I did all my ribbing, omitted a turning row, and cast off, only to find that it did not stretch at all. I had cast off way too tightly and I couldn’t get the neck to stay folded down no matter what I did. It’s a pity, because I thought it didn’t really look so bad done in this way, but the baby’s head definitely wouldn’t fit through it comfortably.

Humbled, and more than a bit annoyed, I hastily ripped it all out before figuring out that I could have just tinked back the cast-off row. I followed the instructions this time, knitting it flat, which did go a lot faster. I put the turning row back in, and I knit nice and loosely. I searched around online and came up with the seemingly obvious solution to cast off using a larger needle. I was knitting on size 6’s and actually cast off loosely on a size 10, in pattern, but I still thought it might have been a little stretchier.

The picked-up stitches looked a little nicer this time too.

I then started on what would become literally hours of attempted seaming, and man, it’s a mess. No matter how many videos or tutorials I went through on mattress stitch, I just couldn’t get it right. As I tried to set the sleeve in, I realized that it ends nearly two inches higher than it’s supposed to on the body, which will be incredibly uncomfortable for the baby unless he goes around with his arms raised.

The seam itself is rather alarmingly tight as well, and I’m beginning to suspect some kind of massive gauge issue. No matter how much I stretch the other arm, I can’t get it to come 4 inches down on the body, let alone 3.

So it is official. I hate this project, and I think it looks awful. I dread taking out all the seaming on this arm or knitting a new arm or something to make it less tight, and to be perfectly honest, I already started searching for something seamless that I could knit to complete this set instead.

My boyfriend said it’s too bad because the body and neck look okay. He joked that I could make a turtlenecked vest or muscle tee out of it instead. The baby does live in Brooklyn and his parents are pretty stylish, so he could perhaps pull it off… but I know this is ridiculous.

Also, doesn’t it look like a hot water bottle cover?

If I don’t abandon it entirely, I will have a lot of fussing to do with this sweater, and I’m really not looking forward to it. Bleh.