Archive for the ‘Setbacks’ Category

What a drag

October 1, 2009

Literally.  The reason for the radio silence is that while I was holding her arm, Eleanor dropped suddenly to the ground, jerking me off balance and yanking something badly out of place in my lower back.  This has gotten progressively less painful over the week, but sitting up for any length of time is hard, and then, to cap it, if I stand up straight my sciatic nerve must be pinched.  There’s no pain associated with it, but my left leg dangles uselessly and I have to drag it along when I walk.  When I bend forward or sit or lie down, the pressure must be taken off the nerve, because the leg then can bend again, and most of the tingling in my foot disappears.  It’s bizarre, and thoroughly unpleasant, but will hopefully be at an end soon.  I have an appointment with a chiropractor tomorrow and I’m hoping he can prod things into place and get me back on track.

I’m feeling again like the weak one in the herd – the one who would, and should, be left behind at the first sign of danger.  Thank goodness humans are not prey animals, I suppose.  Anyway, it’s left me rather sulky and down this week, so in addition to being unable to sit up too long, I just didn’t have much to write that wasn’t ridiculously self pitying.

But, to quote Pollyanna, there’s always something to be glad about, and while I can’t hope to emulate that urchin’s chipper and sunny outlook, she’s kind of right.  (I hope this does not affect my standing as a registered curmudgeon.)  So yeah, OK, my leg is dragging, but I have an appointment to get it fixed and it’s a gorgeous autumn day.  One of my best friends and my brother are coming to visit, and I’ve gotten some knitting done.

I’m on a hat kick.  I love hats.  Love, love, love hats.  I love how in old movies, everyone is wearing a hat, and I love the variety thereof.  I think it’s a darn shame that Jack Kennedy’s giant head (note: Kennedy actually means large, mishapen head) put an end to the days of hat wearing in America.  (This is what my husband tells me anyway.  He says that Jack Kennedy’s head was so large that it was hard to find hats that fit him, and his brazen bareheaded ways changed the fashion in the States.   Since Mr. Kninja is the only person I know who has actually worked in a hat shop, I am taking his word for it.)

So I’ve been making hats.  I test knit a second hat for Nina Machlin Dayton, and it is awesome sauce.

(I didn’t realize it until I took this picture, but I think all Urban Outfitters catalog shoots may take place in my bathroom.  The lighting is really weird and retro in there.)

The name of this hat is Medici, and you can see why.  It’s got this cool, Renaissance look about it that is very appealing, and, I think, very flattering to many a head.  I made this one for my friend Christine, using Trekking held together with mohair unraveled from a sweater I found at Goodwill in order to make a worsted weight yarn.  The result, as Liam put it, is “Sophisticated, but somewhat itchy.”  Actually, the itch is pretty much nil, but I thought that was a hilarious way to describe mohair.

The Medici pattern is awesome.  Terribly, terribly clever, with lots of short row shaping, brilliant photo instructions, and a wonderful result that only becomes clear at the very end.

The color’s a lot more accurate in this picture.  I love the way the stockinette forms a circle at the back.  Genius.

I also knit Ysolda’s Ripley, my first knit from Whimsical Little Knits 2.

This one’s for me.  Unfortunately, while I love it passionately, I do not love it with my current hair.  This picture is better than it looks in general, but it decidedly needs hair peeking out beneath it to look good.  It’s hard to make my hair peek out right now, so I am going to save this for when my hair grows out a bit and I have a bob.  It was great fun to knit, though, and of course, the pattern was brilliant.  My favorite details were some gorgeous illustrations (!) that really made the pleating technique clear.

Which pleating, by the way, is very fun to do.  This hat is knit with worsted weight yarn on size 10 needles, so it goes very fast indeed.

It’s been nice to have these to work on when I’ve been somewhat prone.  I somehow lost my size 6 and 7 circulars (the 16 inch ones) in the midst of all this, so I can’t get started on the next hat yet.  Liam wants a red and purple striped long stocking cap for his winter hat, and I have the yarn, but not the needles.  But things are going to get better, by gum, so soon I’m going to have a working leg and my needles!

Haha! Take that, foul button bands!

December 3, 2008

It’s a bit galling when a sweater of one’s own design takes up designs against one.  Maude Louise II was nearly done when I tried to add a garter stitch button band that turned out to be a Very Bad Idea.  The garter stitch was loose and floppy and moreover I had picked up too many stitches, which resulted in a very ugly, very discouraging giant floppy button band.  Somewhat daunted, I started again with a different band using smaller needles and fewer stitches.  Too small needles, actually, and too few stitches.  Overcompensation is a dangerous thing.  Button band v. 2.0 was too tight and caused the panel edge to curl into a fetching half moon.

This button band is too big!  This button band is too little!  What I needed was Baby Bear’s Just Right.

And lo, it turned out that Just Right meant picking up an in between number of stitches and knitting a stockinette button band that doubles back on itself, strengthening its edge by so doing.  No flop, and a very pretty button band that’s not stylistically at odds with the sweater.  And less seaming!  I much prefer the new button band to the old.

I’m not sure if this is de rigueur, since I’ve never actually looked up how to do this, but the way I bind off the button bands is by picking up a single stitch from the pick up edge and knitting it together with each stitch on the left hand needle during the bind off.  It neatly seams itself without any actual sewing, and you have a pretty and clean edge.  I’m sure this is standard procedure, but I felt pretty good when I thought of it and it worked.  Other such button bands that I worked in the past asked me to cast off and seam.  I mention it in case anyone else has occasion to wonder how to avoid seaming on a hemmed edge.  I’m all about avoiding seaming these days, which is funny, as I’ve gotten much better at seaming.  The original Maude was made when somehow the idea of knitting flat in pieces sounded easier to me than a seamless garment.  I think the construction works pretty well, so I’m not changing that part, but the seamed button band was too much.

So, all that’s left to do now on the actual garment is weave in the loose ends from the button bands, sew the button holes, attach buttons, and put on a collar of sorts.

I’m really very pleased with how this is going.  I’m afraid Maude I will be totally eclipsed by Maude II, at least for a time.

Check out the halo the angora makes!

Warm!  Squishy!  I am so ready to be done with this and to wear it.

Designy stuff

July 9, 2008

I’m in a weird state right now as a pseudo knitting designer type person.  I have had a lot of ideas lately for new patterns, and I have confidence that I can knit them.  I have no confidence, though, that I can write them down, or that I’ll find time to do it.  I realized recently that I think I need to reknit some of the patterns I’ve created, because my errors are legion, and I don’t seem to be able to catch them on reading my patterns over.  Even when they’re glaring, obvious, and really pathetic, involving very basic math.

I’ve been meaning to edit Maude Louise for ages, but I freeze up when I sit down to it, because I can’t seem to spot the errors on my own, or to see where I’ve gone totally, crazily, weirdly wrong.  It’s odd.  I’m not feeling sorry for myself, because honestly, I’m not the person affected most by these mistakes.  I feel awful to be misleading innocent knitters with my errors, but I’m not thinking I’m an awful person who needs to be flogged or anything.  Mostly just thinking.  I managed to mess up my recipe for Arthemis, too, on the first go round, and that was a case of adding ten over and over.  A first grader could have done it correctly, but I managed to mess up.

Anyway, it’s got me in an introspective state, because, as I said, I’ve had an absolute ton of ideas (and have knit a few new items up that I’d like to write up patterns for at some point) and I want to be better at this whole design thing.  It’s why I haven’t written up the Erin Shrug yet, despite requests, and my own intentions, because damn it, I’d like to release a pattern or more that is entirely error free.

Ysolda, who does not have these problems, often knits two of her prototypes, and I’m thinking that even though the idea is somewhat abborhent to me, I may need to do the same, just to test what I’ve written.  And I think I probably need to get my patterns test knit by others as well, in future.

Anyway, this stems from my finding that other people have found major errors on the finished parts of Maude Louise, which is, anyway, an unfinished pattern.  I knew it was unfinished, and I found errors in rereading it before, but I missed some biggies.  I have been meaning to sit down and finish the whole pattern pretty much since I first posted it, but as I said, I’ve frozen up at writing patterns, the more problems that are exposed.  But with all these ideas exploding in my head lately, it’s probably important for me to get better at this, or to invest in some good software that can help me with the math, because as frustrating as it is for me to find myself in all these mistakes, it’s probably a lot more frustrating for those who are actually trying to knit what I’ve written so poorly.

Crabby, crabby, crabby

December 20, 2006

Moving at the speed of lead, I’m in a race against time to finish all my Christmas gifts. Some of them aren’t going to be done. It’s making me very grouchy.

I thought I’d have Maude Louise completely done and ready to show you today, but there’ve been a few unexpected disasters. I was so proud of myself for finishing the button bands, but it wasn’t totally obvious until I added buttons that they have one or more of the following flaws. Guess which ones are real!

A. The button holes are unevenly spaced.
B. The buttons I bought are too small.
C. The button bands themselves should be wider.
D. Creating the button bands opened a vortex into a dying universe, and now I’m trapped on the other side while a doppelganger tries to adjust to life in our world, and my only hope is to find the mysterious Object of Power and take it to the center of their world in order to return things to the way they should be.

If you guessed A through C, you’re right. If you guessed D, then you have a wonderful and creative imagination that I hope you’re putting to good use. Or you’re crazy. I’ll let you decide on that one.

Gaaaaaah! I have to do the button bands all over! I feel like crying, ala Lucille Ball, thusly, “Waaaaaaaah!” Stoopid, stoopid button bands. I hate you so. Anyway, when I was grumpily ruminating on the unappealing prospect of redoing the button bands, I dozed off, and I had a weird thought that might be a good solution. I can at least try it, since it’s now clear I won’t be able to wear Maude Louise down to Christmas and impress all my relatives. I am going to make the left button band wider than the right and I’m going to either make tiny i-cords or buy some pretty ribbon, and I’m going to make a series of little ties down the front. It might look horrible, but considering that I have to try something new anyway, I might as well try this. I subscribe to the school of failing hugely if I’m going to fail at all.

In other news, I whipped up some very fast fingerless armwarmer thingies with cables. Nothing very impressive, but I think my friend Christine will like them muchly. I will post pictures and a pattern for them soon, because I think they’re a good, inexpensive last minute gift. They look bizarrely like a hip version of the wrist splint I had to use when I sprained my wrist earlier this year.

I’m finishing as much as I can today. I’m finally going to finish the stupid dog coat I’m making for my sister. It’s weird to return to a knitting project I started so long ago, because I can spot all my many mistakes so much better than I could then. Still, it will be done.

I also need to whip something up for my dad. The cushion goes horribly, because while the fabric produced is nice, the two yarns I twisted together are too fluffy and sticky, and they move like molasses through the needles. I may make him an iPod cozy instead.

Gabriel’s intarsia sweater is progressing, but will not be finished. Damn. And I already knew the Seamless Hybrid wasn’t going to make it, but hope is a tease, and I was secretly hoping that maybe, just maybe, it would be a late addition to the heap. Nope.

So, yeah. Crabby.