Thursday, January 3, 2013

Welcome to the frog pond... are you hungry?

Discovered this in my inbox this morning and thought it made a certain amount of sense, so I'll share it with you too.  It is a little video (under two minutes) that really made me think about what my own "frogs" are.

So here's my first live frog... a frogging project!  I've decided to "frog" the cabled sweater so it will stop bothering me.  In case you aren't a knitter, "frogging" is where you discover a mistake a few rows back, and "rip-it, rip-it, rip-it" back so it can be re-knit.  Hopefully correctly on the second try.  Some projects take many trips to the frog pond.  I had a sweater that I had completely finished knitting the pieces and frogged it all the way back because I didn't like the fit.  I blogged about that here, just scroll down the page until you see the red-violet sweater.

See how the ribs mis-match the cables... bummer!
So here is the shot of the mistake side of the sweater... I showed you the good side last post.  See how the cables don't line up with the ribbing.  That was making me unhappy, because that is one of the things I really liked about the pattern.  Since I hadn't done cables in a while, I followed the pattern precisely rather than making sure it made sense on the reality of the needles.  When I converted the pattern to knitting in the round the stitch count didn't line up to the pattern anymore - probably because of the stitches not being lost into seamlines of the finished sweater.  In any event, I'll reknit this in the round and watch more carefully to be certain that the ribs line up with the cables.

This is the part that always makes me go "hmmmmm....." because as satisfying as it is to watch a mistake disappear, there is the niggling consternation over how long it takes to knit this amount of yarn versus how quickly it can be made back into just balls of yarn again.  In any event, it is finished now and I can consider how to start again to make the ribbing line up.

Back to being balls of yarn, needles and a pile of markers.
Part of the reason for the error is that I hadn't done cables in such a long time that I didn't really watch where the stitches of the cable were coming up on the pattern over the ribs.  I was too busy counting stitches!  It is going to be a matter of lining up the knit stitches of the cable pattern over the knit stitches of the ribbing.  Sounds easy enough, but there are several charts working at the same time - six different charts in each row.  I've made myself a "cheat sheet" of sorts where I've made photocopies of the charts, which are different sizes, and I keep a colored pencil with me so that I can mark off the rows as I finish them.  Ponderous, I know, but it is a way to keep track that works for me.  There are chart keeping systems out there that use magnets to line up on the papers, but I don't have one of them.  Since I keep my pattern on a clipboard that goes in and out of a project bag, I'm not sure the magnets would stay in place.

Brindle Shetland roving and bobbin of singles in process.
The next thing I've been working on is the Shetland roving I started on the last post.  I've got over half of it finished now.  2.6 ounces of the 4 ounces I started with are now spun into singles.  This is such luscious wool - I'm loving the way it spins up, fine and soft and very different from the commercial Shetland yarn I've encountered in yarn shops.  I spent some time with my Mom today and since she remembers the days when Shetland sweaters were all the rage, I asked her about them.  Wondering if maybe the wool was better back then, like the hand processed roving I'm using now.  She said it was dreadfully scratchy to wear those sweaters, and she had to be sure to wear some kind of firmly woven shirt underneath those stylish sweaters!  What young women go through to be fashionable.... seems that it never changes. 

I take a certain comfort in knowing that as a spinner, I really can do a lot to make my yarn be exactly what I want it to be.  Granted, there are some wools that really are never going to be "next to the skin" soft.  There are many others that can either be blended with other kinds of fiber, or handled more gently in processing that will come very close to being that soft.  Soapbox I'm hauling out now: the medium wools may not be as soft as the finewools, but they are lots more pleasant to spin, more durable, and by buying raw fleeces or roving from local shepherds I get to support small, local farms.  That is so important to me... having had a farm of my own for ten years.  The driving force behind this rare breed spin-a-long is to encourage spinners to at least try some fiber that is new to them.  I can use myself as an example of how surprising the project can be.  I would cheerfully buy more of this kind of roving from this farm.  Shetland sheep have a claim to fame in their colored wool - there are eleven "official" colors and many patterns of markings on these tiny sheep.
The worn heel of my favorite slippers.
Garter stitch patches, about 4 inches square.
Next thing I've been working on is some mending.  I'd prefer to mend than to remake things as much as possible... use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without is something of a mantra for me.  Not a popular idea in current culture, but one that I strive to live.  This particular mending project is a pair of slippers that I knit and felted about a year ago.  I've loved them nearly to death, and now they need patching.  These slippers are from a felting book that I just love.  There are many projects that I want to try, but I've done these twice.  When I do mending, I try to catch spots that are wearing thin before they become holes - which are much harder to fix!  I decided since the rest of the soles of the slippers are in pretty good shape, I'd just patch the heels.  My thinking was that since the stockinette wore out faster on the heels, I'd do the patch in garter stitch to get more yarn into the same amount of space.  I knit up a couple of squares of garter stitch, casting on 20 stitches on size 8 needles and working until the pieces were square.  The next step is to felt the squares.  I'll put them into a "delicates" bag and throw them into a heavy duty wash with low water level and plenty of soap - with a couple pairs of old jeans for company - and beat the fuzz out of them until they become good, firm felt.  Having done some of this kind of felting before, I'm pretty sure they won't be square at the end of the process, but since it will be felted, I could cut them to a specific size if I wanted. 

My favorite, although well worn, slippers.
Here is my project page from Ravelry on these slippers.  And here is a shot of what they look like today.  The soles are in pretty good shape, but the superwash sock yarn tops are still like new.  Superwash wool is amazing stuff!  This is done in Wildfoote from Brown Sheep yarn company.  Still available, but I don't know if this colorway is still part of their line up.  I bought this yarn years ago, and did a stash dive to make these slippers over a year ago.  I've been so impressed by the durability of these slippers and I've made another pair since then so I can always have a pair to wear - they take a couple days to dry after being washed - felt is pretty dense stuff!  The felt does relax a bit with wear, so washing and doing a little massage job on the worn parts tightens the felt a bit, but these are to the point that the felt doesn't have the ability to tighten up enough anymore.

My condo is on a slab foundation, and the thickness of these slipper soles keeps the chill off my feet very well indeed.  I'm off to make felt patches....

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