How to drive someone crazy from 1100 miles away

28 August 2007

There have been worse rashes in the world

A rash of startitis has overtaken me. I am about to go off into the deep end.

Still haven't gotten around to mailing off my nephew's cardigan, but my excuse is that I have so much other knitting on my plate, as well as, for some unknown reason, a small bit of clothing repair I have graciously taken in for some of the girls I work with. Seems I have become the restaurant mommy, and whenever someone loses a button or walks the hem out of the bottom of their pants, it's Lisa to the rescue. How did I become this person, to whom college girls beg a quick sewing fix? I am a knitter, not a sewer, and to be honest, even thought I can sew a button back to a shirt fairly well, I simply do not understand how it transcended to one of the girls I work with asking me for advice about hand-tailoring her wedding dress. Yes, I said wedding dress. My sewing machine gathers dust, as it was originally purchased to make simple linings for knitted handbags and I have not actually knit a handbag in some time. In fact, the handbag I originally meant to line has as yet to be lined. Explain, please, how this assumption was reached. Anyhow...

I started a whole gigantic pile of knitting.

There was the "I must learn two-circular sock knitting" project, which is now in a state of having two toes of potential socks for Yoshi sitting idly on two circular needles. The going is slow, as I have not yet grabbed the knack. I think I may have figured out that life goes along quicker if one pushes both socks to the edge of the left hand needle at once, therefore eliminating the giant pain in the ass of untangling the circulars after every 36 stitches. Now I do it after every 72, then flip. There is hope for these socks, I have to say. They will both be done at the same time (no second sock syndrome!), and I am working from two ends of a ball of Austermann Step, which has aloe and jojoba built right in, so it feels really nice to work with. Yoshi likes that the self-striping will be reversed on either sock, so that's all well and good, and I came up with a little slip-stitch herringbone pattern to keep it interesting.

There is still Yoshi's sweater to contend with. I worked the neck according to pattern, with firm resolve that if it needed ripping, I would rip happily. But Yoshi tried it on, and it looks, well, pretty nice. The neck is just loose enough to be comfortable, and there are only sleeves to deal with now. Sleeves, I think, should go pretty fast, since there is a little intarsia to hold my attention, and they are just straight rectangles. I am a bit concerned at how the rectangular shaping is going to fit into the stair-step looking underarm, but I am also fearless after the success of that neckline. I may do both at once.

Then, there is the latest stash-dive. In my early stash-amassing career, I was foolish and bought a few balls of something pretty, not giving any consideration to yardage or having anything resembling a plan. So, there are five balls of Noro Silk Garden taking up space in the stash. Until now. I devised a handbag pattern that shows off the striping to best advantage (it does kind of a concentric circle thing using a graduated mitering technique) and I plan to felt it. Two balls down. The other three will probably be a pattern from Knitty I have my eye on. I will already have gauge form the handbag, so away we go. I have one side of the bag (it looks like a colorful fortune cookie) finished, awaiting the second side. Then I sew the two together, work the handles I am on the fence about (can't settle on a method, I-cord or wide and flat) and wash. I am going to attach a magnetic snap to keep it all secure, and there you have it, handbag a la Noro.

I have been giving quite a bit of thought to another bag I dreamed up some time ago, as well. It will incorporate some large-gauge Fair Isle, a few beads, and hopefully some kind of Asian-inspired motif. The inspiration comes from the beads, which are white and blue porcelain with cranes and flowers on them. I have the white yarn and two shades of blue, I just need to finish charting out the Fair Isle and get it knitted. Still contemplating Far Eastern repeats.

I keep seeing shawls all over the internet, as well. I have a good bit of laceweight that I think would be a lovely shawl, acquired at Rhinebeck last year, and I am thinking about trying my hand at lace design. Perhaps I am looking for an excuse to buy more books and an entire compliment of lace-blocking tools, but hey, man, I need those books. Not more yarn, just books to help me use the yarn I already have. Yeah. That's it. Books.

Deep end, here I come.

11 August 2007

Sweater woes and how to mentally be okay with your own futility

Dee asked where Yoshi will be wearing the sweater. Ha ha, funny story there.

I originally cast on the sweater in my early knitting days (about two and a half years ago), as a practice. I just wanted to make something bigger than a hat and more complicated than a baby blanket. Since Yoshi is the kindest and most patient person I know, he is a very good guinea pig for knits. However, he is not at all of the sweater wearing persuasion. So, Dee, the answer to your question is "never and nowhere".

I am okay with this. No, really, this thing will be tried on once, then worn once on the absolute coldest day of the year, then rejected outright due to its mammoth inability to be at all useful. It is way too hot for Florida (even in winter, when we may drop down to a solid 40 degrees Fahrenheit), it is bulky, it is going to be oddly shaped at the neckline unless I go do some ripping right now, and we never travel to colder climates together. And I am fine with it.

What I really wanted from the sweater was to challenge my ability to commit. Having realized that I don't like the way the pattern is written at all, as well as the uselessness of the sweater, I fear it may be going back to UFO status soon, thus proving that I can't stick with it, but for the right reasons. I mean, come on, when I read the pattern I thought "Oh, interesting, the back and front neckline will be shaped exactly the same. Wonder what that will look like?" Well, my friends, it looks like crap on a plate. Lesson learned. Also, using a bind off for a shaping method results in stair step-like shaping, especially at a bulky gauge, and it does not block out. In fact, it just gets worse when one tries to pick up the stitches (shaped like stairs) to work the knitted on neck border (as per pattern instructions) because there is so much bulk on the wrong side that the neck bumps up and looks really uncomfortable. Especially in the back, where no man should have a scooping neckline.

Why did I go ahead with knitting this sweater when we all know I probably realized these things while reading through the pattern for the first time? Because I like to knit, and knitting horrible mistakes is still knitting. It is just learning, as well.

The things I have learned about shaping methods and why not to use certain ones are numerous in this project. Also, I have learned that when the author's own blurb states that this is her first sweater and that she made it up as she went along should probably tell me something. Sure, I have made up a few sweaters as I went along, but I think I studies first, and quite a bit. My knitting library rivals that of the Barnes and Noble down the street, I frequently use the chat forums available online, and I reference many different experts before I go and knit and give an item to a person. I think this is just not a well-thought-out pattern with odd shaping, but the pictures I see of finished products look okay, so I will probably persevere.

Wow, having re-read this post, I am really on the fence about this sweater. I think I will stick with it. And I think I will not rip out the neckline. I checked out some pictures and did a little research between the first draft of this post (three hours ago) and the edit (now) and I think I will give the design the benefit of the doubt for now. But if I have to set it on fire, we all understand why, don't we?

09 August 2007

My excuse for not cleaning out the stash

I have as yet to start sorting the stash, let alone busting out the ball winder and some sticks and getting some of the stuff made into, well, stuff.

Why am I so far behind on this grandest of all grand projects?

Well, for one I have a full time job...

But really, I have been doing my damnedest to get the Giant Space Eater out of the living room drawer. You know, the one that is not technically for stash, but for UFOs. It seemed that if I wanted to bust the stash, I'd have to make room for some WIPs, and therefore, convert some UFOs into WIPs, so they may someday be FOs. (Sorry to anyone who doesn't knit if none of that made sense.) It is Yoshi's sweater. The thing is ginormous. It is a modified version of Skully from SnB, and man alive, it takes up so much space the thing is unreal. I think finishing that alone will create about nine cubic feet of space in the stash.

Okay, I am exaggerating that just a wee bit. However, it does seem like ever since I got it back out to work on (til death or destruction, apparently), I have lost nine cubic feet in my living room, as the sweater and my modifications do not succumb well to being put in and taken out of the drawer very often and it lives currently on the coffee table, couch, or both. See, I decided that it should be converted into the round (seemed so smart to start, but wait, there's more), and that went well. To guarantee that the armholes and necklines for front and back would be even and symmetrical (as the pattern calls for), I would work the fronts and backs of the shoulder shaping simultaneously. I am now working from four separate balls of Lamb's Pride Bulky. That means that at four ounces a skein, I started with a full pound of dangling working yarn attached to the shoulders, doing all sorts of wonderful things to the gauge and potential fit of the sweater. However, I refuse to give up and am making even more, if slightly more subtle, modifications to the original pattern, like recalculating the stitches for the sleeves and completely reshaping them. If you read that all carefully, you can actually pinpoint the moment of my greatest ineptitude and stupidity.

Did you guess it? Do you want me to tell you where I went horribly wrong and complicated what should have been a simple game plan? It was where I tried to apply logic, and then insisted upon more logic to fix the problems of the previous logic. I neglected to consider my own ability to be utterly daft.

Poor Yoshi has been in and out of the sweater more times than I can remember, for measuring and remeasuring. It's been over and over with the same questions, is this armhole too tight, is the neckline wonky, oh crap look how the back hem pulls up, wait, but if we pull it down the neck does that thing again, is this seam too bulky, should I just graft the shoulder, oh crap grafting won't work it's not going to be a solid enough seam you will just have to live with the freaking three needle bind off and for cripes sake don't stretch it out!!!!

I have no idea anymore how many skeins have gone into the sweater, so I can't very well estimate it's current weight, but a bulky wool-mohair blend muscle shirt in the middle of freaking August cannot be pleasant for him. He is such a good sport, and so patient. And I think he may really, really hate the sweater when it's finished.

04 August 2007

The sacrifices we make for commitment

I have decided to forgo the purchase of new yarn until the stash becomes a more manageable size. Sigh.

I want to bust my stash. I need to bust my stash. The stash currently lives in two very large drawers upstairs and most leftovers in a living room drawer (please don't look under my bed, I am in denial about that). Yoshi needs a drawer back, and I want to give it to him. So, the guidelines are as follows.

  1. No new yarn purchases until the stash fits easily into one drawer. This means all yarn that is predestined for a project gets into queue and worked through. The leftovers have a separate destiny.
  2. I will go through all leftover yarn and really give it some consideration. Could it be baby booties or a hat? Knit it. Am I sick of it and never want to see it again? Rewind it into something less unruly and donate it. Is it absolute crap that I purchased from a craft store that I can't even see putting in a donation bag? Trash it. Trade it to a knitting friend, or just give it away. In any case, get it out of my apartment in some way.
  3. Are there projects on the needles that I don't intend to finish (like the purple lace scarf from a year and a half ago)? Frog. Rewind. Reconsider.
  4. Is there yarn of decent quality that I don't necessarily care for (like some of my laceweight, or some of the sock yarn)? Figure out a trade, or learn to love it. (Hey, Dee, you want a little sock yarn for absolutely free?)

Yes, this is difficult. This is hard. I may need to start several pairs of socks at once, or a lace stole I will never have opportunity to wear. Maybe two sweaters simultaneously. that means stuff won't get done very quickly at all. This is also going to involve a lot of cleaning, something I really abhor. Re-organization is not pleasurable, especially when it means I have to get rid of yarn. I love yarn; yarn is my friend. But space is my friend, too. And I need it more than I do more yarn right now.

I am committing to this as best I can. I think this is going to be harder than I anticipate, since I do so love the finishing of a project and it seems there won't be so much of that in my immediate future. Maybe I should work through it monogamously, one project at a time? More FOs in my future? Maybe I need to rethink my battle plan.

But somehow, the stash is going to shrink. Hold me to it.

Gotta go sew buttons to the little cardigan now. Then it's off to work for me.

03 August 2007

Little half-skeins and what to do with them

I can't stand surprises, so here it is. The cardigan I worked up for Cygknit's new son, Emerson. See? Sporty and preppy.
No, it doesn't have buttons yet. I am going to get some simple plastic buttons to sew on, just to keep everything machine washable. It needs a little blocking, and some ends woven in, as you can see...

This was my first foray into intarsia. I have to admit, I prefer Fair Isle (more fun, more intricate) but I didn't want to drive the poor kid nuts with a pile of snowflakes just yet. It was also my first knitted-on button band. I did 1x1 ribbing, but I think next time I will just try garter.

Yoshi thinks it's cute, too. I may have to make one for him, but you know, a little bigger. There's a huge difference in his chest (46") and Emerson's (16"), so I will have to muster all my strength to deal with the miles and miles of plain, single-color stockinette, not to mention it seems to take at least twenty balls of anything to cover him. I'm so glad there are babies in my life to knit for, and that I can make the smallest size of anything for me. Saves me piles of cash, let me tell you.

Emerson's cardi was a stash dive. I had two balls of Sirdar Snuggly, bought in March when last Mrs. Cygknit had opportunity to grace me with her lovely presence, at about 6 months preggers with Em. I remember picking it up and thinking "that little boy will need something in yellow and navy... I wonder what it is". And then quickly concealing it from her inquisitive eyes. But, I never figured out what it wanted to be. A sudden yen towards making myself a top-down sweater led me to want to practice on something, someone, and how ideal that my little nephew is here now, just perfect for such experimentation.

Of course, I'll have to wing it on the bust darts...

Working from the stash has unexpectedly created a new stash: leftovers.
While this stash is not quite as bulky as its parent stash, it is a bit confounding, because the parent stash is full of hope and plans for the future, and this one is just an odd assortment of who-knows-what. My style dictates that I don't really make the same thing twice (at least not in a row), so I don't really have a great pile of all the same thing from which to create a colorific nightmare. It's a tiny ball of bulky weight, two colors of machine washable DK, some green thick-thin stuff, etc. You get the idea.

If I had a yardage meter, I could at least catalog some of it and turn it into something useful, or trade it on the Knittyboard, or check out my yardage guide and see what baby things I could make. But alas.
What to do with it all? Tiny change purses? That won't get boring after two (note sarcasm). And who needs seventy thousand change purses? I don't know or like enough people to call that a gift-giving opportunity. Besides, who needs a change purse that looks like my giant green sweater thing?

What do you do with all your leftovers?