Yarn Surprise

The other day, DH approached me with a box of yarn in hand, prompting
me to retreat and utter some sailorly language.  The attentive
will note that this is not my expected reaction to yarn; certainly, it
was not what DH might have expected.

The problem was that it was a box that had been hiding in the basement
(no difficult feat, given the number of ignored boxes down
there).  It was a box full of remnants of yarns from projects gone
by — projects from 2 decades ago, and more.   Some of the
labels on these acrylic yarns were from department stores — back when
Zellers & Eaton’s had their own house brand of yarn!

I don’t feel I can throw it out — it is, after all Perfectly Good
Yarn.  It’s just not something I want to knit with
anymore.   And there isn’t really enough of any given
colour/weight to just give it away.  (I also have troubles with
the concept: “I’m done with this crap — I thought you might like 
it.”)

Really, the issue is that my current stash is already seriously
bursting out of its generous storage space (some 14 stacking plastic
filer drawers).  I don’t want more space to store yarn:  I
want to knit down the beautiful yarns I’ve already got in hand! 
So, in some sense, the reaction to the box was that it was like having
a box of “time you don’t have” waved under my nose.  Sigh. 
Knew that already.

I did go through the box and mostly filed away the bits and ends —
including the letter that accompanied the return of the project in
progress as the Sweater
Curse
kicked in.  Now, that
was a while ago…

Tweaked

Okay, so here is the revised pattern, instantiated in the new sock:

tweaked

The 2-knit-stitch welt is progressing properly; the stockinette panels
are oddly parallelogrammed, and the moss stitch is setting up in modest
diamond shapes… I think it mostly works.  I think the next time
I’ll keep the stockinette panels diamond-shaped, and let the moss
stitch run amok between the diamonds, to provide the textured
background.  Or, maybe there won’t be a next time.

Now that I’ve resolved this design difficulty, I’ve set these socks
aside until my next meeting/travel opportunity.  So, now I’m back
to my regular knitting projects, and I can’t say I’m feeling hugely
motivated.  I have 3 sweaters in progress, each of which will be
wonderful when finished, but it will take some slogging:

  • a black, mostly stockinette, cardigan.  Black. 
    Stockinette.  How else do you spell DULL?! (but it will be lovely
    when done)
  • the design colour-challenged sweater, that I mostly refuse to rip
    out
  • a crochet cardigan-of-many-colours

This last is the most engaging — my most engaging knit project is
crochet.  Sigh.  I’d like
to set up something more engaging as a project, but don’t feel I can
leave 3 dangling.  I guess I have to press on and finish a couple
of them before I start something more compelling.

Remind me not to do anything less than “compelling” in future.

Just a Little Tweak…

After I’d done these
“diamond moss stitch” socks, I chided myself for not having adjusted
Lesley Stanfield’s stitch pattern (for the diamonds) to work in the
round.  You can see the “disconnect” between the segments of welt
here:

diamond moss disconnect

I decided to make that adjustment and use the same motif in the current
sock project (which uses Tess
SuperSock yarn
— nice tight twist and excellent for stitch
definition).  As I was at the point of beginning to knit the ankle
patterning, I bravely threw down a revised diagram to work for, and set
to work as soon as the ferry pulled away from the wharf.  And
before the ferry docked, I knew I was in trouble.   
It’s just not so simple as all that…

If you look at the original stitch pattern sample in the book, the
stockinette diamonds are in isolation in a sea of moss stitch. 
I.e., there is no horizontal hookup.    As I spent the
next while trying to get the start of one (moss stitch) diamond to line
up with the end of the last, I began to understand why.  The 2
stitches of travelling welt throw a monkey wrench into the whole
pattern evolution.  Compared to the result in the picture above,
there need to be 4 rows to to accommodate the progression of the welt
smoothly from one vertical repeat to the next.  I fumbled around
and eventually made that work, WITH the moss stitch diamonds aligning
in successive vertical repeats.  But, the stockinette segments are
no longer diamonds — they’ve been pulled into generic
parallelograms.   

I think favouring the moss
stitch as the most visually apparent item is the right choice.  If
not, perhaps I’ll make another sock and let the moss stitch go wherever
and keep the stockinette diamonds intact.  Or, maybe I’ll just go
find another pattern to beat on πŸ™‚

I’m trying hard not to think about the fact that this is another case
where some judicious swatching at the outset would have saved some
heartache and ripping back.  It would have.  Swatching is
important.  It’s just that socks are supposed to be the easy “just
do it” projects, and there is rarely time for swatching as I’m headed
out the door and grabbing yarn to make sure I don’t run out of stuff to
knit while on the road.

Oh, you want to see the
current efforts?  Well, presently…

Camel Sighting — Blacks Harbour, NB!

No, not a dromedary — camel & silk blend (YUMMM!) from Hand Maiden Yarns (“Camelspin”, 70%
Silk, 30% Camel), purchased at Cricket
Cove
in Blacks Harbour, NB.

camel

I don’t know how many times we’ve driven by that store and not been
able to stop in — either we’re rushing to catch the ferry to Grand
Manan, or just off the early ferry from
Grand Manan and the store isn’t open, or… Finally, yesterday, the
stars aligned and we had the chance to stop in. 

It’s a delightful store — lots of great yarn in a variety of brands
and types;  nice handknits. 

As usual — my eye lead me to many things, but my fingers got me in
trouble:  one touch of this yarn and I was done for.  It’s
very soft. 

I did make progress on my current knitting projects on the trip. 
I’ve got a new sock project going, and if I could ever figure out how
to make the diamond pattern (used once here)
work properly in the round, I’d be on my way to having a first sock
completed.  Promises, promises.

Sock FO!

Well, after about 4 weeks of meetings and travel, I have a new pair of
socks.  I guess I must not knit very quickly — to take so many
weeks to produce a pair.  But, I’m on to the next pair already.

These are done in White
Birch Fiber Arts
sock yarn, knit toe-up  with Cat Bordhi’s
Riverbed sole increases and “Gothic Lattice” pattern from Barbara
Walker’s “3rd Treasury” for the ankle patterning.

Sock table

sock foot

More detail, and closer to true colours:

ankle foot

riverbed

The Month

I
mentioned
that this burst of blogging is somewhat inspired by the
(writer’s block busting) activity of NaNoWriMo.

It turns out that I am hardly alone in this aspiration.  Someone
else has coined the NaBloPoMo
term for national blog posting month — blogging every day this
month.  That certainly captures the spirit of what I’ve been
trying this month, although I am resisting any urge to sign up. 
Stubborn individualism, I guess.

There is also a NaKniSweMo
— national sweater knitting month — focused on knitting a 50,000
stitch sweater (to match the 50,000 word novels of
NaNoWriMo).     I’m really not doing that — if
nothing else, because I don’t take sweater projects on travel. 
However, I did the math:  I figure my sock project is running at
10,000 stitches per sock.  I am about to finish my first November
sock (the second of a pair — expect pictures!).    I
might put another 10,000 stitches out, depending on what happens with
personal travel next week.  Nowhere near the 50,000 stitch mark.

I guess, no matter whether you slice it in words ore stitches, 50k is a
lot.  Even for knitting, which is essentially OCD with a
productive output.

The Power of a Collective

The other day, with some new laceweight yarn in hand, I was browsing
for patterns for shrugs.  (I could make a lace stole, but I think
it would be nice to have a colourful shrug to wear over a sleeveless
dress, as an alternative to having to balance drapey fabric all
evening).   More specifically, I was browsing through the
patterns for shrugs listed on Ravelry.

To make a long story short, I came across the Rowan pattern Carolina, from their issue
39
.  From the available pictures, it really stood out as being
the most lacey, interesting, lightweight shrug.  Currently, 22
people have projects started (or completed) for this pattern, and you
can review the pictures posted in Ravelry.  A couple of them are here
and here
in Flickr.  I thought it was interesting enough that I actually
tracked down and ordered the relevant issue of Rowan.

The thing that amazed me was that, flipping through the magazine, the
official pictures of the pattern are quite dull.  Clearly, the
photographer and/or the magazine layout person was not enamoured of
this project, and simply did not show it up to its full
advantage.  I guess they didn’t “feel the love”!

So — their magazine did not sell itself (or the pattern) to me. 
Rather, Ravelry’s collective database of projects and pattern
information did.  It’s another example that filtering everything
through one small perspective (that of the magazine layout process)
does not have nearly the reach that providing open access to multiple
perspectives and sharing opportunities can. 

I never want to be limited to the perspective of a single provider.

To Frog or Not to Frog

As I was writing the
entry about my current sweater design effort
, I surprised myself by
reaching the tentative conclusion that I should rip the whole thing
back (frog it) and do something more compelling with the lovely
yarn.   I really had not thought about that before sitting
down and writing out the text.  It was an interesting revelation
that had to be considered.

I reflected on it for a couple of days.  And, I reviewed my very
old blog entry (see here, and scroll down to “Knitting Broccoli”) about
a previous effort that I slogged through and eventually had to
frog.  I compared the projects.

In the end — I think I will not
frog the current design effort, at least not yet.  While I am not
wild about the colour combinations, I do feel I am still committed
enough to the project that I am checking important things like length
and other measurements.  I am not at all convinced that there is a different pattern of these
same colours that would really cause me to whip through a sweater
project at this time.    I’ve been travelling — travel
projects make better progress.  Quelle surprise.  I do still
believe I will be happy to wear the resulting sweater if I just finish
it, AND I believe that I am making progress (albeit slow) towards
completing it reasonably.  That’s a really long-winded way of
working my way to the point that I
think my biggest problem is that I am not spending much time on large
knitting projects at home, and ANYTHING is going to take a long time to
complete.

Somehow, that didn’t stop me from buying 6 skeins (a sweater’s worth)
of Araucania
Azapa
(colourway Cornflower) today — I’m in meetings near Knit
Happens, and I Happened to wander in, let my hand touch a skein and
that was just that πŸ™‚

A Question of Popularity

It happens that there are 2 baby blanket projects I have done that have
each achieved a level of fame.  This was not an intended outcome
— it just seems to have… happened.   In both cases, the
receiving baby seems to have enjoyed the blanket, which is all that
matters.

The first blanket to achieve some level of fame (or notoriety) is the Dragon
Hide
baby blanket (previously
blogged
).  I’ve seen it appear on completely random other
pages, and if I look at the stats for my blog/web pages, I see that it
gets a fair bit of traffic — probably a hit every couple of days
(which counts as high traffic, for this blog πŸ˜‰ ).

The second is the Tie-Dye
baby blanket
, which I have not previously blogged about, but which
I did log in Ravelry, here
From Ravelry’s stats, I can see that it’s been viewed over a thousand
times (which is, approximately, a thousand times more than any of my
other projects πŸ˜‰ ) and over 200 people have fav’ed it.

I have no idea whether how to compare those worlds — the un-Ravelry’ed
Dragon Hide or the un-blogged Tie-Dye baby blanket have each gone off
and struck peoples’ imagination in ways I could not anticipate,
measure, or reproduce.  I suppose, now that I have done a drive-by
blogging of the Tie-Dye
blanket, I should quickly post the Dragon Hide blanket to Ravelry, to
see if it captivates anyone there.

Or, not — see point above about what matters.   This is just
idle curiosity, and a matter of checking the heartbeat on the blog πŸ˜‰

Good thing I’m not in the knitting/design business, I guess!