On Frogging and Moving Forward

As a knitter I spend far too much time trying to match up the right yarn with the right pattern.  After investing so much time in picking the yarn, picking the pattern and then knitting it is tough to admit you made the wrong choice. I had been working on my Stardust Mitts for months, starting way back in November I had picked out the Ailbe Pattern from the Winter 2009 Knitty (which is the same issue my Winter Moustache Cowl had come from).  I love this pattern, the delicate cabling, the use of sock yarn, it seemed just perfect.  I chose to use the absolutely stunning Handmaiden Bess in Stardust for the project.  I swatched, and I counted, and I cast on with size 1 (2.25mm) needles, ready to go.

Then things got challenging.  The tiny needles, combined with the frequent cabling made this project feel more and more like a dead weight around my neck.  I dropped them for a while over Christmas, more enamored by my spinning wheel and a lace project to be bothered by these mittens. Finally, as part of my New Years Plans I decided to take them back up.  After almost two more weeks of fighting and knitting I made it past the thumb gusset only to discover that it was too big!  All that swatching it was too big.

So I spent two or three days deciding what I wanted to do, do I tear back to the cuff (which fit great and rejigger the number of stitches to make a smaller palm, or do I forge on and convince myself that they aren't too big or do I frog them completely and find a new project for the yarn and remake the mitts in the summer with Mal Sock (as the pattern calls for) in the correct size.

In the end I decided to frog.

For those of you who are not fully intergrated in to the ridiculous lingo of knitting, frogging is to tear back a section of knitting. Or rather to ripit, ribbit, out.  I generally don't frog, I rarely use lifelines, and I am terrible at finding all my stitches, I am much more likely to tink (knit spelled backwards) which is to un-knit each stitch until I am back where the error was made.  I can correct the error and move forward again.  Tinking is best if you only have a little ways to go, but if you are like me and don't use lifelines (I never remember to put the damn things in) it is the "easiest" way to fix a mistake. I am so adept at tinking at this point I can tink almost as fast as I can knit (well not really, but I am a great tinker).

So, with the decision made to frog, I decided rather than ending up with my usual tangeled mess, I would use my niddy-noddy and re-skein the ball and then frog directly on to the niddy-noddy. This system managed to get the mitten frogged and the yarn skeined the easiest yet.

So fare the well my stardust mitts, you were beautiful, but with your superwash merino and your 12% cashmere content you were never never truly destined for my hands, you need to be around my neck.  And to that end I have found you a new pattern, a Twisted Rib Neckwarmer (Ravelry Link).

I know things get better after frogging.  I had some gorgeous Malabrigo Lace in Vermillion, I wanted to make it into the fantastic Butternut Scarf by Anne Hanson. I adore Anne's patterns and I am avid reader of her blog, Knitspot, however the pattern and the yarn never "clicked" for me.  After nearly six months of agony, I decided to fully frog the pattern and start over, it felt great!

So I got to change my Cherrywood Scarf into my Grannie-bel Shawl, the Ishbel Shawl designed by Ysolda Teague, who also has a fantastic blog.

I gave it to my grandmother for Christmas. It was so nice to see something I had caused me so much angst (ie. the Cherrywood Scarf) could be remade into something so nice.

I can only hope that my Stardust Mittens will be as happy in their second life as the Cherrywood Scarf is in its.

Labor Day Weekend Update

So, with the cool weather and crazy rains yesterday made it feel like crafting weather.  So here is a little check in on some of my projects. 1. The Cherrywood Scarf (Jan 12, 2010 - July 24, 2010) has been reborn, as the Grannie-bel Shawl.

My initial plan was to have this done for my Grannie's 86th birthday on September 2nd.  However, after making a mistake at the start of Chart B I scraped that and decided to make it her Christmas present.  It is an Ishbel Shawl, designed by Ysolda Teague. This is my first time doing a Ysolda pattern and I am quite enjoying it.  Malabrigo Baby Merino Lace is always a treat to work with, although having been reclamed from a project on 2.75mm needles and having had to back-knit a few spots has left it with a really attractive halo.  That gentle halo, and the beautiful stitch definition I was able to get on the stockinette section has made this yarn the perfect choice for pattern.

2. Speaking of Christmas presents, I have quite  a few of those between me and December 25th.  I have the intention of knitting gifts for my grandparents (of which I only have two).  For my Grannie, I have the Grannie-bel Shawl, and I am thinking about finishing my Shifting Silt Scarf for my Grampa.

I had planned on making this for myself, but since I started it back in April I have discovered shawlettes, shawls, cowls and wimples as viable alternatives for my winter wear.  So I want it to find a good home and I think the Knit Picks Gloss DK (70% Merino and 30% Silk) is just perfect for a winter in Parry Sound.

I still have a ways to go on the scarf. I have yet to finish my third ball, so at least another 123 yds to go.

In addition to my grandparents, I agreed to my Aunt's request that I make hats for four of my boy cousins. My plan is to design a new top-down ribbed boy hat in a sport weight yarn.  The new colors in the Knit Picks Andean Treasure were just perfect for my guys, they are getting hats in Reindeer Heather (Brown), Sapphire Heather (Blue), Mystery Heather (Black) and Embers Heather (Red).

On top of that there is a wimple/cowl for my mother that I am making out of the local handspun I picked up in July, a pair of Bella's Mittens in Knit Picks Swish Bulky for another cousin (I have 14 cousins in total) and in Malabrigo Chunky for my sister. My first pair of Bella's mitts in the Mal Chunky turned out so small they only fit another cousin (seriously) with very, very small hands.

The boy cousin hats and the Swish Bellas are "contract" work, while the others are genuine gifts.

3. So, while I am trying to avoid my "work" I have a new distraction.  I present to you ...

my Turkish Spindle!

I am making terrible singles right now. I got this Turkish Spindle and some rovings back in July from Knit Picks and I found that I prefer a top-whorl spindle, and that the KP spindle does not have very good balance. For that reason I have ordered a new top whorl from an artist in Israel, Galia's Spindledesign.  This is my new spindle, that is somewhere between there and here.

Now, to enjoy this new spindle I happened to pick up some 100% Merino top from a local fibre mill I discovered this weekend.

They were done with Wilton dyes, and the middle one, possibly my favorite, was made with only black dye.  It reminds me of my 4th grade science fair project, which took a top prize, called "Is Black Ink Really Black?" which used capillary action to show the components of black ink. However, it is really nice fiber I am looking forward to spinning on my new spindle.

The Gateway Fibreworks in Gravenhurst, Ontario is totally awesome. They mostly work with Alpaca, but also have all sorts of books, finished items, beads, quilting supplies and  felting supplies.  Their green building is all kinds of awesome.  If you find yourself in Muskoka please do yourself the favor of stopping in.

4. I have finished a few objects in the past week.  One is my Meret.

The Meret, turned out a little smaller and toque-ier than I had planned. However, I need to remember that I may actually have to swatch on occasion (oh the horror!) and I should probably default to one needle size larger than everyone else. The model in this photo is my nameless bear, he is a product of a failed relationship, I love the darn thing so much I couldn't get rid of him, rename him or use his original name.

The other, which I am really proud of, is my Baby Mason Set. My bosses, who are married to each other, are expecting a baby in early October.  Being the kindhearted person I am I decided that as a way to stash bust some Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Grass by making a baby cardigan and booties.

As I have no small humans to use as a model, my teddy bear Brownbear is doing his best to show off Our First Sweater and Our First Socks. Brownbear has been mine since my first Christmas, and has been on nearly all of my adventures, and even a few of his own.  If you ever catch him a few drinks in, he might tell you about the time he took the bus alone from Sudbury to Toronto and then back to Parry Sound. I would be lost with out him.

The names of these objects are deliberate as they are my first sweater and socks/booties. They are still missing some buttons and ribbon, but the Parry Sound Sewing Centre upholds the old tradition of being closed on Sundays.  This, and the fact that it is Labor Day Weekend, means I will not be totally done with this project until Tuesday.

However, these were fun, quick knits.  I expect to have more babies appear in my life (but not from my body) in the next couple of years I am trying out patterns to figure out my default baby gift.

So, I have had a busy week and I am currently trying to reskein some of my stash that has been caked for too long.  I find winding onto a niddy-noddy to be very soothing activity. So I have more than a few projects ahead of me, but it sure a good feeling to have a few behind me!

RIP Cherrywood Scarf

After much debating, and many, many, many attempts I frogged my Cherrywood Scarf tonight. I agonized over this decision, but I decided that for me knitting is about the enjoyment of the activity not about the fortitude to continue on with a project I don't enjoy working on.

So in honor of the Cherrywood Scarf, I give you its last picture ...

For every death there is new life ... I just cast on Springtime Haruni.  I am really enjoying making shawls and using Knit Picks lace yarns.  They are not as scrumptious as my Malabrigos and my soon to be arriving Handmaiden Sea Silk.  These projects are practice for my future Dancing Crane Stole made of Elann Silken Kydd.