Sunday, January 09, 2005

Knitting Update

The pieces of the puzzle are coming together... Posted by Hello

Finally, I have something to report on Randy's sweater, which is moving along at about a snail's pace. I'm blocking the front and the back so I can sew the shoulder seams together and then begin knitting the collar. Last night, Randy let me hold up the front piece to see how it fits him, and I think we're right on target here. He gasped when he saw the scooped neckline, so I reminded him we'll be filling it in with a shawl collar, so the sweater will look appropriately masculine and he can wear it around his buddies without undo teasing.

At this point, I should be finished knitting all of the sweater pieces, but alas, last night I decided there was no hope for one sleeve, and I frogged it all the way back to the cuff. How one sleeve got out of sync with the other is still a mystery to me. I took notes while knitting the first sleeve, and when I was knitting the second sleeve I periodically compared the two. Yet the second sleeve ended up not only longer than the first--but wider too. Drat and double drat! This time around I'll take careful measures every couple of rows. At least I can report the knitting fire is burning again, and even though I've said this before, with a little effort I may be able to wrap up this sweater this week.


You lite up my life... Posted by Hello

Can modern technology keep peace in a marriage? One electronic gadget has lowered a little crankiness around my house. Whenever we sat down to watch a movie, Randy and I had the same... let's say "discussion." Lights on or lights off? I preferred the lights on, of course, so I can knit my way through the movie. A weekend movie-a-thon is always worth about two hours of solid knitting time. Randy preferred the TV room to be movie-theater dark. I complained about the eye strain of trying to knit in deep shadows, he complained about the glare on the TV screen from a room full of lights. Back and forth, lights on and lights off, and so on.

Our new Ott Lite has quieted the waters. Ott Lites are supposed to be a more natural-colored light, closer to sunlight than typical florescence bulbs. With the floor lamp, I can knit my heart's content in my favorite knitting chair with the light directed right at my lap. Randy can have near-movie-theater darkness, because the Ott Light doesn't create a glare on the screen. One less cranky moment is definitely worth the price tag.

The Ott Lites advertised in the knitting mags are always listed at outrageous prices. I found both table and floor Ott Lites at an office supply store at less than half the cost of those advertized for knitters. As far as I can tell, the bulb used in the office supply model is the same as the craft models. I've knit with it for a couple of nights now, and it is tons easier to count tiny stitches in navy blue yarn with this handy light over my shoulder.

Friendly Neighborhood Yarn Winder Posted by Hello

In other knitting-related purchases, I also broke down and bought a yarn winder. For those readers who wonder what the heck this could be used for, it's simple really. Lots of yarn from the smaller yarn companies come wound into skeins. A skein is a large loop of yarn, and it needs to be wound into a ball in order to be used. For the smaller yarn companies, selling yarn in skeins is one less manufacturing step, which helps keep the cost down. I usually enjoy buying skeins because winding the yarn into balls can be kinda fun, in a homey sort of way. It's also a good way to experiment with yarn from small-time vendors.

Usually, I've wound the yarn into balls by hand, but the Victorian 2-Ply I used to make Randy's sweater has taken all the joy out of this step. The yarn is fun to knit, it makes a nice looking fabric, and because it is a thinner yarn, it won't be so overwhelmingly warm to wear. But the yarn came wound in the most impossibly tangled skeins, it took me an average of two hours to wind each skein into a ball. There is no joy in this, let me tell you. I thought the yarn winder might make this process move along a little easier, but it still took over an hour for each skein, even with Randy's help and the mechanical aid. I've wound enough to finish the sweater, but I have a skein and a half left over that are just impossibly tangled. I'm considering throwing the leftovers into the compost pile--I hear wool makes a great mulch. Note to self: this is the absolute last time we ever buy this yarn!

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