Posts Tagged by technical
|16 December 2013||Posted by Ness under Knitting|
It was the best of intentions; it was the worst of intentions.
Handing her sweater back to my mom this weekend was a great feeling. Having it fit exactly as she wanted, and not having the fact that the two sleeve ends were knit differently be noticeable without looking too hard was also great. At some point in the future if it REALLY bothers me, I might fix it, but for now, she’s got her lovely colourwork Norwegian sweater back.
But sitting down today and looking for the photographs I took when she gave me that sweater to adjust was not a great feeling. Because she gave it to me last Christmas.
See up there in the corner? And on the tree to the left? Christmas decorations. Christmas decorations. Which means that this project has been kicking around since before I started the blog and podcast.
I am a horrible daughter.
I’ll grant you, there were a few stumbling blocks. First there was trying to find suitable substitute yarn, and realizing that I needed to keep the yarn from the cuffs to use because I wouldn’t be able to match the white, while the black I could. And it really has only been this year that I’ve started to get knitting construction, been able to finagle patterns and yarn to do what I want. And let’s not talk about the worst part of the whole thing: scissors.
I did try to unravel the sleeves from the cast-on edge up, a prospect that anyone who has tried it can tell you is a bit of a bear. But I would have kept at it, if the yarn hadn’t been split and knit at one point. There was no way around it. I was going to have to cut the darn cuff off and hope for the best. It was frightening. I knew that with steeks, you’re usually working with regular wool, and I knew that this was superwash, and I didn’t trust it. But I ended up catching the stitches, snipping, and unraveling, and the sweater didn’t spontaneously combust, or unravel, much to my surprise. After that, it was a relatively simple matter of reverse-engineering the colourwork pattern and knitting the cuff down from the black yarn I’d bought, and the white yarn I’d salvaged. In August, I had one sweater cuff.
I went back in the blog, trying to remind myself of the progression of this project. I had fully intended to whip up that last sleeve and have it back to my mom in August, when we were down for their anniversary. We test-fit the completed sleeve and it was the right length. After that, it’s a little hazy. But I do remember one thing: when I cut off the second cuff, the number of stitches in the second sleeve was different from the first. The sleeves had different stitch counts at the same point.
I expect this is why the sweater wasn’t finished that weekend in August. I expect that’s also why it lingered here in project purgatory, until I came up with a new plan. And yes, the second sleeve extension is knit from the cuff up and Kitchenered on. It was the simplest way I could think of to knit the same cuff pattern, yet make the stitch count match with the original sleeve. But it worked.
If you look real close at the right sleeve, you can see that there’s an extra row of white that there isn’t on the left. If you look even closer than you can in this photo, you can see that in that extra row of white, there are some twisted stitches. And if you look really really close, you can see that the stitch direction between the left and right cuff are reversed.
I’m enough of a perfectionist that it bothers me a little bit. I’m enough of a realist to know that I’m the only one looking for it (except all of you, but I’ve told you to look for it). And I’m enough of a pragmatist to know that it really doesn’t matter if there’s one extra row of white on one sleeve, with a few twisted stitches and opposite stitch directions.
The sleeves are long enough now, they’re warm, and even though it took me just shy of one full year to get it done, there’s still a whole bunch of winter left for that sweater to see some use. And because I’ve gone through the whole process – challenged myself, reverse-engineered, overcome my fear of scissors, and done a lot of Kitchener stitch – that sweater will now see more use than it has in the fifteen years since it was first knit. And next time I have to do something like this, it sure as heck won’t take me a year to do it. Thanks for the challenge, Mom! Enjoy your sweater.
|23 October 2013||Posted by Ness under Knitting|
I love doing swaps. I can’t do them too often, but I love participating when I can. So when this season’s swap in one of my Ravelry groups came up, and it was a dragon theme, well, I just had to do it. Me and dragons go way back. They were one of the things I drew most often back when I was much younger and drew a little bit. My bookshelves had their fair share of dragons on them, books like Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher and Heart’s Blood and Dragon Riders of Pern (naturally). Dragons figured in my scribblings, and they fired up my imagination. There’s just something about dragons, you know?
My swap partner is partial to deeper, earthier colours and non-fitted garments, so a scarf seemed an appropriate project to include in her box. I settled on the Dragon’s Eye Scarf by Jan Henley, and after an aborted attempt at using handspun, cast on with Lang Jawoll Magic sock yarn in the descriptive colourway 84.0026. Basically, it’s blue, yellow, gray, and brown interspersed with black in short colour repeats.
I added one scale section of 26 stitches, and realized soon enough that doing so changed the number of decreases I needed for the scroll section (Whew! That would have been ugly if I hadn’t), but the pattern itself is written only, and since I learned to use charts four years ago, written instructions and me just don’t get along. After the first two pattern rows, I gave up and charted it out on graph paper instead. That was when I had the first inkling that something might not be right. The pattern includes two stitch patterns, a scale pattern to start, a scroll pattern in the middle, and then the scale pattern again, but reversed. The pattern said to do rows 12-1, and then a garter border, and bind off. I didn’t even have to start charting it to know that wasn’t going to look right. So when I sketched out the chart, I reversed the directions of all the decreases, which makes for a pretty looking chart that mirrors the other side.
At this point, I merrily knit along (dabbling with beads but deciding not to), until I got to the end of the scroll pattern, and then started to knit the reversed scales. I got part way through the second pattern row when I realized things still weren’t lining up. Something was wrong.
Now, even six months ago, this might have been the end of it. I would have thrown my hands up in defeat. ‘The pattern isn’t working!’ I might have cried. ‘Maybe I should knit the scale pattern as rows 1-12 instead, because I know that works!’ But that was then, and this is now. And now? I stopped knitting on the scarf, and swatched.
First, as a baseline, I knit the scale pattern as it is in the pattern, rows 1-12. Next, I knit the reversed scale pattern as it is written in the pattern, rows 12-1. Definitely not right. Just a blob of stockinette with some pretty poor shaping, but no defined scale pattern as there is in the baseline. Third up, I knit the reversed scale pattern with the direction of the decreases reversed, so rows 12-1 with k2tog changed into ssk and vice versa. This was how I’d charted it. It’s a little better – cleaner – but still no scales to be seen. I was halfway through that incarnation when I realized what I had to do. Instead of reversing the decreases, I had to reverse everything – turn increases into decreases, and decreases into increases. That yielded the fourth stitch pattern, closest to the needle, which isn’t quite the same as the original, but is close enough. There are defined scales in this version, and if they are a touch smaller or larger than the original, it’s because at that point, I couldn’t get my head around doing a double-increase and still have it lean left and right without having a stitch in the middle. It has a scale pattern, it’s reversed from the original stitch pattern, and it’s a sight better than the two in the middle, so I called it a win. I pulled back the two-and-a-bit rows I’d done, and knit the rest of the scarf.
When did that switch flip for me? When did I become the sort of knitter for whom patterns (at least for scarves, please don’t get me started on sweaters) are just a suggestion? Have I read too much Elizabeth Zimmerman? Have I just knit enough that I can see what the stitches are doing?
Is it a short slippery slope from here to the point where I design my own patterns? Is there enough artistry hiding in my brain to do that?
At the very least, there’s enough understanding of knit construction, or at least stitch pattern construction, for me to reverse-engineer the look I wanted, and that the designer was going for. Yes, I could have just knit rows 1-12 as written and created scales on the opposite side, going in the same direction as the first scales, and it might have looked just fine. But this?
This is what I wanted. And I made it happen.
Tomorrow (hopefully), a bit more about dragons, this time in crochet!
Because you might ask, I’ve added my modifications (written instructions) to my project page on Ravelry, where hopefully they will be useful to someone else who does the scarf. If you find it useful, click my ‘helpful’ button so people know!
|2 September 2013||Posted by Ness under Spinning|
August is over, which means that my month off of homework is also over, but I figured I’d give myself Labour Day, and finish up the Frazzlebatt 3-ply.
I started spinning these on Aug. 17, and finished spinning the final singles on Sunday, so today it was time to ply.
I guessed the singles TPI at 7.5, so when I did my math, it said to do three treadles for a four-inch ply drafting length. I taped out four inches on my lap cloth, and got started.
Plying is one of those things in spinning. You don’t think it should take as long as it actually does. I mean, you’ve already done the hard part, right? The spinning, making sure your singles are nice and even and with good twist. Plying is just easy, treadle and feed, treadle and feed, and that’s it. Right?
At some point, you stretch out your neck and wonder, “How long have I been here? Why aren’t those bobbins empty yet? Good heavens, why is this taking so long?” But you keep going.
This point, after you’ve been plying for two hours straight, after you’ve had to call your fiance to kill a couple of bugs and open up your protein bar snack because you don’t want to let go with the hand that’s holding back the twist. This is the point where you start wondering, “Am I going to run out of singles first, or bobbin to ply on? Also, how much longer is this going to take? What should I do if I run out of singles first? Should I make an Andean bracelet and keep going until I really run out of blue, or just stop and figure out something else to do with the remaining singles? What if I run out of bobbin first? Could I use a spindle to do the rest, so I won’t have to break the yarn? Also, could I maybe have done this differently, because my finger really hurts…”
As it turned out, I did run out of one singles before I ran out of room on the plying bobbin, but it was a near run thing. At that point, I’d been plying for three hours, so I left the remaining singles. I have an idea to just two-ply them, as I signed up for a mini-sock-swap, and I think they’ll be a perfect mini-skein to send. You know, once I figure out new plying math for a two-ply with singles at 7.5 tpi (Level 3 is totally infecting my spinning, and that is not a bad thing).
Alastair has a Freedom Flyer, which means he’s got the jumbo bobbins, which is great, because you can fit a lot on them, and come out with fairly substantial skeins. I’ve only ever filled a bobbin past where I should have once (click to see, if you’re interested), so even though I was starting to get a little anxious about how much space was left, I knew I could still fit quite a bit on. But after three hours, I just wanted to get up and move around, so that’s what I did, and then got out the niddy noddy.
I’ve learned my lesson not to measure and declare yardage before washing, but that’s a pretty good amount of yarn. And not only that, but it’s almost the weight and colour that I’d envisioned.
But, there’s one final test… All that spinning, all that plying, all that math. One final test.
If I’m right about the singles TPI, then it will. IF I’m right.