KTS: starting to see the forest

I knitted the start of the tops of the first tree today! And not much else, because it's been one of those weeks (and there's still one more day of it to get through). But I made it. The part where I start working on the armhole shaping is very near. Inspirationally near.

Stay tuned...

KTS: halfway

Tonight I finally finished knitting the last row of birds on the double-knitted jacket before I make the Great Leap Up the Chart. The leap happens in two parts. I recently leaped about twenty rows, and am now in this weird space where the only colourwork I have to worry about are the very vertical tree trunks (here's the most recent photo to help you visualise):
No birds, no side branches, nothin'. I haven't looked at the chart at all today.

Three rows from where I am now, I get to start the tops of the trees. It's exciting to think I'll be working something besides birds (all the birds are the same motif, I memorised it ages ago) and curlicues, which, while gorgeous, are just lead-ups to the main tree-topping event. On the other hand, that means a lot of gawping at the chart, and probably a lot of ripping back mistakes as well.

Deep breath. Be positive. Once I start the treetops, I'll have about twenty rows before I get to the underarm shaping. That will be another cause for excitement.

Since I'm working from stash yarn, this also seemed like a good time to take a real account of how well I'm doing with using up all the yarn without running out. This thing's been on the needles so long I don't know how many skeins I started with (there are knots in the skeins, so counting ends isn't a good measure). So tonight I put my big stainless steel mixing bowl on top of my digital food scale, hit the tare button, and then dumped the whole jacket into the bowl, working yarn and all. Then I took out the jacket and just weighed an empty circular needle that's about the same size and material composition as the needles I'm using.

The entire jacket, including needles and working yarn, comes to 787g as of tonight. The empty needle was 11g, so that means the yarn itself weighs about 776g. The skeins are 100g each, and I find it believable that I've trimmed off about 24g of ends in the course of making the jacket (that's 12g per colour, remember). So call it 800g, which means 8 skeins total, or 4 skeins of each colour.

I have 5 skeins of black left (and supposedly 5 of the blue, although it's been knitted up into something different that is hard to weigh out). Only one of them is in my current dye lot — the rest is in the very-close-but-not-quite dye lot. I'm about halfway through my current working skeins, which should take me almost to the armholes to use up. That means I'll be switching dye lots in the treetops, which is probably the least worst place it could happen.


KTS: seven weeks

Did you read the title on this entry? Go over it again, imagining the creepy little girl/demon from The Ring saying it. Exactly.

Today I took a glance at the little calendar I have tacked to my cubicle wall at work, and realised that in just over seven weeks I'll be on a mini-vacation with the ever-cool J-A in New York City.

Perhaps some of you may think that was an excuse to, I don't know, look forward to traveling. There is that, but more to the point of this DIY blog, what I thought was, "AUGH!!! I need to get the Central Park jacket done!"

Remember, the official designer name of the double knitted jacket is Central Park, which makes sense since it's an Art Nouveau rendition of trees and birds and all. I've been trying to avoid calling it by its name on this blog because there is a more famous pattern called the Central Park Hoodie. The hoodie is a great design, but it's not what I'm making.

So. I have about 36 more rows of the lower body, then about 60 rows of the upper body (two fronts and a back), plus the sleeves at about 90 rows each, plus the neckband... gack. If I didn't have the original KTS photo to compare, I'd think I was getting nowhere on this thing.

It's earlier for this comparison than I wanted, but here's the jacket in the state it was at the start of KTS:

And this is what it looks like as of tonight:

I've done a couple (as in two) more rows since this photo was taken. I have to get back into the squirrel cage as soon as I finish this post, but I would really like to get to the part where I skip several chart rows and move on to the tops of the trees. (The trees are the straight parts with the long curlicues sticking out of the sides.) At least once I get to the treetops, the end will be in sight.

On this project, the sky really is the limit.

KTS: caught up

Tonight I managed to knit up the rest of the slack yarn I had to rip out after discovering I'd followed the charts wrong for two or three rows. I'm also a little bit past that point, so I've started to gain ground.

Which is all to say, the photos of the jacket at its new point are about 30 rows away.

I am going to be sooo glad to be done with the branches and to start on the treetops — never mind the armholes themselves. Ten or so more rows until the treetops start.

KTS: perspective

Carla, Anne, J-A, and I spent the afternoon together today. Anne hadn't heard about the KTS meta-project yet, so I filled her in. When I told her I discovered I had fifteen projects on the go, she just said, "Sure, sounds about right." It was a good reminder that this isn't unusual in the knitting world — on the other hand, it's not exactly an enviable position to be in.

I still haven't had a chance to get another small project in play, so I brought the double knitted jacket along to work on. That was great and all, but I discovered at lunch I'd made a mistake on each of the four trees two rows down from where I was. I tried dropping stitches and latching them up correctly, but that's hard to do with double knitting if you need to do more than one row, so I wound up ripping out two rows entirely. But hey, I already have one row re-knitted. So the tree branches are once again just a few rows away from being completed.

The other thing that happened is that the blue yarn skein kind of... exploded. Basically a big chunk out of the centre came out while I was getting that pedicure on Wednesday. That wouldn't have been a big deal in and of itself, but it also sort of turned itself inside out, and got tangled with the tail end from the outside of the ball. In the end I wound up spending about an hour and a half untangling.

Still, net progress was made. I'm looking forward to getting this one to the point where it's worth posting a photo again.

KTS: symbols can be powerful

It's like this: about four hours ago I got home, ran to the grocery store, booted my work laptop to write one last e-mail, and loaded the dishwasher. I also wrote my weekly Friday Flash story.

In all that time, the only work I got done on the KTS project was to take the cotton handbag, lining fabric, parchment paper, and sewing pins into the bedroom (easiest to pin the outline through the paper and into the mattress). Besides that, nothing. Nada.

So, before I head to bed (because I have to be at work an hour earlier tomorrow than I was today), I'm going to knit. Just a few stitches. Just on principle.

So there.

KTS: multitasking

Today my dental recovery was sufficient that I finally went out and got that pedicure that I'd been meaning to get the whole time I've been popping painkillers and living with five stitches and tissue from a cadaver in my mouth. I thought the pedi would be a nice relaxing thing to do, especially since the nail place is practically across the road from me and wouldn't be a big effort to get to.

Of course, what I didn't factor in is that in order to walk across the road to the nice relaxing nail salon, you need to be relatively awake in the first place. That's hard for me to do while I'm on antibiotics and ibuprofen.

Anyways, I finally made it over, and brought the double knitted jacket with me. I knitted while I waited for a pedicure chair to become free. I knitted while my pedicure was being done. I knitted while I waited for the new nail polish on my toes to dry.

Altogether about four rows got done, which considering that the jacket is 420 stitches of solid chart work each row is pretty good.

The jacket is still about six rows short of being in the same place it was when I noticed the issue with the dye lots. Still, it's moving along.

As for the "short and easy" project to replace the now-finished hearts & harps socks: there are a lot of candidates this early in the game, but ultimately I decided to go with lining the cotton handbag, if only because if I get going on it now I might actually get some use out of it this summer. Thus far I've retrieved the handbag and found some suitable fabric in my stash. The next step is to pin out the handbag so I can make pattern pieces from parchment paper. Say that fast three times.

KTS: one down

Today I finished one of the KTS projects! The hearts and harps (Kristi) socks are done, done, done. That means they get their own page, and a FINISHED date on the main KTS page.

It didn't take very long to do the last part of these. The gauge is a little bigger than what I usually use for socks because the cables make the fabric tighter, so that means that the toe shaping goes more quickly (fewer stitches to start with once the sock switches to plain knitting).

Here's the grand finish shot (taken in the Starbucks at Davisville this afternoon):
It feels so great to actually finish one of the projects on the list. Plus I got some of the double knitted jacket done while waiting for The Dark Knight Rises to start.

One down, fourteen to go...

KTS: countdown

I have three more rounds of pattern and the toe shaping to do, and then the hearts & harps socks are done. There will be great rejoicing. Finally there will be a finished object to gloat about in this meta-project!

As it happens, I also came across another skein of black yarn for the double knitted jacket today. It must have fallen out when I moved the knitting stand from my bedroom to the living room. Unfortunately, it's in the odd-one-out dye lot, but it's comforting to know that I now have a skein and a half of the black to work the sleeves in. It's something. I still think I'll wind up working some of the fronts in a different dye lot, but that's a fret for another day.

KTS: crash

Today was an unexpectedly bad day for knitting. I wanted to catch up on things for my Friday Flash reading, so I did, and my ongoing surgery healing-up really knocked me for a loop, so I wound up sleeping a lot. Recovering is so boring.

Then again, I did get the third and final set of motifs started on the hearts & harps (Kristi) sock. I'm about a quarter of the way up, and may do a few more rounds before I go to bed. Then again, I might just go to bed. I'm yawning already... did I mention how boring recovery is?

KTS: appointments

I always hate it when people ask how long it takes to knit something of type X, where X is a pair of socks/mittens/gloves/a hat/sweater/cardigan/blanket. There are so many variables, and they're not always obvious. For instance, from a purely mechanistic viewpoint, a plain item may take less time than one with a complex pattern, but that doesn't factor in that the plain item may well bore the knitter to tears, whereas the patterned item keeps things interesting.

Another variable is that knitting tends to get done when you're waiting for other things to happen. Today I knitted a bit on the streetcar, then knitted while I waited for my chiropractic appointment. Then I knitted on the TTC some more, taking a streetcar, bus, and subway to my dentist's. Then I knitted in the waiting room until it was time to check the bone graft and make sure the swelling that happened when I was asleep last night was indeed no big deal (it wasn't).

Naturally, I knitted all the way home, before spending some quality time with an ice pack and dropping into unconsciousness having a four-hour nap.

All that time in between other things means that the instep is now completed on the hearts & harps (Kristi) sock. In fact, I'm almost done the second of three rows of motifs on the foot of the sock. In theory, I could be done this thing tomorrow.

It just depends on how much waiting around I have to do, I guess.

KTS: dentistry

I had a bone graft done to the left side of my jaw this afternoon. That meant starting work at 6:00ish, running out to catch the bus at 2:30, and sitting still while the dentist did stuff to my mouth I don't want to think about right now. (I have a great dentist. Which is just as well, because even though my mouth looks okay to the casual observer seeing me smile, it's always trying to dissolve itself).

As the luck of the TTC would have it, I got to the dentist's early. So I knitted the hearts & harps (Kristi) socks on the subway, knitted some more in the waiting room, then knitted more again while the local anaesthetic took hold and the paste made from amalgam and cadaver's bone tissue cured. Then I went home, took my painkillers and antibiotics, and knitted some more in ice pack sessions to reduce the swelling.

So despite acquiring a Frankenmouth, I got a lot of knitting done today. The hearts & harps sock has its heel turned and instep started. The double knitted jacket has a black skein of yarn in the correct dye lot added, and is on its way to catching up to where it was before.

For the next three or four days, I'm supposed to relax, speak as little as possible, and live on soft, preferably liquid, foods. Sounds like a great opportunity to knit.

Three more hours until the next round of painkillers...

KTS: this too is part of the process

This morning, right before I went to work, I opened the blinds in the living room and took a good hard look at the double knitted jacket. The change in dye lots showed up less than it had under the halogen lights the night before... but it still showed up. Weirdly for matte cotton/acrylic yarn, it seems to depend on what angle the knitting is held up to the light. Unfortunately, the difference in shades seems to show up the most when the fabric is held vertically, or almost below the light source — the same angle the finished jacket  would be at if I was wearing it.

So today around lunchtime I had an emergency phone summit with the ever-practical J-A, who pointed out that even if the change in the shade of black wasn't noticeable to most passers-by, I would know about it and it would bother me every time I wore the jacket. I'm planning on wearing the jacket a lot once it's done.

Therefore, tonight's "progress" consisted of ripping out the ten rows I'd done in the different dye lot, and winding up the black and steel blue balls of yarn (which, as you might expect, twisted around each other a lot). The whole process took about an hour. The jacket itself is hanging from a smaller circular needle while it waits for me to start knitting it again tomorrow.

I'm sorry to lose those ten rows, but I'm trying to keep in mind what all needleworkers have to be mindful of when taking out work: undoing work is a temporary setback, but a mistake in finished work is forever.

I have two more skeins of the 34902A dye lot left, which supposedly is the dye lot I've been using so far (could there be three? I doubt it, and I really don't want to think about it right now). That leaves three skeins of the 34902 yarn for the sleeves and collar, where the change in shade won't be as noticeable, or at least will be able to justify a Pee Wee Herman-style "I did that on purpose" claim.

Meh. As reverse knitting moves go, it wasn't too bad (GAAAAHHHHHH!).

No, really, it wasn't.

At least the sock is still in decent shape. So far.


KTS: can't win for losing

Today I had to spend the evening in the squirrel cage again (that's what I call working overtime — Thomas Disch reference, probably not the best one), but I knitted during my dinner break. The hearts & harps (Kristi) socks are now at the heel flap. It feels good to get to one of those "sock milestones", and it means that things are progressing well.

I also did some rows on the double knitted jacket. The side branches on the trees are now done (yay!), which means I have two more rows to go before I leap up the chart and start working the tops of the trees. I've decided to chop the bottom branches off the treetops in the interests of not running out of yarn.

That's the good news. The bad news is that tonight I was working under my halogen living/dining room lights because of the aforementioned stint in the squirrel cage, and I noticed that the current working skein of black yarn, which I added in about ten rows (and about 4,420 stitches ago) is not the same dye lot as all the black yarn used to date. It's very close —  it only shows up at certain angles only under the direct halogen lighting, I didn't even spot it in regular daylight — but it's definitely different.

I am a total freak about checking dye lot numbers, so I am not used to having this problem. My first after-school job was at a yarn shop, and looking back it seems like I spent 60% of my customer-facing time checking dye lots (the other 40% was spent explaining that yes, I was only 16, but I had been knitting for half my life, so yes, I could help them).

Some of the black yarn has a dye lot of 34902. The rest has a dye lot of 34902A. Well, now I know. Something to watch out for with Lion Brand in the future.

There are lots of Tricks You Can Do to minimise a dye lot shift, but dark colours tend not to show up as much as lighter ones, and the truth is that the spread of dye lots over the remaining skeins that means that most of the tricks won't work. The difference is completely invisible on the "day" (mostly blue) side of the work, and only somewhat noticeable on the "night" (mostly black) side. It figures that the dye lot change happens just when the foliage and the birds thin out, but once the treetops start it will be less noticeable again.

Fuck it. I'm using up stash for this one anyhow. If it took me over four days in several types of light to notice it, I'm not going to sweat it. I'm certainly not going to rip it all out and look for another project at this point.

Onwards and upwards.

KTS: milestones within sight

Today was another day of feeling crappy, except I worked from home instead of taking a sick day (and actually managed to stay awake long enough to do a day's work!). The evening was spent concentrating on the double knitted jacket. For reference, when the whole Knit That Shit meta-project started, the jacket looked like this:
The bottom section is the "tree roots" or below-ground part of the pattern. The part where ground becomes contrast and vice versa is where the "sky" or above-ground part starts. The sky part is now almost twice as big as the tree roots part. To put it another way, the piece in the photo was about 32 cm long. Now it's about 45 cm long.

I have four more rows of following the chart faithfully, and then I get to make two jumps that will let me skip about 30 rows in total. After that it's about 20 rows to the armhole shaping.

When I get to the armhole shaping I'll take another photo. It'll be easier than, because that's when the piece gets divided into three sections to work the fronts and the back separately.

That's the thing about knitting, as opposed to quicker tasks like (ahem) cooking, which I love to do as well, but it really is a whole different mindset. If you only leave yourself the goal of finishing a knitted piece, you're either going to get discouraged very quickly or spend your entire knitting career making doorknob cozies. You need in-between goals to keep going.

KTS: knitting on sick days

Still feeling ill (infected jaw if you must know), so I took a sick day today. Most of the day I was either sleeping or trying to kill the infection, but I did knit some more on the double knitted jacket. The jacket is turning into a good illness project. This surprises me, because the chart needs to be followed strictly, but then again I am at an easy part.

On Friday I'm getting dental surgery done, so I'm going to spend a good chunk of the August long weekend taking painkillers and trying to heal up. With any luck that will be an good time to get more knitting done.

Mostly, though, I'm looking forward to being healthy again. There's just so much to do.

KTS: knitting while ill

Yesterday I thought I was feeling ill because I was tired. Today it is clear I was feeling tired because I am ill.

Knitting and illness do go together if you have the right project on hand. You don't want anything too taxing, but the knitting makes you feel like you're getting something done.

So today was all about the double knitting jacket and taking naps. The double knitting jacket is almost at the part where I get to skip 30 rows and move on to the top of the tree motifs.

Things are moving forward; they just don't feel like it yet.

KTS: knitting down from the ledge

Today my "day" job spilled over its banks and wound up being what I worked on most of the night too (and I'm still not done yet, but I've gone as far as I can go without talking to any co-workers). The only knitting I got done was a bit of the double-knitted jacket during my lunch break and some rounds on the hearts & harps (Kristi) socks while I was waiting for my 695-page document to save to the network drive. So not a lot of progress, but some — enough to make me think I might be able to get the socks done this weekend after all.

That is, if I don't have to work Sunday again.

Still, the end of the month isn't until the middle of next week, so there's hope yet. And even if I don't make my mini-deadline of two projects done by 31 July, I'll be well on my way.