Sunday, December 23

The perils of stupidity

OR: How to be bloody-minded

I decided I really ought to knit up some yarn. I picked it up ages ago at an event Andeeknits was running from her house in Bedfordshire in February 2007. Here's the yarn:

Picture 015

Yes, it falls in the "ooh pretty" category. Andrea said she had a cone of it herself. I wonder whether she ever used it? It's a thin zigzagging yarn, probably roughly a 4 ply, but every so often there's a big blob of fluff in it.

Well, I swatched it back in November on the KH260, along with some other plainer yarns. I don't remember having any problems with it, but then it was only a small swatch, and it knitted on the chunky machine at T6 with no real problems. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

I calculated a simple short-sleeved, scoop neck top, but decided I would do the sleeves as part of the main body, if they would fit on the bed. So I did some calculations, and yes I had enough needles on the main bed, so all was good. I re-wrote the pattern.

I decided it wouldn't be any good trying to creating ribbing with this yarn (even I have SOME sense), so I cast on with my cast on rag and ravel cord. I got about 20 rows in, before noticing that the yarn mast was having REAL issues with the blobs and it was leaping and snatching like an excited toddler in a sweet shop. Hmm. OK. Decided I would hand-tension the yarn for the rest of the sweater. The first attempt went ok, until I spotted a dropped stitch near the start, so the first attempt got frogged. Also, I noticed lots of stitches were tucking (because if a blob fell in the exact right spot, the latch hook wouldn't close on it properly). I finally managed to get the back knitted, but it was a serious trial stopping pretty much every row to check for tucked stitches.

That was a fortnight ago. Last weekend was somewhat taken up with preparing for the works xmas party and then having a hangover. I prefer simple knitting when hungover! That was not this garment!

Yesterday I decided to tackle the front. It had occurred to me, when doing the back, that perhaps I should have used the intarsia carriage instead, as I was already hand-feeding the yarn. However, it would knit to a different tension, which would mean starting again.

Suddenly I had a lightbulb moment - lock a card on the joining row (all holes), and knit with the carriage set to KC (which would bring all the needles to D on every row). Bingo! The knitting went a lot more smoothly, and although tucking still occurred, at least it was easier to spot, as the "tuck" would often fall forward on the needle and give itself away.

This yarn really ISN'T suitable for a knitting machine, unless as a knit-weaving yarn. But using the needle selection has made it at least bearable (and at least I don't have another cone of this stuff to get through).

I now have a back and a front, and I've handknitted 22 rows of garter stitch onto the front. Himself, helping get the house straight for visitors tomorrow, managed to hoover up the back where I am still adding the border, but luckily it has been rescued (our hoover has a rotating brush at the front, which eats yarn). Typical bloke, hoovers AROUND things and never thinks to pick them up. Once the borders are done I'll sew it up and start adding a neckline and possibly edge the sleeves. I used a plain white 4ply to cast off and will use that for sewing up.

Things I have learnt from this escapade:

  • Just because it's a coned yarn, doesn't mean it will work on a knitting machine
  • Sometimes a swatch isn't enough time to test a yarn
On the crochet front, I now have two snowflakes! Yay! The nice man from Sainsburys has just been, so the xmas food shop is here and I don't have to do a Penelope Keith impression and bewail that "Christmas has not been delivered to our house". Not sure I'm going to have time to block them before "the day" now. The living room has been given a good tidy up and looks fairly civilised. Tomorrow we're going to tackle the kitchen, hall and stairs, before we have to start cooking. 

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