Friday, June 20, 2008

And with that, I return to knitting

Creatures of the Reef

Whew. I just finished casting on 437 stitches and doing the set-up row for the Creatures of the Reef shawl. Obviously, this is one of those shawls that is up-front about itself. It doesn’t say, “Oh, just cast on, eh, whatever, three-four-six stitches!” and then sneakily increase itself up to 500 stitches.

It looks you in the eye and says, “Yeah, that’s right, I’m a shawl, a portable blanket for covering an entire human body! You want a shawl, you gotta pay your dues! Drop and give me 437 knitted-on stitches!”

Being highly distractible and also apparently somewhat dyslexic, I energetically cast on 473 stitches. And then when I went to pull out the extras, somehow I messed up the yarn such that instead of neatly pulling out, it tangled up into a chain and refused to come out. Then while I was putzing around with it, I broke the strand.

When you’re making your first join in the cast-on? Well. Let’s just say there are red flags already out on the course on this one.

I love the pattern on this shawl. The crabs and seahorses amuse me no end. I know that the pattern at the top is supposed to be "foamy waves", but it makes me think of fishing nets.

Of course, I love the pattern now. We'll see how I feel about it in a few weeks when I've actually been working the patterns for a while...

The designer says to place a stitch marker every 19 stitches…you know, so that you can know where you are in all those pattern repeats. At first, I scoffed. For the love of Dawg, I’ve done a few of these in my time – I think I can handle counting to nineteen a few times.

And then I reconsidered. Counting to nineteen, twenty-three times…might be a little advanced for a woman who has become so distractible that she will get in the car to go to the bank and end up at WalMart. (Stop laughing.)

Problem being, I didn’t have twenty-two stitch markers. I had, uh, well, about eight.

So, naturally, I went to the yarn store for a $5 package of stitch markers. Well. Two packages. Because after all – I had only eight to my name. I need not merely more, but more-more.

And new sewing needles.

With a Chibi .

And also some Claudia sock yarn, hand-painted in Purple Earth. The same color as the silk I used on the first Pacific Northwest shawl. Because nothing says your granddaughter is a lunatic love like a matching set of shawl and socks.

The needlepoint is barely even begun…but I’ve remembered why I stopped doing them. Due to the frame they don’t fold or crush or otherwise put up with being crammed down into a bag or basket. The needle is tiny and sharp – not so great with Denizens running around. Also, you have to have a pair of scissors handy at all times, since about every ten minutes it’s time to snip off the strand you were working with and start another. Denizens + Scissors = Problem. The older ones make “art” (pronounced: impressive dusting of tiny paper fragments all over the floor), and the younger ones like to run with them clutched in their grimy little paws.

So I’ll leave it out in my bedroom and when the spirit moves me, I’ll do a stitch or two.

But mostly, I’ll be knitting. Because it smooshes down into bags nicely, and uses needles that would be hard-pressed to break the skin, and only requires scissors every once in a while as opposed to every ten minutes.

Good old knitting.


Anonymous said...

Iloved doing this shawl. The creatures are even more enchanting as they come to life under your needles. I finally gave up on store-bought stitch markers. The ones I bought were always kin to Mexican jumping beans. As soon as they were "freed" from surrounding stitches, they'd immediately pop off and become lost in the black hole of the couch cushions. I now just use an 8-12 inch length of contrasting yarn no fatter than the yarn I'm knitting with and lay it between the stitches to be marked (in the same relative position as the marker, but actually between the needles)and flip the end from front to back every few rows. It gets neatly caught up in the knitting so doesn't fall out, but can be pulled out without any problem. Really easy, really cheap. What's not to like?

Threeundertwo said...

Gorgeous shawl!

I use little scissors when I needlepoint and I clip them to my shirt with one of those retractable thingys. I think they're called "zingers?" Then I put them away from the kids when I'm done. Love them.

gartlande said...

Creatures of the reef was the first shawl I made! It is a great pattern, but the cast on is a bitch. I finally managed to cast on the right number and got a few rows in, when my pug caught my working yarn in her tail and went running in and out of table and chair legs with a crazy woman chasing and yelling at her! Took me a while to untangle and start again, but I did and the shawl is beautiful.
Let's hope yours is less eventful!

Anonymous said...

I would have had to use stitch markers for the caston.

I've been using the tiny little rubber bands that are made for little girls' pigtails. They come in easy to see colors, and they are cheap so that when I actually manage to knit them into the fabric, I can just toss them.

Anonymous said...

I think tha's why I always have different things on the go, some things just aren't portable. Love to see the shawl when it's done

Lori said...

I love Creatures! I've been thinking about casting on for that one again. The best part is that the *beginning* is the longest and most just gets easier and shorter as you go.