More frogging

Back in the spring a friend was pruning her stash and sent me some of her yarn. Included were some skeins that didn’t have labels. One of them was this beautiful multicoloured yarn that (with the help of a Ravelry forum) we figured out was some Berroco Boboli. I had been looking at a stained glass window toque pattern and figured it would work great for the stained glass part. Now the pattern called for fingering yarn, but the Boboli is a worsted. So I did some calculations and instead of casting on 160 stitches, I cast on 100, using 4 mm needles. And as I had suspected the yarn looked beautiful.

I had put the project aside for a while so I could work on gifts to take out east with me, and have only just picked it up again. And immediately thought”oops, this is far too tall.” I realized while I decreased the number of stitches per row, I forgot that I would need to change how many rows I did too.

I had only just gotten to where the decreases start so it would end up several inches taller still, which means it would be beyond a slouchy hat, almost to elf-hat length. Which means I need to frog it, at least back to where…the first set of rectangles? Or the second? I guess that depends on if I want a beanie or a toque.

But I do love this yarn. Which they naturally have discontinued. (Seems that every time I find a wool I like, it gets discontinued.)

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Where’s the time going?

It’s November 1st already! Where has the year gone?

Knitting wise, I thought I’d knitted more last year than I did this year (thanks to a friend who was having a baby so I had lots of infant-sized projects to knit.) But I just checked Ravelry (where I tag my projects with the year they were created) and saw that I made 35 items last year, and 52 so far this year. (Although I did a lot more amigurumi this year, so they work up quicker and probably explain why the count is higher this year.)

As for October, I finished my Socktober Broken Seed Stitch socks, but while the pattern was easy, I’m not happy with the final result. I made them toe-up and since I had tons of my chosen yarn, I could have made them much longer than they are. But I deliberately went with a thinner sock yarn that feels really nice, but holy moly, I’ll never use it for socks with a single thread again. It just took forever to get any progress and I got completely bored knitting it that I decided to start into the ribbing about two inches before I normally would have.

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This weekend, I also knit a case for a neck pillow my husband uses so much that he’s worn out the case that came with it. He asked me months ago, but it’s a contoured pillow and I couldn’t find a pattern for it and I felt intimidated. But I finally figured if I just did a long piece that could wrap about it then add two non-contoured side panels it should work because my knitting would stretch enough.  And it did. Because it will need to be washed and will end up not being treated gently, I used a ball of Caron Cakes yarn and was quite pleased with how soft and pretty it turned out. (Yes, hubby had a choice in the colours and yarn too, opting for it over a different acrylic in the colour of his choice.) Now I just have to buy three big buttons as I created a flap so I could remove the insides and wash the case whenever it is needed.

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I have been scouring Ravelry trying to figure out what to knit this month. Probably some Christmas themed Amigurumi? Maybe another Christmas stocking? Another Christmas gonk or two?

And since I’m an author, and it’s November, the standard pressure to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is upon me. I have over a dozen books published, some with Harlequin, some were with a different American publisher who went out of business a couple years ago (but I got my rights back thankfully so I could self publish them) but I have grown to hate the business of writing — the marketing, the publicity, the social media presence pressure — that I lost the joy of writing, and add to that the pressure of “real life” issues of my nearly-90 blind mom who still lives alone, and my own health issues, that I haven’t seriously written anything for a few years. But in the last few weeks, I received a couple of emails from fans asking about future books and I feel bad about not continuing those series, so who knows. Maybe I’ll put my knitting needles down a bit more and try writing again. We’ll see…

 

Still too tight

(Okay, that title sounds vaguely…dirty, but that is probably my mind.) Yesterday I wrote about being a tight knitter and how all the articles and YouTube videos said I was probably unconsciously giving the yarn an extra tug. So I deliberately watched what I was doing, and yes, there was a very small movement that wasn’t so much of a tug as a push as I pressed the yarn to squeeze it between the needles that may have been the culprit. So I forced myself not to make that movement. It is tough to stop an ingrained/unconscious movement but I managed. While my work was…looser…it is still tighter than I think it should be. I even tried things like dropping the yarn completely when pulling the stitch through, and…nada. Looser but still tighter than I think it should be.

So now I am not sure what to try. (Yes I even checked my posture as Very Pink Knits suggested.) I know I need to loosen up my tension, that it will soften my work. And also make my hands less tired. Plus I really want to get better when working with stranded patterns. I love love love so many of the fair isle sweaters and socks on Ravelry but also know I need to perfect my technique before trying a bigger project.

I have been making smaller projects to practice my stranding technique; an Anthology hat using TinCanKnits design (above) and a Christmas stocking, that I must admit I adapted by using only two colours (red and white) instead of three (red, white and grey…I seriously do not like grey on a Christmas stocking.) Neither piece has been blocked before I took the photos, by the way, but I am not sure it would make a difference.

This was the first time I have done an Afterthought Heel. It was okay, easy enough to make but I doubt I will use it again and stick to my preferred Fish Lips Kiss Heel. Still, it is another technique to say I have tried.

As for the stranding? I have watched a ton of videos about fair isle knitting, and spread out my stitches to carry the floats, and knit with the floats in front when knitting circular (which means I knit on the back needle.) I am getting better but am not yet happy with the end results. The pieces still pull in places and look odd in others. The hat will probably be frogged in the future, and the stocking…well, it will do fine for decoration this year, though it will probably be frogged before next Christmas as I perfect my technique and won’t be able to stand it in the future.

Loosen up!

I mentioned…somewhere (I can’t remember if was on here or FB or IG) that I am a tight knitter, that no matter the needle size I find it difficult to slide the stitches along the needles, and sometimes even to place the needle tip into the next stitch. It is especially difficult when I am knitting with a thin yarn on small sock-sized circulars to drag the work off the cable and onto the needle.

When I went to a local yarn store last week and asked them to order me a set of Addi size US 2 circulars because my Knitters Pride circulars had too much of a bump at the join the clerk made an off-hand remark that I must knit far too tightly. To be honest, the comment stung and stuck with me. I was just knitting how I was shown to knit when I took lessons from the owner of a LYS in a different town, I wanted to whine.

Thing is, the clerk is right. I know I knit too tightly, but I have no idea what to do to change whatever it is I am doing to loosen my tension. I have tried multiple ways of holding my yarn, and it always seems too loose. I prefer circular needles and the magic loop because when I use DPNs and circular knitting, I end up with ladders which my teacher told me meant I was knitting too loosely, even though I give my yarn an extra tug on that important first and second stitch.

So I turned to the interwebz and found a link to this article on knitty.com. The TL;dr summary is that tight knitters often have been unconsciously giving their yarn an extra tug between stitches.

Had I? I picked up my latest WIP (which is a fair isle Christmas stocking) and knitted a row, conscious of the movement I was making with each stitch, and maybe it is that simple…

Now to see that I don’t slip into old habits.

Swatching for an infinity scarf

Yesterday I was asked to knit an oversized infinity scarf/cowl in bulky yarn. I love those projects because bulky yarn works up so quickly. Dee specifically asked for it to be in gray, and since she is allergic, didn’t contain any wool. **edited after the original post: when I mentioned wool allergies on a FB group, someone linked me to this excellent article.)

Now I have several skeins of gray Impeccable, which might have fit the bill, especially if I held it double, but Dee is special to me so I want it to be softer, and squishier, especially since it will be touching her face. Which meant a trip to the local yarn store.

While most of my LYSs are closed on Sundays, there is one in the area that opens, so I checked out their stock. Except they stock very few non-wool products, and those they did have still contained at least 20% wool. So I headed to Michaels and decided upon some Bernat Softee Chunky. (Though it feels nice on the skein, after working with it I am not totally sold on it. I will probably make the scarf, and wash it to see if it softens before I make a decision, but I suspect I may end up going to one of the other stores in the area to look for some better bulky yarns that feel nicer. James Brett or Sirdar perhaps? I will always be able to find a use for the Bernat Softee if I don’t use it for this project.)

As for the pattern, all Dee specified was over-large, and could be draped over her head as well as several times around her neck. After scouring Ravelry for hours to look for a pattern similar to an image Dee had provided, I knit up a swatch of Triona Murphy’s Gifty Cowl/ Infinity scarf. It is a really simple, easy-to-memorize pattern that works up quickly, but it is a little stiff using this particular bulky yarn, and doesn’t have the give I think Dee is looking for. I also only got 15 inches from a skein, which meant I would need about five skeins to get the length needed. (I cast on 36 stitches instead of Triona’s suggested 24 because it needed to be wider than the Gifty cowl.)

So I pulled out a new skein and started a second swatch, this time using Karen Clements’ Open Work Infinity Scarf. I’ve made this particular scarf several times before, and is a very easy one-row repeat pattern.

As you can see from the second photo, the Infinity pattern (it is the one on the right) creates a much lacier fabric that will drape well yet still be warm. It also looks like each skein may also go farther, but I need to knit a bit more to confirm that.

But even if I finish this version, I still may end up at my LYSs looking for a different yarn and make yet another. We’ll see.