Knit From Your Stash Update

Four months of KFYS have passed. This is the stash photo I took at the beginning of KFYS, with the yarn I’d used or given away by the end of Feb crossed out:

This is how it looked on Friday, and a new photo of the current state of the stash:

The photos don’t show changes to the depth of the stash, unfortunately. The sock yarn stash box can be closed easily now (bottom left). The laceweight box has only one layer of yarn (bottom right). So large parts of the stash have got shallower.

But you can see that the box of red mohair is gone, and the handspun now has its own box instead of sitting off to the side. The 5ply in the little basket moved to the laceweight box.

While I did op shop most of the contents of the odd balls box (2nd from top right in old photo), I now have two new boxes (A and B) of project leftovers. What do you get when you finish lots of projects? Lot of leftovers.

All the 8ply is now in one box (C) and 12ply and fancy yarn is in another (D). As you can see, there’s a BIG HONKING GAP in the latter box. Woohoooo! Happy dance! Wheeeeeee!

Okay, time for my KFYS Confessions:

(1) I bought some yarn from Lynne on rule 2.e then some more to go with it on a very flexed rule 2.c after I found the perfect pattern, but I’ve put this project aside until after KFYS ends as a kind of reward to look forward to.

(2) I adopted a huge stash, which qualifies as gift yarn (rule 3). As with previous yarn purchase, I have put this aside until after KFYS ends.

(3) I have a lot of wips now, because I forgot to put the yarn for the Viking Tree Rune hat back before taking the photo, so I figured I’d better start it.

(4) I don’t think I can do this for another five months! That will mean knitting mainly vests, socks and accessories, and I think I may get bored not having a big garment to work on. But I’m not quitting yet. I’m sure I’ve got at least two more KFYS months in me.

Maybe It’s Not Project Avoidance

Wednesday night I started this:

A rib beanie from the greasy Corriedale Clip wool. In fact, it did have some cables, but last night I changed my mind, ripped it out and started again. These beanies (I’m making a pair) need to be plain an unobjectionable to anyone with finicky tastes (the beau), because I plan to put them with camping/outdoor gear. Being water repellant, I reckon they’ll go with our drizabone coats really well (when I get one to go with the beau’s), because the coats only have a hood and don’t keep your ears warm.

Yesterday I also started this:

It’s going to be a curly whirly. Yes, I said I was going to make a woven scarf out of these yarns, but it kept whispering “crochet curly whirly” at me and I’ve learned not to ignore yarn that has a mind of its own.

So far I’m a bit dubious about the results. The curls are a bit on the small and frenetic side, wheras I had more of a voluptuous swirling in mind.

Why this sudden fever of startitis? Well… I don’t think it’s project avoidance. I suspect a more sinister motive. Back at the end of Feb I posted a photo of my stash with ‘x’s over the yarn I’d used or given away. Well, two more months have passed and I want to do that again.

I didn’t include wips in the stash photo. They’re wips, not stash. So if I start a whole lot of projects in the next few days … you get the idea?

Of course, it could also have to do with the beau and I being a bit sick, too. My brain has been too fuddled for complicated knitting, and the ribbing and crochet has been soothing. But the evidence favours the stash cheating strategy, because I also removed this from the stash:

Viking Tree Runes hat to go with some mittens I made from wool I bought in Orkney two years ago. It’s in 4ply, and will require some charting, so I can’t claim it’s easy knitting to sooth the fuddled brain. (Ironically, I can’t even see the yarn in my stash photo as it’s hidden under something else, so there’s nothing to cross out, anyway!)

Chocolates and Pajamas

I suspect the reason I suddenly had to knit my NSG into a scarf was because I was about to start the circular bit in the Sunrise Circle Jacket, and it had me so intimidated I went into avoidance mode. Last night I found myself considering other accessories I’ve got lined up – mainly hats – and realised I was doing it again. So I made myself stop and knit on the jacket.

It wasn’t as hard as I feared, but with instructions specific to each knit row, it’s definitely not knitting you can just put on auto. I reckon this is going to take a while, and I may stop to knit more accessories just to break the tension, and so I have some fos to blog.

The chocolates are part of some gifts BMW gave me yesterday. I resisted eating them, because I wanted to photograph them in daylight. I’ve never heard of the company before and they are so pretty. After all, it’s been a while since I posted some chocky here. (Verdict: good quality chocolate covering a three-toned block of white, milk and dark chocolate fudge inside. Very nice.)

The gifts were a bunch of flowers and a hamper. The latter contained, among the usual chockies, champagne, key ring, water bottle, road directory and cd holder… some BMW pjs! ROFL! (Or should that be ROFLIBMWPJ?)

They came in a little cloth sachel, too. I couldn’t help wondering if I’m supposed to put it in the glove box, in case of emergencies. Like… what sort of emergency would lead to you wearing pjs in your car?

Best of all, the nice wooden box all these goodies were stacked in will make an excellent yarn display box.

A Dash of Red

Last night, after cutting apart and adding four rows then grafting the back of the Sunrise Circle Jacket back together, all I wanted was simple undemanding knitting. That meant good reliable sock knitting.

I finished the first Rosey Toes sock. Named thus because I’m using the Knittery’s Roses colourway for the toes, heel and cuff.

You can probably tell what else I have on my mind today.

NSG Snake Scarf

While I did turn the heel of my sock, I spent most of my knitting time obsessively on the Noro Silk Garden scarf over the weekend. Last night I finished it:

It was like a wild affair. Absorbing but short-lived. Possible to ignore flaws because they weren’t to be put up with forever. A taste of something pretty but costly.

Well, that’s what I imagine a wild affair might be like, anyway. Not been there, myself. Not particularly regretful about that, either. I much prefer long-term relationships with pretty and comfortable, reliable yarns myself.

I made changes to the beginning and end of the scarf. At the beginning, as I mentioned previously, I knit a triangle of the same shape as those in the middle of the scarf. Then I picked up stitches along the bottom, alternating knitwise and purlwise, and then cast off knitwise and purlwise. This drew the triangle down into a curve to match the rest of the scarf.

At the end of the scarf I purled 1 then ssked, then p1,k1 on the reverse, to make an edge that would splay out the previous triangle to match the rest of the scarf.

Though the pattern was easy to memorise, I never got bored with it. I’d like to make another one of these one day. It was a lot of fun to knit. For anyone who’d like to try it, the pattern I used is here.

Not How Much Knitting But Why?

During our spinning day recently I was asked how much knitting I do each week. Then in the last Unwound podcast the listener poll asked the same question, and it got me thinking.

To my fellow spinner I admitted that sometimes I knit during the day, when the distractions of the house extension make me too stressed to focus on writing. But on reflection I’ve realised that doesn’t happen all that often. I might knit during my ‘lunch hour’, but at other times I’m more likely to blog, read blogs or listen to a podcast than actually knit.

Most of my knitting happens in the evening, while watching tv or dvds. I get between ten and thirty hours knitting done per week just from tv knitting.

Now you may be wondering if I ever go out at night. Well, the answer is not much. A few years back I kept having bouts of unexplained fatigue, and normal activities that would make me a little tired (like a trip to the city, or going out at night) instead made me so exhausted that I’d spend the next few days feeling like a zombie and having three hour naps.

The reason for this was a complete mystery. My doc had lots of tests done on me, then sent me to a physician who had lots of tests done, and according to them both I ought to be an athlete I’m so healthy.

I’d had no major virus like glandular fever, or muscular aches and pains, so the two more common chronic fatigue indicators weren’t there. I didn’t have fatigue continuously either, so both docs weren’t keen on labelling it as CFS. Neither was I, for that matter. But eventually it was the only explanation left, and this entry in the Medical Journal of Australia reassured me that the fatigue doesn’t have to be continuous, and gave an explanation why my concentration and memory were also shot, while giving the bad news that the syndrome effectively has no diagnosis or cure. You just have to wait it out.

Which I did, and knitting was a large part of me not going completely nuts during that time. On bad days when I couldn’t concentrate on writing, or even reading, I’d just sit and knit something simple and unchallenging. And the internet gave me a community to feel part of while unable to get out and have a social life.

Ironically, while most people take up knitting as a calming activity, it was kind of the opposite for me. I needed an activity to keep me awake and stop me from going crazy with boredom.

Though the worst of this ‘chronic fatigue’ is behind me, I’ve never completely regained the energy I once had (or the memory). I can manage one or two nights out in a week, separated by a few days, or one busy weekend day.

The up side to all this is I get lots of knitting done. I also take knitting with me to doctor’s waiting rooms, on public transport, on car trips (not when I’m driving, obviously), and any social meeting or get-together where nobody seems to mind me knitting. And occasionally I’ll spend a few hours on the weekend knitting or indulging in other crafts.

Well, this post definitely went off in a direction I wasn’t expecting! I must admit, looking back I was worried I had just typed up a big whinge. But all this came out more from a need to explain than anything else. And to anyone who wishes they got as much knitting done as me… I may just be wishing I had the energy to do all the non-knitting things that are preventing you from knitting!

Adventures of the NSG Scarf, Part 2

Oh, fellow knit bloggers, how I love thee. Yesterday there were several great scarf pattern suggestions in the comments. Thankyou!

Donyale suggested the yarn harlots One Row Handspun Scarf, which I did have in mind to use if I couldn’t find anything else I liked. Rose Red suggested Wavy from Michelle affirmed the virtues of the garter stitch scarf. Kim suggested a multi-directional scarf. (I’ve made the latter before, and was keeping this idea in reserve along with the yarn harlot scarf.)

Donyale provided a link to her blog and an example of the yarn harlot’s scarf, but immediately another scarf caught my eye: Kureopatra‚Äôs snake scarf. This looked somewhat like the imaginings I’d had while lying awake the night before. It was also a version of entrelac which, for some reason, I had a strange urge to knit.

So, after a fight with my browser trying to get it to print the pattern in A4 without it placing images over text (it won) I cut and paste the directions into Word and printed them. Then I got started.

I knew that This Was The One within one episode of Grand Designs (great show – nothing like watching other couples embarking upon ambitious house building projects, falling on their faces, but enjoying a happy ending, to make your own house extension seem almost bearable). The colour changes of the yarn suit the construction of the scarf, the pattern was complicated enough to be fun and easy enough to be relaxing.

Then I hit a knot. And the colour that continued from there did not match.

I undid the knot and wound the rest of the yarn into balls, checking for knots and looking for a bit that continued at the point of blackish green. Did I find more knots with unfortunate colour changes? Yes. Was there any section of yarn that was blackish green? No.

So I got my ball winder out and wound up all the yarn into cakes, recording the colour changes as I went onto slips of paper, which I inserted in the centre:

(I’m going to pause here to say that I’m pretty disappointed with this yarn. With all the little scratchy bits of thread, grass, seeds and what might be glue I can’t see it being comfortable to wear. That and a tendancy to be a bit overspun reminds me way too much of Sari Silk. The knots followed by bad colour changes means it’s worse than Sari Silk. And the expensive price tag just tops it off. I don’t think I’ll be buying Noro Silk Garden ever again.

But I do think this new Paton’s yarn Shadow Tweed would be perfect for this scarf. I know at least two knit bloggers who have given it the thumbs up, vouching for it being knot free. And I’ve fondled a ball and know it’s gloriously soft. Realising this is making KFYS rather hard to stick to right now.)

Anyway, by winding the yarn I worked out that each ball of yarn had a section of aqua/purple/blue/grey. Some had an extra bit of blue after the grey, one had a section green before the aqua. So the only way I could see to get continuous gradual colour changes was to cut out the green bits altogether, and knit alternate sections in reverse. I’d get two repeats of aqua/purple/blue/grey/blue/purple/aqua.

The night was yet young, so I started again. This time I decided that instead of a square end, it might look good having a long curvy triangle like those in the body of the scarf.

What I didn’t realise was that without a section before it, this triangle would point off to the side. But that’s okay. I reckon if I pick up a row of stitches along the bottom edge and cast off tightly, it might pull the triangle back down into the right shape.

Hmm, maybe I should do that next, because it won’t be much fun if I discover I’m wrong after I’ve knit the whole scarf.

A Flip, A Flop

A few days ago I finally ordered some more Noro Silk Garden so my one treasured skein could have company, and become a scarf. Yesterday the new skeins arrived:

Of course, once I’d ordered the yarn I got all inspired to start a scarf with the skein I had. I had in mind a garterlac scarf – entrelac in garter stitch so it was reversible. After knitting a couple of rows of diamonds I stopped and considered what I had.

It was an uninspiring lump. You could hardly make out the diamonds, because the yarn was too textured and dark.

So I tried making alternate stocking stitch squares. The blob above is the result. No improvement.

Next I found a normal entrelac scarf pattern and tried that. I like the front side:

But I hate the back:

Deep down I really want my scarves to be reversable. That meant entrelac was out. Thinking hard, I remembered there was an intriguing pattern on called the Lizard Ridge blanket. It wouldn’t look too bad as a scarf, and it seemed to have a garter ridge between the wavy lines. Not perfectly reversible, but I imagined it wouldn’t look too bad on the back.

Turn out I was wrong about the garter ridge. There isn’t one. It just looks like there is one in photos because of the way the colours contrast. And you really need two shades of Noro to get the best effect.

So now what? Well, I lay awake last night running ideas through my mind. Short row wavy twists? Mitre square inspired labyrinthine patterns? A freeform multi-directional scarf?

Suddenly Michelle’s post about the therapeudic effects of good old garter stitch sounds like great advice.

Working It Out As I Go

Ah, that blue tweedy 12ply yarn. I’ve looked through all my pattern books and magazines. I’ve compared gauges and yarn quantities. I’ve swatched. Nothing offered itself as the right pattern for this yarn.

The yarn looked perfect for this…

Sunrise Circle Jacket

… except it was the wrong weight. The swatch confirmed it.

But then I found these buttons:

And they looked so great with the swatch I knew it was worth the effort to convert the pattern. So lots of maths followed. And after a lot of poking at my calculator and nutting things out, I realised something incredibly simple: an angle doesn’t change when a thicker or thinner yarn is used.

This pattern is a series of blunt-ended wedges, rectangles, and one curved bit knit from the middle out. For the wedges, all I had to do was calculate from my swatch what the correct number of starting stitches was, then increase (or decrease) by the same ratio the pattern used (say, 2 st every 16 rows) until I reached the correct number of ending stitches, making sure the piece is the right length in cm.

Rectangles are the same, except I knit until I reach the correct length in cm rather than rows. Since most patterns do this anyway, there was no math involved.

To test this theory, I knit up the back:

Which turned out near perfect, except for the waist bit, which turned out a bit short because I accidentally followed the directions for the size smaller than the one I was supposed to be following.

Will I rip it back? No way. I’ll cut it, add a few rows, then graft it back together. Grafting may be the pits, but ripping back several hours work is the Pit of Eternal Stench.

Now, the circular bit. As far as I can see, it should be just as simple. Because it begins at the centre of the ‘circle’ and grows outward, all I have to do is follow the directions and knit until the radius reaches the correct width in cm (and the raglan bit of the sleeve part reduces to nothing, but that’s a little harder for anyone who hasn’t got the pattern on hand to visualise).

Of course, I may end up regretting making bold claims that this pattern conversion is simple and easy. You can all laugh at me if my overconfidence gets me into trouble. But even if it all falls into a stinky mess, I can say I’ve already learned something wonderful, that I wish I’d got around to investigating alot sooner.

I taught myself how to spit-splice yarn. What a revelation!

All these 12ply garments I’ve been knitting, cursing as I knit in ends only to have them work their way out again, and all along I could have been splicing. If I wasn’t so full of joy and amazement I’d be smacking my brow for taking so long to try this one out.