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.
HOLD IT THERE, RIGHT NOW!
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.