Monday, January 21, 2008

Holding pattern

I keep plugging away on the Lopi Monstrosity. Well, at least for a while I did. I got about halfway up the second button band, when I decided I needed a break. This is how it looks right now:
I can truly say that it is nearly done. All I have to do is finish this button band, sew it on, do the top band, and stash all the ends. This really isn't much when you consider the totality of the sweater. But I find myself unable to pick it up. Sewing the button band on is not a fun job, with the way the yarn keeps breaking. Plus, I am pretty unhappy with it. I know I'll wear it when it is done. Frankly, we definitely are experiencing Lopi-worthy temperatures this weekend. This sweater would have been appreciated by some of the folks at Lambeau Field last night. But I am annoyed. I am not happy with the way the colorwork turned out. Clearly, I am not meant to be a knitter of colorwork. I need to remember this for the future. Stick to texture, Sydney.

So, I've been taking a break. First was the palate cleansing Lobby Dishcloth by Kay Gardiner. Mmm, cotton. Mmm, brighter colors. Not brown. Not scratchy icelandic wool. Mmm.
This was fun, although there were far too many ends to tuck away to make it the perfect palate cleasing project. I had never done mitered squares before, and I liked them. They were easy and different. I kind of messed up the edging: I wanted to do an applied i-cord, but ended up doing something that looks almost exactly like your basic crochet but was a heck of a lot more work. Oops. Oh! Look: there's more colorwork. More oops.

Next up, I returned to the December kit from the Rockin' Sock Club: the Salish Sea Socks.
Salish Sea Sock
The first sock is done, and I learned a lot while making it. This method of making the toe is very different from anything I had done before, and it looks really cool. I also am pleased with the way the heel turned out, even though it was rather slow-going. The explanation in the pattern is so clear. The lacy, cable-y gusset on top of the foot is way cool, too, although perhaps a smidge too big. I even like the wavy edging on the top. I'm not in love with the pattern for the leg, however. I am looking forward to using some of these techniques in my own future projects. But first I need to do the second sock.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lopi Purgatory

This sweater is driving me crazy. I am so over this yarn, this pattern, and everything about this sweater. Did you all know that Lopi yarn has no elasticity to it at all? That its single ply will, at times, just shred or rip apart while you are knitting it? For no apparent reason? No? YES? Why didn't someone tell ME? I have decided that doing colorwork, back and forth (knitting and purling), with this particular yarn, on circular needles, could be a very effective form of torture. Does the C.I.A. know about this?

This is the only project I have been working on for the past week. I finished the second sleeve last weekend, which meant that I could start the yoke. Silly me--I thought that meant I was nearly done, so I decided to concentrate on this sweater until I finished. After all there were just two charts, totalling 32 rows, plus a couple transition rows with decreases so the number of stitches would go down. It should be done in a week, right? Wrong.


I forgot how much I dislike colorwork. I hate stranding. I am not very good at it. I am veeeery slooooow at it. I'm also not too fond of circulars, but when you're working 295 bulky weight stitches, you need circulars. I am veeeeery sloooow on circulars. Combine colorwork and circulars, and now you've got me down to knitting at a snail's pace. Even worse: because this is a cardi, I had to work the chart back and forth on the circs. Does anyone like purling while stranding? And, although it may be hard to tell from these pictures because my color choices were not the greatest, there are 3 colors to keep track of here, not just 2.

This pattern also became really, really irritating. First, there were the ever unhelpful vague directions like "decrease 58 stitches evenly throughout the row, resulting in 237 stitches." What? Couldn't they even try to come up with an amount that would divide evenly into the total you are starting with? Would it have killed them to give you some idea of how to do this evenly over the row, like k2tog k2, k2tog, k3, repeat, or something like that? Apparently this is knitting torture--we're supposed to figure it out for ourselves.

Then I took a good look at chart 2 and noticed 2 things. Not only were the contrast stitches put in the wrong row in the chart (they had everything shifted down one row), but, I mean, come on. You want me to carry a strand of yarn for this? There has to be a better way.


I decided it was a good time to learn the duplicate stitch. See the difference between my versionb above and the picture? I just knitted the white block and embrodered the brown on top after I finished the body. Much better than knitting it into the body and holding that brown yarn behind the whole time. I really think if I had tried to do that I might have thrown this damn thing in the fire. So here's my duplicate stitching. Looks good, doesn't it?


Then, just when I thought this pattern could not annoy me more, I realized that it had me starting with the same color yarn on different ends of the chart. What's that all about? Talk about adding insult to injury--why did they have to do that? They know we have to work this thing back and forth. They couldn't pick up the brown on the same side of the sweater they last used it? No. Once again, this is knitting torture. Cut the ball and reattach it on the other side. What's another 2 ends to weave in, right? There already are so many.


After all the cursing and complaining, I finally finished the body late last night. But am I done? No. I still have the 2 button bands and the collar. In seed stitch. My favorite.



I think I need my next project to be a dishcloth. Unless... is there anything smaller than a dishcloth? A webkinz hat? No, that requires shaping. A webkinz scarf?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

What We Did on our Christmas Vacation

1. I finished all my Christmas knitting on time. All told, I made 3 hats, 2 pairs of socks and 3 scarves.

2. Cat Crazy daughter threw up all Christmas Eve night. Around 3 a.m., after ridding herself of every drop of Gatorade we had allowed her at 2 a.m., she quite touchingly made Rich promise not to let her throw up all over her presents in the morning. Poor thing. Fortunately, that was the end of the upchucking. She enjoyed Christmas Day, although she was rather weak and was napping by lunchtime.

3. I finished my Inside Out socks from the Rockin' Sock Club. This was the first kit they sent me. In late February. Roughly 10 months ago. I whipped through the 1st sock, but then lost my momentum on the 2nd for various reasons. I did not really like the yarn color. Also, I was dreading doing the cable/rib leg, because it was so hard on my hands. So it just ended up lying around half-finished for months.

Then, the last shipment from the club arrived last week. (I love this kit, by the way, and I am looking for ward to doing this one.) The kit contained a "report card" where they gave you grades for how many pairs of club socks you finished during the year. I was horrified to realize that I had not finished a single pair of club socks. I was a Sock Poser! Suddenly I was consumed by a need to finish this pair, and so I did. I wove in the last end the evening of December 31.
I can also report that I am halfway up the foot of the 2nd sock from the Solstice Slip kit from June (on the right, above), so my GPA is improving.

4. I decluttered and scrubbed the master bath 'til it shined. I don't have a before picture--it was too frightening to record for posterity--but here is an "after:"
It's amazing how much you can fit in the cabinets and drawers once you throw away all the expired medicine and the creams and lotions that you hate but don't want to throw away because of what they cost. Look at all that counter space!

5. In a similar vein, Rich decluttered and scrubbed the home office. Amazingly, we did these things after our Christmas company left. Most people clean before the company arrives, don't they? Here's the office, and the boxed up clutter, waiting to go up to the attic:
Lookie! I see the rug, and the desktop. Woohoo!

6. In a totally geeky slugfest, we watched the extended versions of all 3 Lord of the Rings movies (we did spread them out over a week or so) with the kids. It was Cat Crazy daughter's first time seeing the movies, and she did very well, consider how complicated and scary they can be. Yes, we showed PG-13 movies to our 9 yo. We are bad geeks. But I don't think she's been badly damaged, do you?
Her spelling can be creative at times. And her Balrog doesn't look too scary, does it?

7. Cat Crazy daughter beat "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" on Guitar Hero III on her 2nd try.
This is news, because it took her about 18 times to beat "Slowride." Like the way Mathboy is shadowing her here, as if he could will her to hit the right keys? If she could just pass this song, it would be his turn.... In a side note, I think fuzzy leopard slippers are going to be The Next Big Thang for Guitar Heroes around the world.

8. Mathboy researched 23 questions for his homework for the upcoming Montessori Model U.N. project. He carefully divided the total number of questions so that he had a few to do each day, and did his daily allotment, no more or less. Funny, I think I would have tried to do as much as possible in the early days of the vacation to give myself more free time later. Whatever. It's done and that's the important thing. Go ahead: just ask him a question about Sweden. I dare you.

9. I learned Judy's Magic Cast On. It rocks! I am never going back.

10. I saved Tamriel from the dreaded Mehrunes Dagon.