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Switching Gears

I took a little time off from lace.  I set aside the gorgeous Malabrigio Sock yarn in “Stone” after ripping it all out again for the fifth or sixth time.  I tucked it all away in its little bag and found a dark corner in which to let it rest.  And then, I started working on a knit jacket out of Plymouth Mushishi.  First, I have to say that I LOVE this yarn.  Just saying.  And, I love this pattern (so far, wait until I get to the back gussets, I may curse it then).

But I’ve been missing lace.  And I’ve been wondering this whole time if maybe, just maybe, I should tuck away the Simplicity Lace Scarf for a little while longer and start on something new.  And now, I think yes.  I have figured out what kills my lace knitting, and it is the fact that I get so confident with the pattern that I feel I can start working on it with distractions around.  Two kids, a phone call, during a lecture for school – and then I start messing up.

So the key to lace knitting for me right now is to treat it like meditation.  It can’t be done in the car with complaining kids.  I can’t work on it while they’re running around the house screaming.  And I can’t listen to a lecture and count the pattern.  I need quiet.  Which most likely means it will take me one full year to finish ANY project.  But that’s ok, right?

Tomorrow I will debut the new pattern and the yarn I’ll be working with (pictures, too).  As well as a few pictures of the Mushishi jacket as it stands now.  I wonder if I should change this to just a plan old knitting blog =)

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Ribbit, Ribbit

I have frogged, and frogged, and frogged again.  My intention was to get to show all of you how much I’d gotten done on the simplicity lace scarf, which is by now seeming not so simple.  I have ripped it out three times since the first initial big ripping fest.

I do like that I now have the scarf on bamboo #5 needles.  Wool doesn’t slip nearly as much on wooden needles, and I feel like I have a little more control and am not about to lose stitches off the end of the needle.  I don’t like that the tips are more blunt.  That does make it a little more difficult to work into the decreases, but not so difficult that I plan on changing needles again.  It’s more that I have to get used to a slightly different way of working in to those decreases.  So no new picks, but some new stuff!

I picked up some great Mushishi yarn from Plymouth at the Garden District Needlework shop.  Picture will come soon, along with the pattern to go with the yarn.  It is going to be my side project for when lace knitting gets too frustrating.  Like now.

Frogged

I thought I was going to write about fixing mistakes, but instead I guess I get to write about undoing them first.  You see, the first step to fixing anything is to undo what’s wrong.  And you can do this in two ways.  The first way is TINKing (do you see the “knit” spelled backwards there?).  Tinking is tedious and time consuming, and you wouldn’t want to do more than a row or three of it.  But it is good for getting back to that row where you miscounted, and you already know exactly how to fix it.  You just Tink back to it and then pick up at the appropriate point.

Frogging, on the other hand, is the cataclysm of a knitting project.  Frogging gets its name from the action of ripping out row upon row of knitting.  Rip-it, Rip-it, Rip-it.  Last night, I frogged the entire scarf.

Knitting Armageddon

I was working this scarf with #2 needles.  And what I found is that everything was too tight.  I knit and crochet pretty tightly as is, and under stress I knit tighter, and tighter, and tighter, until the yarn squeaks on the needles.  Habitually I use one – two needle sizes above what’s called for in the pattern.  I guess you could say my yarn probably doesn’t like me very much, but at least the stitches come out even.  So as I was knitting last night and listening to a history lecture, I realized I really didn’t like the fabric this scarf was knitting up into.  If I don’t like it, I won’t work on it, and so I decided the only way to remedy the thing was to start over and consider this first attempt my take on swatching.  I tend to swatch.. eccentrically (we’ll just put it that way).  I have since started over using #5 Crystal Palace straight bamboo needles.  Not very long ones either, since you don’t need the length and it will just get in the way.

Stalled

It’s been busy here at the micro-farm, and my knitting has suffered for it.  Instead of kicking off my year of lace with a bang, we’ve started out with more of a whimper and splat.  But, three quarters of the way through the first month of the year I’m no closer to finishing my Simplicity scarf than I was three weeks ago.  This makes me sad, and so I realized I needed to make a very real concerted effort.  Between work and finishing my degree, the farm demands and the family demands my knitting has fallen to the wayside, and yet it is incredibly important to me.

So now knitting has a night of it’s own.  Every Wednesday night for an hour or two I will knit.  And then every Thursday I can post.  Next week will be on TINKing lace and lifelines.

I’ve been attempting to knit lace for the past couple of years.  Invariably I mess it up, and because I’m not good at fixing my own mistakes this leads to much frogging and gnashing of teeth.  So I decided to start this new year long project with the goal of learning from the ground up.  I chose the Simplicity Lace Scarf pattern by Cindy Guggemos to kick off my lace knitting extravaganza.  It’s available for $2.00 on Ravelry, and you receive it immediately as a .PDF file that you can save in your library.  Excellent if you, like me, have a tendancy to misplace patterns that you print out.

I’m using Malabrigio Sock  yarn in # 173 Stonechat and #2 32 inch circular lace needles by Addi.  Lace needles have a pointier tip than regular knitting needles which makes it MUCH easier to get into decreased stitches.  I have to confess, though, that I started this scarf sometime in 2010, and then just put it away when it wasn’t more than a few inches along.  I pulled it back out and started working on it at the end of December when I conceived the idea for this blog 🙂 The nice thing about this pattern is that you could definitely knit it on straight needles if you like.  Wood needles will provide a bit more grip, the aluminum Addi needles definitely get the wool to slide!

This is where I’m at right now.  This picture doesn’t do a great job of showing the lace pattern.  Next week’s will be against a different background so that you can see the pattern much better. 

Simplicity Lace Scarf

 

There are 8 rows of garter stitch along the bottom before the lace pattern starts.  The border is also knit along instead of added later, 4 stitches of garter stitch on either side of the pattern.  My goal is to maybe have this done by the end of January!  But the finished size is supposed to be 60 inches long befoe blocking.  I might be at 10 right now, and I’ll be doing really good to average 6 inches a week.  I’m really not sure.  I guess the project for the next post is to check my guage and do the math to figure out when I will be done.

It is 10 pm on New Year’s Eve.  Our micro-farm is quiet, the bunnies tucked in and fed and our resident watch-cat Raven snuggled on the couch beside me.  The boys are off to their first New Year’s Eve party and the house is quiet after a day of taking down Christmas decorations and wrapping up renovation work before the weekend. 

My resolutions for this year are fairly simple, and this blog is one of them.  I have decided to dedicate this year to lace knitting, specifically from the book Victorian Lace Today.  I’ve only been knitting about 6 years, so I am no expert.  I don’t have decades of experience behind me, but I do love knitting lace.  The delicacy of the finished fabric, the feel of light weight yarn running through my fingers, the steady rhythm of the needles and the pattern both.  All of these things are meditative to me, and I do my best to practice knitting mindfully – as a meditation.

 I have to be honest.  I’m chronicling this journey more for myself, though I am hopefully that after you stumble across this little bog you’ll come back to keep reading and perhaps even pick up your needles and knit along with me.