Nothing to see here

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.

castoffno 2015-09-01

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.

matchymatchy 2015-09-01

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.

matchdone2 2015-09-01

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.)

washdone 2015-09-01

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.

medivalspindle 2015-09-01

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.

pirateroberts 2015-09-01

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.

jennywood 2015-09-01

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.

llindashepherd 2015-09-01

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.

silkywool 2015-09-01

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

cyperfiberset 2015-09-01

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.)

Robin Hunter wrote, and she’d like to offer a very grand thing, a pattern for  her beautiful Noreen Elliot shawl,  and a skein of 100% alpaca yarn to knit it with. She’ll be sending it to Marilyn B.

robinshawl2 2015-09-01

Ok, I’m out of time- more tomorrow, and a finished cowl.


32 thoughts on “Nothing to see here

  1. Oh, well done you!! See? You didn’t panic and that means you were able to be inspired by your surroundings. (Read that as, “the yarn fumes hit you just right.”) Beautiful solution – can’t wait to see!

  2. Way to go sister! Amazeballs, I was ready for the punchline, where you were looking for the perfect thing and then remembered that you had already made it into something even more scrummy than that cowl. But no. You must be a pro 😉 With luck like that I’d run out and get a lottery ticket right away.

  3. Can’t wait to see the finished cowl. I’m sure it will be Beery Nice. (Can’t resist a bad pun, either.) Congratulations on your ingenuity and perseverance!

  4. I’ve kind of been wondering if you sucked the beer out of the cowl before it dried. I think I would have. That cowl looks beautiful enough to be worth the hassles.

  5. Usually I’m a glass half full person, but for the life of me I can’t get this feeling out of my head . . . I think there will be another ‘knitting project’ shoe dropping somewhere down the line. But then again, isn’t there always. It’s Yin & Yang of the universe.

  6. Sometimes I think the karma has been balanced just enough that the knitting goddesses, fates, what evs’ decide to just let it all work out for a change. Also, for a show of hands, how many of us read this and turned to our darling spouses, and said “See, this is why I need all that yarn! You never know”

  7. Thanks for inspiring all of us with your knitting success and perseverance, and delightful gifts. I love the hand crafted wood gifts. Nice etsy page, but no buttons right now.

  8. Ooh, you may have been hanging out in the US too often; you wrote “aluminum” 😉

    But seriously, beautiful work on the cowl, and just the right amount of yarn chicken to keep things interesting.

      • It’s a thing Stephanie has talked about in her classes sometimes. Titanium, cadmium, beryllium, lithium . . . aluminium. We’ve just dropped the “i” from this one for some reason.

  9. It’s essential to have both a yarn stash and a spinning stash for just this reason! I can always spin a matching yarn if I don’t already have one. And after the fact I can’t tell where the replacement yarn is. I know I used it, but can’t find it.

  10. Very glad you made it!

    Did you check the new yarn under different kinds of light? (I know, don’t SAY that!) Childhood memory here of my father’s sweater with half the shawl collar knitted by my mom in an acrylic that exactly matched the red wool of the rest of the sweater. In the shop. But not, it turned out, outside.

    Except that I can’t see you keeping pure acrylic in with your wool yarns and you were working with a variegated yarn to begin with. So the proper answer is, nice save! (Just mentioning the other stuff to try to head off a disaster for someone else who hasn’t encountered that one yet.)

  11. Love your knitting chicken process, I call it knitting roulette ala Elizabeth Zimmerman. I frequently split yarn to get what I want, always making do when I have a huge room full of yarn!

  12. I’m so happy for you that even though you lost “yarn chicken” you were able to make an inspired save. Gives us all hope.

  13. I love the yarn chicken stories. I mean don’t keep playing yarn chicken on my account, just so i can enjoy reading about what happens. But I do love sitting on the edge of my seat to see what happens.

  14. If every handmade thing could tell it’s stories, oh can you imagine? Of poor math skills, sea breezes and beer and then, a daring dash to the finish wherein the heroine almost makes it, but fails, but the is saved by Sir Stash Room the Untidy!

    (Sorry got carried away there…)

  15. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I came across this in my search for something concerning this.

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