Monday, March 31, 2008

Mad as a March square

barbara mcintire square
I'm surprised that the Barbara McIntire square didn't make the "Five Easiest" list. I've found it to be the easiest square of the lot. Yeah, there are a lot of cable crossings, but there are no other techniques required: no moss or seed stitch, no bobbles, and certainly no calisthenics with multiple double pointed needles. All the wrong side rows are "rest rows": knit the knits, purl the purls. And the two major charts even have the same number of rows.

I did have to go down a size from the suggested #8 needles in order to keep the square from turning out too wide. And I added four rows to the beginning of the central Saxon braid so that it would turn out vertically centered, but you already knew I was funny that way.

Ada Fenick square
The other featured square for March was the Ada Fenick square. Can you believe I actually knit something according to the directions for a change? It was a little challenging to keep my place when working the ground and sky sections, but none of the techniques were difficult. And I really like those monster-bobbles.

I read a great hint on Ravelry about knitting from charts: use colored highlighters or pencils to shade each cable, then shade the corresponding instructions in the written directions with the same color. I'm too lazy to actually do this (I'm frequently too lazy to place a stitch marker when I should, and usually pay for it), but it's a terrific idea.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A postlet from hell

I did my penance and finished the first blue-green sock last night. Continuing in my virtue, I started the second sock today. Guess what? The gauge refuses to match the finished sock. I've gone down a needle size (to the absurd 00's) and it's still too loose.

These socks shall henceforth be known as the Sea of Despair Socks.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The wrath of the gods

cape back
Okay, I have definitely upset some minor knitting deity. I've been working on this cape from Sandi Rosner's book Not Just Socks for Kids and have five out of six sections finished. I had to start a second ball of yarn for the last section. And would you believe, on this ball the salmon pink is brighter than on the first ball? (Same lot.) It's subtle enough not to show in a photo, but it's noticeable in daylight. Extra maddeningly, if I hadn't cut up the last part of the first ball in order to get speckled pieces to use for the visible seams, I might have finished the last section with it.

Now I have to pick a plan:
  • Just finish this section, sew it in and live with it (not bloody likely)
  • Stuff the whole project in a bag in the corner and never lay eyes on it again until after the intended recipient graduates from college
  • Finish this section and reknit the other side section from the second ball so the brighter parts will be symmetric
Maybe if I go knit some penance on the blue-green tofutsies socks, the offending pink will fade?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My three sins

This is what I'm going to knitter's hell for: I have three pairs of Tofutsies socks started at the same time. And they're all just plain, ribbed, toe-up socks.

In my defense, the red sock has a sad, sad story. The sock shown is the second sock of the pair. The first sock is in a LANDFILL somewhere because the housekeeping staff at the Indianapolis airport couldn't be bothered to send it to the Lost & Found office. The staffer at the L&F assured me that "Oh, I'm sure it just got thrown away, they only send stuff to us if it's VALUABLE." Yes, I know it's my own fault for having dropped it while boarding, but really, did they have to throw it out immediately?

The red socks and the blue ball of yarn were the only knitting I had with me on that vacation. I couldn't bear to work on the red sock on the needles. So I sulked for twenty-four hours, then started the blue sock.

I am sure this is my karmic punishment for having started the red sock in the first place, when that perfectly good pink one was on the needles.

Maybe if I finish the red sock and give it to a one-legged knitter, I'll be forgiven?

Friday, March 21, 2008

A little instant gratification

closure scarf closeupI've been working on small projects interspersed with fits of obsessive work on the GAAA. I was amused by the reversible cables from the Carol Adams square, so I knit this scarf with the same technique. The pattern is the Swelligant Scarf from Son of Stitch 'n Bitch. It was a great excuse to buy and knit with silk/wool blend yarn (Alchemy Yarns' Synchronicity). I finished the scarf just in time before I got bored with the repetition, five days after I bought the yarn.

The recipient is a dear friend who is going through a divorce. His future ex-wife had been working on a scarf for him for some time (and a very lovely scarf, also: the multi-directional diagonal scarf out of Noro Silk Garden). Once the papers were filed, he remarked that he was never going to get THAT one, and the weather was still cold, so I knit him the Swelligant.

Friday, March 14, 2008

And there might be brownies

Here's a little advanced warning: at the March afghan squares meeting, I'm featuring the Barbara McIntire square (easy) and the Ada Fenick square (this one required careful attention, but the stitches themselves aren't too hard). I'll post photos and reviews later, but if anyone wants to get started on the McIntire square, let me warn you that I had to go down a needle size.

Meanwhile, I've been salivating over a borrowed copy of The Principles of Knitting. I saw an article about this tome in a recent issue of Vogue Knitting and knew it was the knitting book I had wanted all my life. However, since I can't really afford to spend $200 for it, I had my spouse request it as an ILL (interlibrary loan). So now at least I can study it for six weeks. Then I'll wait impatiently for the new edition that's supposed to be released in 2009.

I confess I'm inordinately proud that I know a bar increase method which isn't in the book.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Off with their heads

jay campbell square
Here is the Jay Campbell square, also from February. It is knit from the outside edge to the center. I followed the instructions as written. It's not quite square even after blocking, but it will be fine sewn into the finished afghan. The center puffed up like a volcano before blocking, so I would recommend decreasing on round 41, especially for anyone using synthetic yarn.

I didn't like the particular bobble in the instructions; one could easily substitute another bobble (perhaps the one from the Vicki Sever square). And the three consecutive bobbles on round 35 didn't lie very well, and had to be poked severely into place during blocking. Moving the center bobble down to round 35 might work better.

Fidgety business: There is no compensation for cable splay anywhere in the design. See how the edges ruffle a bit? That's because there are no increases at the bottom of the cables. I don't like the way the three-strand braids fan out at their tops, either. I will probably re-knit this square later and do a major re-engineering job. It will be tricky because any new increases and decreases have to balance out; otherwise the number of rounds in the square will be affected, and I don't want to cut off the top of the the stylized figure's head!

Monday, March 10, 2008

The unholy trinity

The Ginette Belanger square was featured at the February meeting of the River Wools blocks-of-the month group. I like the look of trinity stitch (the bumpy side panels), but I don't enjoy working it. The double increases are hard on my wrist, and if you make a mistake, there's usually no way to fix it except by ripping out.

As with the Levy square, I cast on 54 stitches instead of 48.

Fidgety business: I ended the bottom border on the RS instead of the WS, then worked a foundation row using the last row of each chart in its proper location. In other words: K3, work Row 4 of Chart A over 22 sts, work Row 24 of Chart B, work Row 4 of Chart A over 22 sts, K3.

I also stopped a few rows early; I didn't work the last set of Chart B rows 1-4. However, as with the Levy square, I worked the cable twists for Row 1 into the first row of the top border.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Square one

The Julie Levy square was the first Great American Afghan square featured at the January River Wools blocks-of-the-month meeting (the one I missed due to flu). I actually knit it twice, since my yarn order for the afghan hadn't come in yet. This is the second version, out of Cascade 220 Superwash. My first version came out rather oversized, so I went down a needle size for the second version.

I'm adjusting the number of stitches in the bottom and top garter borders for several of the squares. The directions for this square called for casting on 48 stitches; however, other squares (with the same suggested needle size) called for casting on as many as 60 stitches! Since my garter stitch gauge is about 18 sts/4", I cast on 54 stitches instead. That meant I only needed to increase 22 stitches in the last row of the bottom border. Likewise, I decreased 22 stitches in the first row of the top border.

Fidgety business (for the truly obsessive only): I ended the center section two rows early (on row 13 of Chart A). However, as I knit the first row of the top border (a RS row), I worked the cable crossings from the next row of the Charts, except all in knit stitches. Why? Two reasons: First, the square was getting a little bit tall, and this let me shave 2 rows off. Second, I think this matched the transition out of the bottom border better. As a bonus, since this was the decrease row, I hid some of the decreases in the cable crossings.