April 01, 2014

What a HOOT!

Spring is definitely here (cough, sneeze, rub your eyes), and I hope that you are enjoying a little front porch knitting like I am!  With the arrival of April, I'm counting down the days to my weekend in Montgomery, Alabama at the Festival of Alabama Fiber Arts (April 25 & 26), where I will be teaching a class called Mastering the Magic Loop. Of course a festival on the horizon also means new color ways to dye and goodies to make up.  Speaking of goodies, these little guys will be making their debut at the festival with me.

I hit upon this idea recently, what with all the to-do about owls and mustaches and such everywhere I go (plus I have a 10 year-old daughter who soaks up trendy like nobody's business!).  These little HOOTS are about 2.5 high by 3 inches long, are hand knit and hand sewn (by me), and fiber-filled.  They make a cute addition to book bag zippers as well as being a unique key chain.

Quick to make, I've made up about 6 in the last 2 days.  Rocket is already trying to talk me into making them for gifts for friends and teachers, as well as a collection to put on her own backpack, purse, etc. After the festival, these will make it into my Etsy shop, but if you feel you desperately need one, get in touch and we'll work something out.

March 24, 2014

Monday FO: Zuzu

Once I got my act together, which involved a few more rookie mistakes, the Zuzu Petals cowl by Carina Spencer zipped right along to the bind off.  The yarn is my own Cedar Hill Farm Company Eco (fingering weight) in the Maybe colorway.  I used about 1 hank for this project, maybe a little less, and opted to work the instructions in the pattern for the fingering weight with a US #5 (3.75 mm), 16-inch circular needle.

As you can see, the yarn did a bit of a tiger stripe for the stocking stitch, but then switched to a nice striping pattern for the lace.  I probably could have done this in a solid, but then I think it would have significantly less character.

When I reached the bind off, the instructions were to use a stretchy bind off instead of the typical knitted bind off, so I did the k2tog bind off that is used by Stephen West so often with his shawls, etc.  Here's a great video for that bind off in case you don't know what I'm talking about: My Favorite Stretchy Bind Off.  I'd totally recommend this pattern if you have a lonely hank or skein of something lying around that's about 250 yds. (fingering weight) and you are looking for something quick to do with it.

March 19, 2014

Before the Fall

There are patterns that are so complex that the veins in your forehead begin to throb just thinking about the number of yarnovers and decreases and twisted stitches that they must contain.  These are the patterns that only a knitting goddess could work without sweating it. Then there are patterns that are so simple that a beginner could master them with ease. In the middle are the patterns that appear to be insanely simple (oh yeah, I can knit that up today and be wearing it tomorrow!), but which turn out to be your knitting nemesis and you just frickin' can't figure out why!

Enter ... Zuzu.  It's a cowl that's really a very small triangular shawl that's really just four yarnovers made in the same places on every right side row.  It's a purled wrong side row.  It's not brain surgery.  Hell's bells, it's not even more than, really, knitting a dish cloth for most of the pattern.  Even the lace pattern is basic.  

So could someone tell me why in the wide, wide world I have ripped back 5 times and re-knit 4, only to discover that I've continued to make the same rooky mistakes, but in different places?!?  That's a rhetorical question because I really know the answer.  Pride goeth before the Fall, even in stocking stitch.  I looked at the pattern and said to myself on Tuesday, "I can have this knit up and blocked by tomorrow. This is super simple!"  I then proceeded to inadvertently SKIP right over the initial 2-row increase pattern repeat (all 48 rows of it) and attempt to join 7 stitches into a circle and didn't seriously wonder how THAT was supposed to fit over my head until I had worked a complete next round. (Rip back #1). That should have been my first clue that my knitting brain was a bit broken. 

knit the entire first half of the pattern before it occurred to me to count my stitches.  BIG mistake.  HUGE!  I knit 48 rows, which was actually 52 because I didn't notice the center increase errors, and only then noticed both of them after independent rip out and re-knit sessions. (Rip out #s 2 & 3).  I was sure that I had fixed my stitch count (which was 4 sts off, and I had only fixed 2), so I knit another 16  rows on the darned thing, not thinking to check my stitch count against a calculator because I can't add in my head, and still didn't have the right count. Then I noticed the missing yarn over on the right-side border. (Rip out #4). I knit another row.  Still off. I noticed the missing yarnover in the left-side border. (Rip out #5). Knit a row.  Now I'm thinking that I just can't frickin' count because I've fixed 4 increase errors.  That's 4 stitches.  Then I recalled having noticed during a rip out that I had somehow knit twice in one border stitch.  I'm still missing a stitch.  By this time I have ripped back 32 rows to a pitiful little triangle. (That's Cedar Hill Farm Co.'s Eco in Maybe that I'm using.)

GUESS what row the missing yarn over belonged in? (Pause for guessing, but you probably already know if you are a knitter and have been punished for your own prideful moments.). That's right.  ROW ONE.  It was at this point that I decided that you can't really notice the missing yarnover and slipped in a M1. I counted out the correct number of stitches, and I am moving on, but warily.

Pride, my knitter friends, will get you every time!

So here we are, and after swallowing my pride, cheating with an M1, and counting EVERY stitch as I knit or purled them until I had the requisite 103, I have finished the first section of Zuzu, one hour and 17 minutes later.  The Seraphim sang sweetly (at least they were singing sweetly in my head) as I completed that last stitch and verified that I had, indeed, made it to stitch #103. And while there was only 3 snoring beagles around to share my triumph with, I feel incredibly accomplished for having completed such an incredibly simple task. (Yes, I am still in my bathrobe.)

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