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!

Organic Growth

I am consistently amused and amazed by the way the pattern develops on the Sun Ray Shawl.

It is such a lovely example of organic growth and natural development.

I quickly knit through two of the 6 or 7 repeats, and I was downright smug with how smoothly it was going. Of course you know where this is going with me and my hubris. In even the most elegant instances of organic growth, one cannot underestimate the role chaos plays in development. (Here chaos takes the form of whiskey).

I picked the shawl up when highly intoxicated and chatting with a friend. I purled one back row, and somehow in that, I’m left with a mess. I’m missing one stitch, somewhere, and I cannot figure out where.

See, my row counter says this:

That can’t possibly be true. I must wonder: am I supposed to be on row 60 or row 58? Did I somehow drop my counter and click forward, or did I neglect to click it when I drunkenly purled that row?

I counted the chart, I tried searching the stitches on earlier rows to find an extra stitch or a neglected yarn over. It’s been an unpromising search.

“Ah well,” I thought, “this is why I put in life lines, and I’ll only have to rip back a few rows.” To be honest, I was almost looking forward to it, but…

Well shoot. Life lines don’t really work if you drunkenly tug them out.

You know what happens when the going gets tough around here, right? Yep, the tough cast on a new project:

I just needed some mindless stockinette. Knitting therapy at its finest. I’m about ready to brave a careful unraveling and some more counting on the Sun Ray now. Wish me luck!

Executive Decision

I’ve been thinking long and hard about the project I started last November for my grandmother. It’s a Cozy, which I intended to be some kind of shawl, wrap, lap blanket, bit of warmth combo item that she’d get a lot of use out of.

The trouble is, it is immensely slow-going. Literally it takes me hours to do one 8-row repeat, and it’s not going to end up terribly large for the amount of yarn it would take (eleven 50-gram balls).

It’s lovely, but I know I’ve made mistakes in the lace, and I know that I will never finish it with how slowly I’m going.

Therefore, and as much as it pains me, I decided to start a new shawl with this yarn:

the Sun Ray Shawl.

It has a lovely lace pattern, it doesn’t look too terribly difficult, it’s a larger size, and the examples I’ve seen on Ravelry look perfect for my grandmother.

In my first attempt I breezed through the first 17 rows, but suddenly I found myself with quite a few extra stitches. I started wondering if the written pattern was different from the chart, but in my infinite wisdom (and extreme laziness) I decided I’d rather re-knit the first 17 rows than spend the time figuring out what I’d done wrong.

This meant fiddling with the crochet cast-on again, for which I found Crafty Daisies’Learn to Crochet videos immensely helpful.

I feel a lot better about this project than I ever did about the Cozy. The yarn looks spectacular in the pattern, and I know this will become a really beautiful piece, with much less frustration and agony on my end.

And of course this time I put in a life line, just in case.

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!