Thursday, January 26, 2006

Starting Over

The new skein of purple yarn arrived, but it was a VERY different dye lot than the skein I had started the hat with. It was so different that I almost thought I had ordered the wrong color. It IS the same color, but I had to start the hat over.

Redoing the start of the hat gave me the opportunity to change the shaping. I decided that I had increased too quickly in the first version, so I charted out a new increase scheme. The bonus is that I was able to make a star on top.

I'm almost done with the increases. Then I'll switch to a 16 inch circular and things will go a lot faster. I can knit fast on double pointed needles if I want to, but during that break between needles I'm often tempted to examine how it is looking so far.

I haven't had much knitting time lately, and that isn't likely to change any time soon. The Komi sweater is moving along at a rate of less than a row per day. If that keeps up, this sweater should be done in a couple of years. Hopefully life will calm down eventually.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Komi, take 2

I started knitting the Komi sweater. At first, it seemed to be going well. I knit a facing. I knit a picot turning row. Then I started to knit a border. I decided to bring in another color (and pattern) in the border, so the background of the border will be blue. I thought it was looking good.

Then I started to suspect that maybe it was a bit too big around. I spread it out on a few needles, and this is what I saw:

yes, that is the 23 inch mark that my sweater start reaches. That means that the sweater would be at least 46 inches around. More careful measuring (with a tape measure, going around the curve) indicated that if I kept knitting I would end up with a sweater that was 50 inches around. I was aiming for about 40 inches around. 10 inches makes a big difference. Even after my carefully measured gauge swatch, my gauge was very different than I thought it was. I think it has something to do with the swatch being knitted on double pointed needles, and the sweater being knitted on a circular needle. I can't imagine what else could account for such a difference in gauge. This is why I often don't do a gauge swatch. If I'm going to rip out my first try anyway, I might as well not waste time knitting a swatch.

I did a bit of recalculation taking into account my new gauge, and I cast on again. The good news is that instead of knitting on 360 stitches, I now only have 288. It does go a little bit faster now. And I am almost back to the point where I noticed this little problem.

To answer some questions:

1. "Komi" refers to the ethnic group that designed the color pattern I am using. The Komi are a Finno-Ugric ethnic group that lives in European Russia near the arctic circle. Their knitting patterns are, in some ways, related to those of other Finno-Ugric groups (For example, the Estonians). However, they also have some unique qualities. Because these patterns were passed down from generation to generation without writing, they are very easy to learn and to remember. They consist of lines that are three stitches wide. The lines move over by one stitch on every row. Also, every third row is *knit 3 with color A, knit 3 with color B; repeat from *. To the best of my knowledge, the only English language book that describes these patterns is Charlene Schurch's Knitting Marvelous Mittens.

2. The yarn I am using is some Jamieson's Shetland jumperweight wool that I have had in my stash for a while. I am supplementing it with a few skeins of Jamieson and Smith Shetland jumperweight wool in a color that complements the ones I already had. The new wool arrived yesterday, and it looks great with the other colors. I can't wait to start knitting it!

3. I haven' t made a lot of decisions about this project yet. It will be a pullover, but I'm not sure what construction I'll use. It will definitely be knit entirely in the round. I may use steeks, or I may knit it in one piece from the bottom up with set-in sleeves. I used the one piece technique once before, and it worked pretty well (other than a slight sizing issue). And I would prefer to avoid all the effort of steeks if I can. It will all depend on how similar my stitch gauge and row gauge are.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Komi Pattern

I'm well on my way to having a pattern for my Komi sweater. I finished the swatch (two pattern repeats around, half a pattern repeat high),

I measured it (9 stitches and 9 rows per inch), I put safety pins into each color of yarn where it stopped being part of the swatch, and then I ripped it out. I used my trusty yard stick to measure how much of each color I used. I knit the equivalent of one full repeat of the pattern. I then fingured out how many repeats of the pattern I will need to make a sweater (71 repeats). I tried to estimate on the high side just to be sure I would have enough yarn to finish. In case you are interested (and in case you can actually read it), here is how I plan a sweater:

I am going to use the same colors I used in the swatch, except for the dark yellow/brown. I think it is not bright enough to contrast with the red, so it splits the pattern. Instead, I'm going to substitute a solid mustard color yarn. I'm just going to trust that it will work. If not, I'll have some ripping to do. I'm also going to switch where I do my color changes. I'm going to make the yellow color bands wide (9 rows of the solid mustard, 15 rows of the lighter yellow above), and the red bands thick and thin (21 rows of dark red, three rows of light red). I'm going to trust that this will work too.

It's time to order the new yarn color and get started!

Monday, January 09, 2006

half-way there

I'm halfway to buying the extra skein of yarn I need to finish my Latvian hat. I used almost exactly 100g of manos (I had about 1 yard left over) to make this hat:

Front view of me trying to take a picture of myself wearing the new hat. The brim uses a simple slip stitch pattern from the Barbara Walker Treasuries.

Now a shot from the top to show how I incorporated the brim pattern into the decreases. I decreased six stitches evenly around by K2tog, and then used the slip-stitch pattern on the next stitch. I maintained that stitch in pattern all the way up. I didn't need to use stitch markers to know when to decrease, and I think it adds a bit of interest to an otherwise boring hat. The slip-stitch pattern shows up nicely because I used reverse stockinette for the body of the hat.

Then I decided to make matching mittens:

However, I hate the mittens. I hate everything about them. I hate the way they look, I hate the way they fit, and I hate how they were knit. This mitten probably won't exist in a few days.

I am trying not to make single accessories that match NOTHING I own. Therefore, I decided to try my hand at a matching scarf:

I'm not far enough along to hate this one yet. However, I remembered a few things while knitting with this manos:

1. I hate thick-and-thin yarns. If I wanted to knit with something that was spun this badly, I would spin it myself.
2. I hate knitting with thick yarns. Once in a while, it's fine. However, I usually don't love the results, and it's slow and awkward to do.
3. The instant gratification is nice, but it doesn't make up for the process.

Because I knit for the process rather than the product, I went back to knitting with yarn I love at a gauge I love.

This is Shetland jumperweight 2-ply yarn from the stash that I am knitting in a Komi (Russian) pattern (it's the pattern on the cover of the book). What you see is a swatch. I don't usually swatch, but this is an exception. I don't know if I'm going to have enough yarn to make this into a sweater or not. Therefore, I'm going to knit two repeats of the pattern in the round, then rip it out and measure how much yarn it used. I'll then figure out how many repeats I'll need to make a sweater. I can then figure out how much yarn I'll need in each color.

In other news:

Last night, as I was trying to come up with something to knit, my husband told me that he thought I should order the yarn to finish the Latvian hat, even if I didn't knit anything from the stash first. He said that he thought the hat was to pretty to not finish it this winter. So, as soon as I know if I will need to order a couple more skeins to make my Komi sweater, there will be a yarn order being placed. I may go from having too few projects in progress to having too many!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I ran out

It turns out I had less of the purple yarn for my hat than I thought. This is how far I got:

I've finished the crown, and done a few rows of the straight part of the hat. I'm not sure if I like it or not. I think there might be too many increases too fast. There is more fabric than would be necessary to make the crown flat. Does anyone have any opinions about how this will make the hat look on my head? I have an idea in my head that when I wear this hat on my curved head which will push the fabric up and out, it will all lay flat. But I could be totally wrong. This wouldn't be the first time I totally messed up on the garment shaping front.

In order to find out how this will turn out, I'll have to order another skein of the purple yarn. However, I really REALLY need to decrease the volume of my stash. By most people's standards I don't have a big stash, but most people don't share 455 square feet with another person (who also has space-consuming hobbies). The yarn I need to buy comes in 100g skeins. Before I can add that 100g to the yarn collection, I first need to knit at least 200g of yarn that is already there. If I continue this plan for a while, hopefully I'll decrease the yarn volume AND get to buy the yarn I want.

Next up: a hat and mittens using Manos del Uruguay. This is the closest my stash comes to bulky. My new plan is going to get harder to stick to once I use up my small supply of thicker yarns.