Friday, February 16, 2007

Circular thinking

For starters, items in need of clarification brought to my attention...

Yesterday when I wrote "I guess that beats being turned into a sad bastard in someone's creative writing assignment," I was referring to how my coffee shop observer saw me, not how I view myself (at least not most of the time). She didn't use those exact words, but I was definitely being written as a pathetic character. I was also making a a context-free reference to "sad bastard music", which is how Jack Black's High Fidelity character described Belle & Sebastian's "Seymour Stein" playing in the record store. I like to drop allusions like that in my writing from time to time. Anybody besides (presumably) Noel and Donna pick up on the title of yesterday's post? (The kicker is I've never heard that album.)

As for my second ribbed hat, the problem was having an extra stitch in the middle of a row. I found out that knitting two together in the middle of a pattern leads to more serious problems instead of fixing it. I've not done anything with the hat since. This weekend I'll take a final stab at saving it rather than rip it all out. There's something that would make me sad.

I'm still going forward with my plans to move. The delay is finding the time to get my apartment packed so that I can then approach my landlord about the possibility of breaking the lease. I've identified two places where I'd like to live. Hopefully one will have an opening when I'm ready. And yes, my neighbors are dreadful. It's bad when you can't feel comfortable at home. I appreciate the sympathy.

All right, does that clear up everything?

I've been feeling the itch to knit something with circular needles for the first time. I popped in the Knitting Made Easy CD-ROM and thought I understood what I needed to do. Kristin's Jazzy Coffee Cup Cozy seemed to be an appropriate first project for knitting in the round. After casting on the stitches, I was confused. What do I do next? How am I supposed to get all of these stitches around this long cable? And how do I keep the cable from curling up a couple times?

I knitted a row but didn't do it properly. I reexamined the instructions for knitting on circular needles. Before I cast on again I tried to stretch out the curves in the cable. I hadn't eliminated the loops, but I thought I might be able to get something done with them. I cast on again. I remained confused, not to mention aggravated with the cable still curling up. I put my right foot in the middle of the cable--I also tried my knee--in an attempt to get the semblance of a gentle half loop from needle tip to needle tip. That wasn't working.

It also dawned on me that the cable was much too long. Time to check with Kristin. Turns out the cozy has to be knitted with two pairs of circular needles, something which she thought was too advanced for me at this time. Agreed. She also told me that running warm water over the cable can soften it up for shaping it into something usable. I have a lot to learn.

Kristin suggested a baby blanket for my first experience with circs. She sent me the pattern link and answered my other questions, so hopefully I'm all set if I want to begin it this weekend. Whether I do or not, I have plenty to keep me busy. I'd like to finish Jennifer's scarf and, if I can save it, my second ribbed hat.

Tomorrow brings the last basketball game of the season for work, meaning weekends should open up for apartment packing and more knitting. Sounds like a good thing to me.


At 1:45 PM, Blogger Karen said...

D'oh! I don't listen to the same music you do.

My first thought, when reading about your (mis)adventure with the circular needles was that you were using needles that had a cord waaaaaay too long for such a small project. Try a 16" cord, 24" max for a cup cozy.

I like circ's so much, I often use them in place of straight needles these days. The secret is to get good ones, so your yarn doesn't catch on the place where the cord joins the needle.

At 2:09 PM, Blogger Donna said...

It's a good thing you're going ahead of me into circ-land. I'm going to learn from your experience.

The thing I've worried about is joining the cast-on stitches into a round. The instructions I look at all say "be careful not to twist the stitches" but so far I have not seen what they mean by "join" ... it's hard for me to picture it ... is it more like a spiral than distinct rows?

Awaiting clarification ... through experience ...

At 3:04 PM, Blogger the secret knitter said...

Oh, the cord was way too long. I've been set straight on what I was attempting to do. It'll be for a later time. The warm water tip is something I wouldn't have thought to do on my own.

My first project for the circs will be knitted flat, so I'm not up to joining things in the round yet. I couldn't figure out how the stitches wouldn't be twisted with the cable going every which way.

But Donna, I do think you're underselling yourself. Look at what you've done already. Or maybe you got braver faster than I did.

At 6:15 PM, Blogger Karen said...

If you're knitting in the round, you have to worry about twisted stitches. If you're knitting flat, it's not a problem.

The way to make sure they aren't twisted is to make sure the stitches are all facing the same way. Stretch the cord out and arrange them. To join, you'll knit with the the yarn coming from the ball and also with the tail, both strands together, just for the first stitch or two after your cast on stitches. You just have to remember when you get back around the circle that those first one or two will have two loops.

If you join your first row twisted, you'll knit a moebius... kind of like the infinity symbol.

At 5:38 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

You can also boil water in a tea kettle and then move the circ cord back and forth over the steam to help relax it...I've done this before I bought my interchangeable circ sets, which are highly recommended if you end up liking using circular needles. I have both the Denise Interchangles and the Knitpicks Options...I know this isn't something you need right now, but you can read up on them later if you think you might be interested. I just received the Options set for xmas and HIGHLY recommend them. I heart them and would consider marrying them, if I wasn't already hitched ; )

PS - My first circ experience was also for a baby blanket...great way to get you used to using them.


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