Thursday, April 22, 2010

Knitting 24/7, Part 1

About a week ago, I got my hands on a skein of Véronik Avery's yarn, St.-Denis, and decided I'd have a go at the Cabled Beret pattern from Knitting 24/7. And then I decided that I would blog about it! Now, I must warn you, this is a first for the Knit Yourself Pretty blog--I am actually going to MAKE something from a book that I edited and blog about it in real time. It's like live-blogging, but it's live-blog-knitting. In fact, I am actually knitting while I type this...! (Ok, I'm not.)

The original idea was to just make the hat and write about it. But after one week of some serious knitting, I realized that my #2 needles were going to work at a slightly slower rate. The image above shows exactly 14 rows of knitting. And took...I don't know...about five hours. Here is my disclaimer: this is no fault of the design! I'm just one of those knitters who sometimes gets off on the wrong foot. And when I get off on the wrong foot, it's a long and winding road to get back on track. Allow me to explain.

Like most knitters I know, I had the perfect Sunday experience where I walked to the yarn shop with the intent of buying my needles to start a new project. Oh, the hope and promise of a new project! You see, I had been working on this book for over a year--the photo shoot was last spring--and this hat had been on my knitting "to-do" list ever since the box of garments from the book had shown up in my office. When I arrived at the yarn shop, the nice lady told me that they actually didn't carry 16-inch circular US 2 needles. Hmmm....I debated. Do I just go up to a 3 and fudge it? Nah...I know, I'll do it on double-pointed needles! Like the knitters of 16th century England! So I purchased my tiny little needles and took the still life photo above of my materials--note the Jesus Light glowing behind the ball of yarn--so full of hope, so ready to work some cables.

Well, let me tell you something. The knitters of 16th century England were MISERABLE. I officially do not recommend working on double-pointed needles for a project that has over 200 stitches on the needle at a given time. Okay, okay, the Madonna knitting for Jesus in the photo at top might not be so miserable...but then again, it looks like she's nearing the end of her project--a moment of elation for knitters of all centuries! (Plus she's got that built-in halo that makes concentration seem like a true pleasure.)

I, on the other hand, was just beginning my project. In this photo (pardon the toilet paper...hello allergy season!), I have just cast on to 4 of my tiny double-pointed needles and am ready to join in the round. My face appears confident, with an "I can DO this" kind of facade. That was the last time my face looked like that for the next three hours. I made it through the garter stitch rows with only a few bumps along the way. The first row of the cable pattern was a bit dizzying. And then I realized I had lost count. Or maybe had one too many stitches? And then I needed to reorganize my stitches into groups of 12, so that I would know I had successfully completed a repeat. I had a calculator sitting right next to me and I STILL could not figure out how to do this. An entire episode of Antiques Roadshow played out in front of me and I didn't see a single item appraised. The ends of the needles jabbed into my palms as I worked. I reached the end of my cable row and realized...gulp...I was still off by one. And so I worked backwards, undoing my cables (always a joy), and cursed myself for not having a bottle of wine at home.

The next day I went out and bought a pair of metal 16" circular needles, and my mental health is much MUCH better. I have, since then, knit a few rows on the subway, knit in my finance's bar, and knit while watching Lost--in other words, I have been Knitting 24/7. And here is my result, five days after beginning: one repeat down, five more to go. This may not seem like much of an accomplishment (and perhaps even less of an accomplishment after seeing the hat next to a quarter--which I did so you can really understand how tiny these stitches are). But there is something that happens when you see the first repeat of a cable pattern completed. Up until you see the cables start to take shape, a pattern is all cursing, stomping, and screaming. You hardly understand why one would even take on such a task! But after the stitches start to lean to the right or left and make these undulating ripples of stitches, it becomes like an addiction. You want to see the fabric expand off into the horizon, like you're not just looking out over the ocean--you're creating the ocean. Well, maybe I don't want to knit something as big as the ocean. The size of a beret will do just fine for now.

1 comment:

  1. This was an awesome post, all around...but next time I expect *real* live-blogging, loser! Maybe something involving one of those "webcams"? I also want a followup photo when you reach the Madonna stage of completion. And there'd best be a halo.