> To Knit is Divine: July 2006

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Mystery Stole Update and Andrea's hat

Have I mentioned that I'm obsessed? Well, I am. Big time. When I get started on a new project, I go crazy on it until it's finished or until I find something else to intrigue me, whichever comes first (unfortunately, it's usually the latter!). I've been obsessively knitting on the mystery stole for the past week - I sure am glad I kept going, because I really like it now. Each week a new clue comes out. We're now up to Clue 4, which came out on Friday. The stole starts in the middle (with a provisional cast on), and then you do each clue twice - once on each side. I started 2 weeks late, because I was waiting for my yarn. I've now done each clue once. Last night I removed the provisional cast on, and started on Clue 1 on the 2nd side.
I did tell you I'm obsessed, right?

It's hard to take a picture of it, because I'm doing both sides on the same circular needle - so I'd have to move one side onto another needle to stretch it out for a picture. I'll do that soon, but for now, that would take away from my knitting time :-) All of my other projects (including the shawl I was knitting obsessively until the Mystery Stole entered my life) have been completely abandoned. Except a sock. I always have a sock on the go for knitting on the bus. I'll post a picture of that once I have the first one of the pair done.

But I can't
keep this post completely picture free... that would be wrong. So I'll post pictures of something someone else is doing.

This is Andrea's hat. Andrea is a member of our Tuesday work knitting club. Last week, she came to me with a problem she needed help in solving. She's been working on a hat, using a Mosaic pattern she chose from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

Only problem is, Andrea is a tight knitter, and even though I told her she needed to keep the slipped stitches really loose when doing a mosaic, it came out very puckered. But given the stitch used, it really looked quite good. The puckers made for a really cool texture on the hat. It's a bit smaller than planned, but should be wearable on someone without a gigantic head. Except, now the ribbing is too loose. This calls for a bit of emergency surgery. She needed to take the ribbing off and re-do it on smaller needles.

Andrea asked if she could just undo the cast on edge and unravel from the bottom. I didn't think that would work, but I don't think I'd ever tried it so I said I would test it out for her. I knit up a couple of little 10 stitch swatches to test it out. I often do this - much better to screw up something on a little swatch than on the actual item.

I took picture of my experiments, but I'm not used to photographing close up things, but I guess I was too close up (you were right, Amanda!) so they're all blurry. So you'll just have to take my word on this, or try it out yourself. Ot if anyone really wants to see it in pictures, let me know and I'll do it again and take better pictures.

Taking it out from the cast on end is a long process. You have to pick the yarn out of each and every stitch. While it works okay on a small stitch, it would be a real pain on a hat. So on to theory number 2 - snipping a yarn where the ribbing meets the body and undoing it from there. First off, though, it's good to run a length of yarn through the stitches you want to put on the needle (first row of the body). The whole technique can be found here (note - I followed the "Tallguy Tip" on that page - that is just snipped one stitch instead of cutting across. That way the yarn from the ribbing can be re-used to re-knit the ribbing).

I demonstrated it for Andrea on a swatch, before starting on the actual hat. Once that was done, here's a shot of us running the waste yarn through the stitches:

When I left Andrea, she had the stitches all on the waste yarn and was ready to snip a stitch and separate the ribbing from the body. She said she'd take some pictures for me, so I'll report back next week on how it went.

As for me, back to my Mystery Stole.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The stole lives to see another day

Well, I've decided that the stole is lovely as it is, and it deserves to be completed. So, I've continued on it and am now half-way through Clue 2. I'm glad I didn't frog it last night. I've learned my lesson over the years - never frog after dark, and never try to fix a mistake after dark (unless it's really simple). It's always better to look things over with fresh eyes in the morning.

Hmmm... decisions decisions

I'm not sure what to do about my Mystery Stole. I'm not happy with it. I've looked at pictures of others' stoles, and they look so much crisper and nicer than mine. I'm not sure what the problem is... the yarn maybe (a lot of people are using Zephyr. I'm using Alpaca Cloud, which is quite hairy) or maybe my knitting is just too loose and uneven. I got frustrated with it yesterday evening, but just left it alone for the night (I've learned not to make knitting decisions after dark... never a good thing). I need to make a decision today on what to do with it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Mystery Stole 2

My first ever participation in a knitalong is Melanie's Mystery Stole 2. I'm not even sure I'll wear a stole, but it looked like such fun, and I love doing lace, so I figured I'd check it out. I joined the KAL the day the first clue was posted, but I didn't have any suitable yarn so I couldn't start right away. I ordered some KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud in Moss (I love earthy colours) and 3.25mm Knitpicks circular needles (as the only circular needle I have in that size is currently being used for a triangular shawl, and although I have a box full of straight needles, I hate knitting on them).

I received the yarn and needles on Thursday, and promptly cast on for the stole. I've finished the first side of Clue 1. I figure I'll just do the first side for now, at least until I catch up to the group (Clue 3 was released yesterday). This is not a great picture - I'll try to get a better one when I have a bit more done on the stole.

One of the best tips I picked up from the discussions was marking the stockinette stitches in the chart to make it easier to see how many there are at a glance. Someone suggested to put a line through every 5 stitches, and dots in any less than 5. I followed this, but then also decided to used different coloured pens on each row
, so that it would be easier to stay on the right row. I've tried the method of putting a post-it note, or something similar, along the chart to mark the row you're working on, but it's never really worked well for me. I often have the chart on my knee, and whatever I use to mark the row always seems to fall off.

I used three different colours of pens - purple, green and orange (love my coloured pens!). The orange doesn't show up very well scanned, but it's fine on paper. This way, I can not only tell at a glance that I have, say 11 knit stitches to do on row 81, but as I go along, I know I'm on the purple row, so I'm less likely to accidently follow the chart for the row above or the row below.

I've put in lifelines (using dental floss). I haven't had to use them yet, and hopefully won't. But I know from past experience that not putting in lifelines periodically is a surefire way of ensuring that I'll screw up big time! So I take the extra few minutes to put them in. I'm not using stitch markers on this one though. I do when I have pattern repeats, but since this pattern doesn't, I find it easier to just make sure I haven't made a mistake by seeing where my YOs line up compared to the rows below. And on the return row, I follow the pattern to double check the row. This has worked for me so far.

Welcome to my new blog

I've finally decided to take the plunge and join the vast world of knit blogs. I've been an avid reader of knitting blogs for the past few months. I've learned so much from them, and I hope I can contribute to the vast pool of knowledge out there. This is still a work in progress, and it may take me a little while to get into the swing of things, but you have to start somewhere, right?

A bit about me and knitting. I learned to knit from my mother at a young age (6ish, I think). My earliest recollection of knitting is making a Barbie wardrobe from the Patons Just for Dolls book. I'm sure I started with easier things first, but I don't remember them. My Barbie wardrope was made from gold and rust yarn (most likely acrylic) left over from an afghan my mother knit (hey, don't laugh. It was the 70s after all.

I knit throughout my childhood. When I was 16, I spent a year in Finland as an exchange student. The mother of my host family taught me to knit Continental. Once I got the hang of it, I've never returned to knitting English.

Over the years I've knit off and on. I've made sweaters for my nieces and nephews, the odd sweater for me, a few teddy bears here and there. I learned to crochet as well, and when I quit smoking in November 2003, I kept my hands busy by crocheting 3 afghans! But I was never an obsessed knitter.

But that all changed last fall. A couple of years ago a small group of us at work had a little weekly knitting club, but the group had fallen apart. We got it going again last September, and that's when I discovered all of the fabulous knitting resources on the Internet. I was searching for free patterns and discovered Knitty. As I perused the wonderful patterns, I saw the links to the designers' blogs. At that point I had sort of heard of blogging, but never read any and had no idea how many knitting blogs were out there. I got hooked. Although I always considered myself an accomplished knitter, I've learned more in the past few months of reading blogs than I ever have before. I've started collecting a small library of knitting books (which will be the subject of another post), I've started collecting a stash (still modest, but growing). I've started buying yarn online (and at my LYS), I've started knitting socks on my daily commute to work (more on this in a later post as well) and I've discovered the joys of laceweight yarn. I'm officially obsessed, and loving every minute of it.

I think I'm going to like this blogging stuff.