Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Creeping along

Well, my knitting speed – never something to boast about – has been reduced to a dead crawl by a perfect storm of tennis elbow, paperwork of all descriptions, and being graced with some actual paid work to do.

Never have I been so happy to find myself wrestling with a SQL Server.

However! Although heavily burdened with the aforementioned, progress is still happening on the Sipalu bag. I’m on the last bit, which is making the i-cord straps and buckle loop. I want to wait until after I’ve blocked it to take pictures, because I have this wild fantasy that by then I will have found the camera’s memory card so that the true beauty of the piece is easier to see.

This bag had some interesting techniques to it. When I first started reading the instructions I had one of those moments of knitterly panic – it starts off with the cheery command ‘using scrap yarn, provisionally CO 240 sts.’

Now, wait just a second here, I thought. I didn’t agree to any provisional casting-on on this deal!

I’ve always hated the provisional cast on. It’s one of those fiddly deals that I always do, well, wrong. Somehow, no matter how careful I am, no matter how often I double check my work, no matter how many times I double check in the book that I am doing things “right,” I do it WRONG.

The last time I tried something with this cast on, I ended up tearfully doing a regular old double-tail cast on and picking up stitches from that to do the cuffs on the adorable little baby pants because people? I was going mental.

But I have grown since then. I have matured. I have blossomed into a Fearless Knitter. I have done STEEKS, people!, and I will not be put off by a @*^&@ing ‘provisional’ cast on.

So I went onto the Internet for help because we have that now. Internet help. Blogs and videos and yarn stores offering classes…it’s all right there at the tips of our fingers.

And lo, I found a video which knocked my socks off. You have to scroll down to get to it, but has a video that not only demonstrates the provisional cast on, it shows this really nifty thing you can do where instead of ‘waste yarn’ you use a ‘spare circular needle.’

Oh. My. Gawd.

One of my favorite things about knitters is the way they come up with things that are sooooo simple and yet sooooo clever. This solved two of my biggest beefs with the provisional cast on method: The fact that I am not coordinated enough to keep my working yarn and my waste yarn in their proper places, and the way that you have to come along later and pick out the waste yarn, and put the stitches on a live needle, and only then! may you begin the fun part, a.k.a., the knitting.

So I used the cable of an Options needle instead of waste yarn, capped at both ends to prevent the yarn from making a break for it while I was busy with other things, and it worked beautifully. When it was time to pick up those provisional stitches, I just screwed on my smallest Options needle, slipped the stitches down and coolly started knitting.

Just like that! Cool as a cucumber. Butter wouldn’t have melted in my mouth. Sans cussing, even.

It was a thing of beauty, not having to pick them up off the waste yarn…which invariably starts splitting and shedding and otherwise misbehaving on me. (Have I mentioned that I am rather disenchanted with provisional cast on in general? Oh, I have?)

One of the neat things about this ‘kit’ is that it comes with a massive amount of yarn. It’s $34.99 for the kit, which gives you 17 balls of Palette in assorted colors. The pattern comes with two colorways, and you can make both with the yarn provided…and the pattern states that “With your own color re-arranging, you should be able to make even more than just two.”

Now, obviously, I could very well be wrong…but, judging purely by how much yarn I’ve used to make just this one bag? I think you could easily get four bags altogether. I really do. Which would make your cost per bag only $8.75 (if I’m right), plus a big button for closure, AND lining material – they make it very clear that you’re going to NEED to line this baby. And you will. It’s got floats everywhere.

But look on the bright side – because you’re lining it, you don’t have to run in all those ends!

Let me say that again: You do not have to run in all whackity-majillion ends.


They suggest merely tying or braiding the yarn ends tightly together. And then it says those beautiful, magical words: “There is no need to weave in ends, as the lining will hide them.”


…of course, this does bring up one other teeny tiny problem. I can’t sew. Fabric, it hates me. HATES. ME. But undaunted (and comforted by the fact that nobody is going to be looking at the lining of my beautiful bag, thank you very much), I have picked the lining I want from the throw-away bin at WalMart (twenty-five cents, yes way) and fearlessly await my elbow’s leisure for finishing the i-cord so that I can not weave in all those ends (still charmed!), wash and block it…and then line it.

With the fabric.

Which I know hates me.

…but I’ll burn cross that bridge when I get to it…


Anonymous said...

Oooo, I can sew! I'll sew you a liner if you knit me a bag! LOL! ;o)
LOVE the bag. Love it.

Leoal said...

You totally had me sold on knitting that... until you said "sew".

Now, not so much.

Misstea said...

I have always had bad luck when it comes to the provisional cast on.

Your recommendation is filed away. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Depending on the size of the bag you can always use an old (or new!) pillowslip or cushion cover for the lining, you know. I've recycled some this way and it saves on sewing (just handstitch around the opening of the bag) and, if using a cushion cover, you can turn it inside out so the attractive side is the lining you see inside the bag.

KiniaCat Crafts said...

Clever stuff here!
I was going to suggest - you have bonus yarn, do a barter-trade with a sewing-type person.
However, Eclair's comment is entirely spiffy!!
Well done!

Galad said...

I've been eyeing that bag for a couple of months and keep talking myself out of it. Can't wait to see yours done.

Anonymous said...

I also keep eyeing that bag. Love the suggestion of using a pillow cover as the lining - you could get really creative with that! Can't wait until your tennis elbow heals up so we can see the full glory of this project.

knitinsage said...

you can also use the top of an old pair of pants turned inside out -- pockets are already built in. i have seen it done but not tried it -- it looks fine and works really well.

Science PhD Mom said...

Just sew a big rectangle, Tama, then sew some seams at an angle on the corners if your bag has rounded edges. I assume you are attaching it to the bag with a sewing machine? I would not wish hand-sewing on anyone!