Tuesday, January 30, 2007

May I Introduce A New Knitting Technique?

Well that got you interested anyway. Perhaps I should be more specific. It's not so much a new knitting technique as - oh well, here's when you might need it.

I was working away on the new love of my life, the classic simple cabled polo sweater in that gorgeous silk/cashmere yarn. Worked out the right sizing at last, after so many froggings I lost count. Worked up a good couple of inches and was all ready to take a proud picture so I could show it to you on my weblog.

Then I saw it. I blinked. Just a trick of the light. Look again. No, maybe it's just a thread that's got pulled out of shape a little. Tug it and it'll be OK.

No it isn't.

I couldn't have.

Did I?

I mean - how difficult is a pattern of k 4, p 1, cable 4, pi, k 4, p1, cable 4... etc. etc. etc. all along the row? You could do it in your sleep.

Which might have been what I was doing. It was late at night after all.

Let's show you the picture. I know my limits: I got DH to take this one up close with a macro lens.

You might have to put on your reading glasses and look closely - but can you see, about two rows above the twist of the cable - a PURL stitch where no purl should be? And not just once, but twice. On both cable panels. (In fact it's on a third one too, but in the interests of close detail you can't see that one.)

Somewhere along the happy-go-lucky knitting line I must have got a k3, p1 into my head instead of k4. Half of a row was wrong. And it wasn't the most recent row, but at least ten rows back.

So what would you have done?

I know, I know the Three Great Options. Like everyone else, I discovered them myself over the years. I went for Option Two, which involves a good reading light (preferably with a daylight bulb), a fine crochet hook, and a great deal of patience.

It's an irritating enough job, frogging just one stitch back down row after row, but it's made even more maddening when it's a fibre that tends to catch charmingly on every neighbouring stitch, necessitating much tugging and cursing under the breath. When you multiply that by several stitches, it gets a mite stressful. Break for half a packet of chocolate biscuits. Return to the fray (and fraying yarns, fraying nerves too). Get another one out, down, back up, on the needle again. On to the next one. How many stitches did I get wrong for heaven's sake? Oh great, now several more perfectly good stitches in line have decided to leap off the needle in sympathy (or in response to my furious tug at yet another tangled-up stitch). Back to the chocolate biscuits. No, you can't have one, Muffy. And for pity's sake stop eyeing that silk/cashmere.

I began to get that dangerous pulsing sensation in my fingers. You know the feeling - when your hands seem to be taking on a life of their own and starting to work up to a break out. It's a very dangerous stage. If you don't catch it in time, your hands, all by themselves, will actually grab the knitting and pull it in two directions at once. They will then wrench the needle (all right, or needles, don't be so pedantic) out of the knitted fabric and hurl them across the room. Finally, after a refreshing session of swearing and marmalising (sorry, I can't find an English translation for 'strachadh' which means to shred into flitters, only more so), those hands cast the wretched fragments on the ground, so that the feet (preferably encased in bovver boots) can take over and grind the memory into perdition.

This (and now, thanking you for your patience, we have come to the new technique at last) is known as

Tantrum Frogging

Now such a concept may be a little nouveau, a little outre (oh yes, the French always have a word for it) for those of you who are in the habit of taking a gentle little trip to the frogging pond on a sunny weekend, complete with picnic basket, folding stool, and Sonnets from the Portuguese. And I'll admit it's not nice. Not to put too fine a point on it, it's pretty violent. But it's life. It's real knitting life and it's out there. Waiting for us. And I came v-e-r-y, v-e-r-y close to the edge.

I wanted you to know. I wanted you to be on the watch for me, so that if I feel the dangerous urge again, you will be there to hold me back, to ring TF Anonymous and get them to take me away somewhere there are no yarns, no needles.

And don't try it yourself at home. It's not safe. You know it doesn't make sense. Is it worth getting hooked on a habit just for the sake of a few moments wild jubilation? You know it isn't.

After that experience I went back to the Celtic Vest and worked away assiduously. Past the armhole shaping now and almost ready to work the second Lavold motif, one to each armhole. I'll have pictures next time. Heavens above, this was my entry for the Red Sweater KAL. That particular knitalong is probably archived and history for everyone else by now. I know one person in particular who got involved because I'd suggested she should. She's now finished the project she started well after me! And to make matters worse, she was working on the Travelling Cables Cardi. Remember the Travelling Cables? How I raised heaven and earth to get hold of the pattern, and then couldn't wait to get started? Jan says she wants to see what progress I've made. Er.... Oh [brainwave], sorry Jan, I actually haven't had your comment yet. No, really, I haven't seen it. I expect it will come down - oh, next week sometime. And as soon as I see it, I'll certainly show you where I'm at. (Think she suspects? That should buy me a little time.)

I decided to try some space dyeing the other evening. The kind where you end up with enough in one colour to make a stripe or at least a couple of rows before moving on to the next shade. This involves making a very long skein indeed.

I've dipped two quarters of this, one in blue and the other in violet, and they're drying at the moment. Then I'll do the other two quarters. Green and navy? Yellow and teal? What do you think? Gosh, dyeing is great fun. Must remember not to mix up the pots on the stove though...

We're planning a short trip to Prague next week. It's one of the few places to which you can get directly from Cork, which in these days of airport chaos is definitely a plus. Just a Monday to Wednesday hop, enough to have a hot chocolate and a beer and stand on Charles Bridge and look down at the Vltava.

But heaven bless blogging! What, oh what did we do before we had the Net and weblogs? I now know exactly where to find yarn shops in Prague - thanks to the adorable All Tangled
who did all the hard work a year or so ago and recorded it for the rest of us. Thanks, pet! I'm excited about the fact that one of these shops is actually an outlet for MarLen, the Czech yarn manufacturer, and stocks both skeins and CONES! I am uncontrollable when it comes to cones of yarn. They seem so much more real than the tidy neat balls you get in standard shops, and they're almost always far better value.

But every rainbow has a rain cloud somewhere. As I was happily polishing up my passport this afternoon, my LYS rang to tell me delightedly that - WHO would be in Cork next Tuesday? Debbie Bliss, that's who! Yep, she's touring local yarn outlets in Ireland with her sales team all next week and Tuesday is the day she's in Cork. When I will be in Prague.

Ah well, maybe I'll get something rare and unusual in old Bohemia to compensate for missing out on that visit. And after all, we can get Debbie Bliss yarns anytime, can't we? It would have been nice to meet her, though (and maybe, just maybe, find out where she really gets her yarns made up - then I could go there next trip and look for the remaindered bins in the back of their factory!)

Got my skein of Socks That Rock in the post this morning - didn't take long to get here.

This is Nodding Violet and it's as lovely as it sounds. Can't wait to try it out.

(This sock yarn obsession has got to stop. I like making socks, sure, but I am beginning to suspect that the real addiction lies in acquiring as much of the yarn as possible, never mind the knitting up. I just can't see a new colourway without wanting it. But I can walk away. I can give it up any time I choose. I just haven't chosen to do so yet, that's all.)


Anonymous said...

Dearest, I hear that giving up sock yarn once you are addicted is like giving up cigarettes (aaarghhhh!!!!). But without knowing that you are bettering your health, only your budget. Poor little darling, that frogging sounded AWFUL. Frog a bit, take deep yoga breath, eat chocolate, pet Muffy, frog a bit more. The universe is trying to tell you to finish that red vest, remember, the one that is giving you no trouble??? Wow, you are dyeing yarn. What weight yarn are you decorating and what are you planning to do with it?

Anonymous said...

I have found that I have frogging tantrum when I'm untangling yarn. I scream, throw it down, and thereby proceed to make it more tangled.

And sock yarn is just like crack. Just like it. Except prettier.

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Oh Jo, you make me chuckle and smile every time I come to your blog. I can see your problem!
I feel for you, but I have been there too, and not all that long ago. It is cold, damp and foggy at the frog pond these days - not a place to sit, frog, curse and eat. Just have a hot rum toddy and go back home.
Oh how I would love to meet Debbie Bliss. I bought a wee skein of her 100% silk today to make 'tit bits'. Bet she never thought her beautiful yarn would be knit into such items - but it is worn very close to my heart!
Have a good time in Prague!

Anonymous said...

OMG, I think I would have put the project down and let it become an UFO. You have an amazing amount of patience.

Jan said...

Hmmmm.... guess no update huh? Thats ok, I feel for you being in Prague when DB is in Cork. Well, to be truthful, I only feel for you a little bit coz I'm in Pittsburgh with no DB or Prague on my horizon. But the frogging is awful isn't it? I usually just put the sweater away and never look at it again so you're a better person than me.

LaurieM said...

I never frog in a temper. I have a strict policy of putting the offending piece of knitting away to be frogged later, when I'm in a better frame of mind.

But I can sympathize with you. My husband is a curser. It's a way of venting frustration. Me, I'm a crier and a whiner. Not pretty, but true.

pacalaga said...

So, would it be cruel of me to point out that, shortly after you ordered Nodding Violet (my fave at the time) they added new colorways to their website? AND that they have cotton/lycra sock yarn that is almost never advertised, but that I have a color-list for?
Because if it's cruel, I won't mention it.

Roggey said...

But I can walk away. I can give it up any time I choose. I just haven't chosen to do so yet, that's all.

Yeah. Sure. That's what *I* said once upon a time & you know where I'm at now, don't you?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jo, don't know if you got my e-mail. I've spotted a stove with the code Stratford N1899 on a closed e-bay auction. It made £86, but the point is that the picture shows the front plate, which it sounds like you might be missing.
The unravelling I hate is when it's down a cable and you have to take out a block together.

Anonymous said...

This was the best description of the frustration of frogging I have read so far! I certainly know the feeling, but your entry still made me grin...
Enjoy your travels!

LornaJay said...

Marmalising: wonderful term. I shall co-opt it.

Dez Crawford said...

My dear Jo, our local frogpond is cold, wet and being rained on today.
If I can come sit by that sweet little gypsy stove, I would be glad to help you frog, untangle yarn, whatever. I have an odd lack of abhorrence for untangling yarn, in fact, I sometimes enjoy it.

I would have opted for your solution, too -- use the crochet hook. I actually use two: one to "run" the offending stitch down and make a ladder, then I use this hook to line the laddered stitches up so I pick them up in the correct order (especially in fuzzy yarn). Actual pick-up and stitch correction is done with another hook.

I should post a picture of this technique, shouldn't I?

Marmalising: magnificent new word. New for me, anyway. Must use.

Sock yarn is far more addictive than cigarettes.

gail said...

All of your activities sound interesting and lovely--except for the tantrum frogging. I know, I have a hard time deciding whether to frog or to drop just stitches in the affected area. Or, just leave the mistake as it is. It's a dilemma. Getting new yarn always helps calm the nerves.

Unknown said...

Jo--as always, i love reading your blog and find myself dreaming of spinning and playing my harp in ireland afterward. thanks!
rita n/