Sunday, October 26, 2008

I am knitting, look I'm casting off.

Ha ha, I bet you thought I'd stopped knitting. I'll admit, I was distracted by other things for a while. But the knitting has not stopped, oh no. Indeed, I have some finished objects to show you.

First, though, who would like to see a picture of newborn Elsie modelling her Baby Yoda Sweater? Here it is, courtesy of her dad, Stuart. What a little cutie, and the sweater fits perfectly, too. Miracles all round.

Now, here is for the real news, and it has a comedy element. You know the Grandiflora shawl that I entered for the Ravelympics, aaaaages ago, when I was showing off about being an athlete? Here's how it looked when you last saw it.

Well, I gave it my best shot. I knit very industriously on the shawl, and when I thought I'd knit nearly enough repeats (I estimated I'd need about nine), I measured it. It was close to the Ravelympics deadline, but with one big push over the weekend, I thought I'd have it done. Unfortunately, measuring it at that point, when I thought I was nearly finished, was the first time I'd actually thought to look at the finished measurements in the pattern. It is enormous. You are supposed to knit until it is 90" long. Ninety inches. That is seven and a half foot long. I was nowhere near completion, and I was despondent as I realised what a massive project I had taken on. It would need more like 14 pattern repeats, not nine. It would take days and days more work. I gave up and allowed myself to be pleasantly diverted by World of Warcraft for a few weeks.

Upon my return from warcrafting, I realised how near to Xmas it is getting, and I pondered the fact that my mother has been waiting for this shawl since April 2007. So I set to work to finish the bugger. I knit and knit, and yesterday this finally came off the needles. As one should expect with lace, it still looks like a crumpled old rag, except this time a lot larger.

Here's the funny part: because I've been working on this quite enthusiastically of late, and getting near actual completion, I've proudly showed it off to people. I showed it to Mom when she came to visit (just so she keeps the faith and knows it exists). I showed to Ann & Arianne, BF's mom & sister. I showed to BF. All were quietly horrified.

Ha ha ha ha! You guys are so cute, trying not to show how disturbed you are. Yes, I can see it looks like an old crumpled rag. I'm not blind. You're not supposed to wear it looking like that. It is pre-blocking. Sheesh. I will show you. Just as soon as I've sewed in all those ends.

In other late-birthday-present news, I've finally finished Clara's ribbed jacket and matching hat, and I am heartily sorry that I did not finish these in August, when they were due. They also need blocking, to flatten those bulky sleeve seams as much as anything. But they are off the needles and the ends are sewn in; here is the evidence.

As you can imagine, finishing that big shawl took quite an effort of will towards the end, so I needed to tempt myself with a new project. I have felt the urge to make Mason Dixon ballband cloths lately, so I took out a box of lovely Peaches & Creme cotton yarn and admired the delicious colours, but I did not cast on a single stitch.

As soon as the mighty shawl was cast off, I dived into the Peaches & Creme and cast on my very first ballband cloth on 3.5mm needles. I chose a vibrant 1970s orange/brown colourway. In no time (well actually, a good four hours later) I had a super example of the ballband genre and the next morning I couldn't wait to cast on a second cloth in yellow and blue.

Talk about easy and fun, I'm going to make a few of these.

A tip if you want to make some: a useful cloth needs to be sturdy, with less drape than most clothes. The Mason Dixon ballband pattern specifies a tight gauge that I dropped down to 3.5mm needles to achieve, even though that means the thick cotton is a bit tougher to knit. The orange/brown cloth, I knit on straight, steel needles and I'm not going to pretend it was easy on my hands. For the blue/yellow cloth, I've switched to my Harmony interchangeable needles which are very light wood on a light cable, and that is proving both faster and easier.

Watch this space for upcoming news of shawl blocking. I eventually knit to about 87" before I cast off but I wouldn't be surprised if it expands way past the specified dimensions. I don't know by how much. It will be interesting to see.


Anonymous said...

LOL. Nothing elicits a look of horror like the viewing of an unblocked shawl by a non-knitter.

Susan @ Damn, Knit & Blast It said...

Good to know you're back knitting and haven't been entirely consumed by WOW!

Love the peaches 'n' cream...