Category Archives: scarves

Knitting equals math.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently: though it’s tempting to jump right in and start knitting away, careful planning can help you avoid a trip to the frog pond.

You’d think I would have learned my lesson from this little fiasco, but no, my thought process for my aunt’s garter-stitch scarf (a Christmas gift due in exactly eight days) went like this:

Saturday, 11:30 a.m. Dammit, I dropped a stitch in this other garter-stitch scarf I’m making – it’s not responding to my attempts to fix it, so I’ll put it aside for the moment. I’m glad I brought another project to work on for this car ride.

Saturday, 11:45 a.m. Pattern says cast on 15 stitches on size 11 needles, knit every row. I brought size 10 needles because I’m a loose knitter – I’ll cast on two extra stitches to make it a little wider. That should work out fine (right?) because smaller stitches on a smaller needle take less yarn, so it will all even out in the end.

Sunday, 8:45 a.m. Wow, this is going fast. I’m almost done with the first ball of yarn, and it’s only taken a day. I might actually finish all of my Christmas knitting on time.

Sunday, 10:03 a.m. I’m running out of yarn – this scarf is going to be too short. Cripes.

Sunday, 10:04 a.m. Panicking seems to be a good idea. Does anyone carry the yarn I need locally? No? Should I pay nearly the cost of the yarn in postage to buy more? Should I *gasp* frog the entire thing and start over? I. am. the. worst. knitter. ever. (See, that’s the panic talking.)

It was at this point that Knit One, Purl Too’s official Scarf Knitting Technician (my husband) took over, reminding me that if I knew my gauge and did some simple math, I could say “I want a four foot scarf, how many stitches should I cast on on size 10 needles?” and get my answer. My answer was thirteen. See? Math helps because my earlier guess that took me in the other direction (more stitches) was wrong! Guessing=bad. Math=good!

So now, I am in a thirteen-stitches-wide knitting frenzy, almost back to where I was before I frogged (actually, since this picture was taken, showing the tiny yarn nugget remaining from the first ball, I’ve knitted through lunch and watched three hours of television and am nearly halfway through the second ball). For what it’s worth, I’ve also done a decent job of picking up the dropped stitch in garter scarf #1, so that’s three out of four holiday gifts close to completion. Thank goodness! But I’ve made some rules for next year:

1. All holiday knitting must be completed by Halloween. Start anytime during the year, finish by November 1.

2. If I participate in gift exchanges with family or co-workers, where I don’t know the recipient’s taste far in advance, those will be the only holiday projects allowed after November 1.

3. Ideally, those gifts will be another version of an item I’ve previously knitted, to avoid finding out midstream that a particular technique takes far longer than I thought.

4. Only under the most dire knitting circumstances will I allow myself to knit under time constraints that cause me to utter the words “I don’t have time to make a mistake with this project.” For then, I surely will do just that.

5. If I make a mistake, I am not allowed to abandon or perform major frogging on a gift project for at least 24 hours – I’ll let the error mellow rather than acting out of panic. Perspective is everything.

6. When all holiday knitting is done, I’ll reward myself with a large, relaxing (perhaps even complex) project to wind down from all the hats and scarves – knitted at whatever pace I want.

The before picture.

Holiday knitting in full swing here – as I said to Alison:

Two, count them two projects on the needles at once; a garter stitch scarf I’m calling Pemberley, because I’m knitting it while listening to the Pride and Prejudice audio book, and the first of three ribbed watch caps that I’m referring to as “my god, I had no idea ribbing would take so long.” I’m planning on calling the second “here’s hoping I don’t knit the wrong way around and accidentally short row this hat like I did the last one” and the third will be “hope you like your blasted hat.” The yarn is nice, I will say that for 100% merino.

Saddest auction ever – you know the woman selling the sweater is not Arleen, and I feel appropriately yarn righteous that she can’t tell the difference between Noro and Koigu (yes, i was searching EBay for Koigu). As I write this, the high bid is $34; let’s hope for Arleen’s sake it reaches the cost of the yarn it took to make the sweater.

Yarn spun from border collie hair; let me be clear – I would by dog hair yarn, but I do not know if I would buy “outside dog who has rolled in mud and whose hair is kind of smelly” yarn.

Tomorrow, we leave on a long-weekend car trip to upstate New York, and you know what that means – car knitting! So this is the “before” picture – I hope the after picture will be really ribby, and hopefully three stripes long.

Eff-Oh, version 1.

scarffinished.jpgLoads of good news all around: I’m delighted to report that I have an FO: I finished the Bernat knit-and-purl scarf with a minimum of fuss – it turned out nicely, no? My finishing technique is improving, even if it’s just a few stray ends, and the tension was pretty consistent throughout. If I had it to do over again, I might knit it in the round, a la the Harry Potter Scarf becaue I am so over looking at the wrong side of a garment (though the reverse of the Bernat scarf looks just fine, really).

To my shock, I also found out that I won a Knitting Beyond the Hebrides Virtual Conference door prize for naming five yarns that could be used as substitutes for Alice Starmore’s dear, departed Aran-weight Bainin:

Rowan Magpie
Annabel Fox 3 ply
Bovidae Farm fisherman weight wool
Cascade 220

It’s some delicious Donegal Tweed. Though I still rank as a novice knitter by KBTH standards, I cannot tell you how interesting the list and the Virtual Conference are to me – my knitting is improving by osmosis, and techniques that seemed mysterious are making loads more sense thanks to the lively KBTH discussion.

Finally, my knitting mentor called me back – she’s offering classes locally – and they start tonight! The first session is really for beginners, but she specifically mentioned that people with stalled projects were welcome – that means the felted tote and I have a date! I’ve actually managed to get it started (I know – it actually worked!), but I could still use a little DPN driver’s ed. Onward and upward!

One ball of yarn down.

Work on the scarf is progressing, thanks to the long weekend (click the photo for a closer view), and I used up my very first ball of yarn. One ball of yarn down, three million to go. Christine Lavin says that you should cover knitting mistakes with sequins, and while this scarf needs some sequins, it’s a respectable first effort. I’m also a little tired of it, and ready to make sweaters and socks, truly useful everyday clothing. My friend Beverly taught herself to knit by making several of the sweaters from Knitting Pure and Simple, including this v-neck tunic – I’d make it a little more cropped (so I guess it would no longer be a tunic), but I’m all over that v-neck. How fun would that be?

In other news, I made a new design for Knit One, Purl Too using the Firda-matic page maker from Firda Beka – kind of a bring your own graphics and colors, take away a new layout kind of thing. Cool, huh? (See the three-column version here.) Only about 14 inches to go on that scarf – and that’s not counting the fringe.

Inch by inch.

Here’s the progress on the Bernat Knit and Purl scarf so far; getting longer inch by inch – about six or eight down, 43 or 41 to go. It’s a nice P1 K1 rib with knit rows inbetween. I don’t understand why the rows fit together the way they do, rather than looking more like they alternate, but you can see the changes more on the wrong side of the work.

This week has been all about knitting books, thanks to interlibrary loan – my favorite thus far has been Hip to Knit, by Judith Swartz, which is fun, easy to read and well-laid out and has lots of cute projects, including an unconstructed slim cardigan. The instructions for her two tassel hat helped me finally understand how cables worked, and her mismatched striped socks have me absolutely choming at the bit to sock away. My sock research will get an entry of its own soon, I’m sure.

As if that weren’t enough, I also got The Knitting Goddess by Deborah Bergman, and The Knitter’s Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman. A quick look through both of them leads me to conclude that my first impressions will probably be proved right: Bergman’s philosophy of knitting is entertaining, but she’s long on words and short on patterns – though I may never knit long underwear as Elizabeth does, I’ll get more out of the Knitter’s Almanac in the long run.

Back to the needles – I had a goal of finishing the first ball of yarn for the scarf this weekend. Let’s see how close I get.

Scarf mania!

I finished up the wonton last night; all that’s left is to fill it with catnip and stitch it up. I’ve started on a simple knit-and purl scarf in Bernat DenimStyle, mostly because I need the practice. True to form, shortly after purchasing the Bernat, I found this cute Harry Potter scarf pattern; it’s a tube scarf with fringe, and I think it would be a lot of fun, either with the colors indicated or some wilder ones.