Friday, May 27, 2011

The More I Stay the Same

I suspect a little indirect Harlot influence.  I should probably explain, apologetically, that as a general rule, if a pattern is written about on the Yarn Harlot, it's not something I would ever want to knit. In all the years I've been reading, I don't think I've ever looked at one of her projects and thought, "Eureka! That's it!"   My response is more likely to be, "Well.  Isn't that - interesting."  All those socks.

This is not as heretical as it seems. What she does for me (besides delight, entertain and make me really, really happy that there are bloggers out there capable of writing good prose) is inspire me.  I may be underwhelmed by the particular project, but will look with new eyes at the type of project. This is what I think happened with her latest foray into lace.  I may have refused the to succumb to the herd instinct and knit Damask, but I found myself queuing up or downloading an awful lot of lace shawl and shawlette patterns.  Like Rosalynde.  And the Annis Shawl from Knitty. And the Weekend Shawl. And Seven Small Shawls by Designs by Romi. I may, perhaps, have been getting a little obsessive.

I showed these to my daughter.  She looked at me like I had two heads. I didn't let that stop me.

Then I saw an ad on Ravelry for the Soleil Shawlette by Phydeaux Designs, it can only be had as a kit with one skein of the appropriate yarn from Sunshine Yarns (scroll down about halfway, there's one posted with a dark blue yarn). I think perhaps it was that Siren Song, the one about the rare and not so easy to obtain, the one with the chorus about color and hand (silk and cashmere), the one with the harmony of greed and acquisitiveness, that did me in.  Not only did I buy the kit, I bought the only other available skein of their Cashmere Silk 2-Ply  in Night Walk.

If you thought the Princess was a little bemused before, you should have seen her face when my package arrived. I believe her comment was slightly less blunt than, "But you don't knit lace," or "Have you completely lost your mind?"  but not by much.

Truth be told, once I looked at the twisted drop stitches --they look like rays from a rising sun (hence, no doubt, Soleil) -- I found my ardor for that particular pattern cooling.  One might say it plummeted to temperatures not unlike Antarctica in July. I know I had all those other patterns, but I remembered one I hadn't acquired.  "Cladonia," I thought, "Cladonia could work."  All that nice stockinette. The demi-lune rather than the triangular shape.  Just a lace border.  That could work. That could be worth it.

Except, of course, I had the second skein of yarn.  Why this should be a deal breaker for Cladonia when I obviously had no issues with Soleil, I can't explain. We'll just go all Oscar Wilde-ean Oliver Wendall Holmesian* and say I refused to allow a foolish consistency to be the hob-goblin of my little mind.

I kept rifling my Ravelry queue. I pulled the shawl and stole books off my shelves. I flipped through pattern leaflets and stitch dictionaries. I cruised the Internet. Most of this done while my family was not around to stage an intervention. I started knitting yesterday.

It's Melody's Shawl from Morehouse Merino (kit, which I did not buy, here, pattern, which I did, here - scroll down.)  It's thousands and thousands (880 yards worth to be precise) of stockinette stitches in the round.  While it is lace-weight, the pattern has no need for a chart. No row-by-row knitting instructions. Nary a yarn-over or K2tog in sight. 

The more I think I'm capable of change, the more my daughter has the opportunity to laugh out loud. It's good to have a purpose in life.

*Edited to  add: Diane H is right.  I only know two quotes on the subject. That one is from the great Supreme Court Justice.  Wilde's quote on consistency is that it "is the last refuge of the unimaginative." 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


One of the things I love about knitting is its infinite variety.  Like Shakespeare's Cleopatra, age cannot wither nor custom stale it.  No matter how tired I am, how stressed, how sometimes overwhelmed with all the littleness-es it sometimes takes to make life work, knitting is a refuge. Even if I can't get to it, I find comfort in knowing it's there and hope in that knowledge.

Enough of philosophy, because that infinite variety can also come back to bite you if what you (a tight knitter) are trying to replicate is the work of another (self-described "very loose") knitter.  The present object of my ire is the Embellished Squares Afghan.  That bit where I ran out of yarn is the first repeat of the final pattern section.  Now I only have two more repeats in the main color, then about 12 ridges worth of garter stitch border. According to the pattern, I will then have something that will measure 44" unblocked, 50" if when I block it. 

Now, I freely admit, this pattern is stretchy.  Further, neither Spudsayshi nor I have any idea of how our gauges compare - except for that assumption I'm making about her loose and my tight knitting.  I've taken steps. I've upped two needle sizes to, I hope, bring my gauge up to a reasonable facsimile of hers.  I like the look of the fabric - it suits the yarn, the needles and the pattern. Yet I cannot see how what I've got is comparable in size to what is pictured on the pattern page.  I think I'm going to end up with a very heavy, very dark knitted doily.  Too big for a wash cloth, too holey for a trivet, and much, much too small for a blanket.

Yes, I am aware that the nature of a square blanket knit in the round is that it increases by 8 stitches every other row.  I'm further aware that, for this particular blanket, each section is 12 rows wider (3 repeats, additional 4 rows per repeat). That means it's increasing at merely an arithmetical rate, though, not at a geometric one.  The deep, dark question looming ever larger in my mind is: will it grow enough? Or will I have to get clever and gerry-rig the pattern to accommodate my inability to meet the standard?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Not Horseshoes

So close.  I was so close. All I had to do was get to that last stitch-marker.

I swear, I knit faster and faster.

But the yarn won.

So close.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Waiting for Blue Skies

If you've ever read the Betsy-Tacy stories by Maud Hart Lovelace, you know that the Ray family was dedicated to their traditions. Sunday Night Lunch, where Mr. Ray does the cooking, comes to mind, as does scrambling around in the dark to fill each other's Christmas stockings.  When any member of the Ray family travelled, they brought home souvenirs to the poor benighted souls left behind (remember how Betsy meets Joe at the Willard's store? Good things come from souvenir buying.).

The Princess went to San Diego in March.  The the Pirate, the Lord Protector and Their Father got t-shirts.  I got yarn.

This is Crystal Palace Mochi Plus in 554/Fern Rainbow.  I note that Crystal Palace is based in California, so my souvenir also adheres to the buy-local-products-for-souvenirs-otherwise-what's-the-point rule.

Something happens to me in late winter.  I need to herald Spring.  I need to know that someday, April will come "like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers,"*  In a word (or six) I need to knit something green.   The need was exacerbated this year by the eternal, cold, wet, greyness. The Princess, apparently mindful of this odd seasonal mindset of mine, provided. 

The object is the Scalloped Soft Coral Scarf (it's free!) from the Crystal Palace website. It was fast.  It was fun. It's not very big. A clear case of the pay-off that can be had by using a pattern designed for the yarn.

Let's admit right here that I did not swatch.  This is an extremely soft, slightly fuzzy, single ply merino-nylon mix.  I didn't think it would take well to frogging and I only had three skeins. I just decided to go up a needle size (how many times do I have to admit I'm a tight knitter?).  This may or may not have been the cause of the one glitch I ran into. I ran out of yarn.  At step 11, the pattern says to knit 6 rows of garter stitch.  The yarn was running short so I stopped at 5 and still didn't have enough to bind-off.  This was during that whole looking for a happy ending period, so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. All in all, I decided it was fortuitous, though, since the scarf starts with 4 rows of garter stitch and this way the two sides match.

I now have one skein left, and am thinking of revisiting the fingerless mitts from Weekend Knitting. That, and buying more Mochi Plus and knitting another scarf or several.  I could see this in 557/Autumn Rainbow.  Or maybe 566/Feldspar.  And maybe 607/Storm Clouds.

I don't know if knitting something green in March actually helped bring Spring to the Midwest.  It's been unseasonably warm the past few days, but still intermittently grey, and the forecast calls for falling temperatures while the greyness stays. Maybe I won't knit the next scarf in 607/Storm Clouds, after all.  Maybe 572/Jenny Lake would be a better choice.

* "Spring," by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Actually a quite terribly sad poem, but I love the line.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Whereof Reason Knows Nothing*

Well, while others try to track down the poem from last post (yeah, good luck with that), I'll  take you all back in time to the Green Shawl.  When I last posted about it, I was debating which yarn/s to use for the border.

I made a decision. I went with the pale green and a narrow inner border in black.

I didn't like it pretty much from the get-go, but apparently had an out-of body experience.  Or maybe I was posessed by aliens.  Whichever it was, it was enough to make me knit on beyond sense, common or otherwise.  I fell victim to  one  a series a whole slew an onslaught of  knitterly delusion, where you think if you just keep knitting it will all come out all right. It didn't.

Rather than face the music, I buried the whole thing deep deep.  Maybe I thought marinating it would improve things. It hasn't. I regret the green.  Even more, I regret the black. I wish I had gone with the brown.

The problem right now is I just can't bear to frog it.  Which is another example of the completely illogical workings of my mind.  I have the brown yarn. If I rip back the green and black borders, I'll still have the main body of the shawl done.  Ripping and reknitting would be a much quicker route to a finished object than starting something new.

I need to stage an intervention, but until then here I am, knitting away with red.

*Blaise Pascal.