Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Started something new

I realized yesterday afternoon that I give an exam Friday, I give another one next Tuesday. (Yes, I give an exam on Valentine's Day, and if any student complains about that, they will feel the heat of my disdain). So I needed something simple enough to work on. (I have proven to myself that basketweave stitch doesn't work. And most of the other projects I have going either require similar levels of concentration, or, like the blanket, would just be unwieldy to haul with me).

So I dug out some novelty yarn I bought on my last Hobby Lobby jaunt. Normally I'm not a big fan of novelty yarns...I don't care for the furry yarns that much, unless I'm making a critter, and a lot of the other novelty yarns feel kind of plasticky.

I liked this one, though. It's called "Diva" and it's a wool/acrylic blend (mostly acrylic, but they must have come up with different ways of processing the fiber of late - this one feels almost a bit like Tencel rather than that hardish/plasticky feel like some of the Red Heart acrylics). It also has tiny sequins that are threaded onto one of the plies. The color is called "Scottish Heather" and it's an ombre that ranges from purple to green (with a bit of brown to make the transition work).

So: colors I like. Texture that doesn't make me go "ick." Evocative color name. And sparklies.

So I bought three skeins (total yardage: 560), with the thought of making a simple big scarf/shawl thing. (It's a worsted-weight yarn, so 560 should be enough for what I have in mind).

I started it last night - just something dead-simple, so the striping tendency would show and the sequins wouldn't get in the way too much. I cast on 100 sts (onto a size 8 needle), knit seven rows in garter stitch, then shifted to stockinette - but am keeping the first five and last five stitches of the row in garter stitch so the thing won't be so prone to curl when it's done. (Stockinette curls; garter lies flat. Of course, stockinette is pretty and smooth and garter isn't; you can't have everything).

I'm even getting to use a couple of the cool stitch markers my pony-swap person sent me. (I don't really NEED them to remember to set off those five stitches, but if I'm knitting-by-feel like I do when I invigilate, it's helpful to have the marker as a reminder.) I didn't realize it at first but the markers she sent are ones she made, and they're based on the Mane Six plus the two princesses: so the color of the beads used are based on coat color/mane color/sometimes eye color, and Celestia's marker has a bead with a sun on it, and Luna's a bead with a crescent moon. So I employed the "Rarity" and the "Luna" stitch markers (the colors kind of go together and they're my favorite color combos of the markers) to mark the garter stitches.

(For the non-knitters: here are some pictures of fancy stitch markers on Etsy. They're one of those things you don't really NEED - you can make do with loops of yarn or safety pins or paperclips - but they make it nice. They're just one of those NICE little things that makes life more fun. I have a lot of stitch markers, most of them gifts from different people).

I'm calling the shawl the "Big Stupid Rectangle" or BSR. Because it's going to be big, it's a rectangle, and you can knit on it when you're so tired it makes you too stupid to work on anything more taxing.

When I dubbed it that, it fired off a neuron in my brain: didn't someone have a pattern they called the Stupid Baby Sweater or suchlike?

As it turns out, yes: Maggie Righetti, in "Knitting in Plain English" gives a pattern for the "Dumb Baby Sweater" and the "Stupid Baby Bonnet." (The joke being, I suppose, it's not clear which noun that adjective modifies*. Until you read her description and learn that neither object is "a thing of beauty" and that she doesn't really care if her students don't have access to a baby to give the finished sweater to (she reports one person gave it to a little boy for his dog to wear)...but that the patterns contain a lot of the basics a beginning knitter would eventually need to know, but done in small-scale, so that you're not ARRRRGH BORED trying to learn to knit on an adult-sized sweater).

(*I suspect that kind of little linguistic joke is a lot less common in languages where the nouns are clearly gendered and there has to be adjectival in French or German. (In fact, if I remember correctly, in French some adjectives mean something slightly different depending on whether they're placed BEFORE or AFTER the noun they modify...again, if I am remembering my high-school French, brave is one of those adjectives...

ETA: yes, I remember correctly, though the change in meaning is more regular than what I remembered: figurative meaning goes before, literal meaning goes after...)


L.L. said...

I've found that YMMV with the Redheart yarns. Some are soft and stretchy, others have the hard, "squeaky" effect.

Joan said...

I have to thank you for providing the link to the Learning French website. The longer I live here (France), the more I find that I don't know! You would think that after all these years gender wouldn't still be such a crapshoot...

Spike said...

I learned to knit on a baby sweater, and that was the BEST experience I could have asked for.

Once I'd finished it, I felt as if I could take on ANY project and make it make sense. Ribbing? Check. Decreases? Check. Seaming? Check. Knitting in the round (the neck ribbing was knit round after the shoulder seams) Check.

I cannot imagine learning on a garter stitch scarf. After the first couple of inches, it would probably be set aside forever.

Anonymous said...

I'm starting a shawl in the Scottish heather tomorrow when my vacation starts. Mine is going to be a simple, crocheted shawl probably either a half double crochet or maybe a v-stitch. I haven't decided yet. I am totally with you on the color/feel of the diva yarn. I am so looking forward to wearing it too.