Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Irons in the Fire

New year. New projects. Christmas is now behind us for awhile, and knitting is more leisurely now, right?

Here's a look at the current (all new within the last three weeks, with the exception of The Damn Socks ) projects on the needles:


Yes, these are the same socks, thank you very much. These socks are a curse. A plague, a pox. I started them in October. This is still my first sock. They are still going nowhere fast. I did finish the gusset.

Then I took a long look at the sock: It looked as though I were knitting for Bigfoot. What in the WORLD happened? The foot circumference was looking HUGE. There were SO many mistakes, too: It had fallen off the needles a couple of times, tension was erratic, and to top it off, a big loop of yarn appeared between two stitches. I took it to the North Austin meetup this past Sunday to get a diagnosis. (As far as I was concerned, it was terminal. Is there a sock hospice anywhere?)

Meanwhile at the meetup, Elizabeth, one of my knitting buddies, had just bought a lovely pair of size 1 wood sock needles and was working on a new pair of toe ups. She is not a violent knitter. She is witty, smart, plucky; rough and careless aren't words I'd use in the same breath to describe her. While knitting a stockinette stitch, one of them snapped. That's just crazy. These fancy-schmancy wood needles are not cheap. She despaired: She was now without needles, and nothing to work on for the next hour and a half. I looked at my Terminal Damn Sock. Without blinking, I whipped the needles out of them and held them before her. "Take 'em" I said. She protested, but I insisted. My decision was final, the action irrevocable. She was able to keep knitting her beautiful socks. I was able to punish mine.

So what did happen to make my sock so ..... malshapen? Alicia determined that my heel flap was the culprit: It was too long, and that's where all the stitches come from for the foot. This bit of information was news to me, but it makes sense. So I frogged the foot back about thirty or so rows. It felt good. All those mistakes disappeared in a pile of yarn. (With socks, I always seem to have a pile of yarn next to the skein. Very telling, isn't it?) Then I stopped. Maybe I could switch to size 0's instead, shrink the foot somewhat, then do a few decreases down toward the toe. So I stopped frogging. We'll see. It's just sitting, needleless, in it's grubby ziploc bag for now. Timeout for The Damn Socks. AGAIN.


So far, so good. I'm on row 23. Only four more rows of twisted rib. All the buttonholes are in, and I am about to begin shaping the V. Thanks to a generous and kind knitter in Thailand (THANKS, RIKI!) who participated in the KAL on, I have directions rewritten for knitting it in the round. What a relief that seaming is now limited. I worried about getting it right, since there is a wide band of ribbing right at the waist that would have to match up on the sides. A lot of knitters on Ravelry had problems there. The Malabrigo is so soft, so gorgeous: It is a real pleasure to knit with. Sometimes I just sit and pet it. The color is happy, spritely. My only (and very tiny) problem is the wide color variance in the skeins of Malabrigo. So I am knitting every other row on a different ball of the yarn so that it all comes out purty. Another knitting buddy, Heidi, called it "Macaroni and Cheese Sweater". Everyone at the meetup cracked up at that one.


Lace and I have a love hate relationship. I love it. It hates me. Clue 1 of the SOTSii had just been released. Everything was going along swimmingly. For once. Then, on row 35, I just lost the left needle. I don't even know what happened. Even though it was only seconds, it seemed like hours before I was able to look down and survey the damage.

It was bad. Really bad.
Five or six stitches had fallen off, and in a trice had melted into oblivion about 12 rows down.
Blink. It happened just that fast. I had no lifeline. (Serves me right to be so cocky about a repetitive pattern.) How far back did I have to go? Row 7. At least I didn't have to start over. After a couple of days of moping, I was able to get back to row 35. Then I paused for a bit: Got up, made cookies, did some chores, then sat down to squarely confront it again and get past that row. I knit four more rows. Then stopped for the day. I've learned when to stop. So that's where I am right now. Tomorrow I'll finish the last 13 rows of the clue, in the morning. I am sharpest, most productive and attentive in the morning. No lace knitting at night for me.

On Friday, clue 2 will be released. You better believe I'll have a lifeline inserted at the end of clue 1.


This is for me. It's also a real cluster. So many of the KAL participants have thrown in the needles on this one that it's easier to count those remaining in the pursuit than those who've left. This shawl makes one cranky, ornery, frustrated, and profane. So why continue? Because it's going to be gorgeous and so worth it in the end.

I couldn't do it if I had small kids or anything else that interrupted me constantly. This is a religious experience: It requires long stretches of solitude, undisturbed time, in deep concentration. (So what the heck am I doing knitting it?!?) I am taking my sweet time with this baby. I don't want to get so frustrated that I, too, throw up my hands in despair. So I have a plan: My goal is to knit five rows every time I sit down to work on it. No more, no less. And only in the morning. Five rows will allow me to see some progress, but won't tax my six brain cells to the point of overfatigue. When I get fatigued, I make stupid mistakes. I don't want to frog or tink this pattern. It is unforgiving. It is stingy and ungenerous. It lets you know who's the boss. But Oh My God Is It Beautiful.


Last summer, I bought a whole kaboodle of Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran and DK weight yarn at a local yarn store offering it for 60% off. I bought every single skein in the store. It amounted to almost four hundred dollars at that price. Two totally stuffed 28 gallon bins worth in my infamous stash closet. There were 21 skeins of navy Aran flecked with purple, taupe, and gray. I used 3.5 of them in a cabled bag for a niece. The rest is going to MY Central Park Hoodie. It will be so warm, so cozy, so ..... me. Though the original sports an open front, I want to find some great buttons for it. That's a ways down the pike, but I'm already thinking about it. Right now I have to make a swatch before Thursday, when our Thursday morning knitting group is starting a Sweater KAL. Everyone is making or continuing to make a sweater. Carroll is making a Central Park Hoodie for herself, so we'll keep each other company. We can help each other. At least that's the plan. Some of the participants have made sweaters before, so they will take the hit during any crisis that develops. I will owe them lunch, dinner, and my first-born by the time I'm done, surely.

My husband will be grateful that I am finally using a big chunk of this pricey stash. Now I just need to find projects for the other 40 odd skeins of pink, natural, green, taupe, and goldish-brown. I love this yarn, and the price was just too good to pass on. It will get used. Promise.

And the other 4 giant bins and five shopping bags of yarn?



  1. I cast on last night and knit the first 6 rows. Today, we shall see how far I get.

    I love the color you are using on the mrs. darcy sweater. Such a pretty yellow.

  2. Is there another Heidi in our group? I don't recall renaming your sweater!:-)

    You are truly a fearless knitter girl!

  3. Ms. Knittygirl, I can't BELIEVE you don't remember saying that! You even got a laugh.

    Now I have to worry about you too! OY!


  4. You are only too good to me. Thank you -- again!


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