Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Just Walk Away

Do you know the fairy tale, The Red Shoes? It's the one where the little girl buys red shoes that compel her to dance, will she, nil she. No matter what, once the red shoes are on her feet, it seems her feet have a mind of their own. Rather grim, really.

It's been like that with the green shawl. It's not working. I know it's not working, Yet I keep adding to it. The rose turned it into the Baby Bop shawl? I'll add a set of blue stripes. The green fought with the blue, bruised it, and brought out purple overtones (don't anyone dare say "Barney," here)? I'll add a set of yellow stripes. No matter how many times a seeming inspiration strikes and then falls over gasping pathetically, I keep knitting.

It's undeniable. The green yarn doesn't play well with others. It's a prima donna. A soloist, not an ensemble member. An isolationist, not an ally.

Then again, maybe if I add some red.

Why do I feel that, like a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, this isn't going to end well?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Object is to Go Home"

"And be safe."

I hope you're safe at home, too. Thank you Mr. Carlin.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Subject Change.

No, it's not going well and no, I don't want to talk about it (the sooner one of you charts a triangle the better). Diane sent me an email about the latest Afghan for Afghans initiative. Mason-Dixon blogged about it. I need to escape from Cableland. That's what I call a fortuitous concatenation of events (I've been doing my "Free Rice." Can you tell?).

You can get the details from Afghans for Afghans, but the short version is, they want rectangular shawls, 20 to 24 inches wide, 60 to 80 inches long, not open-work, and they want them (probably) by mid to late July. Somewhere along the way, I read that green is a good color in Afghanistan. I ordered my yarn from Eat. Sleep. Knit. (More points for my Yarn Marathon. I'm in 38th place.)

It's Unique Sheep Super Wool in Evergreen.

I thought I was all set. A nice rectangular stockinette shawl, I thought. One with a nice seed stitch border (I'm quite liking the look of the border on the cable project that we're not mentioning today). It will be prime movie-night knitting, I thought. I could watch any number of High Adventure Boy Movies and not miss a yarn over.

Except then there's me and green. This has never been a good combination. I got bored. I decided that colorful would be better, or at least more endurable. Clare recommended rose. When none of the five shades of pink yarn that turned up when I tossed the stash was deemed acceptable, I took advantage of Tricia's Yarn Harlot sale and went down (through road repair on Cicero Avenue, I might add) in search of rose. If you were me, wouldn't you have been happy with this?

Dale of Norway Tiur in 4425.

Yes, the shawl is still a little dull. Nevertheless, I fully intended to persevere until Clare commented that it was a good thing it was going to Afghanistan.

"Why?" I wondered. She responded, "Baby Bop."

Subject change.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Experiential Learning

Experience 1.

Barbara Walker's closed ring cables require an odd number of stitches between cables. Had I been paying closer attention when I knit the first blue bit, I might have noticed this. As it was I didn't, so I charted mine out with an even number, 4 to be precise. This brought actual knitting to a screeching halt when I tried to knit the first row of stitches in the cable. Let me introduce chart 2.

Lesson learned: No battle plan survives the first encounter with the enemy.

Experience 2.

Just because the small closed ring cable (that's the one made with a 2-stitch cable from the Third Treasury) calls for 13 stitches, that doesn't mean you can start the cable once you've got 13 working stitches. If your triangle is going to travel across your knitting at a rate of roughly 3 stitches per row, and your knitting is only increasing 1 stitch per row, you're going to run out of stitches.

Lesson learned: It may not survive the second encounter, either. Note that I did not, however, need to be told a second time to swatch in wool.

Are you sure none of you have done this already? I'm perfectly willing to indulge in a more didactic learning experience.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Off the Deep End

I don't own either of the books Jess recommended. My local bookstore didn't have them in stock. So.

I guess now I have to try to knit from this.

I'm a little nervous. Make that absolutely wild-eyed. Very nearly spitless. I have no idea if I've been consistent in my notation. I'm clueless about that elongated bit (the part where the notation descends into question marks). I take some reassurance from the fact that Barbara Walker has a symbol for taking a two stitch cable across 3 stitches, but I wonder if it will actually work. I'm not even sure I will remember what I was trying to do when I get there, wherever "there" ends up being. Vertigo at apogee.

Clare suggests a nice, sturdy wool.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Ambitious Knitters Want to Know

No, really. No one has charted a cable that looks like this? Or rather, one quarter of this. I especially want the pattern for the sideways parts. Wouldn't they be perfect for the blue bits?

Okay, what about this one? Of course, you'd have to tip it.

No? Not one?

Anyone want to?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Separated by a Common Language

For the past nine months I've been taking English Lessons.

Gas is petrol.
The exit sign says "Way Out."
A trunk is a boot.
A truck is a lorry.
Tea is not just to drink.
A cookie is a biscuit.
A muffin is a teacake (I think).
A camper is a caravan.
"Watch your step" is "mind the gap."
A bake sale is a cake stall.
The mail is the post.
Cots are camp beds.
The railroad is the railway.
Fries are chips and chips are crisps.
Dessert is pudding, unless dessert is fruit(?).
Lunch is dinner and dinner is supper.
Moms with strollers are mums with pushchairs.
A drug store is a chemist.
Then there's pyjama, honour, colour, sympathise, realise.
Worsted originated in Worstead, Norfolk.

Clare comes home tomorrow.

Here I thought labo(u)r was finite.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Blue Bit

I'm having reservations. It's the blue triangle that's not a triangle. I knew, in the higher level, intellectual sense, that the triangles were knit at a 90 degree angle to the rest of the blanket. I told myself this was okay. Sleeves are knit at 90 degree angles to the body of a sweater and they work. Looking at the photos, I could see there was some distortion, but I thought I would be okay with it, that it would add to the charm and uniqueness of the whole project.

Now? I'm not so sure.

I'm thinking, if I could find a triangle-shaped cable, I could just use the instructions for the increases from the white parts, carry them up to the apex of the triangle and then follow the decrease instructions down the other side. Then all the knitting would line up and maybe, perhaps, the overall silhouette wouldn't look so - distorted. Maybe, perhaps, the piece would be triangular instead of trumpet-shaped.

Then there's the recurring memory I have of Clare telling me to avoid any plans that include the words, "I'll just." Still, maybe I'll swing by Chix With Stix for an extra skein of Blue Sky Dyed Organic Cotton in Sky. Just, you know, for practice (note how the two words don't occur in the same sentence).

Anyone have a source for a triangular cable?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Not Rational at All. Really.

You may have noticed that posts were a bit thin on the ground last week. That would be because I couldn't knit anything right.

My latest Barn Raising Quilt square? No matter how many times or how far back I ripped and re-knit and ripped and re-knit, I ended up two stitches over on one side. I'm still not sure if I kept making the same mistake at the same place over and over or kept failing to rip back far enough. Final score? Down by 12. I'm left with 25 stitches per side from 37 out of 43, so I thought I was close (just to add to the indignity).

If the color wasn't so beautiful. I suspect I would have tossed this, far and violently.

My victory dance over the green cable panel for the Altered Blessingway Blanket? Premature.

Why am I having such difficulty with a lousy 3 stitch seed stitch border? Right now I'm trying to persuade myself it's an opportunity to see if I'm happier adding a new convolution to my already twisted attempt to make the ends match. Instead of leaving the decreases as paired k2tog (the substitution I made for the ssk or p2tog/k2tog pairing the pattern called for), now I can see if I like it better as k2tog/ssk.

Somehow, these demonstrations of my complete lack of knitting virtuosity led me to the corner motifs for the Blessingway Blanket. No I don't know what I was thinking. In fact, I cannot say I was thinking, at all. I question whether applied intelligence, or even sense, was involved.

While hoping for miracles from blocking (those long stretches of cable are decidedly wonky), I have serious doubts about my ability to transform this into a corner, with its implicit 90 degree angle. Still, one down.

Of course, that means one to go, doesn't it.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Not as Fed Up as I Thought I Was

The green panel is done.

I apparently did something wrong at the very beginning, so when I came to the final shaping instructions, the ends didn't match. And they kept on not matching. They didn't match several times last night. They didn't match again this morning. My chart and my book are all marked up with some of what I tried. The rest of what I tried was strictly seat of my pants knitting. Wing and a prayer knitting. Hail Mary pass knitting. Mostly it involved changing pattern p2tog's and ssk's for k2tog's (there must be something very wrong with the way I do ssk, even when I think I'm doing them right).

I'm still not actually happy with it. I'm thinking I should have switched the pattern k2tog's for ssk's but I don't think I can bear to rip it out again. I mentioned the possibility to Himself and he looked at me like I had sprouted a second head. He thinks the ends match. I've decided it's his call. The green panel is done.

Now I have a decision to make. Have I earned a respite and can I go knit the easy panels with a clear conscience? Or should I suck it up, tackle the corner motifs and then allow myself to slide into simplicity?

I'm leaning to get the hard over with and call it done like the Cubs in mid-season, (Don't start. I grew up on the West Side. I'm a Cub's fan. One sunny June afternoon I sat through 17 innings to watch them lose. I am grounded in reality). After all. I am now the proud possessor of Melissa Leapman's Cables Untangled. She has a diagram of a double increase in knit that I should be able to apply to my nemesis, the double increase in purl. Between that and the Knitsmith's photographs (thank you, thank you, thank you), surely I can get it right this time?

Meanwhile, in my head I've been preparing a rant. An anti-cable rant. I thought cables were going the way of two color knitting and lace. You can show me Fair Isle till the cows come home, waft lace in front of me from sunup to sundown. I am unmoved. Bohus knitting? Could care less. Clapotis? Wedding Ring shawl? Nope. The only exceptions are the Bubbly Lace curtain and the Rovaniemi mitts. Otherwise, I wouldn't touch either type with tongs.

So as I cursed and wrestled my way through this panel, it was with the assumption that I would finish this piece, get the remaining panels out of the way (strictly as an exercise in discipline and promises kept; I had no thought of pleasure in the project), and shake the dust of cables from my shoes.

I am, therefore, somewhat discomfited to realise that in looking at the Kaya Aran Shrug (it's free) over at Crystal Palace/ (and you, oh Kelly Green Rogue, are so to blame for posting it to your Ravelry queue), I'm intrigued. To my further bemusement, on a final art supply project run to Michael's for John, I came home with this.

It has cabled dishcloths, and that's why I bought it.

It turns out the end of my rope is farther away than I thought it was. Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised. After all, what's a synonym for rope?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I Can Knit For Miles and Miles

I can knit for miles and miles. (I finished the repeat.)

I can knit for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles. (I don't have to use this chart ANYMORE.)

You can sing along if you want. (Think The Who, or that Honda commercial)