23 January 2012

Ducks, not always in a row Quax edition

It shouldn't come as a huge shock to anyone who knows me that I have a bit of a thing about ducks.

But a quick search of the blog shows that it has been entirely too long since the last duck content posting.

First up, a never to be eaten sweet little snack. I gather from internet searches that the sweet is mostly in the appearance and not in the taste.

Never fear duck lovers, there is a backlog of paddlers just waiting to be posted about. I'm going to pace myself in posting about all this good duck love.


19 January 2012

Errata -- get it while you can

And if you can't experience helps.

In October 2009, I knit a lace collar called Prudence from the book Knit One, Make One In Classic Knitted Cotton by Furze Hewitt.

The book has been mostly shelved ever since for the same reason that had me pass it up purchasing it the first time I encountered it -- too many projects and not enough reference.

But recently I found myself on a lace designing binge so any and every book loaded with lace came off the shelf and into the office for research/inspiration.

One of the projects I was poking at had me trying to figure out how to create period appropriate lace knitting (other than shawls) that might appeal to a modern knitter. Setting aside the shelf edgings, preserve covers and the like, I zeroed in on a sachet project called Lavender Showers.

Pretty much it is a doily that is stuffed with dried lavender before being cinched up and pimped up to look like a parasol/brolly/umbrella. The big draw for me in working the pattern was not just the increase method but also the atypical increase ratio.

It works, and it works well but it forms a circle by using what seems to be a variation on the radiant method with 16 increases per round, this pattern skips the 54 stitch round for an ten round interlude that alternates between 48 & 64 stitches before moving on to 80 stitches. That interlude shows some promise for incorporating a stitch pattern with more rows into a circular or half-circular shawl.

Somewhere around round 11 where the pattern instructs one to k1, p1 into the previous round's YO, I began to fall in love with a "duh" why didn't I think of that increase choice. Round 11 is also where the increase ratio interlude starts and, to my surprise, really does work without ruffle or scrunching.

By round 21, the k1, p1, k1 increase sealed the deal for me and I was seeing this pattern's growth as the start of something more ambitious (and way bigger). Then it all went sideways.

Sideways in that the published instructions just won't/don't work.

My first thought was that I'd knit it wrong, read it wrong or somehow just effed it up. After a few count. tink, reknit and rethink moments it was clear that it wasn't me. 28 rounds in with 96 stitches on the needle, a set of instructions that require seven stitches to complete is just not going to work evenly.

The book was published in 1990 in Australia and if there ever were corrections published they are nowhere to be found on the web today.

With no errata to guide me it comes down to the experience, analysis and how can I make this work?

The previous row was a six stitch repeat with increases flanking a left single decrease, single knit and a right single decrease.

The not working round also has increases flanking decreases and and knit stitch but this one leads with a right single decrease and a left double decrease -- and therein lies the problem.

So what to do? Some would go with the "oh you just need another increase to even things out and keep the stitch count even" well, um, er, no. An extra increase would balance the decreases but the instructions still require seven stitches to execute and 96 is not evenly divisible by seven.

Reading ahead the pattern's next row has left single decreases and increases in one row and increases and single right decreases in the next. So my best guess is that the double decrease in the problematic round is a typo. A single decrease brings the stitch count down to six and 16 repeats.

The moral of the story is that even without errata/corrections, sometimes a little experience and a bit of pattern analysis will put things to right.

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14 January 2012

Things hit a snag or oops

A not so funny thing happened. . .

It's a small alpaca shawl that I designed and knit before the fall.

It has been sitting in cold storage for some time waiting for the right publishing opportunity.

Recently a good possibility turned up.

In a best foot forward moment, I thought I'd give it a bath and block before sending it off.

While the alpaca got a nice long soak in the sink, I cleared a blocking board, covered it with the "I don't care if the dye bleeds" towel and dug out blocking wires and T pins (never enough T pins for some reason).

I managed to thread the blocking wires through half of the still sort of sopping shawl, pinned it out and was about to thread the second half when I saw this little surprise.

Initially I thought the break was in one of the lace motifs. Further examination told me that if that was the case I'd made a glaring knitting error and somehow managed to overlook it through repeated blockings -- unlikely but possible.

Once it was completely dry, I discovered that it was in a solid knitted part of the piece and not in a bit of lace. Further, I found another very short end hiding just next to the lace motif in the upper left part of the picture.

Two broken snippets that might measure 3/8 of an inch in length and an orphaned loop to work with in effecting a repair. Is it any wonder I let it sit a bit before dealing with it?

It doesn't look like critters and since it was in a solid area it probably wasn't a victim of aggressive blocking
although alpaca is weaker when wet.

My current theory is that it snagged on something at some point and that weakened that particular bit of yarn just enough to snap -- sigh.

Extra sigh because I have no yarn to spare to repair it unless I want to unravel a "gosh gauge really does matter" test piece.

It got an inelegant but effective repair, another soak (eau de Eucalan) and is again on the blocking board with a combo of 300# fishing line (love that stuff), blocking wires and T-pins (seriously, never enough of these).

Thankfully I was just being paranoid/delusional/just seeing things when I thought I saw another unintentional hole in the piece. It really was just a previously woven in end that had worked its way loose.

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