Recently in Knitting Olympics Category

Winding Roads

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We're back from a brief (but longer than we planned) road trip to Mendocino (coastal Northern CA). Here's what I learned:

  1. If you are not sure whether or not your kids are prone to carsickness, assume they are.

  2. If you think it might be a good idea to take the scenic route even though you know it might be longer and curvier, think again.

  3. If you are priding yourself on packing really lightly for an overnight, go back and add in an extra outfit for every member of the family and two for any members under two and under.

  4. If it sounds like fun to take a detour to visit a lighthouse along the way, make sure you read the sign carefully so that you realize the lighthouse is 21 miles down the road and not 2.1 miles away.

  5. Packing a handknit shawl is a good thing. Whether you wear it out as you stroll around or in over your pajamas in the evening, you'll feel "right" in your shawl. (I took my Flower Basket Shawl along, which hasn't gotten much use, and I loved having it with me. It just had the right "feel" for the getaway.)

  6. Take more LEGOs than you think you’ll need/want. If you’re taking pods, take a bunch!

  7. If it can be closed, it probably will be. (Okay, that's just our luck, probably not a rule of life!)

We had a good time, and it was nice to simply "be away" in a beautiful inn replete with their very own llamas, organic gardens, and tea trees in bloom. But, we did have quite the (carsick) trip getting there. And, the area was besieged by rains over the last three days. It poured the whole time we were there. Just poured.

I had debated about what knitting to take - and we were just going for one night. I swatched a yarn my Secret Pal gave me last year to see if I can get gauge for socks from Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road. I keep wanting to make socks from that book, but the gauge always seems looser than the kinds of sock yarn I have. So, I did a swatch, but I ended up out of time and didn’t even get it measured and sorted out in the final rushed hours before we left.

I also considered taking a skein of Koigu from my coveted Koigu stash and making myself a Ninja Ropes hat (see free pattern link in list at right). I made the boys’ theirs last year, and it’s a hat I just love. They’ve worn them often, and every time I put one of them on them, I think what a pretty hat. So, while making myself one wasn’t on my original list of things to make for this year, I really do think I might have to have one sooner rather than later. It’s a great-weight basic hat--and I can't resist Koigu colors. In fact, while I have a bunch of Koigu stashed away, I'm guilty of holding onto it waiting for the perfect project, so I haven't used much of what I've bought. I do have a sweater in mind for some of it, and another Charlotte would be obvious, as well as a second set of fingerless mitts (which is on this year's list). So, I considered taking a skein and casting on my own Ninja Ropes hat, but I kept thinking “this is silly. I’m only going to be gone overnight. How much knitting will I really do? Do I need to start something new just because I’m on a trip?”

So, I talked myself out of starting something new.

Instead, I took my Shoalwater Shawl (taking a break from Kiri). It was a good choice, and it was nice to pick it back up and knock out a few rows. It’s a much denser shawl than Kiri, so I’ve actually worked far more rows on this shawl (far more) and still have a bunch to go (somewhere around 80). Given that there are 350+ stitches on the needles now, the rows are slow going, but it’s a rhythmic pattern, and each row flows along nicely. I got in a bunch of knitting (surprisingly) in between stopping the little one from opening and closing all the doors and drawers in the suite and after building a set of LEGO pod creations. I sat by the fire the first night and knitted (and wore my shawl), and it felt so peaceful.

Then we decided to stay and extra night, so there was more time to knit, and I did sort of wish I’d brought that skein of Koigu! I’m such a sentimental sap. I love having associations of “place” with my knitting. The only other time we were in Mendocino (at this same Inn), I made one of my favorite Rowan hats. It’s a bulky pink seed stitch hat from Kim Hargreaves, and I love it. Every time I wear it, I flash back on that first stay at the Inn (it’s a place that holds special significance for our family), and it’s nice. I like my knitting being tied to milestones and moments in my life. So, I sort of wish I’d had yarn with me to work on a Ninja Ropes hat for myself.

But, I didn’t.

green hat

I was glad, however, that I’d thought to take along a hat. We hadn’t planned on the winter storm (rain) and the drop in temperatures, but expecting general coolness and windiness by the coast, I’d tossed the two-tone green hat I made last December into my bag (along with my Koigu fingerless mits). I don’t think I ever showed this hat off. I used leftover yarn from my Ribby Cardi. The hat is a “bit” big (and a tad tall—I wear it folded up a little), so the gauge obviously wasn’t perfect for the pattern, but I think it turned out beautifully.

The pattern is “Make It Mosaic Hats” by Ellyn Wheeler from Creative Knitting Magazine (November 2005). Mom had the magazine when she was here last fall, and I thought it was a cool hat, and I really loved the look of the fair isle-esque diamond patterning. It’s actually a slip stitch pattern, so it’s very easy to work, and it has a wonderful Celtic resonance to it. The picture in the magazine shows up much more distinctly than mine. The two greens I used are so tonally close, I guess, that I got a very subtle effect, but I really like it.

We got back home a day later than planned, and I dutifully picked up Kiri again last night. I will finish the 10th repeat tonight. I’m not sure how to “tell” how big it really is unless I string it onto a string and lay it out. I hate to have to do that because I find it really painstaking to get a shawl back on the needles off of a string. But, I might do it just to see if it really will be big enough this way or not. I’d go for the 11th repeat, but I’d really be kicking myself later if I ended up without enough yarn left for the edging!

Kiri A-Comin'

Well, I've been in here working at my computer all night tonight rather than knitting, but I figured I should post a last update on Kiri before the Olympics end. As expected, I'm not done. I guess I could have been, but a few projects have been in my way this week, and since we're hitting the road, Kiri will just have to be finished after the final medals are awarded -- which means I'm not taking it with me. I'm taking something - but not Kiri. It is going well though. I've really settled into the pattern finally. You know that moment when you're knitting lace and suddenly you "see" some connection to the rows before and the pattern starts to become clear. Well, it's not really a moment. Instead, it's a nanosecond of recognition that floats in and out of my consciousness repeatedly for a long time before it really hits me that the "click" has happened. I think it's this click that is for me part of the magic of lace knitting. No matter how I might struggle with a pattern. No matter how many times I unknit. No matter how much I rail... eventually, it clicks, and it's magic.

The "click" finally happened with Kiri recently in that I suddenly saw the relationship between the single knit between the yarnovers in each repeat and how the lined up with a single knit column in the rows before. I guess I should have noticed it earlier on, but I think I was focusing so intently on each row that I wasn't really "reading" the rows before and looking at how the rows were feeding together. At any rate, knowing the single knit lines up with the column gives me a good visual every 12 stitches of whether or not my placement and count was working out, which is nice because of the problem with using markers with Kiri. (I'm sitll using some, but sort of haphazardly now... just enough to give me some order across a row, but not marking every repeat.)

I'm through the 9th repeat now. I'm hoping to finish 10 and then determine if it will be big enough to do the edging or if I need to try and find another ball of this colorway to do the 12 listed in the pattern. I'm hoping if 10 looks good that I'll have enough to finish the edging. It feels a bit like a potshot trying to guess "where" to stop in order to have enough to finish up. But, I'm thinking 10 might work. We'll see. No new picture. It looks the same as the steering wheel shot from last weekend... just bigger.

Almost in the Trash

kiri draped over steering wheel as I knit beachside

When I was younger (it seems to me like 12-ish), I can remember sewing myself a pair of shorts - or trying to. It seems to me I was trying to derive a patchwork effect using a bright green fabric and a brightly-colored large polka-dot fabric. In my head, I can still see those fabrics. They were very bright, and they've taken on a garish cast in my head. But, this was the early 80's, so it's probably not that out of place. The shorts were simple in construction with an elastic waist, but I was a novice sewer, and I ran into trouble somewhere along the line, got frustrated, and threw them in the trash (or at least threatened to as I stomped away from the machine). I don't remember the specifics of the day, but I know my Grandmother patiently went and got them (either from the trash or the sewing table, wherever they really had ended up), and patiently fixed them for me and got me back on track. Somehow her "patience" in that moment has always stuck with me. I don't have the best memory (which is why I record and write down as much as I can of what's happening day to day - I'm old enough now to be seriously saddened by how little I "recall" when I look back of things I once thought would stick with me forever), but the gist of those shorts... the bright green and the dots... my frustration... my throwing them aside... and Grandma retrieving them and fixing them has stuck with me.

I've thrown countless projects down in frustration - and amid tears - through the years and in various creative mediums. In knitting, M and Mom make fun of me often for how many times I take things out and do them again. In knitting, generally, it doesn't bother me that much to unknit something or pull it off the needles to correct a problem spotted only several rows later. There have, of course, been projects though where repeated problems have left me close to tears.

Kiri hasn't brought me to tears, but the other day, I did come very close to just tossing it aside and saying "forget it." Since I started it, time and time again I'd think things were going along smoothly only to find, after the fact, that something had gone wrong. I've read that Rowan KSH isn't easy to unknit. Neither is the Crystal Palace Kid Merino. It's sticky. It doesn't want to be undone. Still, I've undone more rows than I care to admit of Kiri (no more than 2 rows at a time though).

After running into a few problems with count early on, I pulled out markers to mark the stitch repeat sections. I like using markers with lace, especially since I often to have to put my knitting down multiple times before completing a row ("Mama, can you get me some milk? Mama, can you get Spencer off of me? Mama,can you hand me that? Mama I need...). Markers are my friend.

But not with Kiri.

The first time after I added the markers in, I was really thrown when I got to the next right side row, and the count appeared to be off. While the pattern notes that you should use markers if you want to (and don't use them if you don't want to), it doesn't note that the position of the marker moves each right side row. So, I hadn't done anything wrong, it was the nature of the pattern. But it took me a while to realize that. I suspected the markers moved, but I kept counting the 12-stitch repeat and seeing 12 stitches, so it didn't click. I now (finally) realize that because of the way the stitches before and after the repeats (at each end, in other words) function, the repeat section is moving over with each right side row. But gee, it would have helped me a lot if that had been noted. It just wasn't obvious enough to me, I guess because two of the three shawls I've made have been marker-friendly despite beginning and end-of-row increases.

So, I did hit a point the other morning where I almost threw Kiri aside and gave up on the project, especially because even though I don’t feel like I’ll finish with the Olympics, I am feeling a bit “driven” by the project (because of the Knitting Olympics) and haven’t been switching on and off between it and another project the way I normally might. So, having had trouble at almost every sitting when I’ve been knitting (late) at night (and sleepy-eyed), I sat down the other day in the morning with my first cup of (decaf) coffee and thought to knit a few rows while the boys played. Almost instantly, I ran into trouble. Not sure what had gone wrong, I took a whole row out, and still it looked wrong. Every time I counted, I seemed to be short - on each side of the center marker.

I was really, really frustrated. I got up and did a few things around the house, debating in my head whether or not I should just scrap the project... really seriously considering it. After all, the shawl has moved from exciting to just another knit, and a particularly unforgiving one, at that. I’m not “loving” the yarn as much as I thought I might (though I think it's just a passing thing). The magic of starting a new project has waned. As the rows get longer and longer, and as some nights I feel like I’ve spent more time painstakingly unknitting this hairy sticky mess of yarn than making forward progress, the spark of enchantment has surely dulled.

But, I’m not 12 anymore. I don’t give up easily. I sat back down and pulled the pattern out of my bag again, looking in vain (I thought) at the simple chart of the final right side row of the repeat. I’d looked at it several times as I recounted before, but this time, my error jumped out at me. I’m so used to the decreases at the beginning and end of each row and before and after the middle stitch, that I wasn’t even realizing that on that final row of the repeat, you do not decrease. There’s just the yarnover and then six stitches. As I realized that’s what I’d been doing wrong (and counting wrongly) on the row, I realized/remembered/recalled (as if in a knit-induced daze of denial) that I’d had the same problem a few nights before (and made the same mistake).

This time, I think I’ve learned. I’ve got it.

Row 9 of the repeat will no longer cause troubles. I will not forget.

And so Kiri has been coming along. Despite the fact that I’m not “loving” it at the moment, every time M sees it, she comments on how beautiful the yarn is working up. She’s not a shawl person, so it’s not a hint. She just thinks it’s pretty. It’s actually light as a cloud, too. It’s almost disconcerting to see this bit of fluff that hangs from the bottom of the needles. It’s just this airy, hazey, puff of green and red yarn. It has no weight to it. It’s fuzzy. It’s mohairy. Will it really turn out to be something wearable? I’ve never had anything this light before. My Charlotted (which will always be my true love) has good weight to it. Even my Flower Basket Shawl has substance to it. But Kiri? It’s weightless.

It’s going smoothly now though. I think I somehow turned a corner with the pattern. I don’t think I’ll mess up on that row anymore, and now that I understand that the markers move, I’m just shifting them around as I get to them, and then on that final row, I take them all off and add them all in anew on the first right-side row of the next repeat. It feels a bit tedious, but as the rows get longer, especially, having the markers there gives me some peace of mind.

Kiri Update

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I am working on Kiri, and it's coming along. I really like the way the pattern is written. She notes that she's been influenced by Evelyn Clark's FiberTrends patterns, and since I'm concurrently working on Shoalwater, I can immediately see what she means, and I like it. I like Shoalwater for the same reasons. I especially love the ease of the way the charts are written to make the repeat after the center stitch really easy to pick up and follow. I think she's done a great job visually with the charts, too. The bits of extra space between sections (rather than just darker lines marking the repeat area) gives my brain the space to easily glance down, see where I am, and get going. It may be just me, but I find this the easiest chart to follow, visually, that I've ever used.

I'm liking the Crystal Palace Kid Merino yarn, as well, and it's working up beautifully - the color changes are very fast, so I'm getting nice all-over variegation rather than anything blocky or splotchy, which is great. The colorway, admittedly, doesn't have a Spring-time feel to it, the way Mommio's great green does. But we get enough fog and gray here in the city that I'm sure I'll it'll be perfect many days, especially since our summer months are often our chilliest.

The yarn is different than Rowan Kid Silk Haze, and I sort of wish I'd sprung for KSH last fall. I remember that day though that I decided to go with the Kid Merino partly because I was drawn to the color - and I thought they were really similar yarns - and I was buying several other things. At first touch they are. But, the CP is not a Mohair/Silk blend. It's a blend of Mohair, Merino, and Nylon. I haven't seen the KSH up close since starting this to get a sense of how different that makes the yarn in appearance and feel. But, it's okay. This is going to come out nicely. I'm hoping not to need a third ball (although if I do, I hope they still have the colorway), but I'm not sure how to gauge how far to go before I start the edging to ensure I don't run out. (I saw Mommio is considering only using 2, as well, and that's good for me because she'll finish before me, and I'll use her wisdom and hindsight as a guide!).

A Start to Kiri

(Somehow this didn't publish when it should have. I'd stacked up a few, and it didn't go. Oops! So, I did start, Mommio!)

February 12, 2006 3:31 Beachside

Well, I went home yesterday, excited by my new plan to start a Scottish-inspired Kiri. I didn’t get “right to it” though. Today was our (now) 5-year-old’s birthday, and there was still much to be done. As bedtime (for the boys) rolled near, I made a quick attempt to find my pattern, but I didn’t turn it up in any of the stacks I checked. (You have to realize, there are stacks and stacks of papers, printouts, clippings, artwork, writing, puzzles, and more tucked into every bookcase, every crevice, every corner, and on every shelf.) So, I ended up re-printing. Luckily, as I reprinted (from my download from last year), I added in urls and uploaded my blog entry from yesterday. In doing so, I noticed that the Kiri pattern was updated in January (a problem with the edging was corrected). So, it was fortunate, I guess, that I didn’t easily find my pattern and get started. This way, I ended up getting the correct version, and that’s what I sat down with a few hours later.

I went ahead and worked on my sock for a while first, feeling proud of myself for sticking with it despite the excitement of starting something new. I didn’t finish, however. I have maybe 10 more rows of the toe decreases to do. But, I put it aside thinking that while the little one slept, I should get Kiri cast on – especially since I don’t think I’m the “best” provisional caster-onner in the world. I’m sure there’s some trick to it I’ve missed. It does work, I’ll admit, but it never works the “same” for me – it’s not repeatable. Last night, for some reason, I couldn’t get the chain “unzipped” when it was time to remove the waste yarn and knit in the other side of the chain. I had to one by one undo the stitches for some reason. Eventually, I got the requisite number of stitches, and I’m off. I did several rows of the first chart just to get started and get a feel for the yarn and the pattern. I felt like I was knitting really, really slowly. I’m not sure if that was something about working with the yarn, or if it was just the time of day. I’m looking forward to finishing up the sock tonight and getting through the first chart.

(Oh, and I should say, I'm not assuming I'll finish this before the end of the Olympics. Again, I'm not an official athlete here. Instead, I've started the project, and I'll be knitting on it while I watch. But I'm not going to feel crazy or pressured! It'll still, someday, feel sentimental [and tied to history] to have worked on it during a major international event.)

Bit of Olympics...

February 11, 3:13 PM Beachside – Episode 2

I was really excited about the Olympics starting (not the Knitting ones; the real ones). I can’t remember being so excited before, but this year, I really was looking forward to them, and I loved watching the opening even though, darn it, I crashed before the final minutes of the ceremonies, missing the Bocelli performance, which I was really looking forward to hearing, and, okay, I didn’t actually see the torch being lit. I tried valiantly, but finally the warm and snuggly toddler body in my arms was just too much, and I found myself dozing while I held him.

After watching the first handful of teams enter, and finding myself once again frustrated with the way NBC was handling the “map” showing each country (can you really tell where the country “is” the way they do it or is it just me?), I realized I was really interested in (and noticing) the outfits being worn by the athletes and, in particular, the hats. Here are a few countries that jumped out at me…

1) Estonia. Did you notice? Now, I don’t know much about Estonia, but I know that it comes up a lot in terms of knitting, particularly in relation to Nancy Bush, right? I’m not off target in recalling the Yarn Harlot using some braided twist on mittens and it being Estonian, right? (I’m not going to go check to find out if I’m right or not. Okay, I did check just to make sure I wasn't imagining it!) So, when I caught sight of beautiful white hats that were widely ribbed on the sides, and featured plain stockinette panels in the front with a beautiful robin’s-egg blue fair isle emblem that was a cross between a diamond and a snowflake, I found it so “fitting” that it was Estonia marching in wearing such beautiful hats. I immediately turned the page in my knitting journal to make a note of them!

2) Germany. They wore great lime, orange, and white outfits. Their hats were ribbed in orange with a lime ribbed ballcap-like brim.

3) Slovenia. Their sky blue knit hats and kiwi green scarves were set off beautifully by their very dapper cream coats.

4) Sweden. As with Germany, it was color that caught my eye. They wore yellow pants with jackets in yellow, white, and blue. Their hats were simple ribbed hats in white.

Okay, that’s it for my Olympic run-down. Those outfits really jumped out at me, especially the wonderful Estonia team hats.

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