MHK – Day 25

Sometimes procrastination is good.

I mean, usually it’s bad, or we all think of it as bad, but in the last 24 hours I’ve had a couple of procrastination incidents that have worked out in my favour.

Yesterday I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. I’d been the day before but thanks to the long weekend it hadn’t arrived yet. So I set myself aside half an hour yesterday just before lunch to go and get it. The time came, but oh, I just wanted to finish this episode of Haven first. And then I’ll just grab a quick lunch. And I just need to …

I actually got to the pharmacy about 90 minutes after I told myself I would. And my punishment for this crime against timeboxing? Discovering that the prescription had arrived mere minutes before I did. If I hadn’t procrastinated I wouldn’t have been able to get the meds.

I promise, this is going somewhere knitting related!

This morning I’ve been procrastinating on a few tasks. One more check of Ravelry. Oh, I’m all behind on my Yarn Harlot blog, I’ll just have a quick look through that first.

Turns out, Ms Harlot has been doing a series on blocking! In which she not only describes how to block, but also posts strong opinions on whether or not one needs to block. Spoilers, she thinks you need to block pretty much everything. This is quite a contrast from Deborah Newton who, in her book Finishing School, is pretty meh about the whole blocking thing. Which is all very useful for the essay on blocking I have to write for Level 1.

So remember kids, always block, never procrastinate. Except when you don’t, and when you do.

 

 

MHK – Day 23

After examining my swatches on Monday, I’ve been doing some research on some of the issues I was having. I mentioned Arenda Holladay’s blog before, but I thought I’d highlight some of the posts I’m finding useful right now.

Her post on seed stitch mostly confirmed for me that the tension on my seed stitch is ok, and I don’t need to go down a needle size. I really love how she points out that we’re doing hand knitting, so we’re not aiming for machine precision. I definitely feel a bit better heading through my second seed stitch swatch after reading this.

When I was looking at my swatches, the edges of my seed stitch and garter looked neat to me, but my stockinette edges were a mess. Of course, Arenda has covered just this issue! And she links to another great blog post here. I think, on reflection now, that I might have been being overly tight at the end of my rows, particularly my purl rows. I was so keen on preventing one problem that I created another. I’ll have to do some experimentation with my stockinette before I tackle my swatch again proper.

Pretty much all of her blog posts have youtube videos to accompany them, and her channel is an amazing resource. Well worth checking out.

MHK – Day 22

Managed a couple of rows on Seed Stitch 2.0 before dashing out the door for the day. Here he is with 1.0.

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Aw, don’t be sad, little swatches, I’ll be back to knit you tomorrow!

MHK – Day 21

Miracle of miracles! I’m posting two consecutive days!

Seed stitch swatch

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All in all, I’m actually reasonably happy with how this turned out. I’m going to reknit it anyway because there are a couple of little tweaks I’d like to do, like slightly neater corners for the cast on. I also want to neated up the very end of the cast off. For my other two swatches I knit the last two stitches together when casting off to keep the final corner tight, but I didn’t here. I think it will make a difference.

Garter Swatch

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Also happier than expected, although there are more things to fix than the seed stitch swatch, partly because this swatch has more parts to go wrong.

Things I like: The garter stitch section is neat, both knit stitches in the ribbing are the same size, (most of) the edges of the garter are neat.

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Oh yes!

Things I don’t like so much: Despite the k2tog trick, the cast off is still a smidge looser than I’d like, the edges of the ribbing are … just no.

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I’ll have to do some reading up on that. I’ll start with the On Your Way To The Masters articles from TKGA, and then check Arenda Holladay’s blog to see what she can recommend. She has an amazing blog full of resources and videos, plus she’s an advisor to the Master Knitter committee and a former committee member, so she’s a bit of a ledge. I’m not sure how much of my problem is knitting, blocking or it’s-just-like-that, so first I need to properly identify that.

Stockinette Stitch Swatch

Ugh.

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I mean, it could be worse. Some of the irregularities have evened out in the blocking. The zigzag ribbing is straighter, although I overblocked the rib so I’m not sure that problem is actually solved.

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The back is mostly ok, reasonably neat, curling a bit like stockinette is wont to do. The big problem I can see is the edging.

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It’s hard to see, but it seems to go big stitch, little stitch, big stitch, little stitch so either my starting or ending stitch is too loose or too tight. I also have a bit of enlargement in the second stitch in, so I’ll have to investigate that.

To sum up…

All three swatches will be reknit, but I have a firmer idea of what it is that needs to be improved. Now to the research! Of course I also need to measure all the swatches as they need to be a certain length post-blocking, so I’ll have a better idea of how many rows I need for swatch 2.0.

I also need to block the next batch when I’m not rushing to catch a train. This does not lend itself well to right angles!

MHK – Day 20?

First three swatches washed, blocked and pinned out. They’re pretty much dry already, but I’ll leave them until tomorrow to unpin them and give them a solid once over.

One thing I have to remember for this, and some other blocking tasks, is that not everything is lace. I love blocking lace so much, pulling it out as far as it will stretch until the foam mats are bowing slightly with the tension.

This is not how to block these swatches. On my first time around I blocked them much too fiercely and ended up with loose floppy swatches. I’ve tried to be more careful this time around, allowing the swatch to be the size it wants to be and just pinning the edges straight and flat. Having the towel underneath rather than the smooth mats seems to have helped. I’m not sure if it’s the different texture or just breaking my brain of the habit, but it seems to be working!

Tomorrow I unpin and make a list of all the things I don’t like. Yaaay flaws!

MHK – Day Banana

The downside of conventions (and conferences) are the con colds. I’m a complete sucker for them. Something about lots of people in the one place, particularly when combined with travel or frequent temperature changes are like laying out a welcome mat for all the germs to come visit. Thanks to liberal application of hot lemons and sleep I’ve managed to kick it to the curb, so now I have no excuses for not doing my knitting, or my blogging.

I finally got the stockinette swatch.

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I’m pretty unhappy about that ribbing, it’s so zig-zaggy. The stockinette section itself is kinda meh. I was very intent on not rowing out so I gave every single purl stitch a wee tug. The upshot is that this is possibly the densest stockinette possible with this yarn and needle combination. There’s some unevenness even given my extreme purling, but that may come out after blocking.

Tomorrow I’m going to block the first three swatches and decided what I need to redo, and how I can improve the next swatches.

MHK – Day 10

Three weeks! I have three weeks left before I start this new job. Eep! It’s really coming up fast which is both exciting and terrifying.

Since my free time is about to evaporate, my lovely husband has decided to take a few days off work so we can spend them together, including today and tomorrow. Today we slept until midday, lazed around, watched some Black Sails on Lovefilm, did some college work/physics work, and then went for dinner with some friends who are in town. (If you’re ever in Edinburgh and looking for a good Indain, try the Guru Balti. It’s a little bit out of town but very much worth the trip!) Tomorrow we’re going to go to the gym during the day, before it get packed.

Then over the weekend we have some friends visiting and we’re all going to a small local convention. Then straight into Monday and back to work/job preparation.

And I’m hoping if I keep typing that nobody will notice that I didn’t knit any swatches today at all. Oh dear.

 

MHK – Day 8 … And 9

I could be better at this blogging every day lark.

I’m about half way through swatch 2, which is my third swatch, now. I’m reasonably pleased with how my stockinette stitch is turning out, I don’t seem to be rowing out (my knit and purl rows seem to be the same size), but I’m not thrilled with the state of my 1×1 ribbing, or the edge stitches.

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It’s just so wiggley!

I’ve resigned myself to the idea that I’ll have to knit the first three swatches again, so I figure I’ll finish this one, block all three and then see what I can learn from them for swatches 2.0. Once I get these swatches down, I can move on to all the increases and decreases, lace and cables.

MHK – Day 7

I ripped back all of the ribbing this morning and started over from scratch. I think it turned out nicer this time, although I’ll see after blocking if it’s good enough or if I need to redo it.

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You may have noticed (or not, you may be the perfect ribbing knitter!) that sometimes when you’re doing a rib that the knit stitch before the purl can be a bit loose and untidy looking. This is usually due to there being too much slack when moving the yarn from the back to the front. One really common recommendation is to wrap the yarn the opposite way on your first purl (so clockwise under the needle instead of anti-clockwise between the needles), making a purl with less yarn in the stitch. Then on the way back, the stitch will be mounted the wrong way so you knit into the back to avoid twisting the stitch.

I’ve tried this, and it works, usually, but not amazingly for me. Instead after knitting the first purl I brought the yarn to the back, as if I was going to knit, and pulled the stitch tight. Then I brought it forward again for the next purl. It seems to have worked out ok for the 2×2 ribbing.

After the ribbing (20 stitches) there’s the garter, which is worked over 25 stitches. Another neat trick I’ve learned for this is how to increase at the top of a rib. You know when you knit front and back to increase? How the second stitch has a little bump, almost like a purl? If you work a kfb into the second knit stitch, that increased stitch with the bump blends in with the purls. And on the other side, because it’s really a knit stitch, it also has a bump, so it blends in with the purls there too! Very neat!

I have another couple of inches to go with the garter swatch, so hopefully I’ll have that done tomorrow. Then it’s a 1×1 rib with stockinette, which should be interesting. Nothing like the blank sheet of stockinette stitch to show up the tiniest imperfections!

MHK – Day 6

In the cold light of day I decided I was reasonably happy with my bind off, so it was time for another swatch. Next is a swatch with 2×2 ribbing followed by garter stitch. I didn’t make it as far as the garter because I couldn’t manage to make a rib that looked neat to me.

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The edges look quit ratty, but I think a lot of that gets fixed in blocking, but you can see in the middle particularly that some of my stitches are uneven. Now I need to figure out if it’s my knit or purl stitches that are too loose.

I’ll start over tomorrow when I have good light again and hopefully make things neater.