Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

There’s nothing like public proclamations to make one accountable. Just this evening, on the Irish Knitters Group on Ravelry, Aileen started a thread where we set out Ten Goals for 2010. I knew I had a few aspirations floating around in my head; but I surprised myself when I reached ten with some to spare. Here’s my “Ten for ’10”:

  1. Finally knit a cardigan for DH that actually fits him (I’m on attempt no. 3 by now – not counting all the frogging)
  2. Design and knit a cardigan for DD with variagated-blue Lamb’s Pride bought in TIK last WWKIP!
  3. Knit jumper for DS1 using Brown cotton bought at Knitting & Stitching show
  4. Review sock yarn I’ve used to date to establish one or two preferred makes so that I can…
  5. … set up template for socks for DH using Cat Bordhi’s Personal Footprints Method
  6. Bust a lot of my stash by using Tunisian Crochet to make a few shawls & scarves as gifts
  7. Knit something lacey
  8. Go to at least one Knitting Meet-up so I get to…
  9. … Meet some more online knitting friends in the flesh
  10. Publish a pattern on my blog / get a pattern published

I also should have listed “learn how to darn”. I’ve put at least four pairs of socks out of circulation until I figure this out. If I don’t do something soon I might as well adopt The Yarn Harlot’s method: Shout “Darn!” and promptly throw them in the bin.

What hasn’t even made it to the list is “making progress on the Fair-Isle Ouroborus Cardigan“. Hmmmm… is that telling, I wonder?

Now, dare I set down in writing a few goals I have for this week?…

  1. I’ve tomorrow off. I’d like to finally sort out my weekly meal planners / grocery shopping list so I can get back into grocery shopping regularly. Recently, we’ve been doing it in an ad hoc manner and I never know what there is in the fridge.
  2. Start writing Christmas Cards
  3. Actually do something from my list of gardening jobs for December
  4. Knit some Christmas Ornaments for a Sale of Work in our office
  5. Post off my Secret Santa Swap parcel (yes, I can see this one getting done anyway!)

So now I’ve said it – publicly and openly. You are all now not only my witnesses – you are my accomplices! It’s up to you to keep me honest.

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Demented

Come all ye and gather to hear my sad tale:
Of the pattern that thwarts me and taunts me to fail;
Of the cables that twist and the ribs that won’t rip;
Of the short rows that sever’d my mental grip.

You may recall me banging on about mentioning my disasterous first attempt at knitting a cardigan for DH’s 40th Birthday (coughcough in August ’07cough). Oh yes, who could forget that epic: the two-months of knitting; the episodes of running short of wool; the frequent trips to buy yet more; the kilometers of yarn; the production of something big enough for a Sumo Wrestler? I dubbed it “The Behemoth” with all the affection that name inspires! 

Rawrh!

Rawrh!

This would be Bliss!

This would be Bliss!

The Back of Behemoth
The Back of Behemoth

Why is it, when I make mistakes, they can’t be small, intimate affairs? They have to be bombastic productions with stratospheric repercussions. They say you learn from your mistakes. Perhaps my subconscious feels the need to SHOUT LOUD to get my attention. Learning from your mistake would involve doing the same thing, the same way – only better, because of all you’ve learned. Right? Of course not. This knitter has to do the same thing a completely different way and learn a whole new set of mistakes.

 I was inspired by my knitting hero, Elizabeth Zimmermann, to give it another go. Barbara Walker helped point the way: down-wards! and Aileen gave me the knowledge. With that knowledge came courage. I charted, I calculated and I measured my swatch (i.e. The Behemoth – at least it was good for something). I cast-on – provisionally – and started my top-down version of Debbie Bliss’ Glenvar pattern. Mistake #1 of my whole new batch. I call my second attempt “GlenvAargh!!!”, with almost as much affection.

Learn from my mistakes (a.k.a. share the pain)

Follow that line!

Follow that line!

Mistake #1: You can’t knit up and down from a provisional cast-on in ribbing. At least, not without something “hookey” happening to the rib. I was aware of this but decided to lash on, regardless. The result is intriguing but I’m guessing no one’s going to notice.

Mistake #2: Short-row shaping (for the sholders) and cables is not a great combination; it may wreck your head! I got through it and was happy with the result, mainly because I survived it.

Mistake #3: This one is hard to explain – basically my calculations gave me 210sts around; the stitch pattern is based on 10sts; I planned to centre one repeat on the back and work the remaining 200 around. This meant the pattern repeat was not centred on the side seams. I decided this was fine and charted my way all around. According to my charts the front cables & ribs didn’t line up with the back. I didn’t realise that my charting was completely useless until I reached the underarms. Of course, the way the sholders were set up, the front and back cables and ribs have to line up. If I wanted to keep to the pattern I needed a stitch count of 200 or 220.

Mistake #4: My first response on realising Mistake #3 was to opt for a stitch count of 200 and I rushed at joining under the arm-holes. Only then did I realise the impact this would have on the length of the armholes. Similarly, a stitch count of 220 would make them too long. GlenvAargh!!! went on time-out for a long time while I stewed over the repercussions. I couldn’t bear the thought of ripping again.

The other day, a light went on. It was possibly inspired by fellow Knit-Knight (we meet in Swords, you see) Clare (a.k.a. Clarabel on Rav). She’s been knitting Mirage Pullover from More Big Girl Knits. I was very taken with how the lace pattern travels up the side seams and the underarm of the sleeves. I realised I could make a new chart for the side seams, based on 15 sts. Sigh of Relief: Aaaah!

So, I got out my graph paper, pencil, rubber and stuck my tongue into the corner of my mouth as I charted my new territory; focused me. Then I ripped back the two rows to unjoin the fronts and back; fearless me. Then I realised that I’d messed up in my increases for the armholes, previously, so I ripped back another inch; determined me. I used a smaller needle to pick up the stitches as a life-line before I ripped; clever me. Something a little odd happened as I was ripping the back. I figured it out as best I could and knit on; brave me.

Mistake #5 (yup, I’m not done learnin’ any time soon…) Pay more attention when something strange happens, even when you’re ripping. I’ve ripped out a short-row on the back and botched it up beyond all recognition. My short-rows are so good, even I can’t find them. All I know is the cable pattern is out of kilter – the first two repeats don’t need a cable twist for another two rows but the rest of the row is on the cable-twist row. GlenvAargh!!! is on time-out, for a third time, until I figure this one out.

Oh! and while I’m at it: Mistake #101 – you can’t frog ribbing from the bottom up (as the wise lady says – ask me how I know…) The Behemoth bites me even as I slay it.

Bats in my Belfry

DH & I have a simple rule: Satuday-night = Date-night. A few weekends ago we managed to stick to our rule for the first time in ages. We went to the Cinema and saw “Batman: The Dark Knight”. Knowing what we know about Heath Ledger’s untimely demise (what do we know?) it was disconcerting to hear him say his lines – they are so dark, so full of despair. It’s hard not to imagine that he didn’t leave the role behind him after the cameras stopped rolling.

Around the same time I had read an interesting post by following a link from Tea and Cakes’ Blog:

Alison Bechdel, cartoonist and author of “Dykes to Watch Out For”, has an interesting observation on movies — a little test she applies to them. It’s a very short checklist, viz:

1. Does it have at least two women in it,

2. Who [at some point] talk to each other,

3. About something besides a man. – http://thegurrier.com/2008/07/29/bechdels-law/

“Batman: The Dark Knight” fails. Despite all that, the film is not without merit. It’s full of excitement and tension, though it suffers from a lack of brevity. All in all, I preferred Batman Returns. Christian Bale doesn’t disappoint, of course, but he’s nowhere near as exciting as The Real Thing… (No! I’m not talking about Val Kilmer – Please!) Yup, at the begining of the summer we had a Close Encounted of the Bat Kind.

One evening, at bedtime, DH noticed an UFO – in our bedroom. Bigger than a moth and quieter than a bird, something was circling the light. I was no help, what-so-ever, in identifying what it was. I was busy keeping my head buried under the duvet. As suddenly as it appeared, it was gone. DH eventually tracked it down, hiding in a crevice in the kids’ room. We got them up out of their beds, opened the windows of their bedroom, closed the door and hoped for the best in the morning.

The next day, there was no sign of any wildlife making a bid for captivity and I breathed a sigh of relief. Until the afternoon when something silent and fluttery appeared again, this time in the kitchen, as if out of nowhere. Naturally, DD had a play-date over at the time. Naturally, everyone was in the kitchen at the time. Naturally, no-one can cope with nature at close quarters. Trying to keep the expletives to a minimum, I hussled the kids out of the kitchen and attempted to appear calm, for their sakes. Meanwhile, the bat decided to take a nose dive at our open window. Unfortunately, for him, we have insect screens on our kitchen windows. Knowing that there would be space for him, between the screen and the pane, I closed the window. Not having him fluttering frantically around the house gave me a chance to think.

I’m aware that Bats are a protected species in Ireland so I looked up Bats Conservation Ireland and discovered:

Contact us

If you have any questions about bats that you need answered immediately – for instance if you have bats entering the living area of your house – you can call the batline 046 9242882 or 01 8011474

Oh yes, I think that’s me! I quickly dialed the BatPhone and got talking to Batwoman, herself: an amazing woman who seems to have dedicated her life, and those of her family, to doing all in her power to help the Bats of Ireland . She talked me through what was happening, from the Bat’s point of view: that he was naturally trying to borrow his way into the smallest crevice of our window frame; that he really didn’t want to be indoors; that he’d rather sleep right now; that he’s probably petrified and doing his best to cope with the stress. She also talked me through what he needed to happen: that he should be released at dusk, his natural feeding time; that he should be released near mature trees; that he should be released at shoulder height; that we’d need to wear gloves handling him; that we should put him in a cardboard box and leave the cardboard box outside, in the branch of a tree. She reassured me that he was safe where he was now, because the window I’d “caught” him in is north facing and therefore shaded and he wasn’t going to over-heat or de-hydrate.

I don’t cope well with wild-life that make fast, unpredicable movements; regardless of how small they are. Once I was able to look at him, while he was resting, I could see just how cute he is – take a look:

There must be some means of escape...

"There must be some means of escape..."

 As I wrote this post (something I’ve been meaning to do for a while) I had another snoop around the Bat Conservation Ireland website. Take a look at their Data page. Search under Dublin and Unidentified Bat. I think that’s our little guy: the dot on the part that looks like the eyebrow of a shouting man with a sticking-out nose. Okay, now I really sound like I’ve gone Batty! I know why that is too – I’ve picked up GlenvArgh! again and re-commenced frogging The Behemoth. I’ve yet to figure out if re-attempting this project will benefit my sanity or be to its detriment.

Which WIP for the WWKIP

It’s the eve (when I started this) of WWKIP and I’ve fallen out with all of my WIPs.

  • GlenvAAArrgh! (appropriately titled) a.k.a. my rehashing reworking of Debbie Bliss’s cabled cardigan has reached an impasse. I worked out the maths based on 210 stitches around without thinking about how the paring of the cables and ribs (a pattern repeat of 10 stitches) from the sholder seams down means I have to work on the basis on either 200 or 220 stitches around. I join the underarms based on 200 stitches in what, I fear, will turn out to be a rash decision. I am waiting for his nibs to try it on before I continue much further. Off to the hibernation den in the meantime…
  • I agreed with Caroline / Bootie (blog-free) from our Swords Knit-Nights that I’d join her in a mini-kal for some stranded mittens. I’m doing EZ’s Norwegian Mittens and she’s doing Eunny Jang’s Anomoie (sp?). We agreed to cast-on on Sunday or Monday, which I did… sort of. I knit up the i-chord border and started to pick-up stitches and stopped. I need to figure out who I’m knitting these for – me or my dd. I need to figure out some maths if it’s for my dd. I need to be sure of the patterns too. I just need to give these some thought but sitting down and focusing on them is way-down on my priority list.
  • I cast-on some toe-up socks from my new, fabulous, Cat Bordhi book: New Pathways for Sock Knitters. I’m trying the pontoon toe for the first time and not loving it, plus I dropped a stitch, plus the two socks don’t match in their striping at all. I’m tempted to rip back and do the toe from Back to Basics – that was a nice toe – but I’m feeling underpressure time-wise for my SAM5KAL credit. And there I was hoping to knit two pairs of socks in June to try to catch up!!! If I can just find that pesky dropped stitch I think these are my best option for a KIP WIP.

So what do you do when you fall out of love with your WIPs? You cast-on for another one, of course. I started a swatch for my long-promised Tomato by Wendy Bernhard from No Sheep for You. If I don’t knit this soon it will be too cold to wear it for another year.

I was also unable to get stuck into the Scavenger Hunt organised by TIK. I entered and got the list of challenges last Friday. My first impulse was to go for the big points and get in contact with The North County Leader to be interviewed. However, the cold light of Monday morning struck and faced with school-runs, house-work and a lack of a printer for the flyer (that’s meant to feature in each photograph) I never got going.

Instead, I did other Missionary work for the conversion of all to Knitting: the mother of a boy in my dd’s class mentioned that she did some knitting in the past. (In fact, she’s of a very high pedigree in that her mother owned a yarn shop in Edinburgh. I didn’t want to reveal my obsessiveness too early, so I restrained myself from quizzing her up and down about what yarn shop exactly, but I will find out…) Anyway, I admitted to being a knitter and we’ve chatted on and off since about how nice it is. The other day she told me that because of me she felt compelled to take up the needles again and was attempting a scarf but with the only needles she could find: a mis-matched pair. The next time I saw her I gave her the set of plastic needles that I’d bought in Aldi a while back for no better reason than they were for sale. I’d had in the back of my mind to give them to my niece for her birthday but the other part of the back of my mind kept telling me she wouldn’t really appreciate it – not as much as an Averil Lavigne CD, let’s say. This born-again-knitter, on the other, was genuinely thrilled – which gave me a feeling of enormous satisfaction.

I’m giving myself a Knitting Scout badge for my efforts: The “Proselytize Knitting” Badge.  DH more than me has earned the The “MacGyver” Badge (Level Two) for using my metal 4mm double-pointed needle as a depth check when he was putting in the sand blinding for paving he’s doing in our front.

    

Are you startin’?

In Ireland, saying this is considered a challenge – a threat, a call to arms, a gauntlet being thrown down. And my adversary?

It’s the foe of old: Debbie Bliss’s Glenvar – Take II. See my notes from Aileen’s “top-down, set-in sleeve class” at This is Knit? Finally, I’m knuckling down. I’ve advanced the back, with the short-row shaping for the sholders – which did funky things to the ribbing. Meanwhile, however, the original – The Behemoth – is languishing in the frog pond. Frogging is harder than I anticipated. I didn’t realise you can’t frog ribbing backwards i.e. from the bottom up. I didn’t want to take the sholders apart until I’d knit the new version down past the armholes – for comparison & reference. So instead I’ve had to find my woven-in ends as a starting point. It’s slow progress but I’ve got three balls wound up and ready to move on again.

I’ve definately caught the “startitis” bug lately. At my last Knit Night I bought Loop-d-loop by Teva Durham from Claire (a.k.a. Clarabell on Rav) and almost as soon as I got home I was inspired to cast-on for the Yoke Vest. I had one of those flashes of inspiration when I realised that the yarn I had bought in Lidl, for no better reason than it was ridiculously cheap, would be perfect. I swatched it up and, much to my surprise, I was right. I toyed with re-working the maths because the size of the finished vest in the pattern seem ridulously small – and I’m fairly average sized. However, there’s a note in the pattern that the yarn is stretchy and the Lidl yarn was too, in the swatch. Plus, looking at the photos of others on Ravelry, the people wearing it don’t seem to be much bigger than me. So I stuck to the pattern as written.

Knit-night Feast

Of course, it also was an excuse to crack open my new set of Denise needles that I was aided and abbetted into getting by Caroline (a.k.a. Bootie on Rav), also a regular at our Swords Knit Night. Within a day I was one ball down and had 8″ done up to the waist. I’m sceptical about what appears to be nearly 10″ negative ease!?! It can’t be right? I’ve tried it on – what do you think? I’m up to the neck now & despite wanting to finish it and wear it to tomorrow’s knit-night I’m a bit stuck. The pattern instruction seem over-complicated:

“Knit to center Front st and work a right-slanting dec … pm for center neck; do not cont RS row, but in order to create balanced loop through center st at bottom neck, turn so WS of fabric is facing and purl WS row to right neck edge, turn, knit to left edge, turn, and purl 1 row.”

So far as I understand it that’s a convoluted way of saying “starting with a purl row, work 3 rows stocking st” and I can’t fathom what this talk of creating a balanced loop through the centre st at bottom neck is about. Anyway – knit on through all crises – as the wise lady says, eh? I might have to take the EZ approach and just knit it and see. Often the best strategy, apart from which this one would be a doddle to frog!

Speaking of EZ, I’m also really tempted to cast-on for EZ’s Mystery Blanket from the April Chapter of her Almanac, using some of the baby acrylic I bought in Aldi – again because it was too cheap to leave behind. So far I’ve resisted – three WIPs is enough for me – but maybe when I’ve got this Yokey-thingy all done I might…

The Behemoth

Reading The Knitter’s Almanac is such an inspiration! Really!! I actually want to unravel 1.68 kilometers (!!!) of yarn and start again – from scratch! And I’m excited to do it. I can’t wait…

How has this woman got under my skin and into my psyche so bad? Is it the way she talks to you? She has this no-nonsense tone that tells you “you can do it but only if you want to enough” Is it the way she makes you feel you’re back facing your favourite teacher, the one you always sought approval from, the one you tried to do better for. And she’s not going to tolerate you slacking off and messing! Get on with it or get out! And that’s enough exclamation marks from you, miss…

So here’s the plan Mrs EeeZee (easy! easy!) has helped me to concoct: I will do my own version of the Almanac and start with an Aran in January. But not just any Aran, oh-no! Only THE Aran, the one that broke my heart last August. It began life as 15 balls of Kilcarra in purple last May. Very quickly, I realised an error in my measuring – I used a favourite jumper of DH’s prior to purchase and then measured his chest prior to casting on – and a 16th ball had to purchased.

Seven balls travelled with us on holidays in Germany, where the back was almost entirely completed in two weeks. Then, of course, I realised that the balls of substitute yarn I was using had only 80m, whereas I had bought 16 of them thinking they had 88. 16 x 8 = 128, so I was a further 2 balls short. These were quickly purchased.

Then, starting to wise up, I did one of the sleeves before doing the second front, to better gauge whether or not yet more wool was needed. Sure enough, I was soon up to 20 balls of wool. Would you believe this 2oth ball ran out, just as I was completing the collar? Yup, you guessed it… yet another ball was needed just to sew it all up.

So two months of knitting, and 21 balls of 80m yarn (i.e. 1.68km) later, and already one week late for the 40th birthday present it was meant to be, I pinned in the zip and DH tried it on. When…

Dehn!

 Dehn!

DeyhNNnnn!!!

Disaster struck – it was a LOUSY fit…

 Note the “extra Ease” at the chest – we’re talking at least two sizes too big! And the not-so-great way it hangs on the back? Men have weird shapes, yes?

So, now that you have the back-story, cheer me on as I rip this back, take a shower with the hanks, ball them up and cast-on again. This time (ala EZ) I will cast-on based on my gauge (who needs a gauge hat when I’ve got a whole cardigan eh?) to give a good fit around the hip and proceed in-the-round, adding short rows to accommodate the strange way men are built in the back. Then, scariest of scaries, I will use steeks for the arms and for the zip. I think…

Yes, maybe I’m mad but I really can’t wait …

For January…