Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finished Object: Reversible Basketweave Blanket #2

Okay, I think I am far enough removed from this ordeal that I can blog about it now.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I have been madly working on a project that I gave myself 90 (and later 100) days to do. I even added on to it at the 11th hour, giving myself more work. I got it done. I think I may have had a nervous breakdown.

Pattern: Simple Reversable Basketweave Blanket by Yellow House Designs
Yarn: 8 skeins Vanna's Choice in colorway Chocolate
Needles: US size 6, Boye interchangeable
Timeline: I began knitting on 06.10.10. I finished knitting on 09.08.10. Blocked & washed from 09.18.10 to 09.19.10.
Modifications: I don't know if I modified the pattern or not, honestly. Oh, wait, I did 19 basketweave repeats, not 17.

Opinions: By now, I've usually posted a picture. I'm going to save that for random thoughts. This is the second time I've used this pattern. There is an error on the pattern page, which is corrected on the Ravelry page. You need to cast on 236 stitches, not 124. I will not use this pattern again.

Random Thoughts: I decided to make this blanket almost 6 months after I found out my husband's co-worker was pregnant. I gave myself a 90 day deadline to get it done before she had her baby. I started this project ten days after I moved. I got the knitting done in 91 days and finished washing it on the morning of the 102nd day, the day of her baby shower.

I think this project was doomed from the start. I did not swatch. Let me repeat that. I DID NOT SWATCH. Foolishly, I believed that using the same size needle and the same weight yarn as I did the last time would produce similar results.

I'm not sure if I'm an idiot or if the pattern is faulty. What I ended up doing was having 28 8-stitch basketweave blocks in each row. Maybe there are only supposed to be 14. But 8 x 28 + 12 (for the seed stitch border) = 236, so who knows.

The moral of this story is that the blanket was very long. Very very long. Also, I did not have enough yarn. I had to buy 8 skeins of Vanna's Choice to make it what I considered a decent height, which was only 2 weave repeats over what the designer suggests. I was assuming I wouldn't be able to steam block it any bigger, which is probably the smartest thing I did. I used over twice as much yarn as what was suggested. Did you know that 1360 yards is 77.27% of a mile, by the way?

I borrowed a friend's steamer to try and block the blanket. I knitted a swatch after the fact, but unpinned it too soon and it shrank back in the wash. I spent hours threading crochet cotton through 19 spots because my blocking wires weren't long enough. I went out and donated blood and picked apples and when I came back home and finished threading crochet cotton, it was like 10 PM. I attempted to stretch the cotton tight to pin the blanket out and it failed epically.

I think I collapsed on the floor at that point. I definitely cried. My husband came in and did something to help while I curled on the floor in the fetal position. You think I'm joking, but I'm really not. I had invested so much time in this thing it was ridiculous.

My husband managed to fix things somehow (I'm fuzzy on the details) and I steamed the s*^t out of that blanket. I left it pinned on our bed overnight. We slept downstairs on the futon. I woke up the morning of the party, wove in the ends and washed and dried the blanket on the lowest dryer setting.

Maybe I should have used the hottest setting. You know where this is going, don't you.

Blanket post-block, pre-wash & dry:


My bed is queen-sized, by the way.

Blanket post-wash & dry:


In closing, I don't know what I did wrong. I failed on multiple levels with this. It was the most humbling and hurtful knitting experience I have ever had.

So what I have I learned? Here, I'll break it down into a handy list for you.

1. Swatching is not a bad idea.
2. I don't know how to properly block acrylic.
3. I am never knitting a baby blanket again. Or, I am not knitting another baby blanket again until a lot more booze has washed away the pain.
4. On the plus side, acrylic bounces back nicely. Good to know.

The mom-to-be, by the way? Loved it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

IWTMT: Chunky Cap

I think one of the reasons I got so tired of making hats for charity was because I was using the same pattern. Every time. Four times. In a row.

Sometimes you just need a super bulky yarn and a size N crochet hook. I've had the Chunky Cap (Rav link) by Kathy North queued for almost two years, and I think it's about time I used up some of my big fluffy yarn. I could definitely knock out some Patons Divine and Lion Brand Homespun. Yeah, fat yarn and a big crochet hook.

I could go for that.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Confessions of a Diet Breaker

In 2010, the year I was supposed to be on a yarn diet, I bought 33 skeins of yarn. I think I set myself up for failure, though.

I bought 3 skeins on my first trip to Green Mountain Spinnery.

I bought 4 skeins on my first trip to WEBS.

I bought 9 skeins for items that have been gifted.

So really, that's only 17 skeins I should feel somewhat guilty about. But of those 17 skeins, I have started and/or finished projects with another 5. That knocks it down to a dozen. For five more, I had a gift certificate.

7. 7 skeins. That's not so bad.

Did I mention I'm going to the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival for the first time too?

Screw it. 2011 can be the year of the diet.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Goal: Stash Reduction

So technically I've been on a yarn diet. This year, I think I've only bought about 30 skeins. Whoops.

In addition to my IWTMTs, I'm adding a new crafting goal: thin out the stash. Whether I knit/crochet it, trade it, give it away, or sell it, some of it's gotta go.

This works well with the charity kids hats, which I need to get back on making. Scraps that don't go into charity hats can go into the scrapghan.

Obviously, I have to do this in a painful way that involves suffering, because that's how I operate. I'm going to go through my Rav stash by date. First thing listed? First thing to go. I don't get to play with a new toy until I'm done with an old one. I can start something like a charity hat, but I can't start a new pair of socks.

The first thing in my Rav stash is a partial skein of Lion Brand Microspun in turquoise. There's not a lot, and it's not worsted weight, so I'll try to crochet some flowers to put on some of the charity hats. There! It's not so bad when you have a plan.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

IWTMT: Rasen

You'll have to forgive me for being a little brain-dead today. I just finished a super-secret project that took up 102 days of my life and it's due to be gifted today at 3. Knitting? Wha? I'm lucky I even realized it was Sunday at this point.

Whenever I buy new yarn, I add it to my Ravelry stash immediately so I can use the "yarn ideas" tab when I browse patterns. I finally used my gift certificate to Green Mountain Fibers and picked up some lovely, lovely yarns that I fully intend to document in a future blog post. Anyway, I was browsing some of the things people had made in those yarns when I came across the Rasen mitts (Rav link).

Ooh. Pretty. Brain-dead Jen likey.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Finished Object: Toe-Up, After Thought Heel Socks


Oh, hey there socks.

Pattern: Toe Up, After Thought Heel Sock (PDF file) by Liz Lafferty (Rav link)
Yarn: 0.94 skeins Encore Colorspun Worsted in colorway 7304, approximately 188 yards
Needles: Clover bamboo US size 5 DPNs
Timeline: 4.13.10 - 9.15.10
Modifications: I knit the cuffs in a 1x1 rib. I used the bulls-eye heel.

Opinion: FINALLY. I have made my first pair of socks. I was just lazy and didn't weave in the ends on the second sock until today. Just in time too, since it's getting cold out and I need some socks to bum around the house in! The legs are a little loose, and next time I'll knit more of a cuff. Also, I knit the bulls-eye heel a bit too pointy.


Random thoughts: It really is hard to take pictures of your own feet.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

IWTMT: Shipwreck Shawl

It appears to be Sunday again!

I think I just have a thing for Knitty patterns, especially Knitty patterns that I have no hope of ever actually making.

So I love the ocean, right? I wrote a poem once about standing on the beach after the apocalypse. (That, by the way, is totally normal for me.) There's a scene in one episode of Doctor Who where Amy Pond and the 11th Doctor are standing on a beach and she's wrapped in a drably-colored blanket and all of the colors are desaturated ... don't ask me why, but I love that. Which is funny, because I lovelovelove rich colors. I can't explain myself.

Anyway, this is all leading up to say that I could totally see myself standing on that post-apocalyptic shore wearing the Shipwreck Shawl (Rav link). Instead of waiting for my love to come home, I'd be mourning the loss of all humanity. Awesome.

Less awesome is the fact that it takes 1320 yards of fingering weight yarn and I only have 1128 skeins of that Araucania Ranco Multy. S%#t.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

But I Barely Did Any Work At All ...

I went on vacation to visit my mom and sister down in Rhode Island for the week before Labor Day. There was some sun, some swimming, some relaxing, some knitting, and a little bit of stash enhancement.

I had the good luck to visit two stores on my trip. The first was Mystic River Yarns in Mystic, CT. What a beautiful shop! Light, airy and full of yarny goodness. I'd made it a personal goal to only buy things I couldn't get at home, so I asked the employee what local yarns they had. I was very close to leaving with some hand-spun naturally-dyed Tidal Yarn. I ended up picking skeins from two local dyers.



This is a skein of Ellyn Cooper's Yarn Sonnets Fine Merino in the colorway Aqua Tide. Mmph.


This is a skein of Peace of Fleece Hand-Dyed Sock Yarn Semi-Solids in the Iolite colorway. I don't think that's exactly the name, but I can't find any info on this yarn online. In the store, it looked very blue but when I took it outside it's really more purple. That's okay, I still love it.


Then I visited Knitwits in Westerly, RI. This store was so cute & cozy! There were a few women knitting when I went in who greeted me. Some of them even started saying "y'all come back now, y'hear?" which I find to be hilarious. Knitwits was lovely and had beautiful yarn, but most of it was stuff my LYS already carried. I did manage to snag two skeins of Jojoland Melody Superwash in the excitingly-named colorway MS16.


Whoops. I guess I'm back in my blue/ocean phase.