half-assed knit blog
half-assed knit blog
half-assed knit blog

FO: Onerva

It’s about time we had some hot hot FO action up in here.

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This is a tale of a project that was destined to go horribly wrong.

I had never knit a shawl before.

Clearly, the perfect pattern to start with was a pattern written in Finnish, with only a few key words translated. A pattern that was obscure enough to be picked for an Obscuriosity KAL, meaning there were very few notes from people who had already made it.

Clearly, the perfect yarn to use was a skein that appeared to contain 78 grams of yarn from one dyelot, and 22 grams of yarn from a different one. Given that I had never tried to properly alternate yarns before, much less tried it in lacework.

So, it wasn’t surprising that the project turned out to be possibly my favourite FO ever.

… wait, what?

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Pattern: Onerva
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock in Persia, 1 skein
Needles: US 4

Yeah, I’m not really sure how this one worked out, but now all I want to make, ever, is MOAR TRIANGULAR SHAWLS. I was worried that I would never wear it. This turned out to be a valid concern, except for the fact that I’ve been wearing it constantly. The way that it’s worn in the pic is my preferred method – point draped in front, ends brought around back, crossed, brought back to front and either tied under the point or left hanging, depending on how much time I want to spend yelling in my head, “WTF THE SHAWL IS FALLING OFF AGAIN?!” Which is to say, it looks better with ends hanging and doesn’t strangle me, but tying it is more practical.

Now let’s move on to today’s lesson: How Not To Fuck Up A Project Even Though Fucking Up Is A Near Certainty.

Problem: The pattern is in Finnish, the chart is confusing, and you have no idea what you’re doing.
Solution: Join a KAL with people who are less lazy than you.

The Obscuriosity KAL was extremely helpful, even though it was only a handful of people. Someone roughly translated the pattern, via internets and common sense. Other people reworked the charts to be clearer and shared their recharts. Once I got past the hump of “OMG WTF I don’t know what I’m doing halp”, the project was actually quite easy. The lace pattern was intuitive and could be memorized a little ways in.

Problem: Your skein of yarn contains two different dyelots because the universe hates you.
Solution: Magical made-up skein-alternating method! Also, kick the universe in the nards.

I am going to say OMG WTF again, because, OMG WTF. I wound the ball and found a break. Said, aw crap, now I have to work in a join somewhere. Went on my merry way. And then came the horrible realization. THESE TWO BALLS (heh heh heh two balls) WERE DIFFERENT COLOURS. The difference was subtle; I tried to photograph it but couldn’t get it to show up in a picture and was beginning to wonder if I was delusional. But I was not, at least not about this particular issue.

So I toddled over to Ravelry and searched for info on alternating skeins, and completely failed to find it. Oh, sure, there was plenty of “how to carry yarn up the side”. But there was nothing about “how to carry yarn up the side when switching skeins at the edge ruins the bump of your garter stitch border, but doubling the yarn and switching a few stitches in is too noticeable, and also did I mention that I’ve only got a two-stitch border to make this yarn switch and since I’ve got one small ball and one big ball (heh heh heh lopsided balls) I’m only doing the yarn-switching for a small section of the shawl, so the yarn-switching edge needs to match the regular edge”.

So I made up a method. Well, I’m sure someone smarter than me came up with it a long time ago, but my search-fu failed to find it so I had to invent it. Here’s how it works. (This assumes a garter stitch border.)

Work along the WS with Yarn 1, approaching the switching edge. Turn work.
Drop Yarn 1, pick up Yarn 2. Knit one stitch.
Pick up Yarn 1 along with Yarn 2, and twist them together, one twist.
Drop Yarn 1 again, which will now be causing a strange loopy mess, and knit a second stitch with Yarn 2.
Give Yarn 1 a yank to remove any loopiness, continue knitting with Yarn 2.
Work along the RS, turn, work along the WS, then do the whole mess over again, only with Yarn 1 and Yarn 2 switched.

This will keep the garter stitch edge bump, because you’re still “turning” Yarn 1 by “attaching” it to Yarn 2, so it’s as if you knit them both doubled but without the drawback of giant fat stitches. It’s invisible from the RS and not even terribly noticeable from the WS.

Problem: Your FO looks like a sad little scrunchy curling mess of random stitches.
Solution: Block it.

This is a problem with every lace project, ever, and you’re all already aware of the solution, but I felt it’s worth reiterating…

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(After)
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Blocking is magic, people. I know you don’t want to do it, but DO IT.

(Why yes, I AM going to spam that picture until the end of time.)

Problem: No triangular shawls.
Solution: MOAR TRIANGULAR SHAWLS.

Seriously. Go make a triangular shawl. Make this one! Or make a different one! I don’t care. Just make one. One skein of sock yarn makes a little one. Yes, this IS an excuse for you to buy that skein of expensive shiny hand dyed fairyfart yarn. Are you buying it? Why not? How about now? Yes, I know the economy is bad, but you need a triangular shawl. Stop arguing with me. If you’re not knitting a triangular shawl right now, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.

… that is all.



FO: Nom Nom Nom Cowl

We are sad to report that your always reliable blogger has been felled by a terrible misfortune.

Yes, that’s right, it’s as you’ve feared, HER HEAD HAS BEEN DEVOURED BY A COWL.

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… yeah, okay, I’m full of shit, as always. But the good news is, I actually finished something. According to this blog, the last time I finished something was January of 2008. That can’t possibly be right, but I’m not going to try to dig up the date of the last time I really finished something, and then have it turn out to be February of 2008. There are some things that I’d rather not know.

Pattern: Nom Nom Nom Cowl
Yarn: Diamond Luxury Collection Mulberry & Merino in some colour that I’m too lazy to look up but it’s the only pinky corally colour it comes in, 2 skeins
Needles: US 7

So. I had this yarn, right? This merino/silk yumminess that I picked up at Romni’s boxing day sale and tried to enable the ladies in line next to me into buying some too. I think it almost worked. I was originally going to call the pattern “Enabler’s Cowl” for that reason, but once “Nom Nom Nom” got into my head it wouldn’t leave. Not unlike a brain parasite. But. I got the yarn, I knew it had to be a cowl, I scoured cowl patterns on Ravelry and nothing was right.

It couldn’t be too complex, because the yarn was single ply and fuzzy and would eat any fiddly lace or cable patterns.

It couldn’t be too simple, because that would be the sort of pattern I should save for variegated yarn, even though I swore that I won’t buy variegated yarn anymore, because it always looks like gorgeousness in the skein and then clown vomit when it’s knitted up and then you’re all, OH GOD WHY DID I BUY THIS NEVER AGAIN, and then three days later you see something else that looks like gorgeousness in the skein, and surely bright red and pea green and squirrel poop brown will look lovely when knitted together WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG.

So I found a nice simple cable pattern (from here), and painstakingly charted out a way to make the cowl increase in size from top to bottom without interrupting the cable pattern and OBVIOUSLY YOU KNOW HOW THIS ENDED because there ain’t no cables in the pictured cowl, but I’ll tell you anyway: I started knitting it and it looked like ass.

Shocking, right?

I went back to the usual obsessive Ravelry searching which of course was useless because I did it already, but then I stumbled on a knitted top that was just plain old garter with some vertical ridges. And it was knit up in some sort of shiny yarn that was not unlike my shiny yarn and what the hell, why not.

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It’s mind numbingly boring.

It’s simple enough that a blind drunken monkey could replicate it.

And it’s exactly what I wanted out of this yarn.

So the moral of this story is that trying is the first step to failure. And that taking the easy way out is the path to success. I’m sure this lesson will serve you well in your everyday endeavours. And for the benefit of anyone who does not have a blind drunken monkey on hand to replicate the pattern, I’ve even written it up. Now you don’t have to try at all!

P.S. I’d apologize for having neglected my blog for so long, and for the coming influx of long-finished FO posts that will probably pop up over the next little while, but my head was devoured by a cowl, people! It’s all very traumatic.

P.P.S. I’d be a bad KAL-whore if I failed to mention this: the next round of Obscuriosity is starting soon. Nominations are open for two more days, and voting for another week after that. You know you want to come pet the pretty obscure patterns…



Happy Venereal Disease!

(Oh come on, I can’t be the only one whose mind automatically goes there whenever someone writes “Happy VD!”)

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Valentines Day is completely off my radar, usually. It doesn’t make me happy and it doesn’t make me bitter either. In fact, its only real significance is that it’s the day before my very favourite holiday ever: Half-Price Chocolate Day.

But, well, there’s all these Valentines-related knitting projects on Ravelry and elsewhere and I got to thinking. When I’d been planning the Secret Nerd Scarf, I thought it would have been a good idea to get it out before Valentines Day (which obviously did not happen), because- well, I’m getting ahead of myself here. I’d better first explain exactly what it was.

I’m a huge puzzle nerd. One of the things that you quickly learn from puzzle-nerdity is that there are a whole bunch of ways to represent the alphabet. One of these ways is with binary numbers. I won’t get into a big explanation here of how different base systems work (I figure those who care will look it up themselves), but binary uses two digits, 0 and 1, to represent numbers, and 5 binary digits can represent numbers up to 32. Which means, 5 binary digits can represent the alphabet. (And yes, there are other ways to represent the alphabet in binary, but this is the simplest one.)

So, let’s say, the letter M… that’s the 13th letter in the alphabet, and the number 13 represented with 5 binary digits is 01101. And if you wanted to write a whole sentence in binary you’d keep doing the same thing for each letter.

Now, encoding something like “01101” into knitting is way easy and can be done in tons of different ways – with knits for 1s and purls for 0s, for example. When I first had the idea of a secret-binary-message knitting project I was going to do it with colourwork. But, bleh. And then I had the idea of doing it with cables, which would be more versatile and look better and be easy to knit and yay! And then I spotted that binary cable hat that did it first. Yeah, yeah, we know this already. But that’s what the Nerd Scarf was. And I scrapped it. OR DID I?

Yeah, so I changed my mind. The Valentines Day thing, see? How cute would it be to knit “I love you” or something equally sappy into a scarf, but in a completely non-obvious way that would be known only to you and perhaps the scarf’s recipient? Totally cute. I could call it “Secret Admirer”. But I couldn’t do it. First, there was the similar-hat issue. And second, well, there was no time to get it out before Valentines Day. And there was no time to get it out on Valentines Day either. But…

Well, first things first. Why was I so hung up on the hat? It wasn’t the first binary-related knitting pattern and it wouldn’t be the last. Hell, off the top of my head, there’s this other binary hat, and the binary scarf from Knitty (both of which I think are awesome, by the way. Me = neeeeerrrrrd). And I don’t think any of those copied each other, or that the binary cable hat person copied either of them. So what would it matter if I put out a similar scarf? Well, I think the issue was the implementation – it would have just been too similar. From my quick glance at the hat pattern, it looked like it used very simple cables, with a twist representing a 1 and a lack of twist representing a 0, and that was exactly the way I was going to do it, so even though the hat had nothing to do with encoding a message, it would still look very similar.

And then I thought, wait, why did I choose that specific implementation anyway? Well, because it was the easiest way to do it. That’s it. I was being a lazy-ass, basically, just like I always am. But it really wasn’t the best way to go. Because I was trying for something that, at first glance, would look like a regular old scarf, with no hint that it was concealing a message. And the twist/no-twist 1/0 encoding, while reasonably aesthetically pleasing, would clearly look like a deliberate pattern of some sort. It would be obvious that something was up.

There had to be a way to do it such that the message would be hidden, but still visible to those specifically trying to read it. I stared at cable patterns for a while, when something occurred to me. Something that should have been very, very obvious.

When you knit two cable twists with some stockinette in between them, it looks kind of like a circle or oval.

When you knit two cable twists with one or more extra cable twists in between them, it looks kind of like a vertical column.

There it was, clear as day – a way to visually represent the actual numbers 0 and 1 with cables. If done very carefully, it would look just like any old cable pattern to a casual observer, but be incredibly obvious to someone who knew they were looking for rows of binary numbers. And if done in a smallish size, different letters could be encoded by changing just one line in each cable repeat, the one with the extra twist that differentiates a circle from a column, so it wouldn’t be complicated to knit at all.

So I posted the cable pattern at the beginning of this entry. Did you see it then? Can you see it now?

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Or, to be completely obvious about it:

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I LOVE THIS. Can I say that? Hat be damned, I had to do something with this – and in fact, I’d now wandered so far from my original implementation that there was now no visual similarity to the hat. And that’s good enough for me. I’m okay with there being multiple binary cable patterns out there, I just didn’t want to put out anything that was so similar that people would think I’d copied it when that was damn well not the case. Whew. Okay.

The other problem. Time.

Did I mention that I thought of this idea on the afternoon of February 13th?

I could not possibly knit a scarf in a day. But… but… I could knit a swatch in a day. And obviously that’s exactly what I did. I’d normally be wary of posting a pattern that I haven’t knit, but in this case, the swatch-version was just fine. I used the same beginning, end, and edging for the swatch as for the scarf, so the only difference is that it’s 3 letters long instead of lots of letters long.

(The three letters? “LUV.” Yeah, laaaaame.)

So I spent yesterday evening writing up bits of the pattern, digging in the yarn bin for some cable-appropriate yarn and finding half a ball of Patons Classic Merino, speed-knitting the giant swatch, and just barely having enough time to squeeze in 3 letters’ worth of secret-message. Splashed some water on it and pinned it out to block overnight. Snapped a picture today and finished the pattern write-up. Ahhh! So apprehensive. From conception to published pattern in less than 24 hours? Is this a good idea?

I’m reminding myself that Bamboozled was a very quickly-thrown-together pattern (although not in a freaking day), and according to Ravelry it’s the most well-liked and highly-rated of all my patterns. And people seemed to get a kick out of my goat cable, which was designed in an evening. Maybe it’s better that I speed-design than angst incessantly and draw it out forever. Maaaaaybe.

I don’t know.

But happy Venereal Disease… er… Valentines Day to all! Here’s the Secret Admirer pattern!

Now I’m off to prepare for the epic Half-Price Chocolate Day celebrations.



FO: Serpentina

I’m very suspicious.

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The Incense scarf is done, and it turned out just the way I wanted, and I didn’t have to change anything in my original pattern notes, and this never happens. Why is my knitting suddenly well-behaved? I don’t know what to make of this.

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I guess I should just shut up and be happy.

Pattern: Serpentina (look how good I’m getting at writing up patterns before I blog them!)
Yarn: Elann Incense in Brick, 4 balls
Needles: US 7

It really did turn out just the way I wanted and I’m happy with it. And I’d recommend the pattern to anyone feeling some scarf lust – it’s a totally headache-free pattern. I know. But it seriously is! The lace rib is easy and just interesting enough that you won’t die of boredom, and as soon as you start to suffer from Repetitive Stitch Syndrome there’s that little bit of stockinette to break things up. I like this pattern a lot. Wow. This is weird. I am totally, completely, 100% satisfied with a pattern. Either I’m getting better at designing, or I’ve just lowered my standards. (Pick option A! PICK OPTION A!)

It’s not reversible, but the wrong side looks fairly nice anyway.

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It is a Very Long Scarf. You know that guideline that the ideal scarf length should be about your height? Um. I am… not so much obeying that guideline. Unless I’m nine feet tall. But I’m not.

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Can’t sleep, scarf’ll eat me.

Yeah, so that was a bit unexpected, but I like long scarves. I’ve made a few scarves with yarn yardage in the 200-300 range, and find that they often come out a bit short. So I bought 4 balls of Incense – 456 yards – and decided to feed them all to the scarf and see what happened. This pattern? Not so much a yarn-eating pattern, because those 4 balls got me 110 inches of scarf.

And I mean exactly 4 balls. This is what I had left over:

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Not so much “left over” as “clipped off after weaving in the ends”. That’s all there is. I spit-spliced balls together (yup, Incense does spit-splice, w00t!). I had a foot or so of yarn that I snipped off because of a knot, and I had to splice in that measly foot of yarn at the end just to finish the bind-off row. Yeesh. That yarn messed with my head towards the end.

Oh look, there’s lots of yarn left, maybe I can even do another repeat after this one.
Okay, not so much yarn left, I guess I’ll just do this last repeat.
Huh, that yarn is running a bit low, good thing I’m almost done.
Ooh, I’m really going to use up all of this yarn, aren’t I.
OH CRAP OH CRAP I’M GOING TO RUN OUT OF YARN CRAP CRAP CRAP.

FYI: Knitting faster does not stop you from running out of yarn.

I don’t know, it seemed logical at the time.

But I made it (with inches to spare!) and got me a nice Very Long Scarf. Don’t knock Very Long Scarves. You can wrap ‘em around your neck seven billion times.

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Or do neat crazy loopy things!

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Yes, I love me some nine foot scarves.

(There has to be some sort of phallus-related scarf-length joke here, but I’m not going to make it. See how classy I am?)

Now let’s talk yarn, shall we? I know people want to hear about the Incense – in fact, I know that I have already lured several people into buying some Incense – muhahahahaha! If I’m going to Yarn Lust Hell, I’m taking you down with me!

I reported a potential knot situation earlier, and I’m happy to say that it wasn’t a problem. The two knots that I spied turned out to be the only two knots in all four balls. The first ball had a few weird rough spots in the yarn – I don’t know how else to describe them – but only one of those spots was bad enough to have to cut the yarn. The rest I could just roll between my fingers and they pretty much went away. Given the price of the yarn (cheap!), I’ll put up with two knots and a rough spot.

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Knitting with it was lovely – it feels like wool, nice and sproingy, the silk and bamboo don’t kill the elasticity at all. It definitely has that silk sheen, and great stitch definition, and nothing weird happened to it after a wash and block. It’s quite soft. Not Malabrigo soft, or alpaca soft, but softer than Cascade 220 or Patons Merino.

Oh – there is one thing – it’s kind of bleedy. I soaked it in cold water and a little Eucalan, and the water went quite pink. So if you plan to mix colours, test for colourfastness first. (Is that a word? That’s a word, right?)

I would definitely use it again – in fact, next time I have some spare cash I’ll probably buy a sweater’s worth of it. I hope Elann keeps it around for a while. I hope it doesn’t sell out before I have a chance to get my sweater’s worth. Don’t buy my yarn, people. I’ll get you if you buy my yarn. I’ll send fun fur to your house.

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I’m still rather wary of this problem-free knit. Maybe I should get started on Cursebreaker while this good knitting behaviour lasts. Surely nothing can go wrong! I’m on a knitting roll!

Huh… I hear something that sounds suspiciously like six skeins of Cascade 220 laughing at me.



FO: Freakmittens

Well, I knit the damn mittens. And I was right to fear them.

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Pattern: mostly pulled out of my ass, but used Plaid Mittens as a guide and stole the finger opening of Peekaboo
Size: to fit freakishly skinny long hands
Yarn: SWTC Gianna, 2 balls (the small 41.5m balls)
Needles: US 10.5

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Yeah, they look innocent, don’t they? Cute, warm, cozy. But there’s a problem. There’s a big problem. Maybe more of a big-and-small problem. Can you see it?

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How about now?

They were knit with the same yarn, with the same needles, with the same exact non-pattern (I counted stitches obsessively to be sure), something like one or two days apart with no other projects in between and thus no opportunity for my gauge to go wonky. And one is clearly larger than the other. Freak! Freeeeaaak! Keep your children away from the freakmittens!

Step right up, and see the yarn that spawned the freakmittens! Keep well back from its cage; it doesn’t like strangers!

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On your left, ladies and gentlemen, is the yarn left over from the ball of yarn used for the first mitten. On your right, ladies and gentlemen, is the yarn left over from the purportedly identical ball of yarn used for the second mitten. Directly in front of you, ladies and gentlemen, is an angry knitter saying “What the fucking fuck?”

You see, ladies and gentlemen- yeah, okay, I’ll stop that now. You see, the two balls of yarn were not only the same yarn, but were from the same dyelot. The two balls of yarn were not only from the same dyelot, but from the same bag. But when I was knitting the first mitten, I was thinking, hey, this is a weirdly dense fabric on 10.5s and the ball band recommends 10s, what the hell are they smoking? And while knitting the second mitten, I thought, hmm, I don’t know what I was complaining about, this yarn knits up perfectly fine on 10.5s. I thought maybe I was just getting used to the yarn. But when the second mitten looked to be knitting up munchkin-sized, I started to see the horrible truth.

Could it be that one ball of yarn was actually thicker than the other ball of yarn?

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I’m not crazy, right? The one on the right looks a bit thinner?

The first mitten’s fabric feels thicker, kind of quilted, while the second feels like normal knitted fabric. The difference is really noticeable. I pulled out a third ball of yarn from the bag and it seems to match the second ball, the thinner one. Maybe the fourth ball will be thicker again. Maybe the fifth ball will be Fun Fur! Okay, now I’m getting angry.

So I think, maybe they’re not that different in the pic, and maybe I’m imagining things, and I pick up the remnants of the second ball and it falls apart in my hands. Into two mini-balls that were apparently wound into one. And one is thick and one is thin.

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From the left, Ball One (thick), Chunk of Ball Two (thin), Other Chunk of Ball Two (thick). I’m not imagining things, those are clearly different. The thick bit of Ball Two (which I guess I never reached in the course of knitting the mitten) kind of matches Ball One. The thin bit… doesn’t.

I AM ANGRY!

Because for once (ha), this is not my fault. I didn’t screw up the knitting. The mittens look exactly like they’re supposed to, except that they’re made in two different yarns that claim to be the same yarn! What what what crapmonkey crappy crap is this? And you know, I actually liked the yarn. It’s pretty and soft and cozy, but now I will never be able to trust it.

You deceived me, yarn! How could you to this to me?! WAAAAAH!

I don’t know what to do with the freakmittens. Both of them fit okay and don’t feel all that different when worn, but the little obsessive voice in my head is going the mittens must be identical or I will kill you in your sleep. (I’m already angry at that voice for pointing out my Giant Left Boob. Now my Tiny Right Boob has quite the inferiority complex, thanks to that voice.) I could frog Mitten One and re-knit it with Ball Three, but I have no guarantee that Ball Three will match Ball Two, and even if it does it could turn into Ball One thickness halfway through and GAH I knew I should have been suspicious when Elann was selling a whole bag of this freakyarn for like 20 bucks.

Fear the mittens.

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FO: Mmmalabrigo Jacket

Um… am I missing the point of NaKniSweMo if I finish in 10 days?

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Pattern: Drops Jacket in blah blah long name purple monkey dishwasher, modified up the wazoo
Size: Small (roughly)
Yarn: MMMMMMMMalabrigo merino worsted in Cinnabar, every last little scrap of 4 skeins
Needles: US 9

Here’s a brighter pic, but it shows less details. This sweater doesn’t like to be photographed, apparently. I don’t like to be photographed either, but I’m still on a “no more headless pics!” mission.

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So. 10 days. Wait, what? Granted, I did all my pattern reworking, and swatching, and blah dee blah before November. That’s allowed, right? Didn’t cast on until November 1st, though, and finished last Saturday. I haven’t blogged it until now because it took FOUR DAYS TO DRY. Which worked out fine, since I wasn’t able to go button-shopping until yesterday anyway, but still.

I’ll forgive the sweater, though, because I loooooove it.

Yeah, it ate all my yarn, but I had just enough to finish. And I mean just enough. I kept going back and forth between the sleeves and the body, monitoring how much yarn everything was eating. I do not recommend this. Yes, you can make this sweater (in size small, with some modifications) with 4 skeins of Malabrigo. However, you will go mad in the process. Is it worth it? Huh? Is it?

(I already went mad long ago, so what do I care?)

Whether you take the path of sanity or not, make this sweater. It’s yummy. I was very wary of the idea of an A-line sweater, but it works, it does sort of a ruffly thing at the bottom instead of making you look like a giant umbrella.

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Yeah, I modified the crap out of mine, but all the unmodified ones on Ravelry look great too, on all sorts of body types. Make it! Make it now! It only takes 10 days!*

* If you’re a lunatic.

So. About the modifications. As written, it’s a bottom-up sweater knit in pieces. I made it as a seamless top-down raglan. And then I got a whooole bunch of messages asking for details on how to do that. Here’s the thing. I took really sparse, messy notes. Mostly they are a bunch of numbers scribbled in my sketchbook. And then I ignored or changed half of those numbers on the fly when I actually made the thing. So no, I cannot rewrite this pattern for you as a top-down raglan, unless I start over from scratch and do it, and I’m not gonna, because I hate writing patterns.

But!

I’ve seen a lot of people on Ravelry and elsewhere trying to turn standard sweater patterns into top-down raglans, whether it’s because they like raglans, or like knitting top-down, or hate seaming, or whatever. So I’m thinking I might write up a tutorial on how to do just that. With any pattern, in general, not necessarily this one. Is there any interest in that sort of thing?

Other mods… let’s see. I left out the 2×2 ribbing at the bottom because I couldn’t figure out why it was there and it looked funny; just went straight to the garter stitch (which was enough to stop any curling). I ignored pretty much everything the pattern said to do with the sleeves. I made the bottom edge smaller than the pattern wanted, because the numbers seemed huuuuge; I think I took off about 4 inches from that measurement. I tweaked lots of the numbers slightly, like, by 2 stitches or so, little things that aren’t really worth documenting and are mostly just me being a control freak.

And then there was the collar. I’d heard horror stories about this collar, and with good reason. I read the instructions for the collar and went “WTF?” I read them again, and got it, but then went “WTF? Why are they doing it that way? Why seam the edges when you can just pick up extra stitches as you go?” So I did. And it seems to have worked out fine. By the way, picking up stitches along a curved edge SUUUUUCKS.

Like the buttons?

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I found those within a few minutes of entering the store, then spent a zillion years looking at every damn button in the store, only to go right back to those in the end. It figures.

So. I guess that’s NaKniSweMo all done. I picked something quick and easy to take the pressure off, but I guess I should have picked something slow and impossibly difficult. This wasn’t masochism, it was fun! This is all wrong! Where’s my standard November pain and suffering?

Well, my next project is the Back to School Vest from Fitted Knits, and I hear it’s crawling with errata and weird increases. That sounds promising in the masochism department…



FO: Knotted Openwork Scarf

Finally blogging this. I finished it weeks ago, but, well, I suck.

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Scarves are annoying to photograph.

Pattern: Knotted Openwork Scarf
Yarn: Araucania Magallanes in colour 311, 1 skein
Needles: US 9

Hey look, I have a head!

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I’ve sacrificed a goat to the digital camera gods, which seems to have bumped up my self-portrait quality from “unflattering picture of a retarded monkey” to “unflattering picture of a normal human being”. Yay!

Anyway. The scarf.

… I don’t have much to say about the scarf. Hmm.

I followed the pattern as-is. Except I cast on fewer stitches. If I knew how many, I’d tell you. I’m counting… how do you count stitches in this wacky lace pattern? My best guess is 27 stitches. I guess to try to make it a bit longer. It’s not really long enough; I have to tie it in a knot around my neck instead of that thing where you fold the scarf in half and make a loop and then pull the ends through the loop and oh god I am making no sense. You know, the thing. The thing. Yeah, I got nothing.

The yarn is scratchy.

I’ve complained about this yarn. It is beautiful, useless yarn. I’m never buying it again. And oh, it is scratchy. I already gave it a Eucalan bath, but it’s still scratchy. I guess a conditioner bath is next. Or I can wear it on the outside of my coat collar where it will look pretty and not touch my skin. Why do people wear scarves like that? Well, I know, because it looks pretty, but it doesn’t do much for warmth. This is Canada; I need to keep warm in my igloo. Or something.

Eh, it’s full of giant holes made of delicate lace, so it wasn’t going to keep me warm anyway, right?

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So overall? Pattern = yay. Yarn = suck. Make this scarf. Make it with some textured yarn, because it looks pretty neat that way. Do not make it with Magallanes, because Magallanes is made of pointy sheep and sandpaper and bees.



FO: Brainmonster

Aww yeah.

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It should have been up earlier this week, but I have a real excuse this time, which is that I’ve been sick. Okay, we all know that I’m sick, but this time I mean in the medical sense. But hey, not even a whole week late, go me!

It’s been re-christened “brainmonster” because “monster hat” is just not a name. There is a story to this name, but it’s so dreadfully boring that I refuse to tell it.

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Pattern: Brainmonster
Yarn: KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Amber Heather, 1 skein; Patons Classic Wool in Winter White, much much less than 1 skein
Needles: US 7

Oy. The long tale of the monster hat, where do I begin? Something like a year ago, I saw this hat on a LiveJournal community. Not this hat, but a hat with teeth and eyes and earflaps. I had to have one. But there was no pattern! No problem, said I, I’ll just make one up. So I did. The one I saw had knitted eyes instead of my googlies, and the teeth were a bit different I think, but I can’t take any credit for the idea; I stuck pretty close to the one I saw.

I had no intention of writing up a pattern, since it wasn’t really my concept, but I posted my finished hat on LJ and people went nuts over it, and I started to think I may as well write it up. People wanted to make it, so I may as well save them the trouble of figuring out a pattern when I had a perfectly good one in my head.

Except I didn’t know how to write a pattern then, so I didn’t. By the time I came back to it, months later, I totally couldn’t remember what I had did. And so I made Brainmonster II and this time wrote everything the fuck down. Hooray! We have pattern!

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I actually figured out how to make stockinette teeth that don’t curl. (Answer: slip stitch edging and centered double decreases.) And the earflaps are muuuuch nicer than they were on the first version. I think this is a pretty solid monstery hatty pattern.

When I took the googly eyes out of their package, I saw this:

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Okay, I understand why there are warning labels on everything. I do. But you’re really supposed to keep giant googly eyes out of the reach of children? Who is going to use giant googly eyes besides children and moderately insane adults who make monster hats? Giant googly eyes are for children! They belong in the reach of children! Perhaps the warning is there because they’re coated with lead paint, like all children’s toys (apparently).

Now here’s the other reason I put off posting the pattern. Yeah, I was sick, but not so sick that I couldn’t finish the hat, and photograph the hat, and write up most of the pattern. But I needed some action shots of the hat. Oh, hell.

Sweaters are easy, I just chop my head off. Hats require visible heads. I DO NOT PHOTOGRAPH WELL. And when I say that, I don’t mean “ugh, I’m not very photogenic”. What I mean is “I am so completely un-photogenic that any picture of me resembles a retarded monkey, will scare children, will also scare adults, will also scare me and prompt me to walk around with a paper bag over my head for several weeks”. Which is actually unnecessary because I look perfectly normal in person. It’s just photos. Fucking evil photos from my fucking evil camera that won’t be satisfied with simple phantom backfat but has to ruin my face too.

I’m not bitter.

I sucked it up and took two separate photoshoots, and was rewarded with a whole bunch of retarded monkey pictures, and posted a couple of the least horrifying ones with the pattern, because I’ve gotta post something. But ugh. I need to find other people to model my knits, I think.

And because I love my readers, you all deserve to see me look like a fool, so here is the obligatory “OH MY GOD IT’S EATING MY HEAD” shot. (Which is not on the pattern page, for what I hope are obvious reasons.)

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Hee hee hee.

Okay, that’s quite enough of that. Go forth and make monster hats! You know you want brain-eating creatures on your head.



FO: Bamboozled

This is a first, people. I am making an FO post for an item of my own design, and I already have the pattern written up. This is me, using my whole ass. I’ve become everything I hate!

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Pattern: Bamboozled (look at that! that’s a pattern link that I did NOT have to edit in later!)
Yarn: Plymouth Royal Bamboo in Coral, 1 skein
Needles: US size 6

So I’ve already mentioned that making the chart ate my soul, which is what tends to happen when you try to do something that you don’t actually know how to do. I’m still not completely sure it’s a proper chart, but if it’s clear enough for my dumb ass to follow, I’m sure it’ll be adequate.

Yep, I’m learning not to stress over patterns. I do want to keep designing, and if I pull a Maddy on every pattern, freaking out about every detail and possible error, I will go mad, and start talking to trees and feeding vodka to kittens. We don’t want that. A friend of mine had this adorable little kitten, and one time when I was visiting and slept on her couch, the kitten kept JUMPING ON MY FACE. Now imagine what evil that kitten would plot if it had access to vodka.

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(If you had a creepy-ass striped cat thing from IKEA just lying around, trying to eat your knitting books, you’d blindfold it with knitted headbands too. Admit it.)

Anyway, once the chart was finished thoroughly devouring my soul, this may have been the quickest, most trouble-free knit ever. I printed out the chart, grabbed a pencil, and just ticked off each row as I knit it. In fact, the only real trouble I had was trying to figure out how the hell I got the chart to print on two pages instead of three, without shrinking the font size to nothing, and I still have no idea how I did it. I had to find another way to do it for the chart pdf in the pattern.

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The yarn held up much better than I thought it would. Great sheen and stitch definition, although it’s a bit splitty. I’d use it again. I’d be hesitant to use it for garments, though, because I can practically hear it cackling at me. “You thought silk stretched out of shape? Silk is an amateur, just wait and see how badly I can stretch! Muhahahahahahaha!”

I am quite suspicious at how trouble-free this knit was. Maybe my knitting is trying to lure me into complacency. I’m on to you, knitting.

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FO: Maddy

Does it fit? Does it fit? Does it fit?

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IT FITS!

Pattern: IT’S COMING DAMMIT (sigh, I’ll edit in the link when it’s done, which WILL be in the next few days, I swear) IT’S HERE DAMMIT
Size: uh, me-sized? will fit about a 34″-36″ bust
Yarn: Alchemy Silk Purse in Rust Red, 4 skeins (note: these are the older skeins with more yardage)
Needles: US size 4

Apologies in advance for the picspam, I’m damn proud of this thing, and I took a million billion pics of it, and you’re going to humour me and look at them all, dammit. (Or you’re going to close your browser and laugh at me. Sob.)

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It’s not perfect. It’s really obvious where the skeins change (alas, they all looked the same colour in the skein, otherwise I would have planned a smoother transition), and I’m not sure how long it’s going to fit as well as it does, given silk’s tendencies to stretch and sag. But damn, did I guess at the right measurements or what? This is probably the closest I’ve ever come to having a knit garment fit exactly right.

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The pattern… oh, the pattern. I am the kind of knitter who reads over a pattern, figures out how it works, and promptly ignores the pattern details. I don’t need rows and rows of “k1, p2, k16, yo, slm, yo, k16…” and such, what I need is “knit in pattern to marker, increase just before and after marker”, general stuff, and if I can’t remember how many stitches before the marker to increase, I can look that up.

Unfortunately, that sort of hand-wavy instruction makes for a very confusing pattern, and writing up the pattern is very nonintuitive to me. For example, I kept moving around the point where a round starts/ends, and for a large chunk of the pattern I didn’t even have a round marker there, so I’m going to have to figure out where a normal knitter would want to put the round marker. Otherwise I will have to append “it all makes sense in my head, I swear” to every other line of the pattern, and that’s going from “Half-Assed Patterns” all the way to “This Pattern Is Useless And I Hope The Idiot Who Wrote It Gets Eaten By An Angry Giant Squirrel”.

I’ll make it work. I think.

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For anyone who might be thinking of making it (I’m trying to be optimistic and assume that someone, somewhere will like it enough to make one, heh), it’s not a difficult pattern. I suspect it looks harder than it is. The hardest bit is increasing in the lace pattern for the yoke, and it’s not hard so much as head-hurty. I’m going to try to include very clear directions for using extra stitch markers in that section to prevent total loss of sanity. The lace bits at the bottom are rectangular, so they’re super easy, and all the increases at the bottom are done in the stockinette section.

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Very strange not to be writing about mods, given that there are none, because the pattern is MINE ALL MINE. Though I do want to say that looking at the pattern for Picovoli was very helpful; it has sort of the same shape I was going for, and similar gauge, so it was a useful “are my stitch counts in the right ballpark?” reassurance.

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Designing this was a neat experience (occasional fits of “HELP ME I AM GOING MAD!!!” aside), but I’m kind of relieved it’s all finished.

I’ll be even more relieved if when I successfully write up a legible pattern for it.