Sunday, January 30, 2011

New beginnings

I took some pictures of the scarf at different angles to try to show the pattern in a more detailed way. I am trying to get more artistic with my photography. Bear with me as I learn. I blocked the scarf last weekend and it became really soft and fluffy.

That is the side with the solid color on the front. The darker parts is the reverse side where the variegated color is the front.
This shows the two sides at the same time. I think it will look very nice when worn. I made it quite long so it can be wrapped and tied in various ways.
Here it is draped over the sofa. I was trying to get the pattern to show on the variegated side and I think I succeeded in this photo. In most of the others, it looks like a blended color with no distinction between the front and the back side. This scarf would look much better in two coordinating solid colors, I think. Or a variegated that contrasts with the solid rather than one that matches, like this one.

I spent last Sunday winding yarn and putting together project bags for the next two projects. They represent quite a contrast in color. This is the yarn for the Rose Lace Collar Bohus. It is a very wintry and subtle mix of hues. I cast on and have knitted 3 rounds so far. I started with a provisional cast-on so I can come back and finish the neck later. I haven't quite decided how I want to finish this. It will be a cardigan. I have a steek in the center front so I can do the colorwork in the round.
The other project is the Swedish Heartwarmer shawl and the colors for this are vibrant and strong. I have also started this as it is a fairly mindless knit in the beginning and I can work on it when I'm tired or traveling.

Both these sets of colors are inspiring me and I am knitting a lot more than I have been in the past 6 months. It is a little strange for me to start two different projects at the same time but I think these are very complementary in terms of their life cycles.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Scarf is complete!

Despite the rough beginning, the end of the Sush-ushi scarf knitting was fairly tame. Once I got the rhythm of the pattern, I was able to make good progress because I could pick up and put it down without losing my place. For some reason, it took me a lot longer to 'get' this than in other patterns. Some of it may be due to the way the pattern was worded. But anyway, it is done. I am not posting any new pictures till it is blocked because I like the photos I posted last week.

One thing I want to point out as a tip is that it is easier to bind off if one follows the directions for the Kitchener Rib bindoff in Katharina Buss's Big Book of Knitting. For some reason, I found the directions in the Knitting Brioche book to be unnecessarily complex. One needs to treat the yarnover and the st as one but that is the only special consideration for brioche st.

Next on the list is a toss-up between the Rose Lace Collar (my next Bohus) and the Swedish Heartwarmer Shawl (that is my friend Steph's version). I think I'm going to start the Bohus as it is most interesting in the beginning and then the Swedish Heartwarmer Shawl - which is most boring in the beginning. Maybe I can alternate the two depending on whether I want a mindless knit or one that keeps me occupied.

Off to wind a lot of yarn. Both of the new projects have a lot of colors to be wound.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Slow but steady wins the race

This week has been a tough one for knitting. I thought I would make more progress on the scarf. However, I have found that if I make a mistake, it takes a long time to fix it. The longer the period between making the mistake and recognizing it, the worse it is. Tinking is the only way to go back - unknitting one st at a time. Brioche is tricky to rip out and pick up sts.

In the case of the scarf, there are a lot of decreases that involve 4 sts. Unknitting those is a pain, making sure you've picked up all 4 sts. Going back one row means you can avoid unknitting them. If you have to go back 3 or 4 rows, you have to undo those decreases. Also, each row in 2 color brioche knitting is 2 rows of actual knitting. This is because you are really double knitting - making two fabrics at once. Ensuring you are undoing both sides accurately just complicates the problem. Also, I have two colors that are very close. This makes the problem tough to deal with in the evenings when they seem to blur together.

But let's take a look at an easier knit. I finally blocked the silk cardi. I haven't worn it since I blocked it so no pics with it on me. That is next. But here it is drying. I put it in to wash and forgot all about it. I wash handknits in my washer - filling, then turning it off, waiting and then draining and spinning. I woke up at 4 am and remembered it so ran down, pulled it out and laid it out to dry. That is why it is lying on a fitted sheet! Normally I use a flat sheet but this what I pulled out of the linen closet at 4 am.

I think the scarf would look better in two solid colors. But maybe not. I like the contrast of the two sides so I took these pictures. As you can see, the scarf is much longer now. How long should it be? The pattern says to use all the yarn but I think the Alpaca Sox yarn has a lot of yardage. It might make a very long, skinny scarf.
I flipped the two sides and took this picture. I think I like the other one better. What do you think? It takes me 1.25-1.5 hours to knit one repeat if I don't make any mistakes. I find that it is easier to just do one repeat w/o a break as the rhythym keeps one from making mistakes. My goal is to do 1 repeat a night this week and see how long it gets. Then I will decide whether to bind it off or continue. Wish me luck!

I am sorry I am not posting every week. I just find that with this scarf, there isn't a lot of progress to show so till I move to another project, there may be some gaps in the blog. Sorry!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A lesson in humility

Happy New Year! Here's to another year of togetherness and fiberlicious fun!

I have been knitting for decades. I can't even remember a time when I didn't knit easily. Therefore, while there are many patterns that I find challenging, it usually only takes me a few tries to figure it out. In some cases, I was misunderstanding what was intended and in other cases, the pattern was wrong. Therefore, I approach knitting with confidence and maybe a sense of arrogance. Until now...

The designer of this scarf says "This is a very challenging knit for someone unfamiliar with brioche knitting. It uses 2-color brioche and reversible increases and decreases. I would advise first downloading the free BEBEB scarf pattern to practice 2-color brioche knitting before purchasing this pattern.". I read that. I also have knitted 2-color brioche - I made a 2-color hat knit in the round as my very first brioche knitting project. It has increases and decreases. I have also knitted a whole garment in brioche knitting - with increases and decreases. Therefore, I wasn't too concerned about the scarf.

I even thought I could knit it while traveling. I knocked that off the list pretty quickly when I discovered that I had to spread out the pattern while beginning. This was not very practical on the train or plane. So I waited till I was at my aunt's house in Bengaluru before I started it. I spread the pattern on the bed and curled up to begin. And I cast on, and ripped, and cast on and ripped and cast on and ripped. First I ended up with 35 sts after casting on with 36. Again and again. Then I tried casting on with 37 and ended up with 37. Persistence and obstinacy are my middle names and so I kept at it. I eventually figured out why I was losing that 1 st.

Then I learned that what I thought was meant by an abbreviation is not exactly what someone else means by that very sequence of words. sigh Rip... The next problem was that the 2 colors I was using can be very close at times. So I was getting them mixed up. sigh Rip... After that I mixed up the knit and purl rows. sigh Rip Fortunately, each of these failures only meant that I was ripping out a few rows at a time. Eventually, I was well on my way to getting through the first repeat of the pattern. Yay!

Pride comes before a fall.... I thought I could now work on it on the plane trip back. So I packed it in my carry-on baggage. bad move The security guard at Dubai airport decided to inspect my needles and pulled a bunch of the sts off the needles. Plus I lost one of my lovely Holtz and Stein ebony needles along the way. sigh I wasn't far enough along to attempt to fix the problem on the plane. The issue with brioche knitting is that it looks like a mess at first. It takes a few rows before you get to the point where you can see what is going on. Rip

But all's well that ends well. I got past those problems. I am now even repairing dropped sts along the way without ripping. And therefore ta-da!

Here is the variegated side of the scarf. Isn't it pretty?
And the solid side....
It isn't blocked and therefore it is a little wonky. It is a pretty easy knit once you get the hang of the pattern. You have to keep track of where you are and make sure you aren't dropping sts on the decreases where you are working with 4 sts at once. But other than that, it is fun and I'm quite happy with the results. The colors are not me but the yarn is soft and warm. It will make someone a lovely scarf.

And it got me back into knitting in a big way. I am enjoying knitting again and I have high hopes for 2011! The morals of this story are what I tell my students all the time:
  1. Don't be afraid to rip. Each time you do that, it is a learning experience yeah right..
  2. Don't assume. Read the instructions and the abbreviations.
  3. Pay attention to your knitting
  4. Be confident. It is just knitting. You can figure it out. There is nothing too hard in knitting.