Saturday, October 30, 2010

More things knitters say

Well, not everything that knitters say will be posted here, actually, as some of the things that this knitter has been saying this week might be best represented on a family-friendly blog as: *&^$@#$!!!

Briefly, the shrug won't work. It got bigger in many of the right places, but also in some wrong places, leading to a weird pucker in front of the armscye when it's worn. I am becoming increasingly convinced that the only reason this thing looks the way it does in the pattern photos is because it was put onto a dressmaker's dummy and then steam-ironed to within an inch of its life. Alas that one cannot do that on oneself. I made it (once again) through to halfway down the first sleeve before realizing that this is a lost cause. It is currently in time out. After I can face it again, it will be frogged. Because I love this stitch pattern so much, I have devised a plan to knit a fitted pullover sweater, perhaps with a sweetheart neckline, in the non-lace version of the stitch motif, with long sleeves in the lace version. That will happen at some other time (assuming that the yarn survives a second visit to the frog pond). The only good news in the whole Shrug Saga is that, after searching futilely online for another ball or two of the yarn in my colorway and dyelot, I went into my LYS to drop off my blocking mats for a class, and lo and behold, there in the bin with all the other colors of this yarn, was one lone ball in my colorway and dyelot; someone must have returned it. So when I do knit my sweater, I shall have enough yarn. Small miracles.

Yesterday, in the aftermath of a really bad day that capped off an already-rough couple of weeks (you know how it goes: you just take a sigh of relief, figuring it's Friday and really how much worse could it possibly get, and then something falls down on you like a ton of bricks out of nowhere), I headed off to my LYS, determined to get some yarn to knit this hat that's been noodling around in the back of my brain. I cast on right there and then, before I'd even rung out with the yarn (I love that my friends there understand that sometimes, the only thing that makes anything better is immediate knitting gratification), and I knitted away last night and this morning (even though the smart little voice in the back of my brain was saying, "Isn't this looking a bit too big?"), and finished the hat before lunch. It is meant to be for Older Daughter, and, in fact, it turned out exactly as I'd hoped it would, except for one thing. It's too big.
This is based on EZ's three-cornered tam in The Knitter's Almanac (which I long ago declared would be my desert island knitting book, should I ever need one; it's perfect in every way: it's fun to read, the range of projects is enormous and the ability to vary them infinite, and it's exactly the right size to tuck into a bag and take everywhere - I worry that that last feature might have been lost in the new version, which I may have to buy nevertheless because I want to see what got added). I will be ripping this out once it dries (I somehow thought that blocking might solve my problem - will I never learn?) and starting over on far fewer stitches, but I'm going to try the same thing over again. I'm curious to see whether this travelling cable will work no matter how many stitches I have. This is exactly the kind of cheap, mindless entertainment that I need right now.

I also finished the second sleeve of Bel Air this morning, and will be casting on for the back. In the absence of success with the shrug, this may be my conference sweater. We'll see.
This is the only knitting that has worked out at all for me lately - the rest of my projects have been a litany of disasters and do-overs. It's good to know that good pattern-writing, combined with a nice yarn (fingering weight though it may be) and pretty colors, can still prevail in the face of a dire case of Murphy's Law Syndrome.

My paper remains a struggle. I think I've realized it's because I've become distracted by the thing I want to talk about instead of focusing on the thing I know I can talk about in 15 minutes. (BTW, krb, if this does come together into a shareable form, I'm happy to share; you can email me at jahlersATcsusmDOTedu.) Meanwhile, though, I have a few more quotes for you.

“The quiet, even, regular motion of the needles quiets the nerves and tranquilizes the mind, and lets thought flow free.” (Dorcas Magazine, March 1844; NIH 143)

“When the needles slip through the fingers, your imagination takes flight.” (NYT, May 12, 1936; NIH 267-8)

“Knitting relaxes me, keeps my hands busy but my mind free.” (Survey, 8/9/09)

I think that my mind needs that flowing freedom right about now. My knitting chair calls.


Willow said...

I feel your pain. Empathetically.

A few years ago, it seemed that everything I knitted didn't turn out right. It seemed like I couldn't knit up a pair of socks or even a scarf without some thing going wrong--needle size, rowing out, misread pattern, split yarn, to say nothing of bad fit. I was in despair. Then I realized two things. Just because I could knit up a difficult, intricate pattern didn't mean I had to or even wanted to. I'm a simple knitter. I think I was often knitting certain things to impress others and fit in with what was 'in' at the lys and it obviously wasn't working. Secondly, areas of my personal/professional life were not in sync with how I really wished my life was going. Bad karma must have been oozing from my fingers through the needles and into the yarn. Finally, I said "@$*)(%*^#@ with it" (edited for family friendly blog). "I'm going to knit what I want, when I want, how I want." Since then, I've been a much happier knitter and guess what! More of my finished objects have fit, looked great, and made me happy. May you be blessed with good karma :) And thanks for letting me spill it all out...

Nana Sadie said...

I have periods where my knitting doesn't like me. Sounds like you're there...Those bad periods do end. And whatever you knit will seem charmed again.
And I'm with Willow...when stuff in your professional or personal life isn't going properly (to your mind) everything else goes crazy, too.
Knit something rhythmic...perhaps that's Belle Aire, since you're going so fast on it...maybe your Turkish Sock.

Or ... How about spinning today?

Jane said...

I hope the rhytmic motion of the needles soothes your weary brow and next week will be a little easier. These patches pass, even if it seems to take a little while


The knitters' quote about keeping the hands busy and the mind free sounds like what I wrote.

Sister, I have been where you have been; the Dreaded Knitting Marshes. Keep paddling, keep slogging, there is a new dawn ahead.

Bea said...

Sorry for the knitting pain of late.

Mary Lou said...

One summer I knit garter stitch scarves as a respite. Not suggesting you stoop that low, but some nice stockinette might be the ticket.

Wanderingcatstudio said...

Great knitting chair!

EGunn said...

Oh, I know that place. Why is it that everything in life has to conspire against us all at once? You know it's bad when even the knitting turns on you! I'm glad that you've at least found something else to do with the yarn, once it's had enough time to stew. That stitch pattern will look great as a sweater, too, and I really like the idea of a non-lace version in the body and a lace version on the sleeves.

Hope things are looking up. Seems like it would be hard to stay grouchy long in that knitting nook!

I also have to pop back in and say that I just went to publish this comment, and the word recognition key is "pitypot." I had to laugh...looks like even the blog software might be out to tease at the moment!

Laurie said...

I have to chuckle...when I read the title of your post, I thought, "Oh, she really doesn't want to know the things I sometimes say!" And here you've been saying the same things. :-)

Sorry the shrug didn't work out. I really like that cable pattern on the hat and can't wait to see how it turns out.

Hope your good knitting juju returns soon...otherwise, we might have to sacrifice a chicken or something. ;-)

Rachael said...

Oh I'm so sorry it didn't work! Your idea for a pullover using the same lace/not lace pattern sounds just lovely and I am glad you found the extra yarn so you can do that! (when you can stand to look at the yarn again)

I can't wait to see your bel air, I am definitely casting on for that when I get one of these other sweaters off my needles!!

Carrie#K said...

That shrug saga was so painful! You were misled, that picture in no way shows how it knit up. I'm glad I'm not the only one who knits & frogs - the knitter wants what the knitter wants.

Bel Air looks promising.

Gwen said...

Yeah, some weeks are like that. All of that. Especially frustrating when my easy knit isn't..

Lori said...

GLUG. You deserve a huge award of whatever kind makes you happiest, for your persistence in the face of the shrug slog. I had to set mine aside for a bit - it wasn't the right time/flight/kind of visit to work on the shrug - so I don't know just how well (or not) mine will fit. Now I don't want to know....and I do agree with you that the whole endeavor of showing it on an armless mannequin is thoroughly misleading. This will definitely be the last pattern I ever attempt from that designer (even though, like you, I do love the lace patterns she came up with!).

Remember what the Harlot said:

This sweater can bite me hard on the hind-parts, because this is supposed to be what I do for fun. I’m a forty two year old woman with working class breasts, short legs and bad hair. I don’t need my self-esteem any lower and I’m certainly not lowering it myself. I have bathing suit shopping to do that for me, and I don’t need it from a hobby.

Amen, sister-in-the-trenches. :)

Alwen said...

Is it mean of me to be comforted that other knitting bloggers don't have a uniformly Knitting Beautiful experience?

I'm glad you don't just hide the stuff that didn't work under the metaphorical bed!