A New Technique

It’s like a knitting needle and crochet hook went out and got drunk, and nine months later this weird thing came into the world and no one quite knew what it was.  Is it crochet?  Is it knitting?  It’s more like pick up a row of stitches with a knitting needle, and casting them off, then picking up the row again, and casting off, but the process is streamlined if you use a hook and don’t turn your work.

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Tunisian Crochet, shown here in the “afghan stitch” – it creates a dense waffle texture that I think will be perfect for washcloths.  I am merely getting frustrated that it doesn’t seem to grow as quickly as the crafts of it’s parents do.

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I’ve seen some really beautiful things come from this hook though.  Like this and this.  I also want to learn Broomstick lace, but I think that may happen post-holidays.

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On the Fly

Last night, with an evening gloriously free of youngling and outside commitment, I settled into my perch on the couch, with balls of yarn spilling around my feet and a set of comfy headphones in place, listening to music and watching videos as I churned out butterfly after butterfly on the bosc scarf.

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I am about halfway done – maybe a little more.  The pattern calls for 20 repeats of the butterfly motif, but I think I will have enough yarn to make it to 25.  This is something I will have to gauge as I work – the risk being that I may gauge incorrectly and not have enough left over to do the edging.

When I needed a break from the counting, I pulled out the time lord socks for a bit of mindless stockinette.  I got sucked in while turning the heel.  It came out a smidge too long, but I’m thinking I can fix that once I finish the sock if I don’t like it.  The toe is a little pointy, so I can pull out the cast on and rip out a few rows, making the toe less point and the foot that teensy bit shorter.  I still have a good deal of yarn leftover, and I am excited to see how high the socks end up going.  Will they end mid-calf?  At the knees?  Or could they even go over the knee?  I realize that I have only hit the heel and already worked through about one-third of the ball, which means that they will probably come up to the knee – but here’s to hoping I have found the fiber vortex on purpose.  It would be very apropos.

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There is currently some discussion going over at the Yarn Harlot’s blog about the extent to which designers should be expected to explain patterns and techniques versus what the knitter should know or be expected to find out on their own.  It is all really fascinating, and good points are being made for both sides of the argument (one side assuming the designer should spell everything out in big bold font and the other assuming that the knitter should have basic skills, such as problem solving and the ability to look up references, before tackling a pattern).  There I was last night knitting a sock – I had only worked toe-up socks once, following a pattern that said only “Use Turkish Cast On and cast on 16 stitches” or some such, and I looked in the back of the book for instructions on what the frack a Turkish cast-on was.  Well, it stuck in my head, and even though I know a couple of methods to achieve the same effect, it is still my favorite.  Then I knit the sock, and came to the heel, which I turned using the short-row method (or rather, “a” short row method since there are several in regards to turning a sock heel).

The point is – I like to knit, and I like to discover new things, and I really would rather not be held back from completing something because I don’t know how.  Yes, a designer could spell this out for me, but I think that creates a laziness in the knitter.  I don’t want to follow someone else’s pattern for everything I make.  These socks, for instance, are entirely on the fly.  And really, that’s kind of my MO.  I knit on the fly.  I have an idea, and I mull over how to achieve that idea, and then I go.  Most of what I know was learned from references books (and a bit of trial and error) rather than actual patterns.  This has benefited me greatly when I come to errors in the patterns I do follow (and errors will always exist – not in every pattern mind you, but in a lot more than you want to admit).  I come to an error, and I look at why the error is there, what the designer was trying to achieve, and figure out how to work ahead.  I don’t get stalled because there is a miscalculation or chart issue, and I have the freedom and confidence to alter patterns any way I choose because I have the skills behind me to help.

Where do you stand on the debate?

A Monologue

To Swatch, or not to Swatch, that is the question:

Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer

the tinks and frogs of outrageous Gauge,

Or to take math against a fiber of trouble,

and by preempting tempt them: to knit, to count

No more; and by the count, to saw we end

the frogging, and the thousand wanton stitches

that Gauge is heir to?  ‘Tis a consummation

devoutly to be wished.  To count, to knit

to knit perchance to fit; Aye, there’s the knot,

for in that counted stitch, what measurement may come,

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what we have read from our uncoiled tape,

must give us pause.  There’s the stubbornness

that makes Perfection of so long knit,

For who would bear the rips and frogs of time,

the designer’s mistake, the proud Knitter’s contumely,

the pangs of colorful mismatch, the stitch’s growth,

the insolence of Cables, and the yarnovers

that patient merit of the unworthy takes,

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when she herself might her bind-off make

with a bare Bodkin?  Who would Sweaters bear,

to knit and purl under a monotonous life,

but that the dread of something after cast-off,

of miscalculated row gauge, from whose bourn

no knitter returns, puzzles the will,

and makes us rather bear those ills we have,

than to cheat the skein we know not of.

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Thus Knowledge does make Cowards of us all,

and thus the Native hue of resignation

is sicklied o’er, with the false start on sleeves,

and enterprises of great lace and complexity,

with this regard their efforts turn awry,

and lose the game of precision.

On The Deviousness of Lace

There is a baby in the future.  Not mine, no – but a very close friend of mine is having a girl who will become my god child (I’m ridiculously excited about this).  I want to do the baby and the mama justice by knitting a blanket fill with warmth and hope and as much magic as I can possible invest in it.

I found this really beautiful doily pattern that I thought I could enlarge for a lovely swaddling blanket.  There is a small amount of lace in the middle that extends into this fun lace edging.  The color is “Fairytale” from Knit Picks in Comfy Worsted.  I’m using US size 6 needles.

My predicament:

I reached the end of the body as written in the pattern, and decided the body wasn’t nearly big enough to wrap around the baby, so I needed to continue knitting.  Doubling the pattern entirely would produce a blanket much too large (and I wasn’t sure I had enough yarn or time for that) so I counted the beginning number of stitches for the lace pattern and increased to a multiple of that number (11, for anyone who is interested).  The problem lies in the fact that, while the first lace pattern is a mulptiple of 11, it ends in a multiple of 10 and the second lace pattern is a multiple of 30.  I didn’t realize this until I nearly finished the first round of the second lace pattern (because there are no charts, just written instructions) and couldn’t finish.  That meant I had to tink back 320 stitches so I could think about my next move.

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There is no way I am ripping out the last twelve rows and knitting to double the pattern size so the numbers will match up.  The baby is due on October 27th, and I need time to block, weave in ends, and get to the expectant family.  So, now I have to devise some sort of lace pattern that fits in with the traingle motif that is already there and that adds about three or four inches.  I am looking at it, thinking the inverted traingles could easily become leaves with a feather and fan motif to separate and add a neat ruffled edge.  Or, I can combine two triangles with a descrease to create a large heart motif with diamonds between them.  I have to remember that I am knitting a flat circle, and that means increases need to be placed in strategic places to continue the “lying flat”-ness I require.  Or create some sort of crazy ruffle.   I haven’t qutie decided which.  Thoughts?

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In the meantime, I almost sold out of pumpkin hats last weekend, which means that the majority of my knitting this week will be making more.

Pieces

Last week at knit night I finished the very last square of the Tech Square Afghan that I began two January’s ago.  The very last square was the fair-isle square, with steeking.  It was my first steek.  I tried to get pictures of the process, but alas, my camera battery died at the very beginning.  For a brief second, I contemplating postponing the cut until the battery was charged, but I was already in the proper frame of mind for taking a pair of scissors to my knitting, and I didn’t want to chicken out.

This morning, remembering it was Thursday and I have been trying to have non-essential knitting at Knit Night, so that I can remember the joys of knitting instead of the tedium of churning out tiny top hats for a living, I quickly washed and blocked the last two squares.

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They were dry when I got home from work, so I started laying them out to decide how I am going to put them together into the afghan.

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It was remarkably difficult trying to find the right balance of color and stitch pattern.  I didn’t want it to seem color heavy on one side and texture heavy on the other.  I didn’t want too much action on half the blanket and not enough elsewhere.  If you look in the second row up from the bottom, you can see in the picture the salmon pink I started out with (the cables and lace square) all the way on the right, and the darker mauve (Intarsia square all the way on the left) I ended up with on my next LYS trip to restock on yarns.  This isn’t too much of a problem since the colors didn’t ever come together in a square.  Would you believe it is the same color, too?  Dye lots are essential!

I just hope the two different dye lots of brown I picked up for the edging aren’t too obvious.

Nothing if Not Efficient

Odin is an engineer.  He thinks, speaks, and lives like an engineer.  It makes it easy when we get in arguments because I know exactly how he is going to handle it – by being perfectly reasonable, logical, and incredibly, infuriatingly stubborn (and a lot of times – wrong).  That being said, it has often been the case that I come to him with a problem, and he creates a solution (let’s ignore that sometimes I, myself, am too stubborn to accept the solution, let alone that there was a problem to begin with).

Today, I spent the morning cutting tulle into strips so I could continue making fairy skirts (a.k.a. tutus) for the upcoming shows.  I have been having a hard time focusing on cutting them into strips, and Odin happened to be walking by as I sighed and said “there must be a better way of doing this.”  I had been measuring out the length of tulle, cutting it, putting it aside, and doing it again.  Odin looked at me and said simply “there is, you need a board with two pegs in it.  How long are the strips?”  And went into his work room.  I thought he was continuing work on his air plane, so I went back to work.

Since there wasn’t much else to do, I thought about what he said.  I realized my yarn swift has pegs.  Pegs in boards, in fact.  So I took off one of the sections of the tabletop swift, put the pegs the correct distance apart and began wrapping the tulle around the pegs.  A little while later, Odin emerged with a slightly more stable design than what I had improvised.  I looked at what he gave me, and then I had an epiphany.

 

A yarn swift turns.  A yarn swift like I had could work in reverse.  It was perfect.

I timed myself.  It was taking me around 5 or 6 minutes to cut one roll of tulle.  Now, it takes me about one minute.  I shaved 80% of my time off the process by this new device.  Then, I remembered he had put two pegs in the board, and I realized what that meant.

I made it through the dozens of rolls of tulle just through nerdy fulfillment.  But if I’m a nerd, at least I’m an efficient one.

What followed was a debate of whether three pegs would be more efficient than five.  Thoughts?

Psst…Your Dork is Showing

Enter…the wall

It is an uninteresting, innocent-looking specimen at the top of the flight of stairs that permits entrance into the abode.  It has a creamy oatmeal complexion, with several crack and bumps along an otherwise smooth surface.  It is part of a house built in the 1800s, so some cracks are to be expected.

In a house of odd angles and large windows (see object to the left of specimen), it is difficult to find large expanses of smooth, unadulterated wall.

Enter…the Tardis

A roughly 7 foot tall gentian blue specimen constructed in four segments to be applied to the wall above to add pizzazz and infinite levels of dorkiness to our already dork-ridden home.  The go ahead was given by the other dwellers of this establishment, and with the aid of Vinyltastic, purveyor of vinyl wall art (it would be well advised to follow that link), the Tardis made it’s way to our apartment.

Enter…The boy.

As I am nowhere near 7 feet tall in high heels, there was absolutely no way I was going to get this thing in place on the wall.  Boy is very handy (or so he likes to tell himself) and I thought perhaps his knowledge, heighth, and strength could be manipulated useful.  Boy, disappointingly, did not have a scraper or appropriate flat surface with which to smooth out air bubbles as the piece was assembled, so we used a spatula.

Now, all we need is a doorbell that makes that wooshing noise and a blinking blue light to complete the facade.

(I have been thinking that when we actually find “our town” and buy a house, we totally are turning one of the doors into swinging Tardis doors.  Boy has no say in the matter, whatsoever.)

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