Empty Needles? Where?

As has become my habit, the completion of a challenging project (in this case, Crichton) brought about the casting on of several more, without thought or regard to anything I have already started.

First, I started in on “A Cardigan for Merry,” for which I purchased some Wool of the Andes – Sport Weight. I love cables, but the ones for this sweater (designed by Kate Gilbert originally for her “Arwen” sweater) are kicking my butt. The cables cross on every right side row, which makes my knitting super tight. If anyone has any suggestions as to how to alleviate and or cheer up my tense, angry cables, I welcome them, especially since, just three inches into the pattern I’ve set it aside in favor of some non-finger breaking, non-squint inducing knitting.

A Cardigan for Merry by annypurls, using size 3 needles and Wool of the Andes Sport from KnitPicks

Which brings me to the next project that leapt onto my needles while I had my back turned. “Rock Island” is back, this time on the size six needles the pattern requested, and my progress has been swift. I re-cast on on Tuesday evening, and when I counted last night, I had 42 of the 71 edge lace repeats completed. I promise I won’t go on and on again about what a genius Mr. Flood is, but this edge piece is so much fun to knit, I might just keep going, and end up with a very skinny scarf. Each repeat is eight rows and takes about five minutes to complete. This is important to someone who often only gets to knit in five minute intervals! Only slightly more than half done, and without blocking, the edge piece is already nearly four feet long, which bodes well for the finished dimensions.

While I was taking these photos, Max brought his knitting into the bedroom and asked that I take pictures of him and his yarn, too. And so, I present to you Sir Max and his knitting…

See you later, and have a fun and safe Memorial Day Weekend!

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Completion Anxiety

As of yesterday morning, I had only a (short) sleeve and four little rows of edging to knit, then 12 buttons to sew on and some ends to tidy up in order to finish my “Crichton” sweater. I started the sleeve, then got distracted by the Wii, and dishes, and some laundry, and eventually, looking at my potential next project. When I finally sat down at 10:00pm to knit on poor little Crichton again, I was shocked that I’d only finished four rows of sleeve. I took a moment to contemplate what happened, and came to this conclusion:

I was having a bad case of completion anxiety.

Unlike the Yarn Harlot’s problem with her shawl, my anxiety stemmed from the fact that I wasn’t entirely sure the sweater would fit me when I was done. I love the yarn, the color, and the pattern. But I’d made changes to the pattern, taking it from a very short cropped sweater to one that went down to my waist, and making the sleeves a bit longer as well, and if those alterations screwed up the sweater, I’d have no one to blame but myself.

What if, after all that knitting, it was too small?

I made a decision. I’d worked really hard on this sweater, and had (mostly) a great time doing it. If, after all those ends were sewn on, it was too little for me, I’d give it to someone else. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. And I know a lot of scrawny people – mostly my daughters and their friends – who would not only like the sweater, but have an appreciation for its journey into being.

So Crichton was finished and has had its bath.

Bath time for Crichton!

I usually block my sweaters by folding them in half in order to keep everything the same size and shape

Great buttons from Yardage Town that Max helped me pick out

Tubular bind off on bottom edge – stretchy and lovely and so worth the extra work!

When it’s dry, I’ll try it on. And if it doesn’t look good on me I’ll pass it on to someone else (oh, but now that it’s washed and laid out to dry, I think it will fit – YAY!), and consider making another one for me.

But not right away.

The Great (and Evil) Brooklyn Tweed

I am a knitter (still not a Knitter, though). Not a sock knitter, nor a sweater knitter, nor even a scarf knitter. I enjoy knitting in all its forms, and love trying new techniques as much as I enjoy knitting a familiar item. Which is funny, because Jared Flood, aka Brooklyn Tweed, is the designer that has haunted me the most in each of these categories (although Cookie A is running a close second – I love her sock designs).

Right after I started knitting, with only a few swatches and a pair of mittens under my belt, I knit the Habitat Hat. That was the first pattern I purchased on-line, and the first project I knit using “fancy” yarn. I’ve knit it numerous times since, in Cascade 220 and Noro Silk Garden and Wool of the Andes (this one is still in progress); in sizes little to ginormous and in between; in blue and red and white and gray and multi-colored. This pattern helped forge my love for cables, and when I’ve attempted to chart out a cable myself, I still refer to the charts from this pattern because they are precise and exact and familiar.

I also knit the Noro Striped scarf, twice, because of Mr. Flood. The first one became a Christmas gift for my good friend Sharon; the second one became mine. The entertainment factor that is inherent in multi-colored yarns is increased exponentially when you combine two colorways and knit them into stripes. If you’re an OCD-type person, you can manipulated the color combinations by snipping one of the strings and advancing to a color that creates a more pleasing balance or striking contrast; I preferred to knit the yarn as it came and found myself occasionally knitting at the edge of my seat as I waited to see if the orange from ball A would come up at the same time as the purple from ball B (o, how sad that I was so enthralled by this!).

Some of his designs, like Girasol and Willoughby, have only resulted in a single finished project, but not because I didn’t love them. I’ve only knit them each once because they require and deserve to be knit monogamously, without distraction, and in either very wonderful (read pricey) or very copious amounts of yarn, and so I am saving my pennies and waiting to find just the perfect someone to splurge on with these woolly gifts.

Which brings us to the subject of my post today. Jared Flood is most truly and surely evil. His designs are so captivating – not to mention error free – that I am helpless to resist most of them. On Wednesday I was entranced by a pattern he’d just released (I shouldn’t follow him on Facebook – I can’t help but see when he publishes something new) – Here’s what happened:

I was sitting at the bookstore, enjoying a cup of coffee and knitting diligently on my Hedera sock (keep in mind that the only reason this sock even got started in the first place was because I am waiting for the yarn I ordered to complete the second of Jojo’s kilt hose to arrive). I set my sock down for a brief moment to check in on Facebook and there it was…photos of “Rock Island” from Brooklyn Tweed, in a lovely purple lace yarn.

Photo © Brooklyn Tweed – Rock Island Shawl

“Oh, that’s pretty,” I thought to myself. “But I have Hedera to work on, and next week I’ll have the yarn for Jojo’s other sock. Plus, I don’t know what I’d do with such a lovely lacy shawl, not to mention I really don’t like using lace weight yarn.”

I went back to Hedera, and knit a few rounds. “Well, he just released it. Let me look on Ravelry and see if anyone has purchased it yet.”

I logged into Ravelry, and sure enough there were several people who had not only bought the pattern, but they were knitting at it furiously – although some of them may have been his test knitters. “Well,” thought I, “I do have a bunch of lace yarn already at the house. And I’ve never been disappointed by one of his designs. I’ll just add it to my queue so I don’t forget what it was called. But I’m not going to buy it now.”

I again returned to my knitting, and managed to ignore my computer for quite a while. Then I started glancing at it in between rounds. “This is crazy. I do not need to start knitting a shawl right now. Heck, if I really want to work on a shawl, I have the “Crow’s Waltz” right here in my bag. I can just knit a few rows on that and get it out of my system.” I did, in fact, lay Hedera aside and pulled Crow’s Waltz out and added a few rows/subtracted a few stitches from it. I then decided I’d go home, where Alex, Max and Penny would keep me busy enough to help me forget about Rock Island and all its lacy goodness.

While I arranged myself and all my stuff in the car, I pulled out the computer again. I went from the Rock Island page on Ravelry to several other lace pages, then back to Rock Island – this went on for at least 15 minutes. Finally I decided I’d just buy the pattern – it was only a couple of dollars – and look it over. I was sure I would see the stitch count or the charts and decide that I would be insane to knit something this difficult, at which point I could return to my socks and Crow without a lacy shawl nagging at me.

So I bought it. And looked it over. Ok, I read the directions…carefully…twice. Then I went home, resolved to finish my other projects before starting this shawl, if I ever started it at all.

Yeah, that worked.

The edging for Rock Island, in Alpaca with a Twist Fino

Happy Anniversary Clever Knits!

On Monday, the fifth of July, my favorite Local Yarn Store – Clever Knits – will celebrate its first year of business. And today, at 11:55, when I showed up to partake in the BOGO sale they are having, I was only slightly surprised to find a large gaggle of knitters waiting to get in. It was very exciting, and I got to hear some accounts of how, just last year, they were waiting on this very same sidewalk for CK to open their doors for the first time. I missed the grand opening, but I’m really glad I had an opportunity to be there for this event.

I made a few purchases – mostly really great yarn that’s too darn expensive to buy just , but also a skein of alpaca DK weight that I need to finish my Eastlake sweater – and left happy. One of the yarns I purchased was Hand Maiden Sea Silk in a lovely pewter-y color. I bought it with a specific project in mind… the July KAL at CK, which is the Annis shawl.

When I got home from the sale Alex and the girls left for the bookstore and to do some errands. While I was out, Max had decided that it was a good do-nothing sort of day and changed into some PJs, so the two of us stayed home to play. I set up my swift and ball winder in the kitchen, and began the process of preparing the Sea Silk to be knit. Max joined me and watched with eyes wide as the yarn moved from swift to winder, both tools spinning wildly, the ball growing fatter and fatter. Then he said: “Ooooh, yarn. Very very cool.” Oh yeah. That’s my boy.

Well, that’s where the good times ended. The Annis pattern starts out with the horrible, horrible direction “Cast on 363 stitches…” Zoinks! Every shawl I’ve done have been started from the point so I, as a weak hearted kind of knitter, can be eased in to the fact that a row will eventually span that many stitches. Not this time. I suppose an optimist would say that it’s all downhill from here.

I’m not very good at optimism. I’m working on it, but I’ve a long way to go.

I bravely began casting on, only to find at stitch 210 or so that there was no way I’d allowed a long enough “tail” to finish the last 153 stitches.

Rip!

I started again, and actually got all of the stitches onto my needles. But I had to count once more to verify I wasn’t going to be 3 short. This was done 5 times, because I kept losing count. In the end, I found that my initial count was correct, and I was able to move to Row 1 with confidence.

And move on I did. I knit well and fearlessly. I was surprised when I looked at my left hand needle and found only about 20 stitches left. That’s when it happened.

“It” has a name. And “its” name is “Max”. He came over to sit on my lap, as he often does while I knit. But this time, the yarn was silk, not wool (very slick). And the needles were metal, not bamboo (very slippery). And before I could move the string and sticks out of his way, his little leg got tangled and woosh!

Only about 10 stitches fell off. But they were the first row, and I have no idea how to reclaim cast on stitches that have escaped the needle. So I put it all away.

I’ve cast on again. Here’s my proof.

Now that el Boyo is in bed, I’ll try Row 1 again. Wish me luck!!

More Christmas Knitting

I’m onto my third Christmas knitting project: a sweater for my cousin’s daughter. I’m kind of cheating with this one, as I’ve already made a smaller version of this pattern. Here’s a picture of it, although you’ll have to forgive its mis-shaped-ness; it’s been hanging out in my knitting bag for a few days and it got a little wrinkled.

This is Mable (again), this time with Cascade 220 Heathers. The color in the photo isn’t even close… I’m going to blame the green curtains I have on the windows for skewing it. The yarn is actually very dark blue, with a little green & purple mixed in. I’m working on the sleeves now, and have passed the lace at the cuffs and am on to the boring stockinette part.

The thing that’s been distracting me from the sweater is my newest lace project, “A Knitted Veil in Pyreneese Wool” from Victorian Lace Today. I’m using malabrigo lace weight yarn, and that coupled with size 4 needles makes for very slow going. I’m up to row 42, and it’s still only this big:

The only thing keeping me going is the knowledge that it will get bigger when I block it. Well, that and the fact that it’s so much fun to watch the pattern emerge. There is no end to my excitement of finishing a row and holding the piece up to check it out.

Oh yeah. I’m a girl of simple needs!

Summer Knitting

In deference to my good friend Sharon’s protest regarding the viewing of woolie projects during periods of extreme heat, I’ve been indulging in some lightweight knitting. Although my latest project weighs barely more than a feather, it is rather slow going. Here is 24 rows of lace using malabrigo Polar Morn:

Even after 24 rows, it’s so little you can just barely see the pattern. The best thing about this particular bit of lace is that every row is knit, and every row is patterned, so it’s not boring. It did present a problem, however, at the very onset. I cast on 7 times, each time realizing after two rows that I’d miscounted and had 114, or 112, or 116 stitches rather than the 113 that I actually needed. This last time I actually had one extra, but figured out a way to remove it and retain most of my sanity and a tiny bit of my dignity.

I realize now that I should have set a coin on top of this bit of knitting to show just how little it is. That’s just going to have to wait though. My camera’s batteries are dead, and there will be no more photography happening tonight.

Anything but Orange

Maybe, someday way WAY in the future, I will knit something orange again. But it won’t happen anytime soon.

Here is Jojo’s shawl, washed and blocking on my bed.

Technically, it’s just drying, as it is so huge that I cannot pin it evenly. I’ve managed to talk Jojo into seeing the charm of leaving the edges ruffly. In the end, it took 6 balls of KnitPicks Palette yarn in Sweet Potato to finish, and from tip to tip is about 8 feet wide and 3 feet long. I think my gauge might have been off a bit, but since I don’t have the book with me right now (it’s all the way out in the car, and I just don’t feel like getting it), I can’t say for sure that it ended up being bigger than it was supposed to be.

But you know what?

It’s done, and Jojo is happy with it, so I’m happy with it.

I’m going to celebrate by knitting on something anything else. For all those cheering me on from cyberspace, my knit night group, and Wisconsin, I thank you for your support!