Monday, 22 February 2010

Oh Dear

When I was a kid, I was incessantly clumsy and was always dropping, losing or otherwise ruining things. My parents branded me as careless, which I suppose was true to a certain extent, but not quite. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, it was more that there were just too many things going on in my head for me to keep everything in there and I’d forget things because I was in a hurry or was trying to do too many things at one time. Just to be clear on this, it was, and still is, equal opportunity carelessness. It wasn’t just that I lost things I disliked, like my glasses, my retainer or those tops Mom bought me with pink lace that I loathed so much. I lost or ruined my favourite clothes and toys just as often as anything else. Regardless of whether loved or loathed, I sweat bullets and blood every time I realized that something else had gone wrong. I tried to hide things or cover them up just so I didn’t have to admit that, once again, I’d screwed it up. This means I pretty much lived in a constant state of anxiety for about 10 years of my life, since it really was a problem I didn’t seem to be able to solve, no matter how hard I tried. I think both my parents even asked me years later if I did it all on purpose and they finally believed me when I said I hadn’t.

It's years and years later, and finally some good came out of it all. My aunt told me the story of her Hermione Scarf this weekend. She and my uncle wanted a change of scene and so they drove up to Shaver to reccy their vacation spot and have some lunch. She bundled all her stuff up, including the scarf, and carried it out to the car. On the way, they stopped by the post office and then headed off to the mountains. When they got there, my aunt couldn’t find her scarf. They tore the car apart trying to find it. My poor uncle, not only did he have to search the car, but he knows how much my aunt loves her knit wear and they were probably both sick to their stomachs knowing it was lost. Uncle is a fix-it kind of guy and something lost is something you can’t just fix, so he would have been terribly frustrated. Anyway, no scarf. So, on the way back home, with Aunt sweating bullets, Aunt forces Uncle to stop off at the post office on the million to one chance that someone will have turned it in to lost and found, even though Uncle is sure they will just have taken it if she did drop it there. As they drive up, they see something black and sodden lying in the parking lot. Dreading the worst, Aunt went and looked. Sure enough, it was the scarf. Four hours of post office parking lot. You can imagine. She picked it up to an audience of onlookers who were surely wondering why such a nice lady would be picking up black, oily cloth from the ground and putting it in her car. But it was The Scarf and she wasn’t going to leave it there. So figuring she had nothing to lose, she took it home, washed it on the hand wash cycle and you’ll never believe it, but it apparently looks as good as new.

Now, I wasn’t particularly thrilled to hear that a scarf I’d knit and looked forward to giving her for months had lain in the post office parking lot for hours and was driven over hundreds of times, but I was reminded of my childhood and that I’d been there, done that and felt sick about it, so who was I to throw stones or be upset. It happens. Also, it wasn’t a Dale of Norway. $15 and 8 hours = a new one. Not a big deal.

It also taught me that Lang cotton yarns hold up really, really well, so if you’re looking for a very sturdy, light cotton yarn, look for Lang.

Bosch washing machines also seem to be quite good.

Finally, to break up all the text, meet O’Leary; knit for one of my friend’s dissertation profs. It’s knit with a new wool called Gala which is a merino, cashmere, angora, cotton blend. It’s very soft and yummy, if expensive. I hope he likes it.

Now really, onto my Byzantine.

Friday, 19 February 2010


I don't believe it. I really don't. I seriously wonder about myself sometimes (we're back to the, I'm not actually stupid bit). I just found something I didn't know I had, but needed and would have liked to have known that they were there.

I love my KP Options needles. Adore them. I love always having the right size needle handy (I have two sets). I love not having to wonder if I need to go buy needles before I can do a project. I love that the metal needles are smooth and the yarn slides over them nicely. I love that the cables don't kink. I love being able to use them for magic loop. In fact, there's only one thing wrong with them and that is that the cable joins are weak. This means that the occasionally come apart at the seams and I wind up scrambling to get a new cable in. I've tried fixing them and that doesn't work too well, so a couple of years ago when I was home on holiday, I bought a bunch of them. At some point, I started to miss them. I'd thought I'd bought more of them than I had and couldn't remember having broken quite that many. Still, after looking high and low, I didn't find them and assumed I just must have tossed them when they broke.

Now I mentioned I have two sets of Options. Long ago, I'd split them into one set of smaller needles and one set of the larger. Today, I got an order I placed for more cables, because of the great dearth of cables, and a starter set of the Harmony needles, which I bought just to try (it was a good deal and I already had to pay for shipping). I decided to pop the Harmonies in with the Options and thus got out my two sets. This means I opened up the set with the larger needles for the first time in a while and suddenly, there they were. All of those cables I'd thought I had but couldn't find. I can't believe I'd put them in the most obvious place and forgot them. Doh! Seriously, what am I going to do when I'm 80? Invest in post its and have them plastered all over my flat?

At least I have enough cables now for a while and won't have to worry about not having replacements when they break in the middle of a project. I'll also get to try out the Harmonies, which everyone seems to love.

I'll leave you with a picture of my Winterbourne Scarf, which I've finished in the meantime and love. This is unblocked and just a piece, but the whole scarf is the same, so you're not missing anything.

Thursday, 11 February 2010


Yep. I'm a moderately well educated person. I can't spell worth a darn, but I was taught to read, analyse and commit things to memory. My parents actually paid quite a lot of money to ensure that I went to University and got an education which would allow me to do more than just flip burgers for the rest of my life. I'm even fluent in two languages (and a half since Swiss German really is a bit of a language on it's own) and have a smattering of several others. The point being. I might not be Einstein, but I'm not stupid either.

So can someone tell me why I consistently fail to read knitting patterns correctly? Honestly. You'd think I could read the lines "knit set up row and rows 1 to 4, then repeat rows 1 to 4 six times" and then remember to carry the plan out as noted. You'd think. Apparently not. Instead of just reading and remembering these lines, I have to do things the hard way. Not only have I been having difficulty with the chart, as in when to knit even and when I need to do moss stitch, but I started right in on the full chart. I knew from the pictures this was wrong. I knew there was more ribbing than that before the cable panels started, yet I ignored all the little bells going off in my head and kept knitting. Bejeebus I'm dense. I just ripped out 15 rows (of 138 stiches each) of cable panel because the penny finally dropped and the gum ball went rolling across the floor. I can't even say I was tired, because I wasn't. It's all down to inattention and failure to, well, just failure.

Maybe I should stop knitting and start doing brain training in the evenings.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Claudia’s Cardy

Finally I have something to blog about. I’ve finished my friend’s cardigan after having re-knit the front panels and finishing the sleeves. Mark this date down in your books folks, because something amazing happened. Not only did the rest of the knitting go well, but sewing up the side seams and the setting the sleeves in was a breeze. Yes, you heard me correctly, a breeze. It all went just like it was supposed to. The seams are all even with little to no stretching/adjustments to make them fit, the sleeves fit more or less perfectly and sewed in well with no puckering, the buttons went on smoothly and fit like they are supposed to and the overall effect is really nice. I’m really happy with the finished product. Yay!

Now for the bonus, it actually fits the recipient. Not just sort of, but really perfectly. Like it was made for her. OK, it was made for her, but she sent me her measurements by e-mail and never tried any of it on while I was knitting. I had been quite uncertain since the size was given as just a little bigger than her measurements with the next size being a whole lot bigger, thus leaving it out of the question. I tried for a little more ease in the gauge, which usually goes horribly wrong (see my cardi), but this time it all actually came together as it should. Amazing. Maybe I can knit sweaters after all! This would be good as I’m about to venture into knitting the Byzantine Bazic, but I’ll get to that later. Anyway, my friend was thrilled with it and wore it to her latest job interview because it looks so good on her. The only negative, if you can call it that, is that the whole sweater only took half the yarn I had planned on which means I have 13 skeins of this yarn left and it’s not a colour many people like. Ah well, I’ll figure something out.

In the meantime, I test knit a new pattern for the lovely Yarnerinas and it too, turned out well. It’s called the 55 Hugs and Kisses hat. I used the same yarn I used for my own cardigan, the Drops Paris Cotton, which means it’s lovely and soft and comfortable and good for a child in California (one Christmas pressie down!). The pattern was well written and I can recommend it for anyone, but especially those knitting earflaps for the first time. Keep checking the Yarnerinas for release. I’ll try and let you know when they publish it.

Finally, I’m making another attempt at starting my Byzantine Bazic. I really would have liked to have this sweater for this winter, but the needs of said friend were higher what with her unforeseen job loss, unforeseen major back surgery and unforeseen major brain surgery, she really needed a pick me up. So, I started looking at the pattern again and realized part of the problem the first time around is that the charts are just too small. I’d be kind of ticked if I were the designer (Kathy Zimmerman) because if I weren’t determined to do this sweater, the difficulty in deciphering the symbols would have put me off. Even with my glasses I couldn’t decipher it and zooming in with the copier or digital methods didn’t help since it just became grainy and the symbols are all too closely related to tell them apart. Fortunately, I had the time to re-create the graph in Excel myself, so I can now print it out and read it without eye strain and guesswork. I need to proof the graphs now and then I can get started, with luck at the weekend. I may, or mayn’t, skip the gauge swatch on this one and just start. The given gauge is for the cable panels which basically take up the whole sweater; ergo knitting the whole thing is really the only way to get an accurate gauge. I’d wish she had knit a plain swatch with the same needles and same yarn to give us an idea if we’re on the right path or not without having to knit half the sweater first. However, she didn’t, so I may just guess and go for it.

In the meantime, I’m tiding myself over with the Winterbourne Scarf done in a 60% cotton 40% microfiber mix (dark blue because I’m boring). It’s nice and soft and will hopefully provide me with a good alternative to my Falling Water Scarf which is getting a bit tatty. I do still love my Scarf of Non-Doom, but it’s too thick for the coming spring, so I’ll need the Winterbourne to tide me over.