Monday, August 21, 2006

Patience my foot, I'm gonna MURDER this knitting!

Charity, thank you so much for the link to that site for making stitch markers. It is so clear and helpful that I couldn't believe it. No missing bits of vital information at ALL. Gosh, I wish the sites with instructions for Figure 8 Cast On were as clear! Can't wait to get started on some stitch markers. Which is ironic now that I come to think about it, because those early sessions on the Elann cardi, where stitch markers and I first became acquainted, were so traumatic that I still get tremors when I think about them. But I do feel quite an urge to create some little beady dangly things myself now. I owe you a skein of bainin wool, Charity - I'll drop it in at your LYS, shall I, when I'm coming through your neck of the woods in September?

Karen has asked if I can post the instructions for that devastating wedding coat. Delighted to do so, Karen: I'm asking DH for advice on the best way to do this, but any hints from the rest of you would be welcomed (It's a fairly long and detailed pattern as you'd imagine). Post really big images? Email them to you? Whatever. I'm new at this aspect but most willing to cooperate.

That Elann lace crop cardi. (Should I just call it the ELCC?) The sleeve was just not working for me. There was no smoothness, no sense of moving along in a natural way, as by this stage any pattern should be. On the sleeve being worked with the four bamboo dpns, stitches were being lost at every corner. The needles were really too short, too clunky, and, due to my hurried cutting and paring, didn't have that polish either, so the stitches dragged (when they weren't leaping off into oblivion) and trying to insert one blunt point into a difficult yo from the previous row was enough to drive anyone to drink. I lost count of the times I discovered half the correct number of stitches on the row I was working. Words the dogs hadn't heard in really ages were flying. DH asked only once if I was actually enjoying what I was doing, and then retired to his den.

The sleeve being worked on two circulars wasn't any better, although I really thought it would have been. The circulars, contrary to their usual impeccable behaviour, pulled and yanked and were constantly straining at the lace fabric, opening very large ladder-like gaps that I wasn't at all sure would heal afterwards. Plus it proved even more impossible to keep count of the stitches. Every row was a lottery, with me never picking the winning number.

I have to admit I came so close to throwing it all in the dustbin. Do you know that feeling when you're trembling on the brink of exploding? My fingers were actually twitching to wrench the whole horrible heap apart, and stuff it into the nicely sooty woodburning stove. Even my pulse rate was rising, ready for the anticipated action.

It was only the thought of confessing failure on this page that stopped me, I swear it. I tried to take a deep breath. Tried again. Then the thought struck me that perhaps slightly longer dpns would do. No, no been there, done that, got the amused negatives. No 6mm dpns to be found anywhere. Rush out, drive a 60 mile round trip to Cork, purchase not one but two more sets of bamboos? No, it's Sunday. All day. Few enough yarn stores on weekdays, none at all today.

All right, let's take this calmly. Let's get all Little House on the Prairie. What do we have that would do? How about all those discarded plastic straights, relegated to a box in the basement? Thunder downstairs, scattering dogs asleep on the landing (all banished from the knitting room during the present crisis). Search through the needle box. Yo, size 6! And TWO pairs, yay! Slam 'em into the vice, grab the little fretsaw.


I so nearly did it. I forgot, didn't I, that these were old size 6. That's UK size 6 to you New Worlders. You might think you're really trendy if you've come to terms with European versus US, but over here we have a triple problem: most of us intelligent older folk think in old UK sizings, buy in metric, and use patterns designed for US needles. I kid you not, I keep a handwritten chart underneath my keyboard - yes it's right here - with all three listed for comparison. Let's see - the old UK size 6 is... uh huh, a metric 5, which is - oh, an 8 in the US (or size H if you're using a crochet hook).

Where was I? Oh yes, that means I was just about to cut up four innocent and totally inappropriate needles. Back to the box. What I actually needed was the old UK 4 - that's a 10 to you (oh for heaven's sake, a J hook, haven't you been listening? We're not using hooks here. We're talking dpns. We're talking rubbish! We're babbling. That's what stress does to you.)

One pair of the right size (I'm not going into that again). But not long enough to make four dpns longer than the ones I already have which are manifestly too short. Surely there's another pair the same size? Nope. Despair. Eye sooty woodburning stove yearningly. Hang on - wasn't there a vast mohair project once, abandoned in a basket behind a chair somewhere? That used big needles. Thunder upstairs. Dogs, just settled comfortably, disturbed again. Haul out basket. YESSS! Another pair of the same. Down to basement. Needles into vice. Heads twisted off (sorry if this is getting a bit brutal, it's hard reality time). Cut to decent length. Where's the pencil sharpener? Create reasonable points. File with gentle side of emery board.

There. What do you think? Nice, aren't they? What are the little rings? Ah those are my special invention. Individual garters for my new dpns. I have had it up to HERE with stitches slipping off unnoticed until I find to my horror that I'm short a dozen or more, and there are wretched little ladders working their way down my precious lace project. No MORE they won't. I fashioned the little garters out of scraps of elastic and kept them in place with a few stitches.

Now you may have been laughing all the way along and thinking that I've re-invented the wheel. That you have been recycling your old knitting needles for years, and have always known about garters for dpns. Well I don't care, you hear? I thought these ideas up for myself, dragged them out of my despair and found the solutions in my own backyard (well, my own basement). I may even patent my little dpns garters - I was thinking of cute little red ones with black rosettes?

The thing is - THEY WORKED! Suddenly the block was gone, the logjam freed. The sleeve absolutely blossomed under the new needles. Mind you, it still took me half an hour to work a ten-row repeat of the Milanese Lace pattern, but that was one heck of a lot better than half a day per pattern repeat. I kept working. I didn't dare stop in case I lost my place. At one minute to midnight I got to the required length on Sleeve 1 and sailed straight into the Picot Bind Off. I'd had my doubts about that along the way, but by now, having survived the worst that lace knitting could throw at me, the picot edging was an absolute doddle. No trouble at all. (How many times have you dreaded something that's coming up, only to find when it arrives that there is nothing to it? Me too.)

Look at that sleeve! To see its innocent beauty, you wouldn't believe the tears, the heartache, the swearwords that have gone into it. I've tucked a blouse sleeve inside so you can see it better.

It's been going well ever since. This morning I took up the second sleeve, somehow sorted out the missing stitches (by dint of the occasional crafty k1 when it should have been k 2 tog) and started steaming down the straight on that one. Should get through it tonight, and then start on the rest of the body tomorrow. I think we just might make Bantry Show after all.

So this afternoon, in celebration, I drove down to Bantry and formally submitted my entry forms for the show. The finished projects have to be delivered to the showground before 5 pm on Saturday September 2. FormS? ProjectS? Yes - in a fit of temporary insanity and over-confidence, brought on by the hysterical delight of having finally finished that b-y sleeve, I threw caution to the winds, and entered the socks as well. You remember, the brightly coloured little Interlacements socks? The ones that haven't started on their heel turning yet?

Well, one way or another, those little socks have to be completed, washed, blocked and ready for the party on September 2. Don't bother with the recriminations. Just give me some good advice on the washing and blocking bit. Do they need shaping? How do I make them look really good when they're finished?

(By the way I'm assuming that this Kitchener stitch you all keep talking about is the old-fashioned grafting, right? Working from one raw stitch over to the other, that sort of thing? Haven't done it in a while, but it can't have changed that much. Anyway, for now getting the heel turned will be the main interest. OK, OK, not until the Elann jacket is finished. )

After all that, I thought you might like something calming. So here's Bantry Bay as it looked around 5 pm Irish time this evening, with Hungry Hill rising in the background (remember your Daphne du Maurier?)

It was worth the drive down just for that.


Anonymous said...

I was positively on the edge of my seat during your exploits to find a solution to the needle problem and get the sleeve finished! Well done you! Love all your photos of the countryside. So beautiful. ~Sharon

rho said...

A thing of BEAUTY I tell you it's a thing of beauty!!! And such ingenuity -- you are an inventor by necessity.

You notice I am posting here rather than playing with my socks - I'm at the muttering stage on them and having 2 on at the same time is making me mutter 10 times as much.

Waiting on Taco pie to cool enough to eat then will go back to them.

Your socks are looking good!!!

Oh and sympathies to pups and hubby -- smart hubby to leave the room....

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Jo - how do you get yourself into these situations? I laughed, almost cried and then shook my head - is it a big money prize for the Bantry Bay show that you are going for? My dear girl, after September 2, take a break and knit dishcloths! You deserve some mindless knitting for a change! Oh yes, good luck at Bantry Bay! You deserve the prize for perseverance or is it perseverence!!

Lynn said...

After all that racketing around, you *deserved* a spectacular view like that.

This is pretty much how I have felt, the entire time I've been knitting Sock the First and Sock the Second. *[Knit-Frog-Ponder- Swear]. Repeat from * until hysteria or overwhelming drowsiness sets in.

That sleeve is gorgeous.

I managed to leave one of my new yellow gummi bear needle keepers at Secondborn's. She is holding it hostage until I produce the brownies I promised for the first batch of photos we posted to my blog.

How sharper than an Addi's point is an ungrateful child...[but then I guess the consensus is that pritnear anything is sharper than an Addi's point???]

You get two sitting ovations from the Lone Star State: one for persistence, one for creativity.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful sleeve! Good for you for staying the course. I was going to suggest you enter the socks - you've got to show everyone how much skill goes into making them. Kitchener is just plain old grafting, and turning the heel is like the picot bind off - seems hard until you've done it once, and then it's simple. Some people use sock forms - flat, sock-shaped things made of plastic or wood to block socks - I just lay them out flat when they are wet and that's fine for my purposes. You could always find some scrap wood and cut sock forms yourself (be sure to sand the edges - don't want to snag those pretty socks!)

Anonymous said...

Kitchener Stitch
Step 1: Bring threaded needle through front stitch as if to purl and leave stitch on needle.
Step 2: Bring threaded needle through back stitch as if to knit and leave stitch on needle.
Step 3: Bring threaded needle through same front stitch as if to knit and slip this stitch off needle. Bring threaded needle through next front stitch as if to purl and leave stitch on needle.
Step 4: Bring threaded needle through first back stitch as if to purl (as illustrated), slip that stitch off, bring needle through next back stitch as if to knit, leave this stitch on needle.
Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until no stitches remain on needles.
--per Interweave Knits. Thanks for trying a scan or whatnot for the lace coat...I don't have any better ideas unfortunately!

Anonymous said...

That sleeve is "lookin'good". The suspense was palpable on how you were going to manage those needles. PLEASE, knit on the body and let me send you a rush set of size 6 DPNS for that other sleeve.

Your socks would show well on a set of the wooden sock forms. Chappywoman on eBay does nice ones, at least for inspiration. There are several motifs to choose from.
Look under knitting and scroll, or type "sock blockers" in the search box. If you will check Wendy's blog from yesterday, you will see how nice they look in the socks. You could cut some for yourself from wood or heavy cardstock with a Celtic Knot drawn onto the top. Presentation!!!! You'll knock them dead at the Bantry Fair.

As for the wedding dress, I would scan the pages and save as a PDF. Then post that on your blog so that anyone who wants can download it.

Good luck!!!

Anonymous said...

oh j, i can feel your victory over that sleeve. and so proud of you for getting down there to enter your forms.

now about those socks. i love the mary thomas kitchener stitch and teach it to all my students "the song of the knitting graft" if you have her little book, look it up—once you do it, you will never forget!

i don't want to scare you but, a few of us have seen first-hand how the interlacements yarns and fibers bleed. i don't know if everyone has the same experience, but be careful about washing them! use vinegar in the water to set the dye, and/or maybe just steam block them for the show, and wash them later.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I empathise with the saga of the needle sizes. I have a handy little plastic holey gadget which marks each sized hole in imperial, US and mm. Last night it helped out a friend who had to convert the 2.25mm in her pattern to whatever was in the ancient box of needles she'd had forever.
Your ELCC is looking very fetching - and well done for the making of your own dpns. I might have a go at sharpening some of my old broken plastic needles to give them an extra life.

Angie said...

I know was tense there ! I wonder what the dogs say to each other ..."Mum's doing funny things to sticks again ". So glad it all got sorted out the first sleeve looks good .I just got a US/Eng needle comparison chart from a knit shop with my yarn ..what a God-send ! I'm looking forward to photos of The Bantry Show.

Charity said...

Gasp! Are you teasing me? Am I a bit slow? Are you really going to be in my neck of the woods? If so, we have to meet! All right, less demanding - I would love to meet, even for a quick cup of coffee or tea or something.

I am amazed at the ingenuity of knitters. I have never imagined recycling old needles, although I certainly will from now on! The ELCC is lovely.

Bautiful photo! Bantry Bay is amazing, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I can only imagine how satisfying it must have been to wrench the heads off those old needles. (and fun)

Have you considered having a glass of wine while you knit your ELCC? Not quickly enough to hinder your ability to stitch, but slowly and soothingly to help stop various twitches from developing...

Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns said...

Rachel, I most certainly have considered that glass of wine. And that glass of Calvados... and that glass of rum and coke... and, if the weather gets cooler, that poteen toddy.

Charity, you're in BC, right? What's your email?

Connie said...

I just found your blog, its lovely. I went to the west coast of Ireland for my honeymoon and loved it. Can't wait to return someday. Also love the wedding coat! So my daughter is turning 5, I figure I should start now and it will be done for her wedding! I would like the pattern, if you figure out how to distribute.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'd love to have the wedding coat recipe. And I agree, scanning and saving as a pdf is probably the most efficient way.

You are a better person then me; I'd have burnt up the sweater in a fit of rage and then denied all knowledge of it's existance. And probably not apologized to the traumatized dogs, either.

gwtreece said...

Great solution for the needle problem. Love you photos of the countryside.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jo, I do not know if you will see this but had to comment - first - love reading your blog!

2nd, 2 summers ago we took my parents to Ireland for their first time and we stayed at a beautiful house overlooking Bantry Bay. That was the most beautiful are of the country! Reading your blog, places sound familiar and so I picture in mind the beautiful country you live in. Thank you for writing such enjoyable stories!