Friday, September 29, 2006

The Definitive Hiawatha

Song of Hiawatha Lace Stole
pattern by Hazel Carter
Blackberry Ridge silk/wool laceweight, in cream
size 3 needles
final measurements: about 90" x 25"

It is elegant.

Hiawatha modeled

It is drapey.

Hiawatha on recliner

It is huge.

Hiawatha is thiiiis big
(It's folded in half, and my arms are fully extended above my head.)

Grr. Argh.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Can I get a backrub, now?


Hiawatha, pre-blocking
longer than me!

Lace: It's What's For Dinner!

Hiawatha soaking

gingham, a lace dance, and lots of pins

blocking Hiawatha - a montage

(Check out my Flickr photostream for non-cropped versions of the photos in the mosaic.)

I'm off to stack wood. Again, backrub? Anyone? (I'll let you touch my lace...)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

the final push

I'm finally back on Hiawatha's case, and seem to be having success with the edging:

Hiawatha edging

I picked up stitches ahead of time, and am doing a true SKP to attach, instead of counting the picked up stitch as the "K". I think it's going to be stretchy enough, but I have a lifeline in case it isn't. I think I'm in good enough shape to actually haul the thing to knitting group tonight.

I'm also planning for the future. I just received a Knitpicks order. (Now I feel like one of the cool kids.)

My Knitpicks order (so I can be one of the cool kids)

I got extra Palette to finish the Vertical Stripes sweater, 5 skeins of Wool of the Andes for a felted hat I'm designing for a friend (more on that another time), and some 2.5mm needles.

They couldn't match my old Palette colorway, which I expected. I think I can see a slight difference (the new stuff looks a bit darker), but I hope it's not too noticeable in the cuffs and collar. I haven't yet knit with the WotA, but it's nicer to the touch than I expected. The photos on their site make it look kind of icky. I threw the needles in because I'm borrowing 32" size 1 Addi Turbos to work on the VS sleeves, and thought these would be a good substitute, so I could return the borrowed needle earlier. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen. The Knitpicks 2.5mm needles are a bit thinner than the Addis (though not quite as small as 2.25mm needles), and the taper on the tips is so long that it would surely mess with my gauge even further. The taper on each of the tips isn't quite identical, so one is slightly thicker at the point then the other. There are also some dents (tool marks?) on the tips. I don't think they're deep enough to catch on my yarn, but it surely doesn't add to my satisfaction with the needles. And I don't think the cord feels any better than the Addis cord. If anything, it feels the slightest bit stickier, which I don't consider a good thing. But, ya know, I got what I paid for. I've learned my lesson, and in the future will pay for Addis, so I get Addi quality. I'd return the Knitpicks needles, but I think I have to pay for return shipping, which makes it barely worth it. (Yes, I'm really picky.)

I went to a wedding and climbed a mountain this weekend, which meant I knit less than usual. Totally worth it. See!:

wedding dancingTecumseh

I'd really love for my next post to feature a finished (or at least blocking) Hiawatha. Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

only 162 rows to go

Minor progress:

Vertical Stripes sleeve 2

190 stitches, all ready to become a sleeve.

Last weekend I went to a local estate sale, with dreams of out-of-print Starmores and bags of beautiful yarn (all with 50c stickers) dancing in my head. It did say "crafts" in the newspaper ad. Well, there were a few crocheted and knitted afghans, but no actual crafting supplies. But I did drop a whole dollar on a small pile of "The Workshop: Home and Needlecraft for Pleasure and Profit" magazines, dating from the late-50's to mid-60's. The actual crafty articles and patterns aren't all that exciting (maybe if I were into crocheting endless doilies), but the ads are wonderful. Well, some are terrible, but that's part of what makes them wonderful. Most of the great ads aren't at all crafting related, but I thought I'd share this one, in the spirit of recent sock monkey dress sightings at the Minnesota State Fair:

sock elephant

sockephant! whee!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

kinda-sorta milestone

Vertical Stripes sleeve 1

The first Vertical Stripes sleeve is done. Except for blocking. And the cuff. But it's as done as it's going to get for now, so I guess that counts for something.

I ended up doing half a repeat (12 rows) more than I thought I would. It's really hard to judge length right now, because I know that the sleeve will block out a bit longer than it is at the moment. So trying it on isn't as informative as I'd like. I think I'll block both sleeves before I knit the cuffs, so I can use the cuffs to make the sleeves the perfect length.

I put in an order for another skein of Palette. But I won't need it for a while. I'd be surprised if I finished the second sleeve by the end of the month. Flabbergasted, in fact.

I don't anticipate getting much knitting done in the next week or so. First, we need to turn this:

wood to stack

into something that looks like this:

old, re-stacked wood

Wood stacking party, anybody? I'd offer to bribe you with Naturespun Sport, but maybe it would work better if I had some spare Koigu.

I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

the problem was too few colors

Hiawatha continues to be a pest. Now it's the issue of the connection between the edging and the edge of the shawl being inelastic. I tried a few different things last night, with no luck, but think I finally have a workable solution from someone on the LiveJournal Advanced Knit community. (Solution: Go back and pick up all the stitches at once, instead of one at a time. This will possibly help with elasticity, since the picked up stitches will all be connected to one another, and act more like the short edge live stitches I worked with previously. Also, connect really loosely, like when I bind off.)

Even though I now have a solution (though I thought I had several solutions last night that turned out to just be headaches), I can't stand to look at the thing anymore. It can go stick itself where the sun doesn't shine. I need color.

Vertical Stripes Sweater

I just finished the fourth pattern repeat on the sleeve, which now measures about 10". I think I'm going to do 2 more pattern repeats (5") before I start to fret about length and stopping points. (For those of you who haven't been taking notes and studying my every word in preparation for the scary final exam, there is a good chance I'll run out of the background color, and will be putting the sleeve on scrap yarn before the cuffs so I can work both cuffs and the collar in the different dye lot, assuming I need to buy another ball.)

I have the power to bend Addi Turbos

I swear I'm not a tight knitter. I just have a death grip on the needles, I guess. (Which surprises me, because you'd think I'd have problems with hand cramping, which I get from writing. But I don't.) The bent needle (on the left) is an Addi Turbo, size 1. It was the one held in my right hand for the entirety of the sweater body. So far, none of the other needles are bent. (A good thing, because one of the sets of circs is on loan.) I wonder if the company will replace them. I also wonder if it's worth it. It could be that there is a problem with the needle, and that most size 1 Addis wouldn't bend with use. On the other hand, if the needle is fine and it was all my fault, I'd just end up bending the replacement.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

today I'd rather blog than knit

Thanks for the replies to this weekend's lace post.

To clarify one thing, I don't think the photo from the pattern is of the first corner. This has something to do with the fact that the pattern repeat going into the corner obviously had to be finished "in the air", and was thus more incorporated into that corner turn than the last pattern repeat before the first corner will be, if one follows the pattern correctly. So I'm not going for a corner that looks exactly like that, because I realize that different people will end up at different spots in the pattern repeats after finishing a long side of the edging, and that the corners won't all be identical.

My solution, which I hope is actually a solution (and not just another side-trip into frustration), is as follows:
  • Instead of working pattern repeats along the first short edge until there are two live stitches left, work until there are three stitches left. This will necessitate finishing that last pattern repeat "in the air."

  • Pick up a stitch along that bottom edge of the edging. Knit 2 of the three remaining live stitches (from the short side of the shawl) together, and pass that picked up stitch over it. Put that stitch, and the one remaining stitch from the edge, on a safety pin.

  • Knit one full edging repeat in the air.

  • Pick up seven-ish stitches (exact number isn't something to fret about) from the bottom edge of the edging repeat, where it otherwise would have been attached to the shawl body. Move the 2 safety pin stitches to a needle, and knit them together. Pass the picked up stitches, one at a time, over the one stitch created by that k2tog. Put that one stitch back on the safety pin.

  • Knit another edging repeat in the air. Keep that safety pin stitch to the front of the work. (That's not a huge thing, but I found that I had to make a decision about it, and it looks better in the end if you push it to the front.)

  • Start the next pattern repeat. At the end of row 2 (the first WS row, on the way back down to the shawl), attach that row to the shawl body as instructed in the pattern. (Turning the corner to pick up your first stitch on the long edge of the shawl.)

Here are some photos. I'm not exactly proud of the photo quality here. We don't have a lot of natural light today, and I'm so fed up with this shawl that I didn't feel like dragging it around the house in search of decent light. So I worked the best magic I could with the photo software. Hopefully my best magic was at least somewhat adequate in fixing the color, brightness, and sharpness of the photos:

Hiawatha corner - picking up stitches along

This shows a pattern repeat "in the air", with stitches picked up along the bottom edge, to be slipped over the safety pin stitch.

Hiawatha edging - first corner

Here is the completed first corner, with a start on the edge. Ignore any post-corner edging. As you can see, it's in the process of being undone. I wasn't properly following the instructions for attaching it to the shawl body. I'm tinking yet again, but only as far as the completed corner.

So, I hope this corner lies flat. I still don't think I'm doing what the designer envisioned. I hope that I have enough fabric there to stretch around the corner without pulling it in. If I'd followed the directions as written, I certainly wouldn't have. Keep your fingers crossed. If I have to pull out that corner again, I may scrap the whole knitted edging thing and pull out a crochet hook to improvise something. Goodness knows that they're easier to pull out, and easier to improvise. Well, in theory. I've never done one, but I know the principles of the craft, and know that it would be easier to figure out how perfectly turn a corner in crochet than it is in knitting. (You've seen it, folks. 2 pro-crochet sentiments in 3 posts. Flying pigs have frozen over, and are hailing down right outside my window.)

I really don't want to look at the shawl again today. I might not, except to stuff it back in the bag. I know that once I get going things will be fine (assuming the edging is stretchy enough to allow proper blocking of the shawl...), and that I'll eventually love it again. It seems that everyone I know was "in a mood" this weekend, and that everyone includes me and the shawl. I can't wait for this mood to pass. For the record, I knit about half a pattern repeat on the Vertical Stripes Sweater sleeve this weekend. But since I was "in a mood", that's all I could stomach.

Of course, some things in life are good.

Smarties swag

A couple of friends sent me a goodie box last week. There were many wonderful, whimsical things inside, including a tiny metal Smarties lunchbox. (American Smarties, not Canadian Smarties. I have to admit, as much as I love most things Canadian, and as much as I wanted to buy the Mountie hat I saw at the consignment shop this weekend, I prefer American Smarties to Canadian Smarties. But I'll do the Canadian thing and say sorry for being a silly American in this regard.) There were only 5 Smarties rolls inside, so I was able to clear out the box without a problem (yum), and fill it with knitting swag. I finally have a convenient place to store my stitch markers and assorted other swallowables! Whee!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

go sit in a corner

Here is what the corner edging on the Hiawatha stole is supposed to look like, according to the picture in the pattern:

Hiawatha corner photo from pattern

Here is what I have so far. (Well, kind of. This is actually mid-ripping, after I decided to put the stitches back on the needle because ripping is too messy for this pattern. Must tink stitch by stitch.):

Hiawatha corner

It looks okay, but it's not. The problem is several ambiguities (and perhaps a mistake or two) in the pattern. The basic concept of doing the edging corner is that one needs to create extra fabric, so the edging can turn the corner without pulling in. The way it's done in this pattern is, well, partially simple and partially a mystery to me. For those of you who crochet, think of a granny square. When you're rounding the corner, you crochet extra clusters there. The corner construction is kind of similar to a granny square, in that what you're basically doing is knitting a bunch of pattern repeats in a small space, which are gathered together and attached in the corner.

The actual mechanics of doing this was a problem from the beginning. Part of this was solved during a phone call to Blackberry Ridge. I was greatly surprised to have anybody pick up the phone on a Sunday during a holiday weekend. I was sure I'd get an answering machine. The person I talked to made some mention of it being early, pre-coffee, and after the call I started to panic. I realized that it had only been about 9:30 here in New Hampshire, which meant it was only 8:30 in Wisconsin. What if they run the business out of their home, and I woke them up on a lazy Sunday morning, to deal with my knitting problems? I know this sounds a little far-fetched, but the vibe I got from the call, combined with the fact that anybody answered at all, got me really worried. The woman I spoke to was really nice, and now I feel like burying my face in shame. Every time I think about that possible faux pas I'm mortified. And that's enough of that for now...

I thought that after that phone call, I had all the information I needed, and was all set to go. For those of you curious, it had to do with a mysterious "straight edge" that was poorly defined, as well as an undefined number of stitches I was supposed to be picking up from said straight edge. It turns out that that part of the instructions don't apply to that first corner, for reasons having to do with stitch count. Would have been nice if something was said about that in the pattern, ya know? I spent at least a couple of hours feeling really stupid for not understanding something that turned out to just be poorly written, which does really bug me. If I'm going to feel stupid, I'd prefer it to be because I'm actually being stupid, not because I'm being misinformed by that which is supposed to be informing me. (rant rant rant paturns r haaaard blah blah blah)

It turns out I wasn't all set to go. I don't want to call Blackberry Ridge again, partially because I'm downright mortified by the possibility that I disturbed their morning sleep (or morning something else...), and partially because the woman who I talked to, while very nice and patient, didn't seem to be all that familiar with the pattern. I have heard that others have received good help with the pattern by calling, but she said that most people are confused by a section of the instructions which I found very straightforward - finishing a pattern "in the air" instead of attaching every other row to the shawl. (The snarky side of me wonders how folks who couldn't understand that part of the instructions, which are very clearly written, with no other possible interpretation, managed to figure out the obscurely written parts, including the important informational omission that I've already established. Maybe they just fudged it, like I might end up doing.) My problem is that, if one follows the rest of the instructions to the letter, they are left with too few pattern repeats in the corner. Depending on how you choose to interpret the instructions (the more it became clear that they weren't complete, the wilder my interpretations got), you may be left with an unattached repeat and no way to attach it, or a corner repeat that lives distinctly on the long edge of the shawl instead of in the corner. It's actually more complicated than that, but I really don't have the energy to go into all the details here. It would also involve typing out more of the instructions than I feel comfortable doing because of copyright reasons. (I deleted an immensely long post in which I tried doing that. Too much information, and too many complications, for being discussed in the form of a one-way blog post.)

Instead of giving a blow by blow rant about the specifics of the problems with the remainder of the corner instructions, I'm putting out a plea for help. I do wonder if part of the problem is that this is one of a few standard ways of doing corners on edging, and that the pattern author didn't write out all of the specifics (or, um, have the thing test knit or proof read) because it's supposed to be common knowledge. If that's the case, then anybody who has done something like this before on a different lace pattern may be able to give me more insight into what's happening. Even if not, I know that other folks out there have knit Hiawatha. Maybe they have answers. Unfortunately, this is one of those problems for which the solution is not just "don't worry, do exactly what the pattern says without question, and it will turn out okay". It's physically impossible to just do what the pattern says, otherwise I would have tried that.

My solution, if I can't get outside help, is going to be to alter what's written to work for me. This means including an extra repeat in the corner, and adjusting a few other things so I can properly attach that extra repeat to the corner of the shawl. I'm a bit worried about whether things will lie flat, which is the main reason I'm not just jumping in and trying it out. I've already frogged the corner at least 5 times, and would really like some more information before I try yet another permutation of possible interpretations of the instructions.

So... help? Please contact me if you have managed to figure out what my problem is, if you've knit the shawl before and have specific blow-by-blow information to share, or if you know of a good source for detailed instructions on knitting (or designing!) shawl edging corners.

I should really pick up something different to work on. Unfortunately, at the moment I feel that anything my hands touch will turn to manure. The grey, rainy weather is certainly not helping my mood. ... Happy Labor Day! (I'd wish my Canadian (and other non-American English speaking) friends a happy Labour Day, but I don't think they celebrate it up there. Still, consider yourselves u-ified. It's the thought that counts, right?)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Sweaters From Camp KAL update! (also, eyeballs)

Next update when there's enough info. to really make it an interesting post. (Hint hint hint - there's a chill in the air, so pick up those sweaters! I'll be picking up mine again when I'm done with Hiawatha.)

On a completely different note, I've started to listening to the dozens of Craftsanity podcasts I've downloaded. The first one, which I'm listening to right now, is an interview with the amazing Lady Linoleum. She puts scary crocheted eyeballs on stuff. No, really, it's pretty awesome. Click here to look at her amazing work.

I know how to crochet. I learned how to around when I learned how to knit. I've crocheted an entire (ugly, red-heart, granny square) afghan. But crocheting just doesn't do it for me, most of the time. I almost universally prefer the process and the outcome of knitting. But crocheted corn? With a bloodshot eyeball? That may convince me to pick up a hook for something other than picking up dropped stitches or provisional cast-ons. Oh how glorious!