The 30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 8

Day 8: What’s your most challenging project?

There are two kinds of people–those who play favorites, and those who don’t. By that I mean that some people are able to pick out their one favorite thing out of a category, like a favorite ice cream flavor or favorite book. I’ve never been able to narrow things down that much. My superlatives change depending on my mood, the context, what I ate for breakfast that day, you name it. The same idea goes for most anything. So, I am not going to be able to come up with a single answer for today’s question.

What I can say is there’s a reason I’m not exclusively a shawl knitter, or a sock knitter, or an insert-object-of-choice-here knitter, and that’s because I enjoy the challenges that variety brings. I like to be able to make new and different things, or to tackle a complex-looking pattern and chip away at it until it’s manageable (I’m talking to you, Clapotis), and to stretch my skills and expand my experience. With that in mind, my most challenging projects have been the ones that have pushed me to learn something new.

One pattern in particular spurred me to learn how to use dpns. Sometime in college, I made three* different tea cozies using the Kureyon Kozy pattern. Either I hadn’t used dpns prior to that, or I hadn’t used them much as there was definitely a learning curve involved. The pattern begins at the bottom, at the center of the base. You cast on a few stitches and increase as you knit outward, creating a circle. Then, you make a second circle, join them by knitting each stitch together (like a three needle bind off, except you don’t bind off), and then knit upward to form the sides. I must have started and restarted a million times before I got it, but get it I did! And then I was off. Along with the tea cozies, I made several hot pads by making the circles out of kitchen cotton and then binding them off together. In fact, we still have a stained and bedraggled one in use in our kitchen right now. If I were to make a hot pad or cozy now using the same pattern, it would be a breeze–but at the time it was a challenge and it upped my skills significantly.

Another project that challenged me in a new way was knitting my first River District Toque. The construction was different than I had done before–knit the brim flat, join the edges, then pick up stitches around the crown and decrease. That wasn’t hard to do, but I decided I wanted to learn how to graft in pattern to join the edges instead of seaming them. I poked around online until I found a tutorial that worked for me, got to work and ended up with a nearly invisible join. I blogged about it here. It was a really cool new skill to have and, as it turns out, has made regular grafting (Kitchener stitch) seem simple.

IMG_2066

My daughter wearing her River District Toque. Image copyright Callandra S. Cook.

The third project I’ll discuss wasn’t really all that challenging…or wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t kept making mistakes. In an effort to not rip back my Little Phryne for the third or fourth time, I instead dropped one section of it back by several rows then reknitted each partial row. I blogged about that process here. Beware, as the pics included are not for the knitter who is faint of heart! It was definitely a challenge! However, it was a worthwhile skill to learn. I’ve used it a couple of times on other projects already.

FullSizeRender 248

Little Phryne

Of course, while writing this post, I’ve thought of several other projects that would be worth mentioning. I guess that’s the great thing about knitting: the challenges and growth are there to be had whenever you want them, as well as the tried and true, comfortable, TV knitting. They both serve an important purpose for me and I wouldn’t willingly give up either. What about you? What are your most noteworthy knitting challenges?

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge is the creation of Meggiewes who blogs at Knitting in Wonderland.

*I know I made at least three, but there may have been more. Two were given away as gifts and one is somewhere around here. I’ll try to dig it out sometime and photograph it.

MDSW 2016

My plans to go to MDSW on Saturday got a smidge derailed. I overdid it a bit on Friday, had some serious pain issues, and ended up in bed all day Saturday. Thankfully, I was feeling better Sunday morning and my mom’s flight home didn’t leave until late afternoon. So, we loaded up the toddler and a bunch of snacks and headed off to the “Maryland Sheep and Wolf Vestibul”, as my daughter calls it*.

Lots of things went really, really well. We got there early. There were no lines, no crowds, no waits. I recently got a temporary disabled parking placard so we were able to park just a few feet from the gate. The crowds didn’t start to hit until 10 or 11, so there was plenty of time for the kidlet to run around and amuse herself without getting in anyone’s hair.

IMG_5855

She got about a million compliments on her dress, and I overheard approximately 15 billion whispered comments on how cute she was. I even saw someone snapping a picture of her. She picked dandelion and grass bouquets while my mom and I looked at beautiful yarn. Couldn’t have been much better.

I got to fondle so much lovely yarn. Highlights include the Neighborhood Fiber Co booth, Verdant Gryphon, Miss Babs, and many, many more. I met some of Orange Smoothie’s shawls “in person” at the Miss Babs booth! I touched qiviut for the first time at the Bijou Basin Ranch shop. We saw sheep, rabbits, sheep, alpaca, sheep, and more sheep. One of the shopkeepers brought a one day old baby lamb that had been rejected by her mother. I could have died from the cuteness!

IMG_5856

Squee!!!

I got some lovely free samples of wool wash from Kookaburra that I can’t wait to try out. We saw spinners spinning, sheep being sheared, and many many knitters wearing their lovely handknits. I was hoping to finish my Miller’s Daughter shawl but I didn’t even come close. I wore my Merinda instead (and got lots of lovely comments).

It was actually a little chilly as there was a decent wind. As it happens, the only sweater I had with me for the kidlet was also a handknit. She was really representing my work, and looking super cute while doing it!

IMG_5857

I didn’t realize until after we left that I didn’t take any pictures of the festival…just my kid! Whoops! I guess I’ll just have to go back next year!

*She was very concerned about the wolves initially. We had to have some discussion about that before she’d agree to go. Understandably, I think.

FO Spotlight: Little Phryne Test Knit

I finished this project a while ago, but didn’t finish finish it until today. Meaning, when I blocked it, it grew to gargantuan proportions and didn’t shrink back up with air drying. All that needed to be done was to re-wet it and throw it in the dryer but, with my current situation and stress level, that didn’t happen for a while.

In any case, here are the details!

The rundown

Pattern: Little Phryne by Taiga Hilliard aka cashmerejunkie

Yarn: 2 skeins (880 yds) Cascade Heritage Prints, a 75% wool/25% nylon sock weight yarn. Pattern calls for 800 yds for the size I made.

Size made: 4T-5T

Needles: US5s

Techniques used: Longtail cast on

Modifications: I made a few adjustments to the raglan increases so the eyelets and increases would be evenly spaced. I shortened the overall length by 4″. I ended up binding off early (partway through the seed stitch border at the bottom) because I ran out of yarn.

Difficulty: Easy. This would be a good intro to raglan increases.

Ravelled: here. You can read about how I did a cool repair job on it here.

The Pretty

My daughter was really excited about wearing it! She says it helps her twirl better. I’m glad that I modified the length as it would really be in the way if it were any longer.

Because of the yarn I chose, there are details in the pattern that don’t really show up. There’s an eyelet border around the bottom edge as well as seed stitch bands on the sleeves and at the top of the skirt. I probably would do it the same if I made it in self striping yarn again, though. I think it would look nice in almost any colorway, solid or semisolid. It would also work well as a color block piece if you wanted to use up some different yarns.

Even though it was 880 yds on US5s, the majority of the dress is stockinette stitch in the round. So, with my Addi rockets, it went remarkably fast. I wouldn’t be surprised if I made another one. It’s a simple enough knit, but it looks really lovely. I got a ton of compliments on it while I was working on it at my LYS.

She’s pretty much in constant motion. It makes getting modelled pics challenging, but you get the idea. On the whole, I’m very happy with how this one turned out. If I make it again I will likely incorporate all the same modifications. I wouldn’t mind using a similar yarn for it, either. I like how the stripes turned out!

Happy knitting!

Cooler Than Sliced Bread: A Knitting Trick

How did I not post about this when it happened??? All I can think is that I planned to include it on the piece in question’s FO Spotlight post. However, I hit a major stumbling block during the, ahem, blocking, and I never did a spotlight post. There’s no telling when that might happen, so I might as well go ahead and toot my own horn now.

As an aside, I’m what you might call “anxious” at the moment. I was supposed to hear something about the job on the table today, but didn’t. I was also hoping to work on repairing my dropped stitches but had stuff to do all day and couldn’t. So here I am, facing another evening without a knitting project to dig into. Last night I knit a few rows on my Feathery Lace Stole to tide me over, but I really need decent light for that, too.

I digress. A couple of months ago I made a Little Phryne dress for my daughter…out of sock yarn. It’s awesome, but it kind of took me forever. It took a bit to get started and on track. It’s a test knit and there were some numbers and whatnot that needed reworked. I started and frogged a couple of times for various reasons. Well, the third or fourth time I got going on it, I noticed a mistake several rows back. There was no way I was frogging it again, but the mistake was too complicated to fix by just dropping one stitch column down and working it back up. The dress is top down with eyelet raglan increases, and one of the increase sections just didn’t line up.

FullSizeRender 205

Here’s what it’s supposed to look like

FullSizeRender 207

And here’s the wonky one

See how the center spine in the second pic takes a little jog to the right? After the second round of eyelets? And how the eyelets don’t make a nice V shape? Yeah. I don’t know how I made it approximately 14 rows without seeing that, either.

But, hold on a moment here. This is sock yarn. Self-striping sock yarn. I could have added a few random cables and you’d never be able to find them. It’s a little like stripy magic eye. Who would ever notice? Well, what is once seen (by a knitter) can never be unseen and I set about finding a way to fix it. In my last post, I linked to a similar-ish repair job the Yarn Harlot blogged about. If you search back in her archives (sounds a little racy, doesn’t it?) she has another post somewhere about the same kinda deal. I had read both recently and decided to give it a try. So, first I did this:

IMG_5296

Please forgive both the poor lighting and the toddler potty in the background

And then (brace yourself) I did this:

FullSizeRender 204

Aaaaaaghhhh!

I did a couple of things differently than the venerable Harlot. First, I did not label the loops of yarn as I unravelled them. That allowed me to peer painstakingly at each one to figure out which to work next. Second, I didn’t finish it in fifteen minutes of lighthearted knitting. It took me about a half hour of anus-pinchingly detailed work (sorry, Mom) to knit each row back up.

In case you don’t feel like trekking over to the Harlot’s blog (you really should, but I’m not judging. Much.) the idea here is to reknit each row using the unravelled loop. Since it’s attached to live knitting at both ends, that gets a little tricky. I used smaller needles to do this but it still ran pretty tight at the end of each row. If you attempt this, I’d recommend having a couple of small crochet hooks handy and maybe a tasty intoxicating beverage for when you’re done (really…wait until you’re done).

I didn’t take any pics as I was working on it because, honestly, if I’d stopped I might never have started back up again. Also, I wasn’t really thinking about pictures so much as about getting all those blasted stitches where I wanted them, for crying out loud. However, when I was done, I ended up with this:

FullSizeRender 206

The tension is weird and there’s a visible ladder on the left edge of the reknitted panel, but the center spine is straight! The tension issues were easily remedied by a few tugs and pulls to get it all evened out. Now, I couldn’t even tell you which increase line was repaired. Success!

FullSizeRender 211

Can’t see the line, can you Russ?

So there it is. Not the easiest thing I ever did, but it beat the alternative. I added a nifty little tool to my knitting arsenal and saved a WIP from its final frogging. I finished knitting the rest of the dress, then proceeded to block it. Unfortunately, disaster struck again! As soon as it hit the water it went from being about a size 4 to somewhere around a size 10. I’ve gotten pretty good about doing decent gauge swatches, but I never bother to wash them. Whoops! And so I never got around to figuring out how to shrink it back down. I plan to dampen it a bit and then throw it in the dryer (it’s made of Cascade Heritage Prints, a sock yarn, so should fare fine) but haven’t gotten around to it.

It’s really stinkin’ cute. I should just do it.

Happy knitting!