Monday, June 22, 2009

This One's for Narcissa ; )

It was pointed out to me by a reader that it had been three weeks since my last post. As I wasn't aware that anyone read even quasi-regularly except the ever-faithful Needle Tart (aka She Who Must Bail Bistickual Out Of Knitting Corners By Pointing Out The Obvious), I was actually more than a little pleased that someone sounded as if they not only read, but actually wanted to read more. I mean, really? Go figure. That random comment rather brightened up an overcast--both literally and figuratively--day. Thanks, Narcissa--this one's for you!

Sooo, what I have I been doing these past three silent weeks?

Well, Thing One graduated from high school

(Pictured here with The Girl, who is continuing her streak of being loved and adored by all of us--Thing One has good taste. Oh! And there was only one other couple in our row at graduation and guess what the lady was doing? Yep, knitting! I was too shy to Kinnear her--and I had my hands full of my project--but her's looked like a cuff, knitted in the round on dpns in a very pretty shade of red.)

a cousin got married the weekend after graduation

(Does she look radiantly beautiful or what? Her new hubby's quite great as well :) )

and of course we had to celebrate with the family

(There's The Girl again...)

(The Things learn the all-important throwing of the horns from the boyfriend of the bride's sister.)

(That's one of the bride's beautiful sisters with me, and yes, it is her boyfriend corrupting my youth above.)

and then last weekend there was a Saturday night musical and a Sunday matinee for another play to attend--people I knew were in both productions.

But fear not! I have been messing about (and up) with sticks and strings.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Has she at last finished the Shetland Lace socks?

I wish. But no.

The wee scarf for Thing Four that is to go with his hat and mittens? Welllll, Thing Four is the ex's, so, you know, he's not here to measure scarf length against. Darn hard to make a scarf when your not sure how long it should be. The fact that I've made other scarves without the scarfees being anywhere near means nothing. This one is for Thing Four, and it should be tailor-fit to him. Like the hat. Remember the hat?

Ohhhh, she's finally felted her mother's uber-late Christmas Red Hat hat and bag! Um, I'm taking that out to her in July. I have plenty of time. Weeks, even.

Then she's finished the also late, done in endless, poke-your-eyes-out stockinette Christmas socks for her dad? Those're on the Christmas-in-July list as well. I promise.

Hmmm, maybe she's finally gotten with it and is crocheting that snowflake shawl for Carolina?
Er, maybe not.

Okay, okay, okay--I'll admit it. I started the Hidcote Garden Shawl by Miriam Felton. I knowIknowIknow I am badbadbadbadbadbad for starting another project, but I have an excellent reason, which I can't divulge here, for doing so.

And lord help me, I think someone needs to call Lace Knitters Anonymous and stage a massive intervention for me, because the fascination I felt when I started the Shetland Lace Socks has crossed over into full-blown obsession. Lace tempts you with emerging patterns and soft, delicate yarns. It demands your undivided attention and threatens you with a dbl dec when you were supposed to have a sl1 k2tog psso if you even try to glance elsewhere. It whines piteously if you leave it alone for too long and will not be happy until it has you up at 3:00 a.m., knitting "just one more row" (which usually ends up a lot more than one).

It's cunning, it's ruthless and it's vicious and it is taking over my life and I couldn't be happier about that, especially as I am in addict's state of denial over the unfinishedness-ness of the other projects. I can put down the lace at any time and complete that other stuff with time to spare. Honest.

And like any good addict, I have my excuses--reasons; I meant reasons!--for lace knitting. This pattern is teaching me new things! Totally new, really.

Why yes, I can prove that. Here is my extensive list.

(Well, okay, there are only two items on it, but hey, I'm only at the end of the second chart. Two lessons learned within one chart falls well within the definitional parameters of extensive.)

So, onward.

1) I am not crazy and I can actually count. For all of you who know me, shut up shut up shut up! Miriam herself told me I was not crazy. For once, it actually wasn't me arsing things up (and that's way more uncommon than anyone who knows me might think).

I was at a friend's house, sitting on the couch, knitting happily along. I finished the last repeat on R 15 and glanced at the directions--to 5 sts before the marker. I looked at my knitting. I had 4 sts before the marker. I heaved a patient sigh and ripped back.

I knitted. I had 4 before the marker again. I sighed more heavily and ripped back again.

By the fourth time, I wasn't heaving lady-like sighs anymore. I was swearing in a manner that would have raised eyebrows in the foc'sle of a whaler.* My friend being the sort of person he is, though, didn't even bat an eye. Um, perhaps I should think about the company I keep--hmmm?

*And yeah, I stole/paraphrased that line from the brilliant P.G. Wodehouse.

Finally, I did what I should have done after rip back number two. I counted the number of stitches listed on the pattern to make sure they came out to 49, as they were supposed to do.

Huh. They did.

Then suddenly, a new idea dawned on me. Now, don't laugh, but I decided that maybe I should count the number of stitches being used to create the 49 stitches. Blindingly, painfully obvious to all, I'm sure, but to wee knitting me with the dyslexia that falls firmly within the realm of mixing up numbers, it was nothing short of a Divine Revelation. (And I didn't even have to eat any funny mushrooms to have it bestowed upon me.) I went back over R15, omitting the yos and counting out all the stitches in the dbl decs, k2togs and ssks and guess what?

I needed 48 stitches to create those 49 stitches, but in R13, I ended with only 47 stitches.

I emailed Miriam (still more than half-convinced I'd messed up somewhere) and she immediately emailed me back, stating I wasn't crazy (I've kept the email for proof), that it was the fault of one missing yo and that the pattern should read *yo, k3, k2tog, k3, yo,k1, yo...instead of the *yo, k3, k2tog, k5, yo, K3 that I had. Knock out that extra knitted stitch (back down to needing only 47 stitches again) and add in that extra yo and I was finishing--happily--the row out in no time. The fact that she'd sent me a completely updated pdf of the pattern was quite appreciated as well.

Miriam, like Marguerite, was so kind and helpful. Aren't nice designers who are patient with clueless people just lovely to have around? I can't wait to knit up some of their other patterns. (I think the Blessing socks are waiting in the wings. Well, unless they get crowded out by Eleanoras or the Basketweave Ribbings...)

2) Patience. I know, those of you who know me in the real world would be shocked that this is not an attribute which I already possess, but Row 23 on Chart 2 has taught me that perhaps I could do with a bit more zen-like acceptance in my life.

I'm not sure what it was about that row. Miriam's directions, as always, were clear and easy to follow. It wasn't an error in the pattern. I redid all the math I did above for Row 15 , and all the numbers were as perfect as could be. Miriam reminded a Designing Goddess Divine. But still.

I was supposed to have 57 stitches on both sides of the center stitch. I had 58 stitches, which meant something had gone awry 100 and some stitches apart. And it turns out that both errors I made were both located in approximately the same place--one near the beginning of the first half, one near the end of second half, which put them both near to either end of the shawl.

A symmetrical screw-up--how me. I would like to pass on my newly-acquired wisdom by pointing out that when doing a sl1 k2tog psso, it's helpful to do the *#^%&%!# psso part if one wants to get the correct number of stitches so that one's lace doesn't end up looking like a yarn interpretation of a Jackson Pollock painting.

See? Lesson learned, amid much swearing in my office during lunch and break-time while picking up a million and one dropped stitches as I tinked back along the row. Note to all: circulars from Knitpicks, which I love, are also a bit springy and it's best not to lose your grip on them if you only have a few stitches on the right-hand needle. Picking up a drop in lace, especially a yo, is a real bitch. Still, I managed to do it without leaving any gaping dropped-stitch holes.

(Ever notice how glaringly obvious those holes are when compared to the regular holes in lace? I did, which is why I spent more time than I am willing to divulge squirreling around with the yarn and trying to make it look like normal knitted fabric again. I succeed in that, nominally, anyway, and it was out of the patterned zone, so I didn't throw that off. Thank God that section lies up against the neck, and let's hope that I never run afoul of an old lady who'll actually inspect my stitching through bifocals that magnify everything by 200%.)

All that said, I would like to thank R 25. Row 25 knitted up perfectly, in about (it felt like) 5 seconds flat, with no dropped stitches and all numbers counting up as they should.

I will love R 25 to the end of my days.


Josh Schrank said...

I've read this entry three times now. Seriously. I have but one question... What in god's name are you talking about?

SunshineDreams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SunshineDreams said...

Josh, I must admit you are one non-knitter I have decided to leave unenlightened.

You're much more amusing when you're confused.

Now play nice, as people here don't know you, there's a dear... ; )

NeedleTart said...

Why, yes, I do check most days. how ever did you know? Love the P.G. Wodehouse quote. I may have to slip it into conversation somewhere.
What is "throwing the horns"? We dance on chairs (comes from men on one side of the separating curtain and women on the other. Put the couple on chairs and they can at least see each other)but have never heard of throwing the horns except as related to infidelity which seems out of order at a wedding.
I hear you on the lace. Stephanie had a day with her take on fixing lace. "First you tink back and re-knit and you have 4 stitches too many. Then you tink back and re-knit and you have 4 too few! then you carefully tink back and count,"knit 4, yo, k2tog, k4" all the way across. You come out with the right number and feel like a freaking genius. Until you realize that you have just successfully counted to four."
Guess this means that I will need to post soon......

Valerie said...

That Narcissa needs to log out of her other blog before she comments...*cough*.

I am so glad that you posted! OK, I'm going to read it again because I lost my place when I was summoned to make 2 pb&j sandwiches. I read about felting - I'd LOVE to try it! Your examples look great, maybe I'll give it a shot this weekend.

PS You are way too young to be the mama of a hs graduate!

SunshineDreams said...

LOL, Bonnie, what would I do without you?

Throwing the horns is a heavy metal, headbangers thing and completely unrelated to the wedding itself. I think they were playing an 80s hair metal band, Def Leppard, at the time!

Bwa ha ha ha, I now know who you are, Val. Talk about young looking--I saw the pic of you @ your group, dear child ;o). And I'm the dark-haired lady in back of the young, pretty blonde, and can categorically state that yeah, I'm *that* old! But I compensate by completely not being that grown-up...