Sunday, June 20, 2010

An auction for the hounds

An auction is being held to benefit the hounds rescued from the Jefferson County Kennel Club by the hard-working Tallahassee arm of Greyhound Pets of America. This GPA-Tallahassee/SEGA group brought me Sam (from heaven knows where) and Jacey-Kasey, who raced (badly) at JCKC.


There are items for dog-lovers (and their dogs). There also are non-pet items: a couple of knitted baby sweaters, a baby afghan, jewelry, etc. Lots of lovely goodies...

The auction ends Monday, 21 June 2010 at 10pm Eastern (or 15 minutes after the last bid).

Edited to add: The auction made $7,410 for the hounds at JCKC!

Yes. And no.

I've finished the Traveling Woman shawl knitted in Treisur Infatuation.


The blocked shawl measures about 56" by 18" (that's three repeats of Chart A, one of Chart B):


The ends haven't been woven, and they won't be. Yes, it's done. But no--I'm not keeping it. I'm frogging this--for a few reasons.

I'm a better knitter than this. (I hope.) My tension is a bit goofy in several places and is a lot goofy in a couple of places. Often, tension problems correct themselves in blocking; the problems got less noticeable, but they didn't completely vanish (and a solid-colored laceweight yarn used for a lot of loose stockinette stitches only emphasizes the problem). I also had to fudge a couple of places where my stitch count got off (and it was me, not the pattern). And I actually dropped a stitch once. It didn't ravel (thanks to the lifeline), but when I pulled out the lifelines, there that stitch was, just sitting there, doing nothing, when it should have been anchoring the stitch in the next row (where I probably fudged a stitch to compensate). None of the fudging or dropped stitches would have been deal-breakers under other circumstances, but on this shawl it's just too much.

You see, I like the pattern. And I like the yarn. And I want to like each of them in a finished project--and this project isn't filling the bill.

When the yarn arrived, I was thinking of it as a sock yarn, which usually is a fingering weight. In fact, this yarn is billed as laceweight. The Traveling Woman pattern, though, calls for fingering weight. Although several Ravelers have knitted the shawl in laceweight, those weren't the shawls I liked the most. The ones I really liked were the ones where the solid areas of the pattern looked more dense. (The shawl pictured on the pattern's web site is a perfect example.) If I'd been paying proper attention to the yarn, I'd have realized that Traveling Woman was not the pattern to show a laceweight yarn off well. (And using solid-colored laceweight yarn just made my stitches look worse than necessary in the denser areas of the shawl.)

So I made a bad choice in combining this yarn with this pattern, and they both deserve a better result.

I'll try the Traveling Woman shawl again. I've got a Knit Picks Stroll Multi that I think will work well. It's fingering weight.


And I'll find a pattern suitable for a laceweight yarn--perhaps the Branching Out scarf.

I like knitting, I like this yarn, and I like this pattern. I just want to like them all when I'm finished.

For now, I'll conduct an experiment on this new yarn that SWTC sent to me to try out: let's see how responsive it is to frogging. Will it ravel easily? Will it show "damage" or will it look good?

Stay tuned...

Edited to add: The shawl is being spared. A friend wants it, flaws and all. I'll reblock it (the points on the lower edge didn't hold on the first blocking) and send it off to Ali in Ireland.

And I'm going to knit some laceweight bookmarks with the remaining Infatuation.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Traveling Woman

So, in recent blog posts I mentioned free yarn from SWTC, the value of running lifelines, and the idea of using sock yarn for a shawlette--which I don't actually need, but would be fun to knit.

So concatenate those topics:


In the photos, I was nearly through the first pass on Chart A. Now, I've nearly finished the second repeat of A (of course I ran a lifeline after the first pass through A, as well as the one you can see here--placed before I started A). I'm planning three repeats of A (maybe 4, depending on how much yarn I have left after the third repeat), then one pass through B (which is the edging).


The pattern is called Traveling Woman. (The photos on the web site show two repeats of Chart A, one of Chart B.) The yarn is Treisur's Infatuation. The pattern--and the yarn--are working up like a dream. This is a pattern I think I'll want to make again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I really like knitted socks. I like the way they look--especially the ones with tight little geometric designs. I like the way they fit. (My feet are US 5-1/2. Regular women's socks are too big and kids' socks aren't any fun.)

I even like knitting socks myself...up to a point. That point is when the socks stop getting bigger.


I started these socks in January. It's an easy little pattern. Rows 1, 3, and 5 are "knit"; Rows 2 and 4 are "P1, K4"; Row 6 is "purl." That's it.

But that's "it"--for-friggin'-ever. I've been working on both socks at the same time (to eliminate second-sock-syndrome, where finishing the first sock leaves the knitter with no desire to start a second one). One sock is a bit further along than the other: 90 rows vs. 84 rows. Times 70 stitches per row. That's 12,180 stitches. And they aren't socks yet. They aren't even close to being socks yet.


Now, I've made socks before. My first knitted pair was these plain-vanilla socks: simple ribbing, plain foot. It was a heavier-than-usual sock yarn, so they knitted up pretty fast.

First Knitted Socks

Last year, I made two pairs of socks for my sister:



The purple socks didn't take very long--or at least it didn't feel like very long. The pattern moved along quickly. The striped ones took--well, they took for-friggin'-ever. (They were Christmas socks. I had one sock done by Christmas. Frantic knitting every available minute for a week produced the second sock by New Year's.)

So I'm thinking that those lovely tiny geometric designs that I like to look at so much are exactly the kinds of sock designs I need to stop knitting.

Now I've got lots of sock yarn--variegated, solid, and striping. My family asked what I wanted for Christmas, I told them, and they obligingly gave me sock pattern books and sock yarn. And I already had quite a bit of sock yarn. Sock yarn can be used for socks. It also can be used for small "shawlettes"--little lacy scarf-cum-shawl constructions (most shawlette patterns take about the same amount of yarn as a pair of socks), although there's a limit to how many shawlettes any woman needs in her wardrobe (especially a woman like me, who wears a uniform to work every day). Beyond shawlettes, the uses of sock yarn are a bit limited. You can make baby things--as long as you want to make baby things with lots of very tiny tan, khaki, and green stripes or some other non-infant-like colors. Most purchases of sock yarn are made in quantities that don't give you a whole lot of choices in patterns...beyond socks.

But there are lots of sock patterns out there. Lots of free-online sock patterns, too. There are patterned socks. There are lacy socks. There are cabled socks. (Okay, forget about the cabled socks. I've done cables and I'm not crazy about them. Doing cables around and around a sock is a more appalling idea than knitting endless geometric designs on socks. No cables for me...but take a look at those socks!) But there are socks with complicated patterns that require charts with keys and lots of concentration. The value of that kind of sock is that once you get through the repeat once time, you can really feel like you've done something, made some progress. Once you've done the pattern repeat half a dozen times--not enough times to be bored with it--you're down the leg and ready to start the heel.

I'm not going to frog my poor, boring Ridged Squares socks. Sometimes you need some mindless knitting while you're killing time waiting for your car to be repaired. Having a pattern you can pick up, look at for a minute, and resume, then put away for a week (or month) or more is very useful. Sometimes I'll work on these at work, during my 30-minute lunch break.

But I'm going to find another pattern I like, pick some yarn from my stash, and start a new pair--very soon. I've resisted having lots of projects in the works at one time, but I'm going to stop worrying about that. Having one pair of socks that is moving along like sludge shouldn't interfere with my desire to knit something more fun.

Even if the "more fun" is another pair of socks.

Shown above: The plain vanilla socks were knitted in Elann Esprit. The purple, gold and green socks (the pattern is called Sunday Swing Socks) are knitted in Patons Stretch Socks yarn. The striped socks were knitted in Lane Cervinia Forever.

Lifeline to the rescue


There's an old song I've heard of, and the last verse goes like this:

This is the lifeline, oh, grasp it today!
See, you are recklessly drifting away;
Voices in warning, shout over the wave,
O grasp the strong lifeline, for Jesus can save.

(Refrain) Throw out the lifeline! Throw out the lifeline!
Someone is drifting away;
Throw out the lifeline! Throw out the lifeline!
Someone is sinking today.

I remembered that song today as a lifeline rescued my knitting.

I had started the grapevine shawl (Ravelry link) early in May and successfully completed one pattern repeat (12 rows). I picked it up Sunday to do a little knitting and promptly screwed up the 3rd line in the next repeat. I tried to tink back, but it didn't work. I wound up ripping the whole thing back and started over, resolving to run a lifeline after each pattern repeat from then on. (A lifeline is a length of yarn or thread that a knitter runs through the stitches of a completed row. If there's a problem later on, the knitter can rip back to the lifeline and recover all the stitches, all facing the right direction. In the photo, you can see white lifelines. If you look closely, you can see some pink ones, too.)

Yesterday's knitting went well...from cast-on through four repeats without the ghost of a problem. The pattern itself is easy--all K2TOGs, SSKs, and YOs, with not a single P2TOG, K3TOG, nupp, or other tricky stitch. And half the rows are purl-even rows, so really there are only six pay-close-attention rows in each repeat.

Now some people remove previous lifelines once they've run a new one. If you've just run a lifeline to protect the 6th repeat, you don't actually need one protecting the 5th repeat, right?

Well, maybe... It depends on how closely you inspected the 6th repeat before you moved on to the 7th one. Because if you belatedly spot an error in the 9th row of the 6th repeat, you're going to want that lifeline between repeats 5 and 6.

And here's the nice thing about lifelines: they make you braver about fixing problems. I needed to rip back about 6 rows to fix the error. With luck, I'd be able to recover my stitches there--even though the lifeline was further back--I could recover my stitches, fix the problem, and start moving forward again.

But sometimes picking up doesn't go as smoothly as you like, especially when you've been increasing and decreasing stitches in rows (all those K2TOGs, SSKs, and YOs). It can be hard to tell what's a legitimate YO and what's a loose loop between stitches. And when that happens--which is exactly what happened to me on the 2nd repeat on Sunday--then you have to keep ripping back either to the nearest lifeline, or to the beginning. If you don't have any lifelines in your work, your only option might be to ignore the error, keep working, and squint a lot when you look at your finished piece. And that might be the choice you have to make if you've been removing previous lifelines as you run new ones.

But a lifeline securely in place makes you brave enough to attempt the fix. If all goes well, you get all your stitches back and just reknit those 6 rows. In the worst case scenario, you reknit 15 rows: the whole pattern repeat and the three rows you'd worked in the newest section. Either way, you're in no danger of losing all your work back to the beginning.

So my project was rescued--and I only reknit six rows. Now I've got six and a half good repeats, with a lifeline in place after every one.

The pattern is downloadable (free) from Cascade Yarns. The yarn used is Cascade Sierra (80% cotton, 20% wool).

P.S. And sometimes it helps to leave the lifelines in place while you block. It helps you keep each repeat section straight, and measuring from lifeline to lifeline is a good way to ensure that you block the whole piece evenly, without stretching the length at one end or the other.