Monday, June 02, 2008

Master Knitting - back in the saddle

This has been in my draft folder for more than three weeks. Rachel complained that I don't blog enough (because I'm always over on Ravelry). She demanded photos of knitted items. After I post this, I'll write up a photo-heavy post just for her.

After a frenzy of swatch-making last spring, I completed nearly all the swatches before the kids got out of school and we went on a 3-week trip to Europe with extended family. I never got back to the swatches, although I continued my quest to create a great argyle sock. I made the first sock, cast on for the ribbing of the second, and then wandered off. I think another extended-family vacation was involved, in which argyle sock making was deemed to require too much brain matter after a day in Mickey's wonderland.

Recently, though, I decided I needed to get the Fair Isle Mittens out of the way. Selecting multiple colors to use in one project is an exercise in frustration for me, for a couple of reasons. It's difficult to find four colors of the same yarn that will work together and that I also like. I angst over whether the colors really do go together (I have some color vision deficiencies that make me insecure about matching colors), and then whether they work together, which I think is a different matter than whether or not they go together.

I have a range of colors in Cascade 220, including quite a few pinks. Sophia wants the results of the Fair Isle Mitten project, and therefore wants them to be pink. The problem was that while the three pinks plus the natural yarn all looked good together, they didn't work well for the pattern. There are color theory issues to deal with when knitting Fair Isle patterns, and I didn't deal with them well:

Sophia thinks it looks fine, but she's not a judge on the Master Hand Knitting Committee.

I re-read Ann Feitelson's The Art of Fair Isle Knitting to get some pointers. My second attempt came out a bit better.

Aside from a better color combination, my rusty stranded knitting skills were coming back. I'm still not entirely happy with the tension, but I didn't want to just try a third time and hope for the best.

There are a couple of problems with the required mitten pattern supplied by the TKGA. One is that for reasons too boring to go into here, I have a photocopy of the instructions rather than a PDF, which means the photograph of the mitten accompanying the pattern is too dark to see well. (I just emailed TKGA for an updated PDF, since my copy is more than a year old, and it turns out having the PDF doesn't help all that much.) Next, while I can maintain relatively good tension across the straightaways, I sometimes have trouble maintaining good stranded tension when I switch needles. This is a problem whether I use dpns (like I did in the old days) or a long circ for Magic Loop (like now). Because the stranded yarn has to come around a bit of a corner, rather than being kept straight, I either strand too loosely or too tightly.

Given the variation from row to row in the distance the carried yarn must travel, it's difficult for me to be consistent along that column of stitches.

Also, what a pain to weave in the ends! The circumference of the mitten is so small, it's hard to flip it inside out and back in order to check the tension of stitches connected to yarn tails that need to be woven in.

I decided I needed to work on a simple stranded project that could help me improve my Fair Isle tension on an item with a larger circumference than a child's mitten. Like a hat for an adult.

I went shopping down in the craft room (no further progress, by the way, surprise, surprise) where I pulled a ball of Noro Kureyon and some black Cascade 220 from the shelves (I love that I can weigh my yarn and the Ravelry stash management tool figures out how many yards I have.)

The fruits of yesterday late afternoon/evening yielded most of a Fake Isle hat:

Oh, oh. I almost forgot. Look what else I made this weekend.

Can you die from cuteness overexposure?
Yarn: Dale Baby Ull, doubled as a substitute for DK
Needles: US 7
Gauge: 5 sts/in