Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Today should be one to enjoy. Joe is coming, and together we can finish emptying the dining room. I must get in some beer this morning. I’m close to finished boxing the books and I think I’ve thought of a destination for the glass and china in the corner cupboard. There are other problems, none too serious, such as where to put the bookcase once it’s empty. It’ll be fun, with him.

Alexander, it turns out, is seriously worried about managing his father’s diabetes, and would rather be here managing the ceiling-knockers-down while we go to Strathardle. So that’s what we’ll do. I still don’t have a date and there’s no point in nagging the contractor until I hear back from Alexander as to what date he would prefer.

It’ll be good to get my seeds in, and the remaining potatoes – I’m very late, this year.

But there are sad implications for Knit Nation, if we ever have another one. (Nothing this year because of the bloody Olympics. They have a lot to answer for.) I was a signed-on, paid-up participant in the ill-fated Knit Camp at Stirling University in ’10, and for Knit Nation last year. I didn’t get to either.

When it came to the point, it turns out it’s no use just having a reasonably convenient venue and a reasonably convenient time of year. If I am to get away, I must delegate my responsibilities completely. I sort of had Loch Fyne in mind, for the third attempt.

The solution will be to involve James somehow – he’s not afraid of diabetes, because he’s got it. And all this may be pie in the sky – I might not be spry enough myself, by then, for such gadding about. I’ll be 80. What a thought!

I finished knitting the snood yesterday, as hoped. Recovering the stitches from the provisional cast-on didn’t go well. I had crocheted stitches onto the needle, you will remember. I couldn’t unzip the crochet chain. Because I was starting from the wrong end? But I tried both ends. Probably because the waste yarn was embedded in fuzz.

So I unpicked it, stitch by stitch, and I’ve got them all on a needle. They look pretty good, except that I’m one short and can’t see where it should be. Something to do with that curious half-stitch-off effect, I suspect. I am far less confident, now, about my ability to make a good fist of the grafting.

For this project, I’ll just muddle forward. But I feel I’d like to get to grips with the whole issue of a provisional cast-on and the structure of knitting when you’re going in the other direction. Candace Strick does her simple (!) socks toe-up with a provisional cast-on, based on the Channel Island cast-on. My next socks are going to be plain-vanilla with a Strong heel, but the ones after that could well be Strick.


  1. Such upheavals with your ceiling ... good luck.

    Jean every provisional cast on I do is simply a normal cast on and a few rows of knitting in a contrast yarn before bringing in the garment yarn. 'Unzipping' is then a little laborious because you are detaching your provisional 'stripe' stitch by stitch, and pulling the yarn end through each garment stitch as you go, securing your live stitches on a needle. But I find that working this way has two advantages, a) I get a neater join than with any other provisional method when it comes to grafting or whatever (I think because the stitches have been held in shape where some provisional cast on methods distort them), and b) I always have the same number of stitches I cast on as you can confound that half-stitch off effect by picking up the final loop your provisional yarn ran through on the row end (not an original stitch). Sorry, you probably have to try it to see how it works.
    I'm guessing your missing stitch is definitely just the inevitable one stitch less that occurs because you are effectively picking up the loops between stitches when you work in the other direction and not the stitches themselves. The last stitch doesn't have a loop between it and nothing so your numbers will be down by one.
    Oh dear, does that make any sense at all? Hope so!

  2. GrannyPurple11:14 AM

    I have found the easiest provisional cast on to unzip at the end is in a very smooth yarn--as a recovering weaver, I have quite a supply of heavy linen that serves beautifully, and the number of stitches is fine. And I try to remember to put a knot in the end of the crochet chain that starts the unzip.

  3. Hey, Jean! It's been a while since I've commented, but your blog is one of the first I read every day - I love hearing the bits about your everyday life!

    A couple thoughts on provisional casts-on. I like the crochet one you used just fine - a trick with that one is to, instead of pulling the broken-off end through the last loop when you finish, just put a safety pin or one of those safety pin style stitch markers into that last loop, then pull the loop snug around it. This serves to show you later which end is the un-zippable end, and also allows you to avoid having to unpick anything - you just take out the pin and start ripping!

    Also, you will probably notice that there is one kind of weird, possibly loose stitch on one end of your cast-on that you're picking up. That's the one that wants to be two stitches, and if twisted/finagled properly you can make that happen. Or just relax and finagle it somewhere close by.

    I also like the "itsy bitsy spider" provisional cast-on, which is super easy to do but kind of hard to explain. I'm sure there is a YouTube video for it - it's super fast and super easy to get your live stitches from later as well. That one is best of situations where you have relatively few stitches and won't have to join them into the round.

    Finally, I have Candace's sock book, and went to a retreat with her last fall and learned to knit her version of short-row socks. Her overall idea is nice, and the socks came out just fine. Candace has a truly genius mind, and I love her to bits. Here's the thing, though. I sat in her class and when she came to the part about Channel Island cast-on, it seemed kind of silly to me that one would work a sturdy cast-on like that only to trim and pick it out almost immediately after (as soon as you've finished the toe). Being the naughty student, I quickly did my itsy-bitsy cast on and carried on with no ill effect at all, and could have used the crochet one just as well. I asked Candace about it later in the day, and she didn't have a reason why Channel Island is especially good for this purpose except that it is one of her favorite casts-on to do and she enjoys teaching it (honestly, this was last fall, so I don't remember exactly what she said and it was kind of awkward questioning the amazing teacher on a point of disagreement so I may have blocked part of it out.) So - if you want to play with the Channel Island cast-on just for added fun - go right ahead, but if you want to stick with something you already know, you have my support there.

    Keep knitting and stay strong - age is only a number and I would like to keep reading your blog for the next 15-20 years at least!

    1. I can't find directions for the "itsy bitsy spider" cast on anywhere! Does it have another name? Can you please direct me towards some instructions!?!

  4. I am glad you have something to look forward to today! You will be able to hear all about Joe's recent trip, and his upcoming job interview.

    Things might work out better with Alexander there to oversee the ceiling people. I know it should not be this way, but my experience with workmen in the house has been that they tend to listen better to a man than a woman. It is similar to when a woman shows up at the garage to get her car fixed, knowing full well what is wrong but not being taken seriously when she explains the problem.

    I have had trouble unzipping every provisional cast-on I have ever done. (I use Lucy Neatby's method.)

  5. I'm glad things are coming together for you. Hopefully all will continue to run smoothly.

    My take with the provisional cast on is I used to use the crochet cast on but ran into your dilemma. I now use Judy's Magic Cast on because it leaves an even number of stitches on both sides of the cast on.

    I agree with Shelly -- I hope to see your blog for some time in the future.

  6. Lucy Neatby calls the stitches coming from the opposite direction Australian Cousins. She has something about this in one of her DVDs. If you look at her YouTube clip on starting the Sea Lettuce scarf it will show you where to gain an extra stitch.

  7. You are not the only one to have problems with the crochet cast on. There was a detailed set of instructions in an issue of Yarn Forward some years back I swear I did exactly as instructed - and I am not a beginner - but it did not unravel and make a lifeline of it's own accord as promised. Back to unpicking one stitch at a time.