Sunday, July 09, 2006

When all else fails, read the directions

So busy was I, trying to understand how a toe-up sock heel worked --not your basic short-row heel, but a gusset, heel turn and heel flap, with no stitches to pick up--that I was only mildly concerned about how the lace looked. Lace always looks crappy when it's knit. Blocking would improve things, I was sure. I was calculating stitch ratios, row gauges, making decisions about whether to m1 at the end of my needle, or one stitch in. Knitting is easy, but figuring out three-dimensional knitting via short rows takes real concentration, especially when the pattern you're lifting the heel instructions from has 60 stitches, and you're working with 72. Am I increasing the gusset based on rows knit (actual length), or on a percentage increase in stitches? How do I figure out the number of rows I need to turn the heel?

My 9-year-old keeps interrupting me during my calculations. "When will you be ready to play Clue? Daddy and I can't play without you. We need three people."
I grit my teeth. "I'm trying to figure out how this heel works. The more I'm interrupted, the longer it will take."
Michael leaves to pick up the dog from the groomer, but the 9-year-old stays with me. Interrupting me. Michael returns with the dog, who runs to see me as if he hadn't seen me just three hours earlier. He jumps on the couch, scattering the three sock patterns I have next to me and launches himself at me. Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! I got my haircut! Do you see? Do you see? Do you see? When's dinner? Huh? When? Can I have it now? Huh? Huh?

The nine-year old launches into her plea for Clue again. I get up to go to the bathroom. She follows me. I close the door. She knocks.
"I'm on the toilet."
"I have something for you."
"I'm on the toilet."
The dog pushes the bathroom door open with his nose, sure that I can't accomplish this task without his supervision.

When I exit the bathroom, I tell my daughter that standing outside the bathroom while I pee does not make me want to play a game with her. "But I have something for you." She hands me a balloon she filled with flour earlier in the afternoon. "It's a stress ball." For some reason, she thinks I could use it.

We play Clue, with my partial sock sitting on the couch next to me. The game is a DVD version that also has a board with playing pieces; it's new -- Nana bought it for us a week or so ago. Every time we aren't sure what we're supposed to do, I admonish the others to read the directions.

We work our way through the game, discovering that Colonel Mustard stole the scarab pin in the rose garden at midnight. I pick up the sock and pull on the lace to stretch it out. It still looks like crap.

I study the pictures in the pattern (Falling Leaves, from Knitty). My lace does not look like the lace in the picture.

Clearly, something is wrong with the chart. Briefly, I consider that my ability to properly k2tog, yo, and ssk has vanished, but I dismiss that possibility. I wonder if there is an errata to the pattern.

I check the lace chart again. I knit every row exactly like it shows in the chart. And then I see, below the chart and key to symbols is this note:

"Chart only shows odd numbered rows, k all stitches on even numbered rows..." Oops.

If I squeeze my stress ball too tightly, will I end up covered in flour?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Ta Da!

I finished the lining last night around 11 p.m. Everything went so well -- perfect, in fact -- while I sewed the notions compartment. I was feeling smug that my graph paper prototyping worked so well. I had to install the zipper only once (a first, for sure). No seams were ripped. Just perfection. And then I slipped it inside the tote bag to see how far down inside it would hang. The zipper compartment lay on the bottom of the tote. What? How could it be too long? I measured it. Twelve inches. The tote, I knew, was 13.5 inches deep. And then I realized my mistake. The tote is 13.5 inches deep when you lay it flat. When you stand it up and allow the gussets to do their job, giving the tote three dimensions, the tote is just about 12 inches deep. Duh. Then I slipped the circular needles into the pockets and realized they were too wide (easy to fix) and too shallow (not so easy).


I ripped out all the seams (the nylon backpack-y material didn't show the ripping out at all), keeping the zipper compartment intact. If it had been a mess after the ripping out, I had extra material, but I wanted to avoid ripping out the zipper. So one thing went right. By making the pockets deeper, I shortened the total length, making the notions compartment/flap a perfect fit. Finally. I sewed the top of the notions flap under the lining hem and then sewed the lining into the tote. I'm so in love with this tote. I really think I'm going to make another one, for myself. It can't possibly take as much time to make the second one. Now that I (sort of) know what I'm doing.

I realized last night as I crawled into bed that I forgot to install botton holes at the top of the gauge ruler compartment. I thought that would be a great way to store stitch markers. I might see if I can still do it. It's such a good idea.

In the meantime, here's what it looks like now, modeling my grandmother's size 1 DPNs and one of my circular needles, plus a few other notions and odds and ends.

The only thing left to add to the kit is the pattern (which I need to modify for my kittee) and to buy the treats.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

No one told me...

...that parting with the kit would be this difficult.

The outer tote is sewn, the lining sits -- uncut and unsewn -- in its shopping bag. I must conquer the lining in the next week, because I want to send the kit off to my kittee before we leave for a long weekend in L.A. I love this bag. I want this bag. Somehow I don't think I'll go through all the work to make another one.

Here is the tote so far:

And here are my choices for yarn:

On the left: Handpainted Tarzhay colorway from Scout's Swag. On the right: Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Bitterroot Rainbow. How am I supposed to choose which one to part with? I want to keep 'em both!