Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday knitting

There is a part of me that feels perpetually out of sync with the world, at several different levels. There is the part that is a knitter, in what at times seems a world of non-knitters, O-yes there is Ravelry, and the online knit community, and there is the hard-core set of local knitters I've found .. but generally the world is not comprised of knitters. There is the part that likes to do things properly, as in well made, well crafted, well finished, made to last .. in world that seems at times more attuned to the disposable and shortcut solutions. Then there is the 'holiday' blog post, where bloggers post spectacular photos of their knitting in far flung and exotic locations ... not me, I'm posting my holiday knitting from the small and very rural village of Waimate, and its not really holiday knitting, its just the knitting I was going to do anyway .. but this time its on holiday with me. Today - an example of the lengths I can extend to in my extreme geekness to makes cuffs match, as an effort to Sync with the holiday knitting genre .. I've got images of my knitting 'on-holiday', and family friendly bananas. And no, there was no Rodeo, well there was but it was lighlty raining so not being true hard core rodeo fans we stayed in with my Dad, where it was warm and dry.

First Whisper, it grows, and if you recall I knit the first cuff in double knit so it would not roll up ... and trusted that I would find a solution so the other cuff would match. The cardigan is cast on at one sleeve cuff, and knit up the arm, across the shoulder and down the other arm, finishing with a cast off on the other cuff. Problem was that I wanted to cuffs to match and a standard or sewn bind off is not an exact match for a twisted long tail cast on. I knew that I could work cast on the second cuff the same as the first and graft the two together .. but I was hoping to find a simpler solution. Didn't happen, so I knit right up to the second cuff, and set that aside, and cast on the second cuff and worked the 4 rounds in double knitting .. and sat down at the table to graft them together. I warned Bear this was going to be an hour or more, and was tricky and kinda stressful so if he could be a dear and monitor the cubs and take care of any issues ... please? He did.

As I started I wondered what my options were should this fail, I decided my Plan B if it all turned to a tangled mess was to remove both cuffs, and pick up the live stitches and knit them down, and cast them off - identically. Secretly I hoped it would not come to that - but I knew it might. I started with a yarn tail 4 times the circumference of the sleeve ... and wove, carefully and loosely. I figured it was better to weave loosely and to stop and tug it tighter at intervals. Inside I had my fingers, my toes, my knees, and just about everything crossed ...

Every 4 or 5 cm ... which seemed an age I stopped and carefully worked each stitch firmer, being slightly scared of over tightening I keep it all loose. My plans were to work over it again and again if needed pulling, and tugging and gently removing the extra yarn until the grafted stitches matched in size the stitches above and below them.

It took a while, but I got there, I had to work my way carefully around the grafted row at least twice to snug the stitches up to size, and I know there are a few that look twisted .... I grafted them as they lay ... but its seems they may have been twisted on the needles, or just the singles are behaving oddly (my excuse and I'm sticking to it).
The end result is a matching cuff on the second sleeve, and if you look carefully you can maybe spot which side is grafted, maybe. Post blocking the difference should be invisible to all but the most finicky knitter.
The grafting done, I packed Whisper with my other knitting and headed off to visit my Dad, during my time away I picked up the hundreds of stitches and worked the rib band around the body opening ... 3" in 1x1 rib. My Dad has a small collection of vintage Case tractors, this is a 1930's or 1940's one awaiting restoration ... and vintage tractors make for a different display setting for knitting.

My 'other' take along knitting was my new sock, and with it my new favorite sock needles (thanks Suzanne), Signature 2.25 dpn in 6". The pattern looks complex but in reality it has small repeats, the lace is only really 2 rounds (with purl rounds between), and the cable moves over 2 stitches every lace round. This is also one of those patterns that begs the knitter to finish the chart, I could see the cable heading for the central turn .. and I just wanted to knit those extra few rounds to so the cable would turn .. and then of course ... I'd want to knit the next sway of the cable. The prop in this photo is another of Dads vintage Case tractors, a 1939 if I remember correctly (I'm not the enthusiast .. just the relative).

Given how easy the sock is to work on, and how pretty the blue is, I made good progress while away .. and returned ready to turn the heel. I noticed there was instructions for knitters who during the Launch knit-along knit the leg chart as instructed, and missed the errata .... those knitters had knit too far, so the designer had provided alternative instructions so they could complete the heel and foot without frogging. This suited me perfectly as the errata instructions provided easy steps for knitting the leg a teeny bit longer ... keeping in pattern, I do like my socks longer rather than shorter. Perfect! Heel turned, gusset picked up and in the process of decreasing away. If I was to change one thing about the pattern it would be to work a few more rows of the leg chart .... so the cable across the back of the leg ended at the side of the heel flap. The cable does pull in, and I would recommend that knitters working this sock do take time to try it on once a cable repeat is worked - just to check.

One thing that we have been enjoying as a family this year is Bananagrams, a cool banana shaped bag of what look like scrabble letters. I've gifted several of these away to kids during the year, under the guise of Toby or Poppy giving birthday gifts to friends. The feedback we gave on the first gift was so positive, that we kept giving them ... and finally I realized after many many parents commented on how easy and fun the game was I thought that perhaps our family needed a Bananagram. We opened it christmas day, and it is fun, silly fun, the game starts with the command Split, and there are moves like Dump, Peel, the pile of letters is called the Bunch, and the game ends when a player is entitled to shout Bananas! There is a low stress variation called Banana Smoothie, and my favorite is the Cafe Variation - where one plays the game in a restaurant or cafe after placing ones order, and whilst waiting for the food. There is even an i-pod touch or i-phone version available - which is tempting as I did score an i-pod touch for Christmas. I've already got it syncing with my email, it provides snapshots of the weather in the locations I choose (here, Waimate - and CA), I can check the TV listings, I can visit Ravelry with it as long as I'm in range of our wifi, and I've loaded a few wee knit programs, that count rows, provide conversion for needle sizes and measurements, a spin tools kit, and knit gauge tools - and it plays the music and knit podcasts I love. I don't want to gloat .. but this is one seriously fun geek toy to have in ones possession (as long as you have wifi - would be much less fun without wifi).

take care
na Stella


Apple Jack Creek said...

I just emailed the Bananagrams people to see if that game's available in Canada - that looks great!

(and I love the sock, it's so cheery!)

Anonymous said...

Dang! I am really impressed. The second cuff was a definite knitting tour de force. Well done!

Oh, and you should have gone to the rodeo, in spite of the rain. I was looking forward to seeing you in a cowgirl hat.

Knitting Linguist said...

You're right, Bananagrams is fun! At least, those in my household approve :) I love that sock you're knitting -- did you say which pattern (I may have missed it)? And I'm a little envious (in a good way) of your ipod touch; I realized recently that I really should have gone that way, instead of to an LG touch phone, ah well. Hindsight 20/20, right? I'm glad you're having a relaxing vacation, and I love your solution for the sweater, it's perfect!