Tuesday, April 28, 2009

All Squared Up

From this:To this:

And the Giant Granny Blob is once again a Giant Granny Square.

Only 500 more grams to go.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Remember how, when you were in junior high, and one of the Mean Girls made fun of you, your mom would tell you, "Don't worry about it. What goes around comes around."? [At my junior high the Mean Girls were called the "socs"--short for "socials"--and their leader was a girl named Courtney Buffington (really!), who did her best to make my junior high school years a living hell. But I digress.] And even though it didn't help at all when your mom told you that, it turns out that it was true.

Two days ago I was snickering at the Yarn Harlot's tale of the elephant sock. I mean, how could you possibly not recognize that this thing was a disaster in the making? How could anyone be in such denial as to not realize that there was no way this was going to end up being a sock? If you haven't seen it yet, you seriously need to go check it out.

And then yesterday, I was giggling at Trek's failure to note that the neck shaping on her aran cardigan needed to happen simultaneously with the armhole shaping, especially since I had blogged about making the exact same error with the exact same pattern well before she made the mistake.

So I suppose I had it coming. What's wrong with this picture?

If you said, "Hmm, that lower left corner looks a little....odd," you are correct. It does look a little odd. A little Dali-esque, actually. [Not that I have anything against Dali and his melting clocks. I just don't really want to crochet one.] The thing is, it's been looking like this for a while now. And I kept thinking maybe there was something not quite right. It might have been the funny little wrinkle I kept getting at the corner when I tried to smooth it out. It might have been the way that my square didn't really look quite...square. It might have been the way that I seemed to be changing to a new round a little too often. But despite the nagging sensation that all was not well in crochet land, I kept going. Despite recognizing several times that it wasn't getting better with time, I kept going. Even last night, when I finally discovered what was causing this not-quite-squareness, I kept going.

This is what caused the problem:

See that bump on the corner? That bump is the start of a new round. Only one corner is supposed to have that bump, and when you reach it, you know you are starting a new round. If you look closely, though, you will notice that two of my corners have that bump:

That is a bad thing.

But not, I thought, bad enough to warrant ripping back 10 rounds. Doesn't sound like that much? Bear in mind that 10 rounds on a 42" square is more than it sounds like. Think "widest part of lace shawl" and you'll be in the ballpark.

So, as we've already established, I kept going. I fudged the bad corner. I figured, who's going to notice? I had not, at this point, laid the thing out to take a picture, so it wasn't until I did that this morning that I realized I had a much bigger problem and finally accepted there was no alternative to ripping.

So I did. I ripped and ripped and ripped. I ripped for a really, really long time. I ripped until the yarn ball I was winding was too big to hold in one hand and I had to brace it against my belly to hold it while I kept winding. Finally, I got to here:

That's it. That corner there is the culprit. And...

...ahhh. Now it's gone.

Now all I have to show for the past few days of marathon crochet is this:

That's about a 14" square.

Actually, that's not all I have to show for it. I also have this:

That, folks, is a 350 gram ball of bulky weight yarn. Three and a half skeins. Three days worth.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Antidote to Lace Knitting

A few days ago I saw this and fell completely and hopelessly in lust. My palms started to sweat and my heartbeat sped up and I knew I wouldn't be able to rest until I cast on for a Giant Granny Square of my very own. I know it's crochet; I don't care. I don't have anything against crochet, except that it's not knitting. I learned how to crochet years before I learned to knit, if by "learned" you understand that I mean I figured out how to make something resembling a square piece of fabric out of a stringy, plastic-y substance that went by the name "yarn" back in the 1970's. Come to think of it, I believe the original granny square blankets were often made out of this same substance.

But I love the idea of a single, giant granny square crocheted from gorgeous, chunky Noro yarn. I almost immediately located this and deemed it perfect for the purpose:

See how well the colors work in my family room?

So I pulled up the instructions on my computer and cast on.

Within the first few moments, I discovered that I do not know how to crochet. Whatever the thing is that I learned to do all those many years ago, it was not at all what the instructions told me to do now. It took me an embarrassingly long time to get the hang of making a simple granny square. I stopped counting after the sixth time I ripped back to the beginning.

Eventually, though, I got it working, and was reminded how delightful instant gratification really is:

This is one skein of Noro Iro, and it's a little more than a foot square. I have nine more skeins, so this should end up being a decently-sized throw for the family room sofa. Or...um...maybe my bedroom.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Comfort Spinning

While I was waiting for the KG to release my knitting from purgatory (or wherever the heck it was while I was looking for it), I put my usual knitting time to use on some comfort spinning:

This is roving from FiberOptik Yarns. I bought a four ounce braid of superwash merino and a four ounce braid of merino/bamboo, both in the colorway Green Dolphin Street, spun them separately and plied them together. Because each fiber takes dye differently, there is a lovely depth to the finished yarn. This skein is the first half. I've spun up the rest, but it needs to be wound off and washed.

I love the finished yarn so much that I think I may buy more of these fibers and spin enough for a Clapotis, which I've (gasp!) never made before. Or maybe I'll just carry the yarn around and pet it instead.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lost and...



For those who are wondering: car trunk. Where I'd already looked twice. Must be one of those space/time continuum things.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cosmic Smack-Down

I knew I shouldn't have risked lace.

When the cast on couldn't discourage me, the ripping couldn't break my spirit, and the p5tog learned I was more persistent than previous evidence would indicate, the Knitting Goddess had to take a new approach. I discovered a whole new way to screw up lace.


Yep. I lost an entire shawl in progress, yarn and needles still attached. Somewhere between spinning group on Friday and sitting down to knit Saturday evening, it disappeared!


Thursday, April 16, 2009


Could this possibly be?

It looks like...successful lace in progress. I don't want to jinx it or anything, but that is what it looks like, isn't it?

I'm on the first of three border charts. The good news is, I can count the number of rows left to go. The bad news is that every other row requires a truly appalling number of p5tog's. I never, ever want to p5tog again. I had to switch from my KnitPicks Harmony needle tips to my Options needle tips for fear I was going to break a wooden needle. It takes me as long to execute a successful p5tog as it does to knit half a row. Never again.

Here's a close up of the yarn:

I wish I could get a more accurate picture. This is dark teal, not blue. It's really pretty in real life. It's so pretty, in fact, that I want more.

So I've been spinning this:

(Again, apologies for the less-than-stellar photo.)

On the left is some more handpaintedyarn merino roving; on the right is some more hand dyed merino-tencel. Obviously, the merino-tencel is much lighter, but it's the same colors. I think the two will look good plied together, and will give me enough 2-ply to make another shawl or maybe a top of some sort.

Here's a sample of the merino singles:

And one of the merino-tencel singles:

I'm already done with the merino-tencel. It was such a treat to spin that I finished up the entire four ounces in one sitting. The merino is more difficult. I won't order this again; although I love the colors and the yarn from handpaintedyarn.com, their roving is really hard for me to spin. It seems to be semi-felted and is really tough to draft, even with serious pre-drafting. I originally ordered three four-ounce rovings. The first went into the yarn for Swallowtail, I'm spinning this one now, and I have one left. They're all a pain. Not to worry, though; I've already ordered more handpainted merino-tencel rovings from Etsy, so I won't be without lovely spinning fibers for the spring!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Successful Lace Project

No, it's not Swallowtail (although I have high hopes for that one--I'm on the first border chart). It's not even knitted, which is undoubtedly why it was successful.

I trimmed a lavender plant this afternoon and couldn't bring myself to toss out all that lovely cut lavender, so I turned it into a giant lavender sachet for the yarn closet. This lace heart is about a foot across. I used a piece of scrap lace that used to be the bottom of a too-long curtain. I put it aside years ago when I shortened the curtain. My scrap happened to have a scalloped bottom that was perfect for the bottom half of a heart. I drew the rest of the heart on a piece of paper, pinned it to the lace, and cut it out. I sewed it together on the right side using some red embroidery floss and stuffed it with chopped lavender. It took about 30 minutes and it smells wonderful. Now that's an easy lace project!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Knit, Rip, Repeat

You'll notice there is no picture of my progress on Swallowtail today. That is because, despite several hours of knitting, it looks exactly the same as yesterday. I knew I shouldn't have taunted the Knitting Goddess.

I happily knitted quite a few rows with apparent resounding success. I was even marveling over how quickly it was going. I was thinking, maybe I've finally kicked my lace knitting curse. And then I noticed I had one stitch too many at the end of a row.

Now, a sensible knitter would look at that, see that the error wasn't obvious, knit two together, and move on. At least, that's what I now think. At the time, I thought a sensible knitter would spend three and a half hours trying to track down the error, discover an extra yarn over, carefully tink back, realize the yarn over was actually two rows down, ladder down to the extra yarn over, remove it, work back up, discover that the stitches were far too loose, carefully tug the extra yarn from stitch to stitch, distributing the extra over the entire row, finally smooth out the work to see how it looked...and realize she had removed the wrong damned yarn over. Guess which sort of knitter I am?

Of course, when I moved on to the actual wrong yarn over, and attempted to repeat the procedure, a hole opened up in the space/time continuum and the universe collapsed in on itself, taking my knitting with it.

By the time I extricated it, half the shawl had been ripped back and my husband was giving me his wary lion-tamer look and suggesting I "just put it down...just for a little while. You can have it back tomorrow."

And now it's tomorrow, and I'm back to where I started yesterday. Somewhere in there, I must have crossed over the International Date Line.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Still Alive!

Yes, I'm still alive, but I don't blame you if you wondered. Blogger didn't even recognize me when I signed on. The kids are on Spring Break this week, and if you have kids, you already know where I've been. Between feeding them (and all their friends, who have also been here all week), shoveling laundry, breaking up fights, and running Mom's Taxi Service, I haven't had time for much else.

We celebrate both Passover and Easter (both this week), and--oh, yeah--our good friend is turning 60 on Saturday and my parents' 50th wedding anniversary is next week, and guess who gets to throw the party? Remind me to tell you all about that family drama sometime...when it's all over.

This morning I had a doctor's appointment I scheduled last month that absolutely had to happen exactly today...so of course, my husband got an emergency case two days ago that went to trial when? Yep. This morning. I left my children alone together for the very first time. I have left them each home alone individually before, but never together (they're nine and eleven). Today I just didn't feel like I had a choice. I posted my cell phone number by the phone and held my cell phone in my hand through the entire appointment (although what I could have done for them with my feet in the stirrups, I don't know). And then the doctor was unable to complete the procedure, and I have to go back this afternoon to try again (nothing serious, I assure you, but rather time-sensitive). I'll have to take the kids with me, too, since one of them has to be at a violin lesson less than an hour after my scheduled appointment time...

Just to demonstrate how crazed I've been, this is what I cast on last night:


If that isn't proof of my complete loss of control, I don't know what is. That's Swallowtail (do I really need to link to it?)--again. I think this is my third attempt at this pattern. The others are best not spoken of in polite company. This time, it only took me four tries to get the cast on right. *sigh* But the yarn is sort of my reward for the struggle. The picture does not do it justice. This is my own handspun, and, at the risk of throwing my hubris in the face of the Knitting Goddess, I can tell you this is the best yarn I have ever made (which admittedly is not saying much). It's the only yarn I've ever been able to spin that might actually make decent lace, although it's really somewhere between fingering and dk weight. But Swallowtail is a tiny shawl, and I wanted something bigger, so that's okay. So far, I seem to have slipped under the KG's radar with this one, but it's still early in the game. Stay tuned for the rest of the saga! And now I have to run. The doctor is waiting.