Help me choose: WIP it or RIP it?

You may recall I was all set to resurrect a WIP from earlier this year – Calyx Hat by Debbie New – to make a multi-coloured tea-cosy for my daughter’s teacher (on request!).

There was the small matter of re-jigging the maths to make it fit a tea-pot, rather than a head; but that was easily got round.

That this led to the inevitable ripping of said WIP and casting-on again of 490sts was a mere trifle! (Though credit must go to MazzleDazzle’s patience and tolerance, as she sat through un-ending  and repeated counting with great humour: casting-on copius stitches at knit-night is not conducive to chatting – or so I’ve learned.)

Once the cast-on stitch-count was triple-checked (with stitch-markers in place like there’s no tomorrow) the actual knitting was very quick: one evening’s sitting, in fact. The sewing-up was an altogether different matter, however; but we’ll come to that later.

The lobes come together

After I cast-on I showed it to my closest friend at work. Her initial reaction was that it was one very big tea-cosy! When I explained, quite literally, the “ins” and “outs” of all the lobes and the stitch-markers to her, being an architect she noted that it was just like how insulation was indicated in Construction drawings:

Which, we agreed, is quite appropriate, considering a tea-cosy is insulation for a tea-pot.

A stripe too far

So far, so clever. Then, that minx, Hubris, came to the tea-party and spoiled all my fun! As I was happily sewing-up the lobes, I created a mathematical imponderable – a twist that would not go away.

At the same time, I fell out-of-love with how the Noro striping was becoming a murky melange over such a large stitch-count. You know when you’ve made something really clever in plasticine and then the mean-kid comes and mushes all the colours together so that it looks like muck? That was what my hat was like.

It was an easy decision to rip and start again. Same wool, I decided – after all “multi-coloured” was part of the Brief. My pattern choice should instead let the striping of the yarn play with a shorter stitch-count giving deeper stripes. I went for a classic: the “traditional” fluted tea-cosy pattern. My sister knit one of these when we were in Primary School but I never got the chance. You may be surprised to learn that I didn’t automatically know how it was made – I had to look it up.

Some judicious searching on Ravelry… a bit more maths to convert the gauge to my bulkier yarn… and I was off again. Only now I’m not so sure of myself. Once bitten – twice shy, as they say; so now I’m less gung-ho about this project. I need your opinion to help me decide:

  1. Am I making something with bo-ho chic / rustic charm / grungy cool
  2. or… Just plain FUGLY!

Fancy a cuppa?

Opinions below, if you please…

WIP Around

Thinking Cap On!

It’s official: I AM insane!

I’m about to cast-on 490sts for a tea-cosy.

I’ve done me Sums (readers in the US would call this Math); I’ve measured me tea-pot. I’m about to start me Mad Hatter’s Tea-party. (Readers in the US should not read too much into my use of *that* phrase!)

See if this makes sense to you: C = no. of sts in Crown height; R = no. of rows, inc. bind off; R = no. of sts in Crown top, also. So overall no. of sts for a half-crown = C+R.

Follow? Yes? Good.

R is – thirdly – the no. of rows in each lobe section – there’s 14 lobes in all; so R is determined by measuring the head – by which I mean tea-pot – circumference; dividing by 14 and using a gauge swatch to determine how many rows I need to make the resulting dimension.

Still with me? No? Me neither.

Anyway, unless I’ve mis-calculated – which is entirely possible – C=24, R=6 and my cast-on row goes something like this:

[CO: 1+C+R/2, PM, 1+R/2+R/2, PM, 1+R/2+R/2, PM, 1+R/2+C, PM] 7 times. OR…

[CO 29, PM; CO 7, PM; CO 7, PM; CO 29, PM] x 7. The first round will involve pouring a stiff drink, me-thinks! The beauty is, five rounds later and I’m binding-off!!!

As for other insanity I’ve been indulging in lately, I ran the Women’s Mini-Marathon last week. I actually ran it – and survived! – much to my own surprise.  Even more surprising for me, my time was just under 80mins – 1hr 19mins 48secs, to be precise. Before the event, the longest I’d run non-stop in training was 25mins. I decided I would follow two pod-casts for the C25K programme back-to-back, to keep me going. So I started with a 5 minute walk and easily ran 25 minutes without stopping. The hard part was negotiating around all the walkers; they were spread out and there wasn’t a lot of room to manoeuvre. Then I walked for 10 minutes before starting the next 25 minute run. The funny thing was, when I started to run again I found I had to over-take many of the same walkers all over again! Obviously my walking pace was a lot slower than theirs.

I felt great after the run; really thrilled with my achievement and my time. More importantly, I’ve been out running since. I think I’ve really caught the bug: I’m thinking of trying the “Bridge to 10K” programme next. I’m not sure when I’ll get time to run 10k in the morning, however; as it is I get up at 6 and the 5k run takes 40minutes or so.

It’s not too late to support the worthy cause that I was running to raise money for: CMRF stands for Crumlin Medical Research Fund and is the Fund-raising vehicle for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, Dublin, Ireland. They’re the people who fixed my fab nephew when he was only a few days old and set him on a path to life-long health and happiness. They have amazing staff at that hospital and it is woefully under-resourced and under-funded by Central Government. They *need* all the fund-raising they can get to keep doing what they do so well.

So if you’ll pardon me having a Whip-around (see what I did there) please donate a skein’s worth to a worth cause by clicking on this link:

The money goes straight to CMRF; nothing goes to me but self-righteous Pride! And you all know how well I thrive on that!

Tour of Duty

Being a knitting-mother of school-going kids I believe I am honour-bound to produce a knitted item as presents for their teachers. It’s a duty I take very seriously but, over the past two years, what should be an opportunity to create a unique present – that is appreciated and cherished for its one-off exclusivity – becomes yet another lesson in hubris for me as the resulting item is (more-than-likely) greeted with quizzical look or received with forbearance.

This year, because I now have two children going to school, it should mean I’ve twice the “fun” in store. In fact, I have high hopes that I will succeed this year. Not only do I expect I will produce gifts that the recipients will like, but I won’t be stressed out of my head about how long it is taking me to make them.

Or… I’ve yet another module of “Hubris and How It Builds Character” to complete a practical exam for my Life-studies course at the University of Life. So why am I starting out feeling so confident? Why should this year be any different?

First of all, DD – precocious and forth-right girl that she is – asked her teacher what knitted gift would she like me to make for her. Word came back “I’ve loads of scarves and hats and gloves; but what I would really love is: a multi-coloured tea-cozy”. Thank you Ms Cusack – that’s exactly the information I needed. I’m delighted with this because

  1. at least I know I’m knitting something that she might actually want and use,
  2. it’s a fairly small and manageable project, so time-wise it won’t take most of the coming month and
  3. I’ve never knitted a tea-cozy before and it’s something I’ve wanted to do but needed an excuse to get on with.

Hedgehog Fibers

For Bonus-Points, I realised that I can dust down a WIP I started in a bout of Startitis earlier in the year: Calyx Hat by Debbie New in Noro Big Kureyon. If I judiciously omit to sew up the seams – at the right places – hey, presto: my hat’s a tea-cozy.

Then, I showed DS my copy of Whimsical Little Knits 2, by Ysolda Teague. I was thinking Snapdragon Tam or Scoll Lace Scarf. I should have guessed: naturally, he picked out Smith – the Hedgehog pattern – for me to make for his teacher.

I’m pleased with this selection too, since

  1. it also shouldn’t take too long and
  2. I’ve been wanting to make this pattern for a while.
  3. I’m on Double-Bonus Points because- surprisingly – I have brown yarn!
  4. What’s more, this pattern will teach me a new cast-on: Triple-Bonus-Points!!!

So, sorry Ms Daly, if you weren’t expecting to get a stuffed hedgehog this year; but this knitter is hoping for Kudos not Hubris, this time!

FO: Better Mousetrap Socks

It took a while, but my April socks are finally done, albeit in the middle of May.

First time you saw these it was as a curl of 240-odd stitches on a too-small cable-needle.

Cast-on 1st Sock

Then I wondered if the effect I was getting, with the yarn choices I’d made, was right for the construction method of the project.

Mottled-effect: more Matrix than Mousetrap!

After much deliberation – and knitting one half of the sock – I opted to de-ply the yarn I had double-stranded and re-wind it so that I could make the second half in alternate stripes of variagated and solid.

DH declared it to be a Wampum Belt but, for me, this project was the sock-equivalent of the Baby Surprise Jacket – only you know that it’s a pair of socks. More importantly, you don’t know that it’s really going to fit until you sew it up. The project had a different surprise in store for me, however: I ran out of yarn 10 rows before the end.

Sock Surprise; now with added surprises!

I was quite daunted by the idea of grafting the 200-odd stitches on the seams – four times over! However, Debbie New describes a Super-simple grafting method that helped me get the job done without fear or stress.

Then, the final test: trying them on…

They fit; he likes them; I'm happy!

WIPs Wednesday: GlenvarAgin BeginAgin

Body Done!

Originally uploaded by UnderMeOxter

You haven’t seen it in a while, so I wanted to reassure you that I had made some progress in the past while. I finished the body in mid-May but only this evening got DH to try it on so that I could confirm this. All I’ve left to do now is the sleeves, sew in a zip and finish the collar.

I’ve oooodles of incentive to help me over the line:
For starters, I wouldn’t let myself cast-on for any of my planned projects until I finished this. This has meant I didn’t do

  • a cardigan in variagated blue Lamb’s Pride for DD in February;
  • a brown cotton jumper for DS in March or
  • my lacy shrug in Manos Silk Blend for me in May.

So much for plans, eh?

In addition, This Is Knit are planning to knit Annis, the Knitty Surprise in the latest issue, as their Summer KAL. Cast-on is scheduled for 13th June. There’s nothing like a bit of a deadline to get me to focus on finishing a project – just ask my latest socks!

It’s been 6 weeks since my last confession…

I did not love Blog when:

  • I promised to write specific posts and then completely …eh… didn’t!;
  • I did all these fantastic, blog-worthy and craft-related things and never told you about them;
  • I allowed real-life time-pressures to get in the way of blogging time…

For these, and all my sins, I am truly sorry.

For my penance I will try to write circa 20 catch-up posts over the next two weeks!

I have to apologise for my prolonged absence from my blog. It all started when DH got stuck in San Francisco because of the Ash Cloud. I was due to write a blog post all about my adventures to The Yarn Room in Wicklow the previous weekend, and meeting Irene Lundgaard for the first time – and being taught by her – but the heart just wasn’t in it.

When DH is away I still work full-time and have to get myself and the three crazies up and out the door in the morning; and fed and put to bed each evening. It’s a bit like living on a treadmill but I can do it by just getting on with it. I cut myself a break or two by easing off on household chores, such as laundry, for the duration. My knitting buddies are a great help too, as they often “bring the Mountain to Mohammed” as it were, by coming over to my house for Knit-night.

I have huge admiration for single parents, let me tell you; I don’t know how they keep themselves going. I know I only have to hold it all together until DH is home again and usually we’re only talking one week. I liken it to running a marathon: it’s a hellish run but you keep yourself moving, knowing the finish-line is in sight.

On Thursday 15th April the world woke up to the news that a certain, unpronounceable Volcano in Iceland was – quite literally – hell-bent on wrecking everyone’s plans. DH had been away since the previous Sunday and was due to fly home on Saturday afternoon. Sure enough, Mother Nature had different ideas. From my perspective, it was like someone had taken the finish-line and just run off with it. I had no choice but to keep running the marathon; but there’s something disturbing, psychologically, about not knowing when it will all end.

On Saturday night, DH suggested that he could be stuck for another five days. Strangely, rather than being horrified and distraught at the news, this was exactly what I needed to gather my energies and keep myself moving. He had given me a glimmer of ribbon that I could focus on and move towards. As it turned out, his prediction proved correct and he flew in on the second flight into Dublin Airport on Wednesday 21st April. It was amazing to see a single con-trail in the sky while simultaneously listening to a news headline reporting its arrival. We were thrown back to the early days of Flying!

So he’s been home now for a month… how do I explain the past four weeks?!?!?! Hmmmmm!?!?

The problem, for a change, was not having nothing to say (if you follow me). The problem was absolutely, over-indulging in crafty, blog-worthy adventures; to such an extent that I’m spoiled for choice. The problem with this is that I haven’t yet learned how to make time – I can only make the most of it; and I’ve certainly been doing that lately, as you can see below!

As it’s Sunday Miscellany, I’m just going to list all the excitement, somewhat in chronological order. These are potential blog-posts that you can look forward to. I have a plan for when I’m going to write each but I’ve learned from my mistake – I’m not going to tell you when to expect them in case I don’t follow through and disappear from my blog again out of shame!

  • Trip to the Yarn Room Co. Wicklow
  • Met Irene Lundgard
  • Learned Tunisian Crochet in the Round
  • Made a pair of wrist-warmers using what I learned
  • Went to the April Spin-in at Powerscourt
  • Stash Accumulation after the April Spin-in
  • Chose between finishing my April Socks and making a hat for a co-worker
  • Attended Combination Knitting Workshop by Annie Modesitt at TIK
  • Met Samsaradh and had great time catching-up with SusyMcQ
  • Stash Accumulation after the Combination Knitting Workshop
  • Met Averil
  • Stash Accumulation to celebrate meeting Averil (yeah, I’m totally out-of-control, by now!)
  • Choosing Crochet over knitting lately
  • Some Chemo caps I’m making and why
  • Choosing not to cast-on until current WIPs are whupped
  • Progress on Better Mousetrap socks
  • Progress on GlenvarAgin
  • We get Broadband means Spinning Tutorials on YouTube
  • Stash Accumulation from The Yarn and Fiber Company
  • Getting into running, the “Couch to 5K programme” and The Flora Women’s Mini-marathon

That’s kinda enough to be getting on with, I think you’ll agree!

Wampum WIP

Recently, I showed DH the socks I have underway currently:

He commented: “It looks like a wampum belt”.

To which I replied – with all the mock-malice I could muster – “I’ll give you a wampin’ belt!”

Despite my feigning umbrage, I searched for Wampum on Google images and had to agree:

Trust me, it's a toe!

Last time you saw these, I had only completed the first half of the first sock and was wondering whether stranding a faux-fair-isle colourway with a solid colour was the best mix to show off the strange construction of the sock. After much hemming and hawing, I decided to bite the bullet and un-strand one half of the yarn I had previously wound together.

This was both the best decision I could have made and one of my worst ever. I think there’s no doubt that my hunch right: completing the other half of the sock in alternate stripes of faux-fair-isle and solid was the right move, in terms of showing off the construction.

But MAN! was it a PITA to de-ply 200m, or so, of yarn. It involved large puddles of yarn, all over the living-room floor. Needless to say, I did this one evening DH was away.

But… it was worth it.