stripes gone crazy


To frog or not to frog… That is the question… 2

If you don’t know what spring peepers are, they are just this little frog that vocalize (a high pitched “Peep! Peep!” sound) in the spring. For us hearing the spring peepers is the first sure sign that winter is finally over.

Friday night my husband and I went on a bit of a summertime date (He got us some ice cream, and then we parked by the river and watched the sunset while we ate our ice cream. So romantic! ) and on the drive home with the sunroof open we heard the loud calling of spring peepers.They do their loud dusk calling throughout the summer, but last night it was crazy how loud it was. It was remarkable enough that I took a video.

They are one noisy-ass frog, lemme tell ya, but this was way beyond normal in terms of volume. On top of that, they were very timely because I have been thinking over a bit of a predicament…

I am seriously considering frogging and restarting my Stripes Gone Crazy Sweater.

StripesGoneCrazyIncreasesI haven’t worked a single stitch on it in many months (not since JANUARY for heaven’s sake!!), and, yeah, my sock yarn blanket is part of that, but the big reason is that I am not happy with my sweater so far. I mean, geeze, the last post I made about it was how I totally effed up my shoulder decreases as well as where I picked up the stitches on either side, and frankly I did a pretty pathetic job of fixing those issues. As I have worked on other things since I hibernated that project I feel like I have improved a moderate amount since then, and I definitely wouldn’t be repeating those mistakes. I also know I’m always going to see those mistakes every time I look at the sweater. Its one of those “No one else would notice but I will” things. I could knit the rest of it totally perfectly but I will just see that weird seaming and gappy shoulders.

 

So what to do… Do I frog the hours of work I have put into it so far and start over, or do I continue along under the hope that once the sweater is done I really won’t see the mistakes?


126 blocks down, about a squillion left to go!

Mission Accomplished (I think). The weekend visit with my in-laws was a great one, really fantastic to see them and get some quality time in with them, AND I was able to get in some knitting. Obviously not as much as I normally do on weekends, but I did make some progress. I did a proper count last night, and I am up to 126 blocks done (102 small ones, and six big ones I’m counting as 4). 126 blocks. That is a lot! How much? Well, lets do some math! (I know, I’m a nerd…)

Approx. 3g of yarn per block x 126 blocks = 378g of fingering weight yarn = roughly 1500 meters of yarn used so far

20 minutes per block x 126 blocks = 2560 minutes = 42 hours of knitting

44 total days since starting (2015-02-23 to 2015-04-08) / 42 hours of knitting = an average of 58 minutes per day spent working on this project

 

The box of some of the mini-skeins I have rewound into center pull balls. Not pictured is the bucket of additional sock yarns I have rewound, nor can you see the big sack of yarn waiting to be rewound.

I find it interesting seeing these values, though it is rather disturbing on some levels. 42 hours of knitting on just this one project and I’m not even a a quarter of the way finished? Geeze Louise! Still really enjoying the project though. Very easy, fun, almost soothing knit. I have made it a big wider, and that was a pain in the ass to do, but that was pretty minor. The pictures also aren’t doing it justice, it really is quite a thing to behold. A little ugly, yes, but pretty damn cool. I’m not totally happy with the randomness of my block colours – I feel like the top left corner is too dark/orange – but over all it is looking great. Speaking of math, though.. I really should calculate how many blocks I am going to need in order to have it be the size I want.

The other thing I have been working on is making all my many many skeins of sock yarn into center pull balls. Holy crap, what a ton of work that is, but I am DETERMINED. I should have kept track of how much time I have spent doing this because it would be a lot. Frankly, more time lately has been spent balling yarn than knitting! However, I am taking a break from making center pull balls for a while because the motion in making the balls using my nostepinne was starting to make my wrists ache.

 

Something else occurred to me the other day. I am knitting this project in fingering weight yarn using size 1US needles and is done in garter stitch which sort of accordions on to itself. My Stripes Gone Crazy sweater is done using fingering weight yarn but using size 3US needles AND it is in stockinette stitch which gives you a slightly larger knit for your work.

I am pretty sure that if I had been working on my sweater instead of this blanket I would have been done it by now.

No regrets, though. I will get back to the sweater eventually, but for now I’m going to continue to rock out to my sock yarn blanket.


Some knitting projects are like owning a Furby

furby(I swear this relates to knitting. Just go with me on this…)

When I was about 12 years old I wanted nothing more than a Furby. The commercials and advertisements make it look like the most fun and engaging toy in the universe and I was absolutely positive that owning a Furby would be the single best accomplishment in my life. I begged my parents to buy me one but they refused, and being pretty horrible at saving money I of course had no money to use to buy one for myself. Day after day I mourned my lack of Furby and felt that each day that went by where I didn’t have one was a huge injustice. I was wasting what could be quality Furby time!

Then, at Christmastime, a miracle happened. I opened up a gift from my grandmother and holy crap, it was a freeking Furby! FINALLY my life would have meaning! I can’t recall for sure but it seems altogether likely that I cried when I turned it on and heard it talk for the first time. It’s name was ToTo. Oh, the things ToTo and I would do together! I had lofty plans to train it to say stuff and would bring it everywhere! Me and ToTo, we would be inseparable, and for the first week or two we were.

But then the reality of owning a Furby started to take hold. It jibber-jabbered away constantly, and I grew to hate the stupid “La la la” song it would sing for no reason. Its little dance (aka. Tilting forward) went from adorable to ridiculous. And despite it supposing to “sleep” at night the little bugger would often start singing in the middle of the night for no reason. Don’t even get me started on feeding it. Sticking my finger in its taunting plastic beak and pressing down on its tongue was vaguely degrading, but the slightly indecent sultry “Yummmmm…” it would say after each press just became awkward. I began feeding it less, in part from laziness but in part because of the “Yummmmm…“, and then the damned thing started coughing all the time. Apparently if you don’t feed your Furby enough it gets “sick”…

I grew to hate my Furby, yet for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to turn it off, nor did I feel right about taking a screw driver to its butt and taking the batteries out. In the end I shoved it deep in my closet, prayed that the batteries would die quickly, and tried to forget about the nightmare that was my Furby. Years and years later I found it and briefly toyed with the idea of putting new batteries in it but then the stupid song came back and I swiftly added it to a bag of things to give away.

This is what it looked like just before I made a huge mistake that I couldn't come back from and had to frog the whole thing.

This is what it looked like just before I made a huge mistake that I couldn’t come back from and had to frog the whole thing.

So what does my Furby have to do with knitting…

Well, every time I start a project that I grow to hate I always think of my Furby. I always think each project is going to be so much fun to knit, that I am going to do all these miraculous things and that my unmatched knitting prowess will shine, and yet sometimes it is just another singing Furby. My Sonar Shawl was a singing Furby. Dear god, was it ever. And I am worried my Stripes Gone Crazy sweater is tuning in to one. The rows are SO LONG and it is mostly just mile after mile of stockinette. I’m almost to the point that I get to start using my contrast colour, and I feel like that will be exciting, but for now it is one big pile of robotic “La la la”s.

My solution to break the monotony has been to knit other smaller side projects in between stints working on the sweater. This has resulted in my making rather a lot of mittens and hats and slippers, and I’m reaching capacity. As I heard my husband say to his brother on the phone yesterday, “Every day she makes a new pair of mittens.” and he isn’t that far off. I can’t realistically keep knitting all these small projects because my kid can only wear so many, and I already have two awesome pairs myself that I have to divide my mitten wearing time between. I think I need to restart my Fellowship of the Shawl to serve as a break piece from my sweater. Its been almost a year since I frogged it and hibernated it but maybe it is time to bring it back and start again. It sure was anything other than boring! I will just need to make sure I’m smart about putting in lifelines…

 


Gauge matters, so knit your swatch!

Yesterday afternoon my husband came in to the bedroom and found me staring at (but not knitting) my Stripes Gone Crazy sweater with a tape measure in my hand. He asked what was up and I said, solemnly, “I’m worried this is going to be too big, and I think I’m going to have to frog this whole thing and start over…”. He asked, “Isn’t there some way to make sure you’re knitting the right size before you have to undo all your work??”. I sheepishly answered, “Err, yes. Yes there is. It is called knitting a swatch before you even start… and I did not do that…”

A pattern’s gauge and knitting a swatch is something I never bothered to do. Checking gauge was for sissies and knitting swatches was a waste of time, … or so I thought. Yesterday, though,

20 minutes to knit a swatch can save you from having to frog months of work.

my opinion on matching gauge and knitting a swatch changed. I have been knitting along for a week or two now and it is slowly starting to take shape, but the more I knit of the project the more concerned I was getting that the sweater was knitting up too big. I didn’t have a specific reason for why I thought it was too big, but each row was making me more and more concerned. It makes sense that it took this project for me to finally understand the importance of gauge. This is, after all, my largest project to date and my first project where fit really matters. As I stared at my possibly-too-big sweater I wanted to kick myself for not just knitting the damn swatch when I started and saved myself from this angst.

I spent a significant amount of time staring at my project and arbitrarily measuring parts of it with my measuring tape I think in the hopes that my measuring tape would suddenly turn in to one like Mary Poppins had. At the time it seemed a reasonable expectation for the measuring tape cooperate, stop stubbornly show me numbers, and instead read something helpful like “Your sweater is the perfect size. Knit on!”. While my measuring tape continued to refuse to be magical, I kept wishing I had just knit a damn swatch back before I started so that I would know if I was knitting in the correct gauge or not. 

The more important it is that the project fit, the more important knitting the swatch and checking gauge is!

And then it hit me…. Why don’t I just knit a swatch now?

And then a second thing hit me…. Why the hell did it take me so long to think of doing this?! Yes, swatches are supposed to be done before you start but there is no reason you can’t knit one after you start a project. Hell, my gauge can change depending upon my stress levels or how tired I am or how fast I am knitting, so maybe re-knitting a swatch periodically throughout a project would be a good idea!

Anyway, I knit a swatch and miraculously my gauge was fine, and actually maybe a tiny bit small if you can believe it! I’m fine with that, I want some negative ease and this knit is quite stretchy, so that seemed pretty ideal. Now that I knew I was fine I have been able to continue on with the project, incredibly thankful that I didn’t have to frog and start over. This was a dodged bullet, though. It was entirely possible/likely that my gauge would have been off and having to frog and restart was a very real possibility. I have definitely learned my lesson in regards to knitting swatches and matching gauge, at least for large projects and projects where fit matters. It is seems like a pretty minor thing to do before you start a project that is going to take weeks and weeks to make and it can save you a whole world of hurt.

So take it from me: Take the 20 minutes, knit the damn swatch and make sure your gauge is correct. You’ll thank yourself later.


Stripes Gone Crazy (Part 2)

My knee works as a shoulder shaping model! Awesome!

For my first sweater I think it is going okay. I (thankfully) am not getting fed up or bored with it despite it being stockinette. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I am only half way through the neckline shaping so there are a lot of increases going on to break it up. I also am really enjoying seeing the shoulder shaping happen. Who knew knitting a structured fitted garment could be so rewarding!

The sweater hasn’t been entirely smooth going, though. This IS my first sweater and frankly my first item where following the pattern actually matters. I also feel a lot of pressure (self imposed) because damn, this is a lot of yarn and a lot of stitches and a lot of time invested so it sure as hell better not suck.

Issue #1: It is pretty gappy where I picked up the stitches for the shoulder/arm section. Maybe it looks the way it should but I’m not convinced. I’m still holding on to a vague hope that this won’t be noticeable or problematic once the sweater is done and being worn but I am a little concerned due to the fact that the shoulder area is a part that is inevitably super visible and looked at.

Issue #2: Similarly, along the right hand shoulder where I started doing the increases I ended up with some significant gappiness where the new yarn was brought in. I don’t think I kept the new yarn held snug enough because everything sort of spaced out. I did try to correct it by feeding the excess yarn along to the as yet not sewn in end, but it ended up looking even worse. I ended up crocheting up some of the slack to even things out and conceal it. It definitely looks better than it did, but it still looks odd I think.

Lesson of the day: It actually matters that you put your increases on the correct side of the marker!

StripesGoneCrazyIncreasesIssue #3: I screwed up on my shoulder increases and for the stupidest reason ever. The problem was that I got all cavalier and didn’t pay attention to exactly where the increases should go (before or after the marker), and I also ignored the left leaning vs. right leaning difference. I think I figured “What the heck! As long as I have the right number of stitches it will work out!” Um, no. For a few rows at the top of the shoulder the increases definitely don’t look right. I eventually sucked it up, moved the markers back to where they should have been if I had done the increases in the correct location and I started doing the left and right increases correctly. Lo and behold, things are looking WAY better, way smoother, no gappiness. I will call this lesson learned.

Issue #4: I have the odd row of way-off tension. It isn’t so visible from the right side, but it is painfully apparent when looking at it from the wrong side. I don’t think this is necessarily the end of the world, and I am really hoping that a long soak and proper blocking once done will even it out, but it does irritate me.

None of these are deal breakers or problems that would make me frog and start all over (though the effed up increases comes close…), and so I slog on. REALLY looking forward to getting to knitting my first stripe, but I have about 40 rows to go before I get to switch colours.

And finally, I am impressed with this Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn. I don’t know what I was expecting but it is frankly lovely yarn to knit with, and the knitted material is really soft and smooth. I mean, sure, I’d love to say it is entirely due to my superb knitting skills, but lets be honest… the yarn has a lot to do with it… Plus, it wasn’t stupid expensive. So it turns out the popularity of Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn is well deserved. And for the record, I have absolutely no affiliation with Cascade Yarns and I get nothing for saying I like this yarn so much. I just really like it.

 

Click here to see every post about my Stripes Gone Crazy sweater, or visit my Ravelry project page.