Fiber Work List, 1 Jan 2007

  • Got bio and ad to Fiber Femmes, just in time I think!
  • Wound balls:
    • Peach Fuzz
    • Desert Flower Heather
    • Pink Sock
    • Orange Bulky 3-Ply

    …spent 20 minutes doing so, wow!

  • Spun 420 yards falkland/bombyx blend into yarn for felting. 50 minutes, plus 10 to skein and throw in the finishing wash.
  • Most of the rest of the day knitting away on the Desert Flower shawl… like 8 hours, which seems to add up to about 16 rounds. The thing must be bigger than I think it is.


By the time evening rolled around, I was starting to get curious about whether or not I must just be slowing way, way down on the Desert Flower shawl; sometimes that’ll happen to me as I get into the final laps of a lengthy project — not always due to perception, I mean sometimes I really DO slow down. So I counted stitches for a short side and a long side, and concluded that right then, each round on the rectangle was 440 stitches; and every other round, it increases by 8. Then I timed myself knitting a round: 25 minutes.

I reflected on the slowness as I continued, determined to make it to a point where I was going to be working on the final pattern round or, if I opted to extend the particular one I was in, I could refer to the knitted portion rather than a chart, if I needed to check myself. That way, I figured, I could take the thing with me to 2007’s first installment in Abby’s Ongoing Dental Purgatory.

Two major things occurred to me. First, I’d opted for this particular portion of the shawl to be a garter-stitch based Shetland lace pattern with patterning every row, which because I’m working in the round, also requires some fancy footwork to seamlessly hide the turns required because the particular pattern, I know from experience, doesn’t lay right if you don’t really do it turning the piece. With patterning that involves eyelets and careful decreases and that sort of thing on every single row, you also end up with annoyances like the sequence below, contrast enhanced in hopes of making it visible:

Clear as mud? Okay, let’s say you do a yarn over increase on row 247,000 (can you tell I feel like this project has been going on forever?) If row 247,001 were one of those “row 2 and all WS rows: purl” type rows, the appropriate leg of the YO would be sitting where you can easily pick it up purlwise, you’d just purl in that yarn over and then by the time you get to row 247,002 where you have to do a decrease right next to the eyelet a row back, the stitches are lined up in such a manner that they’re fairly easy to slip your working needle in and execute whatever stitch is required.

But, with row 247,001 being a knit row including pattern, by the time that you get to the spot where you’ve got to do a decrease next to a YO, especially if you have lots and lots of stitches on the needles and keep sliding them around a circular, sometimes that yarn over will try to lay across one or more of the stitches next to it in a most annoying fashion. It’s then necessary to separate them a bit so you can get the needle into the correct stitch without snagging that YO and screwing up your eyelet. I wind up doing this by tugging a bit on the knit fabric below the culprit stitches, which makes things pop back into line. But, in this particular pattern, there are so many k2togs right next to a leggy yarn over, my thumb was growing exhausted from constantly having to do what’s shown in the second photo above, to get to the third photo. And that sort of tired thumb situation takes a toll on my left wrist too.

Ergonomically, projects which are all knit rows drive me nuts. I opted to finish only one repeat of that particular pattern, then move to a pattern that isn’t close-worked for the remainder of the shawl, so as to have some merciful, hand-easing rows of 500+ purls. Which seriously are much much faster; I timed myself for a straight purl row once I finished that pattern repeat, and though that row was at least 32 stitches longer and I was more tired, it took only 16 minutes.

The second thing that occurred to me is that it’s harder for me to read the fabric on close-worked patterns (where there’s pattern to be done every row instead of every other row), meaning I have to spend more time counting, checking things carefully, and so forth — whereas with patterns containing an every-other-row-is-plain element (whether in garter or stockinette) I can easily read the knitted fabric as I go and know what has to happen.

Well, time’s running out and I must be off to the dentist. Productivity so far today: none.