One year, one book - one project finished

Okay, it's done. Better late than never, right? Oh, the drama...!

Since I'm still new to the whole knitting thing, and learning more as I go, I wasn't entirely aware that there are times when you don't need to wash and block projects when you're done if they don't need to be, or that some natural fibres behave differently than others. Makes sense, right?

So there I am earlier this week. I *finally* finished knitting my Olympic knitting while watching the Oscars and was so thrilled, that I stayed up until around 1am to wash it, lay it out to dry, etc.

The *second* the knitting hit the water, it started to *expand*. Let's not forget I was already knitting it in the largest size...

Needless to say, my first instinct was to try not to panic too much. I figured my LYS could help me with some recommendations on how to salvage it. The panicking was coming from the fact that I knew they were closed on Monday...

Anyway, I ranted on Rav and then headed to the Purl on Tuesday for knit night where, unfortunately, they weren't able to help me beyond suggesting I use knitter's elastic in the brim to help make it less stretched out. Luckily, a fellow knitter there had some and I managed to try it out last night with modest success. Many thanks to Alison (aka coilycurly on Ravelry) who gave me her knitter's elastic.

One of the great recos that the Purple Purl did make though, was to read The Knitters Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes. I already had it but hadn't had a chance to dive it yet. Didn't buy it so much for the project as for the information about various yarn and fibres in general, which was why they recommended it. Apparently I'll come away with a much better understanding of why different fibres react the way they do when knit. Now I'm *really* looking forward to reading this book!

It's not as great as I feel it was before it stretched out, but it has been salvaged enough for me to be okay with it to the point where I'm no longer ready to rip it back and start reknitting it, so I'm no longer as disappointed as I was initially. Luckily the style of hat is a beret, so it's meant to be pretty floppy too as the laceweight yarn is very light and floofy. I think if I knit this again I'll definitely use something with a little more substance, maybe a dk weight?

But, kudos to me... in the one-year-one-book-miko-challenge, this is the first project I've finished! Only 9 more to go...! And hey, it *was* my first lace attempt!

Oh, and here's a pic of the back:

DNF is not an option

In the Olympics as I've learned over the last week and a half, DNF stands for Did Not Finish. It's got to be pretty heartbreaking as an athlete to see that on the standings, for whatever reason, when you've worked so hard to get to that point.

It's cheesy, but makes me think of one of the last scenes in the film Cool Runnings, after the Jamaican bobsled team has wiped out on the track, and together the four teammates walk the rest of the way down the track, carrying their sled over the finish line (in typical Disney-fied, Hollywood fashion).

I'll be the first one to admit that starting over is probably a pretty gutsy if not stupid move at this point. But I also have to agree with Lara (who commented on my previous post) that to "just go with it" on a project that uses such beautiful yarn would be sort of sacreligious. I was prepared to continue until I ended up four stitches short on my latest round, with no idea where the heck they went. Clearly the fact that I've been concentrating to the point of causing severe muscular tension and ensuing headaches isn't enough and I need to pay attention more to what I'm doing. But hey, as the athletes would say, "no pain, no gain".

Next Olympics, someone remind me not to select a project that has lace in it. Just sayin'.

In any event, not being able to figure out where I'd gone wrong, and really wanting to do a good job with the projects from Whimsical Little Knits in the Miko Challenge at the Purple Purl this year, I decided to cast on from scratch tonight, after re-learning the provisional cast-on from a Lucy Neatby tutorial on YouTube. I'm now 14 rows in again, with another 6 to go before the lace starts. It's going to be a race to the finish.

I'm sure the Olympians wouldn't have it any other way.


Knitting Olympics!

As if the whole Julie-&-Julia-but-for-knitters challenge that Miko at the Purple Purl has thrown down wasn't enough, the Yarn Harlot decided that she was going to do the Knitting Olympics again, which she started four years ago. Ravelry, inspired by the Yarn Harlot, was also hosting their Ravelymics, with tons of different teams (I even signed up for one, but have since abandoned it in favour of the Canadian version). Of course, I signed up, but strategically decided that I was going to pick a project from the book I had selected for the Miko challenge, since any knitting might as well all be for the same cause!

(In case you think it's all a little crazy, check out this coverage of the Knitting Olympics in the National Post. I was at the pub that night for the Opening Ceremonies but my little guy wasn't feeling so well so I swung home instead to watch it with my honey and the wee one.)

My choice: the Ishbel Beret. It's lace (something I'm not too familiar with), and has a new technique right at the beginning of the pattern that I haven't done before. These things, couples with the fact that work is hella busy right now and taking care of the wee Mr. H is also a big job that limits my knitting time, I figured that while it's "only a hat", getting it knitted in 17 days (casting on during the Opening Ceremonies, and finishing in time for the cauldron to be extinguished) was a robust enough challenge.

Of course, in reading the instructions, I had no idea what was going on, so I had to wait for some "coaching" from the fabulous girls down at the Purl. Not to mention, my tension is off on the Ishbel itself, so that required some discussion in terms of whether or not adjustments in needle size would be required (usually yes, but since it's a hat, I'm not bothering. We worked out that I could just knit the largest size and my tension would take care of the rest).

In any case, the photo is my progress to date, well, since Tuesday night really. I know it doesn't look like much, but picture it doubled, b/c that's what I've actually knit. The first part that I knit folded back up under itself and then was joined to the rest of the knitting to make the band for the hat. Cool, eh? I learned how to do a provisional cast on and everything!

Next up, the lace section. This ought to be interesting! Methinks I'll be listening to a lot of the commentary for this second week of the Olympics instead of watching it, just so that I can concentrate!

Julie & Julia for knitters

I had originally re-started my blog as an opportunity to explore the myriad of projects that I seem to have on the go, the result of a lot of start-itis and ability to be seduced by the thrill of starting a new project. The idea was also to see if I could finish any of them, not necessarily start more.

Of course, me being me, I find it only too easy to be inspired, and captivated by the enthusiasm of others as they start new projects too.

Which brings me to the insanity that is Miko, one of the purveyors of my favourite LYS, The Purple Purl. Over the holidays she saw the film Julie & Julia, based on the blog (and book) by Julie Powell. Miko (being Miko), decided wouldn't it be fun to do something similar, but with knitting? And the next thing you know, she's issued a challenge to PP regulars via the shop's newsletter and Ravelry discussion board. The challenge being that you must knit your way through a book (or magazine) of patterns, starting February 1st, 2010 and ending on January 31st, 2011. Daunting, no?

A few people started talking about it and getting excited, and jumping on board with various knitting books and strategies (i.e. opportunity to learn new techniques or work one's way through a favourite designer, etc) and I confess to having been so caught up in the relative novelty of the idea that I even went so far as to buy the Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume One: Knit & Purl with the misguided enthusiasm that I could learn new stitches and improve my knitting by knitting all 200+ swatches in the book!

I quickly realized with abject terror that knitting 200+ swatches would mean a lot of straight knitting for the most part five days a week on something that I might tire of very quickly without leaving a lot of room for other projects, in spite of the variety of the different stitches. A different book for another time, methinks.

Not to be completely waylaid, I've settled on a book that has been part of my knitting stash for a while, the delightful Whimsical Little Knits by Scottish designer Ysolda Teague. There are ten projects in total and all are relatively small and present enough challenges to keep up my interest. It will also be an opportunity for me to work through some of my yarn stash yet not break the bank if I decide I have to have something new for a project.

Wish me luck! My yarn is wound and I'm ready to cast on. My first project will be Ishbel, which I've been wanting to do for a while now, so it's a nice one to start with. I'll be knitting it in Lobster Pot Yarns' 100% cashmere 2-ply laceweight from Purl Soho in the colour Boiled Lobster. Progress pics to come as soon as I'm able.