This cowl I’m knitting and I, we were nearing the end of the road. I’d powered through what was almost left of the knitting, and I was at that tricky bit at the end of a handspun thing. I had a little bit left when I finished the repeats of the lace, but I handspun is so precious that I hate to waste any, and this particular skein ended in a bit of brown-ish business that I thought would look nice at the edge. I decided, likely because Joe is still out of town and that makes me believe I can concentrate on things, to play a little game of yarn chicken. I measured out what i thought would be a rows worth, tied a little knot in that spot, and started to knit. When I got to the end of the round about 30cm before the knot, I decided that I should use that length to calculate how many rounds I could get out of what was left, and come as close as possible to using it up.
Now, I know this cowl and I have been having a hard time of it, and so far my math (or lack thereof) hasn’t exactly been at a stunning level of calculation. Still, it seemed to me that if I was generous, and padded the thing with an extra rounds worth or two, then I should be ok. I measured, figured out I had enough left for 12 rounds, and decided to do 10. Then I had a moment of incredible clarity, remembered that binding off takes more yarn than just knitting a round, and decided to do eight. Eight, plus two rounds worth for the cast off, with two lengths as insurance.
At first, it seemed to be going pretty well, but as the rounds advanced – the yarn started to be consumed at an alarming pace. It still looked like I might make it, so I kept on knitting. At the end of the thing, with just the bind off left to go, I counted arms lengths of the yarn left. 9. Well, I thought, that’s probably fine. I’d calculated that I needed about 4 to do a round (although it was starting to look like I’d done that math as well as wet cats express cheerfulness) so 9 should be enough for a cast off.
It wasn’t. With about 46 left to go, I ran out. I cursed, and thought about my options. I could pull the work back – taking out the garter stitch edge, and then a few rounds of the lace, then bind off again, that would work, but I was so close to done… the other thing I could do, it occurred to me, was get more of the yarn. I only needed a metre or less, and while I didn’t have any more of that fibre to spin up, I do have a lot of fibre upstairs, and my little emergency bag of bits and pieces. I felt sure that I’d find something. I headed upstairs, and stood in the stashroom for a minute (It’s more of a stash closet, to tell the truth, but I like the sound of stashroom) and looked around. Most of the yarn is on shelves, like at a shop, but the fibre is in bins on the shelves, and I reached out, and pulled down the one that I thought my bag off oddments was in, and nope – wrong bin. That was my bin of single balls of fingering weight yarn for colourwork, and I was about to shove it back on the shelf when I had a thought. I gave the bin an experimental stir, and there it was. A single ball of yarn that looked like it was exactly, precisely, amazingly the right colour. Not “it will do in a pinch if nobody looks too closely” not even “only I would be able to tell the difference” I mean – perfect. Absolutely perfect. I pulled off a couple of metres, and just about ran downstairs to check.
Look at that. The only thing wrong was that it wasn’t the right weight. I tried it single, and it was too thin. I tried it doubled, and it was too thick. I needed something right in between, and that’s when it occurred to me that the yarn I was holding was a two ply. I split it into two plies, added one of the plies to an intact length, and tried that.
It was amazing. I bound off, wove in my ends, gave the thing a bath (because it was still full of beer) and voila. The whole problem took about 2 minutes to solve, and I can’t remember the last time I knitting problem got fixed that quickly around here. I feel as though the whole thing was kismet, or maybe I’d paid my dues on this one, and the knitting fates decided that I’d had enough – whatever the reason, the moment I grabbed the wrong bin, things got way better. (I’d like to take a moment to point out that if I was super organized, and totally knew where everything was, I’d probably still be spinning. Untidiness has surprising advantages. Stick with it.)
It’s drying now, and the world’s top knitwear model is coming over later, so pictures tomorrow. I love how it turned out. Now, I have an hour before I need to do something – so, Karmic Balancing Gifts it is! (I’m determined. This long queue of them is going down.)
First up is Katrin, she specializes in historical textile techniques, and sells materials and tools. (Her shop is very cool. Have a peek.) She has a medieval style spindle (the whorl is detachable, and the spindle is a very fast one), with spinning instructions (available in German or English) and a bit of wool from three different breeds. Katrin will be sending that along to Shelley C.
For Janell H the pattern for “Dread Pirate Roberts‘ Favourite Winter Hat” (I love me a good Princess Bride reference) a hat worked top-down in the round (no swatching needed, because all the pirates she knows hate to swatch), and the three-dimensional skull-and-sabres motif can also be used on any other item knitted in the round. Along with it will come an oil-light wick holder and wicks in a tin, a tealight-sized glass, and a lid to extinguish the flame. It uses vegetable oils as fuel, making it an eco-friendly alternative to regular tealights in their aluminum shell.
Jenny has a beautiful shop, full of handmade wooden things (the spoons!) and she’s got a beautiful set of lovely handmade things she’ll be sending to Annestasia G. Rustic DPNs (I love those) and buttons, and a beautiful nostepinne for the loveliest hand wound balls.
Linda has a present from her stash for Tabitha N. It’s 4 skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted in the colorway Lorikeet – saturated primary colors of red yellow and blue. 100% Superwash wool. Total 900 yards.
Carol (who says in her email that she’s definitely achieved SABLE -that’s Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy) has two very, very nice presents. The first is 8 balls of Silky Wool for Kacie R.
The second is a very nice set of sock yarns and a set of rosewood needles to knit them with, and she’ll be very generously sending those to Caroline R
Janice D has a very sweet idea for a present. She’ll be sending a $25 gift certificate for Knit Picks to both Sarah N and Jackie D. (It’s hard to come up with a picture for that one, but I think she’s great.)
Ok, I’m out of time- more tomorrow, and a finished cowl.