Post-Olympics projecting..

So, the Olympics are over and as much as I love my Fair Isle 101 sweater, I’ve not been terribly interested in knitting much lately. This is not all that surprising – in addition to having just finished a large and intense period of knitting every day, work has gone somewhat ‘splodey (it’s not only “survey season” it’s also when all the committees on campus realize they have reports due and start requesting data, and when faculty start thinking about summer research projects and want to meet to discuss what data might be available for them to work with, not to mention that I have been or will be in Madison nearly every week this month for various meetings and appointments (though one of those trips is personal, admittedly)), and it’s time for spring and summer eventing to pick up, so I need to devote at least a little time to getting ready for that.

So, I haven’t done much knitting. I think I mentioned (maybe?) that I finished the second pair of cotton socks awhile back. I’m now finished with the first sock of the third pair, so I’ve got some fun new socks to wear, but that’s about the extent of my new projects. I’ll try to remember to get pics of the socks at some point.

I’ve continued to work on Rogue, though not really as vigorously as originally. I forget if this week was the 4th or the 5th, but I think it’s the 5th. I don’t have a photo (I don’t think) of where I was after last week, but I had divided for the front and back. This week I finished the back:

Not very exciting, but progress all the same. Hopefully by Monday I’ll have some renewed energy to tackle the front with the neck shaping/cable (though I’m having a crown build-up done Monday morning, for which I’ll be sedated and therefore have the day off; that either means I’ll get more time to knit once the sedative wears off, or I’ll not be at all interested in knitting because I’ll be groggy and in pain).

So what, you might ask, *have* I been doing, since it’s fairly well established that I’m no good at not doing anything.

Yup. That’s not the RAOK from mamacate, though. It’s a bit of unknown (at least to me) grey roving that Pixel gave me (gosh was it really two years ago?) to use to start to learn to spin. It languished, but now that I have a better handle on what I’m doing, I’m spinning it up. Now that I have the basics more or less down, I’m trying to work on consistency of spin and thickness. I tend to draft “too long”, so the spin doesn’t work through the yarn with the same consistency – some is overspun and some is underspun – so I’m trying to figure out my optimal draft length (I’m sure there are technical terms for all this that I’m simply too lazy to look up). I think once I get that part down, I’ll be all ready to attempt plying with this yarn (they make it sound so easy, but I’m dubious!). And then I’ll move onto the RAOK from mamacate and see about making my first real, well-balanced yarn with which I can knit a real finished project!

On the podium..

I’m not sure how technical the start and end times and definitions of complete are to be, but I think I qualify for a medal in the Knitting Olympics. I finished the knitting of Fair Isle 101 Friday in the car and attached the sleeves by midday Saturday.

I decided to try to block in the dryer with Dryel, but it effected absolutely no change in the evenness of the stitches, so I soaked it in mom’s laundry room sink and laid it out (without pins) to dry on her cutting table.

The soaking seems to have evened things out quite satisfactorily, but I’m a little worried that is also stretched the sweater out so that it’s going to be too big. :/ We’ll see.

Mom’s cutting table is in their basement, so it didn’t dry overnight. That’s where I’m not sure about the whole how-do-we-define-finished thing – it’s still damp, so technically not finished blocking. But there’s no additional action that needs to be taken to finish it, so I think it’s pr’bly close enough.

In the meantime, I started another pair of socks, but haven’t gotten that far on them. We had a wedding this weekend and were up too late and got up too early, so I slept in the car on the way home instead of knitting. Tomorrow is Rogue night, but I doubt I’ll get very far on it as I need to let my hands rest some and also have to go to bed early so I can be on campus by 6 Tuesday morning.

Catching up..

Olympic knitting proceeds apace. I finished the first sleeve last night:

I knit it in the round to the point where the shaping for the sleeve cap started and then finished flat. If you look closely, you can tell where I switched (other than by noting where the decreases start) because my purl gauge doesn’t match my knit gauge so the rows are a little uneven. I’m sure that blocking/the first tumble through with Dryel will even that out.

Still haven’t blocked the body. I think I’ve decided to take mamacate’s suggestion and weave in the ends and tighten up the seam first and then I may just run it through the dryer with Dryel to even things out. Yes, I know, I really should properly block it, but I’m still concerned that just soaking it and pinning it really won’t even things out enough. In any case, I hope to try to get some of that finished tonight (though I have plans for much-needed drinks after work, so that may be all that gets done tonight).

I’m glad this one is almost finished though. While I normally do knit at least some most days, I’m finding that I have to knit a lot more regularly and for longer periods to keep up the pace I need to finish this sweater on time. If I weren’t on the deadline, I would likely take another week or two to finish a sweater of this size and construction.

And, Monday was Rogue night! Yea! I think I might have overdone it a bit in trying to catch up to G, though as my hands and wrists are a bit sore today.

I have something like 20 rows left before I divide for front and back. I rather like it so far and really can’t wait to finish it. Keeping it to just Monday nights after this week is going to be hard! Good thing I have at least three or four other projects I can start to keep me occupied the rest of the week.

And, as I expected, I did attach the pocket to the body this week and I really rather like how they did the pocket. I’ve never done a knit-in pocket before and I like how smooth it looks. I think if I were to do something like this again, I might make the pocket a little deeper (assuming I can figure out how to do it and keep it looking neat).

Slightly ahead of schedule..

The body is finished. The shoulders are seamed and the neck is finished. And it fits.

It needs blocking, which I’m a little dubious about. Having been knit in the round, I’m concerned that just soaking it and pinning it won’t really even things out. And since I don’t want to make it harder for individual strands to pull out extra if needed, I haven’t woven the ends yet, which might mean it’ll need to be reblocked once I have the ends woven and the seam situated. Or I could just weave in the ends and try to block it like that. (Suggestions from those more experienced with fair isle are more than welcome!)

I started the first sleeve late yesterday afternoon. I’ve decided that I’m really not enamoured of the idea of doing the sleeves flat, so I’m doing them in the round to the point where the cap will need to be shaped. I’m almost finished with the increase rows on the first sleeve; they go pretty quick.

This *might* mean sleeve 1 finished Tuesday and sleeve 2 finished Thursday and seams sewn Friday on the drive to the Cities and whole thing finished somewhat more than a day ahead of schedule! Or it might mean that given the evening meetings I have this week, sleeve 1 will be finished Tuesday, but sleeve 2 won’t be finished until the drive Friday, leaving seams and such for sometime Saturday/Sunday between wedding stuff.

Baby otters!

It’s a bright sunshiney day!

(The thermometer is notorious wrong – it gets direct sunlight on sunny days from the back so it’s always high. The actually temperature here is a Minnesota-wintery 2 below zero and I’m told the windchill is supposed to be in the 20 below range.)

And the birds have finally found my feeders again (I neglected to fill them regularly for the last several months and was lamenting to my mother the other night that now that I was paying attention to them again, they were shunning me).

I have decide to spend today curled up in my comfy PJs with some coffee, a fuzzy blanket (handmade by Jess!), a little black pig curled up at my feet, watching the Olympics (cross country ski relay at the moment) and working on Fair Isle 101. I’ve reached the split for the front and back, so with the back stitches on some scratch yarn, today’s the first time I’ve been able to uncrumple it enough to really check the size and see how the fair isle looks all spread out.

Size is good – a bit big, which means I’m likely to actually wear it comfortably. I notice the puckeriness less with it laid out like this, which gives me hope that blocking will, indeed, fix it.

The seam is still troublesome, though..

Goal for the weekend is to finish the body, which means the front gets finished today and the back tomorrow. At that point, the body gets blocked while I start working on the sleeves (tricksy, tricksy! I kept trying to figure out when next weekend I was going to be able to block once I got the sleeves finished since we’ll be out of town for a wedding, and then it just occurred to me that I can block the body while working on the sleeves! Clever knitter!) which will get finished Wednesday and Friday* if all goes to plan. That leaves Saturday and Sunday to attach sleeves and weave in ends. Eminently do-able. I think.

* This would be Tuesday and Thursday, but Monday is Rogue night and I don’t want to fall behind! I think I should get to the part where I can attach the pocket to the body this week.

Quickie..

I am finished with the Fair Isle portion of Fair Isle 101. I’ll snap some pictures later and get them up. It’s a bit puckery, but I think blocking will get rid of most of it. At the moment, I’m more concerned about the “seam” where all the color changes happened because it looks sloppy. Here’s hoping weaving in the ends after blocking will tighten it up enough.

Worked from home yesterday because we got something around 8 inches of snow, at least 6 of which fell between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The roads were bad enough after the first 2 when we tried to drive in that we turned around half way to campus and headed home figuring they were only going to get far worse as the day progressed. All in all, though, it made for a lovely productive little day and I knocked off several things that had been looming. There are still things looming, but fewer of them and a couple hours today and a couple more over the weekend will hopefully knock those down as well.

I just realized that my lunch meeting (wherein a colleague working on her master’s degree is buying me lunch in exchange for stats help re ANOVAs) rescheduling to Monday (due to a 3-year-old with the stomach flu – poor thing!) means I am suddenly without lunch. *sigh* Campus options are not all that exciting, but Jack will have the car so I can’t really go out. Guess I’m going to order something in and hope they find my office in the maze of this building.

"A tentative process.."

Knitting is a tentative process. At any point a firm tug on an unsecured piece of yarn could unravel the entire work. Because knitting uses no knots, every stitch is little more than a twisted and twined bit of yarn making up a simple tenuous web. – Zen and the Art of Knitting, by Bernadette Murphy, as quote in my KnitBits page-a-day calendar for February 11-12

I found that quote particularly appropriate as I started my very first fair isle project this weekend – with all those unsecured ends hanging about! – so thought I’d share.

Right then, lots to blog about; hopefully I won’t lose too many of you in the process!

First, Miriam asked about Adamas: Did you like the pattern? Any suggestions? What yarn did you use?

Yes, I liked the finished pattern, but I have to admit that the center-out style was hard for me. I like rows to get shorter as I get farther into a project and the rows getting longer made the end seem like it would never come. But I do like the pattern and the shapes it makes, so in a few months once I forget my aversion to longer-toward-the-end rows, I will pr’bly try it (or another like it) again.

Suggestions.. hrm. This is only the second real lace piece I’ve done, so I’m not sure what to suggest. Patience? This is not mindless knitting – you have to pay attention to where you are. In addition to counting stitches on the right side rows, I learned that counting stitches on the wrong side helped me to pick up missed yarn overs before they became hard to find. That pr’bly saved me quite a bit of time ripping back as my most frequent mistake was missing a yarn over.

I used stitch markers as suggested in the pattern, but found it a little futzy to have to shift them after each repeat. Even with the futzy-factor, I’d still recommend using the stitch markers, though. Even as I neared the end, this pattern never really became intuitive for me – I could see what stitches needed to happen next without referencing the pattern sometimes, but really did have to have the pattern near to hand all the way through to the end.

As I mentioned earlier, I purposely tried to stay a little detached from this one as I knit it as it’s a gift and I didn’t want to be too torn at having to give it away!

Yarn was KnitPicks Shadow in the Lost Lake colorway. I’m not sure I’d use this yarn for a shawl like this again as the heatheryness of the yarn tends to get overlooked with the lace and to me, that’s the attraction of this particular yarn. I think it something like Gossamer would complement this pattern a little better. And as I have a couple skeins of Gossamer in Blue Jeans, I might just find out once I’m through with the sweaters I’m working on at the moment!

Okay, moving on to the Knitting Olympics.. despite being a complete and utter idiot Friday and forgetting the pattern at home when we left to go out of town for a winter wonderland weekend at a friends’ resort, and thanks to my knitting goddess guardian angel Kim who fielded the phone call from half a continent away to get me the information I needed to get working without the physical pattern (I had my little swatch, so I could figure out the chart, but needed to know how many stitches to cast on and what do to until I got to the part with the chart), I made enough progress this weekend to feel like I’ll be able to finish the sweater by the end of the Olympics.

I’m still struggling a bit with the tension, but I think I’m more often erring on the side of being slightly too loose instead of slightly too tight (if you look at the yellow stitches in the top/will-be-middle band, you can see that they’re too big and drown out the red stitches directly under/over them in places). But I’m learning. I figured out the two-handed thing in the car this morning which is making things go a little quicker, so I’m hoping to finish the colorwork by Thursday and then finish the body by next Monday.

And, at least so far, I’m really liking my alterations to the color scheme. It’s earthy enough that I have no problem envisioning myself actually wearing the sweater, but also colorful and bright enough not to be ho-hum. Jack suggested that I repeat the colorwork chart on the sleeves, just before the wrists, and if I can figure out a point where that would work sufficiently well and have enough time when I get to that point, I might give it a go.

Photos show progress through yesterday, most of which was really done by Sunday because…

Monday is Rogue night! I finished the pocket last night and got almost finished with the first chart, but had to stop as it was getting late and I needed to go to bed.

The pocket picture is not at all color-true – the yarn is no where near that green! I like it so far, but am a bit worried about how well it will wear. I’ve only ever done felted slippers with Wool of the Andes and they tend to wear out pretty quickly. Granted, a sweater shouldn’t go through the same abuse as slippers, but it still makes me a little nervous.

I’m hoping blocking will erase a multitude of sins when it comes to the cables (which you can’t really see in the picture because it’s a tad blurry – sorry!). I can see loose stitches from the longer crosses that really stand out to me now, but if I tug at the cable panel I can get most of them to behave, so I’m thinking blocking will work to even out most, if not all, of my inconsistencies.

There’s another post in here brewing about some stuff I’m digging into as I learn how to be a good board member for Houston County Women’s Resources, but I think that’s quite enough for now.