Saturday, August 25, 2007

when bad things happen to good sweaters

I like to believe that sweaters are inherently good. Sometimes they will do bad things, like slipping into the washing machine and felting, or running away when you take the bus, but mostly they want to be good. They warm you, shelter you from the rain, and sometimes they're just there to be pretty.

Which is why I think it is so sad when bad things happen to them. Like, oh, I don't know, when a steek decides to leave and your sweater explodes.

I do not know why or how this happened. I had used the crocheted steek (method can be found on Eunny's old blog) and successfully picked up stitches for the border, as you saw in my last post. A few days ago, I picked it up and started to knit the border, and whole sections of the crocheting fell away and left hundreds of loose yarn ends to frantically try and run through the whole sweater. I entered a strange stage of calm. I carefully put the sweater down, covered it with a pillow to protect it from the cat, and sent out a few e-mails asking for help.

As I should have known, the very talented Hege was the one who ended up with the best solution. We both agreed that it needed to be sewn somehow, but whereas I was all for pulling out the sewing machine and trying to drill it all down, Hege recommended Dawn Brocco's handsewn steek method.

This worked so well that I almost couldn't believe it. So far, I have sewn two rows up the left side of the cardigan, effectively anchoring all those ends that so badly want to move. I think I may do one more row, just to be sure. I'll then have to repeat this on the right side - so far that side is holding together much better, but I don't want to take any risks, and besides, it will be symmetrical this way. At that point I'll pull off the crocheting and then carefully tack the cut ends to the back.

As I said, I'm not sure why this happened. I examined the edges carefully, and as far as I can tell, I executed the method correctly. I'd used this method in the past, on both the Crichton cardigan and Snow Sky, and hadn't encountered anything like this. My only ideas are that perhaps the fingering weight merino is just too small and slippery for the edging to hold, and/or maybe I didn't pull the crocheting tight enough. Whatever the reason, I will definitely not be in a hurry to use this method ever again.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

for whom the bell tolls

I never thought I'd make it far enough to say this, but the end is in sight! Thanks in great part to Hege, I was able to sew in the sleeves successfully, with minimal tears and sweat. I cut the steek last night, and picked up more than 400 stitches to make the border for the fronts and neck. All that's left now is actually knitting the border, sewing the final picot hem at the bottom, and then putting on the sweater and passing out into a heap until I've mustered up the strength to drive to the yarn store and pick out yarn for another colorwork sweater. I'm guessing that will take, say, 10 minutes.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

one is the loneliest number

Meet my sock.

It's the "Little Child's Sock" from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. There's only one problem:

I can't find another skein of the yarn to make its mate.

The sock and I are just going to hope that winter will bring back more colors of Froelich Blauband to the local yarn store. We can wait.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007


If nothing else, I am the queen of procrastination. Throughout the years, I have managed to complete three week papers the night before they were due, applied to and practiced for concerto competitions the very week they were happening, and regularly I put off doing laundry for so long that I discover clothes in the hamper that I didn't even know I had.

Fortunately, nothing really bad has ever happened to me for being such a procrastinator, so I forge ahead, often looking over my shoulder and getting distracted along the way.

Enter, the Alpine Lace shawl from Victorian Knits Today. My Poetry in Stitches cardigan has been stuck in the slow lane for just too long. It took me about three weeks to get around to actually crocheting the steek, and then another week before I managed to sew one seam (three are left). I know it will eventually get done, but in the meantime it's nice to have something I will actually work on. This shawl is worked all in one piece, and so far I've completed the bottom border and have started work on the center section - you can see the double rose leaves that make up the center in the picture. I'm using Crystal Palace lace yarn, which appears to be discontinued. If anyone knows anything different, please share. The yarn is lovely to work with, and manages to have a really good stitch definition while still having a little halo that I think makes the shawl even look soft. I have about 30 more repeats of the double rose leaves to go, and then I have to knit the top border, so I have good faith that I will get bored with it and meekly go back to my cardigan soon.

I don't usually find yarn itself very exciting, preferring to share pictures of it when it is actually something, but this is just too cool to ignore. I went yarn shopping this morning, and in the very back of the store, in a basket labeled "40% off", and underneath a big pile of Rowan Polarspun, I discovered these three, literally dust-covered, little skeins of Jamieson & Smith cobweb lace yarn. They really are so small - each skein is 250 yards, but isn't even as large as my hand.

This is the first time I've ever seen cobweb yarn, and it just blows me away. The skeins weren't marked with the "X" that means they are on sale, and there was no price tag, so the saleswoman sold them to me for $6, total. I felt so lucky! I also managed to unearth a lone skein of the Crystal Palace lace yarn, so even if I'm never able to find it again, I will have two shawls out of it. The saleswoman wound that up for me, too, so I won't have to waste time winding the 850+ yards. For years I have staunchly kept to my hand-winding routine, but after seeing her crank the swift and ball winder, I might have to change my mind.

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