Saturday, 21 February 2009

Knitter's Primal Scream

This was one of those days knitters loathe. You know the ones. The ones which start out so promising, as in, just an hour or two and I will finish this project! You're on high. You can't wait to see the final result of all your efforts. You want to finish, not because you no longer want to knit it, but because you're so happy with what you're knitting. What it turns into is one of those days during which you knit for 3 hours and wind up back at the exact same place you were the day before. Today was one of those days.

It all started out with a Happy Mistake I made a few days ago. I had been knitting back and forth (with 2.75mm needles), but switched to knitting the next piece in the round (3.5mm to get gauge). Knit said piece, looked at it and it was wonderful. This particular project requires two of the same (yes, you guessed it, it is a sweater) pieces. Next day I picked up the needles to cast on the second sleeve and to my absolute horror, I discovered that I had two very different size needles on my cable (Knit Picks Options set). One side had a 4.5mm, the other a 3.5mm. I looked at the first sleeve and it was brilliant. All smooth and nice and lovely. The gauge was right, the size was right, even the sleeve cap looked great and not a bit lumpy like the rest of the sweater where I had been knitting back and forth - I knit my knit stitches much tighter than I knit my purl stitches, ergo the lumpy look on the flat bits. I looked for the proper needle, but there were no others laying around with which I could have exchanged it. How in heaven's sake could I not have noticed this the night before? How? It's a whole size difference! Suffice it to say, I didn't notice, and after much head scratching, I know what happened. I got lucky. Very lucky. I must have knit off the 4.5mm onto the 3.5mm, which is why I got the proper gauge in the round. Then, I got even luckier. I must have been knitting onto the 4.5mm needle for the knit rows and onto the 3.5mm for the purl rows which meant I kept gauge and the piece looks all smooth and nice and lovely like it is supposed to. Talk about a happy mistake! I even learned something from it. Next time I knit flat, I will use a size smaller for the purl rows to get a better finish.

Then, today, I decided to be incredibly clever and continue the rest of the sweater using my new smaller/larger size method. The principle was good, the implementation went completely haywire. It turns out that this method does not work when knitting cables. Not at all. The flat bits looked brilliant, the cables looked like mashed potatoes thrown onto the plate in a lump. Not good. So, I ripped out all but two rows and started reknitting with 2.75mm's at the cables and the 4.5/3.5 method for the stockinette stitch. That was going really well, until I looked at the cables and realized that something was very wrong. Very wrong indeed. I had cables going in directions they were never meant to go in. It looked like a round of free-style cabling. Great if you're competing in the knitting olympics, bad if you're knitting a serious sweater. Now if the cable panels hadn't been on the ends, I would have just undone the panels and re-knit them without frogging the whole piece. However, they're at the edges, which makes doing that a bit fiddly when you're doing more than 2 or 3 rows, so I decided there was nothing for it. It had to be frogged.

At this point I was a little frustrated, but saw no particular point in getting upset. It wasn't an especially big piece of knitting and there were one or two things I knew I would be able to do a little better if I redid the whole thing. So I started taking out the needles to frog. This was the proverbial straw. The drop that made the bucket overflow. That one drip too many from the faucet. I pulled and the cable came out of the needle. I need this needle to finish the project. I've never seen a 2.75mm needle here and would have to order one and wait for it to come from the States. Gah! As much as I love circulars and Knit Picks needles, this is a huge fault they have. I've had it happen with the Options set before, but not with the fixed needles. Today, it had to happen. So, one repressed primal scream (I have neighbours, it's past 10pm, I don't think they would appreciate my need to express a primal scream for whatever reason. Explaining that it arose from the crumbling of knitting needle would probably have landed me in the local psychiatric clinic.) later, I pulled out the cable, frogged the piece and put it away for the evening.

Desperate to fix said needle so I can continue tomorrow, I got out the glue and tried to glue it. This would have worked brilliantly had the cable gone back in, but it steadfastly refused to go back into the end of the needle. I twisted gently, I pushed, I begged, I coerced, I used pliers to help push, all to no avail. Then, I looked at the burning candle on the table. Thinking that if I made the cable soft, it might go back in, I held it over the flame. It did get soft, but it also expanded. Although upon reflection this was a logical development, it was not the desired effect. I was hoping for smaller and not larger. So, still not panicking out of fear of the above mentioned clinic because I'm a rational being and am aware that it's not worth the emotional exertion, I cut off the tip which was now too big to ever fit into the needle. I sat and thought (like the rational person I am :P) and realized that metal expands when it gets hot. This time I held the needle in the flame until it got quite hot and Bob's your aunt, it went on the cable. Just to make sure it stays there, I put glue over the join and am letting it dry until tomorrow. It's not like I was going to do any more knitting tonight anyway - although I suppose I could go mend the GAPING HOLE in the BRAND NEW PAIR OF SOCKS I JUST FINISHED THE OTHER DAY (I'm repressing another primal scream as we speak, so you'll forgive the all caps). 5 min. old and the sock catches on a large sliver of wood in the floor which would usually be covered up by a rug but wasn't because the cat had just barfed on said rug and it needed to be cleaned. The result is a gash the size of Africa in the heel of my sock. Bugger.

Sometimes I do wonder why I knit.

Then I look at my Ravelry project page and realize that some things do go well. Then I remember certain family members who might actually resort to forcing me to knit socks for them at gunpoint, but would prefer I do it voluntarily. Then I look at the thank you card with photo I got of my little cousin in her cat's paw shawl and I remember why I bother. It's worth it in the end. I'm sure this one will be too.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry to laugh, but i am. Brilliant solution for the needle, though. I hope it holds! Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.