Thursday, June 25, 2009

clap, clap, clap

Why oh why did I knit another Clapotis? This is my third. Do I need three shawl/scarves that don't work perfectly as either.

After much soul searching I find two major reason why I knit my third:

1) I was seduced by the yarn
2) I like a simple knit

#1, I tested a sample of Malabrigo Silky Merino and fell in love. Ever since I made my first Clapotis, using the decent but not wonderful Paton's Classic Wool, I've wanted a slinkier Clap. I thought it would be more scarf-like. It turns out that the slinky DK version is about as shawl-like as the worsted weight versions, but it does have a lighter, silkier feel. And the colorway, Stonechat, while it doesn't make you drool, is subtly beautiful and looks great with grey.

I made this one just as wide but shorter than the pattern suggests. I used 3 skeins of Silky Merino or 450 yards, about as much as a typical scarf. I bought 5 skeins and now have 2 left over to include in a future log cabin blanket or something.

#2 is a slightly embarrassing reason. After working straight out on a log cabin blanket, this Clapotis, and, currently, a Pinwheel Baby Blanket, to the neglect of other projects, I realize that I like to do plain garter stitch or stockinette best. I love a project that goes fast and requires little thought or attention. That goes for socks too, where the pattern isn't too complicated. Socks meet the goes fast requirement and most of the time, the little attention requirement.

I don't know if this is a phase or if I should forget about lace and cable knitting forever. I am well underway with a sweater I have long admired, the Apres Surf Hoodie by my latest design guru, Connie Chang Chinchio. Here is its Ravelry page. Now this isn't a difficult knit by any means, but you do have to keep track of which row you're on, and it doesn't go fast. So I have been neglecting this project shamefully, although I have no plan to abandon it. First I just have to knit dozens of garter stitch blankets or something.

The Clapotis, Log Cabin Blanket, and Pinwheel all share a special attribute. They are easy, simple, but very clever designs that produce striking and unusual objects. I would like to know about more like these. If you have any favorites along these lines, let me know.

Monday, June 15, 2009

the devil's pinwheel

Since my granddaughter Rosie has been spending more time at our house, I wanted to have a nice knitted blanket for her naps and sleepovers. The pinwheel was in the back of my mind. I perused Ravelry and decided that the Oat Couture short row pinwheel was the most refined. I especially liked the knit- in lace border. I actually went out and bought the pattern, an unusual action for me. Here is its scanned self:

The Ravelry pages showed lots of stellar examples of this blanket. I was particularly taken with this one , which convinced me that this was a project that uses variegated yarn to advantage.

I spent hours shopping on line, and narrowed down my choices. Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted was on my short list (the same yarn as in the afghan on Ravelry), but I thought it too pricey. Wanting instant gratification, I shopped locally (Mosaic Yarn Studio) and discovered that Dream in Color Classy, while not cheap, had more yardage than Lorna's Laces, so I could get four skeins rather than five to make up the 1,000 yards of worsted that the pattern calls for. See the yarn on the right. The colorway is called Ruby River.

I bought the four skeins, and here is where things started to go horribly wrong. First off, I found the yarn, machine washable merino, to be somewhat stiff in garter stitch. It wasn't scratchy, but at five stitches per inch, the correct gauge, it felt like a hot pad. Next, and worst, my yarn was disappearing at an alarming rate. To spare you the gory details, the upshot is that I frogged this project THREE times until I was at a gauge of four stitches per inch and had achieved an acceptable drape to the fabric.

I had knit up the first of the four skeins when a cold hand gripped my heart. By the size of the section I had knit, I would need just less than double the yarn I had purchased: that is 2,000 yards rather than the 1,000 specified in the pattern. WHAT? Even if I could get more of the colorway (doubtful), I didn't want to spend $150 on this project. And what is up with this pattern? Others on Ravelry did not seem to have this problem. But as a knitter, I usually need less yarn than specified, not twice as much. Mystery still unsolved.

My pinwheel failure was made all the more poignant when I read the blog of my fellow knitter Woolie of Wool Enough and Time. She made the most adorable short-row pinwheel cushion cover out of scraps. Kudos to Woolie, but grrrr.

My story is on its way to a happy ending though. I decided to make the yarn over pinwheel instead. After three or four failed attempts to start this project (five stitches on double pointed needles), I am on my way to producing a fine blanket for Rosie. This one is in stockinette, and I must say that the yarn seemed to smile at me as I released it from garter stitch. And I think I'll have a skein left over.