Sunday, February 18, 2007

Milestones

In observation of this, my 100th Knitting Confidential post, I thought it would be a good time to take stock.

I've been knitting for four months and knitblogging for almost the same amount of time. In both cases I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. Both activities have led to subtle but significant shifts in my daily life.

The biggest change is that I'm happier and more relaxed. Not all the time, of course, but in general. Yesterday brought the end of regular season basketball at the college. I'd been keeping stats for the men's and women's home games since 1995--usually a commitment of two nights a week from December through February--but decided not to do it this year, in part because I felt I would rather be home knitting. Standing beside the court last night it hit me that I hadn't missed those games. I hadn't even checked the scores the night of or morning after the teams played. It's not as though I stopped caring how they did, but being away from the games showed me that they weren't as important to me as I would have thought.

What did I do with that extra time? I've been able to go to Wednesday evening screenings. That may sound like replacing work with work--it is, in a way--but it's given me time for some socializing and saved time catching up on those films during weekends. I've followed the Blue Jackets, something that's been fun to do even if they've had a disappointing season. I've liked learning about hockey and enjoying the luxury of having a pro sports franchise nearby. And obviously I've knitted.

Knitting has proven inspirational, something manifested with my regular writing here. Not everything I write is of interest, I'm sure, but I hope it's worth your time during most visits. If you keep coming back, I assume it is. Aside from any therapeutic value of banging out words about whatever is rattling around my head, it's made me a more productive writer. It's not a coincidence that my film blog's output has increased since I started knitting and writing about it.

Knitting is responsible for me pulling the plug on playing fantasy baseball this year. (It's official. I declined the invitation this week.) I've played for years. The league I've been in is a full-time commitment if you want to have a prayer at winning. I've been competitive because I've invested a colossal amount of time in it. You know what? It isn't worth it, and I'm not just talking about the money I've usually come just short of winning. I don't know how many hours I spent last spring and summer sitting in front of the computer to see which players were starting and how they were doing via up-to-the-minute tracking. My time and energy can be better spent making something and learning new skills rather than searching for the Los Angeles Dodgers' potential new closer to fill a hole on my team or comparing OPS numbers of career .240 batters.

Recent days have seen me set some personal knitting milestones. I repaired the mistakes I made in Jennifer's scarf. I frogged a few rows back to the error and was able to reinsert the needle. For most of you that's not a big deal, but I've had plenty of issues fixing these problems. I finished her scarf today and am pleased to report that there is no evidence of those dropped stitches. (Sorry, no pictures yet. Even she doesn't know what color it is.)

Today I also confronted the mess I'd been avoiding since Wednesday. I bought a pair of US 4s to slip into the stitches, hoping that the smaller gauge would make it easier to get them on the needle. More importantly, I finally understood how to frog and put the stitches on the needle. I've been ripping out a whole row and then trying to slide the needle through everything. In this case, that meant 90 stitches in k2p2. It's no wonder I was failing every time.

I saw how the stitches were connected, so I placed the needle in the old stitch, frogged it, and moved to the next one. I transferred the stitches to a US 6, the size I'm knitting the hat with, and transferred to the other US 6 to get everything facing the right direction.

I knitted a row and thought everything was peachy. I knitted the next row and saw a hole and came up two stitches short. What...the...?!?! Time to put it aside again.

In its place I tried something new to me: circular needles. I'm making this baby blanket in a yellow dubbed "sunshine state". I put the circs in some warm water to remove the excessive coiling. It didn't go away entirely, but I hoped it would work itself out. Yes, I'm a fool.

I also had to learn how to do yarn over. It's not complicated, but I hadn't done it before. I began knitting flat on the circs and struggled immediately. The stitches were tightly wound around the needles, and that infernal cable kept getting in my way. Every picture I've seen of circular needles has them making a nice half circle from needle tip to needle tip. Mine curve.

I shouldn't have a loop parallel to my needles when I'm using circs, right? Having to stop to push down every couple stitches is already an inconvenience. Avoiding getting tangled with that coil is testing my patience.

What you see in the photo is my second attempt. I frogged what looked like a mistake in one of the first rows. With the needles bare, I decided to give them a soak to straighten out the cable. No luck. I started again and knitted what's in the picture. As I understand it, one of the benefits of circs is that they take the weight off your wrists. So far it's been harder on mine than straights.

I returned to the ribbed hat and made one more attempt to salvage it. I could now see that I missed two stitches when I reinserted the needle. I was extremely careful in frogging and reinserting, yet I got the job done faster than I did the first time. I knitted two rows and felt pretty good about what I had done.

The punchline is that knitted at least one of those rows, if not both, with one US 6 and one US 4. You're crazy if you think I'm going to undo those rows. For now the plan is to keep going. It isn't going to make that much of a difference, is it? The last thing I want to do is frog it again.

I've come a long way since I started, and I have a lot to learn. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment during these first hundred posts. There are sure to be plenty more crazy adventures and stupid mistakes to come.

6 Comments:

At 9:46 AM, Anonymous ruth said...

It's been fun watching you learn, sorry no help with the circs. I avoid them at all costs.

 
At 12:54 PM, Blogger Donna said...

100 posts? That's impossible!

I love reading a reliable post-a-day blog -- I look forward to seeing the (1) pop up every day in my Safari RSS bookmark menu. And what a bonus that it's you! -- my inspiration and one of my most significant new pals. Thanks for blazing a trail for me, both in one-a-day posting and in knitting. And I hope by golly my first circ experience is not as troublesome as yours.

 
At 5:50 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I can't wait to see my scarf and I'm ridiculously curious about what color you chose!

I'm amazed that you have 100 posts, but I know that you post way more regularly than any other knitting blog I read, so I can believe it. Thank you for sharing your new-knitting experiences w/ us and keep 'em coming!

By the way...I made that blanket last summer for a friend's baby and it ends up being a wonderful, very large, baby blanket. You'll feel like you're never going to get to the middle and then realize that you've just made it halfway ;) But it's a great pattern and I'd probably knit it again as it was a huge hit at the shower and w/ the parents, friends and family of the baby it was knit for. Good luck w/ the circs and if they are still too coiled, try the tea kettle/steam method.

 
At 7:58 PM, Blogger Karen said...

Happy 100th Post!

A couple of things on circ's... First, you have to use *really* hot water to get the cable to straighten out. Sometimes even boiling hot water. Just be sure if the water is boiling hot, you immerse only for a short time. Also, once you have knitting that goes the entire length of that cable, it will straighten out. I promise.

Onward, brave knitter! I am so impressed with your perseverance.

 
At 9:23 AM, Blogger Jenn said...

Ohh, I didn't realize that you have to straighten out the circs...*smacks forehead* Luckily, my first go at them were on 16 inchers, so I didn't have too many problems...

Happy 100th! I do enjoy reading your blog. Did I tell you that I've decided to start a knitting group among friends and coworkers? So that we can encourage each other and teach each other--I feel like that's what we have here is a virtual knitting group, and I like it. A lot.

 
At 3:42 PM, Blogger the secret knitter said...

Jenn, that's wonderful. You all say the nicest things.

I'm amazed you could get anything done on circs without straightening the cable some.

 

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