My harshest critic

My son has given his verdict on Elektra:

Mummy, that’s too much wool. I don’t like it.

Tough. I’m wearing it anyway.

Slightly weird shot taken in the mirror.

I note that he was only copying his Father, who questioned the need to wear Elektra with the new cardigan. They are both on my list.

Sweet Tomato Eskarina Coriolis

For the first time since last July, I had no socks on the needles, and not even a second sock to do. This state of affairs began at the end of February and continued until yesterday. Of course, there was a scarf being made with sock-weight yarn, but it didn’t have the portability of a sock.

This sad situation has now been remedied. I’m using the March yarn from the Sock Club I am in: When Granny Weatherwax Knits Socks from The Knitting Goddess. The yarn and pattern are both inspired by Terry Pratchett’s book Equal Rites. The yarn is pale blue, with flashes of red and yellow. The pattern (Eskarina) looks nice enough, but I have a hankering to learn a new sock construction.

The sock construction I am using is Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato (I have to remind myself to say Tom-may-to rather than Tom-mar-to) Heel. I love the sweeping curl of the Coriolis design she uses. I’ve knitted the version from New Pathways for my sister and the Sweet Tomato Heel version was released last week. So, there we have it. I could just knit the Sweet Tomato Heel Coriolis, but I want to give at least a mention in the socks to the Eskarina pattern.

In the New Pathways Coriolis, Cat mentions that you can widen the coriolis band – let’s hope the same applies to the Sweet Tomato version! I’m going to attempt to widen it enough to fit one repeat of the Eskarina lace pattern in it. It will take a bit of working out, but I have confidence that it can be done. I’ll start the Coriolis band a bit further up the foot to ensure that it will be in the correct place to avoid the heel.

So far, I have three inches of toe, working two at a time on two circs. Pictures in due course, when something interesting happens. I think we’ve all seen sock toes before.

 

Elektra – part the second

Since I last posted, I have mostly been knitting away on Elektra, which is now completed and sitting on the blocking board.

The pattern starts with a cast-on of just over 100 stitches, increasing to a total of around 450 per row by the end. The yardage in the pattern was slightly more than in the skein I was using, and there was an option of doing one less repeat of chart B if there was any doubt of whether the yarn would be enough.

The question became how to decide whether there would be enough yarn, since the decision needed to be made quite near the beginning of the pattern. I put together a spreadsheet with the stitch count for each row and worked out that at the point of decision I needed 72.76% of the yarn left to do the full number of repeats or 68.65% to do one repeat less. I knew the yarn was around 100g (probably a bit more, but I didn’t weigh it to begin with) and I had 78g left at that point – looked promising, so I did the extra repeat.

The pattern was a real pleasure to knit – mostly garter stitch, but with enough lace sections in the main part to make it interesting, then a lace border.

With four rows to go, it was looking a bit touch and go as to whether there would be enough yarn.
Before bind-off

There wasn’t. Despite all the calculations, there were only 2 yards left when I got to the bind-off row, so I ended up with a contrast bind-off.

I would have liked blue, but didn’t have quite the right one.
Possible bind-offs

The orange looked just fine.
Finished

Lessons:

  • Weigh the yarn before the start of the project.
  • Lace takes up more yarn than garter stitch

Lever Knitting

One of the things that really interests me about knitting is ergonomics. How can I knit more comfortably and more quickly? How can I put the effort in now to protect my hands against future degeneration/arthritis/RSI/whatever else can go wrong?

The Yarn Harlot is known as a fairly speedy knitter who also gives talks on the ergonomics of knitting. Since we are sadly separated by the Atlantic Ocean and I don’t foresee being able to pop over for a knitting class any time soon, I’ve been looking on YouTube for some videos. Here is an interesting one:

Elektra

Having been especially virtuous and finished two long-standing wips (yes, the Paintbox Socks are complete – see right) in February, I had the luxury of casting on for absolutely anything I wanted.

I’ve been considering shawls for a while, and bought the 7 Small Shawls e-book last month, so I decided to pick from my sock yarn stash and go for the shawl that appealed to me the most.

The shawl I picked was Elektra, and the yarn was some German sock yarn found by my Mum. Very long colour changes from darkest blue to palest grey. Gorgeous colours and I thought it would be good in a shawl knit top to bottom or bottom to top, rather than side to side. Sadly, I got through about 5 rows before giving up and ripping back. The yarn is a single ply and is really fuzzy and splitty. I couldn’t get the M1s to work nicely and I think the fuzziness would obscure the lace. Beautiful though it is, I’m not sure I will ever use that yarn for anything.

The second attempt at Elektra is using some Knitting Goddess sock yarn given to me by my sister-in-law for my last birthday (actually so was the yarn used in those socks – she has very good colour-sense) and is a combination of browns, oranges and bright blue called ‘All at Sea’. It is lovely and the shawl is getting on very nicely.

This evening I ended up creating a large spreadsheet to calculate the percentage of stitches completed at various stages of the shawl so I can make sure I’m not going to run out of yarn. If I do the suggested number of repeats, there will be over 29000 stitches in the shawl. If I do one less repeat, there will be 5000 fewer stitches. This decision has to be made at around a third of the way through the shawl, so there will be some precision-weighing in a few days.

The first 50 rows are very straightforward: mostly garter stitch with evenly spaced increases. Very relaxing.

Yesterday I had a training day with work that suggested I should embrace my enthusiasms and work with them rather than trying to fit some generic model of what a priest is meant to be. I’ve ordered a few books on knitting and spirituality to see what I can learn about it. Should be interesting.

Little Women Knitting

As promised, here are the knitting quotes from Little Women. They are taken from the Kindle edition, which also contains Good Wives in the same volume.

The first one, from the very beginning: page 4

It’s bad enough to be a girl, anyway, when I like boy’s games and work and manners! I can’t get over my disappointment in not being a boy. And it’s worse than ever now, for I’m dying to go and fight with Papa. And I can only stay home and knit, like a poky old woman!” And Jo shook the blue army sock till the needles rattled like castanets, and her ball bounded across the room.

Knitting is used here as a way of establishing Jo’s character. Disappointing use of the knitting is for old women stereotype.

Now one about Beth (the good one) knitting socks: page 13

Beth said nothing, but wiped away her tears with the blue army sock and began to knit with all her might, losing no time in doing the duty that lay nearest her, while she resolved in her quiet little soul to be all that Father hoped to find her when the year brought round the happy coming home.

What a contrast between Beth and Jo. Is knitting with all ones might more effective, I wonder?

Jo trying to persuade Laurie to knit: page 204

“Then you may come, and I’ll teach you to knit as the Scotchmen do. There’s a demand for socks just now,” added Jo, waving hers like a big blue worsted banner as they parted at the gate.

I wonder what ‘worsted’ means in this context. Can it mean the weight of yarn, as used currently? Seems unlikely for socks, since they would be rather bulky and impractical for Army use. Maybe it is referring to the spinning method. Any ideas?

And finally a longer quote from right at the end of Good Wives: page 329

But Jo had her own eyes to take care of, and feeling that they could not be trusted, she prudently kept them on the little sock she was knitting, like a model maiden aunt. A stealthy glance now and then refreshed her like sips of fresh water after a dusty walk, for the sidelong peeps showed her several propitious omens. Mr. Bhaer’s face had lost the absent-minded expression, and looked all alive with interest in the present moment, actually young and handsome, she thought, forgetting to compare him with Laurie, as she usually did strange men, to their great detriment. Then he seemed quite inspired, though the burial customs of the ancients, to which the conversation had strayed, might not be considered an exhilarating topic. Jo quite glowed with triumph when Teddy got quenched in an argument, and thought to herself, as she watched her father’s absorbed face, “How he would enjoy having such a man as my Professor to talk with every day!” Lastly, Mr. Bhaer was dressed in a new suit of black, which made him look more like a gentleman than ever. His bushy hair had been cut and smoothly brushed, but didn’t stay in order long, for in exciting moments, he rumpled it up in the droll way he used to do, and Jo liked it rampantly erect better than flat, because she thought it gave his fine forehead a Jove-like aspect. Poor Jo, how she did glorify that plain man, as she sat knitting away so quietly, yet letting nothing escape her, not even the fact that Mr. Bhaer actually had gold sleeve-buttons in his immaculate wristbands. “Dear old fellow! He couldn’t have got himself up with more care if he’d been going a-wooing,” said Jo to herself, and then a sudden thought born of the words made her blush so dreadfully that she had to drop her ball, and go down after it to hide her face. The maneuver did not succeed as well as she expected, however, for though just in the act of setting fire to a funeral pyre, the Professor dropped his torch, metaphorically speaking, and made a dive after the little blue ball.

What a contrast in Jo’s attitude from the beginning of the book. Love the idea of knitting being used to hide inconvenient facial expressions. Similar to the trick of bending down to pick up a pen to avoid falling asleep during boring lectures.

In other news: the cardigan is still not dry. Maybe I shouldn’t have wet it quite so thoroughly.

Finished Object

The cardigan is finished!

Shoddy photo, but I forgot to take it while there was still daylight. I must find some tips for taking better photos of knitting. Those blocking boards don’t help with the colour, although they do help to keep the carpet clear of blue dye. The Cascade 220 bleeds colour quite spectacularly.

 

I’m very much looking forward to wearing this when it dries.

Now back to that sock. Hopefully I can finish it by Thursday when my next parcel of sock yarn arrives.

One of the things I’ve been meaning to do on this blog is to keep a note of mentions of knitting in the books I’m reading. I have some delightful quotes to share from Little Women and Good Wives. Next time.

 

Second Sleeve

It turns out that sleeves are very straightforward. I’m on to the second sleeve and just needing to find the time to chug on through 110-ish rows. Really starting to look forward to wearing it now.

In other news, we managed to visit a yarn shop today: Poppy’s on Colliergate in York. I had plans to buy some Noro Kureyon so I could make a Lanesplitter skirt*, but I was stymied by a combination of not enough of any one colourway available and a small boy’s need for a wee. Another time perhaps.

 

* If there is a bandwagon to jump on, I’m there

Sleeve

The sleeves of the cardigan are growing. It looks as though one ball per sleeve will be sufficient, so no faffing about with dye-lot changing.

This week I am reading:

  • Heartless by Gail Carriger “A novel of Vampires, Werewolves and Teapots”.
  • Little Women by Louisa M Alcott – a re-read of a favourite from my childhood
  • Third Way Magazine

I am contemplating giving up shouting at the 3yo for Lent, imposing a 10p charity fine for each lapse.

Smaller needles

I’ve already mentioned that the Neckdown Wrap Cardigan is my first adult-sized cardigan. I expected that there would be a fairly steep learning curve, but didn’t realise quite how that would manifest itself.

Some people read instructions, others prefer to wing it. Some people treat instructions as a prescriptive method to follow, for others they are mere guidelines to be interpreted or ignored according to whimsy. When it comes to knitting, I read instructions, and almost invariably follow them slavishly. When I started knitting this cardigan I read the instructions, bought the two extra sets of dpns that I would need and went through the pattern circling all the numbers applicable to my size. I also highlighted a couple of other instructions that I thought I might miss. I know. Sorry about that.

Yesterday I picked up, as planned, the 214 stitches for the neckband and merrily knit the two garter ridges. As I put the knitting away at the end of the evening I was happy in the knowledge that this morning I only needed to cast off the stitches and the neckband would be done. When I got it out this morning, the neckband looked a bit rubbish. I checked the pattern numbers. Yes, I had picked up the right number of stitches, I had knit the correct number of rows. Just one small problem – I had ignored the instruction (clearly circled in the pattern by me) ‘using the smaller needles’.

On a not un-related subject, today I have been inserting a lifeline, ripping 4 rows back and re-knitting. It looks much better now, particularly since I made the neckband a bit wider as in the photo on the pattern.

In the next exciting instalment: sleeves.