Thursday, April 23, 2009

Icewine Finish

icewine mittens
Icewine Mittens by Aemmeleia, Patons Classic Wool.

They're finally done and I'm quite delighted with the results. I much prefer mittens to gloves, and these are at least as heavy as my normal plain mittens (made with doubled worsted or bulky weight yarn). The smaller needles make for a denser mitten, so I think these will be at least as warm and considerably more windproof than my usual. And they'll certainly look far more elegant.

There were a few bumps along the way. I'm a big fan of charts- I'm a visual learner and they're pretty straightforward exercises in pattern recognition. Nor am I any stranger to math. I use algebra, geometry and statistics as part of my daily life, both at work and at home. I'm not intimidated by calculus and I even passed differential equations in college. (We won't discuss painful subjects like 'by how much?'.) So what I'm trying to say here, is there is no reason at all why these mittens should have given me any trouble, even if they are my first heavily charted project.

Now, granted, I didn't exactly follow the pattern as written. I suspect that this style of mitten is designed to be worn a bit loose. Or else to be worn by someone with slender hands and narrow thumbs. I found that although the size was fine for the palm, I really needed a gusset to comfortably accomodate the base of my thumb.
back with thumb gusset

Now you're thinking, 'ahah, she messed with the pattern, no wonder it was difficult'- but truly, the thumb gusset wasn't the problem! Okay, sure, there was some inevitable ripping to go back and add in the gusset, but I was fairly pleased with how it fit into the pattern. And there was a bit more ripping on the second mitten to get the pattern around the second gusset to match the first. But I was prepared for that, and it didn't bug me.

No, the part that started to get a little wearing was on the second mitten, when I repeatedly messed up the charting on the back! And mostly it wasn't one stitch here and there, but starting a motif too early, starting a motif too late, ignoring it altogether until I reached the bit where the grapevine loops over to join the leaf...which I'd omitted to knit. Starting the tip decreases, failing to start the pattern change that lets the pattern lead gracefully into the tip decreases. And all of this on the *second* mitten. I can only conclude that on the first one, it was all still new so I was paying better attention. The pattern, I should say, is not in the least at fault here- it's beautifully written and very clear. No, all the credit belongs to me.

There was another minor modification too, that especially pleased me. Instead of drawing the last few stitches together at the tip, I looked for a way to graft it, a method I usually prefer. I wanted to preserve the little pattern that comes up the sides and across the tip. I thought it came out pretty well:
grafted mitten tip

What I did, was I decreased the front and back down to one stitch, and then knotted those two with the main color (the green). At that point I had three stitches on each side still left on the needs, and just kitchenered across the top and wove in the ends. I love it when a plan comes together!

Now onto the next project...a mystery to be sure, since even I don't know what I'm starting next!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Out With the Old

The great thing about doing small fast projects--is that you can do more small fast projects. Here's the crochet baby blanket, all washed and ready to go. It was fast and fun, and most importantly? The yarn is happy.
Baby Afghan Finis

It did come out slightly trapezoidal, something I partially (but not completely) corrected by blocking. Probably something to do with the way I did the ripples. I'll try some different ideas next time. By the time it was nearing completion, it was appealingly warm and toasty on my lap, enough that I was sorry to finish, so clearly a slight lack of rectangularity isn't going to interfere with its function.

In other news, the ranks of red socks have grown by two feet. Or at least a pair.
More Red Socks

I don't as a rule have trouble with Second Sock Syndrome, however by the end of sock number four, I confess I was starting to feel a wee bit of malaise. On the other hand, the red socks were my 'small easy traveling project', and mainly worked on at times when I couldn't have given it my full attention anyway, so it all worked out. And what's nice about these, is with four matching socks, losing one won't condemn the wearer to mismatchingness. (Okay, they're for a guy. To wear under boots. I can't help thinking about these things, it's the double X chromosomes.)

Coming up on our next exciting installment, the return of the Icewine Mittens.

Friday, April 3, 2009

One Step Forward

One of the very gratifying things about knitting is that a lot of mistakes are relatively easily fixable. Take these socks:
cabled socks

This is the first pair of socks I knit for my dad, last Christmas. And it turned out that they didn't fit. Not where you'd expect- they weren't too long or too short, too tight or too loose. No, the heels were too pointy. The rest of my family is rather unusual in that we have very nearly all the same size feet. And I've gotten used to slipping in a few extra stitches in tight patterns to add ease over the arch, and making the heel deeper. My dad, however, apparently has broad heels and low arches. When he tried the socks on, they stuck out at the back in like elfin-shoes. (At first I used the phrase 'round heels' when discussing it with my parents- my dad objected vigorously to this.)

So, for any future socks, I clearly need to turn the heel early, making the whole heel a bit shallower and wider. In the meantime- I needed to fix these socks. These were knit toe-up, using a short-row heel, so changing the profile of the heel was actually rather easy. We pinned the sock to mark the excess fabric, and then I snipped a strand of yarn at that point on the leg side of the heel. (In the middle of the row, on the second sock, after I realized on the first one that I needed some slack for weaving in loose ends.) Then I unraveled the row across, put it on a needle, and ripped the heel back through the turn until I reached the equivalent row (to the starting point) on the bottom of the heel. Neatly enough, I wound up with the same number of stitches on the sole side, picked those up on a second needle, and then just grafted the two sets of stitches together. Absent a few short bad words when I pulled the thread through in the wrong direction and made holes instead of seams, and weaving the ends- that was all there was to it.
grafting the heel of the sock

I can't say I'm overly fond of actually doing kitchener stitch, but it's a darned useful technique in a pinch. And way, way better than reknitting half of each sock!