Alunissage (alunissage) wrote,
Alunissage
alunissage

[knitting] Making the easy difficult... not on purpose, either.

So I did the unprecedented, for me: deliberately followed someone else's pattern exactly, even to the stitch count and needle size. And I'm being punished for it with... well, the same amount of aggravation I get from anything of my own, really. Just goes to show that for me there doesn't seem to be much of an advantage in following a pattern, even one that almost couldn't be simpler: the garter-stitch wrap.

I'll give the essentials of the pattern, which is out of Laura Bryant's The Yarn Stash Workbook, because the pattern itself is extremely simple; it's the text about use of various types of yarns and accounts of how projects were put together around the yarns on hand which are the value of the book (which I really like; I almost always greatly admire Laura's color sense and I like the down-to-earth, cheerful tone of the book, a bit warmer than the ones she wrote with Barry Klein). The pattern is: take about 450 yards of assorted-weight yarns (hold thinner yarns together). Cast on 150 st with #17 needles. Using #15s, knit every row. On alternate rows, decrease at the beginning and increase at the end, so you knit a large parallelogram. Change yarns every row, leaving about eight inches for fringe on each end. Bind off loosely with larger needles.

That's it. Pretty simple. Garter stitch, very little shaping. Just need to keep track of which rows have that minimal shaping, and I made it pretty simple with my yarn choice. Which, indeed, was the only aspect of choice about this whole thing, which is what makes it so unusual for me. (Not only following someone else's pattern, but doing so in garter stitch. I have to admit that having a project I can do on autopilot and without looking makes the dental visits I've been having more bearable.)

I've always tended to take what I call a quilting approach to yarn: get a ball of this and a ball of that and wait for them to coalesce with other single balls into a project mixing them all together. (Which is basically what this book is about.) This is probably because my first sweater project -- which I frogged even further to reclaim yarn for this wrap -- was an oddball sweater, albeit one I had to buy yarn for because before beginning it I owned less than two balls of yarn total (the leftovers from my first two hats). For this project I wanted to use two particular balls of yarn I had thought would go together: Adriafil Show, a fluffy boucle-ish yarn similar to Trendsetter Biscotto, and Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande, an unbelievably soft lightly plied worsted similar to Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk (without the silk). Both were purple, the Plymouth a solid and the Show a muted rainbow over a slightly bluer purple background; I'd actually gotten it along with my very first skein of Manos in the color Jade, thinking the teal would pick up similar color in the Show. But the Manos had ended up in my third hat, so I got the Plymouth to go with it instead. I've been having trouble with sensitivity to animal fiber (possibly just mohair and/or wool, haven't tested this extensively) on my neck, but the alpaca seemed soft enough, so I thought a scarf would work well. But I wanted one more yarn, and decided to finally use my Colinette mohair in Florentine which I bought years ago and then could never find again in that colorway and therefore saved up for the right thing. This seemed to be it.

It was around then that I started thinking of a wrap and looking for additional yarns, because I probably wouldn't have it on my neck after all with the extra mohair along for the ride. I dug through my stash for compatible purples and muted teals, seeing an opportunity to use this angora I had a ball of as well. I ended up with:

Adriafil Show, purple/multi - 50m
Colinette Mohair, Florentine - 175m
Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande, purple - 100m
Anny Blatt angora, teal - 106m
K1C2 Paint Box wool, blue/purple/pink - 92m
Tahki Tweedy Lamb, blue/teal - 90m (?)
Manos del Uruguay wool, Mar - ?
Trendsetter Metal (eyelash), purple/gold - 77m
Trendsetter Aura, mulberry - 130m (?)

(from my rough handwritten notes; not up to looking up the exact yardages)

The last two were added after I was about eight or so rows in, which is in fact what has prompted this post. I was hesitant about adding glitz to my otherwise natural, if fancy, yarns (not counting the little gold bits in the Adriafil Show) but I wanted to have one more yarn to hold with the mohair. I had come up with a pattern of repeats to use up the yarns in more or less even numbers by considering each to be in units of about 50 yards. I wanted to have the alpaca and angora frequently represented to keep things soft and purple, so this was the pattern:

Alpaca
Mohair + Aura
Angora + Tweedy Lamb
Mohair + Manos
Alpaca
Adriafil + Metal
Angora + Tweedy Lamb
Mohair + Paint Box

Two out of eight rows were alpaca, two more were angora + a second yarn (this switched around a bit in the first few rows until I settled on the Tweedy Lamb, which is fairly soft). Those four rows were the shaping rows, starting with k2tog tbl and ending with yo, k1-b. (The other rows started with k1-b, k1-b (the yo), and ended with k1-b.) Of the remaining four rows, three were mohair with different accompanying yarns, and the fourth was the Show, intended to be the centerpiece but also the one of which I had the least. I held the Metal with it to finally use some eyelash after all these years and because the Show would conceal the odd red-brown of the binder yarn of the lash. For balance I put the Aura at the farthest-away point of the repetition, so there's dark purple sparkle with short lashes, then medium-light purple long lashes with gold. I actually rather like how that worked out. The Manos was a bit thick, but it was left over from my fourth hat and I wanted to use it up -- though I did end up buying another skein, contrary to my intentions that I use some stuff up with this, because I needed about a yard and a half more for the last row of it. But I'd already been planning on buying another skein because I just like that colorway that much, so I'm not bothered by that.

I didn't add the novelty yarns until the second rep of the "pattern", and I also realized after the first rep that the Show wasn't, well, showing as well as I'd like. So for the rest of the shawl I used 17s for that row only. This worked, and I had maybe a yard or less left of it at the end of the last stripe. It bothered me that the first few rows didn't match the rest as regards this and the sparkle/eyelash quotient, so I decided (after binding off the top in angora/tweedy, just after the Aura row, but not cutting the yarn) to unpick the bottom few rows and knit them downward, adding the novelties and redoing the Show row with the larger needles (and tying on the remainder of the yarn). After all, they were garter, and all separate pieces, so recreating the selvedges' increases and decreases shouldn't be that hard, right?

After redoing about three rows, and realizing I had two or three more to do, and that fixing the selvedges is really a pain when there are still needles involved, I realized that I could have just removed the bottom rows, bound it off (possibly using the cast-on row itself, of alpaca), and redone the removed rows at the top of the piece after unpicking the bind-off I had prudently left uncut. It's a repeating pattern; I only needed to take off the first eight rows since I intended both the first and the last rows to be mohair + aura, with the cast-on being the alpaca and the bind-off being the angora. I had instead removed the first six rows, then painfully redone three of them.

It was this realization that prompted this post. I might not feel so frustrated about it if I hadn't had to redo a few other rows multiple times when I'd gone out of sequence and thus had to reknit a row with a cut length of yarn and try to make it come out the same way as it had before I'd cut it (rather than having too much or too little at the end), or when I ran out of Tweedy and tried to substitute Paint Box (which had become rather overly lavender on that end of the ball) before remembering that I had used some in the half-frogged oddball sweater. Or if I hadn't worked out an interesting scarf pattern I want to try using the same needles...

So now I'm going to undo what I just did, sew a bind-off with the first alpaca row before the first row that has the Aura, undo the angora bind-off and redo it as a normal knit row, knit the eight rows I'm removing from the bottom, and bind off again to match the alpaca sewn bind-off (which may be like the long-tail cast-on so it won't look any different, or may be the weird sewn one that kind of looks like garter; more research required.) This all would have been done by now if I'd thought of just adding onto the end a day earlier. Sigh.

Edit: This comment from the Yarn Harlot's Feb 15 blog pretty much describes what would happen (less the cussing) if I tried following a more complex pattern written by someone else. Well, the first half, anyway; the few things I've tried this with have never been finished.

You could try my method: First, I will do exactly what the pattern said to do because I'm maintaining the art of the designer. Then, I will not like something about it (usually that I think it's "overly complicated" or "taking too long"), rip it out, and start over my way.

THEN I discover that 'my way' doesn't work for one or a thousand reasons, tear it out again, start over using a second, similar pattern for reference but really just doing my own thing again. This also does not work. Tear it back again, sit down with a pencil and my arsenal of cuss words, write down what I think I'm going to do, cuss, cross out, write, cuss, cross out, write, cuss, cross out, write AND THEN?

One last cuss and I go back to the pattern. Humbly. And refusing to acknowledge that I ever left it. Except that I'm just going to change this one itty-bitty thing over here because it's too >>fussy<<...
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