Monday, July 19, 2010

New Projects, Old Projects, Languishing-on-the-Needles Projects

I have some FOs (finished objects) to show you as soon as the second one comes off the blocking board. These finished objects are not socks.

Are you amazed? Astounded? Flabbergasted?

I am even a bit surprised. In fact, the pair of July socks that had its heels turned on 06 July is still a couple inches short of a leg. And, if that weren't enough, the third June pair of socks, which had one heel flap knit on 05 July, is still waiting for the other heel flap to be knit (and the legs).

So what have I been knitting? Scarves and shawls.

The two finished objects are both scarves. And I have three other scarves/shawls on the needles.

Why three more? A hard one, an easy (i.e., almost mindless) one, and one that requires thought and stitch counting but not to the exclusion of everything else.

One of the shawls, a wedding stole, is knit in cobweb lace. I have not knit with cobweb lace since I was a kid. On this project, I got off to a rough start. There was an error in the pattern directions, which I did not realize until after I had knit the first row and still had four stitches on the needle. Ripped out, restarted, got through the first row just fine...and somehow lost a stitch---a yarn-over---when I purled back. Ripped and restarted (again).  The third time, I added two rows of stockinette stitch at the bottom of the pattern. Since I always cast on to a larger needle, I was having a hard time starting the lace pattern and changing from one needle to  a smaller one, so I gave myself the two rows of stockinette to change needles and to establish the border, and to set two markers in open sections of the pattern.

The markers made a big difference. Instead of counting from the beginning, I only had to count 36-40 stitches. I could count stitches in each section as I knit them and when I reached the marker, to ensure I hadn't dropped a stitch or lost a yarn-over or, on the back side, inadvertently purled a yarn-over together with the next stitch.

After about 10 rows, I decided that the yarn needed a larger needle. But I'm test knitting this pattern for the designer, who wants to know the gauge I get with a US3 needle, so I had to change the yarn, since I couldn't change the needle.

With the second yarn (the cobweb lace) and with the pattern error in the first row corrected, and with two stockinette rows at the beginning and two markers in open sections of the pattern, I haven't had to tink back more than 40 stitches. (And I've only had to do that once.)  But I can only knit four rows at a time, then I have to do something else for a while.

The stole coming along, but s-l-o-w-l-y. The pattern is 113 stitches wide, with 36 rows. The stole requires ten pattern repetitions. I'm ready to knit row 19 in the first pattern repetition.

More on the other scarves/shawls later. This month I'm also determined to finish some projects that have been languishing on the needles for months: the two Adult Surprise Jackets (one is called Coat of Many Colors) and my oldest grandniece's sweater-tunic. Watch the progress bars on the left (in the "On the Needles" section) to see if---and how quickly---I follow through.

Once I get those finished, there's another project, called Purple Jacket, that hasn't been touched for about a year. Partly that was due to my gauge change, partly to a lack of time, and partly because the sections of the project still to be knit aren't as interesting as the initial section.

What are you knitting? Have you made any knitting resolutions this summer?


Sunday, July 11, 2010

What's With All the Knots?

This week, I have knit on five projects, using five different brands of yarn. Three of those yarns---three!---had one or more knots, where the yarn had broken and been tied together.

Some of the knots were large, some were tiny. Their size is immaterial. Their presence, however, is not.

In two cases, the yarn had a regularly repeating color variation, and one section---or parts of two segments---of color were missing. Thus, the scarf for which I painstakingly matched my skeins of yarn so that one half would be the mirror image of the other, will not, despite my efforts, have matching halves.

Do yarn manufacturers think knitters are blind? That we don't care if one or more color segments are missing from a skein of yarn?

Why don't yarn manufacturers sell such skeins at a reduced price? Or at least indicate that the skein isn't perfect? They could sell the less-than-perfect skeins at a "factory outlet" type store, where anyone who bought a skein would know that, for some reason, it wasn't quite like the skeins displayed at local yarn shops.

Of course, the manufacturers wouldn't make as much money as they do now. But, on the other hand, I'm unlikely to ever buy another skein of this manufacturer's yarn, so while the company made an extra profit on this skein of yarn, it won't be getting my money in the future.

Do knots make you nutty? Or is it just me?


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Second Pair of June Socks---and Other Projects

I finished my second pair of June socks yesterday afternoon. This was the first pair of socks I started in last month, but the yarn was much thicker than most sock yarn and stiff and, therefore, difficult to knit, so after three days I set the socks aside and started the pair I posted about last week. Once that pair was finished, however, I began working on this pair again. (Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

The socks, like the first pair, are Wendy Johnson's Diagonal Lace Socks from her book, Socks From the Toe Up. It was a fun, easy to read (or memorize) pattern, and the resulting socks are lovely. The yarn is Pagewood Farm Glacier Bay, in the Grape Juice colorway. The manufacturer calls this yarn "their thickest, baddest sock yarn," and on another page of their Web site describes it as an "ultra light worsted." The socks will certainly be warm on cold winter days, but I would have appreciated it if the manufacturer had indicated on the label that the yarn was not typical superfine (fingering weight) sock yarn.

I had a third pair of socks on the needles in June, but didn't finish them. They started out as the second pair of Diagonal Lace Socks, but when the color variations in the yarn I was using for another pattern (Ms. Johnson's A Finer Peace Socks) obscured the pattern, I ripped both pairs back to the toe increases, and switched the patterns. The color variations didn't affect the Diagonal Lace pattern (see the photo of last week's socks), and the semi-solid color of what had been the second pair of Diagonal Lace Socks worked very well for the A Finer Peace Socks. But the A Finer Peace pattern was very similar to Ms. Johnson's Peace Socks, of which I made two pair last October (see here and here), and bore some similarity to the Lace and Cable Socks I knit in April. I wasn't enjoying knitting that pattern, so once again, when I was about halfway up the foot, I ripped back to the toe increases and changed patterns. I'd knit almost---but not quite---to the heel turn by 28 June, and had a good chance of finishing the third pair of socks...

Except that I started another shawl on 29 June.

I already have a large circular shawl (of my own design) on the needles. One shawl at a time should be enough, right? Apparently not. The recently started shawl is smaller---sort of a cross between a scarf and a shawlette---and triangular instead of circular.

The circular shawl I call Starburst. It is knit with Jojoland Melody Superwash yarn, in the lavender colorway (MS-28). The triangular shawl is a pattern called Baktus. It is knit with Crystal Palace Mini Mochi yarn in the Tropical Ginger colorway (0133). Both shawls are larger now than when these photos were taken. The progress is more noticeable on Baktus, but its visible on the Starburst shawl, too.

Now that the first summer session is over, my summer vacation has started. (Hurray!) My goals this month---in addition to two pair of socks---are to finish three UFOs (unfinished objects): the two Adult Surprise Jackets and my grandniece's sweater-tunic. All three of these have been languishing on the needles for months. I haven't knit a stitch on the Dream in Color Adult Surprise Jacket since February, on the sweater-tunic since early January, or on the Noro Adult Surprise Jacket since April. (Photos of all three garments are here.) Once those three are complete, then (and only then!) I intend to start an Aran sweater or jacket.

What are your knitting plans for the month or the summer?


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