rookie mistake

High-Low-Yo

My gambling friends will know that high-low-yo is a one-roll bet in craps. You say it as one word as you fling a chip into the center of the table, but you’re making three bets: one bet on the highest roll of the dice (twelve, aka, boxcars or midnight), one bet on the lowest roll (two, aka, aces or snake eyes (which no legit craps player calls it ever)), and one bet on eleven.

Never happens.

Never happens when you want it to and always when you don’t.

It’s a stupid bet* because crap dice (the high-low part) rarely come up (the payout odds are 30:1). Unless, of course, a hot shooter has been hitting numbers for an hour and you start feeling like you can’t lose so you make unnecessarily high bets on the come out rolls. That’s when those evil twins ride up on their Harleys, trailing their dangerous cousin, ace-deuce, and the croupier’s call changes from, “Winner; pay the line,” to “Crap dice; line away.” But did you cover your high line bet with a craps bet? No. You were flush and cocky, thinking that today’s the day you were going to make up for all those other days.

You already know that I gambled on the Hermosa Tee I was knitting up for my sister-in-law, and ran out of yarn half-way through the front.

Just my luck.

I should have covered that bet by ordering more yarn from Knit Picks, but what are the odds that they would send me the same dye lot as the original yarn? At least 50:1.**

So I did the equivalent of walking away from the craps table. I bound off (binded off?) and turned it into a high-low asymmetrical hem.

This tee is so tiny, I had to photograph it on my half-mannequin.

Yo.


*I agree: all bets are stupid.

**Don’t forget we’re talking about me and my luck, so let’s amend those odds to 100:1.

To Ponder: The urge to gamble is so universal and its practice so pleasurable that I assume it must be evil. |-Heywood Hale Broun-|

Design WIP: The Stupid Sleeves Again

Okay, so the sleeves aren’t stupid. I’m the one who’s stupid. Okay, not stupid in general, but I’m math stupid.

But if you want to design a cabled sweater that fits, you have to do the maths. And redo them again and again because even though you triple-checked everything the first time, you came up with numbers that created sleeves that were easy to design instead of numbers that would create sleeves that actually fit the armhole until your spreadsheet looks like this:

And you can’t takes your eyes off these numbers for even a second to take a wee color break on Pinterest or to make a cuppa with extra honey because your glucose levels are low from all the brain energy you’ve used plugging the right digits into the right columns and saying a poem’s worth of words that rhyme with knit because if you do look away, all those numbers and formulas and trains of thought flip over to another channel and the only thing left is that big bottle of Crown Royal that you bought on credit in anticipation of Creative Knitting paying you a handsome sum for your Christmas ornament pattern.

So after three* hours, it’s done.

I have new numbers and a new chart and a new attitude. Sort of.

It’s 66 bleepin’ degrees.

In January.

Gah!

This is ridonculous.

Not sweater weather.


*Well, four hours, because I always spend an hour trying to jimmy a fix even though I know—know—that nothing to do with sweater math is easy.

To Ponder: Sometimes the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem. |-Jonathan Mead-|

Somebody Get Guinness on the Line

The other day, after mostly finishing all the pieces of The Sweater, I laid everything out to see how the sleeves would work with the body, and…they don’t. Not even a little bit.*

I messed up so spectacularly, I set a record that Guinness should know about.

At first I didn’t believe it, so I spent about half an hour trying to figure out how it couldn’t be wrong. That didn’t work, so I tried to figure out how to minimize the damage, hoping I could maybe just redo the sleeve caps, but I can’t because it’s that completely bleeped up.

So after about another half hour of looking at my options, I finally came to terms with the fact that I have to rip hours of work and redo all four pieces from the underarm up. For my non-knitting friends, on the body of a sweater, that area is called the yoke; on a sleeve, it’s called the sleeve cap. Combined, that represents about one-third of the sweater.†

The only way I can salvage the work I’ve done is to knit raglan sleeves, but even that won’t save it completely. From the very start of this design, as I chose the cables and their placement, I was working toward a particular type of sleeve, which means that raglan sleeves will cut into a couple of cables in a way I hadn’t intended or planned for.

Explaining, in writing, how I arrived at this point would give me carpal tunnel syndrome, so you’ll have to imagine your own worst screw up.

And then triple it.

On the bright side:

  • I wanted raglan sleeves in the first place.
  • Redesigning should be easy.
  • Guinness doesn’t have a category for knitwear design flubs.

*You might be wondering why I waited until all four pieces were done before I tested my design. I’m wondering the same thing.

†Remember that this is a heavily cabled sweater, so one-third of the sweater is equivalent to three-fourths of my sanity.

p.s. There are no photos in this post because I’m hoping lots of readers will skip it, thereby minimizing the number of people who think less of me.

To Ponder: Ideas must be put to the test. That’s why we make things, otherwise they would be no more than ideas. There is often a huge difference between an idea and its realization. |Andy Goldsworthy|

Fulfillment: Fingerless Mitts for Knit Picks

After submission and acceptance comes contract fulfillment. Well, actually, free yarn comes after that, and then fulfillment.

I signed and returned the contract for the fingerless mitts, and a week or so later, Knit Picks sent me the Galileo yarn I proposed. The yarn is a 50/50 blend of merino wool and bamboo, but I had never worked with it before, so I wasn’t sure how it would behave with my pattern. (Always a concern.)

I’m happy to say that all such thoughts drifted away as soon as I started working with it.  It’s got a nice hand and a lovely sheen that does a lot of work. I imagine, however, that you would have to be careful with it in certain designs, lest it steal the show (like Troy Garity did in the stylish movie Bandits).

The son of Jane Fonda.

I had proposed the mitts in Abalone, a bright pink color,

Not mother-of-pearl.

but one of the Knit Picks test knitters is going to knit the sample that will appear in the pattern book, so I can work out pattern details in any color I want.

Were this a project where exact fit was critical, I would have requested Abalone because different colors of the same yarn can behave differently (i.e., affect gauge) depending on the dye. Really. Navy blues and blacks are heavier than yellows and pinks, and tweeds are much thinner than their solid-colored brethren.

But exact fit wasn’t an issue, so I chose Gem. It looks teal on screen, but is rather green in the hand.

What I wanted (left) vs what I got.

Not a big deal for this purpose, but it would have been were I designing something that relied on the blue of teal.

Knitting a prototype and writing a pattern, even for something as simple as fingerless mitts with no thumb gusset, takes a lot longer than you think it’s going to, so I got started on it right away. (And by right away, I mean a couple of weeks later—but to a skilled procrastinator, that is right away.)

As I was knitting the first mitt, I kept thinking that it didn’t look right, too open and sloppy, and maybe I needed to go down a needle size. I thought this even though I had already experimented with needle sizes when I swatched multiple times for the submission. But I hadn’t swatched with this particular yarn, so I assumed that was the glitch.

When I finished the mitt, I compared it to my original swatch and realized I hadn’t twisted the stinkin’ knit stitches.

Let’s think about this for a moment.

This is a pattern I designed. I spent 11 hours swatching, after which I finally hit upon the twisted stitch as the one element that nailed the design. (Designers feel like bacon in a moment like that.) I was elated and proud, and considered patting myself on the back with the purchase of a squash blossom necklace. And I even blogged about my accomplishment—on my own blog. It was such an obvious and hard-earned design element that I didn’t have to write it down in my design notes.

And still.

After that smack down, I knit one mitt as intended, taking more notes as I went along (including “knit for Pete’s sake TBL”). I then wrote up the pattern and knit the matching mitt from that, finetuning things here and there.

After I formatted the pattern instructions according to the Knit Picks template, I turned it in—two weeks early—and removed the squash blossom necklace from my shopping cart.

To Ponder: A man ought warily to begin charges which once begun will continue; but in matters that return not, he may be more magnificent. |Francis Bacon|

220 x X* = Insanity

*Where X is the number of times I’ve counted to 220.

I started a new knitting project—Lucie Sinkler’s #23 Sleeveless Top from Vogue Knitting’s Spring/Summer 2003 issue. I like the shape of this top (which is not sleeveless, but rather has cap sleeves) and the fact that it’s seamless. I don’t like the air vents at the sides, so I’ll be leaving them out. (If you had seen the chart for those things, you’d do the same.)

I’m using Knit Picks’ slippery Shine Sport in Currant and slippery Addi Turbo needles. (Don’t ask if I swatched because I didn’t.)

Only one thing is better than yarn the color of Pinot Noir.

I cast on 220 stitches using my favorite Chinese Waitress cast-on (which took 45 minutes), joined for knitting in the round checking several times that I didn’t twist the line of stitches, and began knitting. It starts with three garter ridges, which means three rounds of purling 220 stitches.

I finally got to the stockinette rounds and added a little cable detail that’s supposed to continue up and along the raglan decreases.

After about six hours and 12 rounds, I had this:

3,960 stitches, 660 of them purled.

After I realized that I had twisted the line of stitches and would have to start over, I had this:

And then I had this**:

Zero stitches.

And then I had this:

The only thing better than yarn the color of Pinot Noir.

And then I had this:

My knitting hubris will prevent me from doing this next time.

You’ll notice that my cast on has little binder clips on it. This tip to clip your stitches in place so the slippery yarn on the slippery needles doesn’t deceive you into believing that they’re lined up properly is from the surprisingly helpful book Knitting Tips & Trade Secrets.

I again cast on 220 stitches and again joined for knitting in the round, absolutely certain that I had not twisted the line of stitches. I worked one round, counting each stitch as I knit it, and came up with 210.

Can someone please subscribe me to a wine-o-the-month club?

**To rub a little salt in my wound, when I tried to frog the yarn onto the ball winder, it kept knotting itself because of the twist, so I had to hand-wind it.