April 26, 2004

Honeycomb Aran -- Finished

Here it is:

honeycombaranmark.jpg

We were taking advantage of the briefly lovely weather — sorry, Mark, for making you squint into the sun!

I haven’t posted since Friday because after the very kind and rather overwhelming response to my cable-fixing I felt I couldn’t put up an entry until I had something respectable to talk about — and the seaming took all weekend, in the end, so I only finished the aran last night. For the sake of completeness, here it is lying flat — the details are a little easier to see:

honeycombaran.jpg

I’m very happy with how it looks, and with my finishing job (still not perfect, but light-years better than some of my previous work). Unfortunately my joy is not unmitigated. I have been betrayed by swatches! I dutifully knit myself a swatch before starting this project, even though I’ve used the yarn before and have always used needles half a millimetre larger than what’s called for; I didn’t want to take anything on faith, so I did what I was supposed to. And, lo and behold, I got the required gauge on the needles that the pattern called for! I was surprised, but I accepted the verdict and went with it.

Bad choice. Should have gone with my instinct and previous experience. The sweater’s final measurements (post-blocking, though only gentle blocking since I didn’t want to flatten the cables) are those of the smallest size; I was theoretically knitting the Large, two sizes up. I know I should have noticed this before, as I was blocking the pieces, but I didn’t measure them, I just stretched them slightly and made them even. So the result is a sweater that, especially in the arms, is much tighter than Mark prefers in his sweaters. Sigh.

We’re trying some aggressive wet-blocking, and I have hopes that we can yet make this work, but it somewhat spoils my happiness at finishing such a long project, especially if it doesn’t end up being what Mark wanted — I was making this for him, after all, and I want him to enjoy wearing it. Next time I’ll measure obsessively and go with my instincts about needle size, I guess.

Oh well, one way or the other I’m finished and can start something new — as soon as I finish the baby blanket I’m also working on, since the due date is fast approaching.

Posted by Aven at 04:40 PM | Comments (12)

April 23, 2004

Update

Since several people have asked, the reference book in which I found the technique for cutting and re-crossing cables was The Harmony Guides Knitting Techniques Vol. 1. Oh, and the book on finishing was my recent acquisition The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancy Wiseman. I take no credit for the idea, and only some for bravery — really, it was just a desperate attempt to avoid ripping out several days’ worth of knitting. But thanks for the compliments, nonetheless!

Posted by Aven at 02:54 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2004

Conquering my fears

Well, in spite of the Leafs’ loss tonight I’m feeling pretty triumphant right now. I have met (one set of) my knitting demons and conquered them! Of course, it all stems from a mistake on my part in the first place, and perhaps a certain amount of laziness, but I choose to concentrate on the good, personally.

See, last night I joined the first shoulder of the aran (using a new, more invisible sewing method, courtesy of my new book on finishing techniques), picked up the stitches for the collar and settled into working on the twisted ribbing (all 3.5” of it — for a folded collar). I was perhaps halfway through the ribbing and about to put away my knitting for the night when I looked at the front of the sweater and suddenly saw this:

cablesmistake.jpg

Only 4 or 5 inches below the collar, right smack dab in the most noticeable place on the sweater. You do see the problem, right? If not, here are the four (4!) miscrossed cables indicated with pins. I was heartbroken. I have a history of making mistakes with my cabling, and being too lazy (or, often, oblivious until long after the sweater is completed and worn) to rip out the piece and re-knit them. But I had been so proud of myself for finally becoming an accomplished enough knitter to pay attention and get the darn things right! No other mistakes anywhere on the sweater (at least I think — believe me, I checked pretty carefully). And yet I’d managed to mess up four separate cable crossings in the most obvious place possible, without noticing until I’d started the finishing process.

Now, I’m sure many of you would have just sighed, ripped out the collar, unpicked the shoulder, ripped out the top 8 inches of the sweater and reknit it. And I applaud your patience and virtue — but I couldn’t face the thought. I want this to be done! But at the same time I knew I would just get more and more annoyed about those stupid cables every time I saw them, and it would be pretty hard not to see them (unless Mark never faced me while wearing the sweater, as he offered). And then I remembered one of the techniques I’d always dismissed as being far, far too frightening to even think about attempting — cutting cables and re-crossing them on a finished piece of knitting. Ack! Did I dare? Mark reminded me that if I messed it up I could just rip it all out, which I’d probably have ended up doing anyway, so what did I have to lose? And with that encouragement, I sat down this afternoon, scissors and reference book in hand, and started:

cablescut.jpg

I cut the middle stitch where the first cable crossed, pulled the two stitches on either side through to the back of the work, and joined them underneath, thus reversing the cable. Now, I won’t show you the wrong side of the knitting because the instructions say to graft the stitches closed, but I didn’t do that. Well, I couldn’t do that. I’m horrible at grafting, and this was particularly confusing. So I threaded the cut yarn through all the stitches and tied the ends. I know, bad knitter. But the knots will hold, especially with such sticky wool, and they don’t show because they’re under the cable crossing.

The end result made me very, very happy:

cablesfixed.jpg

Can you tell which cables I fixed? (Humour me. Pretend you have to check here where I’ve indicated the re-crossed rows). I can tell, mainly by some slightly tight stitches at the crossings, but only if I look carefully, and even that might even out with wearing and washing. And it only took me half an hour, instead of the two or three evenings ripping and re-knitting would have taken. Hurray! A new knitting milestone has been achieved!

After my epic adventure I did finish the neck and sewed it down, so tomorrow will be all about seaming, and then maybe it will all be done. As long as I don’t discover any more glaring-but-hitherto-invisible errors!

I think it took me almost as long to describe this as it took me to do — sorry for the long post! I’ll try not to be so long-winded or self-congratulatory tomorrow!

Posted by Aven at 11:13 PM | Comments (14)

April 21, 2004

Bring on the Flyers!

Thank you boys in blue! Not only did you win Game 7 to move on to the next round, you scored two early goals, saving me from the multiple heart-attacks that would definitely have accompanied a close game. Hurrah!

To add to the excitement of a successful conclusion to the hockey game (and playoff series), I ventured into (for me) unknown territory — knitting in a pub.1 I couldn’t pass up the hours of knitting time while I watched the hockey (plus I find the knitting helps relieve the inevitable tension of enduring important games) so I decided I would brave the strange looks, humorous comments, and smoke. And in fact it was fine — I got some curious questions and discovered that one of Mark’s friends was a new knitter, giving us lots to talk about. And I finished the sleeve, with no mistakes or drastic beer spills, in spite of the excitement and the imbibing of alcohol. Watch out, Toronto pubs, I fear you no longer!

The sleeve, however, looks exactly like the first (thank goodness), so no pictures until the sweater’s sewn together and finished. At which point it will be put away, of course, since it’s far too warm now for a pure wool aran. Instead, I’ll give you a Tigger picture, since it’s been ages since I’ve posted a gratuitous cat shot. Here he is engaged in his second-favourite activity (after sleeping) — wreaking havoc.

tiggerwreaking.jpg

1 To Mike and Tyla: sorry, the evening worked out a little differently than I expected. Not 5 minutes after I sent you that email saying Mark and I couldn’t come over to watch the game because we had too much work to do, Mark (the person who had decided we couldn’t go out because of work) phoned from the pub he’d gone to with friends after a talk at his department, and suggested I join them there to watch the game. Silly boy. Still, we’ve now got minimum four more games to watch, so what are you doing on Thursday night?

Posted by Aven at 12:47 PM | Comments (2)

April 14, 2004

Slow and steady

First, some knitting news — it’s been a while! I finished the front of the aran:

aranfront.jpg

One more sleeve, and then I’m on to the finishing. I’m hoping to get a fair amount done on the sleeve tonight while watching hockey, so maybe it won’t be much longer until the sweater’s done. The baby blanket, though, will be a while yet; I only work on it while reading blogs in the morning, and I’m not yet half finished it.

A while back I mentioned that I would post some pictures of our back garden in its early spring state, before it’s really started to grow; today there was finally a conjunction of me remembering to take the pictures and a sunny day, so here they are. This is looking towards the left from our tiny back porch:

backyard.jpg

and this is straight ahead and to the right:

backyard2.jpg

Rather unprepossessing, at the moment. Against the far left fence there will soon be a frighteningly quick-growing profusion of hops, but right now they look like this. The strip on the right is the herb garden, filled with perennials such as sage, various types of thyme, lovage, tarragon, and so on. A few years back we tried to grow a salad mix in the bed towards the back of the garden; we were never able to satisfactorily tell the difference between the exotic lettuces and weeds, so we never used the resulting greenery; the only thing we could recognise was the radicchio, because it’s bright red. All the other plants have disappeared, but the radicchio is thriving, and spreading out into the lawn:

radicchio.jpg

I can’t quite bring myself to uproot it because it’s so pretty, if rather ridiculous (raddichulous?).

It’s a fairly modest and not terribly carefully tended garden, but it pleases us, and produces quite a few useful and edible things. I’ll put a couple more photos up as the season advances, just for interest’s sake. (I’m interested, anyway; I don’t know if anyone else is!)

And, finally:

GoLeafsGo_thumb.jpg

Posted by Aven at 02:15 PM | Comments (2)

March 28, 2004

Maintaining focus

I really, really want to start new projects. But I don’t want to give up on the ones I’m working on now — I just want them magically finished. Except that I want to have finished them myself, because what’s the point of knitting something if you don’t knit it all yourself? So, as usual, I want the impossible.

But I’m being good and continuing along with my rows and rows of beige. One sleeve of the aran is done, as is the back of the Shapely Tee (sorry, nothing suggestive about this picture — my shoulder blades don’t need very much ease!). I’m now just beginning the front of the aran and the sleeves of the Tee, working both sleeves at once. I’m optimistic that the Tee will be done soon, but the aran’s going to be a while yet. Mark certainly won’t be wearing it until next fall, since we seem to be pretty firmly into spring.

I’ve been spending the weekend alternating between cleaning the house and knitting, with progress on both fronts; only the kitchen left to tackle, and then the first “tidy and clean the obvious disgustingness” phase will be over. We’ll see if I get past that — usually it takes the impetus of visitors to make me actually clean as opposed to tidy.

Soon, I’ll be gardening. Things are definitely stirring out there … little daffodil buds are visible, so it won’t be long now.

And finally, because I feel I haven’t posted a picture of him very recently, and I must keep up my obligation to the “KnittingKitty” webring, I leave you with a picture of Tigger in one of his favourite places, the linen cupboard:

tigcupboard.jpg

Posted by Aven at 05:03 PM | Comments (4)

March 21, 2004

More progress

I complain, but really both my projects are going at completely respectable rates. The real problem, as usual, is that I have a hundred and one other projects that I want to start NOW! But I won’t let myself start another until I finish one of my current ones. It makes me anxious to have too many things on the go at once. I’m one of those people who likes making lists and gets great satisfaction every time I can cross an item off. (This leads, of course, to me subdividing activities into ridiculously tiny increments so that I can cross things off more often).

Anyway, the real purpose of this post is to show off the completed back of the Honeycomb Aran:

aranback1.jpg

It’s a more artistic shot than I intended it to be, but the sun was shining and it seemed churlish not to use it. Nothing suggestive this time, though — somehow, my husband’s back just doesn’t need much ease added. Now that I think about it, that’s probably a very good thing!

I’ve started a sleeve, and the back of the Shapely Tee. Nothing worth photographing, though.

And, finally, I’ve added a link to my sidebar — to my father’s Jazz band, Verona Katz. If you’re in Ottawa, check out their schedule — maybe you’ll feel like dropping by a show!

Posted by Aven at 06:13 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2004

Things Irish

A belated happy St. Patrick’s day! It’s times like this that posting late at night doesn’t work as well… but we did celebrate the day, if rather quietly. Mark has an interesting entry about the history of St. Patrick as found in Anglo-Saxon sources over on his blog, and we had a lovely Irish-inspired dinner, though it was less elaborate than our Sunday feast. And, finally, my knitting update is in keeping with the theme as well — I’m up to the armholes on the Honeycomb aran:

aranbacktoarms.jpg

When I’ve finished the decreases it should go pretty quickly, so I think I’ll be done the back by the end of the weekend at the latest. Then I’ll do a sleeve, to prevent the boredom caused by working two sleeves in a row.

One week until my oral exam for my major field. Then I’ll be free! (Briefly). Maybe I’ll actually (gasp!) spend some time bringing our house up to slum conditions — there are pigs that would turn their noses up at this place right now, I’m sure.

Oh, speaking of pigs, a while back there was a conversation in the comments to this entry on Yarn Harlot’s blog about “wool pigs”, which led me to this picture. Is it more or less disturbing that those aren’t the product of modern genetic engineering but of natural evolution? Let’s just not think about the yarn they’d produce…

May the road rise to meet you; may the wind be always at your back.

Posted by Aven at 11:23 PM | Comments (6)

March 13, 2004

Good and bad

First, the good. On Friday I received a big package of yarn from Wool-Tyme, the on-line store I usually use for basic yarn purchases. In it were eleven balls of each of these yarns:

yarn.jpg

These are for the next three sweaters for my husband. Perhaps now would be a good time to explain our arrangement about knitting. Mark is extremely supportive of my knitting — I mentioned to him just yesterday that he’s the only husband-of-a-knitter I know of who actively encourages stash enhancement. But this is, at least in part, because we’ve somehow agreed (I say somehow because I’m not completely certain that we ever actually discussed this) that for every project I knit for myself, I knit one for him. In general I don’t mind this, because I like the projects I’ve knit for him; I find it hard to wear Lopi, for instance, because it’s too warm, so it’s nice to have a reason to knit with it, which I do enjoy. However, this has occasionally produced some differences of opinion, when I’ve been knitting entire sweaters for him and supposedly alternating them with small cotton tank tops for myself. The “rules” were bent pretty far in those cases, and it was fine in the end. And I don’t really want to complain, since Mark is very appreciative of the things I knit for him, and is always willing to point out proudly to others that I made his sweaters/hats/scarves. And that’s a fairly good reward!

Anyway, we’ve been working on filling in his wardrobe gaps, since he’s determined to no longer wear any sweaters that weren’t made for him by me. Hence the acrylic and acrylic/wool yarns; he needs some lighter sweaters that he can wear in spring and fall. I’m not particularly fond of knitting with acrylic, but I’m willing to do it if we both like the end product.

And, it turns out, this order of acrylic yarns gave me the perfect excuse to fulfill one of my own desires. I’ve been hearing about Addi-Turbos since I first entered the blogging world as an observer, and I’ve wanted to find out for myself what all the fuss was about. But they’re expensive, and I already had a pretty full complement of needles. However, when Victoria at Wool-Tyme said that if I was having problems with the acrylic yarn sticking on my needles I should try the Addi-Turbos, I decided it was time to get a set. So they arrived on Friday with the rest of the yarn order, and I immediately tried them out with the aran I was working on:

aranaddis.jpg

They may not look like much in this picture, but I can definitely tell the difference. I can’t wait to try them with the acrylic — I think they will improve the knitting experience immensely. I just might have to get some more sets… and here, too, Mark shows his support: earlier in the evening when I was discussing the needles with him, he said “You knit so much, you should definitely have the best tools”. I love that guy, I tell you.

However, today was not devoid of drama and worry. Tigger got into a fight sometime this morning, and is not particularly happy as a result. You can read the details of his adventures here on Mark’s blog, but suffice it to say that he’s sore, stiff, and wounded. He was recovering on the bed and taking some solace in the comforts his Bear could give him:

tigbear1.jpg

He looked so cute that I can’t resist showing you more pictures: this and this. We hope he might recover by himself, but if not he has a vet appointment scheduled for Monday. Poor boy, he hates the vet so much; but if he will keep getting into fights, he will keep having to go to the vet!

Sorry for the long entry; I guess I had a lot to say tonight! Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and I hope spring is coming soon, wherever you are!

Posted by Aven at 10:36 PM | Comments (8)

March 09, 2004

Minor progress

Both these projects aren’t exactly motoring along, and they produce rather boring pictures, but I’ve still decided to inflict progress shots on you. It really doesn’t help that they’re both cream-coloured and therefore not very visually exciting. Still, here’s the beginning of the back of the aran:

aranbackbeg.jpg

And here’s the first few inches of the Shapely Tee. If you look closely I think you can see the curve in the hem formed by the short rows.

teefrontbottom.jpg

I should have put in a cute picture of Tigger, just to enliven things, but unfortunately I’m writing this entry from school, and though I remembered to upload the pictures of the sweaters before I left home this morning, I didn’t think about adding a Tigger picture. Sorry!

Tonight I give my class its first real test — one which will, unfortunately, be a pain in the behind to mark. I do have teaching assistants, but it’s still not going to be fun. If only I was willing to compromise my principles and go with all mutiple choice, all the time! So much simpler to mark…

Then I get to introduce the Aeneid. Woohoo! The danger here is that I’m going to have way, way more to say than a) I have time for and b) is appropriate for this level. Sigh. Still, very pleasant to be paid to talk about Virgil!

I am currently holding my office hour, and so far the only students who have dropped by were one woman who won’t be writing the test (for a legitimate reason) and another who wanted me to sign a sheet affirming that she has never come to class regularly so that she can drop it (after the official drop date). I feel so fulfilled in my role as educator…

Right. That’s all for now — back to work!

Posted by Aven at 10:35 AM | Comments (2)

March 06, 2004

Arans everywhere!

Now that I have a bit of a reprieve from exam studying, I’ve been able to start a new project. It’s an aran sweater for Mark, from a Patons pattern - the details are in Works in Progress on the sidebar. I enjoy working with this wool - it shows cables beautifully - and my (fairly) newly learned skill of cabling without a cable needle is increasing my speed quite significantly. Nonetheless, I’ve only managed to get two rows past the ribbing, since last night I messed up the setting of the pattern and had to rip back to the ribbing. In lieu of a photo of the new project, then, I thought I’d share one of my favourite pictures, which shows off the two aran sweaters I’ve previously knitted; the man on the left is my father, wearing the aran I gave him for Christmas this year, while the man on the right is my husband Mark, wearing an Alafoss Lopi aran-style sweater I made him several years ago. The cardigan I’m wearing is also handknit, but I didn’t make it - my grandmother bought it in Donegal, Ireland, and gave it to me for Christmas. The picture was taken on Christmas Day afternoon this year, when we all went out for a walk wearing our aran sweaters (Christmas was unusually warm in Ottawa this year, so we were able to be out without coats - by the end of December temperatures were back to their seasonal -15C norms).

threearans.jpg

If you’re interested, you can see a better picture of my dad’s aran here and of Mark’s Lopi here.

Does it make me very, very twisted if one of the ways I’m going to reward myself for finishing the Major Fields written exams is to do our taxes? Yeah, I thought it did. But I’m still going to do it, and probably even enjoy it. I think it’s the satisfaction of getting everything from last year tidied away and organised, and the hope of getting a little money back, too! Which is probably not going to happen, realistically, but I can always dream.

Of course, I can’t take the whole weekend off - I do have to make up a test and the exam for my class, and write my lecture notes for Tuesday. But somehow that seems enjoyable, compared to the last week!

Have a great Saturday!

Posted by Aven at 12:57 PM | Comments (5)

Arans everywhere!

Now that I have a bit of a reprieve from exam studying, I’ve been able to start a new project. It’s an aran sweater for Mark, from a Patons pattern - the details are in Works in Progress on the sidebar. I enjoy working with this wool - it shows cables beautifully - and my (fairly) newly learned skill of cabling without a cable needle is increasing my speed quite significantly. Nonetheless, I’ve only managed to get two rows past the ribbing, since last night I messed up the setting of the pattern and had to rip back to the ribbing. In lieu of a photo of the new project, then, I thought I’d share one of my favourite pictures, which shows off the two aran sweaters I’ve previously knitted; the man on the left is my father, wearing the aran I gave him for Christmas this year, while the man on the right is my husband Mark, wearing an Alafoss Lopi aran-style sweater I made him several years ago. The cardigan I’m wearing is also handknit, but I didn’t make it - my grandmother bought it in Donegal, Ireland, and gave it to me for Christmas. The picture was taken on Christmas Day afternoon this year, when we all went out for a walk wearing our aran sweaters (Christmas was unusually warm in Ottawa this year, so we were able to be out without coats - by the end of December temperatures were back to their seasonal -15C norms).

threearans.jpg

If you’re interested, you can see a better picture of my dad’s aran here and of Mark’s Lopi here.

Does it make me very, very twisted if one of the ways I’m going to reward myself for finishing the Major Fields written exams is to do our taxes? Yeah, I thought it did. But I’m still going to do it, and probably even enjoy it. I think it’s the satisfaction of getting everything from last year tidied away and organised, and the hope of getting a little money back, too! Which is probably not going to happen, realistically, but I can always dream.

Of course, I can’t take the whole weekend off - I do have to make up a test and the exam for my class, and write my lecture notes for Tuesday. But somehow that seems enjoyable, compared to the last week!

Have a great Saturday!

Posted by Aven at 12:57 PM | Comments (5)