Saturday, June 25, 2011

Brevity is the Soul of . . .

. . . things that are brief.

Two full pattern repeats of the main body complete:

Two more to go. I'm thinking the knitting might be done next weekend. Then all that will be left will be the part where I cajole, flatter, and badger my mother into helping me sew a lining. That should only take about a month.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

And Some Moderate Cussing Ensued

My first provisional cast on did not go smoothly. When I picked up the stitches in the first row and pulled out the crochet, I found that I had 20 stitches instead of 24. That's a pretty neat trick, given that I had 24 stitches for all 143 rows of the top band. I don't know where the 4 lost stitches in the very first row went, or how I managed to knit the correct number of stitches from a base of incorrect stitches, but through some careful finagling and fudging and fussing (and some other F-words, at least one of which has four letters), I was able to create 4 stitches in what I hope will be inconspicuous spots and get the two ends grafted together. 

Behold, the horizontal band:

In a stretchier, lighter yarn, this would make a lovely headband pattern.

I spent this evening picking up 144 stitches along the bottom of the band and have knit 2-1/2 rounds. At this rate, I expect to be finished sometime in September.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I don't think of myself as a superstitious person.

That said, I never fail to throw spilled salt over my left shoulder (it occurs to me I don't actually know why--must Google that*) or knock on wood when talking about something I don't want to happen (if all that's available is laminate, I knock my own skull on the grounds that it's more authentic), and it's no coincidence that my street address is an even number (my own personal idiosyncrasy). So understand that it is taking all my courage to publish these words:

KNOCKKNOCKKNOCKThe cabled Noro purse is going well.KNOCKKNOCKKNOCK

I realize that the knitting deities now have no choice but to smite me. I accept my fate. 

That's not to say that there's been no trouble at all. For one thing, I have discovered one of the reasons Noro haters hate with such passion. I mentioned that this yarn is spun loosely. In some places, it isn't spun at all. 

The empty needle is pointing to a spot where the yarn is not so much yarn as unspun batting. When I run into these spots, I have to resist the urge to yank on it to make the gauge match the rest of the yarn. The problem with that is that yanking creates very tight stitches, and knitting too tightly makes it very difficult to cable. I'm learning that, whereas most yarns go out of their way to please you, the Noro insists on being itself. The knitter has to adjust to the Noro, not the other way around. I can respect that, as long as it doesn't get out of hand.

I also had a minor setback yesterday when I had to rip back one full pattern repeat because of a miscrossed cable, but careful "proofreading" of the cables has caught most errors early and kept ripping to a minimum. (Who would've thought that editorial skills would come in handy in knitting?)

As of this evening, I have knit the top, horizontal portion of the purse to here: 

I have four more pattern repeats to go. The empty needle is at the halfway point, at about 9.5 inches. I'm planning to try to block it to at least 10 inches wide. I am a ridiculously slow cabler, but the cables on this portion are going much quicker than I anticipated, and I hope I might finish it tomorrow. 

But then the hard part starts. The cable chart for the main body of the purse is so wide it has to be printed in landscape view and contains instructions to repeat the center section four times. Didja catch that? It's too wide to print on letter-sized paper, so it can't be fully charted. And since the purse has a front and a back (doh!), it actually repeats eight times, not four.

This will be prime smiting opportunity for those pesky deities. But, like Odysseus battling the cyclops, I will persevere! Or stab myself in the eye with a dpn. Whichever.

*Apparently, I'm throwing salt in the devil's face.  Another site says that good spirits live on your right side and bad spirits live on the left. Good spirits cause you to spill the salt to warn you about the bad spirits. The origin of knocking on wood is less clear; it may be associated with good tree or wood spirits or with the Christian cross.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Diving . . .

I bought the Noro Kureyon. (That's not unlike drinking the Kool-Aid.)

There are a lot of logical reasons for this, but it boils down to wanting to watch the pretty color changes. There is no other yarn that achieves quite the same effect. So far I'm siding with the anti-Noro contingent, particularly for cables. I think the technical description would be to say that it is spun loosely. I think "mushy" is a good description. When I try to cable without a needle, the stitches of course are a bit tight; two stitches will blend together, making it difficult to see where one ends and the next begins, which makes it all too easy to k2tog without meaning to--or worse, split a stitch and k1.5tog.

But given that I've only knit two pattern repeats so far . . .

. . . it's hardly fair to issue my final judgment just yet. I expect when some of the color changes start appearing, I will be willing to forgive a lot of mushiness. And the good thing about Noro is that its fuzzy stickiness makes it pretty easy to cable without a needle without worrying about dropping stitches. In fact, I really don't think you could drop a stitch. You pretty much have to yank those suckers out of there. 

After the Twist excursion, I went to Becci's and had her change this:

to this:

Apparently I stole Jay Leno's chin.

I think I've lost at least 2 pounds.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Diving into the Shallow End Head-First

Wednesday, June 15, 2011:
Three different people message me to let me know that Groupon is running a coupon for Twist Yarn Shop. I've never used Groupon, but I adore Twist, so I hesitate approximately 1.4 seconds before happily setting up an account and purchasing a $7 coupon that is theoretically going to get me $15 worth of yarn. I say "theoretically" because I revel in resisting innovation as long as possible, and I still don't really believe that this is actually possible. I don't have any particular project in mind, but I know it will be spent well before the October expiration date. Theoretically. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011:
I go to Stitch and Bitch for the first time in at least 3 weeks. I forget the Groupon, which is a good thing because if I'd had it with me, I probably would've bought that lace weight Malabrigo and promptly cast on for a lace shawl that would've been beautiful, but which neither I nor anyone I know would be interested in actually wearing. Instead I leave with nothing but a pair of completed gloves for the Momma Lady.

Ends woven in and everything, Baby. D.O.N.E. Done. (That overly gleeful tone is because these gloves took 3 months instead of 2 weeks to knit. I do not recommend casting on for winter wear in April. There's no motivation.)

While at Stitch and Bitch, I wander around the shop and notice a shop sample of this bag knit in Noro (click "collection" to make pictures appear--the internets sure are magically, ain't it?). Now I have never used Noro. I know some people love it and some people hate it, but even the people who love it and will defend it to the death will curse it in the very same breath. So I have stayed away from the Noro. I also tend to stay away from cables. I'm not a fan of cables. I decided not to complete an afghan square because it has fewer cables than this purse.

But, folks, that was an afghan square for a sampler afghan that's going to get admired and then folded up and put in the closet because it isn't really a practical, usable afghan. This is an adorable purse. It's the right size for me. It has a charming combination of clean, elegant design and hippy-dippy yarny happiness. I am hooked.

Friday, June 17, 2011:
The toilet gets fixed. This has nothing to do with Noro or cables or knitting in general, but it's a major event in my life and deserves a mention. I no longer have to turn on the water to fill the tank before I can flush. No more practicing the "if it's yellow" philosophy of flushing. Whee!

I also find the pattern for the purse. I download it and announce on Facebook that I am going to knit this purse. Now it must be done to save face--which I guess is the point of Facebook, photos of drunk idiots notwithstanding. I get busy learning to knit a provisional cast on, a technique I've been avoiding to this point.

 You could call my crochet skills "adequate" if you were feeling extremely charitable, but since the crochet is the "provisional" part of the provisional cast on, it'll get ripped out and not matter anyway. Now I'm sorely tempted to toss the purse aside and start in on some of those toe-up sock patterns I've been avoiding.

But honestly, you've all looked at enough sock pictures for a while, haven't you? I bet my loyal audience of approximately three people (Hi, Mom!) would much prefer to watch me struggle through a project with more cables than Cox. I promise to make foolish mistakes and tell you all about them in horrifying detail at least once a week.

The Groupon and I will be at Twist promptly at 10am to hunt down some yarn that isn't Noro. I can't wait. I bet you're all excited, too.