Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Finished Object: Gathering Intentions

Excuse the wonky colors in photo. The colors in the photo below are more accurate.*

Pattern: Gathering Intentions from Inspired Cable Knits, smallest size +
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease (50% cotton, 50% acrylic, 100 g) in pink, less than 7 balls used. Yarn was a gift from Barbie.
Needles: US size 7

1. I wanted something between the smallest size and the next size up, so I added a few stitches to the fronts and back. Then, I adjusted for the extra stitches in the shoulder shaping.

2. I did the set up rows as described for the back on the front and both sleeves. I asked Fiona Ellis (the book author) why she didn’t include the set up rows on the other parts of the sweater and she gave me a wholly unsatisfying answer. If you want to know the details, email me.

tie.JPG3. Instead of making two I-cords for the hem and sewing one to the inside and one to the outside, I made one long I-cord and threaded it through the knitting. I did the same for the I-cord tie at the sleeve.

4. Adding stitches to the front and back and using short-row shoulder shaping created a mess at the shoulder seams. Normally, I decrease two stitches across cables when I reach the end of the cable, but this didn’t look quite right. After much messing around, I ended up doing cable crossings on my 3-needle bind-off row. The word fiddly is an understatement. I needed to grow at least one more hand. Unfortunately, the nuclear radiation from my smoke detectors was not enough to cause a spontaneous mutation and I had to forge ahead with just two hands.

Bone-Head Move: As you can see, only the left sleeve has a tie. I knew that I wanted to put the tie on the left sleeve because I’m right handed and a tie on my right sleeve would be sure to end up in any food I ate or cooked while wearing the sweater.

Naturally, when I started setting in the sleeves, I didn’t bother to look at the sleeves because, as we all know, sleeves are interchangeable. That’s why most patterns say, “make two.” You see the flaw in my logic, don’t you? I did a great job sewing the left sleeve to the right side of the sweater.

General Comments: I love this sweater already. Wearing it is like wearing a comfortable old sweatshirt. (The ties are reminiscent of the shredding cuffs and hem of the sweatshirts that I refuse to throw out.) A cotton sweater is much more practical in Houston than wool sweaters. However, if I did this sweater again, I would make the body a bit longer.

I'm not playing with the I-cord, says Scout

* It's interesting that this photo looks greenish on one of my computers but looks okay on the other computer. And the sweater looks practically fluorescent on the first computer and just find on the second. Oh well. It's not a scary pink sweater.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Good, The Bad, and . . .

The Good

Good StuffBliss had a contest recently. It was one of those contests that I like entering (just leave a comment!) but never rarely win (random drawing). Amazingly, my named was picked. I think it was fate. The prize was sock yarn, but not just any sock yarn. No! This sock yarn is the exact same yarn as the yarn with which I made my only pair of adult socks. Does this mean that I have to make the same socks again? I hope not.

Anyway, my prize arrived yesterday and it made me squeal in excitement. Bliss sent more than just the sock yarn! She sent a little pattern booklet, a Pop Top needle holder thingy, and chocolates! I had to take this photo right away because I wanted to eat the chocolates. *burp* Thank you so much Bliss!

The Bad

Last time I was here, I promised to do some complaining. You see, lately, I haven’t had much desire to knit. At least I haven’t had much desire to knit the projects that are currently on the needles. Perhaps ripping Lotus three times was starting to get to me. Perhaps knitting pink cables is starting to get boring. (That can’t be true!) Who knows why I have the knitting blahs? For days I’ve been poking at Lotus and Gathering Intentions hoping that they would either magically finish themselves or magically turn into something that I want to knit.

Bad Vibes

The sad part is that I don’t know what I want to knit. Or at least I didn’t know what I wanted for days. Just the other day I realized what I want to do—I want to knit some plain boring stockinette. That’s right! I want to knit without looking at my hands! I want to knit without thinking about what I’m doing! I want to knit something so quickly that it amazes everyone around me!

I think this is the first time I’ve ever wanted to knit nothing but stockinette. And that, my friends, is a problem. I have yarn for a couple cabled sweaters. I have yarn for a couple of lace sweaters. I have yarn for a few lace shawls. I do not have yarn for a stockinette sweater. In fact, I don’t even have any stockinette sweaters in my “to do” list. Sure I could find a nice stockinette sweater pattern and the buy the yarn, but my stash is so out of hand right now. It needs to be knit down.


I can’t abandon my current projects. That would not be good for me. One of the biggest motivations in my life is the act of finishing things. And I can’t start a new project. With two large works in progress, starting a new one would drive me batty. So I’ve decided that I have to push on and finish up Gathering Intentions. Perhaps finishing something will give me a knitting high.

Bad SeamingSince the last time you saw this sweater, I’ve finished the front and most of the sleeves. I already attached the front and the back together because I was messing around with the getting the cables looking good with the shaped shoulders. FYI—cables, short-row shoulder shaping, and the 3-needle bind off is not a good combination. Much fiddling happened. (Perhaps that’s why I’m not so thrilled about this sweater anymore?)

With any luck, this sweater will be completely finished next week.

The No Longer Ugly

Not UglyI ripped and reknit the offending rows on Lotus. Then, I duplicate stitched the flowers. I know some of you thought the previous flower didn’t look so bad, but don’t you all agree that this flower is millions of times better?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rip, Rip, Rip Little Stranded Sweater

First, listen to this. (At least the beginning of it, okay?) That’s where the title came from.


Well, I was sailing along on Lotus for a good while. Naturally, that fact meant that I was due for another session of sweater ripping. I had reached a point where two not so good things were happening. First, the spaces between the brown stitches were getting long. In other words, the brown floats were getting long. Secondly, the pattern required me to use three colors in a single row. And to paraphrase what Theresa said here, knitting with three colors is much harder than knitting with two colors.

So I came up with one of my brilliant-in-theory-but-ugly-in-practice solutions. I would do a quasi-intarsia-stranded knitting thingy. (“Thingy” is a very technical term. It is similar to that other highly technical term, “stuff.”) The idea was that I would cut a strand of the brown yarn, use it to knit the narrow brown section, drop the brown yarn, knit around the sweater repeating the process. Then on the next row, I would carry the brown yarn backward from the end of the brown section back to the beginning of the brown section and knit across again. Brilliant, no?

I reasoned that these “backward floats” would not look much different from the regular floats AND, if I was successful in keeping the floats loose, the knitting would look no different than regular stranded knitting. I was correct on the first point, but not correct on the second point. Although my backward floats were sufficiently loose enough, the knitting looked weird. A little pinched. See? (Again, if you don’t see it, just pretend that you do.)


Now I know that it’s not THAT bad, but I can tell and if I leave it that way, I will forever glare at that section of the sweater and will always imagine that it is much more pinched than it actually is. So the offensive section has to go and I have to decide on how to rework these rounds.

My options are these:
1. Duplicate stitch those brown sections.
2. Have long brown floats AND somehow make 3-color stranding work for me.

I’ve decided to go with the easy way option 1 first, particularly because I already have strands cut to the duplicate stitching. Also, if I decide that I don’t like it that way, ripping out the work will be a lot less painful. If I were to do option 2 and then NOT like the way it looked, I would be cursing loudly as a ripped each and every triple-stranded stitch out.

Tooting my own horn

By the way, did you all see my “Extreme Weaving” in the most recent Knitty? Scroll down! That's the wrong side of my Moni. I believe that Theresa thought I was a bit touched in the head for doing that much weaving. But then I give everyone lots of reasons to think that I'm touched in the head. Why should this be any different?

Tune in next time when Laura complains about being in a knitting funk and attempts to resurrect the stalled out Gathering Intentions.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Partial Meme

Barbie and Valerie did a Christmas meme and I thought I’d join the cool kids and play along, too. However, as I was considering the questions, I decided that one question in particular would make a much more interesting story than the entire meme would. So here’s my answer to:

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:

(Well maybe not a “favorite” memory, but certainly a very memorable memory.)

When big brother and I were young, we played a lot of “let’s pretend” games. One of our favorite games was Fort. We didn’t have a permanent playhouse or anything like that, so we had to construct a Fort every time we played the game. Our Forts were sometimes two chairs with a sheet over them, sometimes the space behind the couch (with the couch cushions pulled up to provide extra walls), sometimes old boxes, and sometimes the tree in the front yard that we liked to climb. Basically anything that we could get our hands onto could become a Fort.

Like all forts, our Forts were in constant peril. Occasionally we had to defend our Fort from heavily armed unnamed attackers. Other times we had to survive a long brutal winter on meager supplies. Or perhaps we had to fight off wild animals while exploring the surrounding wilderness and living off the land.

One afternoon in December, big brother and I were left alone to amuse ourselves. Dad and gone out somewhere and Mom and gone to lie down because she had a headache. We were instructed to stay inside the house and keep quiet. (No, don’t call CPS on Mom, we generally didn’t get into trouble.) Big brother decided it was a good time to play Fort. I was either four or five at the time and big brother (as always) was a year older.

Back then, our family had an artificial Christmas tree. It was one of those old style trees with branches that had to be inserted one-by-one into the tree “trunk.” If you’ve ever seen one of those trees, you know that they weren’t full and lush like the artificial trees that you can buy today. You could see through that tree.

You know where this is going, right? Well, big brother took one look at the Christmas tree and declared that it would be our Fort that afternoon. We were rather small, there was a gap between the tree and the wall, and lots of space under the tree—it was perfect. Soon we were well established in our Fort and began the daily chores that residents of all Forts had to perform. We were cooking and cleaning and repairing the crumbling walls of our Fort.

Suddenly, the unthinkable happened. TIMBER! We surveyed the damage: the tree had landed on the coffee table, the lights and the paper chains were still on the tree, but tinsel, paper “snowflakes,” and odd-shaped ornaments made by childish hands were scattered all over the floor. Some of the tree braches had even come out of the trunk. We were horrified. No only did we destroy our Fort, we destroyed Christmas!

I started to cry. Santa would never come now! Where would he put the presents? Why would he even bring presents to a pair of bad little children? But big brother grabbed my hand and bravely marched down the long hallway to Mom and Dad’s room. We crept in and climbed on the bed. Big brother nudged Mom and said, “Mommy? Mommy? A disaster happened!” (Yes, those were his exact words according to Mom.)

I don’t really remember what happened after that. Mom probably helped us clean up our “disaster.” I’m sure we were scolded and punished. But Santa came anyway. Perhaps he knew it was just an accident.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'm Stranded

btn_strandedkal_raspberry.0.jpgBelieve it or not, I’ve joined another KAL. But don’t worry, I’m not becoming a joiner. Like the other KALs I’ve joined, this KAL is one that happened to coincide with my knitting schedule. I’ve joined Stranded: The Colorwork Challenge. So here’s the first bit of KAL-age:

What are your projects for this knitalong?

Dale of Norway Lotus. I think that will be enough of a project for me. After all, I’ve frogged the entire thing once and frogged back several rounds a second time.

The second frogging incident was a result of my laziness. I had read all about yarn dominance and began my project with the yarns held in appropriate hands: the background pink in right hand and the dominant white in my left hand. All was right in the world. Then, I reached a transition point in the pattern—white becomes the background color and pink becomes dominant.

Of course, this transition doesn’t happen in one round. Oh no! That would be too easy. The transition happens over about five rounds and in those five rounds, part of the pattern repeat has white dominant and part of the pattern repeat has pink dominant. To keep the appropriate colors dominant, I would have to switch the yarns back and forth in my hands several times as I worked the rounds. Naturally, I found the switching annoying and didn’t do it. I simply picked a round in which to switch hands “once and for all” and knit on my merry way. Bad choice.


You can plainly see where I switched hands. Looks bad, doesn’t it? Okay, I know you’re all thinking that I’m being crazy and seeing things again, but humor me. Tell me how awful it looks. Don’t worry, I’ve frogged the offending rows and reknit and all is right with the world again.

Is this your first colorwork project? If it isn't, what was your first, and has it survived the test of time?

My first colorwork was also my first knitting project ever—a Sweater Curse sweater. I have no idea if the sweater is still around. I’ve done other colorwork since then, but Lotus is my first project involving steeks.

Random Knit Blog-age:

The fate of the Swallow Tail Shawl has been decided. Rachel offered to send me replacement yarn in exchange for the shawl. I’m sure it’s no secret that I’m a process knitter. Why else would I knit a gazillon wool sweaters that are horribly impractical for life in it’s-too-hot-here-Houston? So, I jumped at Rachel’s offer. Weee! Now I get to knit with cashmere AGAIN! To show my gratitude to Rachel, I won’t link to a goofy photo of her (like I did here) or remind her about how she’s a failure at being an apathetic sock knitter.

Cat Blog-age:

Sammy!I never quite understood why so many of you accused me of having a stuffed cat (or a drugged cat) whenever I showed a photo of Scout mugging for the camera. That is, I didn’t understand until now. I went to my parents house for a visit at the end of last month. While I was there I tried to take a photo of my “other” cat, Sam. Sammy was my cat until my mother decided that she liked him and wouldn't let me take him to Texas when I moved here. Considering the fact that Mom has never liked any animal before Sam*, I allowed him to stay with Mom. While I was home, I tried to take a good photo of Sam. I particularly wanted show off his pretty blue eyes. He didn’t seem to understand what I wanted.

Pretty KittyYes, his eyes were open and he was looking at the camera each time I pressed the shutter button! After chasing him around with a camera for a couple days, he had enough. But anyway. See the bit of blue carpet next to Sam? That’s the color of his eyes. Although Sam and the house were obtained separately, they are a matched set. I tried to talk Mom into letting me take Sam this time. Dad was ready to pack him up and toss him on the plane with me, but Mom said, "Sam is used to being an only cat." I guess that's a no.

* Mom has to be in the running for the Best Mom Ever for her tolerance of all the pets that big brother and I had. Mom really doesn't like pets at all. When big brother and I were growing up, she wouldn't interact with our pets and flatly refused to touch them unless absolutely necessary (such as when they were bothering her). Officially, big brother and I had one dog, two cats, three rabbits, two hamsters, two chicks, and a bunch of fish. Then there were the countless number of animals that "followed us home." These "foundling" animals were usually dogs but we ocassionally found cats and I once found a feret. (The feret was immediately sent packing by Mom.)