Sunday, 1 March 2009
Look Ma - No Seams!
It hasn't always been an easy relationship -- this Noro Silk Garden and I. Certainly, it started out very well with a bargain price purchase of 14 skeins of the stuff. I don't often hit on good yarn sales so I was very pleased with the score.
I decided almost immediately that a small blanket was the thing. And that's when things started to get a bit rocky.
As I mentioned in January I had a few false starts and couldn't settle on a pattern. I wanted something simple that let the long stripes of colour provide the interest.
I tried some crochet, some knitting, some more crochet.......and some more knitting. And nothing was working for me.
And then one night, just before I fell asleep I had an idea that might work. Miraculously I remembered the idea when I woke up the next day.
Using some 5mm needles I cast on some (not too many) (20ish) stitches and knit in garter stitch for a long time which made pleasing chunks of colour. I slipped the first stitch on each row to give a nice edge for picking up stitches evenly. After a lot of rows and ending with a wrong side row (about 48 inches - 320 rows worth in my case) I cast off all but the last stitch.
Then I picked up a whole lot of stitches along the edge (159 for me - giving me 160 in total) to begin the next section. I knit some long rows in garter stitch which gave equally pleasing long stripy rows.
When I had enough of that I left the 160 stitches' live' on the needle and cast on 16 stitches using a knitted cast on at the end of the last row to begin the next section.
I then began the next stripe of the blanket by knitting those 16 stitches in garter stitch, ending the first and each alternate row by knitting the last stitch together with the next stitch from 'live 160'. You keep knitting these short rows, incorporating an additional 'live' stitch every second row until you have none left.
Cast off all but one stitch and begin the next section by picking up those stitches along the long edge again. Repeat until you have a blanket sized thing. This gives alternating sections of chunky blocks of colour and long stripy rows which make me smile and made me feel very clever.
I went for random section widths and was determined to have as little leftover yarn as possible. To that end I weighed the remaining yarn obsessively.
A Little Knitting Miracle
When I began the last section I was pretty confident that I didn't have enough yarn to finish it. I weighed the remaining yarn about every 40 rows and each time it was clear I was going to be just a wee bit short on the yarn.
And yet, somehow I was sort of surprised when I ran out of yarn with this much knitting left to go. Knitting faster and tighter (I confess I did both) did not overcome the yarn shortage.
I looked in every possible place in my house for a few grams of Noro Silk Garden that might have got separated from the rest of it during one of the earlier attempts. There was none in the stash cupboard, none in the stash basket, none in the drawers of the tv cabinet that occasionally become dumping grounds for works in progress, none behind the tv cabinet where the stuff that overflows the drawers sometimes ends up, none in the box in the guestroom of yarn that for some reason isn't with the rest of the stash....there was in short, NONE.
In order to provide a valuable lesson on the folly of pointless optimism to blogland I decided to take a picture of my almost but not quite finished blanket. And there, in the cabinet I keep the camera in -- where NO YARN EVER IS -- there was this very small ball of the very yarn I needed.
WooHoo! I have no explanation of how it got there or when or why, but I take my miracles where I find them and finished off the blanket. There are now about 5 yarns of the yarn left. Phew.
I like the blanket and I can confirm that Silk Garden softens beautifully with washing and use. Even though it was garter stitch I found that watching the beautiful colours develop in each of the sections kept my interest.
And I was very happy not to have any seams to deal with.
I'd like to make another version (when I next manage to score some cheap Noro Silk Garden!) with regular width sections. The only change I'd make to this blanket is the possible addition of a border. If I ever come across the perfect yarn for it I will probably add one - but for now I'm considering it finished.
And Now for Something Completely Different
(and rather unexpected)
I don't know how to say this - but I am currently PROJECTLESS.
Nothing on the needles.
Madness I know - but there it is.
I really fancy tackling some crochet for a change but can't find a pattern that catches my interest. I have a beautiful cone of pistachio DK silk which I'd love to use and I have started a few and abandoned a few things with it -- but so far no joy. I may have to admit defeat for the time being and do a bit of stash browsing tomorrow.