Thursday, May 28, 2009

Confessions of a new knitter

Greetings all! I am proud to announce that I am probably two hours away from finishing my first scarf.

This scarf has taken me at for what feels like an eternity to come as far as I have with this project.

I should say here that I have only made a pot holder before this scarf. No picture folks, it has holes and something like an appendage.

Back to business. The scarf is made with Red Heart yarn I purchased at my friendly, neighborhood Wal*Mart. It is 30 stitches wide, and is currently about 3.5 feet long but will probably top off at just under 4 feet. We'll see how close I come to that guestimate.
I thought of the pattern myself and is pretty simple. Hey, I am new at this and really only know how to knit and purl. Nothing fancy. (Actually, there is a good chance that my stitches are not executed well. I learned to do this online and with some e-mailed instructions from lilyriver and The Bolter (thanks, guys).) Back to the pattern. It goes like this: the first row is all knit stitches; the second row has six purl stitches, six knit stitches, six purl stitches, six knit stitches and six purl stitches. After 25 rows, I switched the order of knit and purl stitches just to give it a little something extra.

So why has this project taken me so long? The first two attempts yielded scarves that were something like 80 stitches wide. Yikes!! I unraveled my first attempt after about 20 rows. However, I used about half a skein (about 50 rows maybe) before I unraveled the scarf, which more closely resembled a very small blanket. I was at home for Easter at the time and my sister was shocked when I took the thing apart to start over.

I have a problem casting on that perhaps you will read about. Perhaps not.

Some other problems I have encountered include knots (thanks to The Bolter I no longer fear cutting a knot out and weaving in the loose yarn ends into a project) and adding stitches. My stitches are not all uniform in size or tightness. But I am getting better at that.

One saving grace of using multi-colored yarn is that the colors help me see which stitch may need to come out or what part of the knot can be loosened by pulling what end. I just bought some monochome yarn for my next project. We shall see how well I fare. We shall see.

Until then, happy reading and happier knitting.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pocket full of poseys.

Let me tell you, Reader, sometimes a knitting project just goes right. As Lilyriver can attest, I normally start a project at least three or four times, often in vastly different and generally inappropriate yarns and needle sizes, before it starts doing what I want it to do. But this Hemlock Ring blanket and I were MFEO, in internet parlance. I convey emotion through chatspeak because I spend too much time on the internet and have forgotten how to read books.

But no matter. My semester ended a week ago, and since then, thanks to the help of three quarters of a season of Fringe and half a season of DS9, I cranked out most of the aforementioned Hemlock Ring blanket. I can think of no better way to decompress. It was damn near cathartic. You'll have to forgive me, Reader; freedom, even temporary freedom (time marches on; one must prepare to teach one's summer course), makes me ecstatic.

Generally, by the end of a large project, I want to die. The thing about knitting is that most of the work is rote: the repetition of a particular pattern over and over again to achieve a desired result. But I was born in the eighties, and I demand instant results! This is because of music videos, as I understand it. Nevertheless, this project remained enjoyable up until the last 536-stitch repeat of five rows, at which point I started to wish the baby I knit this for was less of a human and more of a Polly Pocket. (The eighties, you know.)

Project notes: I used the Rainey Sisters' helpful compilation PDF, and I followed their feather-and-fan chart all the way, three repeats past Brooklyn Tweed's. The link above takes you to Brooklyn Tweed's project page; he adapted the pattern for a blanket from a doily. His blanket is a HW/Bulky-adult-lap-blanket. To make it light, small, and machine-washable for a baby, I used Knit Picks Comfy worsted weight in Honeydew with a size 8 needle. The yarn is cotton/acrylic and everything you could hope for in a blanket yarn. It's very light and easy to work with (read: not splitty); for this color, at least, shedding was minimal. The blocked blanket (sigh: the pictures are from while it was being blocked; if you want artistry in project photography, surf on over to Brooklyn Tweed) measured 52" in diameter.