Two Unfinished Objects

In an earlier blog entry, I introduced you to the world of UnFinished Objects, UFOs in knitters’ parlance. I thought you, dear reader, might like to meet a couple of my UFOs.

First up is the Stonington Shawl. I started the Stonington as part of a KAL (Knit-A-Long) on the Yahoo! Group, EZasPi, a group devoted to the designs of knitting god Elizabeth Zimmermann. I was using the instructions found in one of her books, the title of which I forget. Maybe The Knitter’s Workshop. Anyway, in the book the shawl is just plain garter stitch, so I added Old Shell for the border.

The shawl is knitted using a technique that EZ “unvented,” and I thought I’d give it a try. I personally think the technique would have been better off not being “unvented,” but I’m sure there are knitters who strongly disagree. Anyway, after knitting the shawl, I ended up with a garment that was too small to be used for anything, and the Stonington technique doesn’t allow for adjusting the size of the shawl by adding more rounds to the border. I decided I had two choices. One was to travel to the frog pond (more knitter’s parlance) and rip-it, rip-it! But ripping it out was not an appealing option because the yarn I used is very hairy and ripping it back is a royal PITA. (That’s a general acronym that needs no explanation.) The only other option, as I saw it, was to knit a second border using the knitting-in-the-round technique.

Stonington Shawl in progress

Shawl ready for second border

So I knit the set up rows and set the project aside because, quite frankly, I was sick of looking at it.

Stonington Shawl in project bag

Stonington Shawl in its project bag

But lately this shawl has been creeping into my thoughts, and I think that it will soon become a WIP again. EZ completely defeated me with that abomination known as the Adult Surprise Jacket, but I won’t be beaten again. I will conquer the Stonington and have a lovely, or perhaps not so lovely lace shawl to show for it.

Projects often get set aside, like Stonington, or jettisoned altogether, like the Adult Surprise Jacket, because the pattern just isn’t working for the knitter. But sometimes a project goes from WIP to UFO for more benign reasons.

The latter is the case for my Dale of Norway St. Moritz sweater. The Heilo yarn is wonderful to work with, the colors are beautiful, the pattern interesting.

Dale of Norway St. Moritz in progress

But because I’m knitting the crew-neck version instead of the zippered version of the sweater, I have to refer to two different charts to knit the central motif, and the charts are on different pages. It’s confusing and tedious to have to go back and forth between the two charts, and it’s easy to make mistakes. Knitting this part of the sweater takes concentration. It isn’t television knitting, at least not if the television program actually requires the vision part. I guess I would describe knitting the central pattern as being okay for television listening, but not okay for television watching, if you get my drift. St. Moritz isn’t football knitting, and it sure as heck isn’t hockey knitting. It isn’t TCM (Turner Classic Movies) knitting, either.

Once I get past the central pattern, St. Moritz will become mindless knitting again. But getting the central pattern done is a big obstacle. And so, here sits St. Moritz, all forlorn, sadly watching me knit lace shawls, socks, hats, all manner of things, while she patiently awaits the knitting spirits to move me to tackle the remainder of that central pattern.

St. Moritz in project bag

St. Moritz in its project bag

Someday.

Sad Facts

It’s a sad fact of life that sometimes the better team loses. My beloved Pittsburgh Penguins were knocked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the hated (and deservedly so) Philadelphia F%^ers in 6 games. There’s little doubt that the Pens overall have the superior hockey team, but in 4 of those games in this series, the F%^ers totally out-played the Pens and they deserved to win the series. But my boys had some stellar moments in the series, so in spite of being disappointed to be out so soon, I’m thrilled with the great season the Pens had. We’ll get ’em next year.

Three other teams are out of the running, the Detroit Red Wings, who lost to the Nashville Predators, the San Jose Sharks, who lost  to the St. Louis Blues, and the Vancouver Canucks, who lost to the Los Angeles Kings. And the Eastern Division Champs, the New York Rangers, are on the brink of elimination at the hands of the lowly Ottawa Senators, the #8 seed in the East.

I cannot help but feel a little sorry for Canucks fans, even though I dislike the Canucks almost as much as I dislike the F^&ers. Canucks fans were stunned last year when their team lost in the Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins, and after winning the President’s Trophy this year as the highest point getter in the regular season and being the #1 overall seed in the playoffs, they watched their team get their asses handed to them in the first round by a #8 seed. I might not like the Canucks, but I sure can empathize with their fans. I know the pain and disappointment of seeing the team you love lose in the Stanley Cup final as well as getting knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. But true hockey fans love their team no matter what. And I’m sure that most Canucks fans will recover quickly from their disappointment and heartbreak and start looking forward to next year. Their team is loaded with hockey talent, and they should be one of the best teams in the league again next year.

Fortunately for me and my knitting, there’s still a lot of good hockey to be played, watched, and knitted to. I still have several teams left in the playoffs to cheer for, the Bruins, the Blackhawks, and the Blues. What is it about the letter B? At this point, I’m hoping for the Blues to win it all because it would almost be a worst-to-first story. The Blues didn’t even make the playoffs last year, and this year they were contending for the President’s Trophy. They have a lot of exciting young players on their team, and they play a physical game with a lot of finesse and some truly outstanding goaltending from two fine goalies. I hope they do as well in the second round as they did in the first, although it might be a little difficult for me to cheer for them if they face the Blackhawks. But the Hawks won The Cup in 2010, so I think I’ll be able to pull for the Blues if the two teams face each other.

Losing is a sad fact in the life of a sports fan, and the life of a knitter is no different. It’s a sad fact of knitting life that even the best of knitters sometimes start a project only to have it end in disaster. This has happened to yours truly, Pinko Knitter. I know it’s difficult to accept that any of my projects could turn out as anything less than spectacular, but it happens. After all, I’m only human.

My attempt at knitting EZ’s Adult Surprise Jacket was an abject failure. The alleged sweater currently sits in a shopping bag in a corner of my bedroom.

ASJ

One of these days I will either unravel the damned thing or throw it away. It is nothing less than an unmitigated disaster, and I have learned the hard lesson that as much as I have learned from EZ, her knitting designs are, for the most part, nothing short of god-awful. She was definitely into utilitarian knitting, and looks be damned. But she did “unvent” some great knitting techniques, although some of her “unventions,” and here I am thinking of the Stonington Shawl, are at best pointless. My Stonington is sitting still unfinished, and I have to say that this technique of knitting a Shetland-type shawl has absolutely no advantages that I can see. Not a single one.

Unfortunately, the ASJ is not my most recent knitting disaster. But this time I have only myself to blame. As you know from my last couple of posts, I’ve been working on some scarves as charity knitting during the Stanley Cup playoffs. One scarf has been completed, but the other, the Dropped Stitch Scarf, is nothing short of a disaster. My fault alone–not the yarn, not the pattern, not the designer. Just mine. I had made a gauge swatch to help me decide how many stitches to cast on to get a scarf that would be around 60 inches in length. My swatch had a gauge of 4 stitches per inch, so I cast on 250 stitches. As I was knitting the last row before casting off, I looked at all the stitches bunched up on my circular needle and got that sinking feeling. I measured my gauge and found that I had 3 stitches per inch, which means that the scarf would be 80+ inches long. The scarf is now in my knitting bag awaiting time at the frog pond. Yes, I’m going to have to rip-it!

Dropped Stitch Scarf

But we knitters are an optimistic lot, at least when it comes to knitting. I wasn’t discouraged by my failure. Instead, I got out a hibernating scarf knitted in purple sock cotton that I knew I would never finish, ripped it out, and cast on for a new scarf of my own on-the-fly design. It’s a combination of dropped stitches and beaded rows worked in garter stitch so it will be reversible.

Dropped Stitch Beaded Scarf

The beads are 6/0 Miyuki amethyst lined crystal round seed beads, and the garter stitch section that goes around the neck will not be beaded for reasons I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone. 🙂

To be honest, I think the knitting gods knew what they were doing when they caused me to screw up the other dropped-stitch scarf because the new one, being in a lightweight cotton yarn rather than a bulky fuzzy acrylic, is far more appropriate for springtime.

When I was a teacher, I used to tell my students not to be embarrassed about making mistakes because that is how one learns. I believe that, and I believe that one is never too old to learn. I look at my knitting disasters not as unfortunate events or as wastes of time and yarn, but as learning experiences that add to my knitting expertise and make me a better knitter and possibly a better person. I plan to make more mistakes before my knitting days are over.

Where To Begin?

Time has a way of getting away from me. I cannot believe that so much time has passed since my last blog entry. And now I have so much to report that one entry simply won’t do. If I report everything that has happened since my last entry in just one post, you will quickly become bored with reading me yammering on about hockey, knitting, birthdays, etc., etc., etc. So I shall break it down into smaller parts in order to keep your interest, dear reader of mine.

In answer to the title question, I think I will begin with my nemesis, Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Adult Surprise Jacket, or ASJ for short. The ASJ is back in time-out. It has been behaving very badly and doesn’t deserve my attention. I have tried to seam up the sleeves and shoulders using umpteen different methods, and everything I have tried comes out looking like hell. I hate this project more than any other knitting project I have ever done. I’d rather knit a 4ft x 7ft afghan with Red Heart yarn than make an ASJ with pure cashmere. As much as I love EZ, I have to say that this design is a big stinker.

Warning! Hockey Metaphor Ahead!

I consider the Adult Surpise Jacket to be the Alexander Ovechkin of knitting.

Ugly and obnoxious, it plays dirty. People talk like it’s the greatest player in the world of knitting projects, but when you shine the light of day on it, not only are you dumbstruck by how ugly it is, you realize that it is little more than an attention whore disguised as a knitting project.

I haven’t packed the ASJ away, yet, but I think I will do so soon because just looking at it lying on top of my knitting pile makes me queasy, kind of like seeing Alexander Ovechkin’s ugly mug.

End of hockey metaphor.

Sorry about that.☺

I bet you are asking yourself, Well, if Pinko Knitter isn’t working on her ASJ any more, just how is she spending her knitting time? I’m so glad you asked. I’ve worked some on my reworked Froot Loop Socks. Sock #1 is close to completion.

This is a fun pattern to work on, but it doesn’t go well with watching hockey on TV. Hockey takes a lot of concentration, so my hockey knitting must be totally mindless.

Mindless Knitting Project 1

Mindless Knitting Project 2

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. I made two, count ’em, two hats in “Blaze Orange,” also known as hunter safety orange. I supposed it isn’t surprising that one can purchase hand knitting wool yarn in such a bright orange. After all, hunters need to keep their heads warm just like everyone else. My older sister hunts deer and she subtly hinted that she would like a hat in orange. I Googled to find a source for blaze orange yarn and, violá! Bartlett Yarns in Harmony, Maine, offers a nice worsted-weight, woolen-spun, 2-ply wool in “bright orange.” Bright orange? That’s something of an understatement. I swear this yarn glows in the dark☺.

The Bartlett yarn is similar to Briggs and Little Regal, with lots of VM (vegetable matter, that is, vegetation that got caught in the sheep’s wool as it was out grazing and doing whatever it is that sheep do) that I picked out as I knit. I don’t mind VM in yarn because it is an indication that the wool has not be over-processed. The yarn from Bartlett is pretty scratchy before it is washed, but it softens a lot after washing. It also blooms a lot when washed. The beanie I knitted on 3.5mm needles looks almost felted since it was washed. I’m glad I used 4.0mm needles for the ribbed hat.

Preview of upcoming features: another hat, another sweater, more hockey, and a very special birthday. Stay tuned. You don’t want to miss a single episode.

Not A Bed Of Roses

I am quite certain, dear reader, that you are well aware that life isn’t always a bed of roses. Even when life is sweet, there are always a few dark clouds around. Yeah, I know, I’m mixing my metaphors. So, sue me!

Anyway, right now life is pretty sweet. It’s autumn and that means football is in full swing and hockey is just around the corner. Yesterday was a pretty exciting day in the NFL. My beloved Buffalo Bills finally beat the Boston New England Patriots in a very exciting game. I think it was the Bills first victory over the Pats since 2003, and folks, these two teams are in the same division and play each other twice a year. Yikes! That’s a lot of losses to your arch rival, and to finally get a victory feels really, really, really nice. It actually makes up for the Mountaineers losing to LSU on Saturday night. And last night the Steelers managed to limp to a victory over the Colts. It wasn’t purdy, but a win’s a win. I’ll take ‘em any way I can get ‘em.

And then there is hockey. The season begins in earnest on October 6, but the preseason is in full swing. The Pens are 3-0 in preseason games and looking great. Evgeny “Geno” Malkin has recovered from his knee surgery and has never looked better. The Pens are so deep that they will have to send some mighty fine hockey players back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. I just hope Eric “Big Dog” Tangadi isn’t among them. I really want to see him stay in the Burgh. I think we need his rather sizeable presence in front of the net. And the best news of all is that Sid Crosby is progressing very well in his recovery from last year’s season-ending concussion. He had some set-backs earlier, but now he’s not only skating with the team, he’s scrimmaging with them. Let’s hope that there are no more concussion symptoms and that he will soon be cleared for contact. Maybe he’ll even be back to playing before the end of the year. Wouldn’t that be grand?

Okay, here come the clouds. 🙂

If only my knitting were going as well as football and hockey. Sadly, it ain’t no bed of roses. I decided to finish up some WIP before starting anything new and now I’m committed. Or should I say that I should BE committed. LOL

Ages ago, I started one of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Adult Surprise Jacket. This is a grown-up sized version of EZ’s famous Baby Surprise Jacket (BSJ). I’ve never made a BSJ, and maybe I should have followed Meg Swansen’s advice–Meg is EZ’s daughter, for those of you who don’t travel in the wonderful world of knitters–and made a BSJ before starting the adult version. The  BSJ is an adorable baby sweater; the ASJ is anything but adorable. All that freaking garter stitch in worsted-weight wool?!?!? What’s the word I’m wracking my brain for?  Um, ugly. Yeah, that’s the word. Ugly.

I started working on the ASJ back on October 1 of 2009. Like a tattoo, at the time, it seemed like a good idea. And I will admit that there are things about the ASJ that are fun. The construction is really ingenious. But it get very boring very quickly. Very. Boring.

I had progressed this far

ASJ in progress

when I set it aside to knit socks. And there it sat, on top of my knitting basket. Looking forelorn. Making me feel guilty. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. I just didn’t want to pick it up again. Did I mention it was boring? But I’d gotten this far, and I needed something mindless to work on while watching football and hockey. And endless rows of garter stitch is about as mindless as knitting can get.

Last night I finally got the button band started. It was my third or maybe fourth attempt at picking up stitches along the edge of the center front of the sweater. I kept ripping it out because it looked like sh#t. This most recent, and dare I say final, attempt looks better than all the rest, so I’m going to live with it. I have the buttonholes done and only a few more rows of mindless, boring garter stitch are left. Then it’s on to the sleeves. More mindless, boring garter stitch. Then comes the fun part–folding the messy-looking blob into a sweater and trimming it with I-cord. Oh, I cannot wait to knit yards and yards of I-cord. (That’s sarcasm, folks, in case you couldn’t tell.)

I’m bound and determined that I am going to finish my ASJ. And wear it, too, even if it is less than lovely to look at. Normally I have no qualms about ripping out a project that is not going well, even if it is nearing completion. But the ASJ is such a trainwreck that I just cannot take my eyes off it. If I don’t finish it, it will haunt me to the end of my days. So my plan is to finish it, then toss it into the corner of a closet and forget about it. 🙂

The ASJ isn’t my only knitting cloud. As you may recall from a past episode, I started a sock in the Froot Loop pattern using a lovely sparkle yarn from Draygone Yarnes in a colorway called Prom Dress. The knitting was going very well, and I had progressed to this point…

Froot Loop Sock #1 ripped

Froot Loop Sock #1 before I ripped it out

and I decided to try the sock on. Yikes! It was just a little too tight. Not so tight that I couldn’t pull the sock on and off, but just tight enough that the sock wasn’t comfortable. What’s a knitter to do? I can only speak for myself, but what I did was–you guessed it–rip it out and start over. On bigger needles–2.5mm instead of 2.25. What a world of difference a quarter of a millimeter can make.

Froot Loop Sock #1 Remake

The fabric is much nicer and the pattern looks even better. I think the sock will fit this time around, but I won’t know for sure until I have turned the heel and knitted a few rounds of the gusset decreases. Fortunately, I enjoy knitting this pattern, so it isn’t a big deal that I had gotten so far only to have to start over.

I have a few more unfinished projects waiting for my attention, most notably St. Moritz,

Dale of Norway St. Moritz in progress

so as soon as I finish ASJ, I’ll get to work on St. Moritz again. The big question is, can I restrain myself from starting Joan Schrouder’s lovely lace sweater in A Gathering of Lace when the yarn I ordered for it arrives?

I was thinking it would make a nice Winter Solstice present for a certain someone, but I doubt I will have enough time to finish it by then if I finish St. Moritz first. Oh, what the hell. St. Moritz has waited this long; what’s another three months?