Saturday, June 06, 2009

A distressing day on the knitting front.

I have continued to be dissatisfied with the Child’s Surprise, even in its ripped-back, re-started and improved version. Yesterday I abandoned it, and felt as one does half way through an exam when one realises one has attempted the wrong questions, or half-an-hour before a dinner party when you suddenly grasp that the recipe is too complicated.

I think I know what the replacement will be, after some frantic thinking and stash-searching. I am well-endowed with Lorna’s Laces in various beautiful shades of Shepherd Sock. I’ll ask the Sweater Wizard for a striped pattern, using the information on the ball band for gauge. Hope to cast on today.

What was wrong with the Surprise? Well, to begin with, the beautiful Fyberspates yarn is the wrong colour for a child’s cardigan. Secondly, garter stitch is demanding. I tried to keep up a rhythm and to think peaceful thoughts, but it kept looking like My First Potholder. Blocking would have helped, of course.

But the clincher was when I lost track of the Marked Stitch last night.

On my first attempt – the one I ripped out on May 31 – I centered the decreases, and purled the vital stitch on the wrong side. That makes it dead easy to follow the line and also, incidentally, makes the stitch itself sweep consistently on from the decrease section into the one where you are increasing on either side of it.

But EZ is emphatic about an uncentered decrease (slip 1, k2tog, psso), and can be very dictatorial for a woman so scornful of Blind Followers. So this time I did it her way, and it was my undoing

I had finished the first assignment: cast on 9K, decrease 4 stitches every other row down to 5K. I had started increasing back up to 9K. Then I carelessly increased on a wrong-side row. In trying to unpick and remedy the mistake, I found I had lost hold and couldn’t recover. In garter stitch, a stitch with an increase on either side of it is remarkably hard to follow the course of, or so I found it. I flung the whole thing aside with a wild cry.

There’s still plenty of time. It’s still early June.

The camera battery needs to be charged. I cannot illustrate disaster for you today.

On a brighter note, the Christine Duchrow books I ordered from the Needle Arts bookshop turned up yesterday – and sure enough, there are jabot patterns. I have found two already. (Fortunately, “jabot” in German is “jabot”.)

There is an English introduction to each of the books, with a guide to the chart symbols. Also, Judy Gibson has posted some highly useful information which I have printed out. Was she one of the great names of the Knitlist in the ‘90’s? or am I thinking of Judy Sumner?

The designs are mostly – obviously, not exclusively – doilies. They are beautiful. I would never knit a doily anyway, and contemplating them, I fear they would have to be knit perfectly. I couldn’t do that. My Princess – and, incidentally, I did a repeat yesterday – sweeps the eye of the beholder on with her sheer size, but is full of small mistakes.


I had some automated security calls yesterday -- a new experience for me -- from James’s credit card company. In the course of subsequent emails to and from Beijing, I discovered that the charges under suspicion were perfectly all right, and one of them was for a Kindle. He is about to spend some time in Washington working on an Economist special on Sino-American relations and hopes to find a Kindle waiting at his hotel. Foreign books are laborious and expensive to acquire in China: it makes a lot of sense. And he has always loved gadgets. Maybe he’ll let me have a wee go on it, when we meet in CT in July.


  1. Jean,
    I read your blog regularly, and enjoy it greatly; however, I'm not ever brave enough to make a comment. Today differs however, because I think I am able to offer you a solution to your decrease problem on the Surprise Jacket (even though you may not use it right now).
    I can never keep track of a centered decrease, where one combines three stitches into one. My solution is to have a stitch marker permanently on the needle, and then ssk before the marker and k2tog after. Same eventual result, but I don't lose the decrease because of a hanging marker that seems to slip off, or because I didn't use the marker (because I thought I could 'see' the decrease in my knitting). I hope this might be helpful. Janet

  2. dawn in NL2:36 PM

    Jean, it is fun to see, in writing, a phrase that I use in speech only "a wee go on it". It tickles my dialect bone, I guess.

    We are waiting for a further development in e-readers, that is a less rigid outer with better contrast and possibly colour. We also wouldn't like to be "tied" to Amazon or any other supplier. I did enjoy reading e-books on my Psion - which is now obsolete, but I could download free books from the Gutenberg project

    Sorry to hear of your trials with the Surprise. I agree that garter stitch is demanding, somehow stocking stitch is more forgiving.

    Good luck with the fallback plan.


  3. Jean,

    I have tried the baby surprise several times and it continues to flummox me. I have made several EZ patterns, and they all turn out great but that darned baby jacket... and I wanted to try again soon because a good friend is having a child....

    Maybe after the move..

  4. For double decreases, I always try to consider the intended look of the finished piece. For some pieces, I just find the uncentered decrease to detract from an intended linear element and will switch to a centered decrease regardless of what the design calls for.

  5. Jean, I wasn't able to make the surprise jacket until I had purchased the instructional DVD from SHP. It helped immensely to carefully watch Meg and how she was knitting it.

    I also marked the decrease stitch differently - always having 2 stitch markers with 3 stitches in between, the decrease stitch and one stitch on each side. I had to maneuver the stitches and markers each time there was a decrease, but I couldn't keep track of that stitch any other way.