Thursday, 13 March 2014

Shetland Deathmarch or, with needles to hollow victory

Day 1 

What fun! I have three different colours of genuine Shetland Yarn and a lovely Hap Scarf pattern in mind. I have carefully assessed the lie of the land, and ascertained that 3mm needles will be best for the task ahead.

Although the pattern does call for quite a lot of the same lace stitch, with only a two-row repeat over long distances, I have trained for this and I feel that my experience with long hikes through the Norwegian Fjords, public school rugby matches, and top-down lace triangles from the estimable Mrs A Clarke will sustain me.

Captain Oates has decided to accompany me, as an advanced lace knitter wanting a short rest before a ring shawl in the Canadian Arctic.

Day 2 

Captain Oates and I have now cast on and are waved off at the shore by our cats, mothers, wives, Sherpa, baggage handlers, etc.

We look forward to a brisk twenty rows in cream, before starting with the colour banding. I have chosen to use pale green in two slightly differing shades on a  cream background. Captain Oates, a braver person than I, has decided to work the scarf entirely in fawn.

I reminded myself that Captain Oates was Head Boy and knows what he is doing.

Day 14

I am now well used to the pattern, and picking up the needles whilst I make the tea in the evenings on return to camp is a familiar routine. I feel I can now say I am definitely at home with the two-row lace pattern, and have completed several banded sections to my satisfaction.

Captain Oates does well, although progressing slower than I am. he has decided on a fawn shade that is easy on the eyes and will match most reindeer-skin outfits during the long winter ahead.

Day 18

I have broken another pair of needles and do not understand why. My hands, accustomed to their task by now, must have gripped too tightly during a k3tog.

Captain Oates complains that the fawn colour is not as warm as he would like it to be, and is contemplating ripping back. I am worried about him - he has done so much, although there is much yet to do.

Day 25

It seems very dark outside now. Last night Captain Oates woke me to say that I was chanting the stitch repeat in my sleep. I confess I do not feel well. Every time I open my eyes the green bands seem to swim before me.

Day 32

It does not progress as I would wish. I fear that I have chosen two shades that are too close to one another and, in the dim light, I risk confusing them for one another. God, I wish I had chosen a more decided shade as that Norwegian fellow in the knitting shop advised!

Captain Oates has only managed four rows today and looks deathly.

Day 39

This evening I found Oates had sneaked into my bag and was knitting two rows of mint-green into his otherwise fawn scarf, and I had to use very strong language to get him to undo the rows. When he had done it though he could not restrain himself and ripped back row after row! I only recovered the last forty rows before he collapsed weeping into the sleeping bag.

I have wound the fawn yarn as best I can, and placed the stitches on the needles.

Day 41

I have completed the last colour band and I can see that I am going to make it with sufficient yarn. Poor Oates looks done in, and has not the spirit to knit any more. I have cast off for him, and he claims it will make a cowl although I fear it is not enough. Perhaps some nice contrasting buttons will cheer him.

Day 45

Dear God this is a dreadful lace.

I cast off the final rows, and laid the scarf to rest on Baffin Island. I shall never look at it again.

My needles are bent all to hell, and I fear I may never wish to knit with cream yarn again.

We returned to Ravelry a proud but dim-eyed team, with the sure and certain knowledge that, although we had a rather tight-fitting fawn cowl and a scarf that I cannot help think of toothpaste when looking at, we did conquer and return home.

But ah - the cost. I shall ne'er do another k3tog.

PS Amundson says he will knit a top-down plain-coloured Lopi sweater next year. What a jape! I shall begin recruiting immediately. 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Foolish fool! Foolery!

Yeah, you should be sad you felting b*****rd
 Full fooly fool thy foolery lies!

The problem - dare I even breathe it? - with all social networks is that they often contain people.
All sorts of people. Sometimes people being stupid, in public, where I cannot prevent them.

Okay, so here's what got my goat. I bought a lovely yarn, Sirdar Baby Bamboo, in a pretty bright spring green. This is a DK weight yarn, with around 75% bamboo and 25% wool, roughly. Nice, bouncy, cool, soft, breathable. Better - on discount.

So whilst I swatched this yarn for a cardigan I made the rookie error of going on to the yarn review page on Ravelry, just to see what other people thought, how they had dealt with it and what they had made. At this point I had knitted a sensible swatch, checked the washing intructions, and washed it. Whilst it dried, I idly flicked through the pages.

Hm. So, the first comments said 'Hey! This felts! I wore it once and washed it and it felted! I put it in the tumble drier and it came out..." Wait, wait, wait. You put it. In. The tumble drier. The big hot-agitation machine?  The Feltinator? And this has 25% wool? Are you at all surprised? That's like, sun comes up, water wet predictable. Somehow this is the yarns fault - so much the yarns fault that you took time out of your day to come on here and tell me that you did this? To this yarn? To your project?

I mentally sighed. But there was the next comment. "This yarn is all drapey and heavy! I knitted a baby sweater at 7 stitches to the inch and it's really heavy!" Back to the ball band. Yup. It's a DK. And it's bamboo, so you know, not wool. Drapey. It's part of the appeal. But you, when you could have bought wool that knits up nicely at 7 stitches to the inch, which is clearly what you wanted, picked...a DK bamboo.

What really depressed me was thinking through the mental process behind this. Knitter wants a yarn that knits to 7sts to the inch. Not drapey. Picks a drapey yarn that knits to five stitches to the inch. And then bitches about it. Like it's not their fault. And then - the kicker - writes a review complaining about a bamboo yarn being too bamboo-ee!

Bamboo haters, a message; why, why for the love of Pete don't you just pick wool yarns if you hate bamboo so much? It's not like the ball band did'nt tell you! it's called BABY BAMBOO. it's different to wool, hence it's not called BABY WOOL. You picked it. You picked it and then you complained and then you felted it because you need corks on your cutlery and someone to help you cross the road because you, you madame, are a fooly fool.

And I have no way to tell you so.

Sigh. That's better. And by the way? The yarn is luscious and soft, and washes like a dream. And I am going to REVIEW THE HELL OUT OF IT.