Thursday, August 29, 2013

There's Always Room for More

When one is most determinedly not yarn-buying, one needs to get one's fix somehow.  Ravelry helps.  One can locate patterns to knit some of that beautiful yarn one has accummulated almost obsessively over the years (which is why one is not yarn-buying, after all).  Marketing emails from semi-local yarn stores are even better, although more insidious. I know whereof I speak.  One of my favorite shops knocked me right off the wagon.

String Theory sent an email about perfect July 4 knitting.  She described it as "portable, mindless and impressive since I'll be knitting in public." Yes!  Exactly. The project she chose was the Inspira Cowl.  I bought the pattern last August, almost a year ago.  What I don't have is a huge stash of self-striping worsted weight yarn. You do see where this is going?

Knitting Inspira in the Classic Elite Liberty Print at the Fourth on 53rd Picnic fulfilled all my expectations about knitting in public.  It does indeed look impressive in progress:  yarn in both hands, stranding, colors emerging as if by magic from single skeins.  The reactions of the nieces attendant were particularly gratifying. They want one. All of them.  So does the Princess.  In fact, the Youngest Niece Present was all set to lay claim to the cowl in progress, based on the barely one-third I had knitted. (Sorry, YNP, the Princess tried it on when I resolved my bind-off issues - another post - and I don't think she's planning on releasing it.)

Except, poor me, I have very little love for self-striping yarns and so have very little in my stash.  I bought the Liberty Print especially to make the Mesa Rock Inspira.  Those two skeins or Noro Kureyon I'm using in the second, numerically-challenged cowl, which, unless claimed by one of said nieces, is intended for the local Christmas Bazaar, represented over half of my remaining self-striping yarn.  

That was then.  This is now.

In my defense, the Princess wanted a cowl big enough to pull over her head and still come down to her shoulders in the back.  That calls for extra yarn.

She chose Stained Glass for her main color with Cascade 220 Heather "Summer Sky" for her contrast.

The Eldest Niece chose Caribbean Tide with Malabrigo Twist in Teal Feather. 

I didn't have any Teal Feather Twist in my stash, either, so I had to buy a skein of that.

Well, what would you have done?
Special thanks to Wool and Company in St. Charles for coming to Stitches Midwest this year.  And to FiberWild for putting the Liberty Wool Print on sale this week. 

Oh. That Noro and the Liberty Wool Print in Cupcake, Cloudy Day and Tropical Sea?  I'm still working on those excuses.

Monday, August 26, 2013


or, "Is it a mistake or is it a design element?"

Under the influence of String Theory's e-newsletter, over the fourth of July weekend I started and (almost) finished this.

This is the Inspira Cowl.  The pattern has three variations: Mesa Rock for aran weight yarns, Steampunk for sock or fingering weight and Afrique for bulky.  I used Classic Elite Liberty Prints -- a worsted to light worsted weight --  in Brick Road and Cloudy Day and obediently went with the Mesa Rock variation, but cast on 160 stitches to compensate for my slightly thinner yarn. It was fun. Fast. Easy but engaging.  Until I got to the bind-off, but that's another story.

I decided to  make another one.

This one is Noro Kureyon in a mystery color (I have had this forever, I don't remember for what and the ball-bands have gone the way of stitch markers, tape dispensers at wrapping time, my good scissors and single socks).  The cream yarn is Jaeger Matchmaker that I bought as a bag lot lo, these many ages ago, when Flying Colors closed and was clearing out their stock.

Since yarn for this one is DK I decided to try the Steampunk version. Except I decided I had to compensate for the fact the DK is heavier than fingering yarn. 

This is where I demonstrate that a little learning is the road to good intentions. 

The Mesa Rock version is 2 x 2 rib, so you need to cast on a multiple of 4.  The Steampunk cowl is supposed to be 3 x 3 rib (more gear-like in the designer's mind?), so between that and the thinner yarn, I cast on 180 stitches.  Except 180 is also divisible by 4 and that's when it all went sliding down the razor blade of Math.  I merrily knit my corrugated rib in 2 x 2, not 3 x 3. The Mesa Rock version has you work a progression of repeats. Three sets of 9, followed by three sets of 7 and then three sets of 5.  Steampunk repeats 3 times too, but repeats sets of 12,6, 3, that is, 12,6,3 - 12,6,3 - 12,6,3 - 12.  I left my instructions stashed in my knitting bag and mindlessly knit two sets of 12, then pulled out the pattern and, while maintaining my original delusion, misread it further and did a set of 6 and a set of 3.

Now I had choices. Do a second set of 6, 3 and then go back into pattern for the final 12,6,3,12? Go for a mirror image thing, and do another 3 rows making the pattern 12,12, 6, 3,3, 6, 12, 12? Except then I'm short 9 rounds, so maybe I need 12, 12, 6,6, 3,3, 6, 6, 12, 12?  Which would leave me three rows over the pattern total and while I want to use up all this yarn that might be calling it dangerously close?

The designer says, "The most valuable lesson by far is to make your Inspira all your own. Modify it to your heart's content, & you will be better for it, Gentle Knitter." Which, it cannot be denied, I had done. I just wish I had taken her advice on purpose instead of as a math failure.

Is it a surprise that before the Princess and I left for Stitches Midwest, I frogged back to the middle of the second set of 12 rows?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Turn Around, Turn Around

I remember watching Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color when I was a little girl.  Kodak ran a commercial -- and let's tip our hats to Madison Avenue -- that I remember better than any of the actual shows.  It featured the Malvina Reynolds/Harry Belafonte song about "Where are you going my little one, little one..."  The point, of course, was to make sure we used Kodak film and cameras to capture those Kodak moments.

Since yesterday I keep singing in my head, "turn around and you're two, turn around and you're four, turn around and your a young man going out of my door."

The Lord Protector left for college this morning. Wasn't he just hip-high yesterday?
And then I turned around.