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Archive for October, 2014

A Conversation With A Sock

It watched as I stored my gently folded, recently completed shawl. It’s four double-pointed needles sticking out from the small ball of yarn like the top of a tee-pee. “You know you want to knit me,” the in-progress sock said. I was at that vulnerable stage: the end of one knitting project and looking for the next love affair. I took stock of the in-progress sock. It had about an inch (2.5) cm of knitting to go before the heel turn began.

“Heel turns are so magical, aren’t they,” the sock purred.

Yes. I get a deep sense of joy and satisfaction when a heel of a sock is precisely worked. The gentle fullness of the cup of a heel formed by smooth, neat stitches. No pulling, no holes. A continuous flow of knit stitches curving in gentle transition from the sole to the heel flap.

“You and I. We can do it,” the sock said.

And so I reached out and picked up the sock. I carried it to my knitting chair, caught up in the romance and beauty of a perfectly turned heel.

The inch of knitting leading up to the heel turn went smoothly and easily. The sock and I were cruising together. It was pleasurable and lovely. The dpns were in sync, the yarn flowed through my fingers like water.

Before moving on to the next step I stopped to enjoy my heel turn and that’s when the spell was broken. Four holes. I am completely anal retentive about this, but I can’t stand holes in socks. My entire sock knitting routine is built around producing no holes. To make matters worse, these four holes were not at the wrap and turn points of the heel shaping. They were where the increases occurred.

I had no choice but to rip back and figure out why the holes were appearing.

All in all, I ripped back and re-knit the heel turn of that sock four times until it met with my approval. We-Can-Do-It and You-Know-You-Want-To-Knit-Me has spent the last 24 hours in a time out. I hope it has used this time to think real hard about it’s behavior too, because tonight I want to knit the heel flap.

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Bind Off Loosely

The minute I read those words in a pattern I instinctively tense up. Am I going to work it loose enough? On the other hand, I don’t want it too loose. Should I use the regular two-needle bind off? A sewn bind off? Maybe I should be getting out my books on various bind offs and search through them for a bind off that might work. Do I really need to run upstairs and retrieve the books? Can’t I just bind off? Why am I making this so difficult?

Such was the relaxed state of mind I possessed going into the bind off for the shawl. After working out the few kinks in the pattern, the shawl was actually looking very good and I didn’t want a tight bind off to ruin it.

Scallop Edge Shawl 1 knit

I debated and stressed over sewn bind off or two needle bind off. It’s a routine torture I put myself through at the end of every knitting project. Finally I decided on the two needle bind off because the final row to be bound off had yarn overs in it and I felt a sewn bind off wouldn’t work.

Scallop Edge Shawl 2 knit

To get a loose, but not too loose, bind off I decided to go up one needle size. I looked for that size needle in every needle box I have: straight, circulars, even my double-pointed needle box. I have been knitting for years, yet I never have the needle size I need. How is that possible?

When I dumped out the needles on the floor, the pile was higher than my ankle, and nowhere in that stack was the size I needed. However, Yarn Rascal was besides himself with tail thumping joy when he saw the needles hit the floor. He made right for the pile and I quickly intercepted him. He spent the rest of my search on The Skipper’s lap. Oh, how that little dog wanted to help.

Scallop Edge Shawl 3 knit

I ended up doing the regular two needle bind off with the same size needles as I used for the body. I’m pretty happy with the overall results. It’s the Scallop-Edge Shawlette by Tempting Ewe.

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As a designer, not everything that is cast on ends up as a published pattern. Some designs will never see the lens of a camera. Most are finished, a few are at a half-way point. All have been abandoned for good reasons.

Sometimes what I envisioned doesn’t completely match what comes off the needles. I may have had to alter a stitch pattern or substitute a construction technique and the finished piece doesn’t elicit the same emotional response the imagined one did. As a designer what I most want to do is create an emotional response in the knitter.

As a knitter and sometime crocheter I want to fall in love with a design. I want the piece to make me stop cruising through the rest of the designs. I want to have the desire to click through to get more information about the project. But most designs I see elicit no emotional response in me. Yes, they may be well-designed and all, but emotionally they have no resonance. Instead I find myself looking through designs with the same dispassion as shopping for a head of lettuce. As long as the outer leaves aren’t already rotting, one head of lettuce is the same as the next.

Clever construction, a new technique are interesting, but they don’t make me feel excited about purchasing the pattern and collecting the yarn for it. I yearn for knitting and crochet that has emotional resonance.

While I’m yearning, I have enough work to do to keep me busy for a long while. Tech editing, photographing, and pulling into shape 4 patterns for the overseas company are on the front burner.

In updates: Yarn Rascal was in his glory with the small ball of merino yarn I gave him. He spent most of the day destroying playing with it. He even took it into bed with him and slept with it under his chin. I told The Skipper I think we should look into getting a merino sheep or two. The Skipper just looked at me.

I sent a PM to the shawl designer yesterday. I’ve heard nothing back. I have 4 more rows to complete and then I start the cast off for the shawl. I’m looking forward to it getting done.

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