Friday, August 26, 2016

Of blocking and ripping

Greetings from the beautiful fall weather! And thank you for your suggestions on the yarn. I hear you, you pointed out that wasting the yarn would be a shame, it would, I know, so here are my thoughts. But at first a few words about blocking.
I often block garments when the process is on the way. Usually I take the needles out, put the stitches on a piece of heavy cotton waste yarn, knot it in order not to lose any stitches or cause further trouble. Then I completely wet the garment, stretch, pin it out to its measurements to make sure it will be the size I want. There are times when I am in doubt of the stitch outcome, like in fair-isle, I might have worries of the unevenness of the fabric; then I might block it to be sure that the surface is going to smooth out and the fabric is nice and neat.
At the moment I am making this entrelac cowl. Since this is my very first crochet entrelac piece, I had lots of worries of the edges of the piece. While blocking something where size does not matter, might seem a bit silly, this time I blocked the piece in half-way point to make sure that there would not be too bad curling (I am so new to Tunisian crochet that I am always wondering if my hook size is correct and if the fabric is too tense and will curl up tightly), except more than curling I was worried of the edges being even. I am constantly battling with the edges, I think I am going to get it right eventually although not while doing this little piece! I pinned the edges very carefully and they don’t look too bad. Anyway, while I block, it is always a timeout, moment to consider, possibly change plans if the fabric or the garment does not seem right. I want to give myself time to revise my plans, make a start on processing the measures needed to make the piece just right.

This cowl… I know the edges are not to my liking, so I am contemplating on different edge treatments… crab stitches? I-cord? Edging in another color? Maybe there is something that does not come from the top of my head, however, eventually pops out, if I let myself ponder it for a bit. While I am slowly putting the pins to the right places, I look at the fabric from different angles wishing it will talk to me. Not always, sometimes the stubborn piece just lies there flat, silent and refuses to utter a word of wisdom.
Like is the case of the SilkeTweed cardigan. It is lying on the ironing board keeping its silence. I know the stitches are not happy; once again it is going to be ripped out. You were right; the yarn is such a lovely color, it should not be wasted, for that reason I am not quite ready to give up yet. Yesterday I made a desperate dash into totally different direction. I cannot knit anything with this right now. I have cast on three times, none of them have worked, therefore this yarn is not going to be knitted. I tried to crochet with it; at the most I made probably 20 stitches, knew immediately that this would be another battle not worth doing.
This little swatch is done in Tunisian crochet – and there are elements I like. It would be a lovely shawl, however this technique works only in the round (there is one color for the pick-up row, then another for the return row) thus I would need to steek. A cowl is an option. A cowl, a hat to match maybe… Even though every time I have pulled out the project, some of the yarn has evaporated, there is still plenty, most likely a sweater’s quantity. (Isn’t it odd that no matter how carefully you rip out the project, you always end up having little bit less yarn, even though you think that you did rip everything…?) That swatch looks very much like a sleeve; I cannot help myself, it does look as if it were a part of a sweater. Should I once again set myself on another sweater odyssey… somehow I feel that this yarn is doomed not to become a sweater. Of course I could make a cushion cover… it would eat most of the yarn, if I would make a big one…
I am very much in doubt yet. The size and feel of the original piece was very off, this in the other hand, this little sleeve swatch with the wool yarn in between feels a lot better. I would get similar effect using alternating garter stitch stripes with stockinette, but I did say that I cannot deal with knitting with this for the fourth time. I have never done a sweater (much of anything really) with Tunisian crochet; maybe it would be just the challenge I would need to have a fresh start with this yarn. I tried two different hook sizes with the swatch yet I am not sure which would be the right choice. I plan to make another swatch; try to be more careful with the silk/wool yarn to see if it will take care of the unevenness of the garter stitch looking stripes; in addition I need to think about the color change jog. I am making a visible seam, just not sure what kind of a seam, where to put it, if I take onto a sweater path.
While this is mainly where my thoughts have been roaming, my hands have been busy with the cowl. Although my happy, easy part is soon over, very soon it is time to start making decisions for the edges and the closure. I expect to arrive into a painless conclusion, something that smoothly comes together… Day before yesterday I was cleaning the shoreline. It attracts willows, willows provide a lovely haven to mosquitoes, and thus the shoreline needs to be clean.
We have some junipers growing there as well and once in a while you come across a dead branch. Every time I have cut away such a branch I sniff it, the smell is very distinct, cannot help wondering what a waste to throw away all the branches… Over the years I have collected the best ones and have had plans to make them into wooden beads and buttons
(like in these necklaces, I made these blue wooden beads)… so this cowl, should it have buttons made of juniper? Did I say that I was anticipating a smooth landing? And yet I am taking all these detours?

I hope you have a nice weekend,
Wool with you,
PS. I have never made wooden buttons, just these beads, so to have a few good ones, I most likely will need to make three times the amount I will end up using. Maybe when I block the cowl, it will tell me to forget about the buttons and will give me a simple, better solution...

Monday, August 22, 2016

Fall colors

I think it happened overnight. All of a sudden I realized that nights are truly dark, like a bag has been pulled over my head. Last week the moon was huge and stretched a bridge over the lake. The lights inside the house look warm and welcoming and inviting. It is almost time to build a fire and let the warmth push away the damp of the fall. It is raining today and I am having a break from the fall outside activities.
Yesterday morning I noticed that some of the birch trees are shedding and leaves are scattered all over the grass.
Can you grasp the fall feeling by looking at these pictures, they were taken today. The rain feels and looks like it is not going to cease any time soon.
The deck appears lonely and deserted, doesn’t it? Later this week we are going to stow it away for the winter. It cannot stay in the lake, as the ice buildup is so heavy that it would break the deck. Soon it is time to face bravely the north winds and dress up in layers of wool.

Over the weekend I dug out this old project. I am almost sure I have not shown this to you yet. I started it “Charm by Kim Hargreaves” long time ago (!!!) when I was having aching wrist and purling made it hurt and I wanted something to knit only. I am not quite sure just how old the pattern is but it is old, definitely from the previous decade but maybe even from the last century.
I have taken it out and put it back into the bag many times and I am not sure if I like what I am making at the moment.  The problem is not the pattern, I think it is fine, but I am having serious doubts with the yarn. This is a third project I am trying to pair with this yarn Drops Silke Tweed (discontinued) and the feel is little bit odd in my hands. It seems dry somehow and almost papery. I love the rustic feel (I think) and somehow it matches the garter stitch, but yet… I am having serious doubts.  Also, the outcome is a bit too thick to my taste, as I like light garments.

-        The color: very appropriate for the season
-        The fiber content: wool (48%) and silk (52%)
-        The texture: rough (matches my country life style so well)

The list of doubts:

-        The feel through my hands; there is no give; the yarn is sticky almost, very difficult to make even stitches, and I have to concentrate on slow knitting (which is not all bad)

-        The smell is little bit odd, it is kind of strong, and it has been there from the very beginning, it does not remind me of sheep, as a matter of fact, the wool is very difficult to feel or smell in the yarn. 

-        I am not sure that the pattern and the yarn will be a good match in the end. The cardigan is shaped and intended to hug the figure and I am afraid that this yarn will make the cardigan too loose; after some wear it might not bounce back becoming baggy. This is just a feeling at the moment and I am hoping to be proven wrong. I am going to block the cardigan once I reach the arm holes and will try to make the wool bloom. I have lost the swatch but I should make another one and treat it with hot water to see if I can wake up the fibers. Now that I think about the yarn, it feels somehow dead and hard.
I have high hopes of finishing the garment sometime soon, but don’t be disappointed if you never see this again. It might end up being ripped once again and I am not sure if the yarn can take any more ripping. The poor thing has been treated this way so many times already that if this does not work this time, it most not going to be knitted again. I am not sad, this has been a good lesson and there are times when nothing helps and then it is time to go part ways.
After I block it and if I decide to continue, I need to think about the sleeves for a bit. As written the cardigan is done in pieces, but I wanted to knit it in once piece up to the arm holes and did that. Now it has raglan sleeves but they are sewn on later and I could do that. After seeing Anne Hanson's excellent Craftsy Class on Finishing Handknits, I have grown to love the final touches more and more and sewing the sleeves might be a nice change, but then again, I hate to add seams to the places where I can avoid them. 

I looked through the pattern and saw that there are only a few stitches decreased under the arms and if I decide to knit this in one piece, I am almost sure I need to decrease more under the arms to have enough room for the sleeves and that would mean changing the decrease ratio a little bit as I don’t want to add more stitches to the sleeves and the main body. As I am not sure how the cardigan will look and behave in the end, I am sort of hesitant to invest even more time to the project, if it is for nothing. Then again I can be stubborn at times, even when it is not wise or desirable, and I am afraid this will be a long and rocky road for the cardigan and me.

One step at a time... I will continue up to the armholes, then I will block the piece and will check the fit and the feel and base my future decisions on them. I think this sounds like a plan. I have almost 4” (10cm) to go before I need to make up my mind, so until then, I am going to enjoy the rough yarn and enjoy the challenge it is giving me.

The rain is getting heavier, now it is drumming steadily. No need to go anywhere just now, will make a cup of tea, as afternoons are for tea, pull up my feet and listen to audio book while I knit. Right now I am listening to Ann Cleeves Shetland Mystery Dead Water.

Wool with you,