Challenges – 10/3/2019

But these are the fun kind of challenges. Maybe still a bit stressful when you realize that if you fail, there is a lot of unknitting (tinking) to be done. I’m not a good enough knitter to bravely pull the needle out and unravel and then just pick up the live stitches again where you should have quit or not made the mistake, unless it is plain stockinette stitch. I never have gotten good at using lifelines to hold a row of stitches before a lace pattern.

My main current knit is Free Your Fade, a long basically triangular shawl by Andrea Mowry. The pattern comes in two yarn sizes, DK and Fingering. As I mentioned before, I purchased a lovely 788 yard skein of 97% Alpaca, 3% Blue Faced Leicester from Only the Finest fingering weight yarn at the Knotty Ladies Retreat in Black Mountain in August. The skein was actually 4 two ounce coordinating skeins and I had a pattern in mind which would have required more yarn, so I purchased a 4 ounce skein of a 5th coordinating color. The planned pattern called for worsted weight and made a wide generous trapezoid basically of triangles joined. I thought if I did it in fingering, I could create the same effect in a scarf. I started it, and didn’t like it. First challenge. I was probably only 70% through the first color, so off the needles and simple rewind the yarn. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the nearly $100 worth of soft loveliness then. A few days later, whilst I was reading a friend’s knitting blog, I noticed the photo in her header and it was gorgeous, but everything she knits is gorgeous. A few message exchanges and I purchased the pattern from the designer, it looked like the perfect solution for the lovely yarn.

Challenge 2: The pattern uses a 200 yard skein and two 400 yard skeins, I had plenty of yarn, but because mine was in four almost 200 yard skeins plus one almost 400 yard skein, it meant that the fade patterns from one color to the next would have to happen more frequently and not in the same place in the pattern after the first one. OK, that isn’t a big deal, she says in the intro that you can fade on any of the 20 row garter sections. The pattern forms the triangle by increasing 1 stitch every other row, so 10 stitches over 20 rows, followed by a 2 row eyelet lace with 1 more stitch increase. But each increase row started with a decrease and ends with a stitch that makes 2 new stitches, thus the 1 stitch increase and the triangle gets wider and wider. There was more than enough of the first color to follow the pattern and do the written fade into the second color.

Challenge 3: The second color in the pattern is a 400 yards skein which meant that I was going to have to use 2 of the 2 ounce skeins to achieve that part of the pattern and an extra fade. Remember, the fades have to be done on a 20 row garter section and I didn’t want to waste any of this precious yarn so I played chicken and continued knitting, hoping to have enough to finish the second fade, three garter stitch sections and another fade with the eyelet rows included. Well I finished with about 80 inches (200 cm) of that color as I started on the next color.

And then on to the variegated skein. Now the triangle is getting wider and there will certainly not be enough to do three garter stitch sections with two fades and eyelets so I shot for only two garter stitch sections with two fades and eyelets.

As you can see from the middle remnant, I played chicken again, though not quite as close, I had about 120 inches (300 cm) left and on to the last 2 ounce color. I guess there will only be enough for a fade, 1 garter stitch section, and a fade with leftovers, but I still have the last 4 ounce (almost 400 yard) darker Merlot color left to finish without worrying about running out. This shawl is going to be very long.

I have 181 stitches on the needles now and the pattern ends with 215 stitches when you start the picot bind off. Her general instructions say to can make it bigger if you wish by adding more sections. I doubt that I will, I will probably use the left over Merlot, lavender, gray (there was a bit of it left), and the remnants to make a matching hat or mitts. I have some lovely Romeldale CVM fiber I am spinning that would coordinate nicely with this for a hat or mitts and I will have a new ensemble to keep me warm and cozy this winter, if it ever drops below 90 degrees here. But there is no climate change, the deniers say so.

Big Brother is Watching – 10/2/2019

I think I have blogged on this topic in the past, but this week has been extremely irritating with “Big Brother.” We have two very old, high mileage cars that we are struggling to keep on the road, but fearing that another major repair bill might be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back, so we have both been looking at reviews and stats on various options for replacement, hoping we won’t need one. At the same time, it is approaching time for us to have a vacation, so we started looking at winter cruises and other options. It took Facebook no time to start tossing up ads for new cars and cruise lines. We didn’t use Facebook to do the searches, but they obviously are watching our online activity, hopefully can’t see our online bill paying and banking.

To add to this irritant, I had a medical appointment and an audiology test last week. The Doctor and the Hearing Clinic are separate but joined at the hip so to speak. I had hardly gotten in the car to come home until I received a text message asking for me to rate my visit. This was followed by an email asking for my opinion and when I didn’t offer it, I have been emailed two more times. Both from the doctor’s office and from the Hearing Clinic. Monday we had our HVAC system twice yearly servicing done and the technician did the invoice on a tablet. His truck wasn’t even turned around in our driveway before I got a text asking to rate his visit. Yesterday was errand day and a couple purchases were done with the debit card, and you guessed it. Emails asking how my visit with their establishment went.

On the other hand, we visited a chain Asian fast food place for lunch yesterday and as seems to be the case more often than not, they lacked the entree I wanted and haven’t had black tea brewed or bottled but once in the past year. We didn’t even get a paper receipt so I could tell them what I think of their restaurant.

I guess the only way to have privacy is to use cash and stay off the internet, but this morning’s news had an article that ATM usage fees may rise to $4 a transaction and it had become difficult to deposit cash, so I guess “they” don’t want a cash society.

Slow knitter – 9/30/2019

My knitting adventure like most of my other crafts is mostly self taught. I tried to take up knitting as a teen as I watched the women in the back of the gift/knit shop. They, in my young eyes, were “old ladies” but the process was fascinating. I am left handed, pretty dominantly left handed, and though they were eager to sell me a sweater’s worth of yarn, a pattern, and demonstrate the basics, I was pretty much on my own. The sweater ended up a disaster. Teaching a lefty when you are right handed, or vice versa can be tricky, and allowing a brand new knitter to start with a sweater is just not fair. This was many, many years ago. I had an adult friend that had already taught me to crochet with very fine cotton and tiny hooks, and I did some basic crewel work (mostly hand monogramming) so I should have been able to learn knitting. I gave up and returned to crochet, making many afghans, a couple of vest type tops, a pillow or two, and a couple of baby blankets. Then my interest changed to counted cross stitch and making split reed baskets, learning smocking and french hand sewing, and calligraphy.

None of these crafts required a lot of equipment, all self taught except for the smocking, hand sewing, and calligraphy. About a decade and a half ago, I found out I was going to become a grandmom and I wanted to make baby things, lots and lots of baby things from organic cotton, soft undyed wool. Shirts, soakers, socks, sweaters, knitted long pants and so I started over with knitting needles, a paperback booklet of basic stitches, wool and cotton bought over the internet, and making more and more baby clothes.

After moving to our mountain area from the coast, working a few more years while our retirement home was completed and waiting to turn old enough for social security benefits, I joined a knitting group and even worked part time after retirement at a local yarn shop for a short time. The ladies there were so much more knowledgeable about knitting and I could ask questions, be taught (patiently) by them and improved my skills. One of the women remarked how slowly I knitted. This woman used mostly heavier weight yarns and larger needles while I was using smaller needles and smaller than worsted yarn for the most part. Her comment stung for some reason, though she was at least a couple decades younger than I, and by then I had already developed arthritis in one hand that required surgery and a cast for 5 weeks.

I learned to change my knitting style to take some of the strain off of that hand and it did speed up my knitting some, but I’m not in competition, I am not a production knitter, I don’t have to be a speed knitter. I knit for the joy and relaxation that it brings me. I have friends that finish large shawls and sweaters in days, it takes me weeks. Knitters who can knock out a pair of socks in a day or two, it takes me ten times longer, but I doubt they enjoy what they make any more than I do what I make.

It is a process, not a contest. And I am grateful to those who were willing to teach me, not critique, I can read a pattern, a knitting chart, design a pattern, adjust one to make it fit me or the person for whom it is being made. So I am a slow knitter, so what!