Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Should I?

Y'all know about my Socks that Rock. How I want them to be perfect. How I've started several patterns. How I tried entrelac and it was creating an interesting pattern that I felt would probably not continue and would not likely repeat on the second sock. Y'all know I've just learned how to knit two items at once on one circular needle and I was having issues with gauge on the entrelac sock and I changed needle sizes several times as I worked up the foot.....
I was just reading a blog and saw some gorgeous socks. Turns out they are a FREE download on Ravelry. Sorry if you're not on Ravelry....I've travelled too far from the original blog to get back there. They're called Firestarter Socks. And they're made with STR lightweight. Uh oh.

I'm Back!

Okay, I didn't leave. I'm still not excited about the surprise sweater, but I am diligently working on it. We've been having trouble downloading photos off the memory card again. I don't understand how it suddenly changes all on it's own. When we first got this computer---just over a year ago?--it was pretty easy; the computer automatically downloaded all new pictures off the card. Then suddenly, it started downloading ALL pictures on the card. Now, we use the card as backup of 'special' pictures (to some degree; there are a LOT more on the computer) as we've never gotten around to getting a memory stick and I'm petrified somehow our pictures will disappear. So, we'd put the card in, and it'd start downloading over 250 pictures that had already been downloaded!! Then we tried the software that came with our printer/scanner/copier. It wasn't great, but it worked. Then that suddenly went weird. It would download the pictures, but we couldn't find them! I just sat down and figured it out in less than 5 minutes. Me. Why couldn't Rob figure it out instead of having a hissy fit that I had 'done something' to the computer?!

So, let's play catch up a little.

Back in the fall, I showed a shot of a pink lace blob. When we left for our 'vacation' in August, I started knitting Evelyn Clark's (non-Rav. link) "Heartland Lace Shawl (Ravelry link)". I spent a lot of time searching for a shawl pattern. I was going to use pink Jaggerspun Laceweight Zephyr, 50% wool/50% silk. I had bought this when I made Nya's blanket, but decided not to edge it with pink; it was beautiful in the creamy white. (Go over to my archives, on the right, and click on 2006. It'll be the first two posts to come up).
I had only one skein, and was NOT buying more. I wanted something not too frou-frou as the pink is really girly already. I wanted something with not big sections of stockinette as I have some more colourful yarns waiting for those types of shawls. When I found Heartland Lace through searching Ravelry, I knew it would be great, even though it's written for DK (I think).
I used 3.7mm needles.
I had a few problems with reading the chart---the line numbers don't look like they're in the right spots. But it's a fairly easy knit (except--if you use markers, there are two places in each chart repeat that the stitch repeat falls in the middle of a slip 2 as if to knit, k1, pass sl. sts over). There are a few rows that you can easily memorize too. It was not a good idea to start this shawl as we were driving to Niagara Falls; navigating and chart reading do not go well together.

I did have to modify the chart for the edging. I should probably not have done the last body repeat; that would have been easier than modifying the edging chart because I was really short on the yarn!

I got it finished and blocked in time for the cruise, and I used it a lot. You can see pictures on my other blog. These pictures are from washing it after Christmas. I think I might have blocked it a bit harder this time as it seems 'crisper'. Or maybe the Caribbean humidity caused it to relax a little. I don't know the size, but it's a nice shoulder shawl. I can't wrap up in it, but it's enough to ease a slight chill.

I'll be adding it to Ravelry later. I've finally started adding projects there. Fun. I'm "TracyKM" on Ravelry. Yes, I know. Not too original, but easy to remember!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Still Upset

After it's time out, I decided to tackle unpicking the cast on row of the FLS, to reduce the bulk when I re-twist the shoulder bit. Of course, it's the sleeve furthest away from the start of the cast on. And, because I was unprepared to do a provisional cast on, I did a knitted cast on in the same yarn (I was just going to pick up the sts and work upwards, I thought it would blend in okay with the garter stitch). I couldn't just take the scissors and snip snip snip because I was petrified of snipping the first pattern row. I couldn't really make out what was the cast on row and what was the next row, so I started from the yarn tail....and picked and pulled and picked and pulled and after about 2 hours, I'm almost 1/2 way across.

I usually feel energized by a challenge, but this time I just feel doomed. Not doomed, I think it can be saved, but like my knitting life force has been sucked out of me. If I could draw, I'd make a swirly spirit hand reaching into my body and taking my knitting soul, tangled in this green sweater. It doesn't help that there are other issues going on right now, sucking my spirit dry, either. I've lost my pep. Caffeine is not bringing it back. Chocolate is not working. I'm resisting the large bottle of Bailey's Rob bought me for Christmas because I know once I start, I might not stop.

I have knitted successfully in the past two weeks.....several pairs of mittens and hats on the KnitSmart machine, a handknit cowl/nose warmer (little loose, but workable), a Thorpe in awful stash yarn but with an inside headband to tighten it up and add some warmth. Where I seem to be succeeding is giving away yarn. I've either used up or given away most of my 'bulky yarn' drawer, and some of the worsted weight drawer. The sock and DK drawers are still full, and the bins of 'project' yarns are still very full. I've got plans, but no spirit.
What's next?

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Don't Know What To Say

I am so upset about a big project. I want to swear like a sailor but that's not my style, nor do I think it's really necessary in a knitting blog. I want to not finish the project and never knit again. Or until tomorrow. Which ever comes first.

I'm not posting pictures because it's just sickening to look at and I don't think pictures would really show the problem.

I wrote about my problems with knitting on my cruise. Let's back up even more. Last February, we were at my parents to celebrate my mom's birthday and the new Ontario holiday "Family Day". My mom was clearing out stuff, and found a lacey sweater her sister had made for her a long time ago--the sister I wrote about in the last post, my Auntie Pat. It didn't' fit anymore, and was rather dated looking, but Mom loved the colour and the look, so I took it and started ripping it apart, right there and then. It's a sagey, heathery green acrylic, and doesn't feel bad at all for being 20+ years old! I knew exactly what I wanted to knit. A top down raglan in lace. I picked a lace from one of my stitch dictionaries and got to it. I had a few rough starts....math problems, brain problems, etc. I wasn't happy. I purchased a download pattern from a big name Chicago designer, but it turned out to not be top down.

Then, IT was unveiled. THE must-have knit sweater/pattern of the year. I'm not going to post the name, because I don't want any snooping. But, I'm sure you're familiar with it; released in early June, based upon a popular baby sweater.....The name just happens to correspond with the name of the month of my Mom's birthday....Perfect! I got started right away. It moved along quickly, although by the fall I was worried about how much yarn I had left (that was the purpose of doing top-down). I had my Mom close her eyes and try it on at Thanksgiving. As expected, it would be too short. We decided to add a second colour. She peeked while taking it off and said she liked the pattern.

I found some more worsted weight yarn that had the same heathery feel, at Wal-Mart, but didn't get started. I figured that the mile of garter stitch would be perfect for the plane ride down to Miami....but we know how that turned out. After doing the first repeat of the pattern, I put the sleeve sts onto waste yarn to hold them for the sleeves. All I had with me was a fine cord I usually use on the knitting machine for ravel cord (it's like #10 crochet thread). Not great, but I used it anyway, and cast on for the underarm sts. And knitted away.

Knitted 14 inches away. On and on. Thought it was long enough, measure, it hadn't grown....finally, I put the body sts on waste yarn and went back to the sleeves. I was excited about being able to do both at once on one circular. The cord had pulled out of some of the sts on one sleeve, so I first tried to thread it back through before trying to get a knitting needle though. That was fine. But when I stretched it out to look/admire it, something was wrong. There appeared to be a twist in the 6 rows of the body that were on the cord. I put the body through the loop one way....then the other way...back again.....I ran my fingers along the cast on edge (which was the 'last' row of the garter st yoke that I hadn't knitted yet) and tried to straighten it out. Nothing worked. There is a twist. There is about 6 rows of 56 stitches, attached at either end to 15" of 184 sts.

Think of a tank top, but the straps have fallen off your shoulder. One of those straps has a twist in it. You could pick out those sts holding it together and untwist it. But not in this case as it's all knitted as one piece. I can't cut it, untwist it, and steek it because there aren't extra sts knitted to compensate/tack down, and it's not wool.

Here's my plan. I will twist it to get rid of the twist. I will align the twist at the back raglan 'seam' line. I will unpick the 282-16 (band sts) stitches of the cast on row (would have preferred to do a provisional cast on anyway) to reduce the bulk slightly. That leaves one garter stitch ridge and 4 pattern rows, I think, to be in this twist. I think the lumpy nature of the pattern and the heathery nature of the yarn will hide it. If not, my mother will have instructions to grow her hair. Long.


Friday, January 09, 2009


When I was in grade 3, 1981, my favourite aunt, "Auntie Pat", acquired sheep. Actually, she may have acquired them before then, but the first lambs were to come that March Break (or Easter?). My brother and I often stayed with my aunt and uncle and cousin, but missed the first lambing. I do have photo evidence (notice the poncho I am wearing--handknit by someone; wish I knew who; and my cousin had one too in different colours): I don't know when Auntie Pat started to knit. Her mother, and mother-in-law both knitted. I do know that my aunt knitted with acrylic....I have a picture of me in a green sweater she knit, she made my mom a lacey green top, and there's this adorable red and white outfit for my little brother (click to make bigger, than back arrow to get back here):

It was coveralls, and there was a matching cardigan. He was adorable, but even more so because the only shirt my mother could find for him to wear underneath was a Strawberry Shortcake top with reddish pink stitching around the cuffs/collar and Strawberry Shortcake hiding behind the bib of the overalls :) The lower picture is my Auntie Pat, in her kitchen by the big wood cookstove, bottle feeding a lamb. These pictures were taken March 1986.
I have many memories of being at my cousin's 'farm' and helping with the sheep and learning how to card fleece, and hunting for moss and other plants for dyeing. I never managed to spin, but I did find in my stash a small ball of handspun yarn that I think I might have made. Auntie Pat sat for hours, spinning wool. She did just about everything with those sheep---the farm chores, research, breeding, all the fleece prep, etc. I don't know if she did the shearing, and if I remember, she wasn't allowed to drive the tractor after a little 'incident'. Everywhere we went, Auntie Pat had her knitting. And we went lots of places---if I recall, sometimes even with a sheep in the back seat once. She was involved in judging at fairs, and sometimes my cousin and I would have the delightful job of washing a sheep with Ivory Snow in the back yard. I even got to show a few times; once I participated in a day long contest at the "big" sheep show "Sheep Focus" where you get paired with someone and the two of you clean and trim the sheep and then show it. My partner was from Kincardine; a few years ago when I was in the Guelph concert band I carpooled from here with a student from Kincardine, but I couldn't remember the girl's name (and we had been penpals for a bit).

When my aunt gets into something, she really gets into it. I don't know how many sheep she ended up having, but it was a long way from the six half-breeds in the chicken coop! And then it stopped and she was on to breeding dogs--now award-winning, calendar-posing, fabulous Golden Retrievers.
This past December, my aunt turned 60. My cousin planned a surprise party, and although I knew that our presence was gift enough, I wanted to do more. One thing my aunt knit by the dozens was beautiful thrummed mittens. She even sold them to people my uncle worked with/for, and saw on business trips. Her's were usually done with natural yarns, naturally dyed colours, and with Fair Isle patterns built around the thrummed stitches. I decided I would purchase a thrummed mitten kit, from my local yarn shop. I had an appointment in Brampton early one morning, and took Meg. She was asleep on the way back, so I decided to go up to Camilla, knowing that the road would be bad. It was 3.6km of pure, utter, sheer fright. But my aunt is a fearless woman, and for her, I would do this, 100m at a time, at 35km/hour. Oh, was I scared! I chose a kit and headed back home, and wound it up that afternoon.
I picked this colour because my cousin said my aunt had a brown coat and a turquoise coat. What I didn't realize until opening it up, is that the yarn is an almost solid dark teal, and the roving is what changes colours.

Thanks to Ravelry, I opted to not use the mitten instructions from Fleece Artist, and used my regular pattern (although I wonder if I knit the next size up, or used larger needles? The yarn is listed as Aran, but the pattern called for 3.5mm I think; my pattern uses worsted and calls for 4mm!). I relied on the Yarn Harlot's instructions for placing the thrums. The roving had a natural divide up it's length, so I pulled from one half of the width, for the first mitten, and made the second to match with the remaining part of the roving.
The inside is a hoot!I really wish I had learned the two at once on one circular to do these! I practiced monogamous knitting for a change, and had the pair cranked out with DAYS to spare before the party!!!

I added a secret feature---a little 'buttonhole' for the index finger to pop out when you need it. I cast off 3 sts and then on the next round, cast 4 sts back on, then on the next round, dec. 1 st over that cast on. The thick fleece inside keeps the hole almost shut when all fingers are inside.
I was very excited to give these to my aunt. They might just appear to be a simple pair of mittens, perhaps with the added flair of the thrums, but to me, and I hope her, they have a deeper historical significance.
While at my mom's over Christmas, she gave me a box of knitting booklets and patterns that had been my aunt's mother-in-law's. Among it all was a stack of the Paton's mitt pattern I use, and a pattern for 'fleeced mittens', as well as notes on sheep husbandry, dyeing yarns, and other sheepy things which I assume was my aunts as her MIL lived in a town, LOL. I have memories of my cousin asking her grandma for something knitted, and it appearing the next week. Some of the booklets are old, and I imagine my uncle wearing the items, LOL. I had some of the booklets already, but from unknown sources---it is awesome to have some connection to them now. I don't know much about knitting in my family from a historical perspective, but I'm so thrilled to be able to make even these small connections!
How is it that on my other blog, you can click on pictures to make them bigger, but I can't seem to do that with this post?