Sunday, March 25, 2007

Weaving in Ends and Casting On

I took advantage of the company of my knitting group to help ease the pain of weaving in all of those ends this week. It is a part of the knitting process that I don't much enjoy. It helps to have fantastic company, conversation and chocolate mint brownies to distract from the tedious task.

What I do enjoy is the moment that happens right after I've clipped the tail on that last end. The moment where I can say "Done!" while holding it up and admiring it. I look forward to having a photo collection on this blog to serve as a preservation of that "Done!" moment. And, in fact, by having this place to post those things my moment of conclusion will likely shift to the moment I hit the "publish" key on my blog.

There have been so many projects that I have made and admired and then sent out into the world. I can't remember them all. Many of my recipients live elsewhere in the country which means that I have little occassion to see them wearing or using something I have made for them.

I once bought one of those knitting journals in which extremely organized and, dare I say, anal retentive knitters can document their projects. It seemed like a great idea but my motivation to detail and record each project just wasn't great enough and I didn't much like the fill-in-the-blank formula. In truth, the only use I ever got out of the journal was by shoving yarn labels into the back pocket of it. Hardly worth the $20.

So, finishing all of my projects left me with only one project left on the needles. That project is my first fair isle project - a pair of mittens from the Fall 2003 issue of Interweave Knits. The pattern is very literally titled "Colorwork Hat and Mittens". As this is my first fair isle project I am not able to work on it unless I am in a undistracted setting. That eliminates my usual knitting contexts which include knitting groups or while watching crime TV shows. I have accepted that this will be a very slow-going project both in terms of the actual knitting pace and the sporadic attention being devoted to it.

What this all leads to is an important question: What next? As I accumulate more resources, more techniques and more yarn this question becomes more and more difficult to answer. I spent a good chunk of time last night trying to figure out the answers to that all important question. Should I make a hat? How about some mittens? What could I do with this beautiful skein of silk yarn? I think I want to make a scarf out of this yarn, but what do I want it to look like? And, will I ever be brave enough to try another sweater?

The answer to that last question is important because, up to this point, I have not had the best luck with garments. My history of garments that are intended to cover my upper half have included a "one size fits all" ribbed tank top, a shawl neck sweater and a camisole. The one-size fits all tank was executed fine but appears to add about 20 pounds to my body when I wear it. It did "fit" but did not flatter. I guess it fat-ered! The shawl neck sweater was a disaster. I substituted a cotton yarn for a wool yarn. The gauge matched but the drape did not. I was not experienced enough to realize this until that moment where I tried on the finished sweater and hated it. The shawl neck was ill designed and waaaay too big both aesthetically and practically speaking. I let it sit in a time out for a year before I ripped the neck and tried to salvage the top of the sweater. I did a decent job creating a new neckline but that didn't change the drape problem. That brings us to the most recent garment that I knitted: a camisole. The camisole is wearable but the straps roll under and the perfectionist in me just can't feel proud of it.

So (you can stop holding your breath now), the answer is YES! I started a new sweater. It is a top-down raglan sweater made from the calculated pattern at The Knitting Fool

I actually made a full-out swatch before starting this project. I am a skimper when it comes to swatching. I usually make an itty bitty swatch and cross my fingers that it will be accurate enough. I am determined to make this sweater wearable and having it fit is a big factor. I have already come across a mistake in the pattern. The initial cast-on number for the neckband was 54 stitches which were supposed to be worked in the round as a k2, p2 rib. Unless I am totally deft in the math on this one the math and the first attempt at a neckband tell me that 54 stitches worked in a 2x2 rib results in the first 2 and the last 2 stitches being knitted. I believe that the span of knitted stitches would have been the front and center of the sweater neckband. Phew! I am glad that I didn't space out on that one....or else, I may sworn off sweaters for ever. My solution was to make it a seed stitched neckband. Now, if only I can remember to make the cuff and bottom edge in seed stitch.

So, before I publish this I need to show you some pictures to go along with these million words.

Felted (Fulled) Mittens - Nancy Lindberg pattern
Brown Sheep - Nature Spun Yarn
I have made this pattern before, but this time I plan to compare the pre and post-felting measurements.

Ball Band Dishcloth - Mason Dixon Knitting/Peaches and Cream pattern

Knit to Fit Ankle or Calf Socks - Nancy Lindberg pattern
Araucania Yarns - Atacama - Color 507
I modified this pattern by using ribbing on the arch of the foot. I also added reinforcing thread to the heel. The other feet in the picture above belong to my dog.

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