Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm no Usain Bolt

I am one of those Ravelympic athletes whose shining moment ended after the opening ceremonies. All smiles and thrilled to be there, with no chance of making it to the medal stand.

The Argyle sock is kicking my butt.

I have spent fewer hours knitting in the past 10 days than just about any other 10 day period I can think of in the past 3 or 4 years, because unlike a normal 10-day period, I have knitting I'm "supposed" to be doing, so if I have problems with it, I can't just go do some other knitting project for fun while the problem item sits and thinks about why it misbehaved.

I work on the argyle each night, first tinking back to the mistake I ended with the night before, re-knitting, tinking back to fix an entirely new mistake, rinsing and repeating until I get fed up and the sock gets stuck on the night stand, crossing its arms and sticking out its lower lip. Or maybe that's me with the stuck out lip.

There was an issue with my gusset seam the other night. I'm using a 1/2 stitch from each selvedge to make a less bulky seam, and I came to a funky selvedge stitch that didn't look right when I inserted my tapestry needle through it, and didn't look any better after I pulled on the seaming yarn a few stitches later. I ripped back, reseamed, still no better. I deduced that I must have mounted the edge stitch incorrectly after frogging the instep diamond to correct a mistake I'd made in the color pattern. When I picked up the stitches again, I must not have mounted that edge stitch right, causing me to work in garter rather than stockinette.

I pondered whether the judges would notice and whether it would disqualify me, like the two runners who stepped on the line of the inside lane during the Mens 200m sprint. I decided they would notice, but I didn't want to risk being disqualified. So I ripped back. Then I began reknitting the instep diamond, and made a mistake in the color pattern. I tinked back to avoid an improper dismount, reknit, had the instep finish line in my sights and noticed another mistake, this time with the contrast line diamond. Tink, and tink again.

I seamed the gusset and it came out looking great. I joined the instep and gussets in the round and knitted along for several rounds, realizing I had 2 stitches too many on the instep. I designed the instep with selvedge stitches so that when I seamed the gusset, the edge stitch for the contrast line wouldn't be half-eaten by the seam, but I forgot that once I was done seaming, I'd need to get rid of that extra stitch by doing a decrease on each side.

So I have to rip back again.

It's Thursday. What do you think my chances are of finishing this sock and then knitting an entire vest by Sunday?

I didn't think so.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

In which I compare myself to Michael Phelps

We both attended the University of Michigan. I graduated (eventually).
We are both homo sapiens.
He's an Olympic swimmer
I'm a Ravelympic knitter
He is 23 years old. I am 23 years old (times two)

Last night's Olympian efforts resulted in:
Two gold medals for Michael Phelps
One fixed argyle sock for me

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why you should always listen to yourself

Ravelympics update:
I am cranking on this argyle sock. Cranking so hard I'm impressing myself. I made a mistake on row 2 of the pattern and caught it right away, tinking back to the beginning of the row where I made the error (intarsia is not the sort of thing that can be laddered down and corrected in one spot the way cables can be). I expected to make more errors, but somehow the lessons of Argyle Sock #1, knit last winter, stayed with me. The spots where I was likely to make an error were the spots where I instinctively stopped to check the color chart. Things were going so well, in fact, that as I sat in the car outside the school waiting for Nina's swim practice to end, I said to Sophia, "I can't believe how well this is going. I keep expecting to look at this and see some huge error."

I knit a few rows at lunch while we waited for the check, and then after we came home I decided to finish the second complete diamond sequence (which would complete the leg). Hmm, I thought. I really came close on my yarn estimate for the dark pink. All the other colors had a lot left over. No matter, though, because I had enough to complete the leg. Next stop: instep.

Then I took a look at what I had knit.


In other news:
Here's the Reversibly Cabled Scarf I was working on.

The biggest problem I had with the yarn (which is Lana Grossa Bingo) is that it is superwash and therefore I had to deal with weaving in ends on a reversible fabric that's knit at a fairly loose gauge, which meant little frayed ends were going to pop out no matter what. Unless....

Dritz Fray Check. Magic in a bottle. Keeps the ends from, well, fraying, and glues them to other bits of yarn, keeping them in place. I hid most of the ends in cable crossings. Very handy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Swimming, Serial Killers, and Scarves

We had the Olympics on the new "media room" HDTV, but I wasn't interested much in yesterday afternoon's offerings, so I sat at the kitchen island with my scarf, watching Season 1 of "Dexter" on NetFlix Instant Play. First sympathetic sociopathic serial killer I've ever seen. And I seem to knit faster while watching him. Or time flies faster. Or something. Because I finished the reversibly cabled scarf last night, except for the weaving in of the ends.

One snag with the casting off portion of the scarf. I used the Long Tail cast on and did what I've been doing lately, which is to cast on in pattern, using the normal knitted Long Tail for the knit stitches and Norwegian purling the purl stitches. It's a perfect edge as far as I'm concerned, but I didn't consider the fact that Elizabeth Zimmermann's Casting-On Cast Off is a match for the Long Tail only if you cast on in a completely knitted Long Tail. After some experimentation, followed by staring out the window trying to visualize what I was doing wrong, I realized the problem: the matching cast off is off by a 1/2 stitch, the way grafting pieces knit in the opposite direction are off by 1/2 stitch, so there is no way to truly match the cast on I did. So I ripped back for the 800th time and did a regular Casting On Cast Off. Another knitting lesson learned the hard way.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

In which we compare Fencing with Knitting

How they are alike:
Two long pointy sticks cross each other like a big X
There can be yelling

How they are different:
Knitting has yarn
Fencing has helmets
There is no protective gear in knitting to protect you from sharp points
When knitting, you sometimes yell if you make a mistake
When fencing, you sometimes yell (or scream/shriek) when you score a point

Ravelympic progress: still working on that reversible scarf due to 6 hours sailing on Lake Minnetonka yesterday evening.

More sporting comparisions to knitting: In sailing, when you heel the boat turns on its side
In knitting, you can turn a heel and no one gets wet.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Let the Games begin

The Ravelympics games, that is. Let's just hope I can catch up with what I have to get done before I start on what I want to get done.

I have two projects to finish that will be samples for classes I want to teach this fall. I'm hoping to get both done this weekend. One is a reversibly cabled scarf and the other is a thrummed hat. I have only the crown shaping to complete on the hat, although I'd like to re-do the ribbing on larger needles, but we'll see how that goes.

For Ravelympics, I've entered two projects in WIPSwrestling. One is the Samus cardigan I knit two Augusts ago and which I take out every 8 months and attempt to do the zipper. The last time I worked on it, things were going fine, but I got bored with hand sewing I wanted to be knitting. The second project is the second argyle sock for the Master Hand Knitting Level II program. I only need to submit one sock, but since I intend to wear these, I'm making the second and will submit the best of the two. I made an error in the line diamonds across the instep, which no one except a judge holding it two inches from her face would notice, but since the judges will be holding the sock two inches from their faces, I have to make one that's error free. The other issue with the first sock is that I was working out the best way to deal with weaving in ends and joining a new length of the same color. Superwash wool is supposed to be feltable with extra friction, but I haven't been successful at getting a good join this way. The Russian join isn't great (either that, or I'm just not proficient enough at it), and my standard reverse duplicate stitch weaving shows up too much from the front, in that the extra thickness seems obvious. I finally hit on splitting the plies and weaving half along one row and half along another. In addition, I plan on making bobbins large enough to handle three vertical diamonds in one color, in order to eliminate as much additional weaving in as possible.

The third project will be my Level II vest. I'm going to use the silhouette for Eunny's Deep V Argyle vest, but knit it flat and with a texture pattern instead of in the round with color and steeks. Given the gauge will likely be different, too, it's hard to say if this is a variation of her pattern, or simply the use of her schematic. Either way, I'll have to write up my version and chart the cables and lace stitch patterns I'm planning to use. I decided against steeking because I've never done it before and this project is too important for me to try a technique like that for the first time. Also, the committee wants to see seaming, as much of the focus of this level is on seaming. I'd like to use as many of the swatch techniques as possible in the vest in order to show that I can apply those techniques to a project.

Alas, I am already behind, and the argyle sock will likely take me a good portion of a week, leaving me with only a week to get the vest done.