Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Learning something new

The current seekrit project has edging of a type I've not knit before - a folded over hem.

(Well, the pattern gives options for a garter border with picot cast off, or for a folded picot edge, which I think is so much prettier that even though it's way more work, that was what I decided I simply had to have.)

Having never worked one of these edges before, I spent most of my evening tonight fiddling with the best method to "sew" the edge down.

I tried whipstitching, as illustrated in Wiseman's Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques. Didn't like it.

I tried a bastardized Kitchner stitch, using the picked up loops. Didn't like it, and WAY too fiddle-y for the size of this project (Kitchnering a sock toe? No problem. Kitchnering 600+ edging stitches? Not on your fricking life.)

Finally, I tried scooping up the picked-up loop and working a modified three needle bind-off with it and the live loop. I'm pretty darn pleased with the result.

Now to do the remaining 450+ stitches.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The accursed corset?

So, Circles, my local-ish yarn shop has been looking for sample knitters. You knit a sample, you earn yarn dollars, essentially a store credit. Now, I'm lucky, and my yarn budget is... generous, and my time budget is generally not at all, so I'd figured I would leave most of the sample knitting to others who had more need of earning store credits, or who had enough free time to make it more worth it for them.

But then, Allison mentioned that she was looking for someone to knit Annie Modesitt's silk corset pattern. I was entranced. I thought the pattern was gorgeous, and the Regal silk yarn was so sumptuous (and really, outside even my budget), but as a rather plus size woman, I wasn't up for knitting it for myself.

Happy to have the chance to work the pattern, I jumped at the chance to knit the sample. What a mistake that was. I still think the pattern is beautiful, truly lovel, but I have never had such an awful experience knitting anything before, ever.

First off, I should have realized I wasn't going to like the yarn. I have rough hands. Softly spun silk + rough hands = misery in knitting. Constantly feeling like I was snagging the yarn on my very fingertips was awful. I felt like it even made the yarn start to pill when the piece was still being knit, all because I was creating all these tiny snags. The colors? Stunning. The sheen? Divine. While I'm sure I'll still ooooh and aaaaah over the new skeins that come into the shop, I now know that I never ever want to knit with it again, ever.

Second, the pattern. I struggled in numerous way with the pattern. First off, I STILL don't understand how the math of the pattern works. With the listed gauge, and the given stitch counts, I'm really not sure how you were supposed to end up with the desired finished measurements. I knit about halfway through, hinking to myself that it looked too small, but deluding myself in that way that we knitters do, that it would be okay, that I had to trust the pattern, that I just wasn't used to knitting for a non-plus-sized pattern. When I realized that the corset would be only the slightest bit loose on my five year old daughter, I couldn't ignore the truth of it any more. I tried it on a shop mannequin, and it was a joke.

Ripped the entire thing out, and started over again, two sizes larger.

(I have to be honest here and admit that a part of my frustration over the pattern is that, as a plus size, I was really pleased to see a pattern for a beautiful, fitted, sexy top that came in a size large enough that even I could wear it. When I started figuring out the math of it, and realizing that there was no way the largest size would actually fit me, I felt betrayed, even if I don't think it's a top I would ever make for myself.)

There were a bunch of little things that bugged me. I think it's because somehow, I'd simply come to expect more from the way the pattern was written. I'm not sure why that is, although perhaps because I perceive Annie Modesitt to be such a respected designer that her stuff had to be better than I found it to be.

Aside from the sizing issues, things I would have wanted to find in the pattern, but didn't, include:
  • Actual instructions that the i-cord bind off and cast on were recommended for the armholes. It wasn't until my second time through the pattern that I figured out why she had the directions for those on the pattern at all. I still wasn't sure that was where I was supposed to use them, but I guessed at it.
  • An acknowledgement in the pattern shapping that different size women would need the bust decreases in a subtly different spot - the pattern had the decreases at the same distance from the edges of the corset for all sizes. I know from experience that if you want the decreases to fall under the center of each breast, that you need to gradually move them wider as your sizes go out. This pattern didn't do that.
  • Some discussion of height and measurements, and how that might affect where you do things like start decreasing - A, who is our "model" for a lot of the samples is a tall woman, and when all was said and done, although the model looks perfect on the shop sample, it looks terrible on her. Despite the fact that I planned (a bit) for her height and made the corset a bit longer before starting the decreases, they still start above her chest. Similarly, as short and fat, I don't like that this pattern assumed that lengths must increse as width does. That bothers me with lots of patterns, but for something this fitted and precise, I really wished that there had been more discussion about how to custom fit it to your own shape.
  • I realize this is a personal preference thing, but I did not like the way she did her lace charts. I found them wildly confusing and hard to read.
When I "finished" the project, I brought it in to a fitting. Despite already being longer than the pattern called for, it was FAR too short for A, and short even on the mannequins. So, I had to go back and add even more length onto the damn thing. Then, I get all the buttons sewn onto it, and we found that they just popped open if you breathed on them. So, I had to pull them all off and re-do with larger buttons.

Overall, I've never been so glad to see the tail end of a project in my whole entire life.

But, in the interest of fairness, I should point out that on the mannequin, this piece os gorgeous. One of the prettiest things I have knit.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Knitting for others

This has been a long dry season of very little knitting for myself.

There was the seekrit ninja project for one friend. There was the baby poncho. Then the kid's poncho for H's school auction. Then a baby blanket. Now, another baby gift (seekrit ninja project #2, for at least a few more weeks). And the other half of the baby gift. And the blanket / wrap for my darling non-sweater wearing husband. And how could I forget the accursed corset for the shop?

Meanwhile, yarn I bought for me! me! me! languishes on the shelf of my closet, feeling lonely and abandoned. Lovely Oak Grove boucle in midnight blues and purples that cries to be made into a shawl. Gorgeous red cashmere patiently waiting to be a sweater. Grey merino from Margaret's farm that has been abandoned since last summer.

Soon, my pretties. Soon the gift knitting will be finished, and we will be re-united.

Christmas? What's Christmas?
This is going to be a departure for me.

I've long kept a LiveJournal, but have decided that I want someplace to gather all my knitting related detritus that I didn't have to keep locked to friends-only so as to avoid boring all my non-knitting friends.

Plus, I find that LJ and the blogging world are distinct enough from one another that I'm not making the same connections with the rest of the knitting world that I could be with a "real" blog of my own.

So, the start of an experiment.

You might wonder about the title of the blog (or perhaps not, since you're all likely to be knitters too). For most of my life, I've been fairly quiet and shy, tending towards to outer edges of the circles that I'm a part of. Most often, I'm the one found in the quiet corner, working on my projects. For a long time, those were cross-stitch and embroidery, now most of the time, they're knitting instead. In a lot of my social sphere where people don't know me all that well, "that girl who knits" is how a lot of people know me. The only exception to that is when they know my daughter, and then I'm universally known as H's mom. Either way, both are fair descriptors, and seemed an obvious choice for this space.