Monday, August 30, 2010

Two Weeks

So now I'm more or less up to date on the knitting front, I feel free to admit that the high point of the summer -- pause for dramatic effect -- has not, in point of fact, been knitting. It's been Our Company.

There was the getting ready of course, a summer's worth of it, but rather than go into that in exhausted exhaustive detail, let me, like Inigo, "sum up." First, the 3 deep 6 high incursion of storage boxes that has dominated my dining room since Last October(!) has been reduced to 3 boxes of recycling and 6 boxes of shred-first-then-recycling (All right, so the wall in my bedroom is now home to a 6 x7 row, but it's just a single row. There may be a few odd ones tucked stacked into corners). Secondly, we discovered the source of our chronic hanger shortage - they were nesting in the back corner of the Boys' Closet, unbeknownst to us because we haven't been able to get much beyond a foot on either side of the closet door for years. Let it suffice to add that the lists were impressive, and that we managed to get everything done and crossed off except for the two items at the top of List #2 that we could never decipher.

This is supposed to be a (mostly) knitting blog, so let me focus on that a little. There was Stitches Midwest, of course, but I'll save that for later. She knit and finished one project while she was with us, which means she pretty much knit every day she was here. She has a good start on her top-down model sweater from the Stitches class she and The Princess took. She may not be leaving us as a knitting convert -- I'm pretty sure she thinks we're a little mad, albeit in a nice way -- but that triumph of finishing a first knitted object is a pretty powerful thing.

So now it's the last day of Our Company. The word that comes to mind is "delight." The Princess, the Lord Protector and Their Father all approved her long ago. It was only two weeks, yet she slipped into our lives like she had a place waiting for her, a spot that was empty that we hadn't known about until it was filled. And yes, I know she's leaving today, but her place will remain intact, occupied.

Last night, she asked if she was a knitter now. We said that was for her to say. But we gave her knitting needles and a project bag for a going away gift.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Disturbance in the Space/Time Continuum

That's the only possible explanation for the lack of blogging going on here. I've got three, count 'em, THREE more posts, all written over the past few weeks, waiting for photos. I'm going to finish them up today and publish them all in one fell swoop. I never do that -- I always post on the same day I write -- but drastic times call for drastic measures. I think I'll even leave them with their original dates. They'll pop up periodically today as I finish them. Anyway, you've been warned.

Just to keep you interested, here's a photo of my souvenirs from Nashville. All from Bliss Yarns.

The clever little bag is a small (because they come in various sizes) Knitsack, local produce from the very talented Erin Lane (it says "tink" on the back). That bigger skein of yarn is blue-faced Leicester fingering/sock, also local produce by Jan Quarles at Daily Fibers (couldn't find a website), colorway #9498. The pretty stitch-markers are even more local produce by the also very talented Tactile Design and Press. I tell you, those Tennessee women are a talented lot.

The smaller skeins of yarn are my very first Koigu, bought with a someday second Barn-Raising Quilt in mind - which at the time I thought might have to happen sooner rather than later because I crashed face-first into a Serious Dye Lot Issue with the Claudia Handpainted Walk In The Woods. That's a story with a happy ending, though, and it involves Stitches, so I'll save it for later.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Presto Chango

I have been avoiding the decision for way too long, but last night I had the amazing good fortune to be surrounded by a team of young realists. That would be the Princess and her regal counterparts, the Eldest Niece and the Visiting Royalty. The result of our deliberations is that the Oldest Nephew's sweater has to go.

I may have paled at this news. Even gone a little green about the gills. Done some deep, sorrowful and heartfelt sighing. All that frogging. All that yarn reclamation. All that knitting to do again. Not that I mind the knitting. It's the starting from nothing all over that gets me.

Honestly, though, these young women are Thinkers. I'd really like to believe it was me (age and guile), but I'm pretty sure it was their (youth and skill) idea that I do the starting over part before I do the ripping out part. As they pointed out, I have many skeins of the yarn left un-knit. There is no reason why I couldn't cast on with one of the remaining skeins before I actually rip and reclaim. Kind of like knitting two sleeves or two socks at the same time, or the front and the back of a flat knit sweater.

I find myself irrationally cheered by this. It doesn't change anything. The sweater is wrong and will have to be knit over. I find myself taking great solace, though, from knowing I won't be at ground zero when I rip out what is now the largest swatch I have ever made.

As a sort of bonus, I think I can say that I'm pretty confident of my gauge now. Despite my concerns that the knitting was too loose, the fabric of the blocked no-longer-a-sweater looks good. This means I have a 12 inch, 242 stitch swatch - a pretty impressive sample on which to base my gauge. Admittedly I had to recalculate all my percentages a la Elizabeth Zimmermann. What's art without a little angst?

So, in an astounding feat of prestidigitation, albeit not of the "now you see it, now you don't" variety, behold the New Sweater.

That's 2 inches of 2 x 2 ribbing using the new, improved gauge swatch.

Snap. I just realised that I'll have to re-knit the sleeves from point zero as well; no saving the ribbing because 1/3 of 232 is not the same as 1/3 of 242. Good thing The Oldest Nephew's birthday isn't until November (and that there's always Christmas when I blow that deadline).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Three R's Redux

Um. Yeah. About those gauge issues I mentioned last time. Once I measured the gauge for the sleeves, I took a good look at the body of the sweater. I've been dogged by a vague unease while knitting this project, a sense as I'm knitting of the general looseness of the fabric, a growing suspicion that the loops I'm knitting into feel awfully not-so-tight as they should. I've been ignoring this, because I planned the whole sweater to adjust for the change in my gauge, for going from a flat swatch to an in the round garment. As long as I had the tape measure out, I decided to check.

Everybody knows that knitters purl looser than they knit. This is like the given in a geometric proof, right? Like all triangles have three sides or the sum of the angles in a parallelogram will equal 360 degrees or that Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter. It's the fixed star in the night sky of knitting. Therefore, if one is going to knit in the round, one's gauge will be tighter.

Not this one's. The body of the sweater measured 46 inches instead of 44.

The Oldest Nephew is not stocky. The Oldest Nephew is not scrawny, either, but he is lean. The decision to knit a sweater with 4 inches of ease was made, in part, to accommodate the incontrovertible fact that the actual sweater would knit up at a tighter gauge. The expectation was that the sweater would eventually measure closer to 42 or 43 inches, not a whopping 46.

In a last ditch attempt to cling to my delusion, I decided to block what I had. Rumor had it that Rowan yarn initially stretches out and then pulls in. Rumor didn't prepare me for the sweater stretching out to 50 inches. It didn't lie, either, because once dry the sweater measured less, just not enough less - 46.5 inches to be precise, which is still Way Too Big.

Apologies to the Oldest Nephew. He'll have to go off to Grad School gray sweater-less. This time the Three R's stand for Rip, Reclaim, Re-knit. Or maybe Rail (as at the heavens), Rend, beRate.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Three R's

One would think, on an 8 hour drive, that serious knitting would happen. One would expect results. One might, and not entirely unreasonably, expect to show significant progress. So not the case on this Nashville trip.

In part, that's because I did more driving than I expected. I'm not sure if it's that Their Father likes to drive more than he thinks he does, or if he thinks I hate driving more than I do, but as a general rule, once he gets behind the wheel, there's no dislodging him. I anticipated miles of Grey Sweater Knitting for The Oldest Nephew. That's miles of yarn, not miles of road. I did knit for miles of road, just not as many miles as I expected. Factor in the late start thing, so we drove more in the dark on roads that accommodate non-glacier-modified land forms (those caves in Kentucky? They're under hills. Big honking hills. Did you know?), and, well, on-the-road knitting just didn't happen.

The knitting at the conference? Not so much. Jinxed by a sliver of wood that caught the sweater about 3 inches down and sliced through 2 strands of the yarn - enough to make me feel I had to go back and splice. The sweater got traded in for blanket squares.

Once back home, I dealt with that repair (thank you spit-splicing gods)and, still in that delusional place where I would get the sweater done in days, started the sleeves. Then noticed they looked awfully wide for their length.

Through some mysterious concatenation of knitting circumstances, and despite the huge gauge swatch and previous sleeve-in-the-round experience with the Lord Protector's sweater, my gauge on the sleeves is horrendously off, almost a full stitch. I now have a second huge swatch, this one to determine which size wooden DPN's will render a sleeve that is in proportion to the body of the sweater.

The Three R's? They would be Repair, Remeasure, Recalculate.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Off the Road Again

We're back. Nashville was hilly and beautiful.

The view from the back porch.

And sad and historical.

Stone's River Civil War National Battle Site (A.K.A. Murfreesboro to us Yankees).

And surprising.

An exact replica of the Parthenon, built for Tennessee's Centennial in 1897.

And even more historical.

The Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson, A.K.A. Old Hickory. Which nick-name he bequeathed to a confusing number of streets in Nashville and its environs (or maybe it's really one multi-directional street).

So you see, I haven't been neglectful. I've been Travelling. Circumstances combined to send us off to Nashville at the end of July (I know, who goes south in July? It hadn't been hot enough here and we needed to suffer heat more intensely?) It was wonderful. Even The Lord Protector said he'd go again.

And wait 'til you see my souvenirs.