Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Trouble-shooting Christening Sunday Brunch

Many many thanks for your kind remarks about the Christening Sunday Brunch Coat. It means a lot coming from fellow knitters I gotta say. Of course, all the people at the christening had nice things to say about it too, but they had no concept of the work and difficulty involved...or the joy. And besides, they said it in French.

Now, I did say that there were some problems with this project. Some bigger than others. A very wordy post coming up, and slightly traumatic, so unless you're an actual knitter or of a nervous disposition, you might want to leave now and come back another day when there might be pictures 'n stuff of something more interesting.

Problem 1

The pattern itself. Specifically the sizing. I had perfect gauge and was knitting with the recommended yarn (Debbie Bliss Prima), but no matter what I did, the measurements were off. All went well for the skirt part, but the length of the back just would not come right.

Just. Would. Not.

I followed the directions for the back as written (at least I'm fairly sure that I did) and knit it several times. I knit the specified number of rows, but the entire length of the coat came out 9 cms too long. Of course, I didn't realise this until after I had completed the left and right fronts matching the instructions for the back ('cos I was knitting in the round).

Even tho' it did seem to be getting a bit too long, and the top section (i.e. over the eyelet empire line row) seemed out of proportion to the bottom section (i.e. below the eyelet empire line row) I kept going. I blame my native stubborness in the face of a closing deadline for the fact that I ignored all my knitting instincts and just knitted on.

Very relieved to be finished the body, I started and finished a sleeve...at which point my dreams came crashing down around me. There was no way that the sleeve was gonna fit into the armscye.

No. Way. Not-on-your-nelly. Not-in-this-lifetime.

I did my very best to blame the sleeve (given that it would be easier to re-kint it than to go back to the drawing board with the coat itself) but it seemed that the sleeve was indeed the correct size and proportions for the size required.

And the difference was too great to be fudged. A pity, because I'm a fan of fudging if it's an option.

Furious, and frantic over the deadline, I ripped out the coat and re-knit the upper 3 sections, left, back and front, to match the sleeve.

Success. Phew! Quick, knit another sleeve and seam up!

Fabulous. Well done. Now, block the sucker.

Problem 2

Enter the biggest and worst knitting issue that has ever befallen this knitter. You sitting down? Go get a coffee/tea. No, get a drink of something stronger. Just make sure you are fortified. Calm yourself.

I washed the coat ever so gently by hand using my sample of 'Soak' from TIK. Lovely stuff. I even followed the instructions to the letter. That's not always the case with this impatient-hurry-it-up knitter, but I was unusually compliant over this very important project.

However...the coat came out with several LARGE BRIGHT RED STAINS!!!

Arggghhhh! They were mostly along the edging and in the 1st of the two scallop rows.

I couldn't believe it! The shock! I remembered that there had been several red hair-thin threads throughout the yarn...mostly in the 1st ball. I had picked them out as I went along - short, stiff threads and a very bright red. There had also been some tiny red balls of this thread, about the size of a pin-head, which I had also removed.

Obviously there had been some threads that I missed...and they bled bright and red all over the place. Creating damage far greater than their size would have suggested. Good thing I had removed a fairly large tuft that I noticed just before washing it.

Bright bright red stains on my lovely cream coloured coat. Despair. Especially since this is now Dec 21st, and the christening is on Dec 28th, and remember there's Christmas itself and the travelling to France in between...not to mention adding the buttons and embroidery.

I frantically searched my brain for a solution. In desperation I decided I would cut off the offending scallop all the way around and re-knit it top-down. No. It would take too long and I'm bound to screw it up. No. Cut off the scallop and just knit a couple of reverse stocking stitch rows to give a nice edge. That's it. That's the ticket. After all, who (except you guys) would know that there should have been two rows of scallops?

Nobody. Problem solved.

So...after a poor night's sleep coming up with this solution I trotted along to Little Monkey's Nativity Show at Mt Usher, reasonably happy that this would be a solution. While there I met the Knitting-Mum-And-Dad here in their role as eager grandparents, and explained the problem and giving my proposed solution. They went pale and relapsed into shocked silence. I don't know if it was the red dye or the prospect of taking a scissors to it that was worse. Good thing they were sitting down.

Along came friend and talented knitter Jellyknits (Rav link) to have a peek at the nativity show. I told her what had happened and what I intended to do about it. She hopped up and down. Under NO circumstances was I to cut off a scallop. Absolute knitting sacrilige. She looked at my Mum and Dad in horror.

Now, I can't remember who suggested it, but they agreed between them that I should try some bleaching product or colour-run or something. Cutting the thing up was a last resort. (At this point they weren't even consulting me as I was obviously insane.)

I was very relieved to have an alternative option, but not very hopeful, as they hadn't seen how widespread and how red was the stain. You can't see it either in fact, as I was waaay too traumatised to take photographs. As it happened, I had a visitor that afternoon, my friend J, who is a skilled and creative knitter herself. She spent several hours spooning a diluted concoction of ColourRun over the stains. My thanks J, I would have screwed it up.

Success. The stains weren't completely gone, but they had entirely vanished in some places, and were reduced to a faint blush in others. Thanks be to God. After a telephone report, Mum suggested the final saving grace - a shaking of white talcum powder over the pinkish bits.

It worked.

Phew...traumatised? Yup.

My only conclusion is that the yarn picked up some impurities in the factory, or wherever it was dyed and wound or whatever happens it.

So...some valuable lessons learned.

  • Don't ignore your instincts, they're there for a reason.
  • Don't follow the pattern/rulebook blindly, there could be mistakes there or better alternatives available if you have an open mind.
  • Share your trauma as well as your triumphs with other knitters, they can save the day.

Here endeth the lesson. And as Amos Hart says in the musical 'Chicago', 'I hope I haven't taken up too much of your time.'

If you're wondering why on earth I turned to the scissor option so easily, it's because I had to take a scissors and cut right across my finished Waves of Grain scarf the night before it was gifted.

More on that next time.

(By the way, in case you're wonderng, we did watch Little Monkey's Nativity Display. It was very good.)


Monday, January 12, 2009

You might have guessed...

Well, I struggled with this, I really did....but I eventually picked the same fabulous berry red colour for my own Little Bird felted bag as the one I gave away.

The other colours were lovely of course, but just didn't grab me like this one. There's a wonderful orange colour, if you go for orange stuff. A really nice pale green too.

I also have my eye on the lovely cream, grey, brown options for a birthday gift due in early Feb. Hmmmm - looks like I'm destined to have a busy knitting schedule ahead. Just can't Resist The Knit!

I'll probably try some embroidery embellishment on my version. Just to make it a bit different. Cast on yesterday and apart from a few stuupid mistakes with twisting the knitting in the round and miscounting the eyelet row, it's gonna be a snap.

(Famous last words....)


Saturday, January 10, 2009

A little bird...

Well, this was the most perfect project in knitting history. Seriously. It was PERFECT. (By which I mean the glory of the yarn and the style and simplicity of the pattern - not the knitting itself. Modesty forbids.)

Made for my beloved SIL as a Christmas gift. Cast on Dec 26th while waiting for the Christening Coat to finish blocking. (Ok. so the Christmas knitting schedule was under pressure), it travelled to France for the weekend, and was finished on 30th, felted, blocked and buttons added on 1st Jan.

It was gifted on Jan 2nd. and I’m, pleased to say that it was very well received. Like good cooking, it was really a case of getting good results from good ingredients - and then basking in the good responses.

That Artesano Aran is divine. Thru’ caution (or a fortuitius lack of nerve) I didn’t felt it agressively and it kept the wonderful drape of the pre-felted version. I really love the pattern too. I changed the loose flap to a double-button closure, partly inspired by the lovely buttons from This is knit.

Actually the drawstring-with-flap closure is not that practical for a working Mum who has to stuff things into her bag under her armpit with one hand while directing Smallies around traffic and carrying schoolbags, lunches, coats and assorted extras.
However, it turned out so lovely that I’m casting on for mine as soon as I meet StephaniesYarn this week.

Only problem is, what colour? I love this red, but can't really bring myself to knit the same thing twice. Green? Purple? We'll see.

Gusset detail.


Edited To Add...Modifications:
- Knitted top down in case I ran out of yarn
- Knitted the flap and the bag in one piece
- Knitted the bag in the round
- Added buttons and loops to secure the flap closed

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Christening Party

Brace yourselves folks.

Unbearably smug knitting content coming up...

I won't deny that this was a challenge to finish up on time.

Or that the dragonfly was embroidered on the way to the airport.

Or that I had to steal the buttons from another project.

Or that 18 sets of little French Knots isn't a royal pain in the a**.

But wasn't it worth it?

Oh yes.

(There were some key modifications required and some serious mishaps along the way, which I'll report on next time. Let's focus on the joy for now.)